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June 27, 2011

Israel is at war with the people of Gaza

By: John Caruso

My site has recently enjoyed a visit from Wilbur the Hasbara Donkey, whose personal mission appears to be to seek out Internet mentions of the siege of Gaza and then spam-troll the comments sections with talking points straight from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  In the course of the discussion I discovered that Wilbur (going by his hilariously unlikely pseudonym "Bob") has declared elsewhere that "The people of Gaza are at war with Israel".  Yes, I suppose—in the same sense that the people of the Warsaw Ghetto were "at war" with Germany, that is.

But I have to say I appreciate his candor.  I think it's helpful to know that the position of creatures like Wilbur is that the people of Gaza are at war with Israel, and that the people of Gaza—from infants to grandmothers, apparently—are therefore all valid targets for Israel's collective punishment.  This puts them right in line with official Israeli policy, as outlined in Dov Weissglas's description of the purpose of the siege of Gaza:

"It's like a meeting with a dietician. We have to make them much thinner, but not enough to die," said the prime minister's adviser Dov Weissglas.

Israel is sensitive to the PR needs of our modern world, you see, and the Israelis realize that they can't just "kill and kill and kill" the "animals" in Gaza "all day, every day," no matter how much they might like to.  No, it's necessary to carefully meter their collective punishment.  That goes both for their diet and their economy generally, as described in this U.S. embassy cable (thank you, Bradley Manning):

As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge (see reftel &D8).

(Wait, did we say "Gazan economy"?  On multiple occasions?  We actually meant "Gazan pipeline for heavy weapons from Iran"!  Could you please update all your archived embassy cables with the preferred hasbara phrase?)

In fact, the Israeli NGO Gisha managed to obtain the Israeli government document describing how to "keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse" and "make [the Palestinians] much thinner, but not enough to die"—including the explicit acknowledgment that even these minimal guidelines for punishment could be ignored in the case of "a policy of deliberate restriction."  I'm sure the Germans maintained similar documents regarding their procedures for the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto.  As an Israeli officer in the Occupied Territories once infamously said (or reasonably said, in Wilbur's fetid little value system):

In order to prepare properly for the next campaign, one of the Israeli officers in the territories said not long ago, it's justified and in fact essential to learn from every possible source. If the mission will be to seize a densely populated refugee camp, or take over the casbah in Nablus, and if the commander's obligation is to try to execute the mission without casualties on either side, then he must first analyze and internalize the lessons of earlier battles - even, however shocking it may sound, even how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto.

Yes, it's clear that the Israelis—and their faithful servants like Wilbur—have been "analyzing and internalizing", not to mention actively applying, the valuable "lessons" of the Warsaw Ghetto.  And what could possibly be wrong with that?  After all, the people of Gaza are at war with Israel.

I have some personal experience with this.  I was in the West Bank in 2002, just a week after the Israelis pulled out of the Jenin refugee camp, and I saw exactly how the Israelis "internalized the lessons" taught by the Germans: as they swept through the camp, they had spray-painted the Star of David on the walls of many of the houses on one street, and elsewhere throughout the camp.  In the mosque in the center of Jenin—which the Israelis had taken over and used as a sniper tower—we found an empty can of spray paint they'd left behind, and a Star of David drawn on the chalkboard of the kindergarten in the basement.  There was smashed glass everywhere I went, in Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Rafah and Hebron.  As I listened to it crunching beneath my shoes and surveyed the destroyed homes, shops, and offices, and the cars crushed like tin cans by Israeli Merkavas and bulldozers, I couldn't help but think of it as a Palestinian Kristallnacht.

But that's of no concern, because the people of Gaza are at war with Israel.  Or to translate it from hasbara back into reality: Israel is at war with the people of Gaza.

— John Caruso

Posted at June 27, 2011 09:52 PM

On the same topic, did it strike anyone that Sunday's "Gaza's all right" article in the Times was written by two people of starkly opposing views? Possibly by that two-headed monster on Sesame Street. It went from "Despite the blockade, things are looking up in Gaza!" to "a lot of people don't have a pot to piss in" and back several times. Once would have been standard "he said she said" reporting but this seemed as though the article was disablingly torn. Possibly rocking back and forth in a padded room with its head in its hands.

