Gaza News Roundup

They are bombing one and a half million people in a cage (CBS News):

The reality of war (Andrew Sullivan):
PHOTO: The legs of the body of one of three Palestinian siblings from the Al-samoni family, killed by an Israeli tank shell

 Thought experiment (Stephen Walt):

Imagine that Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had won the Six Day War, leading to a massive exodus of Jews from the territory of Israel. Imagine that the victorious Arab states had eventually decided to permit the Palestinians to establish a state of their own on the territory of the former Jewish state. (That’s unlikely, of course, but this is a thought experiment). Imagine that a million or so Jews had ended up as stateless refugees confined to that narrow enclave known as the Gaza Strip. Then imagine that a group of hardline Orthodox Jews took over control of that territory and organized a resistance movement. They also steadfastly refused to recognize the new Palestinian state, arguing that its creation was illegal and that their expulsion from Israel was unjust. Imagine that they obtained backing from sympathizers around the world and that they began to smuggle weapons into the territory. Then imagine that they started firing at Palestinian towns and villages and refused to stop despite continued reprisals and civilian casualties.

Here’s the question: would the United States be denouncing those Jews in Gaza as “terrorists” and encouraging the Palestinian state to use overwhelming force against them?

Here’s another: would the United States have even allowed such a situation to arise and persist in the first place?

Israel has a right to exist (Matthew Yglesias):

I don’t think Israel has any obligation to give in to, say, demands for an unrestricted Palestinian “right of return” to live within Israeli territory. Nor do I find it especially problematic that Israel uses Jewish ancestry as the basis for its immigration policy. Germany and other countries do the same.

But this is precisely what makes it so untenable for Israel to be exercising sovereign control over the Palestinian territories. What Israel is governing right now isn’t a Jewish state, it’s a binational state in which most of the Arab population is being denied its basic rights. We can see from the condition of the Israeli Arab population that Israel is perfectly capable of functioning as a Jewish state that respects the rights of a smallish Arab minority, but it’s obviously untenable to remain a Jewish state while granting full rights to the Gaza and West Bank Arabs. So under the circumstances, Israel has no choice but to cease governing and colonizing the territory in the West Bank and Gaza.

The elastic definition of terrorism (Glenn Greenwald):

There are few concepts more elastic and subject to exploitation than “Terrorism,” the all-purpose justifying and fear-mongering term.  But if it means anything, it means exactly the mindset which Goldfarb is expressing:  slaughtering innocent civilians in order to “send a message,” to “deter” political actors by making them fear that continuing on the same course will result in the deaths of civilians and — best of all, from the Terrorist’s perspective — even their own children and other family members.

To the Terrorist, by definition, that innocent civilians and even children are killed isn’t a regrettable cost of taking military action.  It’s not a cost at all.  It’s a benefit.   It has strategic value.  Goldfarb explicitly says this:  “to wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause.” 
That, of course, is the very same logic that leads Hamas to send suicide bombers to slaughter Israeli teenagers in pizza parlors and on buses and to shoot rockets into their homes.  It’s the logic that leads Al Qaeda to fly civilian-filled airplanes into civilian-filled office buildings.  And it’s the logic that leads infinitely weak and deranged people like Goldfarb and Peretz to find value in the killing of innocent Palestinians, including — one might say, at least in Goldfarb’s case:  especially — children.

6 Comments

  1. Ian

    An honest question: What can we do?

  2. gabe gaskin

    So Ive been asking myself that same question since December 27. I know a lot must be done, but I also know that American media is very sympathetic with Jews in general (the movie Valkyrie dropped just days before the attacks started). So whatever it is that we can do must first acknowledge that fact. Having said that, I think that personal conversations are in order, abolishing ignorance of these events is the first step. In fact, an ideal would be to teach MANY Americans the truth about Palestine @ once, while keeping in mind the position Israel has in the minds of Americans.

  3. Daimao

    But how would you teach so many people all at once? I think it would have to take some time before we see a shift like that in the media, unless you consider education reform.

  4. Chris

    Ian,
    We can reject the sentiment that Israel’s actions should be supported without question. We should vote for national leaders who think likewise. We can also do what we can to fight the media and rightwing narrative that the Palestinians deserve their predicament.

    If we can turn elite/government opinion, then they might pressure Israel to take the steps toward peace that they seem incapable of doing because of internal politics. If that doesn’t work or happen, then our hopes lie with the leaders and people of Israel.

  5. Ian

    Chris, the problem is that we are generally only given two choices on who to vote for in every election. Even when it comes to the primaries our choices are narrowed to only a handful. When it comes to choosing a President or other politicians, I am most likely going to agree with those who have the domestic agendas I agree with most, with foreign policy coming in second. Meaning its thus even less likely to see a politician I agree with about Israel and education, the economy, etc. The problem is that our politicians see states like Florida which have large Jewish populations as crucial to winning elections so they will do whatever they want in order to secure those votes, or at least not alienate those voters. Perhaps the way to change is to diminish those voters disproportionate influence. Obama made some strides towards evening the playing field in “red” states. Make states that were unwinnable into competitive areas for both parties. If Florida wasn’t crucial to win, then maybe both parties could act with a more independent and rational mind.

  6. Chris

    Ian,
    There is a good deal of ideological differences during the primary season. Even during the general election we can push politicians to adopt the views of their constituency. Right now our representatives aren’t worried about crossing a majority of the country on the issue of Israel, that can definitely change.