June 14, 2007

Feels Like 1967 Again

By Michael J. Totten

Former Deputy Chief of IDF Intelligence Yaacov Amidror talks to Ynet News about what may happen now that Hamas won the Palestinian war and is ruler of Gaza:
We are moving toward a situation in which Gaza will be a formal terror state. In the short term, Israel will face an organized system of guerilla warfare similar to what is going on in Lebanon. This system will grow stronger and stronger with each passing day. In the long term this entity will have long-range missiles and other capabilities, which will affect not only Sderot, but Kiryat Gat and Ashdod as well. Eventually these missiles will reach Haifa.
I don’t know if this is right. Politics, and the wars which pass for politics in the Middle East, is all but impossible to predict. There are too many factions, too many alliance reversals, and too many totally random wild card variables.

Who thought Lebanon would have a five-week shooting war with Fatah Al Islam in the camps? Who saw the Cedar Revolution coming before it exploded? I didn’t predict Israel’s recent invasion of Lebanon (although I should have), nor did I see the “Anbar Awakening” on Iraq’s horizon. All bets will be off if the Iranian people overthrow the Islamic Republic.

But it does look like missile war is replacing terrorist war, at least for the Israelis. (It’s business as usual in Lebanon. As my friend Sean LaFreniere put it over drinks a few hours ago, Beirut is the Beirut of the Middle East again.)

I don’t know how long it has been since a suicide bomber exploded in Israel. It has been a while. Missiles and rockets keep crashing into cities, though, and Israel hasn’t a clue what to do. The rocket makers and launchers are no doubt emboldened by Israel’s flop of a war last year in Lebanon.

So what will Israel do if missiles from Gaza reach Haifa? And if missiles from Lebanon reach Sderot?

The Middle East feels different to me now than it did a few years ago. Something big is going to happen, but I don’t know what and I don’t know when.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2007 12:31 AM
Comments

Something big could be a war between Israel and Syria, something that could break out due to the lack of mutual trust, and the big military drills on both sides.
Now that Ehud Barak is the head of the labor party, things might deteriorate. During his primaries campaign, he asked the voters: "Who would you trust during a war?". I think that this hints that he will side with the IDF's will to "fix" the damage done in last year's war.

Posted by: Yohay at June 14, 2007 01:35 AM

Somehow, watching gaza turn into another South Lebanon, I remember Ahmadinagead's warning a few days ago:

"The peoples of Lebanon and Palestine are going to destroy the state of Israel"

Posted by: Mustapha at June 14, 2007 01:49 AM

mustapha -
"The peoples of Lebanon and Palestine are going to destroy the state of Israel"

Somehow I got the feeling you were echoing Ahmadinejad's hopes and dreams. Then I read the archives from your blog and confirmed that feeling.

Shame on you.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 14, 2007 03:03 AM

Blow up the Syrian regime and the tide of events turns back, and decisively, in favor of the freedom camp. The writing is on the wall but idiot Olmert is making peace overtures to Assad. Is this the lowest IQ prime minister Israel has ever had? Fair question after last summer's debacle.

Posted by: RebLeb at June 14, 2007 03:05 AM

Something big is going to happen, but I don’t know what and I don’t know when.

The US will attack Iran. Or Israel will.

OT Here's something that Israel and Oregon have in common.

Posted by: Mappa at June 14, 2007 03:39 AM

It's so frustrating watching the People of the Middle East be led down another rabbit-hole toward war. Left to their own devices, we would just eat, dance, and learn to live with each other. Why do politicians screw up our lives so much??

I pray for everyones' life that a mass war doesn't break out.

And all you extremists and racists, Jew or Muslim, should look into your hearts and ask yourself if all your hate is worth the impending slaughter.

Posted by: Edan at June 14, 2007 03:48 AM

There was a suicide bombing in Eilat early this year.

Posted by: Matt at June 14, 2007 04:02 AM

Edan wrote:
"Left to their own devices, we would just eat, dance, and learn to live with each other."

When the Palestinian Arabs were left to their own devices, they elected Hamas. Do you think Hamas, or Fatah for that matter, teaches the Arab kids of Gaza and the West Bank to learn to live with the Jews? They teach their kids to kill the Jews, and sometimes themselves in the process.

Get a clue.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 14, 2007 04:14 AM

yes lilmamzer , you caught me. I'm Iran's best friend.

Posted by: Mustapha at June 14, 2007 04:22 AM

I think it is most unlikely that the United States or Israel will attack Iran on GW Bush's watch... He would like to go out ono somehting of a high.... see is enthusiastic comments for Kosovan Independence...

If something happened to Bush and Mr Cheney took power -- then all bets are off. It will be war.

But bombing Iran would only make what is an already difficult regional situation even worse. And it would not have any immediate pacifying effect in Lebanon, Iraq or Gaza.

The fact of the matter is that Israel and the US will probably have to live with the idea of a nuclear armed Iran at some point. A country of that size, with those resources can, if it is willing to sacrifice necessary development in other sectors, master what is basically 1940s technology ....

Besides, our "ally" Pakistan is one assassin's bullet away from being a pro-Taleban Wahabbi Jihadist state... and it already has nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Microraptor at June 14, 2007 04:28 AM

There haven't been a lot of successful suicide bombings lately, but that doesn't mean they're not trying:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/870778.html
IDF nabbed two mothers on way to carry out suicide bombing on May 20, 2007

Posted by: Jacob at June 14, 2007 05:20 AM

There is one big difference between Gaza and southern Lebanon. Lebanon has an open border with Syria through which Hezbollah receives all its arms and support. Gaza is bordered only by Israel and Egypt - and Egypt has a strong interest in preventing the rise of a regional Islamist power. Maybe now they'll sit up and do something about blocking their supply of arms.

Posted by: mertel at June 14, 2007 05:45 AM

Hey, look on the bright side.

That murky, shadowy Middle East where America/West-supported dictators oppress the crap out of their people out of fear that "the alternative" would be even worse is now blossoming into a bright and clear New Middle East where people are being oppressed and murdered by groups they have chosen.

At least the fault lines are clarifying.

For whatever that's worth.

Posted by: Randall at June 14, 2007 05:47 AM

I'm not sure why you're saying, Michael, that it feels like 1967 - I have the uneasy feeling that it's about to be 1973 all over again (of course this could be because I'm reading Abraham Rabinovich's book on the Yom Kippur War).

Posted by: Rebecca at June 14, 2007 06:12 AM

Sean's quote is the most accurate thing I've heard about Lebanon in a long while.

Posted by: Charles Malik at June 14, 2007 06:18 AM

I'm hoping that Hamas' power consolidation will make it impossible for further western economic assistance to the Palestinians. For as long as someone in Gaza made the right noises about reconciliation with Israel, money came floating in.

Perhaps the era of piping-in oxygen into the Palestinian fire is approaching its conclusion.

Posted by: Marcus Cicero at June 14, 2007 06:22 AM

I wish we could distill Mr Totten and sprinkle him across the old media sleeping beauties. I read this website and realise what I miss most of the time...
But keeping on topic, there does seem to be a frebrile note in the atmosphere right now, and I wonder if virtually anything in the middle east could act as an 'Archduke Ferdinand' moment to set off a regional war.
BTW, I don't see Gaza as a realistic threat to Israel. Was the Sudetenland a threat to Germany?

Posted by: Andrew Lale at June 14, 2007 06:31 AM

Perhaps the era of piping-in oxygen into the Palestinian fire is approaching its conclusion

Hmmmmm... call me a cynic but I think it's more likely we are entering the era when people claim that economic sanctions caused the Hamas-led chaos, and that the only solution is to "engage" them and give them more money.....

Posted by: mertel at June 14, 2007 06:36 AM

Showing yet again the folly of war. What are the results of war? More war, of course.

Yes, something big is going to happen fairly soon in the Middle East, something that could have been averted if we but had other players on the field than the ones we have now, in Israel, in America, and in the Arab world. All are guilty of pressing this to the bring of destruction. Shame on them all!

Posted by: Dan at June 14, 2007 06:48 AM

Actually, I think Hamas's victory in Gaza is good for Israel. The main issue with all the missile fire from Gaza was that it was difficult to retaliate as no one was in charge. Now that Fatah has been ousted from Gaza and Hamas has military control over the entire strip, Israel has a clear and direct address to retaliate against violence from Gaza.

Posted by: Dimitri at June 14, 2007 06:50 AM

I second those who actually refer to the feeling before August 1914. That is what this has more a feeling to.

Posted by: Dan at June 14, 2007 06:51 AM

Showing yet again the folly of war. What are the results of war? More war, of course.

Dan - in an earlier discussion, you said:

The Checkpoints. Let's talk about those checkpoints. I don't know about you, but I personally would be seething through each and every checkpoint, if I had to go through them. My anger would come to a serious boiling point and I would feel quite justified in my mind at killing all those soldiers at those checkpoints if I had to go through them every single day. Has anyone considered the negative effects of those checkpoints, because let me tell you, I think they've done far more damage than they were supposed to have prevented.

Obviously you don't object ot all forms of homicidal hatred and war. Like most 'anti-war' activists, your objections to war are based on who is dying. If those you feel sympathy for are losing, we hear these ersatz bleats for peace.

Posted by: mary at June 14, 2007 07:26 AM

It's very simple. Every time a paleostinian missile lands on Israeli soil, the IDF lines up the howitzers and levels a paleo town. Do that, and I promise you the missiles will stop-- no matter who rules Gaza. I don't expect that will ever happen (for the usual reasons), but that's my own surefire mid-east peace plan.

Posted by: Carlos at June 14, 2007 08:04 AM

and ps., when I say level a town I mean really LEVEL a town so that no brick sits on another. Give them about 30 minutes to evacuate.

Posted by: Carlos at June 14, 2007 08:13 AM

If it feels like 1967 to you, you are very on the money. The buzz in the West Bank (Palestinian Territories) is that they are trying to work a deal where they become part of Jordan again. The streets of Jordan are also abuzz debating the pros and cons of this. Many in the West Bank (and no doubt at least 70% of the folks in Gaza would be happy about it at this point --the people without the guns) are hoping that Egypt will agree to take back Gaza. Theres been a good bit of discussion of these prospects among the Jordanian and palestinian (and Lebanese and Israeli) folks over on gnblog.com in the past few weeks.

