January 9, 2009

Juan Cole's Hysterical Campaign

Professor Juan Cole is slowly catching up to me in the 2008 Weblog Awards in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog category, and his simultaneous campaign against me and the state of Israel is hysterical.

Here is what he has to say about Israel:

Israeli atrocities in Gaza are endangering American security. If the Israeli operation were something other than a cynical power play that almost wholly disregards civilian welfare, then the US would be right to support it and damn the consequences. But it is a shame to place our land and even our democracy in danger on behalf of a barbaric military operation.

Southern Israel has been under indiscriminate rocket fire from Hamas for years. And Hamas’ stated goal, as Cole knows very well, is the total destruction of Israel. No government on earth would sit idly by while tens of thousands of its citizens live under constant rocket attack, and Cole knows that, too. He also knows that the Israel Defense Forces adheres to the laws of war, goes out of its way to avoid harming civilians, and even warns terrorist leaders themselves that their homes are on the target list.

Victor Davis Hanson, on the other hand, nails it correctly. "Every terrorist Hamas rocket is aimed at a Democratic civilian; every Democratic IDF air -to -ground missile is aimed at a terrorist."

Cole knows all this, and yet he does not care. He insists on characterizing Israel’s defensive war as “barbaric” and “a cynical power play.”

Here is what he has to say about me in the same piece:

Michael J. Totten has surged way ahead in the voting online for the best Middle East weblog. The way he has done this is very instructive and tells us something about how the Neoconservatives always run rings around the American left and leave them with nothing to do but complain about Neoconservative power. First, Totten demonized me and mobilized rightwingers in general and right-Zionists in particular to vote for him as a way of voting against Informed Comment.

Cole is free to characterize me as some kind of right-wing Zionist lunatic all he wants. But he also knows very well that the American public and the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly back Israel’s war against Hamas. And if he thinks only neoconservatives, right-wingers in general, and right-Zionists in particular have my back in the voting, he’s wrong.

Uber Pig at Blackfive posted the following yesterday:

I'm the token liberal here at Blackfive. Some of you have issues with that. I respect that. And so when I say that it's really important that Juan Cole not win the 2008 Weblog Awards for Best Middle East or Africa Blog, you should understand that it is really important. It's not that he hates America, or that he hates Israel. It's that he's dumb. That may have qualified him for a tenured professorship at the University of Michigan, but the blogosphere should hold itself to a higher standard.

My advice? Vote for Michael Totten.

Few, if any, of our elected representatives in Congress have heard about our competition in the 2008 Weblog Awards, but 99 percent of them voted in favor of my position on Israel and against that of Juan Cole. The professor is way outside the mainstream, and I’m right in the middle of it. Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell aren’t likely to vote for me in this contest, but you can. So please do so, and do so every day until Tuesday while the polls remain open.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2009 11:59 AM
Comments

Cole is pathetic. I'm having a hard time imagining anything Israel could do that he would NOT consider a cynical power play. But what really kills his credibility is the whining about the poor oppressed left that just can't keep up with neoconservative power. I can only imagine how poor Juan will suffer beginning next week when President Wolfowitz is sworn in.

Posted by: Gene Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 1:29 PM

Holy Cow, Michael! You're so far ahead it's silly! As a certified "right-winger", and I would add, evangelical, I would hardly put you in that category, which tells me how far left Juan is! Is he from Deerbornistan, MI?

Posted by: DagneyT Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 1:48 PM

Okay, didn't realize I could vote more than once when I voted the other day, so I went and voted again. Didn't even have to show a photo ID.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it a bit ironic that Cole has named his blog Informed Comment?

Reminds me of politicians who stand up and piously preface their remarks with "This isn't about partisan politics, it is about....."

Anyway, enjoy your work Michael. Keep it up and know that we have your back covered on this voting thing.

Posted by: Dogwood Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 3:27 PM

The crowd on this site or the author of this blog may not care very much for views that dissent from theirs but the indiscriminate killing going on in Gaza right now is counterproductive. In the long run Israel has two choices: Exterminate all Palestinians and their sympathizers or coexist with them. Reflexive answer form the crowd: "You fool! How can you coexist with someone sworn to exterminate you?" Answer: No ALL Palestinian want to exterminate Israel. Hamas and Hezbolah may have that goal and Israel seems to be doing whatever it can to strengthen these factions, which I find odd.

Since I don't think that extermination of all Palestinians is seriously advocated by anyone coexistence must be the goal. There is little hope left for a true two-state solution to the current situation so the Palestinian will need to be gradually integrated into Israeli society with the long term goal of making them full citizens of the state of Israel.

After reading many of the posts on this site it is my conclusion that such strategic thinking is well beyond the mostly militaristic and tactically dominated posts found here. This is regrettable, because a more balanced approach to this important issue is in the best interests of all of us. The past 40 years have been mostly dominated by confrontational thinking and look where it got us.

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 3:32 PM

Persephone: the indiscriminate killing going on in Gaza right now is counterproductive.

First, indiscriminate killing isn't counterproductive, it's evil.

Second, Israel goes farther out of its way to avoid civilian casualties than any other country in the world.

You are entitled to your own dissenting opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 3:45 PM

"almost wholly disregards civilian welfare..."

I wish this wingnut, Annie Lennox and others could appreciate the IDF video I've seen of three guys, tightly tucked in next to a kids school, firing three rockets, while IDF observers watched from overhead---and didn't order a strike---knowing the proximity of civilians to the position.

I've developed a maxim over 60+ years:
NEVER waste time and energy arguing with ignorance, neurosis or belief.

If you ever swing by Fantasy Island---AKA San Francisco---I'll buy you a cold one, Michael.
:-)

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:17 PM

Michael, the term "indiscriminate killing" pertaining to the current events in Gaza was quoted from Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who today called for an International investigation of possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza. I am not making these things up, although sometimes I wish I was.

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:34 PM

Yeap, I just voted ... again.
Liberal democracy is the best.
Will do it again later, just flip IP first.

PS. Cole is teaching in Michigan. I am guessing he got whole university of voters at his disposal.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:38 PM

the term "indiscriminate killing" pertaining to the current events in Gaza was quoted from Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who today called for an International investigation of possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Interesting. Has Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for Ismail Haniyeh to be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, for the dozens of suicide attacks on Israeli civilians during the 1990s, that Hamas proudly took credit for?

Do let us know when he does. In the meantime, please don't confuse baseless and obviously biased personal opinions of an unelected UN bureaucrat with "facts". Juan Cole does that, and Juan Cole sucks. You don't want to suck, do you?

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:41 PM

Persephone,

Navi Pillay doesn't know what a war crime is. Neither do you. Please read the Law of Armed Conflict before posting any more comments on this topic. There is no point arguing with you if you don't know what you're talking about.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:44 PM

"Michael, the term "indiscriminate killing" pertaining to the current events in Gaza was quoted from Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who today called for "

Percie, you really crack me up! You called me the "stand up comic", yet you refuse to understand that the UN is a more ridiculous joke than you!

Posted by: DagneyT Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:46 PM

Leo:Yeap, I just voted...Will do it again later, just flip IP first.

Don't cheat, though.:)

You can vote once a day, and that's good enough.

Thanks!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:47 PM

"First, Totten demonized me and mobilized rightwingers in general and right-Zionists in particular to vote for him as a way of voting against Informed Comment."

"So that's how you do it.... you mobilize a base of single-issue true believers that you can depend on to dominate the discourse because most people don't care and are not invested."

This is seriously ridiculous.

See, this is what happens when you spend too much time hanging around with students, you actually start to believe the teenager pseudo-politics and their blinkered, far-left, paranoid view of the world.

Voted again! Best of luck!

Posted by: Andrew Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 5:03 PM

According to a 2005 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 40.8% of households in the Palestinian Territories have a landline. One can reasonably assume this figure is considerably lower in Gaza, not to mention the power shortage resulting from the Israeli interdiction of fuel. The survey also reports that only 21.7% of Gazans own cellphones.

(Link: http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/DesktopModules/Articles/ArticlesView.aspx?tabID=0&lang=en&ItemID=278&mid=10985)

Thus, it's not clear, and moreover unlikely, that Israel's precautionary measures are effective.

