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Armistice Day

November 12th, 2012

After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s a chance Australia might finally be at peace next Armistice Day. Most combat operations in Afghanistan will cease early next year, and we can hope that the final pullout will take place not too long after that. In my lifetime, Australia has been involved in three long wars, none of which have produced the promised results. In two of them, Iraq and Vietnam, the pretext for war was clearly fraudulent. The overthrow of the Taliban regime, which had sheltered Osama bin Laden, was plausibly justified on grounds of self-defence, but the conduct of the war, and particularly the decision to invade Iraq, ensured that the effort would end in failure, as it has done. The best that can be said about the wars of the last decade is that they have been less costly, at least in Australian lives, than was Vietnam.

What is really striking, looking at the recent past, is how much has been achieved by peaceful means. In our own region, Indonesia has been transformed from a dictatorship (generally seen as representing a long-term military threat) to a stable democracy, which has largely overcome the challenges of terrorism, religious violence, natural disasters, and the attempts of the military to retain its central role in politics and business. With the aid of Australian peacekeepers, East Timor has made a start on a difficult road out of poverty. Elsewhere in the world from Eastern Europe to South America to the Arab world, seemingly durable dictatorships have collapsed or handed over power, mostly without the intervention of foreign governments.

Saying that war should be the last resort sounds like a platitude. But it is among the most important lessons we learn from history. Those who choose war rarely achieve the outcomes they expect and usually bring disaster on themselves as well as others. War in self-defence is sometimes necessary, and there are rare occasions when outside intervention can prevent an immediate human catastrophe. Fighting wars for justice, or democracy, or national honour, or to prevent future wars is a path to ruin.

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  1. Jim Rose
    November 16th, 2012 at 05:44 | #1

    @Megan Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. it was who Hamas chose to keep fighting – Hamas prolonged the war. there would be peace immediately if Hamas accepted the status quo.

    Fran, why is the blockade important? the map shows that gaza has a border with Egypt too.

  2. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    November 16th, 2012 at 09:05 | #2

    Given the turn the discussion has taken, I think it is worthwhile considering the views of an international law expert, Professor Gerry Simpson, speaking in 2010 about the Israel-Palestine conflict in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.


    I have spent large parts of my adult life examining and discussing controversial, apparently intractable, conflicts. About four years ago, I spent a week training young lawyers from the former Yugoslavia in a town called Palic near the Hungarian border. The idea was to bring together Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats from all around the region to discuss war crimes and international humanitarian law. Needless to say, with the Balkan Wars so fresh in everyone’s mind, I expected things to be contentious, perhaps even vitriolic. In fact, everyone got along well. We touched on potentially electrifying incidents: on Srebrenica, on Sarajevo, on Kosovo. There was disagreement, some of it sharp but all of it expressed in language that was respectful and moderate in tone. I relaxed. Then, on the final day, someone mentioned The Lebanon. The room exploded (to some extent, and for the first time, along ethnic lines). These young Yugoslavs reconciled – perhaps even at ease – in discussing war crimes in Bosnia, became apoplectic when talking about Israel and the Middle East.

    And I have experienced this repeatedly. A course at the LSE on crimes against humanity proceeds without incident. Suddenly, we are discussing the West Bank or Adolf Eichmann and the air is thick with colourful language: ‘anti-Semitic’, ‘Israeli apologist’, ‘Jewish Police State’, ‘Arab terrorists’. I should say, too, that these phrases, largely employed in lieu of deep thinking, were rarely if ever used by a generation of Israeli and Palestinian students I had the pleasure of teaching and learning from in London. For them, I suspect, too much was at stake to indulge in these sorts of empty rhetorical gestures.

    So, when Professor Gaita asked me to give the opening lecture in this series, my response was an uneasy affirmative. Why speak when, say, Edward Said and Amos Oz have already spoken? And, of course, Israel-Palestine, or Israel-Gaza, is a subject with almost religious power in our society. One can be wrong about Somalia or Aceh or Mexico but with Israel, mistakes are blasphemies not misjudgements. Why then, is Israel different? Why not a public lecture series on Guatemala (a genocide was conducted there in the 1980s without anyone taking much notice) or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (four million dead in six years in war between a state and non-state actor)? What is it that makes everyone a specialist on Israel-Palestine and a generalist on everything else?