Really quite ironically, the region could end up looking almost exactly like it did before the 1967 war. Talk about deja vu!

Posted by: Yael at June 14, 2007 08:38 AM

" Alfred Donovan, a patent lawyer whose blog covers Royal Dutch Shell, takes a look at the largest patent filing in history. Shell thinks they have a sound method for getting top quality oil out of oil shale rock, which would remain profitable as long as oil stayed above $30/barrel. If it works, it would also be better for the environment than conventional drilling.

If they’re right, the US would add a truly vast amount of oil to its reserves. Indeed, the USA accounts for 62% of the world oil shale resources, and USA, Russia and Brazil together account for 86% in terms of shale oil content. "

--

Jihadi blackmail, political corruption, and influence peddling is coming to an end. And the seeds of hate that they planted in the hearts of Israelis will bare their fruit soon enough.

Posted by: redaktor at June 14, 2007 09:00 AM

Say, the neo-cons' insistence on democratization sure was a smart move, wasn't it? Playing out nicely all over the place.

The UN 'Human Rights' Commission is reportedly planning to withdraw observers from all other nations, and declare Israel under "permanent indictment." On the one hand, fuck them. I mean, really fuck them. If the UN allows that, we need to get out of it.

On the other hand, if Israel is already declared a savage, rogue nation, and is being attacked by a now-'sovereign' government in Gaza, I'm with Carlos. Stop screwing around with delusions of peace and amity; play Middle Eastern warlord, and do it right.

One interesting question is what happens to the West Bank? Will Fatah hold it and split from Gaza?

It feels like regional Russian Roulette, only with an oil-soaked pyre and a match instead of a bullet.

Posted by: Pam at June 14, 2007 09:06 AM

I hope the Israelis have learnt from last year and have beefed up their training.

Posted by: davod at June 14, 2007 09:07 AM

Like everyone else, I, too, feel the Mideast is moving toward something bad, worse than before. The entire place is increaingly unstable. So, this could be 1967, hopefully; it's not 1914.

But another thing Michael said is true and also puzzles me: That Israel doesn't know what to do in Gaza. That seems true, but I don't understand why it is so. What is wrong with leveling all of Gaza near Israel? Does anything think that the U.S. wouldn't level some part of Mexico or Canada if those governments permitted thousands of missiles to be launched against a U.S. city? Why is this such a difficult problem? Make a strip several miles deep into Gaza where no one can go or live.

Shit, they should hire me to run things.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at June 14, 2007 09:23 AM

NYTimes is reporting that Iraq was "mostly quiet". Could it be that the violence in Gaza is starting to sppok the Arab world. This wasn't supposed to happen - they should be fighting their common enemy. Instead they're throwing each other off the building (literally). I can imagine a lot of people in the Middle East asking themselves "Has it come to this? What have we done to end up killing each other?"

Posted by: Keith Erskine at June 14, 2007 09:42 AM

I think that a Hamas-ruled Gaza and a Fatah-ruled West Bank could eventually work for all concerned. I see Abbas as actually willing to do the recognition and violence renunciation thingies, so he can develop a healthy West Bank economy, complete with trade with Israel, joint project development and financing, and commuting laborers. Once the West Bank starts to do pretty good as Gaza goes down the tubes, I see the rank and file Gazan perspective changing, as they decide that they want what they see the West Bank enjoying, and decide that it's worth reaching a rapproachement with the Evil Jews™ in order to get it, and worth getting rid of their jihadis, asking Israel to help them do it or to do it for them, or, in some cases, stop being jihadis, in order to rapproache.

Of course, in the interim, there's gonna be a lotta immigration to the Strip; Hez and Al Qaeda types, mainly, not to mention weapons, and that ain't good, unless they can be trapped there and room temperaturized along with the hardline Hamasians - an action that would benefit everyone. I'd love to see a pissed-off Gazan populace pull their version of an Anbar Awakening, and do it themselves, but most likely it'll have to be Israel that culls the wolves from the flock, yet again, or at least does the lion's share of it.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 14, 2007 09:44 AM

Seymour Paine, the problem about levelling Gaza is that PEOPLE LIVE THERE - good people - children - students - old men and women - people with hope - potential allies - friends - and the Israelis know that.

No, the US or Canada wouldn't allow the rocket attacks etc but they're living in a completely different universe, not only philosophically but in terms of their relative size and position in the world.

Israel is a tiny state, homeland of a tiny and historically hated minority, only about 14 million in the world, and that's 2 million short of the 1930's numbers. It's portrayed as this huge Goliath in the press and in the world's mind, "Zionists" control everything in the universe. But in fact that is a ridiculous distortion of reality.

Similarly, Israelis are held to an extremely high standard and they live under abnormal magnification, and every Israeli misdeed or even simple mistake in battle is magnified and broadcast around the world, with the horrifying result that all Jews are held accountable: the very nature of blood libel.

Fact: Russia or the US could and would get out the B-52 if attacked by rockets but Israel really DOES want to live in peace with her neighbors and carpet bombing innocent people to get the terrorists just isn't a solution.

So what is? D.I.I.K. But I think it's going to require regional help and good will. The Egyptians locked up the people of Gaza in 1948 and I don't really understand why. Many have relatives there. Maybe it's time for some simple humanitarian concern for the Palestinian people instead of fanning the flames of a violent cause.

Posted by: Sophia at June 14, 2007 09:51 AM

You need to check out the accuracy of the May 15th Prophecy in regards to what is happing in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and the return of the Hidden Imam

lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com

Posted by: leon at June 14, 2007 10:07 AM

Does anyone honestly think Abbas can hang onto Judea and Samaria after the debacle in Gaza? Hamas beat them in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Fatah was shown up for the feckless, incompetent, gutless posers they have always been. Game, set, and match.

Like Osmama bin Laden said, people will always back the strong horse. Hamas called Fatah's bluff and showed that it is a paper tiger and that Abu Mazen is a weak, incompetent buffoon who runs a soft, corrupt gang that doesn't have the guts to really fight. By contrast, Hamas is an ideologically-driven, well-disciplined, well-trained, and well-financed military machine.

The blood is in the water and the sharks are circling. It is only a matter of time before Judea and Samaria become part of Hamastan. Israel needs to be ready for it.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 14, 2007 10:53 AM

Lilmamzer to Mustapha: Somehow I got the feeling you were echoing Ahmadinejad's hopes and dreams.

I know Mustapha. He and I don't always agree, but you got him wrong. He's March 14 Lebanese, not Syria/Iran/Hezbollah/Hamas.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Gaza is bordered only by Israel and Egypt - and Egypt has a strong interest in preventing the rise of a regional Islamist power. Maybe now they'll sit up and do something about blocking their supply of arms.

That's one possibility. The transformation of the Sinai-Gaza region into an Islamist free-for-all is another.

Posted by: JSinger at June 14, 2007 11:06 AM

The calls for carpet bombing Gaza are just that, calls. It will never be. The fact is the the 1.5 million people there (there is no better number) get all their food, clothing, medical supplies, building materials and some water from the out side. Practically nothing saleable and exportable is manufactured there except these rockets which are a political strategic danger to Israel. What realy happen there is that the world is feedng, clothing and healing this population so that they will be able to fight Israel. UNRWA and the like of it are the economic foundations of the Hamas state in Gaza. It is totally crazy when one is listening to the Hamas demonizing the USA and SA while relizing that these people are alive because of the like of USA and SA. A real blocade of Gaza while informing the population that it will be go on as long as the Hamas rull could work. But the international do goods will never let it happen.

Posted by: hazbani at June 14, 2007 11:19 AM

Thanks Michael.. Sounded funny when he said that I share Ahmadinajead's vision..

Posted by: Mustapha at June 14, 2007 11:38 AM

I'm envisioning a Gaza-West Bank conflict of sorts that looks a bit like the Pakistani-Bangladesh split...but I imagine Israel will be on the side of "Pakistan" for better or for worse.

Posted by: zellmad at June 14, 2007 11:54 AM

Pam: The Palestinian people have been used and abused by every Arab nation where they become "refugees" as pawns against Israel. Now it is big business. UNRWA (and all their burocracy=salaries)would dissapear if not for the Palestinians. The real solution has to come from the host countries, absorbing the Palestinians as equals (could be done w/money help from S. Arabia)the same way that Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees that were expelled from the Arab countries. Gaza is not a viable state. It should be returned to Egypt and let Mubarak deal w/Hamas=M. Brotherhood controlling minority.Teh West Bank should go back to Jordan.

Posted by: diana at June 14, 2007 12:22 PM

Keith said, "I can imagine a lot of people in the Middle East asking themselves "Has it come to this? What have we done to end up killing each other?"

It is part of their culture. Most people in the middle east will just rewrite their history and blame the Jews, Americans and possibly Denmark for all the stupid shit they did. The major problems in the M.E. are not caused by Islam, Israel or hegemony. The main problem is that the majority of the people who live there are fucking retarded. For some reason the same pali that becomes a doctor in the states would be the dumbest person on earth if he lived in Gaza.

It is easy to predict what will happen in the M.E. Identify the worst option in any given situation (anybody up for a civil war?) and you will know what the arabs are going to do.

Posted by: mikek at June 14, 2007 12:30 PM

Thinking about it - it feels more like 1933: a group with a genocidal hatred of Jews was elected democratically into government. They donned their brown shirts and violently extended their power, killing all who opposed them. They then proceeded with their genocide.

This time another group with a genocidal hatred of Jews was democratically elected into power in Gaza. They have now donned their black masks and grabbed complete control massacring their political opponents. They too, plan to proceed with their genocide.

The difference now is that the Jews are not a stateless, defenseless people. They have their own country and one of the most sophisticated fighting forces in the world and the fascist racists will not succeed this time in their quest for genocide. The Jewish state will defend itself against these forces of evil, and once again the Palestinians will have created nothing more than a miserable situation for themselves more than for anyone else.

The only real hope is that those who remain in power in the West Bank will be shocked into their senses, finally abandon terrorism and seek a real and lasting peace with Israel. (Am I dreaming?) For the Gazans, I can't see any hope at all.

