Israel and Gaza

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Israel and Gaza

Post by Alatar »

I'm really surprised there's been no discussion on this here. Its pretty much the biggest news story in Europe at the moment. Civilian casualties have reached over 1000 now and there have been UN Sanctioned calls for a full humanitarian ceasefire. What I find so troubling about this conflict is the lack of balance and objectivity in the media. Its easy to find outlets which are 100% pro-Israeli and equally, many which treat them like Satan incarnate. As I say, a balanced view is hard to find, but most moderates seem to feel the Israeli forces have been extremely heavy handed in this instance. How is this being reported Stateside?
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Impenitent »

I've been dreading the appearance of such a thread; I considered it inevitable one would appear, but my heart is heavy.

In Australia, I suspect the media has been a little more balanced than in Europe, but it depends on which outlets one depends on for news.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

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Why dreading Impy? Nobody is looking to vilify anyone here. There's nobody guiltless on either side of the conflict, but neither are either side wholly in the right.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

It's definitely worth discussing, but I am out of ideas. Certainly examples like the (relative) end of the Irish conflict and the end of Apartheid in South Africa should give hope that a solution can eventually be found, but this one seems completely intractable.

Maybe I'll come back with some more coherent thoughts, if I can find any.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by yovargas »

This question is not meant a snarky or sarcastic way - is there a reason that we in the "West" should care beyond that it's awful to see people killing each other?
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Re: Israel and Gaza

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Well, the popular opinion would be that the US is currently supporting Israel politically, financially and militarily. If the Israeli's are proved to have broken international law by targeting civilian areas then the political fallout will be severe.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

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The whole situation is a mess.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Alatar wrote:Well, the popular opinion would be that the US is currently supporting Israel politically, financially and militarily. If the Israeli's are proved to have broken international law by targeting civilian areas then the political fallout will be severe.
To the best that I can see, that is certainly true of popular opinion in Europe. I don't think it can be said to be true here in the U.S. itself. I myself usually lean towards criticizing Israeli actions (or, as is often the case, over-reactions), but I'm not so sure here. If Hamas insists on firing rockets into Israel, building an elaborate series of tunnels into Israel to facilitate attacks, and then shielding militants in civilian areas, I'm not sure what choice Israel has to defend herself. If the question was about insisting upon building settlements in disputed areas, I would strongly on the side of saying that Israel is acting unreasonably in blocking the possibility of productive negotiations, but I'm not sure what choice they have in the current situation. Hamas does seem to want to everything possible to increase death and injury among Palestinian civilians, to further its own cause. I find that reprehensible.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Alatar »

I can only speak from the media we are getting here, but the talk of Hamas using "human shields" seems to have been pretty much debunked. Gaza is extremely densely populated so any carpet bombing being carried out will perforce have civilian casualties. Israel seem to be making no attempt whatsoever to target Hamas. Hamas are also firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, but their attacks are completely ineffective. At last count the Israeli casualties were under 50 while Palestinian casualties were over 1000.

Here's a BBC report from a few days ago when the casualties were 36 against over 800.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28478792

Its worth pointing out that most people here believe the BBC are biased in favour of the Israelis.

Channel 4 are probably the most left wing news source of reputation.

I won't embed this as a youtube, in case people would prefer not to see it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR1LGoNg5p4&sns=fb
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by River »

In the US it is also pretty much impossible to find objective information. Apparently Hamas started firing rockets into Israel again. Israel's Iron Dome technology has prevented those rockets from doing much damage but still...how would you react if someone started lobbing missiles at you? Thing is, the Palestinians have no such shield and so, when the Israelis retaliate, it hurts. Also, the Israelis discovered a huge network of tunnels used to infiltrate Israel and that also made them mad. The general impression I've gotten from US media is we're shaking our heads but are 100% behind Israel because 1) it's a habit and 2) Hamas is still regarded by the US and, AFAIK, most of the rest of the world as a terrorist organization, even though the Palestinians regard them as a political party.