Posted by: Josh K-sky at June 27, 2011 11:37 PM

Learned from the Nazis? Who hasn't? Who knows, maybe NOT PAYING these people on BOTH sides to kill each other could help the situation?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 28, 2011 01:11 AM

ENDING ISRAEL'S FREE ACCESS to EU markets will end the illegal blockade of Gaza.
Israeli law does not, and cannot, extend either to Gaza or to international waters. The blockade is a 'collective punishment' that is according to the UN illegal under the Geneva Conventions and international law. This Israeli siege, now in its 5th year of punishing over a half a million Muslim families, is only able to be implemented as a result of the extraordinary economic benefits of having being afforded the privilege, as a non European state, of being given access to the combined markets of the 27 member states of the EU.
This privilege should be immediately withdrawn by the EU, whereupon Israel will once again revert to being just a small insignificant Mediterranean state of just 8m - unable to mount any illegal blockade against an innocent indigenous people.

Posted by: C.Dale at June 28, 2011 02:15 AM

"Paying people.on both sides"? A pittance to one a king's ransom to the other. That is not counting that the US.Government doesn't give shit the duly elected government of Gaza only some shekels the collaborationist PA. to extend the absurdity of "talks". What a rediculously naive comment.

Posted by: demize! at June 28, 2011 04:35 AM

The EU? Why do I suspect they'd still manage somehow?

Posted by: godoggo at June 28, 2011 04:48 AM

This is a dark article. Our memory plainly lasts more than fifty years. But it seems that our conviction does not.

Posted by: saurabh at June 28, 2011 05:22 AM

demize: Well then, STOP PAYING the king's ransom side. WE PAY IT and therefore WE can stop it. Its the larget chunk of give-away in the situation AND AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, YOU can have some influence over that expenditure from OUR budget. Get YOUR neighors to fight against this expenditure also and who knows??? Ask YOURSELF, "How much is the life of a Palestinian CHILD worth to YOU? What are YOU WILLING to fight for. How far will YOU go to STOP BUYING death for the INNOCENT ON BOTH SIDES?"

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 28, 2011 11:35 AM

what everyschool boy knows

Posted by: N E at June 28, 2011 02:15 PM

I can't imagine living within this reality. My consciousness will only let me push so far in attempts to empathize before it shuts down and refuses to acknowledge the horrors of living each day with a soul-suffocating fear that my loved ones will not come home to me.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 28, 2011 03:06 PM

I don't pay taxes and I support BDS. Do you? Don't give me the US. Imperialism line, yes that must fall. I choose to start by isolating that disgusting little apartheid state.

Posted by: demize! at June 28, 2011 05:07 PM


This name "Wilbur the Hasbara Donkey" sounds strange to me. Does this sound like a name an Israeli apologist would use?

Anyway, recently, Helena Cobban speculated on her blog that Israel is using U.S.-developed software to spam internet forums with propaganda. The users of this software adopt fake, innocuous identities to make comments. Her essay is here:

Posted by: Edward at June 28, 2011 05:11 PM

PS. this equivation you repeated "both sides" plays into the narrative of the opressor. No there is no equivelance whatsoever, none, zero. And if you still think you can influence one iota of US.policy you are sadly deluded. Those days if they ever existed are long gone. That Rubicon has been crossed so to speak.

Posted by: demize! at June 28, 2011 05:13 PM

PS. this equivation you repeated "both sides" plays into the narrative of the opressor. No there is no equivelance whatsoever, none, zero. And if you still think you can influence one iota of US.policy you are sadly deluded. Those days if they ever existed are long gone. That Rubicon has been crossed so to speak.

Posted by: demize! at June 28, 2011 05:13 PM


Human being are resilient creatures and every last one is in the same boat. Every human lives life in just about the same way: they deal with situations as they arise and make the best decisions they can (which are usually bad decisions from an omniscient perspective)and somehow make things work out. Humans don't ever live according to some abstract principle (though abstract principles can aid them in the decision making process), or with anything but the vaguest plans (almost all plans require constant change and adaptation), or with concerns other then those they chose to face at the very moment.

Humans adapt rather well to situations that seam insurmountable to those that never faced them because the immediacy of the situation demands that the human somehow makes things work. Those that can't go insane. Someone who has the fear that a loved one may not come home, has the fear but learns to live life being fear full. There are many different ways of doing this.