Posted by: mertel at June 14, 2007 12:56 PM

"The major problems in the M.E. are not caused by Islam, Israel or hegemony. The main problem is that the majority of the people who live there are fucking retarded."

I have to admit - I laughed.

Posted by: Nate at June 14, 2007 01:03 PM
Gaza is bordered only by Israel and Egypt - and Egypt has a strong interest in preventing the rise of a regional Islamist power. Maybe now they'll sit up and do something about blocking their supply of arms.

They didn't have a strong motivation in the 1990s when a terrorist group known for causing instability and subversion set (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon) set up shop next door.

They didn't have a strong motivation when those same terrorists turned to mass casualty terrorism.

They didn't have a strong motivation when car bombs started going off in Sinai, a campaign involving palestinians from Gaza.

They didn't have a strong motivation when Israel pulled out of Gaza, leaving the terrorists to their own devices.

But this time, they'll do something?

Posted by: MattW at June 14, 2007 01:29 PM
Does anyone honestly think Abbas can hang onto Judea and Samaria after the debacle in Gaza?

Why bother? Hamas has control over most cultural facilities, charity commissions, etc, in Judea and Samaria. Iran has major influence there, having bought and paid for about half of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The Y&S border with Jordan is far tighter than the Egypt-Gaza border. And, let's be honest, Hamas have pretty much lost the element of surprise.

They'll try for it eventually, but probably not any time soon.

A more immediate question: will Hamas let Abbas leave Gaza, or kill him?

Posted by: MattW at June 14, 2007 01:34 PM

Carlos wrote: "It's very simple. Every time a paleostinian missile lands on Israeli soil, the IDF lines up the howitzers and levels a paleo town. Do that, and I promise you the missiles will stop-- no matter who rules Gaza. I don't expect that will ever happen (for the usual reasons), but that's my own surefire mid-east peace plan....when I say level a town I mean really LEVEL a town so that no brick sits on another. Give them about 30 minutes to evacuate."

Well, Carlos, the world is lucky you are simply a powerless little twit writing moronic comments on someone else's blog.

Would that have been your "sure fire plan" to deal with the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto? Would it have been your "sure fire plan" to deal with Partisans in the Ukraine in 1941.... As I recall, the Croatian Ustashe used to follow your "sure fire plan" every time they got attacked by Chetniks. You were clearly born after your time.

It is amazing really, but you have proved one thing, Mr. Carlos: namely that if a monkey types on a keyboard for long enough, some of the rubbish spewed forth actually resembles English.

Posted by: microraptor at June 14, 2007 01:49 PM

Microraptor, are you an American?

I only ask because if Cuba or Mexico were sending rockets over the border, "bomb so that no brick sits on another" is exactly how America would respond. We probably wouldn't start with whole towns, but we probably wouldn't give evacuation orders either.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 02:13 PM
Would that have been your "sure fire plan" to deal with the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto? Would it have been your "sure fire plan" to deal with Partisans in the Ukraine in 1941.... As I recall, the Croatian Ustashe used to follow your "sure fire plan" every time they got attacked by Chetniks. You were clearly born after your time.

Why didn't you point to firebombing German cities or dropping nuclear weapons on Japan? American forces in the Pacific were occasionally known to collect Japanese skulls. Resistance forces in Europe killed civilians who worked with the Germans. Three examples of collective punishment, depravity and terrorism/murder.

But using those example wouldn't have implicated Carlos as a Nazi or fascist, would it?

The Germans wanted to run a supply line from Berlin to Moscow, so they killed partisans and destroyed communities that supported them. The Allies wanted to prevent Germany building weapons, so they destroyed factory workers with incendiaries and bombs. War is about necessity.

Posted by: MattW at June 14, 2007 02:28 PM

For sure the US would bomb the hell out of the Mexican border if rockets struck San Diego from Tijuana (or wherever).

Self-defense isn't fascism.

I don't agree with Carlos' plan to level whole towns, but doing nothing isn't an option. Neither is negotiating with people who refuse to negotiate.

It would be fine with me if Egypt took Gaza, especially if its residents acquired citizenship and the right to live anywhere they want in Egypt.

Gaza sucks. Let them out.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2007 02:40 PM

How about this for the big picture?

Arab Muslim societies (and more specifically, Arab males) are reacting to self-doubt as they look at their status in the world and like a drowning swimmer, they are grasping at anything that could help them. Islam is their obvious life preserver but it is a belief system from another less civilized time. The panicked thrashing of the swimmer is war and chaos.

Are we in fact seeing the collapse of Arab civilization? What will come next? Who else will be pulled under by these drowning swimmers?

Posted by: Keith at June 14, 2007 02:42 PM

How about this for the big picture?

You forgot half of Einstein's aphorism (paraphrase): "Things should be described as simply as possible but not simpler"

For instance the war against Israel isn't a sign of desperation, it's a sign of deep hatred and bigotry. The Muslims in the area actually agree that they want to kill the Jews and destroy Israel, so that war is not a sign of internal conflict. There's war because they really want war.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 03:08 PM

Hello...

No I am a British and Iranian citizen and Polish, Russian, German-Jewish and Polish by ethnicity....

(Blame Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, The Shah, Khomeini and 4 grandparents who all married against their family wishes)

I understand what you are saying about Mexico, but Gaza is probably one of the smallest, most crowded and horrible places anyone could be unlucky enough to be born in, anywhere in the world...

...and I would argue that it is precisely the blunt overwhelming firepower Israeli response against this dense population base that actually makes groups like Hamas more popular... they may even play the Israelis, knowing they generally respond with brute force.

Certainly the KLA in Kosova used this tactic. They baited the Serbs into doing the massacres in order to get a NATO response and it worked. Hashi Thaci is on record as saying that they figured if they could get the Serbs to kill 6,000 civilians they'd get NATO airstrikes. The plan worked.

I believe Hezbollah also do this... they goad the Israelis with irritating acts of violence in order to get an overwhelming response.... which seemingly proves their argument: that Israel is a violent bully.

I am not belittling the awfulness of losing a relative or friend or limb to one of Hamas' rockets, but the rockets Hamas has are crude and defective homemade imitations of Grad 122 mm Katyushas... and I remember one commentator describing the real Grad rockets as "pip-squeakers" when he saw the effects during the Hezbollah 2006 war.

And that commentator was Michael J Totten.

So I think that the idea of levelling whole cities of civilians because Hamas fires rockets is a stupid and basically inhumane idea.

The problem with Israel crying "existential threat" at every damn thing that threatens its security, is that some people actually start believing it is true.

Hamas rockets are a (lethal) pain in the ass...

....a bit like the IRA bombs we used to have in London were a pain (you'll remember the IRA, the Americans were rather fond of them, I recall a fundraising organisation called NORAID operating freely in the States for years) but the idea that these IRA bombs were an existential threat to the UK, or that we ought to have levelled Dublin as revenge would have been seen, rightly, as ridiculous.

Don't fall into their trap is my advice to Israel's govt.

Posted by: Microraptor at June 14, 2007 03:09 PM

Dan wrote:
"I second those who actually refer to the feeling before August 1914. That is what this has more a feeling to."

Dan, wow, how do you know the August 1914 feeling? Were you there? You must be over 100 to remember that feeling. To me, it feels more like March 1876. Why March 1876? I dunno, it's a random date, but it feels like that time to me. Ah those were the days...

Posted by: RebLeb at June 14, 2007 03:29 PM

Microraptor,

...and I would argue that it is precisely the blunt overwhelming firepower Israeli response against this dense population base that actually makes groups like Hamas more popular... they may even play the Israelis, knowing they generally respond with brute force.

Israel does not use 'blunt overwhelming firepower'. If they did, many, many more civilians would have been killed. The fact is that the Israelis are using extremely lethal, battlefield munitions to fight terrorists in a densely packed urban environment. Under those circumstances, and given the policy of terrorists to hide amongst the civilian population, civilian deaths and injuries are inevitable.

The difference between Hamas rockets and IRA bombs is that, while neither took many lives (latterly, at least, with the IRA), the rockets are frequent and regular. Their lethality is almost irrelevant, as they are primarily a terror weapon. Kids wetting their beds, families building bomb shelters, three-second warnings from air raid sirens several times a day, etc. It makes life extremely difficult, so residents under fire start to leave. And the country as a whole gets fed up with the government's inability to stop those crude, rarely-lethal rockets driving people away.

WRT NORAID, Britain would have every right to treat it as an enemy group and kill its members. Too bad they didn't.

the idea that these IRA bombs were an existential threat to the UK, or that we ought to have levelled Dublin as revenge would have been seen, rightly, as ridiculous.

A false comparison, as explained above. But I'll modify your example: if London were slowly depopulating thanks to terrorists who were the elected government of Dublin, would bombing Dublin in response to rocket attacks seem less ridiculous?

Posted by: MattW at June 14, 2007 03:41 PM

I agree with much of what you say, Microraptor. But the IRA was never popular, as you say, in the US. Nor did the IRA ever threaten to conquer and extreminate Britain.

Britain is an American ally. We don't support terrorism against her.

I am "ethnically" English, by the way, and my wife is "ethnically" Irish. One thing that's great about America is that this makes no difference here whatsoever. I do occasionally joke that my ancestors oppresses her ancestors, and that her "clan" has terrorized mine. But it's a joke. No one here cares.

The Middle East needs to grow up.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2007 03:50 PM

OK... point taken about using fascistic examples... I don't think Carlos is a Nazi, I think he is just an idiot.

Nevertheless, I stand by my main argument.... namely that his idea of destroying civilian population centres and using reprisal tactics is inhumane, stupid, counterproductive and ultimately demneaning to those who carry them out.

Has it occured to you MattW, that the REASON that Hezbollah and Hamas fire their rockets from populated areas is that they WANT Israel to attack those self same populated areas -- now why might that be?

And yes, bombing Dublin because a London's kids were pissing their pants would be ridiculous -- and war crime.

Also.... in my humble opinion, using ordnance designed to destroy Main Battle Tanks against breezeblock houses, or using helicopter gunships with Hellfire missiles against twinky gunmen with AK-47s IS using overwhelming firepower -- or, if you prefer, a sledgehammer to crack a nut... are the IDF supposed to be congratulated because the Occupied Territories were not levelled like Grozny?

