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The bankruptcy of Hamas

April 18th, 2006

The latest terror attack in Israel, and its endorsement by the Hamas party, points up the fact that Hamas is as morally and politically bankrupt as its government will soon be financially bankrupt. This kind of crime cannot be excused or condoned, no matter what the other side has done (for the same reason, I hope that Israel will not retaliate in kind). Considered in terms of its political implications, it only reinforces the logic behind the newly-elected Israeli government’s policies, and the destination to which they point: an imposed settlement based on the wall that is now largely complete, followed by a complete closure of the resulting border. This won’t be a fair or just settlement, but it’s hard to see who will object, given that Hamas opposes any settlement and refuses to negotiate.

More fundamentally, the strategy of terror attacks against Israel has been a disaster for the Palestinian people, particularly over the last decade. Hamas was the leading party pushing Palestinians to reject the Oslo peace process. It’s already clear that no better chance will ever arise for a settlement, and that the eventual outcome, after another decade or more of occupation, will be worse than that on offer from Barak and Clinton.

The only real hope is that the cutoff of funds from the EU and US will bring the unreality of Hamas’ position home to the point where the movement is discredited. Hamas has been promised $50 million by Iran, and Qatar and other states may follow suit, but that won’t last for more than a month or two and it’s unlikely to be followed by more, given that Iran has its own problems.

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  1. Razor
    April 18th, 2006 at 17:25 | #1

    The Palestinians should put the money in a Swiss Bank account (they already are pretty good at that) and keep it for when they need to pay for the clean up after Iran trys to turn Isarael into a glass carpark.

  2. Terje
    April 18th, 2006 at 17:33 | #2

    I can understand the USA and others cutting off aid to the Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority.

    But I am unconvinced by trade sanctions. Can anybody cast any light on how these are supposed to help?

    When you restrict trade you ultimately make average people more dependent on charity, handouts, the government and criminals. I don’t see how it helps to reform a nation, or to change it’s mentality. If anything it will reinforce and engender a defensive bunker down mentality.

    Regime change would be less cruel than trade sanctions.

  3. gordon
    April 18th, 2006 at 17:54 | #3

    What? Another morally and politically bankrupt government? There seems to be so much of that around at the moment…

  4. rog
    April 18th, 2006 at 19:03 | #4

    On this issue I agree with all you say John.

  5. observa
    April 18th, 2006 at 19:06 | #5

    Have the Palestinians got anything left worth trading Terje? Not much future in hate and besides there is an abundance of competitive supply in the region. A change of management sounds good in theory, but I’m afraid entrenched work practices make any thought of provisional administration out of the question. Time for them to file for bankruptcy and move on themselves. Otherwise I’m afraid we’ll have to call in the….um err, well you know what I mean.

  6. April 18th, 2006 at 19:07 | #6

    Agreed, PrQ. The problem is who now can lead the Palestinians? Fatah is discredited and split, Hamas was elected because it was not Fatah and was, at that point, still credible in the eyes of the Palestinians and the others seem to be nowhere. Where do they go now?

  7. Steve Edwards
    April 18th, 2006 at 19:54 | #7

    They are crazed, and they have already blown whatever residual sympathy they might have received as a result of Sharon’s harsher policies.

  8. Steve Edwards
    April 18th, 2006 at 19:56 | #8

    Here is how the Hamas spokesman described the attacks:

    “The Israeli occupation bears responsibility for the continuation of its aggression. Our people are in a state of self-defence and they have every right to use all means to defend themselves

    http://smh.com.au/news/world/israel-blames-hamas-for-blast/2006/04/17/1145126060742.html?page=2

  9. Terje Petersen
    April 18th, 2006 at 21:24 | #9

    Hamas is still fighting the war from 1948. In the west we seem to dream that the war ended and that what is happening today is some type of arab brand of anti-semitism. In the middle east the Arab street sees the war of 1948 as still ongoing. They are still trying to remove the foreign power and foreign population that was foisted on them by foreign forces that divided Palestine in two. Just as the Danish fought an underground war to expel the Germans in WWII. Just as Australians would have fought a Japanese occupation.

    In my view Israel should not have been created in the first place and doing so was a major blunder (by both the UN and the western allies). But obviously the omlet can not be unscrambled. There are only three futures that seem possible:-

    1. Two nations side by side in a state of peace.
    2. Two nations side by side in a state of perpetual war.
    3. One nation annilating the other.

    Of the three I think that option 2 is the most likely. It should probably be accepted and the effects minimised. Israel is in essence acknowledging this reality with the construction of the wall.

    I doubt sanctions will change this situation but it will cause a lot of human suffering and hardship. It will also ultimately necessitate either the replacement of Hamas by force or the ongoing perpetual misery of the people of Palestine. Neither of which builds anything positive.

    In my view a more reasonable response would be:-

    1. Cut foreign aid to the Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority as proposed.
    2. Prohibit the sale of military grade weapons to the Palestinians whilst they refuse to take the diplomatic route.
    3. Allow trade with Palestine and encourage good economic governance so that people can focus on building a future for themselves.
    4. Be realistic and accept that Israel is best postitioned to know when it should counter attack and when it should hold its fire.

    The situation in Iraq is not yet as entrenched or as hopeless as in Palestine. But lets not forget who created the mess in both cases. Lets try and learn from our mistakes and not compound them with future stuff ups.

  10. Stephen L
    April 18th, 2006 at 22:19 | #10

    I completely agree, other than the statement “it is hard to see who will object”. Actually lots of people will object, ranging from anti-semites at one end through to idealists who hope against hope for a just outcome at the other. Realistically however, I think the best we can hope for is that 1) the wall works, keeping the death toll down and 2) there is eventually some change to its route so that the final boundary is somewhat closer to what would have occured under a just solution. Alas that it has come to this.

  11. Troy
    April 18th, 2006 at 22:22 | #11

    “the strategy of terror attacks against Israel has been a disaster for the Palestinian people”

    Everything the Palestinians have achieved has come form terrorism. Why stop now

  12. Michael H.
    April 18th, 2006 at 23:50 | #12

    The popularity of Hamas stems from 2 fronts; its’ propriety and its’ refusal to surrender. The current policy will affect it on neither front. In fact, even if the Hamas Govt fails (as is the hope), the Hamas movements popularity will probably increase, as Palestinians will see it as having been brought down by their enemies through no fault of its’ (Hamas’) own. Especially since the current Palestinian perception is that Hamas has been behaving with laudable restraint for the past year.

    And when it collapses, then what?

    This is a policy that has been thought out with as much clear-headedness as to the outcome, as it was with Iraq. Same people, same policies, likely the same disasterous results.

  13. Majorajam
    April 19th, 2006 at 02:49 | #13

    Depravity breeds depravity. Some English would have you believe the IRA just sprouted from the ground like a potato flower, but they were borne of the injustice wrought on Northern Irish by nominally Irish Protestants not happy to relinquish their role as colonial masters. Likewise, Hamas could not exist without its counterpart- Israeli occupation & oppression, “targeted assassinations” (which usually claim more innocent lives than lives of militants), curfews, incursions, bull dozers, check points, settlement construction, firing of heavy artillery into dense urban areas, etc., etc., etc.

    As inexcusable were the actions of the IRA and are the actions of Hamas, they are predictable. When you marginalize an entire people you undermine those who excel in collaborative, constructive society and elevate those that would otherwise be breaking bad debtors legs. When you do it over generations, things can deteriorate quite badly.

  14. rog
    April 19th, 2006 at 07:19 | #14

    Terje, to say “In my view Israel should not have been created in the first place and doing so was a major blunder” is to imply that the current problems are solely due to the presence of Israel.

    This was the same argument used previously in Europe.

    People forget that the Jews were in Jerusalem long before Jesus and Mohammed were born.

  15. rog
    April 19th, 2006 at 07:39 | #15

    The following statement attributes the continued violence in the Middle East to the poor leadership of the Palestinian people;

    B’nai Brith Press Release

    by B’nai Brith
    Tuesday April 18, 2006

    B’nai B’rith condemns Tel Aviv terrorist bombing

    Calls those who believe Hamas can govern responsibly guilty of “thinking irrationally” B’nai B’rith International has condemned today’s terror bombing at a falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv in which at least six were killed, not including the bomber, and at least 75 were wounded – 15 of them seriously.

    Responding to media reports that the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) government called the bombing a legitimate response to Israeli “aggression,” B’nai B’rith International President Joel S. Kaplan charged, “Anyone who thinks that Hamas is willing to change – or that it is even capable of changing – or who believes that Hamas understands the responsibilities inherent in governing, is simply thinking irrationally.”