I doubt I'm explaining myself well but your imagination is limited and so is mine. This is a good thing but I don't need to imagine something to know that it's possible. It's also possible to emphasize with someone going through a greater horror then you have experienced as long as you respect your own ignorance. I give as much abstract (and non-abstract if I'm dealing directly with the person) love that I can to all those experiencing horrors, for what it's worth, even if I can only imagine so far. People do get through horrible horrors though and I find that inspiring.

Posted by: Benjamin Arthur Schwab at June 28, 2011 05:15 PM

Edward: Does this sound like a name an Israeli apologist would use?

It's not; "Wilbur the Hasbara Donkey" is the name I gave him after he'd spammed the comments section on the posting I linked to. His chosen moniker is "Bob". I realize it makes things a bit more confusing here since we're starting in medias res, but I thought the content was worth reposting anyway.

Posted by: John Caruso at June 28, 2011 05:31 PM

This gets my vote for the best Tiny Revolution post ever. Good job, John. Thank you.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at June 28, 2011 06:00 PM

Of course- that makes more sense. Anyway, I thought you wrote a very good response.

Posted by: Edward at June 28, 2011 07:09 PM

U&I are the oppressor. What, ya don't think U&I are capable of buying two governments enough to have them kill each others population, for YEARS???

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 28, 2011 10:11 PM

Support for Benjamin Arthur Schwab's notion that abstract principles are not the basis of human activities:

Short version: chickenshit assholes love war b/c it's not their worthless hides on the line -- something humanity has known for literally several millennia, now backed up with teh Science!

A quote cited in the article: "Why did the prospect of being drafted make such a strong and lasting impact on the men's ideological outlook? Erikson and Stoker suggest this may be a case of self-interest trumping abstract ideas"

Posted by: No One of Consequence at June 29, 2011 02:21 PM

Benjamin Arthur Schwab:

Thank you.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 29, 2011 04:04 PM

Mr. Caruso:

You likened your experienced at the West Bank to the Night of Broken Glass. It seems like the worst mistake we-as humanity make is failing to sufficiently communicate to subsequent generations just how horrific and destructive war actually is. I can't say I don't understand, because sharing the experience of watching people brutally tortured or heartlessly murdered isn't something most want to recount, nor it is anything most are willing to hear-regardless of necessity.

Being worlds more qualified than myself to ruminate on most things, I ask: do you know if a significant percentage of the Israeli populace-because I realize that statistically there are at least a few, of course-are mindful of how eerily similar these tactics are to those methods employed against their families in the not-so distance past? Does it seem to matter at all? I know that most matters of international policy can be traced to power and greed(which don't appear in action to be that dissimilar), but what the hell is going on here? I read the first article you linked, and was really surprised by the cold, almost robotic tone of the delivery. I can appreciate efficiency and strategic simplicity with the best, but matters of people sometimes require bypassing point B on the way from A, traveling sometimes as far as point K and back again before any real progress can be made in understanding. Humanity can get messy, but suggesting genocide as a means to tidy it is like trying to organize a pile of documents by dumping the contents of an entire filing cabinet out on top of it and kicking shit everywhere. I was surprised that someone with such mental clarity as the interviewee would overlook something so fundamental.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 29, 2011 05:06 PM

No One of Consequence:

Your point makes me recall that dude who thought waterboarding was a great idea until he submitted to being waterboarded. It probably takes like 2% more effort not to be an asshole, and still, so many people go through life unwilling to entertain varying perspectives unless those alternative realities are somehow transposed onto them.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 29, 2011 05:20 PM

Mrs. Amandasaurus:

First of all, your welcome. This is a concept I haven't found a good way of communicating but I'm glad I have communicated some of it. It is clear that in reading what I wrote, I fell short of what I seek to communicate. I apologize for my failure.

For whatever reason (I blame culture) people tend to turn to selfishness. There is a lot in any modern society that reinforces this behavior. It is easier to fall into what is culturally affirmed and mainstream then it is to develop a different ethic. People are hard pressed to the point that (and I believe so that) taking anything but the easy path is dangerous.

With this selfishness, most people would take a perspective of looking out for number one and ignore their communities (of all sizes). This is a very limiting perspective. It doesn't take a lot of empathy to know that something that is designed to simulate drowning would be unpleasant. Those who never develop empathy, or perspective, or the ability to listen well and often don't have what it takes to make this connection until it happens.

This is way wars are still fought as you say. It is easy for those who never experienced war to demand it especially when the person can profit off of it. This is one reason why it's always a rich mans war and a poor mans fight. The two populations tend not to overlap and while poor people (as evidenced above) will avoid war, rich people will drive it.