Until there is a settlement between the two sides, then Israel is in a state of war.

The weakness of much of contemporary Israeli society is that many people would rather live in denial of that obvious fact, and imagine that because they are in the dredaful Eurovision Song Contest, they are only a step away from being a normal, peaceful EU country.

Not so.

Israel is at war. War is horrible and shit for the people caught up in it. War means bombs and bomb-shelters, fear, death, terror -- and, yes, bouts of bedwetting.

Now, Israel used to claim it had the best commandos and special forces in the world... we saw them in Entebbe.... so why not use these A1 tough guys instead of blasting away at housing estates with artillery?

Oh... I know why.... cos the supposedly "best commandos in the world" might get killed.... and that, seemingly, is a problem in today's Israel. This begs the question: what exactly is the point of having these "elite" units?

You see, the real problem for Israel is this: when you have an army that is prepared to kill for its country, but loathe to die for it, that society is fundamentally weak from a war fighting point of view.

Simlilarly, when you have a war against "terrorists" and your armed forces kill five times as many "enemy" civilians as "terrorists," while the "terrorists" kill more than five times as many of your soldiers as civilians, you have to wonder WTF is going on with the once mighty IDF?

On we go.....

Posted by: Microraptor at June 14, 2007 04:08 PM

There would not be a mound of rubble over 3 feet high, or a living soul in all Gaza for 100 years if that situation would be on my border. The sooner leaders realize that, the better.

Posted by: meleager at June 14, 2007 04:15 PM

Has it occured to you MattW, that the REASON that Hezbollah and Hamas fire their rockets from populated areas is that they WANT Israel to attack those self same populated areas -- now why might that be?

One doesn't plan a war by deciding what incompetent, fanatical and deluded enemies want and then doing the opposite. In any case, you're wrong, Hamas attacks not in order to provoke a response but because peace is unthinkable in their ideology.

Until there is a settlement between the two sides, then Israel is in a state of war.

But no settlement is possible because the Palestinian side (and the powers her gangs proxy for) want the war to continue indefinitely. Now what?

The weakness of much of contemporary Israeli society is that many people would rather live in denial of that obvious fact, and imagine that because they are in the dredaful Eurovision Song Contest, they are only a step away from being a normal, peaceful EU country.

No, you are the one in denial, pretending that a settlement is possible. There are no non-brutal solutions unless holding out for a century or two while your people are bombed while hoping no fanatic ever escalates with more modern WMDs is a solution. And that's brutal too, on your own people.

Israel is at war. War is horrible and shit for the people caught up in it. War means bombs and bomb-shelters, fear, death, terror -- and, yes, bouts of bedwetting.

Disgusting sentiment.

You see, the real problem for Israel is this: when you have an army that is prepared to kill for its country, but loathe to die for it, that society is fundamentally weak from a war fighting point of view.

Disgusting.

Simlilarly, when you have a war against "terrorists" and your armed forces kill five times as many "enemy" civilians as "terrorists," while the "terrorists" kill more than five times as many of your soldiers as civilians, you have to wonder WTF is going on with the once mighty IDF?

Hmm. Israel does distinguish between civilians and fighters much more than any stronger country would in such a situation.

Westerners don't fight wars in order to curry favor with God anymore, we fight when we have to. As such, we follow rules like avoiding civilian casualties only to the extent that it is possible to do so while still ensuring a swift victory. To the extent those goals are not compatable, the rules will always go out the window as they did in WWII.

But in Israel those rules have not gone out the window (though you lie and claim otherwise) because Israel faces not just the Palestinians but 200 million people around her who wish to destroy her and because she depends on trade with countries who care only about the flow of oil and sucking up to Israel's enemies, and not about Israel's survival.

Thus Israel is subjected to what some in this thread have called "standards" which are not standards at all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 04:29 PM

Read the thread Josh... I was responding to MattW who brought up ideas like bedwetting and bomb shelters.

Besides, if you think that saying war is shitty for people caught up in it is "disgusting" then you may have what I believe are called "issues."

Just making personal value judgements and calling lines of argument you don't agree with "disgusting" suggests an intellectual weakness on your own part, likewise labelling me a liar because I argue that using anti-tank weapons on houses is wrong is not any sort of argument.

Your a bit like the IDF yourself. You are not used to real competition.

You, Josh, are so used to coming on this blog and high-fiving your pro-Israeli buddies, trying to out do one another with the latest hare-brained scheme to do away with Arabs once and for all, or whatever, that when you come across an alternative point of view that is reasonably articulated, you are basically at a loss and resort to insults.

Also, if you think that Hamas or Hezbollah or whoever fight against Israel simply because they love fighting for its own sake then I supppose - in Josh Scholar's world - there really isn't any hope for the region at all.

If that is what you really think: that this is a war without end because ideology and religion demand it, then I expect you would be happy enough to see a sort of extermination campaign of all Arabs, or even of all Moslems worldwide... what a violent, fanatical (and bitter) man you must be.

But I don't believe that Josh Scholar's analysis is correct. I don't think that these organisations fight for the sake of a love of war, I don't think that these poeple are incapable of undertsanding or wanting peace.

I think that however violent they can appear, both Hamas and Hezbollah are political and largely rational actors that have tangible aims, and worldy political agendas... this is an argument about security, land and access to resources -- like most human conflict throughout the ages.

It is not about dogma or doctrine or conceptual religion per se. Religion is, I think, used as a mobilising tool. But the agendas of these two organisations are grounded in this world, not the next.

Lastly Josh, I think you have a highly paranoid worldview... You sound like a AWB supporting Boer. I'll wear your "disgust" as a badge of honour.

01:14 GMT. Peace Out.

Posted by: Microraptor at June 14, 2007 05:14 PM

"but Gaza is probably one of the smallest, most crowded and horrible places anyone could be unlucky enough to be born in, anywhere in the world..."

Maybe they need to stop having so many damn kids. Everytime someone in "palestine" does something retarded (like having eight kids in Gaza) muslims and their new left-wing friends whine about how bad things are for the poor palestinians. Oh those evil jews.

I can't wait for the updated version of their most recent failure as a people. (How will they convince themselves that voting for Hamas was the jews fault? What about the most recent violence? If they are devout holy warriors, why does god seem to hate them so much? What is the point of living in a shame/honor culture if you suck at everything, seriously, what could they possibly be proud of?etc...)

If the palestinians spent more time trying to create a functioning society and less time on jihad/genocide it wouldn't be such a horrible place. They are not capable of doing that though and they chose Hamas and the misery that comes with it.

Posted by: mikek at June 14, 2007 05:30 PM

Microraptor, you said so many disgusting things in your response that I won't list them out of respect for Michael's audience. I must say that self awareness isn't your forte.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 05:31 PM

Also Raptor, you need to learn much more about the middle east before you make a fool of yourself lecturing people who know much more than you do. Your assumptions may be reasonable ones, but reasonable assumptions always fail in the case of the middle east. It is possibly the least reasonable place on the planet.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 05:36 PM

Microraptor, you wrote:

But I don't believe that Josh Scholar's analysis is correct. I don't think that these organisations fight for the sake of a love of war, I don't think that these poeple are incapable of undertsanding or wanting peace.

That's got to be one of the most idiotic statements yet. Hamas wants peace?

I suppose that would depend on whether your definition of peace jives with the Hamas definition: the calm after the last of Israel's Jews are slaughtered.

Yeah, THAT kind of peace.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 14, 2007 05:38 PM

Microraptor, what do you think the Israelis should do?

Don't say "make peace with Hamas." That isn't an option, and you know it. Hamas refuses to negotiate and says peace is treason. They don't want a two-state solution, they explicitly say they want to destroy the state of Israel.

Meanwhile they're shooting rockets at people. Israel is supposed to do...what, exactly?

I don't know the answer myself. But I do know that if I were Isreali I wouldn't just sit there and take it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2007 05:39 PM

> But I do know that if I were
> Isreali I wouldn't just sit
> there and take it.

I would. This is a diplomatic bonanza for Israel. In the meantime, the PA/Israel relationship was a dead end that hasn't born fruit since drawing Jordan into a peace deal. Time to move on, and the idiot hamasnicks don't quite understand what an earthquake they've created.

quoth Haniyeh -
"The Hamas' presence in the government is the decision of the Palestinian people. Unilateral decisions, [that is - the decision by Abbas to dissolve the government] made without cooperation or coordination, do not suit the current situation. Therefore, the present government will continue operating and will not give up its position and responsibility towards the Palestinian people, ... The government will start a process of general appeasement and maintain its relations with the neighboring Arab nations, as well as with the other Palestinian factions ... We will continue to maintain the unity government and its principles, and cooperate with whoever is willing ... The Gaza Strip is inseparable from the West Bank. There will not be a Palestinian state without the West Bank,"

...
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3413184,00.html

he's totally confused.

Posted by: Adam D. at June 14, 2007 06:08 PM

Of course this is driven by ideology, microraptor -- the ideology that no non-Muslim state can be allowed to exist on land once held by Muslims. Call it a 'typical territorial motivation for war' if you prefer -- but the territory they demand is all of Israel.

Hamas and IJ have plainly said their goal is to force the evacuation of Sderot, and then the next town, and the next. They are rational, in a sense, but their sole goal is the elimination of Israeli control of Israeli land.

Well, then, I can't see any option for Israel other than to force the evacuation of a wide strip of Gaza. At the rate Gazans are trying to leave, the non-terrorist population will be pretty minimal before long anyhow, and then Israel won't have to worry about trying to aim around so many civilians.

Posted by: Pam at June 14, 2007 06:25 PM

If they were completely wiped out, would anyone miss them:

One fifth of the world's population lives in Muslim countries, but those countries account for one half of the world's poor. If you take the oil out of those economies, 300 million Arabs produce less than Nokia corporation. Over a billion Muslims living in the 57 countries of Organization of Islamic Countries produce less than the German GDP.

Posted by: redaktor at June 14, 2007 06:25 PM

Pam Gazans may want to leave, but Palestinians have been forbidden to leave by the PA's mufti

"We hereby declare that emigration from the blessed lands is not permitted according to religious law. The people living in these areas must remain in their homes and must not leave them to conquerors. Those who abide by this ruling will perform an honorable deed and will support the Aksa Mosque."