    We are certainly more attentive to the nuances of this conflict than some others. Something – a colonial reflex, a biblical atavism, a seventy-year-old wound, a form of identification – makes Europeans and Australians approach Israel differently, some holding it to higher standards, others uncritically applauding its every act of violence.
    And we also approach the Palestinians differently. For my generation, the PLO, perhaps along with the Basque separatists operating in Guernica, were the first terrorists or the first self-determination movement or both. Theirs was romantic national struggle and atrocious terror at the same time. And they were everywhere but nowhere. A student came to me once, and said that she’d gone home to look for Palestine on the map, after class, but found it wasn’t there.

    So let me continue on a hopeful note. Maybe, Israel-Palestine can teach us that there are nuances, that politics has to be the art of manoeuvring between two apparently incommensurable political goals. That history counts. That words like ‘terrorism’ (applied by some Israelis to virtually all Palestinian resistance) and ‘genocidal’ (the term used by the Arab League Report on Gaza to describe aspects of the Israeli attack) might not be that useful as shorthand for describing activity in the political realm, and that violence and terror are not naturally occurring acts but human creations capable of being ended by humans.

    And this is a plea to relinquish three ways of thinking about Gaza. In the first, people throw up their hands and say, ‘Well, they hate each other. What can you do?’ This is nihilistic, lazy, and inaccurate. The second involves a pre-emptive pessimism: ‘what a disaster. This is a point of no return.’ But the apparent point of no return has been reached so often. I remember back in the late 1980s people were saying that it couldn’t get worse. After all, Palestinians were throwing stones at the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in Gaza and the West Bank in 1987. Looking back, we can see that these moments of disaster and no return were actually openings into different political future had different choices been made. And third, most difficult to give up, is the thinking of loyalists who can see only the violence wrought by one side or the other.

    G. Simpson (2010), ‘Death in Gaza’ in R. Gaita (ed.), Gaza: Morality, Law and Politics, UWA Publishing: Crawley.

  3. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    November 16th, 2012 at 09:18 | #3

    I might add that my Facebook friends span the spectrum of opinion on the politics of the Eastern Mediterranean, so my wall is decked out with harrowing pictures of dead, injured and terrorised civilians on both sides.

  4. JB Cairns
    November 16th, 2012 at 09:57 | #4

    No Jim it aint Hamas doing it but other groups Hamas cannot control

  5. Fran Barlow
  6. JB Cairns
    November 16th, 2012 at 13:44 | #6

    correction. wasn’t doing it.
    They obviously retaliated

  7. Jim Rose
    November 16th, 2012 at 17:56 | #7

    @JB Cairns what is Hamas doing to stop these rogue elements?

  8. Jim Rose
    November 16th, 2012 at 18:13 | #8

    @Fran Barlow Hamas has a simple option if it wants peace. Accept the current borders. Destroy all missiles and stop further imports of military hardware into Gaza. End all threats against Israel’s territorial integrity and security. Punish all attacks from within Gaza against civilians.

  9. November 16th, 2012 at 19:11 | #9

    Israel has a simple option if it wants peace. Accept the 1967 borders. Destroy all missiles, cluster bombs, white phosphorous & stop further imports and manufacture of military hardware in Israel. End all threats against Gaza’s territorial integrity and security including ending the blockade of its seas, skies and borders. Punish all attacks from outside Gaza against civillians whether by citizens or the military.

  10. Jim Rose
    November 16th, 2012 at 20:27 | #10

    @Megan will your proposals stop Hamas and rogue militias in the gaza strip from firing missiles into Israel.

  11. Fran Barlow
    November 16th, 2012 at 20:57 | #11

    @Jim Rose

    Punish all attacks from within Gaza against civilians.

