June 19, 2007

Commentary, both good and awful

By Noah Pollak

Robert Satloff is the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and yesterday he gave a talk about Hamas and Gaza. It has been posted on the Institute's website, and it is sweeping, nuanced, and sober. It would be pointless to try and excerpt it here, so, as they say, read the whole thing -- satisfaction guaranteed.

There are a few other pieces worth checking out as well, by Fouad Ajami, Dennis Ross, and a truly jaw-dropping op-ed in the Washington Post by Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller. They argue the following:

As the United States and others seek to empower [Abbas], they should push for a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire in Gaza and the West Bank, which will require dealing -- indirectly at least -- with elements of Hamas. They should resist the temptation to isolate Gaza and should tend to its population's needs. And should a national unity government be established, this time they should welcome the outcome and take steps to shore it up. Only then will efforts to broker credible political negotiations between Abbas and his Israeli counterpart on a two-state solution have a chance to succeed.

This is a train wreck comprised of international relations jargon, wishful thinking, and reality-denial. Their prescription, with all the pretentious diction chipped away, is: 1) make diplomatic overtures to Hamas, 2) push for an Israel-Hamas cease-fire, regardless of Hamas' flawless track record of immediately breaking every such agreement, 3) deliver aid to Gaza such that its residents will scarcely have an occasion to question their new Islamist despotism and Hamas will be freed from the need to engage in any kind of pothole-fixing governance, and then, 4) endorse a "national unity" government inclusive of Hamas and "take steps to shore it up" (however many op-ed columns it takes, one presumes).

But we've already seen this movie. The Saudis tried the national-unity gambit a couple of months ago, and quite predictably the Hamas leadership showed up in Mecca for the photo op and then quickly set about destroying Fatah back in Gaza. If anyone hasn't gotten the memo, Hamas is working with Iran these days, not with the Saudis, the Americans, or the Israelis -- and Malley and Miller's big idea is to do a repeat of that sideshow, with the U.S. standing in for the Saudis. Finally, with the national unity government "shored up," 5) the Israelis would at last have a partner with whom to negotiate a two-state solution.

But Messrs. Malley and Miller, in this dreamscape, what about the half of the unity government named Hamas? You know, the organization whose purpose is to wage jihad and destroy Israel (and Fatah)? What acts of sorcery will be required to induce Hamas' hard-core jihadists to not just faithfully join a unity government, but then to renounce the very purpose of their existence and consent to a two-state peace with Israel? And how do Malley and Miller think that Hamas' paymasters and strategic mentors in Tehran and Damascus are going to react to the idea of peace with Israel?

How is all of this supposed to work, you know, in reality?

These ideas have no chance of being either adopted or of working (other than on newsprint), but it's worth looking at the common premise of the authors' proposals: It is the idea that the United States and Israel should do nothing to make Hamas and its constituents pay, in any way, for their behavior. There should be no pushback whatsoever; and not only should America and Israel not push back, they should actually reward Hamas by begging for cease-fires and offering aid money, diplomatic overtures, and unity-government proposals.

One thing I'd like to know from the authors of this op-ed is the following: At what point do you stop trying to placate a group like Hamas? I wonder if the authors themselves even know.

Posted by Noah Pollak at June 19, 2007 08:11 PM
Comments

The best line from the Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller piece was, "If Hamas is convinced that there is an effort to strangle its rule, it is likely to resume violence." Ah, I see, so Hamas is like a frightened, wounded animal. It won't attack you if you just leave it be. Too bad most of these editorialists have never actually spent significant time in the region getting to know its people.

Posted by: Evan at June 19, 2007 10:07 PM

One thing I'd like to know from the authors of this op-ed is the following: At what point do you stop trying to placate a group like Hamas?

Never.

That the other party in the 'dialouge' can not be placated will never occur to them. They would be making offers and trying to negotiate some kind of settlement right up to the second the trigger is pulled.

I do not know where this attitude comes from.

Posted by: rosignol at June 19, 2007 10:08 PM

It's the Jimmy Carter line, held by most (good, decent, principled, progressive, humane, loving) people around the globe.

You know: Hamas/Fatah are reasonable. Hamas/Fatah have legitimate gripes, concerns, issues, demands, interests, just like any other political/liberation/nationalist organization. (And even if they might not be reasonable, it doesn't mean you don't negotiate with them! Especially because they're not reasonable you ought to negotiate with them!! Besides, they have really good reasons not to be reasonable. The best reasons, in fact.)