If they leave, who will cleanse the land of Jews?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 06:31 PM

As I recall, the Croatian Ustashe used to follow your "sure fire plan" every time they got attacked by Chetniks. You were clearly born after your time.

microbrain,

folks also used my surefire plan against the Nazis in Dresden, Berlin, etc. You bomb the crap out of people and they'll stop attacking you. I'm telling you, it really REALLY works! But like I said, I don't expect that to happen anytime soon-- for the usual predictable reasons (dhimmi apologists for terror like you).

Posted by: Carlos at June 14, 2007 06:35 PM

...you are basically at a loss and resort to insults.

LOL. That's called projection.

Posted by: Carlos at June 14, 2007 06:40 PM

Carlos, I'm not sure that Dresden was necessary. However the principle stands that as long as an enemy wishes to continue fighting, the war is not over - no matter how degraded their capabilities - thus attacking civilians is sometimes necessary to end support for a war and end the conflict.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 06:45 PM

So I think that the idea of levelling whole cities of civilians because Hamas fires rockets is a stupid and basically inhumane idea.

War is stupid and basically inhumane... but that does not mean there are no times when war is appropriate and necessary.

I do respect the Israelis for not 'getting Russian on their ass' and doing to the Gaza Strip what was done to Grozny. On the other hand, only a fool cannot see that Chechens are much less of a problem for the Russians than the Palestinians are for the Israelis, and my respect isn't going to save a single Israeli life.

Perhaps it is time for a reassessment of the optimal approach in such matters.

Posted by: rosignol at June 14, 2007 06:47 PM

Carlos, I'm not sure that Dresden was necessary.

Josh,

With 60 plus years of hindsight maybe you don't. But the people who made that decision didn't have that luxury.

Dresden was the main city in the Ruhr industrial region of Germany, and the main transportation hub for all of the supplies to Hitler's invasion of Russia (if I'm not mistaken). I feel fairly confident that it WAS necessary.

My point still stands however-- bombing the crap out of your enemies works. 65 years ago the free peoples of the West LEVELLED an entire country (Germany), not just a village here and there, and I have no moral qualms about it even in hindsight. They had it coming to them, and so do the paleos. Unlike the people of Dresden and Berlin, let the paleos have 30 minutes to evacuate just to be humane about it.

Posted by: Carlos at June 14, 2007 07:01 PM

microraptor starts by saying: Just making personal value judgements and calling lines of argument you don't agree with "disgusting" suggests an intellectual weakness on your own part... when you come across an alternative point of view that is reasonably articulated, you are basically at a loss and resort to insults

then goes on to say:
I expect you would be happy enough to see a sort of extermination campaign of all Arabs

what a violent, fanatical (and bitter) man you must be.

I think you have a highly paranoid worldview...

etc...

what a joke...

Posted by: mertel at June 14, 2007 07:23 PM

You can not win a war unless you destroy your opponent's will to continue the fight, and you destroy that will by making the price of war too high for them to bear.

As long as Palestinians have an ounce of hope that Israel can and will be destroyed, then they will continue to fight. Prove to them otherwise and then just maybe they will choose the path of peace.

There is no other way. Appeasement. Road maps. Foreign aid. Begging. Pleading. Groveling. Its all been tried. It has all failed.

Unfortunately, unlimited war reminiscent of WWII is most likely the only way to end the insanity. That and regime change in Iran and Syria to cut off the funding.

Posted by: dogwood at June 14, 2007 09:04 PM

Of course this is driven by ideology, microraptor -- the ideology that no non-Muslim state can be allowed to exist on land once held by Muslims. Call it a 'typical territorial motivation for war' if you prefer -- but the territory they demand is all of Israel.

Hamas and IJ have plainly said their goal is to force the evacuation of Sderot, and then the next town, and the next. They are rational, in a sense, but their sole goal is the elimination of Israeli control of Israeli land.

Pam, you've described their goals more clearly than I did. It isn't that peace is unthinkable in Hamas' ideology, it's that peace with a non-Muslim state is unthinkable in Hamas' ideology and that ethnic cleansing is their entire purpose, unless you count the mystical purpose of dying in battle in order to gain access to heaven.

Microraptor is too certain of a model that has no basis in reality (though it is based on reasonable assumptions that reality simply does not bear out) and because he is completely wrong, he assumes complete moral and intellectual superiority... So I don't expect him to even be able to process the truth of the situation. People don't make complete flips in their perception of reality and of their position in a conversation - the realization would be too shaming.

But I do hope he's honest enough to consider Mr. Totten's question because it does point at the fulcrum of the argument.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2007 09:33 PM

"You can not win a war unless you destroy your opponent's will to continue the fight, and you destroy that will by making the price of war too high for them to bear."

Make them howl:)

I hope Sherman stays with us forever.

Posted by: mikek at June 14, 2007 10:15 PM

I can't think of a single war which was won with airpower... certainly not World War 2 in Europe, Carlos. That was won with bodies - lots of them (mainly from the un-free Soviet Union states) - on the ground.

And this is one of my points: the Israelis currently seem loathe to commit forces on the ground if there's a high risk of casualties.... so who has lost the will to fight here exactly?

Another would be where exactly are these Palestinians supposed to go once they get their humane half hour's notice?

I must admit I've never been there, but Gaza seems to almost endless urban sprawl. It has been described as a vast "prison" by a lot of writers.... there is nowhere to go. The gates are literally locked are they not?

Meanwhile Redaktor here is musing on whether anyone would "miss" the world's Muslim population.... ah... such amusing idle speculation.

They didn't have blogs at the time of the Wansee Conference, but if they had done, I'm sure some of the postings might have looked and sounded much like that one.

I don't know what the Israeli government ought to do here... but clearly "more of the same" doesn't seem to be much use, as I believe that the very policy of heavy handed military reprisals has acted as a recruiting officer for groups like Hamas.

I gotta go to work and while interviewing the good recently arrived Polish folk of suburban Slough I will consider Michael's question. Good day to you all.

Posted by: Microbrain at June 15, 2007 12:14 AM

I can't think of a single war which was won with airpower...

You can't win with airpower alone, but you can't win without it either. WW2 is a perfect example. The allies had airpower, the Nazis didn't (for most of the war).

But what does that have to do with bombing the crap out of your enemies? I said Israel should use howitzers, not F-16s.

The purpose isn't to win, it's to deter. You know how Assad levelled the town of Hama? Trust me, it deterred.

Posted by: Carlos at June 15, 2007 12:30 AM

Hi Michael, It's been a while since we last chatted in Iraq. Glad to see you are well and still writing.

Carlos,

Are you advocating for the Israelis to behave like H. ASSad in Hama? I thought the beauty of Israeli and Jewish culture as a whole was its morality. You can not play both sides of the coin here. Either Israel is a light onto the nations or it is no different than the oppressive dictatorial Arab regimes. Israel can not be both.

There is no clear right or wrong here. There are many wrongs and many rights on both sides. The situation in the middle east is not a black and white one, so can not be described in black and white terms.

At the risk of sounding like a dovish peacenik I am quite alarmed by the number of people advocating total anihilation. I fear the freak from the end of days blog may be onto something...

One group annihilating the other is no longer an option in the "moral" 21st century. Unless of course you are a superpower. Israel is NOT a superpower regardless of its delusions of grandeur. It is one of many small nations that happens to live in one of the roughest neighborhoods on Earth.

You can say what you want about the Arabs. They are brutal, they are oppressive, they are backwards and on and on and on. But you know what? when you start asking your leaders to behave like the most oppressive and brutal of them all then you become just like them.

Who knows maybe the Saudi's are smarter than everyone thinks with their peace offer. They see the feelings on the street in Israel and a public ready to slaughter another. Maybe they have realized that there isn't much difference between them.

Michael if the majority of your readers get their way then I am afraid Israel becomes no different than the Arab regimes it tries so hard to distinguish itself from. If that is the case then all I can say to my Israeli cousins is welcome to the neighborhood. We can finally normalize our relations since we are now both at the same low level of intolerance.

Safe wishes to all readers of this and opposing blogs.

Posted by: Johnny Seikaly at June 15, 2007 02:11 AM

Hi Johnny, it has been a while. Are you still in Kurdistan?

I don't think any of my readers want to annihilate Palestine. Carlos is over the top (sorry Carlos), but that's not what he said.

At the risk of sounding like a dovish peacenik

I'm not the world's biggest fan of dovish peacenikism, but at the same time I'm well aware that if your viewpoint were typical of Palestinians we wouldn't be having this argument. So I, for one, thank you for being a "peacenik" Palestinian.

Be safe in Iraq if you're still there.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2007 02:20 AM

You can say what you want about the Arabs. They are brutal, they are oppressive, they are backwards and on and on and on. But you know what? when you start asking your leaders to behave like the most oppressive and brutal of them all then you become just like them.

There will always be one difference between western democracies and the Arabs. If you leave us alone, if you show us benign intent then you will have peace. Not so middle eastern Muslims who only take peaceful intent as a sign of weakness.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2007 02:53 AM

I think that the role of Egypt is underplayed in these comments. They will now be extremely concerned to have a Hamas Islamic state on their border, particularly with their own Muslim Brotherhood encouraged and watching carefully. Egypt will likely play hardball.

Surely if both Israel and Egypt wanted it they could completely halt the supply of arms into Gaza and thus diminish or destroy their military capability.

Posted by: Steve M at June 15, 2007 03:03 AM

Josh,

Israel is not a western democracy. Israel is a middle eastern democracy. If you want to be a western democracy then go west. This is coming from someone who does NOT advocate pushing the jews into the sea. I think we, the people of the middle east, could be the most developed on earth if only we knew how to get along. With Israeli ingenuity, Lebanese salesmenship and Arab oil nothing could stop us.

But unfortunately we are people of the middle east. If you do not consider yourself as a person of the middle east, then go back home.

There is NO single side to blame in this conflict. Yes the Arabs consistently play the wrong hand at the wrong time. But are the Israelis blameless victims? NO. They created their state through means of terrorism and on the guilt of a world that hated Jews. They have initiated pre-emptive wars. They advocate political assassinations. They occupy land and build settlements in contravention to international law.

