Monday, March 14, 2011

Itamar: Already, The Aftermath

The Netanyahu government has announced that, in response to the murders at Itamar, it would build 500 new housing units in the territories. Mourning for the victims has barely begun, but the government has already managed to desecrate their memory.

What is the statement the government is making, after all? Is it not that the murders were nothing but another Palestinian assault in a land war, to be answered with a Jewish counter-assault? Is this framing not precisely what the murderers would have us believe, namely, that sneaking into a settlement to kill sleeping children was a vaguely heroic act of resistance against occupation, indeed, that children are just incipient instances of their parents' ideology?

What the murderers do not want us to believe was that this was actually (as President Abbas said today) a crime against humanity. Apparently, Netanyahu does not want us to thinking too much about humanity as such. That would raise other questions, especially about the universal rights humans need to make the most of their individual powers and the protections they need from others' greed, wishful thinking and hypocrisy. (“Jews are members of the human race,” as Philip Roth once put it; “Worse than that I cannot say about them.”)

Imagine if, in response to the killings of his daughters by reckless Israeli gunners, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish had called for revenge against "Jews" and not (as at J Street) called for compassion and non-violence; imagine if the Palestine Authority had called for throwing Israel into the sea? There is already a video being circulated by settlers' blogs--predictable in its pathos, the strains of "Schindler's List" in the background--showing the appalling scenes at Itamar, and ending with the question "These are our partners?"

No, this act was no more a "Palestinian" act than the shelling of the Abuelaish apartment was an "Israeli" one, though all Palestinians believe Itamar is a crime, and all Israelis believe lobbing missiles into Sderot is. The real partners are those who insist that terror is a response to tyranny and tyranny is a response to terror. Their death dance, as the excellent Haaretz editorial implied this morning, is wonderfully synchronous.


Potter said...

Perfect. Thank you.

Michael said...

For better or worse, modern man has developed rules of war. As bizarre as it sounds, following those rules puts one within "civilized" society. So if one bombs a legitimate target and happens to blow off the head of a 3 month old baby, that falls within civilized behavior. However, if one walks into the room of the same 3 month old baby and slits her throat, that is uncivilized behavior and thus is 100% a "savage" act.

Of course, further highlighting the moral gulf between Israelis and Palestinians is that Israelis are pained when the are forced to harm innocents, whereas Palestinians celebrate and hand out candy.

One who can't see the difference is also himself a "savage" as he removes himself from civilized society.

Potter said...

So Michael, and re moral superiority, by that rationale bombs (invented by modern man) are more legitimate than knives?

Can I ask if an illegitimate settlement is a legitimate target?

And if that is so, if bombs were used, would that have been civilized behavior?

Furthermore- do you not believe that Palestinians are also pained by this act?

Are you really simply saying that Israeli's are morally superior? Let's be clear.

Michael said...

Today, yes bombs are more legitimate than knives. Ironically, so many self-riteous people decry targeted killings, when in reality they are the must humane form of warfare in that they minimize collateral damage.

The settlements are, at best, disputed. To say they are illegitimate prejudges the issue. Simply bombing a residence with no military value would not be acceptable.

Certainly if the Palestinians were to target the military it would be more within societal norms. But their tactic is not military it's terror, as such they intentionally target civilians. Casualty statistics of Israeli attacks vs Palestinian attacks bare this out. The overwhelming majority of deaths resulting from Israeli strikes are males between 16-30. The victims of Palestians are far more distributed.

Yes, of course I'm sure there are many decent Palestinians who are mortified by the behavior of the terrorists and their government who supports them. My fervent hope is that someday these people will find their voice and have the power to back it up. On that day there will be peace.

Of course Isrealis are morally superior. What did Hamas's PM say, something like "we love death the way that you love life".

Potter said...

Michael- Isn't a knifing a "targeted killing"?

How do you come to bombing being more legitimate?

According to international law, that is the UN, the settlements are illegitimate, not disputed. The United States policy ( prior to Obama) maintains that the settlements are illegitimate ( not disputed).. as does the rest of the civilized world, including the "Quartet" and all those who voted the resolution at the UN recently that stated so. Israel stands pretty much alone in claiming these lands are disputed.

Many more Palestinian civilians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces just within the last 6 months, including those not participating in hostilities (innocents) and they have not gotten this attention.

This is a B'tselem listing for you to read through.

Michael said...

"illegitimate" is not a legal term, it's a political term. The UN is not an arbiter of international law. (And in the last few years has become nothing more than a front for radical Islam.)

Body counts are irrelevant to the discussion without context.

Michael said...

Furhter. B'tselem is notorius for misatrributing combantants as innocents, so their number are completely unreliable in any reasonable discussion.

Here's one view on settlements and international law. I'm not haughty enought to say that this is the only view, but it's certainly something reasonable people can disagree on.

Let me pose a theoretical for you. How many innocent Palestinians do you think would die if all hostilities from both Gaza and the West Bank ceased?

Imagine if the Palestinians actually had a leader who represented them and who sat down and negotiated with Israel. The settlements would become a non-issue overnight.

Potter said...

The Jewish Virtual Library (JVT) I reject as Israeli opinion that stands not a ruling. The International Court of Justice and the Geneva conventions are authoritative.

But why would Israel, or you for that matter, want to reject the UN when it is the UN that gives Israel it's legitimacy and protects it's sovereignty through it's laws (which are a source of international law)?

The JVT entry says

"The provisions of the Geneva Convention regarding forced population transfer to occupied sovereign territory cannot be viewed as prohibiting the voluntary return of individuals to the towns and villages from which they, or their ancestors, had been ousted."

Does this mean that Palestinians can return to the towns and villages from which they or their ancestors had been ousted more recently? or is this applicable only to Jews returning after tens of centuries? And should everyone be able to return to where they or their ancestors had to flee from in the past?

