Comments: Human Shields

Ah, war the way it is supposed to be -- a people against a people, not an army against an army, and the devil take the hindmost.

I would like the US completely out of this -- none of my tax money to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, or the PLO. But I can't fault Israel for playing the game according to their neighborhood's rules.

Posted by Fritz at January 13, 2009 01:24 PM

Israel has routinely used Palestinians as Human Shields since the second Intifada broke out. Israel is a nation that observes no International laws, commits breach of 4th Geneva convention ( related to protection from being used as a 'human shield'), ignores its own supreme court's rulings as mentioned above. It really behaves like an "OUTLAW" nation. No complaints by AI or HRW will make it change its behaviour as OUR govt does not hold it accountable for its actions and looks the other way or supports them. Only when these actions become unacceptable to our govt because of pressure from the citizenry or enlightenment will Israel be forced to change its behaviour because even international pressure will not be enough unless backed by USA.

Posted by Rupa Shah at January 13, 2009 02:25 PM

YEP, bottom line is, the bombing will stop when George sez it stops.

Posted by Mike Meyer at January 13, 2009 04:42 PM

The Fog of War! "Hamas using civilians as Human Shields!" Changing story of bombing of UN school... ( fire coming from the vicinity, mistake, technical error etc etc ! ).

"BBC argues with Israeli Spokesman over UN School Bombing"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wv0giW1elo

Posted by Rupa Shah at January 13, 2009 05:47 PM

Does anyone have a reasonably-well-founded belief that a successful use of international pressure to curb Israel's violence will, in the long run, actually reduce the amount of suffering in Gaza?

If Hamas is still around they will re-arm and attack again, because their goal is the destruction of the state of Israel. That is a top-level purpose of their organization. And they are (at least arguably) the elected government of Gaza.

Posted by Fritz at January 13, 2009 05:57 PM

Fritz: It costs money to re-arm. If U&I don't give them any money or sell them arms, then the less chance they will. Same with Israel.

Posted by Mike Meyer at January 13, 2009 06:28 PM

Fritz

In April of last year, political leader of Hamas had offered 10 yr truce as indicated in the article below. Hamas was legitimately elected, ( election certified by Pres Jimmy Carter ) but was never allowed to govern because the outgoing administration did not like the outcome of the election. And Hamas was elected because PA was corrupt and Hamas offered the population social services and was honest.
Prof Chazelle I am sure will be able to give you a better answer.

"Meshal offers 10-year truce for Palestinian state on '67 borders"
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/976662.html

Posted by Rupa Shah at January 13, 2009 06:31 PM

Mike -- good luck with that. And I mean that seriously. 80+% of Americans were opposed to dumping tax money from helicopters onto Wall Street. Did that opposition do any good? Israeli government interests are actively intertwined in both of our major parties. We will re-arm Israel.

Hamas will re-arm because there are plenty of interests in the area that find Hamas useful. They will be re-armed if they are still extant.

So given that, why bother clamoring for a cease-fire? And is it actually useful (if it is possible) for the US to be "even-handed" in any treatment of Hamas vs Israel?

Posted by Fritz at January 13, 2009 06:37 PM

Rupa -- I agree that Hamas was elected. I also agree that the PLO, er, Fatah, was massively corrupt. Sometimes it is important to vote for the crook.

Again -- since Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, why should Israel desire a 10-year truce with Hamas? The only reason would be if Israel believed Hamas would be weaker in 10 years than they are now. That seems unlikely. And that truce would only occur if Israel agreed to give up half of Jerusalem.

Posted by Fritz at January 13, 2009 07:39 PM

Fritz

This article by Prof Finkelstein is self explanatory. Do you think it is possible for Hamas to change its policies and not have a goal of destroying Israel but try to make peace and see how it works?

"Seeing Through the Lies"
The Facts About Hamas and the War on Gaza
By NORMAN FINKELSTEIN
http://www.counterpunch.com/finkelstein01132009.html

Posted by Rupa Shah at January 13, 2009 08:38 PM

Rupa, clearly I don't think Hamas can change their policies. Or at least it is no more likely than NAMBLA becoming a charitable organization.

Posted by Fritz at January 13, 2009 11:02 PM

Fritz: Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

Rupah Shah: No, actually, they've offered Israel a truce, in return for withdrawal to the '67 border, as you can clearly see in this article I've linked to.

Fritz: Again -- since Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel,

Haven't we seen this style of argument before?

Posted by SteveB at January 14, 2009 09:56 AM

I don't think Israel can change its policies -- ie, its 60-year effort to destroy the Palestinian people. Or at least it is no more likely than NAMBLA becoming a charitable organization.