You see, they have been forced into violence ONLY because of Israel's intransigence--its oppressive intransigence, criminal intransigence, murderous intransigence, colonial intransigence, apartheid intransigence, nazi intransigence---have I missed anything here? globalist intransigence? capitalist intransigence?

And thus, the only reason---the ONLY reason---why peace is, um, elusive is that Israel refuses to acknowledge their justified demands.

Ergo....

(Certainly, a little bit of denial can take one a long way: One ought not acknowledge that Hamas/Fatah wish to destroy Israel---because that just might interfere with one's narrative, and/or with the extraordinarily delicate efforts to forge a peace or at least a co-existence. But hold on: even assuming that Hamas/Fatah DO wish to destroy Israel (assuming just for the sake of argument, of course, because all these rabid, paranoid Zionists seem for some reason to think this is the case), wouldn't they be justified in destroying Israel after so many years of Israeli oppression?...Of course they would; but this is why a peace agreement is so important, so necessary, so crucial; this is why time is of the essence; and Israel is only shooting itself in the foot by stalling...).

And that's the progressive, humanistic camp.

As far as the nihilists are concerned, the fact that the Palestinians are willing to blow themselves up (and, I suppose, murder each other---to the point of national suicide, even if that would be an acceptable conclusion as long as Israel also disappears) is further proof of the absolute justice of the Palestinian cause, further proof of the total and selfless dedication to the achievement of those goals. Further proof of the need to support them, to applaud them, to extoll them---and to demonize the Zionists who have forced them to do it, etc. )

Perverse? Perhaps, but what happens when perversity becomes the rule? (A.k.a. here we go again.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 19, 2007 11:38 PM

Hi -

It's not just the Washington Post: there was a mind-boggling editorial in the FT yesterday about how the West shouldn't be choosing sides and we need to dialogue with these people.

See

http://21stcenturyschizoidman.blogspot.com/2007/06/ft-really-doesnt-get-it.html

for more.

Fundamentally, there is no way to work for political solutions in the Middle East without choosing sides, without meaning, however, that this choosing of sides is a permanent fixture, engraved in stone. If there is anything that people need to understand, it is that politics in the Middle East are never, ever, written in stone.

Oh, and calling for the West not to choose sides when those bent on mayhem and destruction already have chosen sides is at best an exercise in futility and at worst downright stupid and irresponsible.

What "not choosing sides" really means is "I don't want to get involved, I don't understand what your problem is, people, sit down and talk it out", but that being said to someone who is cutting the throat of your neighbor. Slowly. While his children stare and his wife laments. And laughing and praising Allah and catching it all on video.

It's not a dreamscape, unless it's the dreamworld of Freddy Kruger.

Posted by: John F. Opie at June 20, 2007 01:28 AM

Malley whitewashed Arafat's refusal to compromise at Camp David in 2000, despite the fact that Clinton, Dennis Ross and others cited Arafat as the spoiler of the negotiations.

Posted by: Zak at June 20, 2007 01:43 AM

Perhaps when you stop claiming that somehow Hamas' behavior, despite exactly matching and imitating the behavior of their paedophile prophet, is not the "islamic" model of behavior, and thus all muslims will, sooner or later start to exhibit it.

In short perhaps they will drop their ideology of "everybody ideological group is reasonable" when you drop your equally stupid "every ideology is equally reasonable".

There are lots of peaceful ideologies. Islam just isn't among them, and therefore it has to die. Islam cannot coexist with even a single other ideology, and it never will.

Posted by: Tom at June 20, 2007 05:04 AM

The Saudis tried the national-unity gambit a couple of months ago, and quite predictably the Hamas leadership showed up in Mecca for the photo op and then quickly set about destroying Fatah back in Gaza. If anyone hasn't gotten the memo, Hamas is working with Iran these days, not with the Saudis

While it's a good idea to do what we can to dismantle the Carter-esque idea that we can 'work with' Hamas, it's also important to note who our enemies are in this war. Hamas is working with Iran and the Saudis. The Saudis are currently sending millions of shekels to Hamas to fund hostilities:

According to two indectments served Monday, millions of shekels have been transferred from a Saudi organization to Hamas operatives in Jerusalem. The money was received as charity although, in reality, it was earmarked for terrorist activities.