Sounds just like any other middle eastern country to me. So you elect your leaders. So do we in Lebanon, as do the Palestinians. You are no better than us. We are no better than you. You are not western. As soon as you left your home in Europe or the US or wherever it is you clame to be from and settled in Israel you became middle eastern.

So please accept my welcoming you to the neighborhood.

In direct response to your comment. The US is among the best of western democracies. This is pure fact. I wonder what the Iraqis did to them to deserve the death and destruction going on there today. So please don't peddle snakeoil about western democracies leaving others alone if they are shown benign intent.

Posted by: Johnny Seikaly at June 15, 2007 03:12 AM

Microraptor,

Has it occured to you MattW, that the REASON that Hezbollah and Hamas fire their rockets from populated areas is that they WANT Israel to attack those self same populated areas -- now why might that be?

Of course it has occurred to me. This is so obvious that it shouldn't need to be brought up. The reason - sorry, REASON - they do it is because we try to avoid killing their civilians. What's more, our efforts to avoid killing non-combatants is something we claim makes us much, much better than the enemy.

The end result is that we end up killing their civilians anyway, because what the hell else can we do but try to destroy their terrorists in their civilian areas? Their civilians end up hating us because we have the power to deal massive damage, and we claim to avoid inflicting civilian casualties, but here's still half a dozen kids blown to bits by an errant tank shell.

What to make of this?

Especially when those same, powerful, 'moral' people become hysterical when a fraction of the civilians killed in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere are beheaded on television or blown up on trains in London or Madrid.

There are many ways to view such people, but from a (to simplify wildly, but take the point) Middle Eastern perspective, hatred and contempt are the most likely candidates.

Also.... in my humble opinion, using ordnance designed to destroy Main Battle Tanks against breezeblock houses, or using helicopter gunships with Hellfire missiles against twinky gunmen with AK-47s IS using overwhelming firepower

Aw, diddums. The Israelis often uses those weapons because the delivery system is (obviously) safer and (obviously) more stealthy than playing 'fair' and being 'proportionate'. Yes, using an expensive missile on jihadi militia is expensive, but the 'reasonable' alternative would be to use your own soldiers. Except they'd have to invade Gaza to do it. And take casualties. And kill civilians. It is clearly cheaper to absorb the cost of a stand-off weapon than a sustained ground battle.

You'd almost think that is why billions of dollars and incredible amounts of research have been done to develop these weapons. Personally, I consider expending ordnance rather than lives an improvement.

But I put more emphasis on the 'overwhelming' than on the 'firepower' part of what you said. The fact that terrorists in Gaza have killed more of each other than Israel typically does in a sustained campaign says Israel needs to work on the 'overwhelming' element, too.

Nevertheless, I stand by my main argument.... namely that his idea of destroying civilian population centres and using reprisal tactics is inhumane, stupid, counterproductive and ultimately demneaning to those who carry them out.

So you consider our fathers/grandfathers who took part in World War Two, whose policy it was to destroy civilian population centres, to be inhumane and stupid?

Simlilarly, when you have a war against "terrorists" and your armed forces kill five times as many "enemy" civilians as "terrorists," while the "terrorists" kill more than five times as many of your soldiers as civilians, you have to wonder WTF is going on with the once mighty IDF?

I'm not sure where you get your statistics from. In the Lebanon war, yes, about 80% of Israel's casualties were soldiers. But at least half of Lebanon's were, too. In the 2000-present war with the palestinians, about civilian casualties account for about half of the palestinian casualties and most of the Israeli ones.

But you sound like exactly what I outlined above: you really cannot understand how a powerful, moral army - despite efforts - still kills civilians. And so you view it with contempt. Thanks for being an example.

Now, Israel used to claim it had the best commandos and special forces in the world... we saw them in Entebbe.... so why not use these A1 tough guys instead of blasting away at housing estates with artillery?

...

You see, the real problem for Israel is this: when you have an army that is prepared to kill for its country, but loathe to die for it, that society is fundamentally weak from a war fighting point of view.

This goes back to your objection to Israel not waging a new Somme every time the Israelis come across a breeze block house. You think taking casualties is somehow as important as inflicting them.

Why was artillery developed?

To kill the enemy efficiently, cheaply and dramatically with lower cost than sending men with muskets and benefits to do it.

You're supposed to make the other poor bastard die for his country, remember?

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 03:21 AM

] They created their state through means of terrorism and on the guilt of a world that hated Jews.

Ancient Arabia was built on conquest, America was built on conquest - and so was most countries. Get over it. The difference between the civilized and the uncivilized is that the civilized don't have vendettas.

] They have initiated pre-emptive wars.

And good for them. By attacking first they survived.

] They advocate political assassinations.

Once again, good for them. Killing enemy leaders is the least bloody way to avert wider bloodshed.

] They occupy land and build settlements in contravention to international law.

International law is a whore.

and you started with:

] There is NO single side to blame in this conflict. Yes the Arabs consistently play the wrong hand at the wrong time. But are the Israelis blameless victims? NO.

Empty rhetoric, all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2007 03:36 AM

Oh and one more:

] But unfortunately we are people of the middle east. If you do not consider yourself as a person of the middle east, then go back home.

Meaningless drivel. Oh and I'm not in the middle east and I intend to stay away from that hate and violence soaked region. I can't ignore your people's foolish hatred. It offends me and it makes me grieve for the generations you haven't created suffering for yet but surely will.

So I will stay far away from your people for the sake of my own mental health.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2007 03:41 AM

] I wonder what the Iraqis did to them to deserve the death and destruction going on there today.

Uhm, they're busy killing each other for being the wrong sort of Muslims. They're attacking everyone who might improve their country for being in league with the infidel ... and to some extent they're dying because Iran is spending a some million dollars a day funding violence. I have no idea how much the Saudis and Syrians are spending to make democracy look bad by slaughtering innocents, but none of these groups could do nearly the damage they do if Iraqis had sane attitudes.

So, don't play the victim at me. I remember Saddam. Now Iraqis could turn their country into Brazil, but they don't have the wisdom. Maybe they'll turn it into Gaza.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2007 03:46 AM
Israel is not a western democracy. Israel is a middle eastern democracy. If you want to be a western democracy then go west.

A fair point. Playing by Western rules in the Middle East is not smart.

Are you advocating for the Israelis to behave like H. ASSad in Hama? I thought the beauty of Israeli and Jewish culture as a whole was its morality. You can not play both sides of the coin here. Either Israel is a light onto the nations or it is no different than the oppressive dictatorial Arab regimes. Israel can not be both.

Why not? Those oppressive, dictatorial regimes are odious because of how they treat their own subjects. Israelis are (for the most part) treated well by the Israeli state, while the average Syrian or Iranian has more to fear from their government than from Mossad or the CIA.

You are making a mistake in conflating peacetime and wartime conduct. There is no contradiction between treating your citizens, allies and friends well and destroying your enemies. Israel is not commanded to love its enemy.

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 04:40 AM
But are the Israelis blameless victims? NO. They created their state through means of terrorism and on the guilt of a world that hated Jews. They have initiated pre-emptive wars. They advocate political assassinations. They occupy land and build settlements in contravention to international law. Sounds just like any other middle eastern country to me. So you elect your leaders. So do we in Lebanon, as do the Palestinians. You are no better than us. We are no better than you. You are not western. As soon as you left your home in Europe or the US or wherever it is you clame to be from and settled in Israel you became middle eastern.

But Israel is better. It has a successful business class, regional economic clout (despite a lack of resources), high standards of health and education.

You're half-right: Israel treats hostile forces badly. So what? As you said, everyone does it. But Israel treats Israelis well. That's the difference between Israel and (say) Syria.

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 04:45 AM

You are making a mistake in conflating peacetime and wartime conduct. There is no contradiction between treating your citizens, allies and friends well and destroying your enemies. Israel is not commanded to love its enemy.

Muslims are always whining that they suffer for the attacks they make. The underlying assumption is that they should be able to commit jihad forever...

But sane people learned the lesson of WWII that technology has turned war into mass suicide. When the Muslims demand to be able to make war forever they are committing suicide, they are all walking dead, they just haven't stopped moving quite yet.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2007 04:48 AM

MattW, you wrote:

You're half-right: Israel treats hostile forces badly. So what? As you said, everyone does it.

This may seem picky and argumentative, and I wavered before deciding to respond to what you wrote.

It's impossible to conduct a war, even a defensive war such as Israel is engaged in, without "treating hostile forces badly". That's pretty much axiomatic when one has to shoot back.

I would argue that Israel, by and large, makes great efforts to fight hard but fair, often times putting it's own sons in harm's way to protect the lives of the other side's non-combatants. The battle for Jenin, often misrepresented as a "massacre" was just such an example. The IDF sent infantry into the alleys of Jenin, going house to house, taking heavy casualties as they tried to pick off the Fatah thugs from among the non-gun-wielding residents.

They didn't have to do that. No other Middle East army would have done that, and there are lots of moral and ethical reasons why. And therein lies one fundamental difference between Israel and her enemies.

Not arguing your overall points - they are well-taken. I just don't think it's correct to concede that Israel's conduct of war is just as bad as everyone else's.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 06:39 AM
I just don't think it's correct to concede that Israel's conduct of war is just as bad as everyone else's.

I agree with everything you said, but it wasn't strictly relevant to the point I was trying to make to Johnny Seikaly. If I were disputing his point about Israeli conduct during wartime, your explanation would more than do the job.

I would argue that Israel, by and large, makes great efforts to fight hard but fair, often times putting it's own sons in harm's way to protect the lives of the other side's non-combatants.

Personally, I'd prefer those young men to be alive today and not have the rhetorical 'point' you just made. Adam D, responding to Michael's comment that he wouldn't accept rocket fire, said:

I would. This is a diplomatic bonanza for Israel.

In other words, taking casualties in order to win (brief, conditional, ultimately useless) diplomatic support. On the face of it, there isn't much difference between accepting rockets in Sderot rather than hurting Gazans, or accepting dozens of dead soldiers rather than hurting Jenin non-combatants.