But either way, whether or not Israel is "technically" being indiscriminate is really immaterial. The problem with people like you is that you're so busy railing against Juan Cole and the UN that you devote no thought whatsoever to the question of whether Israel's long-term security interest is best served by an operation of this scope and intensity. Will previously apolitical Palestinians whose family members have been killed by Israel's entirely legal and justified campaign now jump to the peace table? Or will they enlist for the upcoming wave of martyrdom operations against commuters and cafe-goers in Tel Aviv?

And the only reasonable conclusion I can arrive at is that you don't ponder these questions because you simply don't care about actual, living human beings. Your chief concern is with self-promotion, achieved through the repetition of the same banal slogans. It's truly unbelievable.

Posted by: Matt Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 5:32 PM

Matt: And the only reasonable conclusion I can arrive at is that you don't ponder these questions because you simply don't care about actual, living human beings.

Tell me, big guy. How many more years should Israel tolerate indiscrimnate rocket fire on its cities before it is allowed to respond defensively?

Why does the world demand Israel stop fighting Hamas, when Hamas continues to fire rockets and promises to continue firing rockets even if Israel stops?

You have obviously never been under fire from rockets. I have. And it clarifies a few things.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 5:40 PM

Anyway, Matt, when you're done patting yourself on the ass for your superior compassion, read what I posted yesterday called A Prayer for the Children of Gaza.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 5:42 PM

Your response was perfect, because it exemplifies exactly what I'm talking about: a total evasion of the relevant questions.

I never said Israel wasn't "allowed" to respond defensively. Of course it's "allowed." This is besides the point.

The point being twofold:

1. This operation will likely not reduce rocket fire, as I'm sure you learned in Lebanon. And if the Israelis do succeed in eliminating rocket caches, they will still incur the inevitable retaliatory suicide bombings, after which there will be another offensive, repeat ad infinitum.

and

2. There was an alternate solution. Namely, reducing the blockade and negotiate with Hamas to indefinitely extend the ceasefire. Jimmy Carter, who you will no doubt dismiss as an "anti-semite," indicated yesterday that this was an entirely feasible course of action.

(Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/07/AR2009010702645.html)

Finally, having been under rocket fire does not make you a reflective or compassionate human being.

Posted by: Matt Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 5:53 PM

Matt, you having fun dispensing that pablum for the masses?

I wonder why you think anyone might call Jimmy Carter an anti-semite, though? I don't think he's an anti-semite. I think he's just a well-intentioned idiot who probably should have stuck with peanut farming. The reason I don't think he's an anti-semite, is he stepped on his own dick about 3000 times while he was President, so I don't think it's deliberate when he offers people unasked for bad advice. Also, he's certified completely cooked elections as "valid" in countries nobody has ever heard of. He'd stick to the big players if he was engaged in deliberate electioneering, wouldn't he?

Anyway, best if we all just ignore Jimmy Carter and go on about our business. That's what everyone did while he was President, so why should he be different now?

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 6:10 PM

Matt: 1. This operation will likely not reduce rocket fire, as I'm sure you learned in Lebanon.

Wrong. The 2006 not only reduced the rocket fire, it stopped it.

2. There was an alternate solution. Namely, reducing the blockade and negotiate with Hamas to indefinitely extend the ceasefire.

Wrong. Hamas refuses to negotiate and says negotiation is treason.

I don't have time to explain Middle East 101 to you. I'm not your teacher. Go take a class.

I'd be a lot more patient with you if you didn't introduce yourself by insulting me. If you want to change your tone, stick around. Otherwise, go somewhere else.

Good day.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 6:20 PM

@Matt

You forgot about the leaflet drops...

"But either way, whether or not Israel is "technically" being indiscriminate is really immaterial. The problem with people like you is that you're so busy railing against Juan Cole and the UN that you devote no thought whatsoever to the question of whether Israel's long-term security interest is best served by an operation of this scope and intensity."

And the problem with people like you is that you totally ignore the short-term security interests of the civilian population of Southern Israel who actually ARE under "indiscriminate" attack... I do mean the technical definition.

The IDF is targeting Hamas with inevitable collateral damage. ANY conventional army, even with the best intentions would suffer the same fate in such circumstances. It's well within Hamas's power to stop the suffering of the Gazan's by halting the rocket attacks but they choose not to, do you hold them accountable for that?

The bottom line is Israel is rightfully protecting it's citizens.

Also, please enlighten us what as to what you would do to stop the Hamas rockets. You say to ease the blockade, Israel tried that and got rockets and mortars in return.

Posted by: Andrew Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 6:25 PM

Jimmy Carter is a senile old fart. Read Matthew Levitt on how the Damascus-based military- Islamist wing of Hamas in Gaza started taking over more and more control last summer, and refused to continue the ceasefire which the 'moderates' (like Haniyeh) were willing to continue.

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2982

Iran -- that's I-R-A-N has been helping Hamas since 2006 and whereas up until the hudna in June only cheap, locally-manufactured short-range rockets were in Gaza, when Hamas declared the ceasefire over in December it started also firing Chinese and Iranian-made rockets with double the range and much improved target capability.

It wasn't any fluke that the day the air war stopped, before Israel committed to putting in troops, a kindergarten, a nursery school, and a synagogue in southern Israel were all direct hits from Gaza. Israel had banned all public gatherings including schools, or there may have been enough Israeli children killed and injured to warm the cockles of Juan Cole's ... well heart doesn't seem applicable. Whatever -- that was a taunt, a threat, and a clear Hamas provocation.

Here's what Israel is fighting to prevent: a Gazan rocket hitting Ben Gurion airport, or Tel Aviv -- they believe Hamas may have 2 or 3 rockets close to that range already. And I hope even you know Hamas wouldn't think twice about doing it.

As to loosening the border crossings -- it's estimated by non-Israeli intelligence sources that Hamas brought in 80 tons of weapons with the borders closed. They generated about $600 Million USD from black market sales to Gazans of smuggled goods according to a Palestinian researcher. They had the money to pay for 300 or 400 tunnels -- one estimate was 40 miles of tunnels -- and deep reinforced bunkers, and hundreds and hundreds of explosives and a 10,000 man force -- not a penny for Gaza's poor, of course. How can you imagine Gaza's poor will benefit from open borders?

Oh, and before you wax eloquent about UNWRA getting needed goods to the poor read this eye-opener. http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2009/01/07/gaza-hamas-unrwa-oped-cx_cr_0108rosett.html

Anyhow, I'd really like to see Cole come in third to Isreallycool.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 6:26 PM

You employ the same snarky tone daily, so why should I aspire to anything more civil? Practice what you preach.

Both the points you just made were either misleading or false.

1. The operation in Lebanon "stopped" rocket fire only insofar as Israel withdrew in shame after a month of highly destructive failure to root our Hezbollah caches. But this is deceptive phrasing, since there were no rocket attacks on Israeli civilian areas prior to the war itself. Hezbollah attacked and kidnapped only Israeli soldiers operating along the contested border region.

2. Really? That would be news to Hamas, which indirectly negotiated the six-month ceasefire with Israel through Egyptian intermediaries last year. Hamas leaders have repeatedly stated their willingness to conclude a long-term "hudna," or truce, with Israel and to cede the issue of peace and sovereignty to the next generation of Palestinians.

Thanks for advising me to take a course in Middle East 101. Since I have a master's in Near Eastern Studies, there's really no need. Not that formal education is a prerequisite for understanding, but reading definitely is. Thus, I would recommend to you Azzam Tamimi's fascinating book on Hamas. You may learn some things that will surprise you!

Good day.

Posted by: Matt Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 6:33 PM

Michael,

People like Juan Cole are part of a new generation of racists hiding behind a bunch of liberal cutesy labels such as “secular progressive,” “culturally diverse,” and “politically correct.”

Juan Cole’s anti-Zionist rhetoric and Neocon conspiracy theories are veiled ways in which the radical left can lash out at Jews and white people (which leftists often confuse with Republicans)

We only need to note the recent spate of world-wide protests in Europe and America where Palestinians, and their leftist friends, are calling for the extermination of the Jews.