Following a request from the Jerusalem prosecutor's office, details of the affair were released for publication Monday after the Shin Bet and Police investigation was concluded.

Two indictments were served on members of the organizations involved for breaking the law that prohibits funding terrorism.

The millions of shekels were received from the Charity Coalition – an umbrella organization that encompasses Hamas charitable societies in Saudi Arabia.

The money was transferred to non-profit organizations in the A-Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem to conceal its final destination – the Hamas movement in the city.

Posted by: mary at June 20, 2007 05:46 AM

why not just crush them old school war style...

Posted by: Brendan at June 20, 2007 06:33 AM

I think this sort of argumentation is a stalking horse for Fatah.

The notion -- which Olmert and Bush appear to be pushing, and lots of folks are buying into -- is that while the Hamasholes are the bad terrorists, Fatah (headed by the financial planner for the Munich Massacre) are the good terrorists, who must be supported lest the bad terrorists win.

Haven't we played this game before? Anybody remember a previous "bad terrorist" organization -- Black September? The notion then is that it was necessary to throw some bones to Arafat, the good terrorist, because otherwise the bad terrorists would win.

Now, I don't think that Hamas is run as a PLO maskirovka; there's no reason to believe that.

But the notion that the existence of more extreme terrorists should lead to support for other terrorists is, simply, insane.

Actions have consequences. For the new "Palestinian" nationality, having chosen to follow the path of terrorism for generations is, in the classical sense, a tragedy -- and, as any student of tragedy would tell you, there's no point in trying to avoid the horrible consequences.

Foaud Ajami is, for once, wrong: "The political maxim that people get the leaders they deserve must be reckoned too cruel to apply to the Palestinians."

No, it isn't. It's simply the truth, and leaders that have ranged from the murderous and kleptocratic to the murderous and fanatical to the murderous and incompetent is precisely what the Palestinians do deserve, have chosen, and the consequences of which they are busy visiting upon themselves.

Until, of course, it gets worse.

(How long, do you think, is it going to be before Hamasholes are dragged to -- and after -- their deaths in the streets of Jenin?)

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at June 20, 2007 06:35 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/20/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at June 20, 2007 06:44 AM

"It's the Jimmy Carter line, held by most (good, decent, principled, progressive, humane, loving) people around the globe."

The way I see it, Carter's "progressives" fall into one of three groups.

A social democrat is someone who looks at George Bush and a nationalist dictator with moustache who gases people and sees the first as the new Hitler.

A socialist is someone who displays that first characteristic but who is also looking at Arafat, whose mentor al-Husayni called for the murder of all Jews on Radio Berlin in 1944, and Israel's attempts to defend itself against his supporters, and finds that Israel is the new Nazi Germany.

A liberal is someone who is completely neutral and for whom there is no difference between genocidal terrorists and the Jews.

Note that this really refers only to a specific sub-group among the three groups!

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at June 20, 2007 06:57 AM

One thing I'd like to know from the authors of this op-ed is the following: At what point do you stop trying to placate a group like Hamas? I wonder if the authors themselves even know.

I'm certain their editors know the answer: when Hamas stops being useful to the newspaper, either as a source, "protection" for their personnel, or a sop to other parties necessary for the profitable operation of the newspaper.

Skeptical? This is the newspaper where the editors - quite knowledgeable about such matters - crafted a false headline that Sharansky believes prompted the Politburo to send him to prison! If you want truth in D.C., you need religion...

Posted by: Solomon2 at June 20, 2007 07:00 AM

As i argued almost immediately after the gaza takeover, it was readily predictable that the general western position would be -- explicitly or implicitly, in slightly different flavors -- "talk to hamas".

To understand why, here is one of the best explanations I've seen. MUST READ!!!!!!

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/essays-on-judeophobia/anti-semitism-arab-israeli-conflict/

This also explains why propping fatah will not work. Here's a reasonable prediction of the likely consequences:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/06/usual_suspects_will_want_same.html

what the us and israel are doing is an act of desperation which serves as a signal to sharks that there's blood in the water. and i dk of any shark who has ever swam away from blood.

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 07:59 AM

btw, don't go by the name embedded in the first link i posted. it is an analysis of the arab-israeli conflict by a serious scholar quite different than those most of us are familiar with. it is also very insightful on the current western attitude towards israel.

the site it is posted is also highly recommended.