    “Our hearts go out to the families of those murdered,” Kaplan continued, “and we hope and pray for a full and speedy recovery for those wounded.”

    B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, in Israel for the Passover holiday, joined in condemning the attack and expressed confidence in the Olmert government’s ability to take speedy, and appropriate, action to both punish those responsible and protect Israel from further attacks.

    Kaplan and Mariaschin welcomed the response of PA president Mahmoud Abbas who today issued a statement soundly condemning the terror attack and recognized that it harmed Palestinian interests.

    Looking at long-term prospects for peace in the Middle East, Kaplan observed, “As long as the Palestinian people choose to be governed by leaders who embrace and legitimize terror, prospects for any peace in the region are nonexistent.”

    With members throughout the United States and more than 50 countries worldwide, B’nai B’rith International is a national and global leader in the area of international affairs, domestic policy, senior services, and Jewish identity. As the oldest and most widely known and respected Jewish organization, B’nai B’rith advocates for Jewish unity, security, and continuity in the United States and worldwide.

    The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) is the human rights arm of B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand and is dedicated to combating antisemitism and all forms of racism.

    Chairman: Dr Paul Gardner
    Executive Officer: Mr Manny Waks

    PO Box 450, Caulfield South, Vic, Australia 3162
    Tel: Int + 61 3 9572 5770; Fax: 9572 5775

    ADC Board of Advisers:

    The Rt Hon Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO QC DCL (president),
    Sir William Deane AC KBE
    The Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH,
    The Hon RJL Hawke AC,
    Professor Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE,
    The Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE,
    Emeritus Professor Louis Waller AO,
    The Hon Neville Wran AC QC

  16. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 07:46 | #16

    Yeah rog, Israels almost 40 year illegal occupation is caused by poor Palestinian leadership. ‘They made me do it’, isn’t generally considered a great defence.

  17. Terje
    April 19th, 2006 at 09:14 | #17

    Terje, to say “In my view Israel should not have been created in the first place and doing so was a major blunder� is to imply that the current problems are solely due to the presence of Israel.

    This was the same argument used previously in Europe.

    People forget that the Jews were in Jerusalem long before Jesus and Mohammed were born.

    I am not sure which European argument you are refering to. If you mean the IRA then please spell it out a little. I don’t really think that the English had a lot of business invading Ireland.

    I never said that Jews should not be in Jerusalem. As you correctly assert the Jews have been in Jerusalem as long as anybody can remember. My view (which you seem to have misunderstood) is that Palestine should have not have been partitioned along religious/ethnic lines (ie an Arab state and Jewish state). It did nothing to reduce conflicts. It was simply a form of racial separatism along the lines of the South African homelands policy. Of course I say this with the benefit of hindsight but only because it offers lessons for the future (in my view).

    Marjorajam summed it up pretty well:-

    As inexcusable were the actions of the IRA and are the actions of Hamas, they are predictable. When you marginalize an entire people you undermine those who excel in collaborative, constructive society and elevate those that would otherwise be breaking bad debtors legs. When you do it over generations, things can deteriorate quite badly.

    As far as I can see sanctions will simply further marginalise an entire people. And it will not bring any objective benefit just as sanctions against Iraq achieved nothing worth achieving. With economic growth most people focus more on their future prospects and less on their current misery. To think that economic stagnation will help with the peace effort is seriously misguided.

  18. Terje
    April 19th, 2006 at 09:50 | #18

    I may have jumped the gun on the issue of trade sanctions.

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1843403

    “This restriction is limited to transactions with the PA government and does not apply to transactions with individuals or other entities in the Palestinian territories,” it said.

    The scope of these sanctions don’t seem to have the same breadth as the trade sanctions that were imposed on Iraq. They don’t target the private sector (ie the people), just the regime. And that is a pretty slim restriction.

  19. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 10:02 | #19

    Yes, the sanctions target the PA, but given that the PA is the economy, the effect isn’t significantly different. So you weren’t that far off the mark Terje.

    But after having chastised and begged the Palestinians for free and fair democratic elections, what is the message to Palestinians when having done so, the result is actively undermined? Democratic change of Governement in the middle east is highly desirable. Given the general level of suspicion of democratic inititives urged by ‘the West’, this is a terribly short-sighted policy.

    I imagine in future years that any lack of democracy by the Palestinians will be meet with the usual ahistorical tut-tutting, sad shaking of heads and wondering at the lack of democractic impulse amongst ‘the Arabs’.

  20. Terje
    April 19th, 2006 at 10:22 | #20

    but given that the PA is the economy, the effect isn’t significantly different.

    What leads you to say this?

  21. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 10:37 | #21

    The PA is the main employer in the OTs. There aren’t many other economic actors that are significant. In the past the other mainstay of the Palestinian economy was work in Israel – that is all but dead.

    There seems surprisingly little understanding of the economic suffering already inflicted on the Palestinians in the last 5 years- Palestinians live in a virtual medievel siege. Adding the latest round of sanctions will have a more serious effect than you might expect.

    Sara Roy of Harvard is probably the most knowledgable person on the Palestinian economy, having conducted research there for the past 20 years. This is what she said 2 years ago,

    ” since March 2001…..there has been a contraction of the Palestinian economy by half; an average unemployment rate of between 30-40 percent over the last three years, with rates in Gaza exceeding 50 percent at times; a poverty rate that increased from 21 percent in September 2000 to 60 percent as early as December 2002, with certain regions of Gaza reaching 80 percent; a decline in overall food consumption of more than 25 percent per capita, with more than half the Palestinian population totally dependent on food aid, and over 22 percent of Palestinian children suffering from acute and severe malnutrition ­ levels equivalent to those in parts of sub-Saharan Africa; the destruction of, and damage to, Palestine’s physical resources, amounting to a loss of $1.7 billion through 2002; and the building of the separation barrier in the West Bank, now projected to run over 600 kilometers, cutting the territory into 16 isolated communities, effectively annexing at least 15 percent and as much as 58 percent of the West Bank to Israel, and entrapping or otherwise severely affecting over 670,000 Palestinians through loss of land and destruction of assets. “

  22. Simonjm
    April 19th, 2006 at 10:55 | #22

    Tejer I agree 100% on this one a bad decision from the start and shows in many areas the moral inconsistency of modern international relations.

    If Australia was told we had to partition the country and give back half the land the Koori’s – the best bits the non-kooris get the desert- I don’t think many non-Kooris would take it lying down.

    BTW the Koori’s are backed by the new lone super power China –payback for Australian involvement in the attempted independence of Taiwan- after the US financial meltdown and civil war the US is a shadow of its former glory, with a sophisticated army and now because the non-kooris are getting aggressive have to occupy a security zone of more land in the non-koori land. After a short war where the non-koori forces where defeated they now rely on guerrilla tactics and bombings.

    The koori’s have to bomb and shell to make sure that the non-koori’s stop firing home made missiles and occasionally the is some collateral damage with civilians being killing but that doesn’t equate to terrorism as this is done with sophisticated weapons while the non-kooris uses home made bombs.

    Since we now have a koori state which which is recognized by the UN -dominated by China & Russia- it is too hard to go back on the decision to partition and the non-kooris should just lump it with less land but also koori security forces controlling the borders and internal travel.

    No analogy is perfect but you get the picture.

  23. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 10:56 | #23

    Some days you think hay Joos, what about we in the West put you up for say 5 years and we let the Palestinians in to run Palestine. Then when they’ve decimated and starved each other to death in their rubble a la Mugabe style and or the rest of Arab street is so totally fed up with their warring self-destructive ways, you Joos will be welcome back with open arms. You know it would only take around 5 years tops, but then I just get this cold feeling come over me that there would be a snag somewhere. Nah, stick with your wall Joos.

  24. wilful
    April 19th, 2006 at 11:02 | #24

    rog, reasonable estimates were that prior to the 1880s, there were a couple of hundred jews in the old city of Jerusalem, and essentially none in the rest of the Levant. So they can’t claim native title I’m afraid.

  25. April 19th, 2006 at 11:07 | #25

    Well, we now release how complaint to the Hamas Charter

    Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian elections has certainly caused a few problems; not least among the Left in addressing the question of how to reconcile the virulent hatred that Hamas has for Jews in general (and incredibly Rotary Clubs see http://weekbyweek7.blogspot.com/2006/01/hamas-charter-shopping-list-of.html ) with the idea of Palestinian sovereignty and independence.