For those who read this, and are unaware, Juan Cole is a tenured Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Imagine the garbage he is spewing on his students in the classroom.

Posted by: ModerateVoice Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 6:51 PM

@ Matt and Persephone,

The big difference between Michael Totten and Juan Cole is that Michael will print dissenting opinions such as yours on his blog. I believe Michael refers to this as "freedom of speech."

Juan Cole has refused to print any of my dissenting comments on his blog. Its probably a safe assumption that Cole fears that an exchange of dialogue based upon the relevant facts of history would shatter the false credibility he has built up with his followers.

Posted by: ModerateVoice Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 7:22 PM

Thanks for advising me to take a course in Middle East 101. Since I have a master's in Near Eastern Studies, there's really no need.

Well, that explains why you dispense pablum to the masses instead of your own well considered personal opinions. You're just parroting the same crap your lecturers fed you, when they were doing their job of dispensing pablum to the masses (you).

Since you seem to be new on the blogs/forums/whatever... I advise you to take it slow. You're going to run into a lot of people who have much more intimate knowledge of the subject matter than you do. And you aren't Jimmy Carter. Nobody is going to cut you any slack.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 8:17 PM

You already know, but I don't much care for your commentary on this topic, and I'd probably vote for J. Cole this year if I could be bothered to vote at all - even though I read you regularly and don't read Juan Cole much. But I can't be bothered.

Anyone who gives a d*mn about being Voted the Most Popular Blogosphere Student of 2008 probably doesn't deserve to be voted for. I'm sure that applies to all participants in the contest equally.

Just one stupid one-upmanship contest among many - the world is filled with them. Juan Cole vs. Michael Totten: reminds me of the Israel-Hamas contest in Gaza all over again, but without guns. I guess that's something to be grateful for. Small favors, etc.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 8:25 PM

I find it hard to scold Matt for being a d*ck when I've recently been a d*ck to Mike in a rather similar manner. I'd rather go for some brotherly advice, I guess. Mike likes to have civil, polite, respectful discussion on his comment board, despite writing bi*ch-slappy articles and blog posts. I guess we all try to take a break, huh? So you have to be nice and friendly even if the POV drives you up the wall, and then he will usually make an attempt to deal with your point, on some level. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. Bitter or hostile commentary is dead on arrival. The ability to take insight from bitter & hostile commentary is a rare talent.

So, stick around, Matt, and try to smile, be detached, & grit your teeth. I want to recruit a smart skeptic so I can take a day off, or a life off.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 9:33 PM

Don't cheat, though.

OK

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 9:35 PM

I never said Israel wasn't "allowed" to respond defensively. Of course it's "allowed." This is besides the point.

Indeed. Well, actually, yes and no. There's an excellent case that Israel's current actions violate the spirit law of proportionality all over the place, but there basically is no letter of the law of proportionality, only a sliding scale based on how cool you and your international friends are. So there's definitely plenty of wiggle room to qualify Israel's actions as "allowed". But you're right that the better point is that Israel's behavior is ultimately cruelly indifferent and probably self-defeating.

You did a good job, Matt, if Mike's been reduced to transparently self-refuting statements like this:

Wrong. The 2006 not only reduced the rocket fire, it stopped it.

That was, of course, the cease-fire.
I wish I had your email address, so I could email you to come back.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 9:43 PM

ModerateVoice,

Juan Cole has refused to print any of my dissenting comments on his blog. Its probably a safe assumption that Cole fears that an exchange of dialogue based upon the relevant facts of history would shatter the false credibility he has built up with his followers.

I have similar experience so far. I'll wait until tomorrow before drawing my personal conclusion.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 9:47 PM

glasnost',

Just one stupid one-upmanship contest among many - the world is filled with them. Juan Cole vs. Michael Totten: reminds me of the Israel-Hamas contest in Gaza all over again, but without guns.

Excellent idea! I am sure even hardestcore dreamer-potsefist will go for it.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 9:57 PM

Look, guys. It is possible to oppose Israel's war in Gaza without being a jackass. I opposed Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon, and I still do in hindsight. I had my reasons, reasons which don't apply to this war. I never screamed "war crimes" or any of that crap while Israel bombed Hezbollah because I knew Israel was not committing war crimes.

Critics need to make their case analytically instead of shrieking about phantasmagoria or telling me I don't care about human beings 24 hours after I published "A Prayer for the Children of Gaza."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 10:15 PM

I made my case analytically without any kind of shrieking. But you took umbrage at my moralizing instead of responding to the substance. Did I really hurt your feelings? If so, I quite apologize.

But let's not pretend reposting a pray from Haaretz makes you a responsible journalist or a humanitarian. You take seriously flawed and historically decontextualized positions about issues of life and death on a public forum that reaches thousands of Americans (if I am to judge by your Weblog Award status). When this operation leads to more dead Israeli civilians at the hands of despairing Gazans, I hope you'll look back on your postings critically.

Posted by: Matt Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 10:40 PM

Matt,

Despairing Gazans are going to kill more Israeli civilians no matter what happens. It won't really make any sense to blame it on this operation. The majority in Gaza already want to destroy the state of Israel and kill everyone in it as it is.

What you're missing in all this is the possibiliy (not certainty) of Hamas being replaced with Fatah. That would be better for everybody on both sides. A peace process in that event might actually work. It probably wouldn't, but it would be worth trying. A peace process with Hamas is impossible, and everyone knows it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 11:43 PM

By the way, Matt, you did not hurt my feelings. I don't know you. Strangers cannot hurt my feelings. My wife can, but you can't. You just proved that you do not know me -- at all -- when you said I don't care about human beings. You have a caricature of me in your head that isn't even close to accurate. You jumped to a stupid conclusion based in part on the paranoid rantings of a professor who also does not know me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 11:47 PM

did you know that you can vote every day on every computer you have? ;-) For some reason I have four working in my home just now...

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Michael, I guess you haven't heard of flechette rounds.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flechette
As I haven't been to Israel in years, or witnessed the rounds deployed, I do take the U.N. seriously. Israel during the 2006 campaign and retreating from Lebanon used flechette rounds there. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5686.shtml
I would take this link with a grain of salt, it was the first I came across, a little digging and I am sure others could be found. Something else I read is Whirlpool manufactured the rounds. In real terms though, comparing the terrorism thing in Israel to our country; look at the Mexican border. Everyday, of every week, drugs and gang bangers cross our border. I guess you could Google the death results from the drug trade and gang related deaths from the illegal’s entering our country, or the DEA and FBI probably have the statistics. Last I heard we were using cameras to control the war on drugs. I was giving you the benefit of doubt when the Juan Cole issue came up. Then I read your statement (He also knows that the Israel Defense Forces adheres to the laws of war, goes out of its way to avoid harming civilians, and even warns terrorist leaders themselves that their homes are on the target list.) and I see you look at the issues through squinted eyes. Tell me sir are you anti American or Jewish?

Posted by: Andy Signell Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 7:06 AM

Andy,

Traditionally, flechette rounds are inert without explosives save the propellant to move them down the barrel of the weapon that fired them. They are usually just a method for heavy artillery to fire a large number of short range projectiles. One tank officer in Fallujah II claims that although those rounds would have been exceptionally useful in the street fighting for the Abrams tanks. Instead of sending "silver bullet" sabot rounds through three of four blocks of buildings or HE rounds to point detonate, 120mm flechette, or canister, rounds would have made an admirable "street broom" for clearing terrorists behind marginal cover. http://avengerredsix.blogspot.com/2005/08/canister-shot.html

You are probably thinking of cluster bomblets, since the article you reference makes no mention of flechette rounds. Cluster bomblets are certainly a non-discriminating nuisance, whose actual use has shown them to be a lingering nightmare. Which is one reason why Israel didn't make extensive use of them in 2006. Even the article claims that they were only used in the last 72 hours.

Nevertheless, one is compelled to consider that in over 30 days a whole lot of Katyusha rounds went short and impacted in Southern Lebanon. Many of those already defective rounds almost certainly failed to detonate on impact, fusing being a problematical technology. How many of those "cluster bomb" injuries are actually Katyusha injuries? Like many issues in the Middle-East, the question is a lot murkier than it appears in propaganda organs.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 7:49 AM

Andy Signell,

In relation to drug wars, in 2008 over 5,000 people died in Mexican drug wars. More than in almost six years in Iraq, more than will die this month in Gaza for certain.