Michael said...

Oh please. Read the rest of the paragraph at least. That's not the issue of the 4th GC.

The status of the refugees is an issue for negotiations.

If the Palestinians were unified behind a rational government that could represent them in negotiations with the goal of finding a lasting solution between them and Israel they would have their own state on most of the WB virtually overnight.

Anyone who promotes the settlements as a major issue, is doing the greatest disservice the Palestinians. The Israelis have proven time and again that when an agreement is reached they'll do what they've committed to, even uprooting people from their homes, to abide by it. Really how many new apartments can be built in the few months it would take to hammer out an agreement?

On another note, though. As the liberals I'm sure you are. Do you really support the idea of creating a new Palestinian state that is predicated on the apartheid concept of purging it of all Jews?

Potter said...

Okay more from this JVL entry: it notes that the movement of settlers to the territories is entirely voluntary. But the Israeli government and leaders have urged and aided people to settle and have made land available, built the infrastructure provided the security- without which they could not exist. So this stretches the meaning of voluntary to say the least- settlers were enticed and supported.

The argument, Michael, is bogus-all of it.

Re the UN--Why did Israel then care so much about the recent vote in the Security Council? That was the one that the US just vetoed but then the administration representative ( Rice) said: ' we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. We view Israeli settlement activity in territories that were occupied in 1967 as undermining Israel’s security, its democracy, and hopes for peace and stability in the region." and said that the US and other SC members are in FULL AGREEMENT.

To your last question: The settlers have been invited, not only by Abbas to become good Palestinian citizens. This would be a good thing if they want to or are able to coexist.

Michael said...

The 4th GC is intended to prevent the forcible transfer of citizens as was done in WWII to the Jews and other minority. Offering financial incentives has nothing to do with it.

Israel cares about the UN, I don't. IMHO it is the embodiment of evil and should be eradicated. Maybe when it was created it was a little more balanced, but it has been virtually hijacked by the scum of the earth.

Your last statement is typically of duplicity of the PA leadership. While Abbas may have said something like that, the current PA bylaws forbid land ownership by Jews.

Potter said...

The laws were to prevent Palestinians from selling their land to settlers or "the Occupiers". Makes sense since their future state's land is being taken. Once there is a peace agreement, if it includes this invitation, then there would need to be a new land policy... similarly in Israel regarding Arab land ownership. No duplicity.

Michael said...

That's sweetly naive.

Potter said...

Is Fayyad is "sweetly naive" or smart?:

Jews Would Be Welcome

They might need a lot of protection at first, but both sides can work on their relations.

Michael said...

Assuming Fayyad is not being duplicitous, and I believe he's actually pragmatic enough not to be, do you really an actual PA government consisting of, if not a majority, a large block of Hamas-style Islamists would acquiesce to his liberal democratic ideals?

On plus side, I saw this video today which actually made me cry with the feeling that there might actually be some hope.

Michael said...

On the third hand... This video is just a small sample of what the Palestinians and large part of the Arab world are fed on a daily basis. And this is why it's so surprising to me to see the reaction of the people in the video above.

Fayyad may or may not be speaking the truth, but this is what we are all up against.

Potter said...

Particularly when you consider what they have been up against I think it's all the more remarkable to have these opinions on the Youtube video.

There is no path forward with no risk, but the better bet, I think, is that there are more Palestinians who in their hearts don't want to be at war, don't want to live with hate and who are willing to move on to normal life. This is not what many Jews have been convinced of; they seem to want to believe otherwise.. the skepticism is right on the video- the reluctance to believe these opinions. It is easier to believe that candy is being handed out on such occasions. So when will Jews stop firing up their own hate? When maybe they see that Palestinians are trying to go past that?

The Memri video touches deep fears. What does it's promotion do? do to you?

You have to choose.

Michael said...

Wow. You make a lot of assumption with little or no fact.

As much as I too would like to "believe" that most Palestinians don't want to be at war, simple surveys do not back that up. They still overwhelmingly support terror and have not accepted the concept of the existence of a Jewish state.

Most Israeli Jews, overwhelmingly, on the other hand accept the idea of two states for two people and are willing to cede most of the West Bank for peace. We did not convince ourselves of anything, 20 years of unrellenting terror and bombardment has made us weary of taking risks with our security. Gaza and Lebanon both support that fear.

It is astounding to me that you talking about "believing" that candy is being given out in Gaza when it actually is! Unfortunately that attitude toward terror is still, again factually, the norm.

Most Jews in Israel, are like me, we are ridiculously hopeful. Far from firing up hate even in the face of last Friday's savage barbarism.

What you see in the video is Bibi's economic peace theory in action. The people of the West Bank, thanks to Bibi and Fayyad, are beginning to live normal economic lives and are just beginning to realize that they don't want to lose that. That mirage would disappear overnight if the IDF left and Hamas were given free reign.

In order to truly have peace the Palestinians must first have an internal rebellion, possibly even a civil war, that once and for all purges the cancer of Islamic fundamentalism from their midst.

Evacuating Gaza, which I supported, was a test case. They failed. Gaza could have been a Singapore by now.

The Memri video, again, is just a minute glimpse into what Israelis and all good people of the world are up against. It doesn't "do" anything to me. What it should do to everyone is show the true monster that Islamic fundamentalism is so people will stop hiding their heads in the sand and realize we have an ideological, if not actual, war to fight if we want the gains of freedom and liberty that Western civilization has brought to the world to survive.

Potter said...

oy yoy! I'm done! (my hands are holding my head reading what you wrote). I get what the situation is up against, unfortunately. This is why people tune out.

mi said...

Clearly you don't, but thanks for the conversation. (Take two Tylenol and call me in the morning. :)

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