    A quick scan of the Hamas’ political and organisational charter reveals how difficult that ‘reconciliation’ will be.

  26. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 11:15 | #26

    Besides Joos, we’re talking here about listening to a bunch of idealists that wanted to believe regime change would be a big improvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and be a big BOL for places like Iran. By the way Joos, how much a kilometre was that wall of yours?

  27. Simonjm
    April 19th, 2006 at 11:18 | #27

    How long does it take for an occupying power to have moral status over land ownership?

    If the Ottoman’s were still considered occupiers even after a few hundred years wouldn’t that make Australia and the US occupiers?

    Alsoit is within living memory that the West targeted civilians in conflicts for survival as far as i’m concerned it won’t be until we are fighting a war for survival and not targeting civilians before we can claim any moral high ground.

    So I thind it a bit hypocritical for developed first world countries who owe much of their predominance to the very things they now condemn others for.

  28. Simonjm
    April 19th, 2006 at 11:20 | #28

    thind interesting what novel spelling one can come up with without knowing it

  29. rog
    April 19th, 2006 at 12:29 | #29

    It would appear that the consensus is that Israel is to blame for the dismal state of the Palestinians.

  30. Simonjm
    April 19th, 2006 at 12:42 | #30

    I don’t know rog the UN, UK, US and Arafat could share in differeing digrees of blame as well.

    Israle could after all only be where is is for the UN partition & the unbalanced support of the US. Arafat was a crook who screwed his own people over.

    Many of the Muslim states are authoritarian and only interested in their own regimes who don’t care about tyheir own people let alone an oppressed -mostly- Muslim people.

  31. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 12:52 | #31

    I actually agree with everything Majorajam says on this issue.

    I’d add that the Palestinians have an entirely justified fear that they are destined for ethnic cleansing, and that the present leadership of Israel (Olmert) is the unapologetic – indeed proud – son of an Irgun terrorist – the Irgun having pioneered the use in this conflict of explosives in marketplaces to terrify civilians. Former Israeli PMs Begin and Shamir were executive members of the Irgun at the time when such tactics were first deployed. Use of violence and ethnic cleansing has been a constant refrain in Israel’s relations with Palestinians since before the establishment of the state. The erection of a memorial to the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein in the settler outpost in the middle of Palestinian Hebron illustrates the Israeli attitude well.

    Hamas has not itself carried out bombings since its self-declared truce some year and a half ago. Whatever Hamas spokespeople may say on the issue, they are only words – there is no evidence of direct Hamas involvement in the latest bombing. It was not the act of the state or the Hamas-led government of Palestine. Israel’s assassinations, shellings, border closures, bulldozings, arbitrarily closed checkpoints, Jews-only roads, construction of fortified colonies on occupied land, land confiscations, collective punishments etc are however the acts of the Israeli state for which the government of Israel is directly responsible.

    That said, suicide bombings are pathetic and useless as well as being every bit as barbaric as aerial bombing of civilian areas. The basis of a peace settlement in the conflict is well known – 2 states on the 1967 boundaries. The Hamas line has been to demand reciprocity in any dealings with Israel – including withholding recognition of Israel until Israel declares what its boundaries are. This is not an unreasonable stance, since Israel has never recognised Palestine’s ‘right to exist’ and daily expropriates more and more Palestinian land. There is a useful analysis of the opportunities and problems presented by the election of Hamas in the latest New York Review of Books by Henry Siegman at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18939

  32. smiths
    April 19th, 2006 at 12:58 | #32

    i honestly cant believe some of the points of view expressed here on this,

    the palestinians have been robbed of their home land by outside decree, turned into second class citizens if anything at all, given literally no hope for the future, dehumanised and degraded,
    and now we sit casting moral judgement on their leadership and attitudes, as if despite all this they should have thrived and lifted themselves spriritually to some gandhian level,

    trade sanctions, what trade? someone tell me what the non country called palestine currently trades,
    as far as i am aware the only thin they have is themselves, labourers, working at israels whim, low wage, access to work turned on and off like a tap,

    i would also suggest people look into the very fascinating history of hamas,
    the allegations that mossad funded and armed it to provide a counter to fatah,
    the fact that sheik yassin kept getting let out of prison after serving fractions of his term,
    the fact netanyahu let him back into the territories,
    who benefits from palestinian terrorism? not palestinians

  33. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 13:11 | #33

    Well no rog. I would say it was their fanatical belief in the tenets of Islam that is to blame. You’ll recall how that belief system led them to support Islam’s Final Solution with the Jews in the late sixties and after 6 days they had their Final Solution alright. Basically if you bet the pot and lose you’re out of the game. They just haven’t been able to come to grips with that and move on.

    As for Islam generally I have my doubts we can coexist with it for much longer. It would appear that reluctantly the most magnanimous of souls are coming to that realisation. In the final analysis, reason must fail against fanatical belief. If that belief becomes too great a threat, we will have no alternative but to make Muslims convert to our religion or die. Increasingly that’s what militant Islam wants to do with us. The Palestinians are just another flavour of the same brand. Our brand lies with Israel naturally enough. Well, for most of us it does.

  34. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 13:27 | #34

    smiths, Israel didn’t exactly fund Hamas. They provided funds to the Islamist movement in general in the 70′s and 80′s. The thinking was 2 fold, one that the Islamists weren’t nationalists and would spend more time praying than worrying about the occupation and two, that they would be opposed to the secular/marxist PLO, which would undermine the PLOs support in the territories.

  35. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 13:37 | #35

    “In the final analysis, reason must fail against fanatical belief. If that belief becomes too great a threat, we will have no alternative but to make Muslims convert to our religion or die.”

    I’m not sure that I’ve read much that is more obscenely stupid than this. Why does discussion of the I-P conflict bring the crazies crawling out of the darkness like leeches towards a blood meal?

    “reason must fail against fanatical belief”. Observa, is this your explanation of why the Chimp (thankyou Katz) went to war in Iraq against the wishes of the mjaority of reasonable people?
    Afterall, God told him to do it.

  36. smiths
    April 19th, 2006 at 13:47 | #36

    what the…? they funded them thinking
    the Islamists weren’t nationalists and would spend more time praying than worrying about the occupation
    are you kidding me? you dont need to fund people to pray,
    and they were funding sheik yassin

    Yassin studied at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, following secondary school. Islamist and Arab nationalist movements were strong influences at the University. Yassin joined the Muslim Brotherhood during his studies at Al-Azhar.

    Yassin opposed peaceful conciliation with the Israelis, asserting that the land of Israel is “consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day” and that “The so-called peace path is not peace and it is not a substitute for jihad and resistance.”

    thats from wikipedia,
    mossad didnt fund yassin expecting him to pray

  37. rog
    April 19th, 2006 at 14:24 | #37

    When Smiths says “the palestinians have been robbed of their home land”, up to the British mandate and sunsequent formation of Israel Palestine was a geographical description only not a country and peopled primarily with jews, muslims & christians.

    Over the years the jews had been driven out by various regimes and it was only after international agreement by the League of Nations when they were allowed to have their own state did they return enmasse.

  38. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 14:45 | #38

    Michael H,
    If you don’t detect a certain sad resignation in JQ’s posting here, then perhaps I am alone. Iam suggesting that he has glimpsed the fearful and foreboding notion that fanatical belief can trump reason and when it does that means war.

    I can perhaps empathise with him over my support for regime change in Iraq. Perhaps I allowed my enthusiasm for the notion that Iraqis could be like us, to overrule your superior foresight and wisdom in these matters. Nevertheless, we may still be morally salvageable for being enthusiastic for some right reasons, rather than fanatical for the wrong ones.

  39. smiths
    April 19th, 2006 at 14:51 | #39

    rog
    this where this always ends up, infinite hair splitting,
    forget the letters, think about the spirit
    people who were of arab descent lived in large numbers across the area now called israel for a very long time,
    from 1945 they discontinuued living in that area en masse,
    i am quite sure the ‘international agreement’ you speak of means very little to the unrepresented palestinians

  40. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 14:53 | #40

    ‘“reason must fail against fanatical beliefâ€?. Observa, is this your explanation of why the Chimp (thankyou Katz) went to war in Iraq against the wishes of the mjaority of reasonable people?
    Afterall, God told him to do it. ‘

    True about going to war against the majority Michael, but of course the majority of voters did give he and Blair the nod when things were looking rosy. God made an appearance then for them too apparently.

