Fatah, Madoff, and Gaza

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Seeing a political opening, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, while on visit to Egypt, blames Hamas for Israel's assault of Gaza.

"I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side. We spoke with them on the telephone and we said to them: We ask of you, don't stop the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop, in order to avoid what has happened, and if only we had avoided it."

This is wishful thinking. As Haaretz reported in January, Hamas's popularity was on the decrease but ticked up again the following month when it breached the border wall with Egypt. And the Hamas leadership clearly believes that more radical provocations and acts of "resistance" resonate will Gazans. One can hope that the more moderate Fatah movement will see a boost in popularity, but anecdotal evidence suggests the airstrikes are having the opposite effect. 

At The Atlantic, Jeff Goldberg says that his Fatah friends are actively (albeit furtively) rooting for the Israeli Air Force:

"It's a strange world, but there you have it. I've been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information."

Tim Butcher, the Middle East correspondent for London's right-leaning Telegraph, slams Israel's strikes on Gaza, claiming the decision to attack was politically motivated (elections are forthcoming) and will only increase Palestinian attacks on Israel.

The craziest comment of the day comes from Vanity Fair's house hysteric James Walcott. One can only hope he is joking:

"In angry retaliation for the house arrest of Bernie Madoff, Israel has launched a hellacious air assault against Hamas in Gaza that errs so far on the side of disproportionality that its running up the fatality score may become self-defeating."

For an informed, civilized, left-right discussion of the situation in Gaza—one that avoids speculation that crooked Jewish financiers are the real casus belli of the Gaza offensive—checkout Heather Hurlburt and Eli Lake on Blogginheads here

Update: I should have added this very good piece by Michael Weiss (who has previously contributed to reason here). He asks a very important—and very often overlooked—question about the root causes of Hamas's Qassam rocket attacks:

…[W]hy is it that the corollary is never asked: namely, how does Hamas radicalize Israeli sentiment? A much remarked-upon fact of the last 72 hours is that Israel's ultra-left-wing party Meretz has endorsed Operation Cast Lead, a development that should concern partisans of both sides. If there is merit to the "root causes" argument, then surely it applies to the decisions undertaken by a Jewish policy as much as it does to those undertaken by a Muslim one. Or does a belligerent Israeli consensus form in a vacuum? 

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  1. The weird part about the entire “disproportional response” is that it appears to based on the idea the response is merely revenge or a means of balancing out a grievance.

    The idea that Israel seeks to physically disrupt Hama’s ability to attack them seems lost on a lot of people like Walcott.

  2. I think all fair-minded people should agree that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza was a disproportionate response to Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, which were a disproportionate response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which were a…

  3. may become self-defeating

    Scorpion: Dear Mr. Frog, since I can’t swim, please carry me on your back across the Nile.

    Frog: Are you kidding? You’re a scorpion! You’re dangerous! If I let you get on my back, you’ll sting me and I’ll die!

    Scorpion: Now why would I do that? I told you I can’t swim, so if I kill you, I’ll drown and die too. I’ll have no incentive to sting you.

    Frog: well, that makes sense. Okay, hop on.

    — So the scorpion climbs on frog’s back, and the frog begins to swim across wide river. Halfway across, the scorpion fatally stings the frog. —

    Frog: What have you done?! You’ve stung me, and now I’m dying, but you’ll die with me, because you can’t swim! Didn’t you just explain to me how stupid that would be?

    Scorpion: Ah, you forget: This is the Middle East.

  4. There is an excellent article in THE INDEPENDENT about a family right next to a bombed Mosque. Five daughters were killed while sleeping.

    If we use the analogy of a crime in which hired killers were used; the Israeli bombers were the actual killers, but Hamas knew such things are inevitable in war, so both are jointly responsible, in a way.

    The father said so poignantly, “Hey, we are not part of Hamas, we just lived here!!”

  5. IN BEFORE MNG HATEGASMS ALL OVER MOYNIHAN.

  6. The great thing about the “He hit me back first” defense is that both sides can use it.

  7. Why is it that in all of the Middle East the most controversial piece of land doesn’t even have any oil?

  8. The idea of disproportionate response is a strange thing in some ways. Those who berate Israel for killing 100 Palestinians for every Israeli killed are implicitly saying that if Hamas had better rockets or better aim, it would be OK for Israel to incinerate as many civilians as they wished.