As to the American or Jewish question: Are you American or Cahtholic? Are you American or Buddhist? Are you American or Zoroastrian?

Are you serious? Or are you just actively insulting the many Jewish people who've contributed so much to this country, including my many Jewish shipmates?

One reason America is the best places on earth for people is because it is the best place on earth for Jewish people.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 7:59 AM

The professor is way outside the mainstream, and I’m right in the middle of it.

Nonsense. Both of you are on the fringe, just on opposite sides. Mainstream American public opinion - 70% in the last poll - wants the US to take no side in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Despite years of our media and political elites lecturing us how important Israel is, most Americans still don't see why we need to be so deeply involved with a foreign country 6000 miles away. Really anyone who cares deeply about Israel or the Palestinian cause, or foreign policy at all, is already well outside the American mainstream.

Posted by: Dyadya Vanya Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 8:16 AM

FYI

It is day two and my comment at Cole's site is still not posted.

I swear I was as polite as one can be. Granted some of my thought provoking questions could be considered profane but so what? Aren't we all searching for the truth?

Then again, it could be just an accident blamed on weekend laziness. I'll wait some more.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 8:22 AM

@ Dyadya Vanya,

"Mainstream American public opinion - 70% in the last poll - wants the US to take no side in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute."

What polls? Cite your source material.

I am American and live in a predominantly liberal big city. I assure you that most Americans support Israel & look upon Hamas as a bunch of terrorist thugs.

I underscore my point by advising you to read Michael's blog on "American Exceptionalism" & his discussion on the US Senate & US House of Representatives joint resolution supporting Israel in this latest conflict.

  • The Democratically controlled Senate voted unanimously
  • The Democratically controlled House of Representatives voted 390-5
    (This kills your whole 70% argument. American elected government officials crossed party lines to unify over the matter of the Israel-Hamas conflict)

For balance, I will say that most Americans do empathize with the civilian casualties on both side of the conflict.

Hamas apologists might be better served in achieving the peace they claim to desire if they quit being so one-sided & working towards empathy for victims on both sides of the conflict.

Posted by: ModerateVoice Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 9:04 AM

Tell me sir are you anti American or Jewish?

When this operation leads to more dead Israeli civilians at the hands of despairing Gazans, I hope you'll look back on your postings critically.

You can always tell when the sweet bleeding-heart supporters of peace and justice arrive - the threats are strewn about like daisies.

Andy S. why do you ask if Michael is Jude? Are you giving out yellow stars?

Matt, if you're going to pretend to be a prophet, you should preface your threat/false prophecy/wild rant with something like 'mark my words' All the cool delusionals are doing that these days.

In any case, if Gazans do decide to attack, they'd probably be doing that because they were trained to do so since they were toddlers. We're talking about a culture that dresses babies up in suicide bomber jackets, hands kalishnikovs to kindergarteners, declares that Micky Mouse should be killed and produces cartoons promoting jihad, with stuffed rabbits, genuine Imams and cartoon bees declaring their desire to eat Jews. You can call this culture rabid, violent, fascist, racist or hate-filled, but you can't call it 'despairing'.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 9:09 AM

I didn't used to think the anti-zionism is anti-semitism argument was true, but I've sadly concluded it probably is in the majority of cases.

No one even makes note when Muslims kill other Muslims, or kill Christians, or Christians kill Muslims, or Hindus and Muslims kill each other in the thousands over land or religion or resources. Maybe once it's up around a hundred thousand, the world seems surprised and issues a tut-tut.

But let the Jews kill Muslims, and the world goes off its rocker. And let someone strongly defend Israel, and they are asked 'Are you a Jew?'

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 9:35 AM

All this BS about despairing Gazans killing Israelis is both morally and intellectually bankrupt. It is morally bankrupt, because it assumes that Palestinians must become murderers of civilians, which is not the case. It is also a variation of the old "if I hit the bully, he'll just hit me back harder". Is that a reason not to defend yourself?

More interestingly, it is intellectually bankrupt, because it has been proven untrue. Look at the west bank over the last two years. No one comments on it, but it has been almost miraculously quiet. No suicide bombers, no shootings, just quiet. Why hasn't anyone written about this (hint: MJT)? This was an area that was exploding in violence over during the second intifada.

What can be the reason? Could it be that it's not inevitable that Palestinians will always respond with murderous violence against civilians, even when there are unquestionable provocations by settlers and soldiers?

I don't have an answer, but I would guess this is a variation on the Rudy Giuliani solution to New York City crime. You get rid of the troublemakers. Then the rest are quiet. In Jenin, Nablus, and other hotbeds, the Palestinian police are showing a will to impose order and not tolerate troublemaking. The results have started to show.

Gaza never had an operation Defensive Shield. It's getting it now. It's entirely possible that afterwards, with the troublemakers eliminated, things can be as quiet as they are in the West Bank. In any event, the glib trope that despairing Gazans will murder Israelis, to my mind, is cynical, defeatist, and ultimately nihilistic.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 9:51 AM

As a long-time reader who rarely comments, I'd like to leave a few observations about the comments.

Glasnost's observations about the discourse here seem to be right-on. This is one of the few blogs where I'll read through a 100+ comments, and expect to learn more through most of the thread. I assume this is due to Mr. Totten's efforts moderating the threads. I'll also add that while on most issues I agree with Mr. Totten, I very much appreciate Glosnost's contributions to the topic.

Matt - arguments from authority aren't very convincing, though I will grant that it is a good come-back for needing to take Near East 101. Mr. Totten gets two dispensations - one is that this is his forum, and the other is that you can read through his archives and see supporting evidence for a lot of what he says. Now, the question of what is the best way to stop the rockets vs. what is the best 20+ year plan is an interesting one to address, and it is valuable that you've raised this on the forum.

Finally, a thought of my own on the topic. Hamas has offered a "Hudna" - a 10-year truce for which Israel will need to retreat behind its 1967 lines in exchange for 10 years for each side to do nothing to each other. Two things to think about regarding this. The first is what is the historical basis for a "hudna" - a 10 year pause for each side to rebuild and re-equip before going at it again. Is it in Israel's interest to give Hamas 10 years to build up its military forces? The other is that Israel is giving up most of what it has to negotiate for a permanent peace in exchange for 10 years, all the while giving Hamas far more credit than it already has for successfully resisting Israel. So what will happen when the Hudna expires? Where will Israel be in 20 years?

You can adjust people's behavior by threatening them (the stick), bribing them (the carrot), or being so awesome they want your approval (shining city on a hill? What the UN tries and fails regularly to do?). Israel is currently using the stick and showing how much it can hurt. This is something Israel has been good at for most of its history. Israel is rarely effective with the carrot - it sometimes means well, but execution is often lacking (we can discuss whose fault this is some other time, and it is complicated). The Israel-Egypt peace deal took a heavy dose of the US carrot to make work. And, unfortunately, neither side is so admired by the other in the mid-East that they are able to influence each other's behavior is search of the other's approval.

Posted by: EnlightenedDuck Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 9:52 AM

Andy Signell,

You're asking me if I'm Jewish? Are you serious? What the fuck?

No one asked me if I was Lebanese when I backed the Lebanese Army in its month-long war against terrorists in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr Al Bared. Much of the world curiously backed Lebanon in that fight even though civilians were killed in that one, as well.

The answer is no. I am not Jewish.

But you are a racist asshole. And you're banned from posting comments at my Web site.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 10:22 AM

I don't have an answer, but I would guess this is a variation on the Rudy Giuliani solution to New York City crime. You get rid of the troublemakers. Then the rest are quiet.

Rudy also sent the police into the neighborhoods (even the 'no-go' areas) to patrol the streets and to give the moderates in the community support.

According to anti-terrorism expert Isaac Ben-Israel, Israel is going into Gaza in an attempt to gather intelligence:

As you can see after March 2002 there was an abrupt decline in the number of casualties. This can be explained by the fact that we came back to Judea and Samaria, tha is, back to the territory between the Jordan and the “green line”. We occupied this territory again and practically immediately we had an actual positive dynamics.