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 08:11 AM
Foaud Ajami is, for once, wrong: "The political maxim that people get the leaders they deserve must be reckoned too cruel to apply to the Palestinians." No, it isn't. It's simply the truth, and leaders that have ranged from the murderous and kleptocratic to the murderous and fanatical to the murderous and incompetent is precisely what the Palestinians do deserve, have chosen, and the consequences of which they are busy visiting upon themselves.

Hmm. Fatah/PLO were essentially inflicted upon the palestinians by Israel (and Fatah/PLO). They may not have deserved that then, but let's say they've grown in to it...

Posted by: MattW at June 20, 2007 08:31 AM

It's really simple to understand where the authors are coming from (and why they couldn't answer the "when do you stop placating..." question). In their minds, every person (bar a handful of insane persons perhaps) is just like them, and every culture is, at heart, just like theirs. So everyone will have the same motivations, and the same reaction to events, as they would.

They wouldn't resort to violence or attack Israel (other than verbally, of course) except under extreme provocation. So obviously Hamas wouldn't either. In the same vein, Iraq is seeing violence almost entirely in reaction to the US presence, and peace will break out as soon as the US troops leave. (No explanation for Dafur, so it's best to ignore events there.)

Ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: wj at June 20, 2007 08:43 AM

Noah, you know when they will stop placating -- when Tel Aviv has been nuked (or otherwise WMD destroyed).
Not before. The media enablers need to be laughed at, and have their near silent, tacit support for Arab genocide in Darfur be compared to their support for murder in Gaza and Palestine.

Israel should begin accepting semi-permanent Guest Workers, women and children and sick and elderly, from Gaza. And push the EU and the UN to provide cash to THEM for food, clothing, shelter, medicine. Then create a Palestinian National Service Corps in Israel, where the GWs learn English as they also work on other jobs -- perhaps Solar Power Panel production. [Even if the pure economic value of Solar Power panels is only a 1% rate of return, it's big plus for Israel and whoever works on the production.]

Build fairly high density "temp" residential buildings near the beaches, with the idea of swapping the guest worker lodgings, when built, with the current West Bank settlement houses.
In all cases, "payment for work", not "aid".

The kids might sing Kumbaya or not, but in school the boys should be formed into various sports teams to play each other AND to play against Jewish kids. In the near future, playing together in mixed teams against other mixed teams.

"Save the children" in Gaza -- evacuate. And their mothers.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 20, 2007 09:40 AM

WJ - Iraq is seeing violence almost entirely in reaction to the US presence, and peace will break out as soon as the US troops leave.

Obviously Iraq under Saddam was peaceful and violence free.

Posted by: zzz at June 20, 2007 09:57 AM

tom,

ah, no, by the time they can nuke anything they'll ACCELERATE the appeasement -- just watch iran.

i don't think your suggestions merit a comment.
would you be willing to go to israel and implement them, then live with the consequences?

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 10:00 AM

MattW, you're wrong.

"Fatah/PLO were essentially inflicted upon the palestinians by Israel (and Fatah/PLO)"

Fatah/PLO were inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Arab dictatorships (e.g. Syria, Egypt, Jordan), the Arab League and the Soviet Union and its proxies.

Even when the peace process began, independent Palestinians demanded that Israel talk to the Fatah-controlled PLO. Israel did not want to do so; it preferred to talk to leaders of the population of the territories. But it did not have a choice. The independent local people demanded that Israel talk to the PLO. They were probably afraid that unless Arafat were in charge of the process, he would brand them as collaborators and have them murdered; but what they said out loud was that the PLO was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people." The fact that a violent terrorist organization was the sole "legitimate representative of the Palestinians" was directly and entirely the fault of the Arab regimes and the Soviet Union.

Israel is not responsible for imposing either Fatah or the PLO on the Palestinians.

Posted by: Zvi at June 20, 2007 10:00 AM

At what point do they stop placating a group like Hamas? The answer: when their own kids have been murdered by that group. And maybe not even then.

A while back Michael recommended reading Michael Oren's book about the US (and European) relationship with the middle east from 1776 to the present. I must say that I didn't enjoy reading the book, but it was educational.