    LOL … Only the Israelis get to murder people in Gaza.

  12. November 16th, 2012 at 21:04 | #12

    Right back at you, Jim.

  13. Mel
    November 16th, 2012 at 23:53 | #13

    Fran: “Israel has a simple option if it wants peace … “.

    Megan: “Israel has a simple option if it wants peace … ”

    The Hamas Charter explicitly calls for the complete elimination of Israel and its absorption into Palestine. The 1967 borders are completely rejected. The Charter also approvingly quotes an Hadith that calls for the killing of all Jews on the “Day of Judgement”.

    Simple options are the conceit of simple minds.

  14. November 17th, 2012 at 01:13 | #14

    The ‘Hamas Charter’ was 1988.

    It has repeatedly said, for many years, that it would accept the 1967 borders.

    People with simple minds shouldn’t quote clones.

    It just makes them look very, stupid. And simple.

  15. Mel
    November 17th, 2012 at 02:48 | #15

    The Hamas Charter hasn’t been reneged and as you must surely be aware, new Hamas members must agree to abide by it..

    From Haaretz May 11, 2011:

    “Hamas would be willing to accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, a leader of the militant group, Mahmoud Zahar, told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an on Wednesday, adding, however, that Hamas would never recognize Israel since such a move would counter the group’s aim to “liberate” all of Palestine.”

    The Hamas position is contradictory and not coincidentally coincides with a push for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood. Until Hamas renounces the genocidal and racist aspects of its Charter, recognises Israel, genuinely agrees to the 1967 borders, accepts democracy and rejects terrorism, Israeli citizens will have good reason not to trust it.

    On the other hand, the Israelis will have to disband all settlements in the OT and end the Gaza blockade.

    Since there are absolutely no grounds for trust and neither side has much incentive to move first, there is no simple solution outside the puerile minds of the keyboard chattering classes.

  16. Fran Barlow
    November 17th, 2012 at 06:44 | #16

    Interesting piece

    10 Facts about Gaza

  17. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    November 17th, 2012 at 07:59 | #17

    Logging on to Facebook this morning I find that one of my friends has posted a “shrinking Israel” map and another has posted a “shrinking Palestine” map, to go with the pictures of bombed out buildings in Gaza City and Sderot, and the bloodied children of both nations. All this is strengthening my resolve to identify the actually or potentially pro-peace, democratic parties and movements amongst both the Israelis and Palestinians, and practically assist them in their respective political contests against the chauvinists and religious fundamentalists.

  18. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 08:23 | #18

    @Megan Why are borders in 1861, 1919, 1945, 1948, 1956 or 1967 or any other time morally superior?

    Palestinian revanchism is a recipe for endless wars. Revanchism is the desire to reverse territorial losses:
    • A return of German revanchism would plunge Europe back into war as germany marched to reclaim Western Poland and the Sudetenland lost after the massive ethic cleansing in 1945 and the moving of Poland 1/3rd to the left after Potsdam.

    • The Balkans and Eastern Europe would be plunged into war to revise the 1945 and the 1919 boundaries.

    • Irish Revanchism over Northern Ireland led to war from 1922 onwards.

  19. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    November 17th, 2012 at 08:41 | #19

    Jim, to be fair, and to understand what’s going on, you also need to acknowledge that “Greater Israel” revanchism is a problem, as manifested in the extremist settler movement and the unwillingness ot the Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu government to take the peace process seriously.

  20. Katz
    November 17th, 2012 at 08:53 | #20

    Israel refused to negotiate in good faith about the disposition of the OT long before Hamas even existed.

    It would be a test as to whether Israel is a full-fledged parliamentary democracy, there may come a time when the population of Israel could use its democratic rights to expunge the Jewish identity of the nation from its Basic Law, to wit this provision passed as recently as 1992:

    Purpose 1. The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

    Presumably, before 1992, legally Israel was not a Jewish state. By extension, therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Israel reverse that process of zionification.

    After all, Arabs comprise more than 20% of the citizenry of Israel and that proportion is increasing.