  41. Terje
    April 19th, 2006 at 14:55 | #41

    Also it is within living memory that the West targeted civilians in conflicts for survival as far as i’m concerned it won’t be until we are fighting a war for survival and not targeting civilians before we can claim any moral high ground.

    For older folk it is within living memory that women did not have the vote in the USA and were expected to cover various bits of flesh in public. An issue that occupies our minds a lot when it comes to how other countries run things.

    We make a big fuss about a whole host of human rights (which is appropriate) and then when our nations is threatened just a little we ditch them all in the name of security (ie we don’t walk the talk). I agree that we are hardly in a position to lecture. And of course those on the Arab street are quite aware of this hypocracy.

  42. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 15:05 | #42

    smiths, let me re-phrase that. Israel funded the Islamists becuase it thought they weere less of a real threat; the real threat being a Palestinian movement advocating a diplomatic solution.

  43. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 15:09 | #43

    “If you don’t detect a certain sad resignation in JQ’s posting here, then perhaps I am alone. Iam suggesting that he has glimpsed the fearful and foreboding notion that fanatical belief can trump reason and when it does that means war”

    If JQ has even a scintilla of sympathy for this sentiment “we will have no alternative but to make Muslims convert to our religion or die”, I will eat my shorts.

  44. jquiggin
    April 19th, 2006 at 15:24 | #44

    No need to eat your shorts, Michael. Willingness to push on with war when it is obviously futile is not confined to any ethnic or religious group. Hamas is not the only example in the world at present – the backers of the Iraq war are in the same boat.

    I can only hope that Hamas’ inevitable failure will give rise to the kind of war-weariness among Palestinians that leads them to put peace before nationalist/religious shibboleths, and that this coincides with similar weariness among Israelis.

  45. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 15:43 | #45

    JQ – do you think accepting walled-in impoverished bantustans is ‘putting peace before nationalist/religious shibboleths’, because that appears to be what the Olmert government is going to offer on a take it or leave it basis?

  46. stoptherubbish
    April 19th, 2006 at 15:55 | #46

    Michael H,
    Just what proportion of (practising?) Muslims embrace ‘fanatical beliefs’ compared to say Christians Jews or Hindus? Do you have a number? An estimate?

    What is your view of the rational faculties of around 60 million citizens of the US that believe in the literal truth of the genesis version of creation found in the book titled “Old Testament”?

    What is your view of the rational faculties of those Jewish settlers in the West Bank who belive that “God gave this land to the Jews’, and ‘we have a God given right, nay a religious duty, to occupy all the lands of the ancient times, regardless of any laws made by the anyone because God’s word is the final word on this subject’?

    What is your view of the rational faculties of those Hindus that destroy mosques in India on the grounds that the Moghul occupation of India was/is an affront to the nation of India, because only Hinduism represents the one, true and proper expression of Indian national sensibilities?

    Care to comment?

  47. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 16:19 | #47

    JQ, I’m with Hal on this one. There is no reason to expect Palestinians to suddenly give up their national aspirations on the basis of hardship. It’s logical that they should, but if that were the case, they would have done so long ago. It’s one of those uniquely human responses where the more you are denied something the more you want it. And this is the reality of the choice which is offered – forget a real sovereign state in the West bank and Gaza and we’ll stop making your lives miserable.

    I’m pretty disappointed to see the rise of Hamas, but not surprised. Back in ‘93 Palestinians were saying that if the Fatah/PLO failed, via Oslo, to create a real Palestinian state then Hamas would inevitably take their place. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The PNIs Mustapha Barghouti came second in the presidential elections, though they only got 3 seats in the parliamentary elections. It’s also worth remembering that the Hamas’ ‘landslide’ was 44% of the vote.

    The bigger issue is that of democracy in the ME. What are the long-term implications of yet more meddling in election outcomes because the results aren’t quite what was wanted? It seems the US Administration has a short memory. It wasn’t long ago that Condi Rice said this,
    “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom and to make their own way.”

    The first buds of the ‘democratic spring’ in the ME are about to be burned off by a late frost, courtesy of the Chimp.

  48. jquiggin
    April 19th, 2006 at 17:15 | #48

    of the 1967 boundaries.Hal9000, the main nationalist shibboleth I have in mind is the “right of return”, that is, the claim that everyone descended from 1948 refugees in the male line should be allowed to return to Israel. This claim will never be accepted and shouldn’t be. As regards religious shibboleths, Hamas’ religiously based calls for the destruction of Israel are the obvious example.

    This, and not the demarcation of borders was the crucial sticking point last time around. As should be clear from the post, I don’t advocate accepting the kind of settlement Olmert is likely to impose, but the only way to avoid this is to abandon the shibboleths and negotiate from the starting point of two-states with the 1967 boundaries.

    I don’t accept the argument that the fact of democratic elections obliges foreign countries to provide or continue aid. If a democratically elected government chooses to make war on its neighbours, or encourage terrorism, it should face the consequences. For exactly this reason, the US should have cut off aid to Israel a long time ago, regardless of the fact that the government there was democratically elected.

  49. stoptherubbish
    April 19th, 2006 at 17:17 | #49

    Oops. Sorry michael H. My remarks were meant to be addressed to observa.

  50. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 17:45 | #50

    Fair enough Prof Q, and if it were so, I’d agree.

    On “[Right of return], and not the demarcation of borders was the crucial sticking point last time around.” I take it you’re referring to the 1999-2000 negotiations.

    This is not correct – see

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14380

    where it is clear that all the issues were sticking points and the primary problems were failure to negotiate in good faith and failure to provide sufficient detail on all the issues.

    A major problem for the Palestinians is that they are divided into three now – second class citizens of Israel, residents of Gaza and the West Bank within mandatory Palestine (both original residents and refugees), and refugees outside Palestine – and facing division into five if Israel has its way. All three populations expect the PA leadership to speak for them. Remember that Arafat spent most of his adult life among the external refugee population.

    Meanwhile, what to do about the millions of Palestinian refugees sitting on not much more than a pile of UN resolutions calling for them to be fairly treated? Clearly return to mandatory Palestine is not going to happen, but who should pay for resettlement, and who is going to be asked to take them? What was offered at Camp David/Taba was an undefined ‘satisfactory solution’. Surely it should be within the capacities of the wealthy nations, and Israel as beneficiary of the expropriation, to offer reasonable monetary compensation/resettlement funds for these desperate stateless people.

  51. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 18:12 | #51

    On the question of sanctions agianst a Hamas led Govt, I don’t see it as a matter of obligations but about goals. The goal in this action, past whacking Hamas, is obscure. Isolating Hamas may cause the financial collapse of the PA, but the only people this will hurt are ordinary Palestinians who aren’t getting paid and so find themselves in even greater hardship than usual. As I argued earlier, this is more likely to increase Hamas’ popularity than to harm it. The difficult realities and responsibilities of Govt(as they are) are likely to have a much greater salutory effect on Hamas than any US led sanctions.

    And do we want a Hamas that is part of the political process, seeking to implement its goals politically and accepting of democratic processes, or a Hamas again on the outside engaged in violent struggle. Lebanon provides some clues. Hizballah has joined the Govt and now has to consider it position as part of the ruling coalition and seek to serve its constituency via the political process.

  52. jquiggin
    April 19th, 2006 at 20:22 | #52

    Hal9000 – the obvious question is which was better, to accept an inadequately detailed offer, and hope that moral suasion would produce a reasonable outcome, or to reject the offer, with the predictable result of extending the occupation by many years and the likelihood, now a near-certainty, of a worse outcome at the end.

    As regards compensation and return rights, we have the shibboleth problem. If Arafat had asked for, say, $10000 per person as settlement of return claims, he would almost certainly have had the money the next day. But he was unable to do that, essentially because of the pressure from Hamas and other rejectionists not to abandon the shibboleth (maybe he wouldn’t have been able to do it in any case).

    Michael H. The problem is that Hamas is not seeking to implement its goals politically, or at least is seeking to do so while continuing to endorse violent struggle/terrorism. It’s Hamas that has to make the choice here. No doubt this will take the form of the kind of weasel words that we’ve seen from Sinn Fein and others in a similar position (and from Arafat for that matter when he was alive) but they’ll have to produce a form of words that dissociates them from terrorism and expresses a desire for a permanent peace with Israel.

  53. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:18 | #53

    Well yes in parts, Prof Q. The situation in 1999 was that the Palestinians had believed at Oslo that they had made the crucial concession by recognising Israel. However Israel had used the Oslo agreement to expand its colonial project by several orders of magnitude, and to intensify the occupation through carving out settlers-only roads, imposing checkpoints etc.