    It’s even stranger when Hamas representatives and their apologists go on American TV to piss and moan about how Israel is breaking international law at the very same time that their beloved Hamas government is firing (or at the very least allowing others in their territory to fire) rockets into a sovereign country with the intention of killing people there.

  9. And I must add that, say what you will about the early Christians, but at least they were prescient enough to stop obsessing over Jerusalem. In that issue at least the Jesusers have mega bragging rights over the other Abrahamic faiths.

  10. Characterizing Weiss’s statement as being about “root causes of Hamas’ Qassam rocket attacks” is just confusing. I reread the quote three times to figure out what I was missing, and then realized it was just Moynihan trying to be cute.

    It’s not a statement about the root causes of the conflict, but about Hamas’s strategy.

    Anyway, such an observation – the Hamas tries to goad Israel into disproportionate responses and repression – is hardly rare. It’s actually pretty much universally understood on the left side of the political spectrum, and has often been made in such contexts as the 9/11 attacks and the Hezbollah war.

  11. The situation in Gaza is no different than what the NAZIS DID IN THE JEWISH GHETTO IN WARSAW: A group of people blockaded all around by the state who exercises effective control over them in an open-air prison.

    Israeli fascists claiming that Israel is “defending” itself sound as humane and just as Nazi SS officers who would claim “but those Jews are throwing stones at us from inside the ghetto!” before they fired back and killed 300+ Jews under that so-called “excuse”.

  12. Those who berate Israel for killing 100 Palestinians for every Israeli killed are implicitly saying that if Hamas had better rockets or better aim, it would be OK for Israel to incinerate as many civilians as they wished.

    Wow, when you go out of your way to describe a principle in ridiculous terms, you can make it look ridiculous! Impressive.

    Imagine, thinking that the scope of a military operation is supposed to bear some relationship to the scope of the threat it’s meant to address, or that it is justifiable to use more force when more force is used against you. That’s just crazy talk.

    That’s why I kill people who cut me off in traffic.

  13. Baris, excellent analysis, except for the fact that Gaza is not Warsaw, Israel isn’t Nazi Germany, and most importantly rockets are not stones.

    You must have opposed the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11 also, if you are consistent.

  14. Characterizing Weiss’s statement as being about “root causes of Hamas’ Qassam rocket attacks” is just confusing. I reread the quote three times to figure out what I was missing, and then realized it was just Moynihan trying to be cute.

    It seemed perfectly obvious to me, but then, I’m not trying to manufacture grievances against Moynihan. YMMV.

  15. Something must be wrong with my computer. I type in “reason.com” but I keep getting redirected to the Weekly Standard.

  16. joe, that’s a typical collectivist mindset. Good thing you’re not a paramedic — think of how disproportionate our response to medical emergencies is. We routinely risk incredible amounts of wealth and property in the often vain hope that we can save a single life that is in danger. Or as you might see it, a single, replaceable cog in your collectivist wheel.

    I suppose you opposed the invasion of Afghanistan too, since it resulted in a much larger loss of civilian life in proportion to Afghanistan’s population that the 9/11 attacks in proportion to the US population.

  17. joe, that’s a typical collectivist mindset.

    says the guy explaining why it’s ok to kill individuals who’ve done nothing to you based on where they live.

    Whatever.

  18. think of how disproportionate our response to medical emergencies is. We routinely risk incredible amounts of wealth and property

    Uh, yeah, it’s the financial cost to Israel that’s the problem here. The problem with day after day of bombing runs on an urban area is that it’s just so gosh-darn expensive!

    Talk about “cogs in a wheel,” the fact that little kids are being blown up doesn’t even enter into your thinking. Because they’re Arab.

    I think I’ll stay up all night worrying about the fact that the person who wrote this thinks I’m a “collectivist.”

  19. The term “root causes” has an actual meaning, Josh. You just don’t know enough to understand enough to know that the term was misused.

    Ignorance is bliss.

  20. Anti-Semites are complaining about Reason magazines rare, decent comments on Israel. Reason’s many anti-Semitic/Ernst Rh?m wannabes are in a tizzy.

    I haven’t had this much fun reading hit & Run since Dunkin Donuts took off the ad with Rachel Ray and her terrorist scarf!

    I love it!

  21. Something must be wrong with my computer. I type in “reason.com” but I keep getting redirected to the Weekly Standard.

    Differing opinions must be crushed under the bootheel of Libertarian Solidarity and Uniformity. Report to Minilib Room #101 and learn to love Big Libertarian.