We mobilized or reinforced the intelligence sources we had there - both human sources and technological ones. We could employ those freely. We increased the scale of intelligence operations and respectively we started receiving ten times more information on those involved in the terrorist attacks conspiracy.

Then a query comes: did they decrease the number of attempts for terrorist attacks? Or did we get more successful in withstanding them?

You can see the following correlation: despite our losing fewer people, the number of attempts increased. There were twice as many of such attempts as we used to have in March 2002. So terrorists were building up their activities, but the result is racing to the lowest level.

more on 'returning to the territory'

And we did find out quite a few things. We did find out that Arafat was indeed doing nothing to stop terrorism. And even more, he was supporting terrorism in certain cases.

But this terror was not Arafat’s terror. Most of the attacks were organized by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and not by organizations controlled by Arafat. They were not fighting “for Palestine”, they were fighting “for Islam in Palestine” and they had far more ambitious long-term plans.

They were organizations which did not want just to build a Palestinian state, and even not just to build it instead of Israel - they wanted to build a Great Islamic Empire. Consequently, they were not committing terrorist attacks because Arafat instructed them, but because they believed that if they committed more attacks they would stop Arafat from reaching any agreement with Israel. They believed that was exactly what Arafat wanted.

... the key issue is to define your true enemy.

Unfortunately, a large scale bombing campaign will alienate any moderates who would be in Gaza, which ignores the 'reaching out to the moderates' aspect of Rudy's plan. If Israel could find a way to target Hamas and gather intelligence without causing trauma to the entire area, it would probably be better in the long run.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 10:36 AM

maryatexitzero;

The quiet in the west bank cannot possibly be explained as simply a matter of better interdiction by the Israelis (and I imagine the article you cite is quite a few years old now). It is that the Palestinians have finally gotten behind it, especially after the civil war in Gaza showed them who the real enemy was.

People said the exact same thing you do about Operation Defensive Shield. Many civilians were killed, and yet today there is quiet. The moderates you speak of belong to Fatah, and they hate Hamas more than they can ever hate the Israelis.

Time will tell.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 10:46 AM

"Michael J. Totten has surged way ahead in the voting online for the best Middle East weblog. The way he has done this is very instructive and tells us something about how the Neoconservatives always run rings around the American left and leave them with nothing to do but complain about Neoconservative power." Juan Cole

Right. It is very instructive. MJT posted direct links to JC's blog that supported his position on the subject, then asked his own readers to vote. This is running rings around the left?

"First, Totten demonized me and mobilized rightwingers in general and right-Zionists in particular to vote for him as a way of voting against Informed Comment." Juan Cole

1. JC was not demonized, he was referenced. His own behavior and that of his fans is what has demonized him.
2. Blanket statements like this reveal the weakness of JC position and ability to debate rationally. Uninformed bigoted name calling gets people excused from this blog, but apparently is the foundation of JC's.
3. For someone who claims not to care about the weblog award JC is sure spending a lot of energy and vitrol cooking up bizarre anti-MJT propaganda.
4. Does JC really believe that MJT has the power to 'mobilize rightwingers in general'? It seems like JC is projecting his own delusions of grandeur on MJT.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 11:15 AM

A peace process with Hamas is impossible, and everyone knows it.

People who make a career out of demonizing people who are already bad people to start with know it. Meanwhile, in real life, peace processes are usually made with nasty people. The one between the Shah of Iran and Saddamn Hussein in 1972 comes to mind. Or, say, the treaty of Versailles. Or the armistice that ended the war with North Korea. Or the peace process between Mao's China and Ho Chi Minh's Vietnamese. Or the Dayton Accords, for pete's sake.

I'm compiling quite a list of logically and factually absurd things you've been saying on this topic, Mike.

The Israel-Hamas understandings failed because neither side kept their commitments. Not Israel kept its commitments and Hamas didn't. Your seething hatred of Hamas is leading you to simply make sh*t up about them. To quote you offline, whatever Hamas' rhetoric, they're no more legally a genocidal regime than Israel is legally a war criminal. And they sure as heck haven't killed "nearly as many Gazans as Israel". You've started making up your own facts, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 11:32 AM

I will say that I can't completely rule out the possibility that this large-scale collective punishment of Gaza will "work" in some sense, at least as far as temporarily reducing rocket fire. Maybe about as much as the original Israel-Hamas truce reduced rocket fire, which was almost completely. For a while. That's about the best-case scenario I can see. Replacing Hamas is a pipe dream unless Israel unveils a new, indefinite military occupation of Gaza. Frankly, I'm not sure they have the capability or will, or economic resources to do that. The Egyptian government might fall first. It's a risky game.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 11:39 AM

Meanwhile, I think this quote from today's paper says puts some facts in sharp relief:

Israel said its aircraft attacked more than 40 targets throughout Gaza, striking 10 rocket-launching sites and weapons-storage facilities. It also rounded up people in the north of Gaza, questioning them and telling them to deliver warnings to Hamas activists. It said it killed the man in charge of Hamas’s rocket launchers and another 15 militants.

In Gaza City as well, residents reported getting phone calls that said, “We are going to intensify the military strike against Hamas. Our intention is not to harm civilians. If you live near Hamas, evacuate.”

Leaflets were dropped addressed to “the residents of Gaza,” saying that the Israeli military had in recent days warned residents of the southern city of Rafah of “an imminent operation” and asking them to evacuate their homes for their safety.

“The fact that the residents of Rafah abided by the orders,” the leaflets continued, “has protected those who had nothing to do with the fight. The Israel Defense Forces will intensify shortly its directed operation against tunnels, weapon storehouses and members of terrorist groups all over Gaza. For your safety and that of your family you are asked to stay away from terrorist elements and from places where terrorist operations occur. Please continue abiding by our orders.”

Red Cross workers said their telephones were flooded with calls from residents of the Beach refugee camp who had received large numbers of the calls and leaflets. The callers wanted to know if they should evacuate their homes and if so to where.

A Beach camp car mechanic named Hamdi Eki, 47, was asked why he did not leave after receiving such a call. “I have nine children,” he said. “Where can I go? I prefer to die at my own house.”

Some Beach camp residents did leave but ended up in other neighborhoods or camps that had received similar warnings.

Israel has come under increasing international criticism for the growing number of civilian casualties of this war and for complicating efforts by aid and rights groups to help those caught in the cross-fire. Israel says Hamas fighters hide consciously among civilians, in mosques and schools and under clinics.

Fred Abrahams, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, who has studied both the Kosovo and Lebanon conflicts, said he was concerned that Israel was not paying enough attention to international legal requirements for “distinction and proportionality — first, to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and second, whether an attack will have a disproportionate effect on the civilians in the area.”

Even if a target is legitimate, he said, “you can’t drop a 500-pound bomb in an area crowded with civilians.”

This was also the first conflict he could remember when civilians could not flee the war zone — Gaza’s borders are shut both to Israel and to Egypt, and civilians, he said, “are fish in a barrel.”

“Our conclusions are preliminary but evidence is suggesting serious violations of the laws of war, which require investigation,” Mr. Abrahams said.

That is also true of Hamas, he said. “We need to know more about what Hamas is doing on the ground,” he said. “For example, we know Hamas has stored weapons in mosques, so when Israel targets a mosque, we don’t scream war crime.”

Regarding force protection, he said it “must be balanced by distinction and proportion. A violation by Hamas shooting from a mosque or school doesn’t give the Israeli Army carte blanche to return fire in the name of force protection with everything and anything it has.”

I can't believe that anyone could look at this and suggest that we're well on our way to a more moderate Gazan political system. I mean, I guess the Syrians established a more moderate political system in Hama after they massacred the Muslim brotherhood. Sort of. Actually, I can't really buy that entire way of looking at things.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 11:45 AM

The moderates you speak of belong to Fatah, and they hate Hamas more than they can ever hate the Israelis.

Fatah has sponsored terrorist attacks against Israelis and they have often worked with Hamas. They appear to have the same long-term goals as Hamas, but they are more patient.