    As had been seen earlier with the creative interpretation of UNSC 242′s lack of a definite article (meaningless in the original Russian), they had every reason to suspect foul play. During the negotiations at Camp David and Taba the Israelis refused to produce maps showing their position. As I’m sure any town planner could tell you, percentage figures about land are meaningless unless you can show what it would mean on the ground. For example, the 91 percent of the West Bank allegedly on offer (bearing in mind the Palestinians had already conceded 78 percent of their birthright – as they saw it) was meaningless if it meant their nation would have been multisected by roads reserved to Israel.

    I’m not saying the Palestinians don’t need to recognise reality, but I don’t think that we should focus on concessions about recent and unconscionable Israeli thefts, while ignoring the necessity for Israel to give them up in exchange for peace. The record shows that Israel consistently moves the goal posts without ever stating its final position. Perhaps that should be the minimum requirement. After all, noone is threatening Israel’s right to exist. Israel is daily and hourly threatening Palestine, and Palestinians.

  54. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:19 | #54

    str,
    Essentially I have no beef with fanatical belief. If you believe that you’re the fastest runner in the world and that drives you to obtain an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metres, bully for your fanatacism. If you fanatically believe your God has spoken to you to become the best AFL footballer in the land and it drives you to win the Brownlow, so what? However….

  55. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:26 | #55

    How shall I put it to you str? Think of Mother Theresa and Osama and then all of us who fit well inside that spectrum of fanatical belief.

  56. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:37 | #56

    Oh, and BTW, I reiterate that what the Palestinians (and the Saudi plan) have already agreed to is the UNSC 242 solution – withdrawal to the 1967 Green Line and recognition of that as the border. It seems to me the Israelis need to justify why they need more, not the Palestinians.

  57. Terje Petersen
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:41 | #57

    JQ said:-

    Hal9000 – the obvious question is which was better, to accept an inadequately detailed offer, and hope that moral suasion would produce a reasonable outcome, or to reject the offer, with the predictable result of extending the occupation by many years and the likelihood, now a near-certainty, of a worse outcome at the end.

    The offer made at Camp David was not rejected. It was subject to further discussions that following an election in Israel and other complications never eventuated. It is wrong to say that Arafat rejected the offer. It is correct to say that he did not accept it when it was on the table. Had discussions resumed as originally planned it is quite feasable that Arafat would have accepted the offer.

    JQ also said:-

    I don’t accept the argument that the fact of democratic elections obliges foreign countries to provide or continue aid.

    Which I agree with. It is trade sanctions against the people of Palestine that I would object to. The cutting of aid just means Hamas will need to build a tax base (ie promote economic growth).

    Regards,
    Terje.

  58. rabee
    April 19th, 2006 at 22:26 | #58

    John, The right of return is both for male and female decedents of 1948 refugees.

  59. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 22:40 | #59

    “Oh, and BTW, I reiterate that what the Palestinians (and the Saudi plan) have already agreed to is the UNSC 242 solution – withdrawal to the 1967 Green Line and recognition of that as the border.”

    You don’t say? That wasn’t their preferred position when Nasser pissed off the UN and a million Arab troops were poised on Israel’s pre-67 borders to adjust them to zero. Changed their minds now have they? Sheesh! You might care to give a wee smidgin of credit to Israel for all the post 6 Day War land they did give back in the interests of peace since. Pretty sporting of them under the circumstances.

    “I’m not saying the Palestinians don’t need to recognise reality, but I don’t think that we should focus on concessions about recent and unconscionable Israeli thefts, while ignoring the necessity for Israel to give them up in exchange for peace. The record shows that Israel consistently moves the goal posts without ever stating its final position. Perhaps that should be the minimum requirement. After all, noone is threatening Israel’s right to exist.”

    Hamas, Osama, AmenJihad, ………..Bwahahahahahaha! I think even Professor Quiggin finds it repugnant to be aligned with the anti-Israel mob now. In case you haven’t noticed Hal9000, militant Islam has that effect on all rational infidels after a while. It’s called the survival instinct in case you’ve forgotten.

  60. Katz
    April 19th, 2006 at 23:17 | #60

    Successive Palestinian leaderships have been like the proverbial donkey that starved equidistant between two bales of hay.

    Too often they were tempted with the military solution to the problem of the existence of Israel. The prospects of military success were always illusory, but now they are forelorn. Yet Hamas clings to them.

    Equally, a negotiated settlement always founders on the outrage Palestinians feel at being betrayed and driven into exile. Acceptance of a settlement that concedes homeland and holy places is a death sentence for its signatories.

    No Palestinian leadership has ever found a way of effectively pressuring Israel into concessions acceptable to Israel which are simultaneously acceptable to ordinary Palestinians.

    Israel has grown stronger and more intransigent. Ordinary Palestinians have grown more radical and more desperate.

    The intemperate actions of Palestinians serve only to strengthen Israel.

    But is there any evidence that a Palestinian Gandhi may be more effective at uniting Palestinians in a subtle challenge to Israeli claims beyond the 1948 boundaries, and/or on Israeli property laws that confiscated Palestinians’ title within the 1948 boundaries?

    Could such a Gandhi figure rekindle world sympathy for the Palestinians?

    I doubt it.

    Despair seems appropriate.

  61. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 23:52 | #61

    JQ,

    I think that there have been significant moves from Hamas; 12 months of a unilateral ceasefire and now the usual contradictory statements, some suggesting the possibility of accepting the 2 state solution, others that suicide bombings wil no longer be used. This is pretty typical of organisation like Hamas moving into the political arena. It’s usually a to-and-froing, slow and infuriating (at least for external observers) process. But keep in mind that Hamas have been leading the PA for all of 6 weeks. I think these need to be acknowledged and encouraged rather than scorned.

    I agree with Hal9000s general sentiments. It seems perverse for such intense focus to be on Palestinian renunciation of violence when the much greater violence of the Israel occupation (40 years next year) is rarely subject to similiar scrutiny.

    However Hal, as strange as it seems, I beleive that it is up to the Palestinians to make the overtures for peace, to convince Israelis that their goal is peaceful co-existence. It’s often the victim who needs to be the first to reach out.

  62. observa
    April 20th, 2006 at 00:04 | #62

    “It seems perverse for such intense focus to be on Palestinian renunciation of violence”… “It’s often the victim who needs to be the first to reach out.”
    Garbage!
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2134917,00.html

  63. derrida derider
    April 20th, 2006 at 00:13 | #63

    Yet more futile argument on Israel/Palestine. I’d just add one thing – the “carefully targeted precision strikes” of the IDF have, as a matter of record, killed about three times the number of civilans as have died in those inexcusable terrorist bombings.

  64. Hal9000
    April 20th, 2006 at 07:03 | #64

    Katz is probably right on the despair front.

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask, though, that we don’t keep treating Israeli spin as fact. With the Road Map as with Oslo, Israel manages to make most in the west believe it is the party complying, while in fact never acting in good faith. At Oslo and with the Road Map, promises to halt and reverse the settlement program are revealed on the ground as an intensified settlement program. The decade between Oslo and the commencement of the second intifada with its horrific suicide bombings was used by Israel to roll out most of the settlements and roads that presage the bantustan future they’ve always had in mind for the Palestinians – although some in the Israeli government favour out and out ethnic cleansing.

    As Gideon Levy noted in Haaretz, the Israeli national dream (shibboleth?) has always been to have the cake (all the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean) and eat it too (racially pure). Although this goal is in plain view and well on the way to implementation, it never gets discussed. Meanwhile the non-existent military threat to Israel’s existence gets a daily airing.

    The instantaneous withdrawal from the Sinai in 1956 when Eisenhower actually threatened Israel suggests Israel is willing to cooperate if ever the US were to apply pressure. This however seems most unlikely.

    Observa – my survival instinct tells me the most glaringly obvious injustice and cause of conflict in the middle east should be addressed sooner rather than later, or as I imagine you would prefer, never. And I’m not anti-Israel – my position is the same as B’tselem and Gush Shalom – 1967 borders. The alternative is that Israel gets to become a 21st version of Hendrik Woerwoerd’s dream, which in the long run will be a real threat to Israel’s existence.

  65. Majorajam
    April 20th, 2006 at 08:01 | #65

    Hey observa, I’ve got an intifada story for you. Ever here about the West Bank settler who, whilst stepping on a 10 year old Palestinean boy’s throat beat him to death with the butt of a pistol? He got six month’s community service.