  22. joe,

    Israel isn’t trying to kill civilians; they’re trying to kill rocketeers who operate in densely populated areas. Maybe the Israeli army should re-locate their bases into heavily populated areas so as to even out the civilian casualties and soothe the liberal consciences of the world.

  23. You’re the only one on this conversation who’s goals would be advanced from more death cunnivore – the only one arguing against limiting the deaths of civilians – so you can stop hurling out self-damning but nonsensical irrelevancies any time.

    I wanted to congratulate you, however, on making the single most idiotic argument ever to appear on Hit & Run:

    Good thing you’re not a paramedic — think of how disproportionate our response to medical emergencies is. We routinely risk incredible amounts of wealth and property in the often vain hope that we can save a single life that is in danger. We do that because we recognize the value of that single human life as being extremely valuable. That also happens to be precisely the same reason we limit the violence we carry out against people, particularly innocent people – because human life is important, and we must take great care to protect it.

  24. Israel isn’t trying to kill civilians; they’re trying to kill rocketeers who operate in densely populated areas.

    So the hundreds of civilian deaths from this operation are sort of like the “isolated incidents” Radley writes about?

    I feel so much better.

  25. It’s okay, Joe. I can sympathize with you. Anti-Semites hate it when Jews fight back. In fact, the screaming of the anti-Semites is one of the most fun things about Jews fighting back against their would be mass killers.

    I always thought that so many Libertarians hate the Jews via the Jewish state because Judaism has a death penalty both for homosexuality and bestiality. A lot of Libertarians are sexual perverts just like the Storm Troopers that brought Adolph Hitler to power. Any religion that would ban homosexuality and bestiality would, of course, engender hostility from the many sexual perverts in the Libertarian party — the obnoxious liberalism of my fellow co religionists notwithstanding as regards sexua perversion.

  26. “In angry retaliation for the house arrest of Bernie Madoff, Israel has launched a hellacious air assault against Hamas in Gaza that errs so far on the side of disproportionality that its running up the fatality score may become self-defeating.”

    This is a perfectly reasonable libertarian take on Israel’s move. Somehow Madoff’s private fraud has to be linked to an evil state. Bingo!

  27. So the hundreds of civilian deaths from this operation are sort of like the “isolated incidents” Radley writes about?

    I don’t recall marijuana dealers firing rockets into police stations, so no. I guess you think we shouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan either, since that necessarily entailed many civilian deaths.

    The question in the end is, what do you expect Israel to do in response to the rocket attacks originating in territory Hamas claims to control? Write an angry letter? And “go after the people who fire the rockets” isn’t an acceptable answer if you’re not willing to risk the civilian casualties that entails.

  28. This is a perfectly reasonable libertarian take on Israel’s move. Somehow Madoff’s private fraud has to be linked to an evil state. Bingo!

    I also think it is a perfectly reasonable way for Libertarians to behave.

    What else does one expect from people whose minds are shorted out on narcotic drugs?

  29. “So the hundreds of civilian deaths from this operation are sort of like the “isolated incidents” Radley writes about?”

    Not exactly. Radley engages in massive confirmation bias by ignoring any evidence that Police SWATS ever save a life or do any good whatsoever–standard libertarian argumentation. This line of defending Israel’s attacks on civilian centers balmes Hamas for operating from civilian centers and not giving Israel a choice. You may not buy the argument, but it’s not nearly as stupid as Radley’s moronic attacks on the police.

  30. You’re the only one on this conversation who’s goals would be advanced from more death cunnivore – the only one arguing against limiting the deaths of civilians

    I’m not arguing against limiting the deaths of civilians. I’m arguing that the limit in this case must be higher than zero, which seems to be your estimate of the limit, given the fact that the people who are attacking Israel hide among civilians.

    That also happens to be precisely the same reason we limit the violence we carry out against people, particularly innocent people – because human life is important, and we must take great care to protect it.

    Limit. Look it up in the dictionary and tell me how that word is inconsistent with what Israel is doing. I think you mean to say “eliminate”, but then your argument would appear preposterous, so you use “limit”.

  31. And it again amazes me that the people who are screeching mad about Israel’s supposedly disproportionate response place none of the blame for this on Hamas, who happen to be the ones who started the chain of events. Maybe it’s just because they expect Israel to be more pliable by public opinion than the six-dozen-virgin-bound nutjobs who run the Strip. Similar reasoning to how Amnesty International responds to cutting off the ears of political dissidents in Angola with a three-paragraph condemnation buried in the bowels of their website, but mounts a full-court-press PR campaign condemning Texas executing a murderer.