  21. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 09:14 | #21

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy The claims for a Greater Israel is an example of irredentism, which advocates the annexation of territories because of a common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged.

    The Irish constitution claimed all of Ireland, which only stirred the pot. The Irish and maybe the Italian constitutions give a special place to the Catholic Church. established churches are not unknown in England and in Northern Europe.

    Peace process presupposes that what is at stake is divisible. Israel is in an existential fight – the existence of a Jewish state, and that outcome is indivisible.

    When the Palestinian Authority was established, did the firing of missiles stop?

  22. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 09:35 | #22

    @Katz if Israel refused to negotiate in good faith about the disposition of the OT long before Hamas even existed, how did the Palestinian Authority coming into being?

    Hamas has had enought control of Gaza to negotiate truces with Israel in the past.

    p.s. the relevant wikis says that there are official state religions in Denmark (Church of Denmark), Greece (Church of Greece), Malta (Catholic Church) and England (Church of England). Until 2000, the Church of Sweden was the state church of Sweden. Norway, Finland and Iceland also have a state church of sorts.

    Argentina, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, the Philippines, Portugal and Spain give a special recognition to the Catholic church in their constitutions without making it the state religion.

    All of these countries have freedom of religion as does Israel.

  23. Katz
    November 17th, 2012 at 09:47 | #23

    How is the existence of the PA proof of the “good faith” of Israel?

    The “Jewish State” provision isn’t only a religious issue. It is an ethno-racial provision that guarantees certain individuals “the right of return”. Does being a Catholic guarantee right of return to Malta?

  24. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    November 17th, 2012 at 09:48 | #24

    Jim Rose @21 writes:

    Peace process presupposes that what is at stake is divisible. Israel is in an existential fight – the existence of a Jewish state, and that outcome is indivisible.

    A peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has to start from the premise that there are two nations with a stake in the issue, both of which have the right to national-self-determination in independent nation-states. The question then becomes one of negotiating borders, security arrangements, etc., recognising that given the circumstances of the issue the eventual outcome will be partial justice for both nations, and an improvement on what currently exists, but will not be what partisans on both sides would regard as complete justice.

  25. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 10:10 | #25

    Katz, many European countries and now I think Australia base citizenship on decent rather than birth. Many ethnic Germans who had lived in Eastern Europe returned to Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall. A nephew recently secured Italian citizenship by decent.

    Repatriation laws in many countries to enable their Diasporas to return to their kin-states. Armenia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey are examples

    Do the generous immigration policies in Sweden for the Swedish Diaspora make the last European country to practice eugenics an apartheid state as well?

    HT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repatriation_laws

  26. Katz
    November 17th, 2012 at 10:15 | #26

    And in a democracy, all these laws can be changed if they offend the majority.

    That was my original point.

    Only anti-democratic principles would prevent a change in any law enacted in a democratic manner.

  27. Katz
    November 17th, 2012 at 10:21 | #27

    Katz, many European countries and now I think Australia base citizenship on decent rather than birth.

    And many Palestinians claim citizenship of Israel by virtue of both birth and descent. Yet their demands are rejected by the State of Israel.

    Indeed, a large number of these claimants have title to property within the boundaries of Israel. These titles are identical to the titles held by Jewish inhabitants acquired under the Ottoman Empire. Yet the State of Israel recognised those titles only if they were held by Jews.

    Is this consistent?

    Where is your respect for the rights of property?

  28. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 10:37 | #28

    @Katz german refugees have had similar legal issues since the expulsions in 1945. is revanchism the solution?

  29. Katz
    November 17th, 2012 at 11:30 | #29

    Ask that of the Jewish “returnees”.

  30. Fran Barlow
    November 17th, 2012 at 14:43 | #30

    Israel targeted Jabalya refugee camp which is one of the most crowded areas in #Gaza. I still can hear ambulances rushing to the place.

    And Gaza is about 4 times the population density of Hong Kong.