    Btw, this business that “the right of return is unacceptable” is difficult to stomach. Israel recruits Jews with homes and lives wherever they live but who’ve never set foot in Israel to take up Israeli citizenship. Meanwhile, it’s too much to ask to allow the guys at the bottom of hill who’s homes were expropriated militarily and with nowhere else to go to return to their former homelands. Oh, and by the way, here’s some raw sewage for your crops.

    Amazing that the Palestineans harbor resentment for Jews, isn’t it?

  66. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 08:07 | #66

    observa, which bit is garbage? the perversity, or the fact that it the victims, the Palestinians, who probably have to make the running.

    I’m not aying that Palestinian vioence isn’t real, just that the violence of occupation seems to be often overloooked. And that is what a military occupation is – violence, daily systemic violence against the entire civilian population. Occupations don’t run on flowers and group hugs.

  67. wilful
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:21 | #67

    people really need to learn some history and leave islam out of this. Up until the mid-80s, the palestinian movement was decidedly secular. Only with the rise of Hamas has islam been a mainstream thread in palestinian politics.

  68. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:38 | #68

    Much commentary here condemns the Palestinians for resorting to violence to regain what was lost to them.

    Well, the simple fact is that the Palestinians did not engage in significant attacks against civilians until the second intifida in the late 1990s.

    That is over 50 years since 1948.

    The Palestinians did not conduct the wars of 67 or 73 – other Arab states with their own agendas did.

    During that whole period, the Palestinians suffered continued expropriation, and an increasingly brutal occupation.

    The Palestinians were one again the losers from Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank and its subsequent defeat by Israel.

    So all this hoping for a Palestinian Gandhi is 50 years too late – the West has had its chance to enforce its own UN resolutions on Israel and restore some justice to the Palestinians.

    I do not condone violence against civilians by anone, but I am really not surprised by the Palestinians eventual resort to it. What shocks me is that the world makes a distinction between it and Israel’s much greater killing of Palestinan civilians, ostensibly as ‘collateral damage’.

    The indiscriminate killing of civilians is as morally indefensible as their deliberate targetting as far as I am concerned.

    And the hypocrisy of dismissing the Palestinians’ right of return whilst accepting Israel’s is again one-sided and disgusting – particularly given that most of the beneficiaries are descendants of Khazars who have no connection to the land.

    Further, the fact that a convert to Judaism can exercise a right to Israeli citizenship, but that a Palestinian whose family has lived there for hundreds of years cannot makes recent analaogies with South Africa completely appropriate.

  69. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:44 | #69

    I really get tired of the double standards on this.

    Why isn’t Israel asked to renounce “transfer” (ie ethnic cleansing) and prove its committment by not allowing advocates of it into the Israeli cabinet?

    Why isn’t giving up a policy of political assination with indiscriminate civilian casualites a pre-requisite for Israel recieving continued foreign aid from the US?

    I also get tired of people who believe that if the Palestinians would just give up violence things would suddenly start getting better. Are you blind to the cynicism with which the Netanyahu government used the Oslo process? The Palestinians have a choice between violent resistance and meekly accepting a status as semi-citizens of a semi-state. I don’t believe the violence will get them anywhere, but why anyone would advocate they negotiate and then sign off on their own Apartheid style imprisonment is beyond me.

  70. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:51 | #70

    And now, with Olmert’s proposed annexation of the Jordan Valley, any potential Palestinian “state” is completely encircled, like most of the original Bantustans, making the analogy with apartheid complete.

  71. Katz
    April 20th, 2006 at 10:02 | #71

    More hands have been wrung over the rights and wrongs of actors in the Palestinian tragedy than over virtually any other issue.

    Everyone has her pet concern and pet stimulus for outrage.

    The issue is a just peace.

    Peace will be achieved only if one or both of the parties in the conflict relinquish some long-held and fervently espoused positions.

    As I mentioned Gandhi, Chris C, I presume the following comment was addressed to me:

    “So all this hoping for a Palestinian Gandhi is 50 years too late – the West has had its chance to enforce its own UN resolutions on Israel and restore some justice to the Palestinians.”

    Attentive reading of my comment should reveal that I neither hope for nor expect the emergence of a Palestinian Gandhi.

    Enforcement of those UN resolutions also seems to be a forelorn hope until the US changes its stance on Israel. And I don’t see that happening any time soon. The GWOT has made a US change of heart less likely. Even if the US were to retreat into isolationism, I predict that the Israel lobby in the US is powerful enough to have Israel considered a special case for US support and intervention.

    It is noteworthy that an unjust peace may involve ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel. This seems highly unlikely. The humanitarian impulse is strong within Israeli society. And the US electorate may well be outraged as well.

    Thus, no unjust peace and no just peace seems likely.

    Hence despair.

  72. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 10:34 | #72

    “I also get tired of people who believe that if the Palestinians would just give up violence things would suddenly start getting better.”

    swio, I understand the frustration, but you’re wrong. A purely non-violent approach would make the situation for Palestinians less-worse. I’m not saying that the settlements would disappear and the occupation end, or even that Israeli violence would stop – it won’t. But Israel would find it far more difficult to hind behind ‘terror’ as the all purpose justification for any and all acts.

    Palestinians have learnt an important lesson; making Israelis pay a price is the only way to get their attention. When the situation was mostly quiet in the OTs in the 70′s and early 80′s, the Palestinians weren’t on the radar, there was no real Israeli ‘peace camp’, no thought of leaving the OTs.

    Unfortunately they leant the wrong lesson – that it should be a price in blood. Israel is acutely sensitive to its international reputation. This is were Palestinians can ‘hurt’ Israel and where it should be made to pay such a high price that it finally submits to a just solution. There are small Palestinian groups who are doing exactly this, but they hardly get any attention over the media preference for the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ style of news.

    There is hope here, but that doesn’t exclude regular immersion in the ocean of despair.

  73. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:03 | #73

    Unfortunately for both Palestinians and Israelis, Michael H, you are wrong. Non-violence failed to achieve anything for the Palestinians for over 40 years, except more colonies and more Israeli brutality.

    Israel actually cares nothing for its international reputation – and why should it when it is obstinately defended by the US every time.

    Israel has flaunted UN resolutions and international law since its existence, carried on a brutal occupation, annexed the OT and maintained Jerusalem as its capital despite complete international non-recognition, and established an apartheid state.

    What evidence have you that Israel cares one jot about its international reputation?

  74. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:09 | #74

    As a follow-up to my last, the Palestinians learned exactly the right lesson from the last half-century:

    That Israel has become a predominantly racist nation that does not recognise the Palestinian’s humanity, and that only responds to brute force.

    When previous societies have regressed to this state (South Africa, Nazi Germany) the world has rightly been outraged and intervened.

    Unfortunately these days, such intervention is haphazard for various reasons ie intervention in Bosnia and Somalia, not in Darfur or Rwanda

  75. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:25 | #75

    Chris C,

    Israel cares about its internation reputation enormously, but largely in a transactional manner. It is very dependent on international support. Obviously from the US, but implicitly from other countries too. If its reputation falls to the level of South Africa, for example, they could end up facing international economic sanctions which would be far more disastrous for them than it was for SA. Simple things like bans on direct flights from Europe to Israel would hurt it enormously.

    When it carried out the actions you describe it did so carefully weighing up the cost/benefit in terms of international opinion. Israel is unpopular, but not ostracised and that is something that Israel is very concious of and careful to not let detiorate.

  76. Katz
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:26 | #76

    Arab nationalist and Islamic regimes in the Middle East have used the Palestinians for their own international, domestic and cosmic purposes. Continued suffering of the Palestinians stimulates Arab and Islamic outrage at Israel and its major benefactor and away from the powers that be in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and elsewhere.

    These regimes have encouraged confrontation and rejectionism. Palestinians embrace the martyr’s crown thrust at them by their Arab and Islamic “friends”.

    Despair deepens.

  77. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:35 | #77

    Katz,

    Agreed, but this focus on the surrounding countries ignores completely the elephant in the room – the ongoing, increasingly brutal occupation.

    Sure the Arab countries have thumbed their nose at the Palestinians, but frankly, it is not their problem exclusively. The expropriation of the Palesitinians is the WORLD’s problem.

    I understand you are just calling it as it is rather than taking a side, but I too am sick of all the hurdles placed on the Palestinians by the world before they will help them regain their universally-agreed (sans Israel, US) rights.