Fatah is not at war with Hamas because they 'hate them', they're at war with them because they want to prove that they're the strong horse in the region. They want to be in charge of any action against Israel. When the time comes.

When I was talking about moderates, I was talking about civilians, people who have no political power. The (sometime) enemy of your enemy is not your friend. I can see why Israel would feel the need to work with Fatah, but in the long run it would probably help to work on disempowering both of these terror supporting organizations.

As we saw in Anbar, the politically powerless are often effective at dismantling terrorist organizations. There is no way that I'm suggesting that Palestinian tribal orgs would ever rise up against Hamas, but they could, deliberately or inadvertently, provide information about Hamas' organization. That's why it would be a good reason for Israel to try to maintain decent communication with Palestinian civilians. It worked for Rudy.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 11:53 AM

To briefly get back on topic... I left a relevant comment on Juan Cole's blog yesterday where I politely challenged his assertion that his error didn't invalidate the main point of his original comment. My comment is not there. Comments that were made after mine, that support Juan Cole or attack Micheal Totten, are there. I've seen several other people here saying they had similar experiences.

So, my question is: How can somebody who uses the "moderation" function of a POLITICALLY ORIENTED blog to completely eliminate any form of serious dissent even be nominated as a "Best of..."? Don't they have any rules?

Glasnost, isn't the reason you come to MJT's blog, and not Juan Coles (even though you say you like his better) because you want to mix it up with people who don't agree with you? How can you say you would vote for Juan Cole, when you can't do that on Juan Cole's blog?

And a final PS... we've all seen how braindead and uninformed his fans are the last couple days... and how bad their debating skills are. I guess that's what happens when people are only exposed to one set of ideas, right? Some intellectual, that Juan Cole.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:02 PM

Glasnost: And they sure as heck haven't killed "nearly as many Gazans as Israel". You've started making up your own facts, as far as I can tell.

I said "civilians," not "Gazans."

I'm sorry that I don't have the source in front of me, but yesterday I read that Hamas executed as many as 80 Palestinians, mostly members of Fatah. That number will likely turn out to be higher. They've done it before. It's what they do. We'll know the real number soon enough. It might be lower than 80, and it also might be a lot higher.

To quote you offline, whatever Hamas' rhetoric, they're no more legally a genocidal regime than Israel is legally a war criminal.

That doesn't even make any damn sense. Hamas' intentions are genocidal, and you damn well know it. The only reason they can't pull it off is because they're weak and incompetent. Israelis are not going to wait until they grow stronger.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:09 PM

Disturbing excerpt from Juan Cole website:

“Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has intervened to stop Iranian suicide bombers from leaving the country and heading toward Palestine / Israel. Hard line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had called for such practical action against Israel, but the Supreme Jurisprudent foresaw that this step would risk widening the war and stopped them.”

Here is the link to his article entitled “Lind: If Israel bombed Iran US Army in Iraq could be lost:”

http://www.juancole.com/

Particularly disturbing is Cole’s editorial commentary which states, “Hard line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had called for such practical action against Israel…”

Practical action?!

Really, this is just too much. It crosses the line that is coming dangerously close to treason.

Juan Cole calling Iranian suicide bombers a “practical action” underscores his tacit support for terrorist action on Israel. I sincerely hope the FBI is quietly investigating other treasonous activities Juan Cole may be lending his support to.

FYI to Cole: Iranian intervention into Israel would likely lead to a world war.

Posted by: ModerateVoice Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:11 PM

Glasnost: this large-scale collective punishment of Gaza...

Every IDF target is a terrorist. You know that, and I shouldn't have to remind you.

What the Serbs did to Sarajevo was collective punishment. What the Russians did to Chechnya was collective punishment. What the US did to Germany and Japan was collective punishment.

Respectfully, Glasnost, you need to study war a bit more.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:11 PM

Critics need to make their case analytically instead of shrieking about phantasmagoria or telling me I don't care about human beings 24 hours after I published "A Prayer for the Children of Gaza."

Ok, time to be, if not fair, at least understanding. I guess the point of this was, "look, some Israelis are sad that kids in Gaza are dying". And that's swell.

No, really. That's exactly what liberals in America might do during the Iraq occupation. Freedom of expression, hurrah. I don't know about you, but I personally have no doubts that prominent Israeli liberals are sad that Gazan kids are dying. So are Israeli soldiers, some of them. It's a human reaction. They haven't found a way to breed it out of us.

Meanwhile, Hamas activists also, some of them, probably feel sad when Israeli civilians are killed. Unfortunately, their crappy regime doesn't have the capacity or interest in publicizing or reinforcing that message.

Smart Western regimes understand that as long as you act sad and regretful about the unpleasant things you're doing, you get to do more of them. Also, when you have a big hammer, you get to, at the same time, both use coercion to brutalize populations into collective submission and take all kinds of serious measures to reduce 'unneccesary loss of life'. So Israel can spend $100 billion and use 100 million tons of explosives to kill 800 people, with maximized overall force and minimized people-killing, and Hamas can kill 800 people with 100 pounds of explosives with minimal force and and maximized people killing.

Some people find the differences therein to be really profound, but I focus on the civilian body count. Everything else is, essentially, trivia.

If Hamas ever publishes prayers like this one for the children of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be over.

What hogwash. You'd never even know that it happened. Concilatory gestures from Hamas fall into a media-free abyss.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:13 PM

The truce will not work.
Why?
As long as incitement against Israel, Jewish people, Christians etc., continues in the educational and religious systems of the Arab countries, nothing will change. As long as the non-Muslim world is called sons of pigs and monkeys, nothing will change.
I support the Israelies in this Gaza war.
But the reality is that this war is a proxy war between Hamas + Iran + Syria and Israel= Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
By the way this afternoon (Saturday) Al-Jazeera interviewed an analist in Beirut that talked about this proxy war. (Sorry I can not remember his name)
Remember that during the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was sending children to explode mines in the battlefield. Hamas learned and applied the lesson in Gaza.

And the loosers: the Palestinian People.

Posted by: ladida Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:22 PM

Hamas' intentions are genocidal, and you damn well know it.

Is this like how every person that shouts "I'm going to kill you" during a fight actually intends to murder you? Or - as you seem to have started assuming - are people that shout "I'm going to kill you actually murderers because they've shouted something?

I know that hateful rhetoric is more common in the world than actual genocide. Did the Iraqi Shiites, who killed more Iraqi Sunnis than Hamas has killed Israelis, have "genocidal intentions" towards the Iraqi Sunnis? Do you really doubt that I could find rhetoric that seemed - or said straight out - that this was the solution?

It's easy to have barbaric intentions in a vague sense when you never have to carry them out. I bet you could find literally hundreds of regimes across the world talking about wiping out their ethnic enemies at various points. Most of them never do it because the costs are too high and the benefits unclear.

I'm not going to go back in your archives to find the quotes from the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis, but you get the idea. It's a hyopthetical, and a fantastic one. And neither people nor governments actually know what they would do in hypotheticals that haven't actually happened. I don't think that Hamas is anymore likely to genocide Israel than Turkey is to genocide the Kurds, for example. Actually, a lot less likely.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:49 PM

Every IDF target is a terrorist. You know that, and I shouldn't have to remind you.

I do not. And you don't either.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:50 PM

Every IDF target is a terrorist. You know that, and I shouldn't have to remind you

Like that terrorist milk factory in Lebanon in 2006?

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:55 PM

>> international legal requirements for “distinction and proportionality — first, to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and second, whether an attack will have a disproportionate effect on the civilians in the area.”

Even if a target is legitimate, he said, “you can’t drop a 500-pound bomb in an area crowded with civilians.” <<

Insert roll-eyes smiley here. This is not the law of proportionality in any way shape or form. And yes, if what it takes to render a grave military threat null and void is a 500-lb bomb, and it's planted in an urban center, it IS considered proportional under the rules, idiotic as they may be.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 12:59 PM

Is this like how every person that shouts "I'm going to kill you" during a fight actually intends to murder you?

Now that's just intellectually dishonest, glasnost. You try to make it sound like a 20 year old founding charter is something that was said in the heat of the moment. Well, they've had a couple decades to reconsider. They've even been asked to reconsider. They haven't. And, furthermore, their actions indicate they would make good on that genocidal threat if they could... they've been trying non-stop.