    Union Aid Abroad ‏@apheda
    News just in: violence in Gaza impacts our Palestinian partner MA’AN with a family member killed in Jabalia www DOT facebook DOT com/UnionAidAbroadAPHEDA …

    Union Aid Abroad ‏@apheda
    News just in: violence in Gaza impacts our Palestinian partner MA’AN with a family member killed in Jabalia www DOT facebook DOT com/UnionAidAbroadAPHEDA …

  31. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 15:31 | #31

    @Fran Barlow Have you just discovered now that terrorists routinely intermingle with civilians using them as shields?

    Why did Hamas and Gaza militias commit war crimes under the Geneva conventions by intermingling with civilians and by “locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas”?

    Does Hamas and the other Gaza militias wear uniforms, carry their weapons openly and operate their missiles out of military bases set apart from civilian areas in Gaza?

  32. Fran Barlow
    November 17th, 2012 at 15:38 | #32

    Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world Jim. The missiles have a 50 mile maximum range. There is no place to launch them from in Gaza that is not densely populated. They also have no air cover. They can only play the cards they have.

    They are in occupied territory and so some of the usual rules of war don’t apply.

    Now personally, I regard the launching of missiles against non-military targets, or the launching of missiles which one cannot be accurately controlled, to be ethically wrong, as well as futile.

    That said, there’s no evidence that missiles fired from Gaza by any group are in any significant way germane to the way Israel conducts policy. There are perverse incentives for Israel to keep the conflict going.

    And as things stand, there’s really no incentive for those in Gaza firing missiles to stop either. If you imagine your life can neither get much worse nor get measurably better, there’s not a lot of reason to choose another course.

  33. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 16:00 | #33

    Fran, in the photo at http://kleinonline.wnd.com/2012/11/15/photo-hamas-missile-launch-pad-near-mosque-playground-civilian-factories-gas-station-also-half-a-block-from-fajr-5-site/ shows what appear to be vacant fields a few hundred metres way. the missiles could have been based and fired from these fields and not from where they commited a war crime.

    the laws of war are universal. A lot of world war 1 & 2 was fought in occupied France. many wars follow invasions so much of the war is fought in occupied parts of the invaded country.

  34. November 17th, 2012 at 17:58 | #34

    Jim may not be aware of the Godwin – but comparing Nazi occupied France (along with the natural connotation of Resistance fighters using means more foul than fair against their oppressors) with Israeli occupied Gaza is quite apt.

  35. Ootz
    November 17th, 2012 at 18:46 | #35

    Further, Jim you may want to read up on forth generation warfare in order to avoid your ‘battleship’ being sunk by an Obama like ‘Horses and Bayonet’ jab. If you do want to ‘defend’ the hawkish Israeli position please do so intelligently. The situation is much more complex and glib comparisons or rambling faux arguments do not do the spilled blood on both sides justice.

    “This blood could have been spared. Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because of this..”

  36. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 18:53 | #36

    When it comes to the raison d’être of international humanitarian law, a stout ignorance infects the progressive Left.

    The purpose of international humanitarian law is to ensure strict differentiation between civilians and combatants. The requirement of international humanitarian law to carry weapons openly, dress in a uniform etc. is to ensure combatants are easy to distinguish from afar so troops do not get trigger happy around civilians areas and refugee columns.

    This is the fundamental purpose of international humanitarian law: saving civilians from the fighting. In return for legal protections from the hostilities, civilians are strictly forbidden from engaging in hostilities.

    The severest of punishments are allowed for spies, saboteurs, infiltrators, francs-tireurs and guerrillas. Not carrying weapons openly and not dressing in a military uniform that is recognisable from a distance is a self-inflicted death sentence.

    Two criteria from a just war are “serious prospects of success” and “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated”. Neither applies to the firing of missiles from the Gaza in Israel after the 2005 unilateral disengagement.

    p.s the google map at http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/map/google_map_palestine.htm shows that much of Gaza is rural – ideal for Hamas military bases away from civilian centres as required by the laws of war.