Wow, this is easy and fun!

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at January 14, 2009 10:03 AM

Thank you SteveB and Mr Schwarz.

Posted by Rupa Shah at January 14, 2009 11:05 AM

Steve -- if you would read the article, it states that Hamas would grant a limited-time truce with Israel, but would not remove its pledge to work for the destruction of Israel. Those are separate issues. Why should Israel agree to a truce with an organization that is still pledged to her destruction. That makes sense only if you think your tactical situation would improve in the meantime. Which is why Hamas would propose such a truce.

Jonathan -- I agree with you. Or at least I don't think they will give up Judea and Samaria. I don't think Israel has any interest in keeping Philistia, though. Which is why all Israelis were moved out with little problem 3 years ago.

Posted by Fritz at January 14, 2009 01:09 PM

Fritz

From the article I quoted at 06.31pm....

"We agree to a [Palestinian] state on pre-67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital with genuine sovereignty without settlements but without recognizing Israel," Meshaal said.

"We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition," he said. He said he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during talks Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.

Meshal used the Arabic word hudna, meaning truce, which is more concrete than tahdiya - a period of calm - which Hamas often uses to describe a simple cease-fire. Hudna implies a recognition of the other party's existence.

If one agrees to recognise the existence of the other party ( which Israel wants), why would Hamas want to destroy it if both parties can have peace?

May be we will not agree on the interpretation of the article and I will leave it at that.

Posted by Rupa Shah at January 14, 2009 01:34 PM

Fritz:
Thanks. Now that wasn't so hard, was it? To read the article and then respond to it? Makes things more interesting than simply repeating the same talking point without reference to the arguments that others bring to the table.

Now my response to your response:

Hamas would not remove its pledge to work for the destruction of Israel.

The article doesn't say that. It said:

Hamas has previously claimed all of what is now Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Meshal did not address whether the group would consider changing it.

You probably think I'm splitting hairs, but my point is that what Hamas made was an initial offer, and the reasonable thing for the Israelis to do would have been to say, "This offer is unacceptable to us, but let's talk about it." That's called negotiation, as opposed to expecting the other side to negotiate with themselves until they magically come up with an offer that meets all your needs in every respect.

As to your question, "Why should Israel agree to a truce with an organization that is still pledged to her destruction?" I should think the answer to that is obvious.

Posted by SteveB at January 14, 2009 01:41 PM

Rupa -- and later on in that same article, it states that Meshal did not address removing the call for the destruction of Israel from the Hamas charter.

Posted by Fritz at January 14, 2009 01:42 PM

Steve -- I also answered the question I posed. You would agree to such a truce if you believed your strength would increase relative to your opponent's strength during the time of the truce. It sounds like Israel did not believe this would be so.

Hamas had been urged many times in the past to remove the pledge to destroy Israel from its charter. It has not done so. It's not like "Hey, we hadn't thought of that." The choice to not include that was not accidental.

BTW, does it make sense, historically, linguistically, or culturally, to speak of a "Palestinian people" encompassing Gaza and Judea/Samaria?

Posted by Fritz at January 14, 2009 02:08 PM

Fritz: Yes it does.

And why should Hamas negotiate, or deal in any way, really, with an entity which has been trying to drive Palestinians out of their land for the past century? Which has been doing so through murder, massacre, destruction of homes and farmland, torture, humiliation, legal discrimination, and simply starving them out? Which has, for most of its history, denied the very existence of Palestinians -- not just as a people, but in any way?

Insofar as Israel defines itself as a Jewish homeland, it defines Palestinians as outsiders who have no business within its borders except, perhaps, on sufferance. How can you expect Hamas, or Palestinians generally, to deal with Israel under such conditions?

Posted by Duncan at January 14, 2009 02:33 PM

Duncan -- I never said Hamas should negotiate nor deal in any way with Israel. I absolutely understand them deciding to fight to the death.

And do you have any recommended books on the cultural similarities of Gazan and Judean Palestinians that unites them and separates them from other groups of Levantine Arabs? It's something I would like to read up on.

Posted by Fritz at January 14, 2009 02:47 PM

Ah, the politics of Thunderdome---"Two men in, one man out."

Posted by Mike Meyer at January 14, 2009 02:59 PM

You would agree to such a truce if you believed your strength would increase relative to your opponent's strength during the time of the truce.