It seems to be more socially acceptable to visibly/verbally shake one's head this time around than previously, probably because of the blatant disparity in the forces at work. It looks to me almost like the Palestinians are committing the population equivalent of suicide-by-police. I'm not sure you can get more self-destructive than by taking the actions they have taken...but given the economic blockade Israel has imposed they probably feel like their backs are to the wall and they've nothing to lose but their lives. At least, that might be what the leadership is thinking. Your generic civilian in Gaza might have a different opinion.

I'm not sure where either side will be able to find even the slightest sliver of common ground on which to start negotiating. I'm not even sure the leadership on either side is even interested in looking for it, to be honest. And that's about as far into those waters as I'm willing to wade.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Passdagas the Brown »

yovargas wrote:This question is not meant a snarky or sarcastic way - is there a reason that we in the "West" should care beyond that it's awful to see people killing each other?
Until "the West" constructs a massive protective bubble that keeps the international flow of goods, people, weapons, etc. from its borders, there are a bazillion reasons why the West should care.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by yovargas »

Passdagas the Brown wrote:
yovargas wrote:This question is not meant a snarky or sarcastic way - is there a reason that we in the "West" should care beyond that it's awful to see people killing each other?
Until "the West" constructs a massive protective bubble that keeps the international flow of goods, people, weapons, etc. from its borders, there are a bazillion reasons why the West should care.
Do you mean that in reference to this conflict in particular or to any foreign conflicts?
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Passdagas the Brown »

Any. The myth of the possibility of isolationism in today's day and age is just that. A myth. And if the US were to withdraw from the world, most credible theories of international relations would suggest that other powers would attempt to fill the void. In this context, the US has little choice but to try to remain a primary guarantor of international security.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Pearly Di »

The Palestinian casualties are incredibly distressing. So many young children. :(

Hamas are brutal and cynical and of course they shouldn't be firing rockets into Israel :x and of course Israel has every right to defend itself. Hamas began this crap. With the murder of those three Jewish teenagers - and we still don't know who the perpetrators were - and by the provocative firing of rockets.

I am pretty supportive of Israel, the only democracy in the region, but the proportionality of the response is hard to stomach. And we still don't know who carried out that horrible retaliatory murder of the Palestinian lad, either. It's all just horrible.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Passdagas the Brown »

I also am a supporter of Israel, but not a fan of Likud, Netanyahu and certainly not Lieberman. The current government, IMO, is just as much an obstacle to peace as Hamas.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

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Here's a thought-provoking piece from a Holocaust survivor:
Beautiful dream of Israel has become a nightmare
By: Gabor Maté

As a Jewish youngster growing up in Budapest, an infant survivor of the Nazi genocide, I was for years haunted by a question resounding in my brain with such force that sometimes my head would spin: “How was it possible? How could the world have let such horrors happen?”

It was a naïve question, that of a child. I know better now: such is reality. Whether in Vietnam or Rwanda or Syria, humanity stands by either complicitly or unconsciously or helplessly, as it always does. In Gaza today we find ways of justifying the bombing of hospitals, the annihilation of families at dinner, the killing of pre-adolescents playing soccer on a beach.

In Israel-Palestine the powerful party has succeeded in painting itself as the victim, while the ones being killed and maimed become the perpetrators. “They don’t care about life,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, abetted by the Obamas and Harpers of this world, “we do.” Netanyahu, you who with surgical precision slaughter innocents, the young and the old, you who have cruelly blockaded Gaza for years, starving it of necessities, you who deprive Palestinians of more and more of their land, their water, their crops, their trees — you care about life?

There is no understanding Gaza out of context — Hamas rockets or unjustifiable terrorist attacks on civilians — and that context is the longest ongoing ethnic cleansing operation in the recent and present centuries, the ongoing attempt to destroy Palestinian nationhood.

The Palestinians use tunnels? So did my heroes, the poorly armed fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto. Unlike Israel, Palestinians lack Apache helicopters, guided drones, jet fighters with bombs, laser-guided artillery. Out of impotent defiance, they fire inept rockets, causing terror for innocent Israelis but rarely physical harm. With such a gross imbalance of power, there is no equivalence of culpability.