  78. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:02 | #78

    Michael H,

    I agree with you in theory, but having thought about it long and hard I think that in practice it won’t work. If there was a strong Palestinian non-violence movement, and if it was able to put a halt to terrorist attacks then Israel really would be in a lot of trouble. Running over groups of women and children with bulldozers to build a Jew only road is only going to do one thing to Israel’s critical overseas support.

    But its not like Israel’s leaders are not aware of this either.

    When you look at previous successful modern non-violent movements such as the revolution to remove Milosovic in Serbia you start to realise that they are very difficult things to put together, and depend on very smart use of media resources. There are difficult practical problems like controlling your own violent extremist and to get large number’s of people to believe that putting their lives on the line will acheive something.

    I am pretty sure that if it looked like the Palestinians were going to get a non-violence movement going Israel would pull out all stops to end it quickly. And they have a lot of options. They could provoke terrorist organisations into breaking the ceasefire. We already saw that happen when they assinated leaders of Hamas during the “hudna” negotiations. They could release Palestinian advocates of terrorism from prison to counter the non-violent leaders. They could arrest the non-violent leaders which I believe they did during the 1980′s intifada. They could shutdown their broadcast stations and newspapers and fund their Palestinian opponents. They could plant provateurs in non-violent protests and make the protest violent. They could even run false flag terrorist attacks on Israel. On top of this the Palestinian territories are quite small with a population that is small enough for Israel to have enough intelligence resources to monitor the political situation there quite closely. The key thing here is that I believe that Israel’s leaders are smart enough, and cynical enough and well resourced enough to do all these things. Sharon openly said that Gaza was to be kept as, essentially, a violent prison to be a constant justification for denying Palestinians their own state. Netanyahu worked with Oslo process while seeking to end it. They are that cynical.

    When you look at Ghandi’s Indian indepedence movement and the Civil Rights movement in the US you realise that they were critically dependent on their opponents having some sort of moral restraint that would stop them doing all the above things, or at least stop them enough to allow the non-violent movement to be successful. I don’t think that Israel’s moral line is tight enough to allow a Palestinian non-violence movement to be successful.

    I’m not completely convinced that a non-violence movement would not improve things, but weighing it all up its hard to see how it could be successful.

  79. observa
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:07 | #79

    First the IRA and finally John Quiggin jumps ship here and still they don’t get it.

  80. Hal9000
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:57 | #80

    Somehow I think neither appeals to Israel’s concerns for international reputation nor non-violent action have much chance of success. The following from 19 May 2004 BBC news…

    “Israelis fire on crowds in Gaza

    “Dozens of injured were carried to hospital
    Israeli troops have opened fire during a protest by Palestinian demonstrators in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza.
    At least 10 people were killed and 60 injured, though some reports put the number of casualties higher.

    “The army expressed deep sorrow for the loss of innocent life, but said tanks and a helicopter had fired warning shots to stop crowds entering the area.

    “US President George W Bush called for restraint from both sides and said he had asked Israel for “clarification”. ”

    As Katz says, despair…

  81. Katz
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:58 | #81

    “I don’t think that Israel’s moral line is tight enough to allow a Palestinian non-violence movement to be successful.”

    It would certainly be more difficult to appeal to humanitarian impulses of Israelis now than fifteen years ago. Palestinian tactics are partially responsible for growing Israeli intransigence. The demography of Israel with the immigration of Oriental and Russian Jews has diluted the original stock of socialist zionists who were the habitual supporters of the now much diminished Israel Labor Party. New groups tend to be chauvinist or religious zealots.

    Overarching all of this is the fact that, unlike the British in India, Israelis have an enormous emotional attachment to “their” land. For the British in India home was somewhere else. For White segregationists in the US South desegregation meant they had to pee next to Blacks, not give up their homes.

  82. Simonjm
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:14 | #82

    Yes observa we just don’t get it that an oppressed people should accept occupation, oppression, injustice, often by those same hypocrites who justify invasion of Iraq on moral grounds freeing them from a oppression, human rights abuse etc etc.

    Shouldn’t expect too much from a crowd that turns a blind eye to human rights abuses by the US while condemning others for doing the same thing.

    Historians will likely look back once they are out of the cultural and political dominance of the US and the West & wonder at this hypocrisy especially coming from countries like the US and Australia that only came about by the theft of land and marginalization of the original inhabitants.

    In this light we have Israel doing the exact same thing occupy oppress, marginalize; make it untenable that it can be rolled back and claim moral superiority with some PR spin.

    Spare me your moral rationalizations and cultural bias some of us don’t by BS.

  83. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:37 | #83

    SWIO,

    As Hal9000 points out with a fairly routine example of the IDFs conduct, I remain convinced that international opinion (ex-US) is irrelevant to Israel.

    Up until a few years ago, the EU, Russia, China, most of Africa and all Arab and Muslim countries regularly criticised Israel’s occupation, but the colonisation and occupied proceeded unabated.

    I would even suggest that at this point, complete economic sanctions and ostracism would have no impact EVEN if the US joined in.

  84. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:42 | #84

    Observa,

    If you are suggesting from a realpolitik perspective that the worst elements of Israel have or will eventually win, I would agree with you – unfortunately they are in too powerful a position at this stage.

    However, this is a cause for sadness and despair, not smug satisfaction as you appear to have. Unfortunately the victims, both Israelis and Palestinians have been far too many.

    Besides which, you forget that the IRA only succeeded in getting where it did because of violence – it is a real shame it has to come to that, in any situation.

  85. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:49 | #85

    The current situation is stalemated. But what Israel doesn’t really want to accept is that the Palestinians are not going anywhere. The only solutions for Israel are two real states or genocide.

    When the balance of power between the Arab states and Israel evens up the situation will change. There are several hundred million Arabs but only 6 million Israeli’s. It won’t take much Arab improvement for there to be economic, political and military parity. Eventually there will be a tipping point where the surrounding Arab states will be able to exert so much pressure that Israel will want the conflict over more than the Palestinians. Probably by then there will be so many Palestinians that they will be the ones calling for a single state solution, so long as its genuinely democratic. They could then change its name by referendum to Palestine and declare victory. Israeli’s will wish it had taken the two state solution when they had the chance.

  86. smiths
    April 20th, 2006 at 14:03 | #86

    observa,
    not to dispute the facts of the times story you cite,
    i really think you should ponder the sources a bit,
    times is owned by murdoch, murdoch is pro-war and very anti-arab,
    you will find plenty of stories like that one that mean nothing,
    another to watch out for at the moment is any paper owned by hollinger international,
    currently controlled by richard perle and henry kissinger

  87. April 20th, 2006 at 15:02 | #87

    Terje, (at reply no. 9), another possibility is both nations destroyed. That would certainly be far more convenient all round for the rest of the world.

    Majorajam, it is wrong to look at the Ulster situation through the lens of a colonialist analysis. Ulster protestants are not motivated by a wish to remain masters (over others) so much as inhabitants (displacing others).

    Terje, England never did actually invade Ireland. What happened was, various waves of consolidation and retrenchment followed each other, all stemming from a historical presence in Ireland that was actually inherited from the Normans.

    The first Normans in Ireland didn’t invade, they infiltrated, and then the King of England in his capacity of Duke of Normandy tried to control them (not the Irish). This wasn’t just from a motive of maintaining control, but to stop Ireland becoming a potential base for hostile operations in England. This control succeeded, but at the price of securing their control over the Irish.

    About the only military operation you can call an invasion of Ireland was under Cromwell, but that was directed against Royalist forces rather than against the Irish proper – although later operations after the landings were largely directed against Irish forces.

    England’s and Ireland’s fates were entangled from early on (think where and how the Irish got St. Patrick). It’s as useful to say that England had no business in Ireland as to say that Ireland had no business in England – the Irish helped the Welsh raid Hereford shortly before the Norman Conquest. Not that the English had any business in Hereford either, or indeed any part of England, if you trace it back far enough.