And maybe MJT will throw up the actually legal definition of "genocide" as it was agreed to by the UN after WW II. If he doesn't, I'll try and find it later if I have time. One doesn't have to actually succeed at genocide to be guilty of it.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 1:14 PM

"Conciliatory gestures from Hamas fall into a media-free abyss."--glasnost

Not having been here for a while I had forgotten your invaluable, albeit consistent contributions to World Understanding. Having been almost completely wrong on that Iraq Thingy, it is pleasant to see that you are now turning your astonishing insight onto this ongoing tragedy.
Which leads me to----

Pray tell sir---- precisely which Hamas 'gestures' have in the past fallen into a 'media-free abyss'?
Could you list ,oh say THREE, of these magnificent 'gestures' so that those of us who would like to see every member and supporter of Hamas reach room temperature ASAP, can see the error of our ways ? Perhaps like in that old Warren Zevon tune, they are all just excitable boys, who get bad PR.

If I(and EVERYBODY else)am misunderstanding what Hamas IS, I truly want to be corrected.
Inquiring minds really do want to know, and I'm sure you are just the man for the job.

Posted by: dougf Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 1:21 PM

Glasnost, you're giving the benefit of the doubt to a terrorist organization, and you're doing the opposite for the democracy that is fighting them. You might want to think long and hard about that for a while and ask yourself if that's really what you want to be doing.

I opposed the 2006 war in Lebanon, but I never did that.

Maybe I should write a piece explaining why I support this one but not that one. The short version is that Lebanon isn't Gaza, but of course it's more complicated than that, and you might not even understand what I mean by that anyway.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 1:34 PM

"It's easy to have barbaric intentions in a vague sense when you never have to carry them out. I bet you could find literally hundreds of regimes across the world talking about wiping out their ethnic enemies at various points. Most of them never do it because the costs are too high and the benefits unclear"

Glasnost, what the hell is your point here? Hamas are not able to inflict mass casualties against Israeli civilians purely because of their sheer incompetence and lack of resources, the intention and will is there both in writing and their actions on the ground. You then equate them to other groups with genocidal intentions. I can't tell if this is some perverse justification of what Hamas stands for or if you actually are in agreement with MJT.

Posted by: Andrew Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 1:35 PM

By the way, Glasnost, I never detected any genocidal intention among Azeris toward Armenians. Never. Nor have I read any. I explicitly wrote that such a barbaric intention seems absent in Azerbaijan.

Your inability to make moral and ethical distinctions is troubling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 1:45 PM

"Fatah has sponsored terrorist attacks against Israelis, and they have often worked with Hamas".

This is a thing of the past. Now, fatah keeps the peace in the West Bank. They quell pro-Hamas demonstrations with force. You need to be more current.

"Fatah is not at war with Hamas because they hate them..."

Oh, they do hate them. Passionately. Ever since Hamas goons threw Fatah members off highrises in Gaza. This is why they fight them. Fatah sees Hamas as an existential threat.

"but they could, deliberately or inadvertently, provide information about Hamas organization."

Jeez, what do you think they've been doing since the Gaza op began? The Israelis are getting reams of information from their informants in Gaza.

A reconstructed Fatah is the only possible partner for peace with Israel. That's why the United States and Europe have been quietly building them up for years. It's not the same kleptocracy it was under Arafat. When Hamas has been destroyed in Gaza (and they will be) the conditions may finally emerge for a genuine peace agreement.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 2:06 PM

Glasnost, I will let Ronald Reagan do the talking for me.

"If we continue to accommodate, if we continue to back and retreat, then eventually we must face the final demand--the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Kruschev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War and that one day, when the time comes to deliver the ultimatum our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for peace at any price, or better Red than dead, or as one commentator put it, he'd rather live on his knees than die on his feet. And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for then when did this begin? Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the Pharoahs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead, who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis, didn't die in vain. Where then is the road to peace? Well, there's a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies there is a price we will not pay, there is a line beyond which they may not advance."

Posted by: tigger2005 Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 2:42 PM

JC stands for Juan Cole.

JC: Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright wrote in his Looming Tower, p. 307: "On April 11, 1996, when Atta was twenty-seven years old, he signed a standardized will he got from the al-Quds mosque.l It was the day Israel attacked Lebanon in Operation grapes of Wrath. According to one of his friends, Atta was enraged,and by filling out his last testament during the attack he was offering his life [to whom?] in response."

And that is why (standardizely coerced?) Muhammed Atta decided to attack US instead of attacking Israel?

Which of cause leads to very natural conclusion that (JC) "My larger point is that Israeli atrocities in Gaza are endangering American security."?

And the fact that

Osama Bin Laden: The 9/11 Attacks Were "A Great Step Towards The Unity Of Muslims And Establishing The Righteous [Caliphate]." BIN LADEN: "These attacks took off the skin of the American wolf and they have been left standing in their filthy, naked reality. Thus the whole World awoke from its sleep and the Muslims realized the importance of the belief of loving and hating for the sake of Allah; the ties of brotherhood between the Muslims have become stronger, which is a very good sign and a great step towards the unity of Muslims and establishing the Righteous Islamic Khilafah insha-Allah." (Translation Of Purported Bin Laden Audio Message, Posted On Islamist Site, 2/14/03)
Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060905-7.html
(not a word about filthy Zionist occupiers of Muslim lands while Arabs heavily jihading against Jews during Second Intifada)

makes never mind to you.

How about this, Atta might have had his strong motives (assuming whole story is correct) but he was used by UBL to achieve totally different goals.
Is this plausible?

JC: If the Israeli operation were something other than a cynical power play that almost wholly disregards civilian welfare, then the US would be right to support it and damn the consequences.

Was Israeli operation cynical power play? If so, what was the reason? Why that day? Why that target?

JC: But it is a shame to place our land and even our democracy in danger on behalf of a barbaric military operation.

This claim is baseless unless first part is proven. BTW, what is barbaric operation? Please give example of war, which was less barbaric. War of equal fame/notoriety, of cause.

JC: ...John Kerry in 2004, when Kerry complained that Bush had allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora...

Did Kerry actually say this? Did he mean Bush intentionally did that or that Bush was incompetent?
While latter is typical campaign rhetoric, former is a treasonous act either on the part of Kerry (if lie) or on the part of Bush (if true).
So, which was it?

JC: and likely will gradually be supplanted in his counsels by rightwing organizations such as AIPAC, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (headed by Dennis Ross), the American Enterprise Institute, and so forth.

I suspect obsession. I could be wrong though. Not sure.

JC: ...They are good at demonizing opponents, good at twisting the truth...

Isn't it what you were doing for good two pages?

JC: ...and too few people who oppose their views are willing to put themselves out in any way...

What is at risk exactly?

JC: It isn't material who wins that little weblog award.

That I wouldn't know but apparently everybody is ego to get an Oscar. Come now.

JC: It is illuminating for our politics to see how they are accomplishing it.

Indeed.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 2:42 PM

It's amazing he calls it a "barbaric" military operation. I mean, compared to what? All war is barbaric. Israel fights cleaner, more surgically antiseptic, humane wars than anybody, to its own expense and detriment. I'm sure they wish they could just make Hamas operatives poof into non-existence at the touch of a button, but unfortunately their brilliant scientists haven't figured out how to do that yet.

Posted by: tigger2005 Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 2:52 PM

Mark C. You need to be more current

Some current news from the Jerusalem Post (January 2nd) article titled "Fatah: Let us help you fight Israel in Gaza"

Fatah operatives in the West Bank on Thursday criticized the Palestinian Authority leadership and accused its representatives of failing to take a "tough stance" against the current IDF military operation in the Gaza Strip. One of them, Ziad Abu Ein, a deputy minister in the PA, called on Hamas to return the weapons it had confiscated from Fatah members in the Gaza Strip so they could help in fighting against the IDF during a ground offensive.

I wonder if those Fatah members were trained by the US. We did train a lot of them. I do know that we gave them weapons, which may be being used by Hamas after Hamas captured them from Fatah.