  37. Ootz
    November 17th, 2012 at 21:33 | #37

    Progressive left, you mean as opposed to sclerotic right? You should stop looking for reds under the keyboard, it freezes up the neocortex.

    I can think of one freedom fighter or guerilla, who was charged of the capital crimes of sabotage and crimes which were equivalent to treason. He narrowly escaped the gallows and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as President.

    “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
    Moshe Dayan

  38. rog
    November 17th, 2012 at 21:43 | #38

    The computer generated Jim Rose draws an imaginary line in the sand and declares those not on his/her side to be of the ‘progressive left’

    Presumably the obverse is ‘regressive right’.

  39. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 21:45 | #39

    Ootz, is there any possible peace agreement acceptable to a majority of Israelis and Palestinians? See http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/9585#.UKdVRGdSQ9M on how the “Blackmailer’s Paradox” in game theory is happening in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    At each stage of negotiation, the Arabs present impossible, unacceptable starting positions. They act sure of themselves to create credibility and make it clear to Israel that there is no chance of their backing down. Israel agrees to a few of these blackmailing demands because otherwise she will leave the room empty handed. the war goes on.

    For there to be peace, Israel must start talking about the “painful concessions” it will require of the Palestinians. Only then will both sides negotiate because they know that Israel is willing to walk away for a long time unless it gets reasonable offers that will be binding and acceptable to a majority of Israelis and Palestinians

    Robert Aumann argues that “If you are ready for war, you will not need to fight. If you cry ‘peace, peace,’ you will end up fighting… What brings war is that you signal weakness and concessions”

  40. November 17th, 2012 at 21:51 | #40

    Golda Meir quotes:

    “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” (Statement to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 1957)

    “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.” (Statement at a Press Conference in London, 1969)

    Here we are in 2012, occupied Palestine is smaller than it has ever been. Israel has killed orders of magnitude more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed. Israel is illegally armed with nuclear weapons (WMD).

    It has regularly targeted children with conventional and chemical weapons. Israeli civillians frequently shoot Palestinian children with the full protection of the Israeli police/military.

    A large delegation of Australian media have quietly been in Israel (at the hospitality of AIJAC) since before this latest blow-up began. Coincidentally, they were in Sderot just in time to see a crappy missile pop. They are still there but hardly any of them are filing reports.

    Tonight I saw a ‘Tweet’ from one of them, safely whisked away to Tel-Aviv where they can only get the Israeli side of the story. Australians will be pleased to know that News Ltd & Fairfax journalists (and presumably ABC) are tonight having a “beer detente” in the bosom of Israel enjoying, no doubt civilised, hospitality instead of telling us what’s going on.

    Nice, snug, cosy, matey.

  41. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 22:16 | #41

    @Megan Israel did not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Hamas, which runs Gaza, uses civilians as human shields, which is a war crime.

  42. Mel
    November 17th, 2012 at 22:24 | #42

    Fran: “There is no place to launch them from in Gaza that is not densely populated.”

    One-third of Gaza is irrigated farmland and there is also much unirrigated rural land. If you check satellite maps of Gaza you’ll see this for yourself.

    Sure, the Palestinians are getting the rough end of the pineapple right now but I think it’s fairly obvious that if the Palestinians had the upper hand, they would simply exterminate the Jews. The Hamas Charter, which Megan dishonestly suggested is defunct, doesn’t pull any punches.

  43. November 17th, 2012 at 22:51 | #43

    Withdraw that Mel, you are lying, again.

  44. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2012 at 23:01 | #44

    @Megan The International Court of Justice in Congo v. Uganda determined that for belligerent occupations to exist, “the occupying army must actually exercise its authority in the territory, and thereby supplant the authority of the sovereign government of that area”.

    The Geneva Conventions require that an army exercise “control within” the territory for there to be an occuption.

    The blockade of Gaza is not an occupation. Blockades have a long history and a separate legal status. A recent naval and air blockade was against Libya. Another was the no-fly zone over Kurdistan. UN interventions often start with blockades.