Israel wants peace? Perhaps, but as the veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has pointed out, it does not want a just peace. Occupation and creeping annexation, an inhumane blockade, the destruction of olive groves, the arbitrary imprisonment of thousands, torture, daily humiliation of civilians, house demolitions: these are not policies compatible with any desire for a just peace. In Tel Aviv Gideon Levy now moves around with a bodyguard, the price of speaking the truth.

I have visited Gaza and the West Bank. I saw multi-generational Palestinian families weeping in hospitals around the bedsides of their wounded, at the graves of their dead. These are not people who do not care about life. They are like us — Canadians, Jews, like anyone: they celebrate life, family, work, education, food, peace, joy. And they are capable of hatred, they can harbour vengeance in the hearts, just like we can.

One could debate details, historical and current, back and forth. Since my days as a young Zionist and, later, as a member of Jews for a Just Peace, I have often done so. I used to believe that if people knew the facts, they would open to the truth. That, too, was naïve. This issue is far too charged with emotion. As the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has pointed out, the accumulated mutual pain in the Middle East is so acute, “a significant part of the population finds itself forced to act it out in an endless cycle of perpetration and retribution.”

“People’s leaders have been misleaders, so they that are led have been confused,” in the words of the prophet Jeremiah. The voices of justice and sanity are not heeded. Netanyahu has his reasons. Harper and Obama have theirs.

And what shall we do, we ordinary people? I pray we can listen to our hearts. My heart tells me that “never again” is not a tribal slogan, that the murder of my grandparents in Auschwitz does not justify the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, that justice, truth, peace are not tribal prerogatives. That Israel’s “right to defend itself,” unarguable in principle, does not validate mass killing.

A few days ago I met with one of my dearest friends, a comrade from Zionist days and now professor emeritus at an Israeli university. We spoke of everything but the daily savagery depicted on our TV screens. We both feared the rancour that would arise.

But, I want to say to my friend, can we not be sad together at what that beautiful old dream of Jewish redemption has come to? Can we not grieve the death of innocents? I am sad these days. Can we not at least mourn together?

Gabor Maté, M.D., is a Vancouver-based author and speaker.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Túrin Turambar »

I have never understood the confusion of morality and power. These writers keep seeming to suggest that, if Hamas suddenly acquired a lot of better weapons, they would suddenly become the aggressors and Israel the victim. People may as well argue that the Allies were the aggressors in the Second World War because, by the end, they had far more men and better weapons (including nuclear bombs) than the Axis.

There is something about Israel that seems to draw intense and vicious criticism that other nations do not. Over the last few years, France has bombed Mali, Britain and France have bombed Libya, and the U.S. has continued to carry out drone strikes throughout the Middle East. None of these countries were responding to attacks on their actual soil, yet while there was hand-wringing from Western progressives they weren't all taking to the street in protest or, like Gabor Maté, implicitly comparing Britain, France or the U.S. to Nazi Germany.

Or to use another example, orders of magnitude more Muslim Arabs have been killed by ISIS in its advance into Iraq than have been killed by Israel in Gaza, yet nobody seems too bothered about it. And ISIS has no provocation, and isn't acting in its own defence or the defence of anyone. Indeed, across the Middle East in general, the biggest killers of Arab Muslims are, by far, other Arab Muslims.

So I can understand if that, recognising that it will be roundly condemned whenever it takes any action in defence of Israeli civilians, the Israeli military has simply said "screw it" and given up on trying to win approval outside Israel. Generally from people who are safe from Hamas rocket attacks, who are often living on land that was far more violently seized from its original owners than any part of Israel or the occupied territories, and whose governments participate in wars that cause just as many civilian casualties as anything that happens in Gaza or the West Bank.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by yovargas »

I must admit that sadly the first thing that ran through my mind reading Jude's post is the US drone strikes....
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Passdagas the Brown »

Lord_Morningstar wrote:I have never understood the confusion of morality and power. These writers keep seeming to suggest that, if Hamas suddenly acquired a lot of better weapons, they would suddenly become the aggressors and Israel the victim. People may as well argue that the Allies were the aggressors in the Second World War because, by the end, they had far more men and better weapons (including nuclear bombs) than the Axis.