  32. Fuck you, underzog. The only thing your yammerings serve to do is confirm that I’m right.

    It’s like being called a nigger lover by David Duke.

    Thanks.

  33. I don’t recall marijuana dealers firing rockets into police stations, so no.

    Good thing they’ve been oh-so-cafeful about not raiding the wrong house, against people who had nothing whatsoever to do with launching rockets. Oh, wait, there have been hundreds of civilian casualties. I guess with your collectivist mindset, you’re ok with guilt by ethnicity.

    I guess you think we shouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan either, since that necessarily entailed many civilian deaths. Invading Afghanistan was a proportional response to the attack we suffered on 9/11, which I’ll point out was approximately 1000X more lethal than every Palestinian rocket attack in the last six months combined. And even given that, I’m against the sort of “counterinsurgency by airstrike” policy we’ve adopted, just as I’m against the same policy by the Israelis. I can criticize military policy as much as I god damn want, whether I think the underlying cause is just or not.

    And “go after the people who fire the rockets” isn’t an acceptable answer if you’re not willing to risk the civilian casualties that entails. It most certainly is an acceptable answer. You are so casual in discounting human life as a impediment to your politics – as long as the humans are the wrong religion or ethnicity, I guess.

    I’m not arguing against limiting the deaths of civilians. Let’s go to the tape:

    The idea of disproportionate response is a strange thing in some ways. Those who berate Israel for killing 100 Palestinians for every Israeli killed are implicitly saying that if Hamas had better rockets or better aim, it would be OK for Israel to incinerate as many civilians as they wished…Good thing you’re not a paramedic — think of how disproportionate our response to medical emergencies is. We routinely risk incredible amounts of wealth and property in the often vain hope that we can save a single life that is in danger.

    This is you, cun*, arguing against the PRINCIPLE of proportionality – against the idea that military actions should be curbed in order to prevent excessive damage, in a situation where the only excessive damage being criticized is the deaths of civilians. You wrote multiple posts disparaging the principle that limiting civilian death needs to be part of military operations – that is, against the very idea of proportionality.

    I’d be ashamed of having done such a thing, too, but unfortunately for you, your words are right there where everyone can read them.

    I’m arguing that the limit in this case must be higher than zero, which seems to be your estimate of the limit, given the fact that the people who are attacking Israel hide among civilians. That doesn’t make any logical sense. One cannot criticize hundreds of civilian deaths in a matter of days without setting the bar at precisely zero? What an absurd straw man. That’s ok – if I were you, I wouldn’t try to argue against what I actually have to say, either.

    And it again amazes me that the people who are screeching mad about Israel’s supposedly disproportionate response place none of the blame for this on Hamas, who happen to be the ones who started the chain of events. Another crock of shit. I will pay you $10,000 for every quote you can find where I absolve Hamas of responsibility. There’s the archives button, up there on the right. You can try “joe Hamas” and see what you come up with.

    Typical LGF wingnut – the same three talking points, over and over, no matter how irrelevant they are to the arguments they’re supposedly intended to address.

  34. My only very-Ivory-Tower complaint about laws of war in general is that it insulates the populace from the cost of the wars they support. Perhaps total war would give us more incentive to avoid war:

    Star Trek always beats me to it.

  35. And I must add that, say what you will about the early Christians, but at least they were prescient enough to stop obsessing over Jerusalem

    Only if by early you mean 12th/13th century

  36. I do not understand why everyone is getting their knickers in a knot over Wolcott’s joke. It’s not particularly funny, but yesterday’s Ron Hart link had a similar joke except with Ahmadinejad instead of Hamas.

  37. A side comment on military bases and civilian populations. Nearly all CONUS (and a large number of OCONUS) bases have a significant number of civilians living inside them, when you consider base housing. Not to mention the fact that many installations have no kind of buffer zone between the base gates/fences and the adjacent commercial/residential areas.

  38. As an aside to all of this….There was a guy who came to Hangar 296 at MCAS El Toro and made some of us an offer that was might tantalizing. Somehow or another all the right strings were pulled and those who signed on would be on a plane to Tel Aviv, all expenses paid and a princely sum of cash deposited into the account of our choice.

    Trouble was, that by the time we signed on, the Jews had kicked the Arabs asses, so the deal was off.

    Funny how things work out. Dam that was a long time ago.