    The border of Gaza with Egypt is not controlled by Israel. Israel as part of the 2005 disengagement even withdrew from a line of control allocated to it under the Oslo accords along the Egyptian border with Gaza to stop arms smuggling

  45. November 18th, 2012 at 00:21 | #45

    It’s the Mel and Jim show!

    Mel: You are dishonest – fact.

    Jim: “The Geneva Conventions require that an army exercise “control within” the territory for there to be an occuption.” – that has to be the most straw-iest of strawmen ever to have the stamp of apologia attached to its frayed hem.

    The “Occupied Territories” are not occupied by a belligerent force because the belligerent force hasn’t successfully subjugated the occupied peoples? Genius! I nominate you for the next unelected Senator that Labor appoints because you are right up there with Bob Carr.

  46. November 18th, 2012 at 01:17 | #46

    Some people pick cherries!

    This is from the ICRC:

    “The rules of international humanitarian law relevant to occupied territories become applicable whenever territory comes under the effective control of hostile foreign armed forces, even if the occupation meets no armed resistance and there is no fighting.

    The question of “control” calls up at least two different interpretations. It could be taken to mean that a situation of occupation exists whenever a party to a conflict exercises some level of authority or control within foreign territory. So, for example, advancing troops could be considered bound by the law of occupation already during the invasion phase of hostilities. This is the approach suggested in the ICRC’s Commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention (1958).

    An alternative and more restrictive approach would be to say that a situation of occupation exists only once a party to a conflict is in a position to exercise sufficient authority over enemy territory to enable it to discharge all of the duties imposed by the law of occupation. This approach is adopted by a number of military manuals.”

    Either way, Israel vis-a-vis Gaza ticks the boxes and is a ‘rogue state’ defying International Law.

    Put simply, they kill children for fun. They are not a force for good. They need serious help with their collective disorders. The world pities them while they pretend they are better than the world – Israel is just a sad, sad country with problems it refuses to face.

  47. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2012 at 07:30 | #47


    Fran: “There is no place to launch them from in Gaza that is not densely populated.”

    OK … I’ll grant that there are some less densely populated places, but these would not be logistically feasible. If the Israelis could rely on the resistance using only non-urban land from which to launch they could target all of their surveillance on it. The missiles would be intercepted and the fighters killed on the spot. Going back to using people as bomb mules would make more sense, if one puts aside the ethical objections.

    Now as I’ve said, I don’t see that the missile strategy is either ethical or even effective in advancing their cause, but if you are going to launch missiles, you have to do it in circumstances where you think there is a rough chance of it hitting its target and the people launching them living to launch more. Without some kind of air cover, this simply isn’t feasible. With the bunker-busting bombs the IDF has (courtesy of the US) even underground is out.

    Realistically, a country composed largely of underfed children cannot confront a technologically advanced well-resourced and well-drilled military machine that controls the air and all above ground approaches to the territory and hope to win. I suspect that the Gazan missiles are expressions of their profound misery, and the hope that it will keep the attention of the world on their issue, rather than any serious belief that they will rattle the IDF.

    The only hope the Gazans have is that the US will make its support to Israel conditional upon accepting a just peace, but there’s simply no hint that this is on the horizon — missiles from Gaza or not. That would require a fundamental shift in US politics in the direction of people favouring a measure of equity. The right remains in control of the agenda.

  48. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    November 18th, 2012 at 08:20 | #48

    Here are some people lighting a candle and not just cursing the darkness.


  49. Jim Rose
    November 18th, 2012 at 08:38 | #49

    @Megan if a territory comes under the effective control of hostile foreign armed forces, even if the occupation meets no armed resistance and there is no fighting, why are all these missiles being fired? does not sound like effective control.

    you confuse an occupation with blockades and sieges. a siege is less costly that house to house fighting.

  50. Katz
    November 18th, 2012 at 08:56 | #50

    I’d be interested to know what these folks who are firing inaccurate missiles in the general direction of Israel are trying to achieve and whether recent events have taken them closer to achieving it.

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