You know, maybe I'm crazy, but wouldn't it be possible to agree to a truce in the hopes that a long period without violence might lead to greater reconciliation between the two sides? That a ten-year truce could be accompanied by confidence-building measures, cultural exchanges, reunification of families separated by the border, etc.? That extremists on both sides might lose political support, and moderates might be strengthened? At least that's how you would look at a truce if you were genuinely interested in peace.

Posted by SteveB at January 14, 2009 03:06 PM

This just in:
Israel bombs NAMBLA International Headquarters disguised as teacher's lounge in UN-run school in Gaza. World's children rejoice.
NAMBLA-Hamas releases photoshopped images of dismembered children in futile propaganda attempt.
Israel responds with Biblical evidence of Palestinian enabling and encouragement of child sexual abuse, and hand gestures signifying "Eat shit, sand-nigger-lovers."
Sometimes, you know you just have to do what needs doing, regardless of public opinion.
When it's the right thing to do.
And you know it is.
The right thing.
To do.
The idea that the virtuous side in a moral conflict has no need of dishonesty is nonsense.

Posted by roy belmont at January 14, 2009 07:00 PM

Woody, that would make sense if Gaza was something Israel wants. Judea & Samaria -- yeah, they want that. But Gaza/Philistia has nothing they want and no particular historical imperative for them.

Israel is attacking for reasons much different that territorial expansion (or at least the territory it desires is not Gaza).

I basically like this analysis:

http://stuartarchercohen.com/2009/01/14/gaza-strategies/

Hamas and Israel are both following strategies they consider to be to their advantage.

And the two-state solution is dead. There is no way to connect Gaza with the West Bank until we get teleportation. Anyone into a three-state solution?

Posted by Fritz at January 14, 2009 10:13 PM

Fritz: And do you have any recommended books on the cultural similarities of Gazan and Judean Palestinians that unites them and separates them from other groups of Levantine Arabs? It's something I would like to read up on.

Well, let's see. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees or the descendant of refugees from the 1948 war, so I see no reason to suppose they are distinct from "Judean" Palestinians.

And if Israel has no interest in territorial expansion into Gaza, why did it build 21 settlements there after the 1967 war?

Funny thing: you reject the idea of a truce between Hamas and Israel because Hamas would use the time to re-arm. But then, so would Israel, and probably much more effectively since there's no reason I can see to suppose that US support for Israel will be cut back. And it's usually Israel that breaks truces. What can be done about this violent, aggressive, terrorist state?

Posted by Duncan at January 14, 2009 11:55 PM

Duncan -- pity, I was hoping for some reading material. I have read a lot of references to "the Palestinian people", but I don't know if there is anything there besides a political shorthand. You said "Yes" with assurance, so I was hoping for something meaty.

Israel built settlements in Gaza, but notice that there was relatively little problem in removing them. The same would not be true in Judea and Samaria.

Personally, I would be content with the US stopping all foreign aid to all of the actors in the area -- Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the PLO -- and let them party without my tax money.

Posted by Fritz at January 15, 2009 12:14 AM

Ah, Fritz, you're so even-handed. Wouldn't it be better, though, for the US at least to funnel in some weapons to Hamas, so that the playing field would be level? It's no fun watching Mike Tyson "party" with a two-year-old, even if the two-year-old bites.

Posted by Duncan at January 15, 2009 09:59 AM

Duncan: Pouring more guns into the are is NOT the answer, it just adds fuel to the fire, and takes money out of OUR pocket. Fritz is correct, cut ALL military aid to the area. When jet fuel and bombs run out then the shooting stops. (since obviously U&I are NOT going in to stop Tyson from partying with the toddler, and, in fact WE are cheering him on)

Posted by Mike Meyer at January 15, 2009 12:29 PM

Mike Meyers -- you're being too literal-minded, dear. The Greeks had a word for it: Satire.

Oh, and BTW, Fritz, does it make sense, historically, linguistically, or culturally, to speak of a "Jewish people" encompassing German Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, North African Jews, Ethiopian Jews, etc.?

Posted by Duncan at January 16, 2009 05:49 PM

Donatella Rovera is NOT in Gaza, since she is an Italian AI officer ("researcher" her role is officially called, but I have too much respect for research to call such people this way) in Israel. She could not enter Gaza, as anyone else. She collected information from Palestinian sources, which could even be biased. I think this should be clear, in examining her statement.

BTW, when Meshaal offered a 10-yrs truce on condition of Israel retreating back to 67 Borders, he did not offer as counterpart the recognition of the State of Israel. He simply intended to get this timelapse in order to rearm and, possibly, waiting for his friends in Tehran to explode their first atomic.

If you call that a will for peace...

Posted by The fool or the scholar? at January 16, 2009 09:33 PM