  88. observa
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:26 | #88
  89. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:27 | #89

    “Unfortunately for both Palestinians and Israelis, Michael H, you are wrong. Non-violence failed to achieve anything for the Palestinians for over 40 years, except more colonies and more Israeli brutality.
    Israel actually cares nothing for its international reputation – and why should it when it is obstinately defended by the US every time.
    Israel has flaunted UN resolutions and international law since its existence, carried on a brutal occupation, annexed the OT and maintained Jerusalem as its capital despite complete international non-recognition, and established an apartheid state.
    What evidence have you that Israel cares one jot about its international reputation? “

    Chris C, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. But even Palestinian proponents of a non-violent approach concede that they were too quick to give up when they failed to achieve their aims. And lets just be clear; a non-violent strategy isn’t just the absence of armed struggle and sitting back waiting for someone else to rescue you, it’s an active strategy of undermining the occupation at its weakest point and winning support amongst Israelis.

    swio is pretty much right on the matter of Israels concern for it’s reputation. The evidence is the huge resources (time, money and people) Israel puts into its’ information campaigns. Ask any journalist who’s been based in Jerusalem. They receive a steady stream of emails filling their inboxs deluging them with stories, explanations and facts and figures from the Israeli perspective. Need any fact about Israel and Israeli PR types will get it in an instant. Well-educated fluent English speaking spokespeople are on hand to answer questions and provide information. Tours and visits to sites of terrorist attacks and interviews with victims and their families can be arranged. And in the US, sponsored tours of Israel for members of Congress, students, opinion-makers etc, have long been routine.

    Israel learnt a lot from the outbreak of the first intifada. Images of soldiers shooting kids throwing rocks could be very damaging, leading to all sorts of unwanted pressures. And this is the main thrust of Israels concern for its image; not necessarily to just block the images, but to provide the Israeli narrative that contextualises these images in a way that serve Israeli interests. Tanks in the streets of Ramallah? – that is retaliation, a pin-point prevention, an anti-terror exercise, rooting out terrorist nests and ticking bombs. Terror, terror, terror, nevermind the daily terror for Palestinians. This is, in part, how Israel protects its reputation; set the terms of the debate. And Hamas etc have done all they can to make this a success. So in the word association game, if you say ‘Palestinian’, what is the first word most Americans think of?

    Israel has to engage in the battle of ideas because the Palestinian cause is a just one, one that naturally stirs the sympathy of most people who actually know what it is. Israel has to eclipse the Palestinian narrative – not a hard job, given the monumental incompetence on the Palestinian side in this regard.

  90. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:38 | #90

    swio,

    You give a pretty compelling list of the kind of actions Israel could use to subvert a non-violent movement. And what’s more I think they have already used them all, except one.

    There are two fairly simple, but I believe utterly compelling, reasons that the non-violent approach must be taken.

    1. It is the morally correct approach. The killing of innocent people on either side is unjustifiable. The Palestinians have a just cause best served by just means. I’m not saying that this ensures success, just that success or failure is irrelevent to the choice of means.
    But even if you don’t agree with this,
    2. The ‘balance of terror’; Israel is far superior. Resort to arms will guarantee death and misery for Palestinians.

  91. Herindoors
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:55 | #91

    On behalf of my late father I thank you for this thread. Dad, as a young British mounted military policeman spent a few years of WW11 in the British Mandated Territory of Palestine. Attached to the Palestinian Camel Corp., as an RSM, he and his men were treated with such courtesy and he grew to highly respect and regard Palestinian Muslims, avidly learning about their culture and their language – in his later life as a police officer in England he was one of very few who could speak Arabic. He would often tell us kids tales of the generosity and many kindnesses of desert Sheiks, farmers, shepherds and orchardists, when the Corps were out on patrol.

    Later, also of the times he was required to investigate the Zionist/terrorist Irgun, Stern and Haganah gangs terrible bloody attacks on Palestinian villages. They killed indiscriminately countless men, women and children, destroying their homes, animals and crops. They also killed British military policemen (some by garotting), and Dad lost quite a few friends and colleagues in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, much to his lasting grief.

    I believe we can all understand why postwar America, Briton and European politicians were so keen to get an Israel solution for the survivors of the Holocaust – nimbys all. Or indeed, why European Jewry wanted so much for a place of their own, and would then defy anyone in hanging on to it.

    But also surely no-one in their right mind would expect the Palestinians to just quietly give away their homes and country – for the sake of a neat holocaust survivor solution that was never of their making – and head off without a fight; no matter how long it takes.

    Observa wouldn’t hand over his castle without a fight believe me!! And judging by the way he writes, he wouldn’t resile from laying a few bombs along the way, even if it was only to make a point.

    Let us all remember, the Palestinians that remain in what is left of their homeland, which is less than 22% of what they had in early 1948, and had had landrights to for thousands of years, are being daily slit up a treat. For every Israeli killed (which I do not condone in any way), at least 3 Palestians are killed – many of them children. Except they get killed by arms-length gunship fired rockets; army snipers; spooked Israeli soldiers; and settlers (who are often seeking subsidised housing, and/or are believers in the old testament map of Judea and will brook no argument); or get crushed by falling masonary/homes etc. etc. But who cares, they are only the suspect Oriental ‘Other’, with whom, apparently it would be a good idea to do away with, otherwise they will only do away with ‘us’. What bollocks!

    What to do? Like many of you I despair, but at least here so many of you have given them a guensey. Thanks.

  92. Ros
    April 20th, 2006 at 16:36 | #92

    IHT April 20 reports.
    “The Jordanian government spokesman, Nasser Joudeh, told the Petra news agency that the Hamas weapons cache, which was found at an undisclosed site in Jordan, included rocket launchers, explosives and automatic weapons. Jordanian newspapers ran front-page photos of the weapons on Wednesday.

    “These activities contradict the positive commitment by the new Palestinian government not to use the Jordanian arena for any purposes that harm Jordan’s security or for meddling in its internal affairs,” Joudeh was quoted as saying Tuesday.

    Zahar planned to visit Jordan this week as part of his current tour of Arab states. He is seeking money for the Palestinian Authority government, which faces a worsening financial crisis since Hamas, a radical Islamic group, assumed power last month�

    Hamas needs money badly.The Arab League has offered enough dough for a month, a number of rich Arab states are holding back because of Hamas’s position. The only loud voice offering money is Iran and that is both yet to happen and causing anger amongst poor Iranians. Now they have really pissed off Jordan, and another opportunity for finance goes bad.

    So what would ending violence with Israel do? Generate jobs and income. Palestinian workers in Israel did provide a substantial stimulus to the Palestinian economy in the past.

    “Prior to the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, 22 percent of employed Palestinians worked in Israel or in Israeli settlements. While these numbers dwindled during the intifada, the World Bank estimated that in 2005 a daily average of 44,800 Palestinians, primarily from the West Bank, worked in Israel: 7,400 held Israeli papers or foreign passports, 18,800 were legal workers, and 18,600 worked illegally. These numbers do not include East Jerusalem ID holders whose number has remained steady over the last five years. Taken together, these West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem workers constituted 10 percent of all employed Palestinians and earned 12 percent of Palestinian incomes. “

    And the World Bank has estimated that every additional 10,000 Palestinians allowed to work in Israel would generate $120 million for the Palestinian economy and increase the GNI by 2.5 percent. However since March the 11 Palestinians have been barred from entering Israel and the latest bombing should ensure a continuation of that policy. Now Israel is saying it will eliminate all Palestinian guest worker permits by 2007.

    Can see a lot of advantages for Palestinian people in the cessation of violence by terrorists against Israeli people.

  93. Glenn Condell
    April 20th, 2006 at 16:56 | #93

    Ros

    do you have shares in the IHT? Have you ever entertained an opinion not approved therein?

    ‘Can see a lot of advantages for Palestinian people in the cessation of violence by terrorists against Israeli people.’

    Can see a lot of advantages for Israeli people in the cessation of illegal occupation by settlers of Palestinian land.

    Which came first Ros, the occupation or the bombs? Which causes which Ros? Where, in light of this consideration, does primary responsibiity lie Ros?

    No checking in the IHT.

  94. April 20th, 2006 at 20:47 | #94

    This won’t be a fair or just settlement, but it’s hard to see who will object, given that Hamas opposes any settlement and refuses to negotiate.

    There really is no justice or fairness in the distribution of sovereignty or property. It is mostly historical or geographical luck or brute facts which determine where most borders are drawn. More contingency than equity.

    The best way to pre-empt conflict is to have a settled distribution from the outset and maintain some kind of proper due process to cope with change.

    Obviously the Israelis were the guilty party who upset the modern Middle Eastern settlement. Equally obviously the worthy party who most wanted to end the conflict once they had got what they wanted.

    Hamas refuse to accept the legitimacy of any bilateral or multilateral due process to resolve conflicting property and sovereignty claims. Israel refuse to acknowledge Hamas’ attempt to delegitimise the Israeli state. When an irresistable force meets and immovable object…

    Israel will not lose since it is the hegemonial regional military power. Therefore Israel will wage war and build walls until Hamas is exhausted. Plenty of Israeli smart bombs and plenty of Hamas suicide bombers.

    Sectarian geo-politics are not fair, they are fatal.

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