Also from the Jerusalem post:

"Sources close to Hamas also claimed that dozens of members of the rival Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, had volunteered to fight alongside Hamas units."

Allying with Fatah terrorists in order to fight Hamas terrorists follows the British model of legitimizing 'good' extremists in an effort to get them to fight 'bad' extremists. This tactic has a long record of failure. Look at the current state of the British Empire.

As I said, I can understand why Israel would try to work with Fatah at this point in time. But their long term goals should be to weaken and eventually disempower both terrorist organizations.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 2:54 PM

The terrorist Al-aksa branch of Fatah has been disavowed by Abbas as I recall, and he swore to remove them from the PA security forces, fwiw.

I suspect that in Gaza right now if you're Fatah, it's a 'join 'em or get both your knees shot out' scenario anyhow.

I was in Nablus in September, unexpectedly escorted by someone with Hamas-linked relatives, and there is a seething hatred for Israelis there among a significant chunk of the population. It's the main Hamas stronghold in the WB according to Israeli CT people, and generally WB residents don't feel they have much in common with Gazans, and haven't for many years.

Still, a peaceful West Bank is far from a sure thing. If Abbas is somehow brought down by this current mess, it could spell disaster.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 5:56 PM

MJT - be assured that I will vote for you - for the sake of the poor and downtrodden and the dissident in Gaza who have only people like Juan Cole (the dumb) and Helena Cobban (the dumber) to blame for supporting Hamas rightwing fascism (and al-Sadr religious fascism in Iraq) - all against the interests of the people of Palestine and the people of the Middle East.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 10:13 PM

Glasnost, I was at Vancouver's anti-Israel demo today in the center of the downtown shopping district. It was a pathetic and anemic demonstration in that not a single "normal" person (i.e. not wearing a hijab or kafiyyah or revolutionary guerilla clothes) showed up.

There were more 6 to 10 year olds being brainwashed to pictures of blood and gore and cries of god is great and god will kill the disbeliever, that you could fit in a circus.

The chants were of 2 kind: 1- Allahu Akbar. 2- From the Jordan river TO THE SEA, belongs to Palestine.

I suppose you are intelligent enough to understand the 2nd implication.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 10:25 PM

Mary -

Don't be too impressed by rhetoric from players in this part of the world. Probably fatah wants those weapons to defend themselves against Hamas.

Also, as far as I'm aware, the Al Aqsa Martyrs no longer answer to the PA. They are not its armed wing.

Look, there have been many many articles and TV programs here (I live in Israel) showing that the police in Jenin and Nablus are enforcing the law. There have been many examples of them interdicting terrorists and rescuing Israelis who have strayed into their areas. They don't do this because they love Israel, but because they see it in their interest. This is the only possible basis for a peace agreement. Hudnas with Hamas are only recipes for bloodier wars in the future (I know you're not advocating that).

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 11:34 PM

Hudnas with Hamas are only recipes for bloodier wars in the future (I know you're not advocating that)

I would never advocate making deals with terrorists, which is why I'd advise against trusting Fatah too.

Years ago Israel was making deals with the more 'moderate' Hamas because they didn't want to deal with the 'extreme' commie PLO. Now Fatah is playing the role of the moderate.

Rudy G. seriously reduced mob influence in New York, and he didn't do that by using the British method of empowering 'moderate' extremists. If he had used that tactic, John Gotti would be president. When a legitimate government empowers a 'moderate' mob against the 'extreme' mob, the mobs win. The group that wins uses that empowerment (and any information they've gathered) against us.

Since the legitimate government is openly working with their corrupt leaders, citizens don't trust their govt. or anyone else. They lose hope or they turn to the toughest mob (or to random opposing vigilante or extremist gangs) to protect them. Moderation and democracy withers away, one form of mob/extremist takes over and the bad guys win no matter what. That's why it's a bad idea to empower your enemy, and it's why this tactic always fails.

Israel, the US and most other nations have been following the British model for years, and it's going to take a long time to fix the mess that's been created. We're not responsible for the rabid ideologies that have motivated groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda, but we did miss some very obvious cues (like 9/11) that our strategy was not working.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 11, 2009 8:37 AM

glasnost,

Is this like how every person that shouts "I'm going to kill you" during a fight actually intends to murder you?

I've never seen a group of people sign their names to a document and swear allegiance to murder in a bar. Not even Red Sox fans.

More to the point, if the guy in the bar says he's going to kill my group and two weeks later his cousin detonates himself to kill my cousin, I'm going to take him seriously.

Hamas uses homocidal weapons because they do not have access to genocidal weapons. Do you seriously believe they would restrain themselves if they could destroy Israel today? Do you really think that suicide bombers are concerned about what the world would really be like if the Jews were all dead?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at January 11, 2009 10:38 AM

i read juan cole and i agree with most of his perspective, i dont consider myself hysterical debater at all, so many say

"Tell me, big guy. How many more years should Israel tolerate indiscrimnate rocket fire on its cities before it is allowed to respond defensively?

Why does the world demand Israel stop fighting Hamas, when Hamas continues to fire rockets and promises to continue firing rockets even if Israel stops?"

But on the same token how long should the Palestinian people sit by and tolerate prison like conditions, some london papers have called living conditions in gaza like a concentration camp, and open air prison. How long should they sit back and take it?

I think both sides are playing this wrong but i think Israel is more wrong, they should know better, they have a history of being second class citizens, and now they are dishing it out. Hamas won a democratic election, we should have given them a chance, but from the day they won office, the US and Israel began to fund and arm FATAH that sparked a civil war

until the west lets these people develop their own lives this will never end, for every terrorist you kill 5 more are born in his place

Posted by: ian Author Profile Page at January 12, 2009 7:09 AM

"...until the west lets these people develop their own lives this will never end, for every terrorist you kill 5 more are born in his place."

Please cite reference data for the assertion that "for every terrorist you kill 5 more are born in his place".

How do you know this ? Could it be that maybe for every terrorist killed only 3 are born to take his place. Or maybe just 1? Or perhaps 0.5 of a terrorist ?

And even if true why should rolling over and playing(or NOT playing) dead for the likes of Hamas, be the only remaining option? Would not killing them off even faster, and on a greater scale easily solve the math issues?

I'm not advocating a less 'targeted' approach. Just asking.

Primarily because I have heard this 'you can't kill off terrorists. It never works', meme about as much as I care to.
You CAN in fact kill off terrorists. Peru did. Sri Lanka is even now in the process of so doing. It's just messy and brutal, and prolonged. But it can be done.

Posted by: dougf Author Profile Page at January 12, 2009 7:39 AM

ian,

"some london papers have called living conditions in gaza like a concentration camp"

Based on what?

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 12, 2009 8:08 AM

Michael,
As a self described common sense liberal (stop the snickering please), I am more than happy to vote for you in the Weblog Awards. I may not always agree with you but I find your reporting fair and honest. You are willing to go where most are not (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc). You are one of the main reasons (Michael Yon being another) that I rely on independent journalists for the majority of my information about foreign affairs and the great work that our men and women in uniform perform on a daily basis.

Thank you for all that you do!

Posted by: AO Author Profile Page at January 12, 2009 9:18 AM

Thanks, AO.

And I'm not snickering. My wife is a common sense liberal. That's how I viewed myself until recently. Now I don't know what label to put on myself exactly. (Not that I need one.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 12, 2009 10:16 AM

The Gaza conflict doesn't have to be polarized among party lines. Some 70-80% of American Jews voted for Obama and other democrats. Are they all "neoconservatives" who harbor sinister Zionist motives?

I suspect some liberals who oppose the Iraq war almost necesarily have to oppose US and Isreal in this Gaza conflict. Truth be told, I think Isreal has more mandate to attack Gaza then we had to invade Iraq. They don't have to find hidden weapons, it's being rained down upon them. We know who's behind the attacks.

I live in the bluest state in the west coast that is California, and believe you me - if some Mexican rebels launched even crude molotov cocktails onto our schools, any plan for immediate retalition will have 60-70% public approval. (Without San Francisco, more like 90%)

Posted by: lee Author Profile Page at January 12, 2009 10:46 PM
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