Is this 'moral, ethical' behaviour?

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 06:47 AM

I, uh...

Muskets and bayonets.

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 07:16 AM

Personally, I'd prefer those young men to be alive today and not have the rhetorical 'point' you just made.

So would I.
==========

In other words, taking casualties in order to win (brief, conditional, ultimately useless) diplomatic support...Is this 'moral, ethical' behaviour?

No, it isn't, when you frame the question that way. But here you are responding to Adam D.'s post, not mine.

My point about ethics and morality was that Israel's army makes the distinction between combatants and non-combatants as a matter of policy. How they implement that policy and under what circumstances is another debate altogether.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 07:44 AM

Certainly, if Israel committed suicide, she'd be a lot more popular than she is currently.

Keeping in mind that a lot of the humanistic, progressive set---the same group of winners who bash Israel's self defense measures---would claim, after the festivities were over (actually, while they were in progress, since they'd last a good long while) that Israel deserved exactly what she got. (You see, we tried to make Israel see the light; we told her so, but those Zionists, damn it, just wouldn't listen to us....)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 15, 2007 07:59 AM

> The IDF sent infantry into the alleys of Jenin, going house to house, taking heavy casualties as they tried to pick off the Fatah thugs from among the non-gun-wielding residents.

> They didn't have to do that. No other Middle East army would have done that, and there are lots of moral and ethical reasons why. And therein lies one fundamental difference between Israel and her enemies.

Count the Lebanese Army as another one doing exactly that, except that it barely has any weapons and is short on ammo.

Posted by: El Hombre at June 15, 2007 08:03 AM

Are you advocating for the Israelis to behave like H. ASSad in Hama?

What Assad did in Hama is remarkable only because he did it to his own people. Had he done it to a village in a warring nation (as has been done for millenia) it wouldn't even be a footnote in the annals of warfare. It's what Israel did in southern Lebanon, remember? (What's the name of that village that got flattened?) I don't suspect Hesbollah will kidnap an Israeli soldier for quite some time now. It's what we did to AN ENTIRE COUNTRY in WW2 (Germany, remember?) So why not to the paleos? Is it because slaugtering Germans is fine but not the little brown munchkins of the world? What makes them so friggin special? They aren't. So please don't pretend there's anything Nazi about it. But I understand how repulsive it sounds in this day and age. We're expected to fight bloodless wars now (it's why we'll never win another war again). And I know I'm the heavy here. But I'm telling you, unless Israel starts actually USING it's weapons, this war will never end.

Posted by: Carlos at June 15, 2007 08:08 AM

> In other words, taking casualties in
> order to win (brief, conditional,
> ultimately useless) diplomatic support.

no. it's a digital age. there are hundreds of millions of young people educating themselves about the world online every day. Most of them will see these events through a fog, at best, but what they're seeing now is unadulterated and quite powerful.

so no, I'm not thinking so much about next week's political maneuvering as about how these events will alter people basic assumptions. Israel is smart to keep a low profile at this moment, so much as that's possible. That's a strategic consideration in a long war.

There's more to say on this subject. One of the central questions of WWII has always been why the Jews went quietly to the gas chambers. There are all kinds of answers to that question, but a key reason is that doing so was an extension of the sort of behavior and policies that allowed Jewish communities to survive many previous centuries of pogroms. There was always an assumption that a few would be lost, the lust for blood would abate, and the community would be allowed to resume its life. With the Nazis, of course, the lust for blood did not abate.

Nevertheless. The point is that what is moral and ethical is above all what allows the community to survive. Right now I believe Israel's strongest hand is diplomatic, and it can best play that hand by being inactive.

Posted by: Adam D. at June 15, 2007 08:15 AM
My point about ethics and morality was that Israel's army makes the distinction between combatants and non-combatants as a matter of policy. How they implement that policy and under what circumstances is another debate altogether.

Agreed, and I was sort of alluding to it. Some other time :-)

Adam D,

One of the central questions of WWII has always been why the Jews went quietly to the gas chambers. There are all kinds of answers to that question, but a key reason is that doing so was an extension of the sort of behavior and policies that allowed Jewish communities to survive many previous centuries of pogroms. There was always an assumption that a few would be lost, the lust for blood would abate, and the community would be allowed to resume its life. With the Nazis, of course, the lust for blood did not abate. Nevertheless. The point is that what is moral and ethical is above all what allows the community to survive.

I guess you could shorten that to "the only good Jew is a dead Jew, or one willing to die in order to be percieved as moral".

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 08:23 AM

Adam, I really hope you're right about the millions "educating themselves," but I think you're much too sanguine about how international opinion might change in the foreseeable future. Anti-Israelism is so deeply ingrained in so many places, I can't see anything short of another Holocaust (of Israeli Jews) doing much to change those allegiances.

Posted by: Gene at June 15, 2007 08:28 AM

Adam D., you wrote:

One of the central questions of WWII has always been why the Jews went quietly to the gas chambers.

That's just not true. There are many examples of Jews resisting, fighting back, refusing to be herded like cattle to the slaughter.

The Nazis deliberately mislead the Jews (and everyone else) with the fiction of work camps, even up to the very gates of Auschwitz, upon which read the words "Arbeit Macht Frei" - Work Makes Free.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 08:30 AM

> I guess you could shorten that to
> "the only good Jew is a dead Jew

whatever.

I'm making what I think is a fairly serious point that while the atmosphere may be like 1967 in some superficial and even some substantial ways, the course of action should be different.

Posted by: Adam D. at June 15, 2007 08:35 AM

lilmamzer,

you're right. Most Jews did not know where they were being taken, and there were significant examples of resistance. I was being sloppy.

Nevertheless European Jews were largely quiescent as their freedom and finally lives were taken away from them, and I argue that it is because of the history of pogroms. Just as now, the Nazi history ensures a very different Jewish response to threats.

Posted by: Adam D. at June 15, 2007 08:44 AM

I will agree with Johnny that no one is blameless -- but not to the degree that blame is equally distributed and cancels out. Arrogance, stupidity, racism, egotism, and ignorance have been amply demonstrated in the leadership of both sides. Let's not ignore the extent to which both sides have been quite callously manipulated by other parties -- Egypt, Saudis, USSR, USA, France, etc. as well.

But there are clear moral, ethical, political differences between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures and particularly in the conduct of the war.

Palestinian leaders have siphoned off billions of dollars in aid meant for their people and channeled it into supporting terrorism (or swiss bank accounts) and knowingly frustrated infrastructure and economic development, partly in order to keep their population easily roiled and bitter;
they have hijacked and killed non-combatant civilians from other nations;
they deliberately target purely civilian Israeli population centers with suicide bombers using rat-poison-covered shrapnel-filled bombs in violation of any international law you care to look up;
and openly call for the murder of Jews globally and the complete elimination of the state of Israel.

However aggressive or brutal and indiscriminate you think them, the Israelis do nothing comparable, in fact they generally take pains to do the opposite.

You are quite wrong on another key point - Israel's democracy is far more Western than Middle Eastern. Voting doesn't make a democracy -- that's the same moronic mistake our State Dept made.
-- Israel has a loud and vibrant free press, unlike Palestine (or any Arab nation other than Lebanon, perhaps), and any Westerner can tell you that may be the single most important underpinning of democracy (Thank God for MJT and his ilk!)
-- Israel is a knowledge-based culture, which also seems to be critically important in a Western democracy (if fp were around, he could go off on that one ad infinitum). Lebanon used to be, and Gaza never has been and isn't, nor Egypt.
-- Israel, unlike the Palestinians, in principle regards all citizens as having equal rights regardless of gender, color, or religion. No democracy including the USA can quite execute that one in reality, and the Israelis fall short in a number of areas. However, the offended citizen has legal recourse to a High Court that routinely dares to find against Israeli government behavior in favor of the democratic principle.
-- Israel, you see, has an independent judiciary, which is essential in a Western Democracy.
-- Israelis have freedom of and from religion, even though it is a religiously-defined nation. Arabs generally, and Palestinians now don't. If you're an orthodox Jewish woman in Israel, it's not a fun culture -- but you can quit your religion! And if you are a Buddhist or Muslim or Catholic or atheist, you needn't fear for your safety.
-- Israelis are free to emigrate, suddenly unlike Gazans -- that one shocked me.
-- Israelis have freedom of assembly -- the citizens can gather and protest and oppose government policies or actions without fear of being shot, or arrested and tortured by government security forces. Gazans can't. Egyptians can't.

So lumping Israel together with Arab dictatorships and quasi-democracies is glib and the kind of misleading PR I'm afraid we've come to expect from Palestinians. You may be moderate and reasonable in tone, Johnny, but if you believe much of what you said, dovish peacenik or not, you are still spewing the Arab party line.

Posted by: Pam at June 15, 2007 08:47 AM

Adam D.:

Nevertheless European Jews were largely quiescent as their freedom and finally lives were taken away from them, and I argue that it is because of the history of pogroms.

The New Jew, who resists extermination or even living under dhimmi status, is still a shock to the rest of the world, which got used to the idea of Jews as permanent monorities scattered throughout the diaspora.

Jews were (barely) tolerated when they knew their place, but when they got uppity, all bets were off.

That's the reality of Israel amongst her Arab neighbors today, and of latent European antisemitism bubbling to the surface as anti-Zionist activism and anti-Israeli politics.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 08:55 AM

Pam, you wrote:

-- Israelis are free to emigrate, suddenly unlike Gazans -- that one shocked me.

Prepare for more shocks. Hamas in Gaza will be the new Taliban, with all the horrors that means - brutal misogyny, theocratic tyranny affecting every aspect of people's daily lives, and more....

It's been bad but it's going to be getting much worse.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 09:01 AM

#1) The recent bloodshed in Gaza has been persistently referred to in the American news media as a "civil war." Is what has been unfolding a civil war or a palace coup?

#2) The recent bloodshed in Gaza has been compared by some to the bloodshed in Iraq. But is inter-sectional fighting between Sunnis and Shia the same thing as fighting between Hamas and Fatah or does the latter have more to do with the struggle between remnants of the old Arab nationalist establishment in Palestine (represented by Fatah) and the Islamist movement (represented by Hamas)?