I remember talking to someone a long time about socialism. Early on I reminded him that if your comfort is dependent on somebody else's poverty, you are responsible for that person's poverty. My friend afterward warned me against that because it makes people uncomfortable but that is the point of why I say it. People need to be uncomfortable about what they have the luxury of ignoring.

I would love to live in a culture in which perspective, and empathy, and the highest listening skills are widely taught. We don't. I do what little I can to help things by teaching, primarily but not exclusively, this by example to others. It makes a real difference. People (at-least those who don't have a large financial interest to the contrary) are alright when they have a real chance to be alright and I can show them they have the chance. It doesn't always work but it often does.

This is why I have so much hope for humanity. Despite a culture that encourages selfishness to a great extent there is an ample amount of selflessness if one keeps ones eyes open. It may be in the minority but humans show every day that there is a better way to live. Using quantum mechanics, I think one day we will get there. Despite all of the horrors that are highly and lowly visible, the often subtle displays of virtue makes humanity beautiful.

Posted by: Benjamin Arthur Schwab at June 29, 2011 06:36 PM

Amandasaurus: do you know if a significant percentage of the Israeli populace-because I realize that statistically there are at least a few, of course-are mindful of how eerily similar these tactics are to those methods employed against their families in the not-so distance past?

I don't know of any polls, but based on the reactions I've seen or read myself I'd expect it's at most a tiny minority (even on the left).

Posted by: John Caruso at June 29, 2011 07:37 PM


(Ms. Amandasaurus)
Agreed! And I like to believe that thermodynamics rules everything around me. (Partially because I just like using a variation of that saying whenever I can.) I'm tempted to project my appreciation for hippie science onto your reference to tiny mechanics-are you hinting at a divergent view on causation?

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 29, 2011 07:47 PM


That's very disheartening.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 29, 2011 07:49 PM

Amandasaurus: do you know if a significant percentage of the Israeli populace-because I realize that statistically there are at least a few, of course-are mindful of how eerily similar these tactics are to those methods employed against their families in the not-so distance past?

Critics of Israel will make this comparison from time to time. I think this was a theme in the writings of Israel Shahak about "religious nationalists", for example. The comparison comes up in Robert Friedman's book, "The False Prophet", about Rabbi Kahane.

"...against their families"

I don't think most Israelis are descended from Holocaust survivors; they are a minority. I don't know what fraction of these people embrace Zionism. In my opinion, Zionism is a fascist/colonial ideology.

Posted by: Edward at June 29, 2011 10:01 PM

I love this blog. Thank you, Edward!

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 29, 2011 10:10 PM

Ms. Amandasaurus:

I was referencing quantum mechanics, not tiny mechanics. In learning quantum mechanics, I was surprised to find how well it can be used to analyze social situations. I often apply the principles of quantum mechanics to social situations and I understand things much better then I did before hand. I can give a longer expectations but I think our society is in a capitalist state (state in the physics sense) and at some time in the next 150 years to 15,000 years we will quantum tunnel to a non-capitalist state.

Statistical mechanics (in which thermodynamics fits in well together) can also be used in principle to help understand social situations. People often want to place Newtonian methodologies to social situations and it is little surprise that they fail. I am unsure of what you mean by "a divergent view of causation." I actively believe that several "multiple-universe" ideas are wrong. I believe in an ancient view of causation that most modern scientists would disagree with, however.

Posted by: Benjamin Arthur Schwab at June 30, 2011 05:38 PM

Oh, I just meant "tiny" in the sense of infinitesimal! And yeah, I apply thermodynamics to practically everything. I'm lazy.
About causation, I was referring to metaphysical/consciousness stuff. You've apparently given this more thought than myself, so I will submit humbly to you on the matter.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at June 30, 2011 07:06 PM


Ta-da! Hippie science:

...some papers I read a few years ago, which were brought again to mind by the context I projected onto your mention of Quantum.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at July 1, 2011 01:52 AM

Ms. Amandasaurus:

My mention of Quantum has nothing to do with such philosophical questions on causality. Physics as a science has little to say on causality.

Posted by: Benjamin Arthur Schwab at July 1, 2011 04:40 PM

"we" have become like "them".

Posted by: LB at July 1, 2011 06:13 PM

Aww, come on. Silly science is fun.

Posted by: Amandasaurus at July 1, 2011 06:49 PM