The threats, the blackmail, the terrorism, the attacks on Jews and Christians and Muslim moderates, the lawlessness, the savagery, the religious fanaticism, the kleptocratic governments and the horror stories in general did not magically appear with the creation of Fatah or Hamas, nor did they magically appear with the creation of the state of Israel. Nor is European appeasement a recent phenomenon, nor are advocates of appeasement in the US a recent phenomenon.

As early as the 18th century, European powers, and even the US, had appeased Islamic terrorists and kleptocracies for decades before the US started fighting back.

When you appease Islamist terror groups and Islamofascist governments, their behavior becomes more and more extreme over time, until finally you are forced to break their necks, or die. If you break their necks, then for a while, anyway, the region treats you with some respect.

It is strategically stupid and also disrespectful toward Muslims to pretend that all Muslims are the same (either good or bad). Instead, one should recognize the vast difference between Muslims who behave decently (and act as their friends) and those who exhibit sociopathic or psychopathic behavior. Hamas falls into the latter category, and we very much need to understand that it must be crushed.

Posted by: Zvi at June 20, 2007 11:07 AM

zvi,

correct in main. that's the heritage that somebody in another thread was saying palestinians should not renounce.

what most westerners either can't comprehend or refuse to accept is that what they perceive as compassion or compromise is interpreted as weakness by the other side. hence, the west is doing exactly the opposite of what should be done.

the islamists and hamas in particular say that the jews want to dominate the world and israel understands only force. for any intelligent observer clearly this is projection: since this is a precise description of their own goals and behavior. like the west things wrongly that islamists are just like us, the islamists think the jews and the west are just like them. so they attack and the west appeases.

as to the moderate muslims, there are reasons inherent in islam why the islamists determine events and the moderates are more likely to be radicalized than stop them. Here's evidence that should give us pause:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/06/journey_into_islam.html

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 12:09 PM

By the way,
Malley is the guy who wrote a book about Oslo in which he blames the entire failure of it on Bill Clinton and Barak being discourteous (see pushy)...... He is who Norm (I am miserable) Finkelstein used to cite in his speaking (Jim Jones) tour a few years back... he'd also cite the "Saudi (Non) Proposal" (the one Friedman re-invented in his article) and ignores Ross's statements regarding Taba or the White House meetings in December of 2000....
Ya know to state the entire problem is simply that Israel doesn't want 'true peace' or an agreement

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at June 20, 2007 03:05 PM

By the way,
Malley is the guy who wrote a book about Oslo in which he blames the entire failure of it on Bill Clinton and Barak being discourteous (see pushy)...... He is who Norm (I am miserable) Finkelstein used to cite in his speaking (Jim Jones) tour a few years back... he'd also cite the "Saudi (Non) Proposal" (the one Friedman re-invented in his article) and ignores Ross's statements regarding Taba or the White House meetings in December of 2000....
Ya know to state the entire problem is simply that Israel doesn't want 'true peace' or an agreement

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at June 20, 2007 03:05 PM

The main gripe I have about the stance of the west concerning issues such as this is inaction and the consequences thereof is tacitly considered morally superior to executing an imperfect direct action.

Posted by: Kenneth at June 20, 2007 06:56 PM

"until finally you are forced to break their necks"

If you break their backs it will use up resources from the jihadi community to take care of them. A broken neck is taken care of in one funeral, maimed people have to be cared for forever.

I would have argued that the next war be total war (which it still might be), but everything I have seen from that region leads me to believe that there will never be any sort of peace. Ignoring them while they destroy themselves (or helping:) puts an eternal enemy in a situtation that they cannot recover from.

Let the islamists destroy themselves and crush them without mercy if their self-destruction spreads to you. They have violated everything that could have been used as an excuse to show them any mercy and they should be treated as they have treated their enemies.

Posted by: mikek at June 20, 2007 08:32 PM

mikek,

nice theory, unlikely to be applied.

here's one of the most important explanations of why the jihadi-western conflict is not handled that way, and why jihadis have a lethal advantage in our own civil society. it is a deeper theory of what I was simplifying above.

MUST READ to open your eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/reflections-from-second-draft/cognitive-egocentrism/

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 08:53 PM

That wasn't a must read fp.

If everything goes wrong I will end up with a bunch of blood on my hands, wash it off and be on my way. None of this is new, it is a tragedy and I am ready to get it over with.