#3) How do the people of Gaza feel about the potential takeover by Hamas? We have heard from officials in Israel and Washington, and from opinion columnists from all over the place. But they don't have to live there.

Posted by: Linus at June 15, 2007 09:22 AM

Linus, you wrote:

#3) How do the people of Gaza feel about the potential takeover by Hamas? We have heard from officials in Israel and Washington, and from opinion columnists from all over the place.

Who cares how they feel about Hamas? They elected Hamas. Were they zombies on election day? Did they not know who they were voting for?

Why do people like you insist on treating the Arabs as innocent, childlike, naive people, unworthy of living like adults on the world stage? That is soft bigotry any way you slice it.

They wanted Hamas. They went out and got Hamas. Now they have Hamas.

Too fucking bad. I'll show more compassion when the "good" people of Gaza start treating their Israeli neighbors in a way that suggests anything short of genocide just won't do.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 09:30 AM

correction:

I should have written:

"I'll show more compassion when the "good" people of Gaza stop treating their Israeli neighbors in a way that suggests anything short of genocide just won't do."

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 09:46 AM

To play both sides of this debate, lilmamzer, the Palestinian street voted for Hamas because Fatah leadership were corrupt plutocrats like Dahlan:

http://conflictblotter.com/2007/06/15/hamastan-day-one/

However, as you read through the posts in the on-the-ground blog linked to above, it is easy to see that Hamas as currently constituted is incapabale of "waging peace". Not unlike the Islamists in Iran (vis-a-vis Iran/Iraq war of the 80s) and Al Qaeda.

For leftist posters like Microraptor who place the burden of peace on Israel, they engage in cognitive disconnect by vouching for a political representative/ideology that Does Not Want Peace. Hey, Arafat didn't either if you read MEMRI archives. Arabs who want peace with Israel get bullets in the head for their troubles (i.e. Sadat) or crush all Islamist opposition to do so (i.e. Jordan and Egypt today).

Posted by: jjdynomite at June 15, 2007 09:56 AM

Hey all, I penned an email to family and friends about the Gaza situation. Even though it doesn't follow the current thread here, some of you might find it interesting:

I reckon that Hamas' defeat of Fatah in the Gaza strip will have far reaching implications in the region. Maybe I'll write about that later, but for now I want to touch upon a different topic. Recent events in Gaza spurred me to revisit an op-ed I wrote after Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections many moons ago, which you can read here:

http://www.uwmpost.com/article/c58b6a040942a99001094d2534b80034

My analysis and predictions have turned out to be correct except for one:

The Israelis will probably continue to unilaterally disengage from Palestinian populated areas, just as they did recently from the Gaza Strip. Isolated Jewish settlements in the West Bank will be evacuated, and the security barrier will be extended to include large settlement blocs that are located near Israel’s 1967 border.

The thousands of rockets launched from Gaza into southern Israel preclude any possibility for now that Israel will cede military control of the West Bank. That's because Israel's coastal region--home to the bulk of its population--is a mere ten miles wide between the sea and the green line which demarcates the 1967 border with the West Bank. I've been hearing pundits wonder whether Hamas will now go on to control the West Bank as well. Won't happen. Hamas was able to gain control of Gaza because Israel unilaterally withdrew; thus their only military foe was Fatah. The West Bank is still largely controlled by Israel. There are numerous Jewish settlements located there, and the only areas under Palestinian "security" control are the major cities located primarily on the ridge of the Judean and Samarian mountain ranges (Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and, near the green line, Qalqilya). The rest is open space or small villages--and Israel controls those militarily strategic areas. So, there is no possibility Hamas can reproduce in the West Bank what they did in Gaza. Israel simply can't and won't allow what has happened to Sderot--the Israeli city adjacent to Gaza that has been pounded by Gazan rockets, and as a result, is witnessing depopulation--happen to the major population centers on the coast. And finally, if it comes to open battles, the Israeli Defense Forces are not Fatah, and Hamas won't stand a chance.

Posted by: Zak at June 15, 2007 10:01 AM

jjdynomite, you wrote:

To play both sides of this debate, lilmamzer, the Palestinian street voted for Hamas because Fatah leadership were corrupt plutocrats like Dahlan

They didn't have good choices - the secular terror apparatus of Fatah or the Islamist version of Hamas, but they knowingly and intentionally voted for the worst option, for themselves and for everyone else.

My point is that the Palestinian Arabs keep voting for either one instead of creating and sustaining a viable and at least benign alternative.

Maybe they are incapable at this point of doing so. Maybe they really don't care enough to. However the Palestinian Arabs choose to run their affairs, the least we should expect is that they not pose a threat to their neighbors.

Posted by: lilmamzer at June 15, 2007 10:16 AM

Actually, there were choices other than Hamas or Fatah for the Palestinians. I remember reading about some candidates who were pro co-existence with Israel, anti-terrorism, and pro democratic and economic reform. They somewhere around 1% of the vote.

Posted by: mertel at June 15, 2007 10:54 AM

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the smelly crouch and armpits of these so-called "peacenik Leftists". They are really Jihadi supporters practicing Taqqiyya war craft.

Posted by: redaktor at June 15, 2007 11:59 AM

redaktor,

Is Johnny Seikally really a jihadi supporter practicing taqiyya warcraft? How would you know? Do you know him?

I do.

He's a Palestinian-Lebanese-American who worked, until recently, as an aid worker of sorts for the Kurds in Iraq. He's a friend, and an all-around nice guy.

You aren't.

He works his ass off to make people's lives better who recently suffered genocide from a totalitarian Arab Nationalist regime.

IF all Palestinians and Lebanese and Arabs generally were like Johnny there would be no war in Israel. So piss off. I'm tired of your nasty comments.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2007 12:12 PM

It is amusing, and depressing, to see this stupid argument go on and on, over and over. Several years ago I read the line that sums up the entire mess.

"If Arabs (Paleos) stop fighting there will be peace, if Israelies stop fighting there will be genocide."

It really is as simple as that.

Posted by: AlanC at June 15, 2007 12:12 PM

"It really is as simple as that."

Almost that simple. Israeli's need to eliminate the settlement movement:

Pali: "Who said you could move into my house?"

Settler: "God."

Pali: "WTF?!?"

Settler: "pwned!!!1"

Posted by: mikek at June 15, 2007 12:48 PM

I can't think of a single war which was won with airpower...

WW2, Pacific theater (aka "the war Europeans keep forgetting about").

Naval airpower (in combination with submarines) cleared the Pacific of the IJN and starved Japan's industry of raw materials. Ground forces took islands which were then used as airbases for heavy bombers, which destroyed Japan's industrial base (among other things).

Then we started dropping A-bombs.

There was no ground invasion of the home islands, in my book, that makes the victory largely attributable to airpower.

The experience made such a deep impression on the Japanese that they are now one of the most pacifist nations on earth.

Posted by: rosignol at June 15, 2007 01:27 PM

MJT,

I was talking about microbrain or microraptor or whatever alias he goes by. But your reaction is rather telling, don't you think?

Btw, any friend of the Kurds is a friend of mine.

Posted by: redaktor at June 15, 2007 01:28 PM

Adam D.,

I'm making what I think is a fairly serious point that while the atmosphere may be like 1967 in some superficial and even some substantial ways, the course of action should be different.

You said that Israel should accept being constantly hit by rockets in order to gain the sympathies of "hundreds of millions of young people educating themselves about the world online every day."

You said that accepting the resulting deaths and injuries is 'smart' because it keeps a 'low profile'.

You brought the pre-Holocaust mindset of Jews accepting antisemitic abuse and attacks, and conclude thusly:

With the Nazis, of course, the lust for blood did not abate. Nevertheless. The point is that what is moral and ethical is above all what allows the community to survive.

Nevertheless? Never the fucking less?

What do you mean by that? That - in spite of the Holocaust - Jews should go back to their pre-Holocaust status as the perpetually abused victim. That is moral and ethical and will allow the community to survive (unless it doesn't, of course).

Those are your own words. I summed that opinion as:

I guess you could shorten that to "the only good Jew is a dead Jew, or one willing to die in order to be percieved as moral".

The more I read your comment, the more I realise I was far too polite.

Posted by: MattW at June 15, 2007 01:49 PM

Redaktor: I was talking about microbrain or microraptor or whatever alias he goes by.

Whatever. Microraptor is also a lot more civil than you are. Clean it up. If you can't argue with people in a civilized manner then I won't let you argue with people on this site at all. Most blogosphere comment sections are filthy sewers, and I won't have mine turn into another one.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2007 02:16 PM

By the way, Redaktor, I banned Microraptor when he first showed up. He emailed me, apologized, I lifted the ban, and he has been much more pleasant ever since. See if you can follow his example.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2007 02:18 PM

mikek, actually that's the usual propaganda. The Jews who came to Israel got their houses the usual way, by buying them.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2007 03:33 PM

Michael,

When you're used to sugarcoated lies, the truth may sound brutish, nasty, and unpleasant. I'm sorry that you seem to prefer style over content. Perhaps that's the attraction to Lebanon and the Lebanese. Btw, what made you lift the ban on "microraptor"? If these Jihadi supporters coach their arguments in a more civil tone or hide behind false identities (being Joooish, Leftist peaceniks, etc.), does that make them any less sinister?

Posted by: redaktor at June 15, 2007 03:42 PM

Ok, Redaktor, that's it for you. I gave you way more warnings than you deserved.

Any future comments by you will be deleted.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2007 03:47 PM

redaktor,

he banned me too once upon a time. I apologized and he let me back in.

Posted by: Carlos at June 15, 2007 05:50 PM

MattW,

You're arguing with you own demons, not me. You've misread just about everything I've said.

Posted by: Adam D. at June 16, 2007 07:44 AM

If I did, I apologise.

Posted by: MattW at June 16, 2007 09:10 AM

iran needs friends like moustafa
ahmadynagad is the most stupied person in the world,fundrasing terrorism didn,t help any policy till now , and his partnership with the syrian regiem and hamas .
he will became like a fly in a bottle soon , let us wait and see you crying on him and on his partners when the day come ,i hope that , all that fanatics moslems awake and discover how mush they are ball shit

Posted by: henry at June 18, 2007 08:08 AM
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