  39. Hamas is not the driver who cut Israel off in traffic; Hamas is the driver who’s willing to drive kamikaze into Israel’s vehicle and kill them both. That Hamas is driving a Geo Metro and Israel is in an SUV doesn’t reduce Israel’s obligation to its passengers to defend itself however it can.

    I also find it curious that libertarians who would probably claim that an intrusion by another into their house legitimates deadly force, but the rocket shelling of a country requires a “proportionate” response.

    If an armed robber brings an innocent nine year old along with him to rob a house, the homeowner may not be able to defend his own family without harming the innocent child. The primary moral fault lies with the robber – Hamas, who purposely carry out activities in residential areas.

  40. TAO,

    The logic of the “shields from the effects” argument isn’t completely nuts, but if you look at episodes from history – such as the Blitz, or Dresden, or 9/11 – the effect of civilian casualties is rarely a withdrawal of support for the war. Quite the opposite, it’s usually a lust for revenge and greater enthusiasm for hitting the other side harder. Unless we get to the Hiroshima, Genghis Khan level of slaughter, and I don’t think anybody is going there.

  41. Pendulum,

    By “Israel defend itself,” do you mean recreating the glorious success of the Hezbollah War?

    With friends like these…

    If an armed robber brings an innocent nine year old along with him to rob a house…

    You can go to his house and burn it down, knowing his family is inside? No, not so much. Bombing police stations, pancaking apartment buildings, and the like is not the interdiction of an attack in progress, as shooting a home invader would be. If a civilian gets killed as the Israelis blast a rocket as it’s being set up, that’s one thing, but this isn’t that at all. It’s a counter-strike.

  42. Star Trek always beats me to it.

    TAO, you fucking ripoff artist! I referenced that very episode in regards to this very conflict just a few days ago!

  43. That was a good episode.

    What about the one where they trump out bits and pieces of the Constitution, but Kirk doesn’t understand the one phrase and nearly buys the farm…

  44. Kolohe,

    Jerusalem was ruled by Muslims for over 300 years before the First Crusade. True, there was a little bit of “get the holy land back in the hands of Catholics” sentiment driving it, but the persecution of Eastern Rite Christians by the new Turk rulers of Jerusalem, and even more importantly the opportunities for power and plunder the crusades presented were the main motivations.

  45. joe, you’re confusing the idea of minimizing civilian casualties with the principle of proportionate response. In some cases the minimum of necessary casualties from your strike is going to be far higher than the casualties you’ve suffered, so the action you take will be “disproportionate” even if you minimize civilian casualties.

    If the 9/11 planes which slammed into the WTC had been stopped somehow, and the only successful attack was that on the Pentagon, resulting in a few hundred civilians dead, the invasion of Afghanistan would have been a disproportionate response by your logic, as thousands of Afghani civilians died.

    I will pay you $10,000 for every quote you can find where I absolve Hamas of responsibility.

    You don’t absolve them, I agree. You also don’t condemn them as you condemn Israel, though.

    By “Israel defend itself,” do you mean recreating the glorious success of the Hezbollah War?

    The Gaza is a very different place from Lebanon. Much more homogeneous and much more uniformly in support of Hamas than Lebanon was in support of Hezbollah. There aren’t the same non-military options on the table in this situation. And I note again that while you’re heavy with the criticism of what Israel is doing you’re light on alternatives they could pursue. All ears, I am.

  46. Israel, Egypt, and Fatah tried to get Hamas to the peace table. Hamas refused. Hamas brought this upon Gaza.

  47. If the 9/11 planes which slammed into the WTC had been stopped somehow, and the only successful attack was that on the Pentagon, resulting in a few hundred civilians dead, the invasion of Afghanistan would have been a disproportionate response by your logic, as thousands of Afghani civilians died.

    Untrue. The potential for thousands, tens of thousands, of deaths from those attacks would have still been there. As opposed to the Hamas rocket attacks, which have caused singlel-digit casualty rates even when NOT interdicted.

    You also don’t condemn them as you condemn Israel, though. Nor does Radley condemn cocaine traffickers who conduct drive-by shootinigs, or Mexican drug gangs, in his columns about SWAT raids and the “House of Death.” Because the fact that terrorist attacks and torturing competing criminals to death is bad pretty much goes without saying.

    But beyond that, there’s the fact that criticizing a military response as “disproportionate” is an acknowledgement that a military response is appropriate. How exactly do you manage to read my statements about the rightness of killing the rocketeers, and endorsing a different military action, as anything but a condemnation of their actions? Do you imagine that I endorse military strikes against people I think have done nothing wrong?