After the baby-boomers are finally gone the country will deal with enemies in a fair (golden rule)manner and most of them will fade off (won't want a fight when they know what's coming their way).

Consider it a return to normalcy.

Posted by: mikek at June 20, 2007 09:43 PM

After the baby-boomers are finally gone....

It's going to be a while, but you have a good point.

People who grew up in the 30s, 40s, 80s and 90s frequently to have a very different perspective of how best to deal with enemies than people who came of age in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

I dunno why that is.

Posted by: rosignol at June 20, 2007 10:33 PM

oh, i think it is, and FUNDAMENTAL. and it has such a wide explanatory power.

you trust that civil society will somehow take care of itself. it doesn't look that way, although the US will be at the end of the line. in the meantime watch europe, particularly sweden, holland, norway, uk.

i can't say i will regret if you are right, but i can't be hopeful.

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 10:35 PM

"I dunno why that is"

People from the 50's, 60's and 70's think rock concerts made history. They are people who offer nothing and take everything. They treat the U.S. like a whore and pass her off if it could benifit them in the short term and mock anyone who thinks otherwise.

The only generation that has been a bigger problem for the country (so far) were the assclowns that got the civil war going by fuck-witen. If we were to fall into civil war the only thing you could count on is baby-boomers complaining about how they feel and lawsuits against people who got in the way of their Tuscan vacation.

Posted by: mikek at June 20, 2007 10:57 PM

another theory, mikek? sounds as plausible as your previous one.

you dismiss serious theories and come up with cockomamy ones. why do you think that is?

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 11:00 PM

suppose you wanted to get the jiziya flowing again, but a unity government did not do it. what else could you do to solve the problem if you were fatah and hamas.

how about splitting up?

http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=5073

is it possible we're smelling a rat?

Posted by: fp at June 20, 2007 11:06 PM

The capacity of liberals (i.e. the Washington Post editorial writers) to ignore concrete reality and deny history -- a la "Eastasia has always been at war with Eurasia" -- never ends. That is what makes them so dangerous. That piece is so wrong on so many levels -- Like suddenly the U.S. can do what ever it wants (except when it's screwing everything up, in their opinion, in Iraq)! And it is so condescending...as someone just pointed out "Hamas is just a scared, wounded animal" that just needs a lil love...Please don't let them elect Hillary...any Republican would be better. At least they are slightly more realistic. After all, Bush did have the right attitude vis a vis Israel/Palestine (stay out!) for a while until he caved in to pressure to "do the right thing."

Posted by: stephanie at June 21, 2007 07:06 AM

one should recognize the vast difference between Muslims who behave decently (and act as their friends) and those who exhibit sociopathic or psychopathic behavior

I understand the difference. But the vast majority of those decent Muslims made no objection to the xenophobic vitriol spewing out of their broadcasts, their mosques, and, in some countries, their schoolbooks. Sermons demonizing non-Muslims were even coming out of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, their holiest site. 2 million pilgrims go there every year and no one raised a complaint (The Saudis managed to tone it down after 9-11 but the damage was already done).

If the Vatican started giving speeches about how all non-Catholics were dispicable and disgusting people, you can bet the world's Catholics would be suitably outraged.

Extremism doesn't arise in a vacuum. Given the the constant demonizing of the Other Guy in these societies, there's plenty of collective blame to go around, not only on young men who are just acting on what they've been hearing all their lives.

Posted by: I Blame The Parents at June 21, 2007 07:06 AM

"tend to the population's needs", Washington Post

Oh that would be a nice antiseptic operation wouldn't it? Just like in Somalia and Kosovo and Iraq. No nasty killing, no U.S. casualties. No problem! Hamas would be SO HAPPY to the have the Great Infidel there doling out aid and winning the hearts and minds of the population....

Posted by: step at June 21, 2007 07:12 AM

Zvi,

Fatah/PLO were inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Arab dictatorships (e.g. Syria, Egypt, Jordan), the Arab League and the Soviet Union and its proxies.

And then, Europe, the U.S. and Israel.

The independent local people demanded that Israel talk to the PLO. They were probably afraid that unless Arafat were in charge of the process, he would brand them as collaborators and have them murdered; but what they said out loud was that the PLO was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."
Israel is not responsible for imposing either Fatah or the PLO on the Palestinians.