There is something about Israel that seems to draw intense and vicious criticism that other nations do not. Over the last few years, France has bombed Mali, Britain and France have bombed Libya, and the U.S. has continued to carry out drone strikes throughout the Middle East. None of these countries were responding to attacks on their actual soil, yet while there was hand-wringing from Western progressives they weren't all taking to the street in protest or, like Gabor Maté, implicitly comparing Britain, France or the U.S. to Nazi Germany.

Or to use another example, orders of magnitude more Muslim Arabs have been killed by ISIS in its advance into Iraq than have been killed by Israel in Gaza, yet nobody seems too bothered about it. And ISIS has no provocation, and isn't acting in its own defence or the defence of anyone. Indeed, across the Middle East in general, the biggest killers of Arab Muslims are, by far, other Arab Muslims.

So I can understand if that, recognising that it will be roundly condemned whenever it takes any action in defence of Israeli civilians, the Israeli military has simply said "screw it" and given up on trying to win approval outside Israel. Generally from people who are safe from Hamas rocket attacks, who are often living on land that was far more violently seized from its original owners than any part of Israel or the occupied territories, and whose governments participate in wars that cause just as many civilian casualties as anything that happens in Gaza or the West Bank.
Just as a small point of clarification: The United States did a lot of bombing in Libya itself, though mostly from Navy ships in the Mediterranean (hitting anti-aircraft sites). This bombing of anti-aircraft sites by the US cleared the way for French and British jets to bomb Qaddafi's forces. Not to mention that the U.S. cleared the way for the UN resolution that led to the bombing...

I would say that Mali and Libya are a different kind of "bombing," as they were designed to halt mass atrocities/ genocide, and in both cases, there was considerable support for the bombing from masses of the local population (the overwhelming majority of Libyans were clamoring for NATO military intervention against Qaddafi, and there was a similar clamor for French intervention in Mali). The UN mandate for the Libyan intervention, in particular, was driven by the concept of the "Responsibility to Protect," which calls on the international community to play a role in "preventing" mass atrocities and genocide, and that mandate was reinforced by Qaddafi's commitment to kill civilians indiscriminately, and "root them out like rats" (evidence beyond the rhetorical was provided by defected air force units from the Libyan army, who were ordered by the government to specifically bomb civilian gatherings, including non-violent protests).

But that doesn't mean Israel's right to self defense is less justified! Israel has to defend itself. That's clear. And Hamas is a serious threat, no matter what some people say. However, I think the current Israeli government, led by Netanyahu and provoked by Avigdor Lieberman, has made the problem worse by initially scoffing at Kerry's attempts to broker a peace agreement (and helping to kill that process) and now, by bombing more indiscriminately than is necessary.

You mention drone strikes. Drones are not perfect instruments. But they are far, far more "discriminate" than most other weapon systems. That means they are better at avoiding civilian casualties. The current Israeli government is not being as careful as it could be in trying to be discriminate. That's my main issue at the moment.

And re: ISIS, I think what's happening is that Western progressives don't expect anything better from terrorist Islamists like ISIS. They are a terrorist group, they are trying to create a new Islamic caliphate across Syria and Iraq, and that's what they do. Part of the reason Israel receives so much criticism is that Western progressives, including many Jews I know, expect more of the Israeli government. Yes, some people are simply anti-Semitic, and therefore have much harsher criticisms for Israel than they do, for say, the Sudanese President al-Bashir, who was far more of a monster than anyone in the Israeli government. But there's also the element of: "Israel, you are a democracy, you are the only homeland for the embattled Jewish population. Please try to be better!"

I don't think that's always fair, as the Israeli state has to protect its citizens, whether that hurts their international image or not. But there are politicians in Israel, IMO, who would do a lot better job of threading the needle than Netanyahu.
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Re: Israel and Gaza

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I pretty much agree with all of that, and I don't think that I have anything else to add.
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