    The Gaza is a very different place from Lebanon. Much more homogeneous and much more uniformly in support of Hamas than Lebanon was in support of Hezbollah. You know what made support for Hezbollah a lot more uniform among the Lebanese? The Israeli strikes against them.

    And I note again that while you’re heavy with the criticism of what Israel is doing you’re light on alternatives they could pursue. You must be kidding. The people criticizing these strikes, such as me, have been talking about anti-rocket defenses, strikes on launching sites, and targetting individual Hamas “military” leaders since it began.

  48. TAO, you fucking ripoff artist! I referenced that very episode in regards to this very conflict just a few days ago!

    That just makes you the John the Baptist to my Jesus Christ.

  49. I think the Madoff line was supposed to just be a wacky joke, but it’s a pretty unfortunate one.

    What with the whole “Jewish banker Israel” thing.

  50. Somehow this entire discussion seems to have skipped right over Shannon Love’s initial comment:

    The weird part about the entire “disproportional response” is that it appears to based on the idea the response is merely revenge or a means of balancing out a grievance.

    The idea that Israel seeks to physically disrupt Hama’s ability to attack them seems lost on a lot of people like Walcott.

    So, if a “proportional” response is insufficient to eliminate a threat, then it’s somehow illegitimate to go further? If someone pokes your eye out, you are limited to poking their eye out in exchange, even if that doesn’t stop them from coming back and trying to poke your OTHER eye out?
    If you shoot the guy who is trying to poke out your eyes that’s pretty “disproportionate, but I’ll be damned if I’ll condemn someone from using deadly force on an enemy that’s trying to blind them.

  51. Bombing police stations and government buildings does nothing to reduce the threat. Like the blockade itself, it’s meant to pressure Hamas.

  52. >The people criticizing these strikes, such as me, have been talking about anti-rocket defenses, strikes on launching sites, and targetting individual Hamas “military” leaders since it began.

    What anti-rocket defenses? Surely Israel have all the anti-rocket defenses that it’s feasible for them to have.

    As for strikes on launching sites, that’s exactly what’s occurring. The problem is that Hamas place the launching sites amidst civilian populations *intentionally*.

    Targeting Hamas leaders has been a longstanding practice of Israel – in fact, a practice which subjected them to a great deal of criticism. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to do this without significant civilian casualties resulting.

  53. The problem is that Hamas place the launching sites amidst civilian populations *intentionally*.

    Yes, we know. And so does Israel. So wonders why they continue (and the neocons continue to endorse) the same failed tactics that Israel is deploying right now.

  54. [W]hy is it that the corollary is never asked: namely, how does Hamas radicalize Israeli sentiment?

    This question is asked *constantly*. It is implicit in every “cycle of violence”-based argument. Restating it in sociological terms does not make it a novel argument.

  55. This question is asked *constantly*. It is implicit in every “cycle of violence”-based argument. Restating it in sociological terms does not make it a novel argument.

    Actually, both sides of the question are implicitly, if vaguely brought up in the basic “cycle of violence” argument – that’s what makes it a cycle. The question would seem to be why only one side of the question gets examined explicitly and in detail.

    I don’t think it’s an entirely useful question, mind – Western folks don’t hold Hamas (and more generally Palestinians) to the same standards they hold Israel to because the Palestinians are perceived as “violent, non-liberal, non-Western other”. Nobody on either side of the political spectrum bothers to criticize the Palestinian government on issues of morality, strategy, etc. because nobody takes it seriously on those issues. In a broader sense, many people apply that viewpoint to Palestinians in general.

    That’s why Israel gets criticized and condemned when Palestinians die, and why when Israelis die, people worry about what Israel will do.

    Whether that’s good, useful, sensible, or inevitable, I’ll leave to you.

  56. The idea of disproportionate response is a strange thing in some ways. Those who berate Israel for killing 100 Palestinians for every Israeli killed are implicitly saying that if Hamas had better rockets or better aim, it would be OK for Israel to incinerate as many civilians as they wished.

    It’s strange because people rip it out of contrast without understanding it. The idea of “proportionality” in international law is that there must be proportionality between means and ends, not that there must be proportionality between casualties on each side. In WW2, the U.S. killed a hell of a lot more Germans than the Germans killed Americans; nobody suggests that the U.S. action was ‘disproportionate.’

  57. Nobody suggests that bombing Dresden wad disproportionate?

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Nobody talks about those being dirsporportionate?

    On what planet does nobody suggest that?

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