Understood, but those 'independent' palestinians had no power to bring Fatah/PLO to the territories. Israel did, and Israel agreed to do it.

But you're right in the sense I ignored the position of those 'independents'.

Posted by: MattW at June 21, 2007 12:57 PM

Hello Noah. Just wondering what you think of this article:

"Slate.com: The View From the Streets of Gaza City"

On my first reading, I was thinking "What a ridiculously and blatantly pro-Hamas article this is", but on my second, I think I detect some attempt to insert criticism. Why the attempt must be sly, I don't know; so much of the article, from the mention of unmasked and unarmed Hamas men doing traffic duty to the contextless mention of an Israeli incursion with tanks and bulldozers into Gaza is little more than unadorned Hamas praise, but some hints at the opposite are there: The phrase "unsettlingly normal" in reference to life under Hamas, for example. The sentence "They didn't get that moniker ("the Islamic Resistance Movement") because they're fond of negotiating." And the line "... if this (a fight with Israel) comes, all the nice young men in beards and bright safety vests offering civil protection won't make up for an escalation that further punishes the strip." I read that line straight the first time through, but with irony the second ("nice young men"??). So, I don't know. Straight Hamas praise, or subtle critiques? It's much, much more of the former in my mind, but those little nagging things give me some pause.

I think I'll need to read the article when I'm less tired from work. Anyway, I was just wondering what you thought of the article, and above and beyond that, what it's trying to say about Hamas compared to what you (and others here) know about that group. I only know what I see on the news, and that stuff's shallower than a cookie sheet.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at June 21, 2007 03:27 PM

Hello Noah. Just wondering what you think of this article:

"Slate.com: The View From the Streets of Gaza City"

On my first reading, I was thinking "What a ridiculously and blatantly pro-Hamas article this is", but on my second, I think I detect some attempt to insert criticism. Why the attempt must be sly, I don't know; so much of the article, from the mention of unmasked and unarmed Hamas men doing traffic duty to the contextless mention of an Israeli incursion with tanks and bulldozers into Gaza is little more than unadorned Hamas praise, but some hints at the opposite are there: The phrase "unsettlingly normal" in reference to life under Hamas, for example. The sentence "They didn't get that moniker ("the Islamic Resistance Movement") because they're fond of negotiating." And the line "And if this (a fight with Israel) comes, all the nice young men in beards and bright safety vests offering civil protection won't make up for an escalation that further punishes the strip." I read that line straight the first time through, but with irony the second ("nice young men"??). So, I don't know. Straight Hamas praise, or subtle critiques? It's much, much more of the former in my mind, but those little nagging things give me some pause.

I think I'll need to read the article when I'm less tired from work. Anyway, I was just wondering what you thought of the article, and above and beyond that, what it's trying to say about Hamas compared to what you (and others here) know about that group. I only know what I see on the news, and that stuff's shallower than a cookie sheet.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at June 21, 2007 03:28 PM

Whoops! Double post. Sorry!... my mistake. Delete either one.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at June 21, 2007 03:30 PM

Hello folks,

The no-nonsense Melanie Phillips had this to say:

http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles-new/?p=518

Comments,anyone?

Posted by: Susan at June 21, 2007 05:36 PM

Here's the real nakhba!

http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Religion&loid=8.0.428100075&par=0

You can add my tears to the chik chik as well.

Posted by: MarkC at June 21, 2007 10:15 PM

Here's the real nakhba!

http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Religion&loid=8.0.428100075&par=0

You can add my tears to the chik chik as well.

Posted by: MarkC at June 21, 2007 10:15 PM

The US house is actually considering recommending complete disengagement from Gaza as per the Satloff article.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3416258,00.html

that would mean giving Hamas an airport and a coastline to call their own.

or am I missing something?

Posted by: Adam D. at June 22, 2007 12:59 PM

or am I missing something?

Do you really think the Israelis are going to let anything fly out of Gaza? Do you really think the Israelis are going to let anything dock in Gaza?

Posted by: rosignol at June 22, 2007 02:33 PM

Mitch Prothero is the guy who wrote an article in Salon last summer maintaining among other things that Hezbollah was not hiding behind civilians. It was noteworthy because he got spanked by the usually lefty Salon readers who cited example after example of Hezbollah hiding among civilians.

Posted by: Yehudit at June 24, 2007 03:48 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn