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The USSR's Role in the Middle East Goes Down the Memory Hole:

One thing I find interesting in reading various authors who discuss the history of the Arab-Israeli or Israeli-Palestinian conflict is how the role of the USSR in exacerbating the conflict, and the role of its demise in providing an opportunity for a potential settlement of the conflict, is generally completely, or almost completely, ignored. [A few sentences only tangentially on point deleted, perhaps a subject for a separate post.]

Consider, first, that Israel could have bought itself quite a bit of security if the U.S. had allowed it, France, and the UK to triumph in the Sinai War in 1956. But Eisenhower and Dulles were afraid this would drive Arab public opinion into the pro-Soviet camp.

Then consider that the East bloc secret services recruited, trained, and financed Yasser Arafat to create the violent Palestinian nationalist movement that became the PLO, starting around 1964.

After Israel emerged victorious beyond its wildest dreams in 1967, the influence of the USSR was apparent in several ways. First, the Soviet bloc led an international campaign of boycott and defamation, larded with anti-Semitism, against Israel, creating a siege mentality that has stayed with Israel ever since, and made it that much more difficult to persuade Israel, already traumatized by the Holocaust and the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands, that the "international community" is to be trusted.

Second, Israel's performance against Soviet-supplied enemies Syria and Egypt persuaded the U.S. that Israel was a regional superpower that needed to be engaged, both to further U.S. interests, and to try to keep the (nuclear-armed) country stable and secure so that it didn't inadvertantly start WWIII.

And finally, while religious fanatics were among the most zealous settlers of the West Bank, a certain level of settlment was supported virtually across Zionist party lines, due to the perceived threat of a renewed Soviet-backed war of destruction against Israel. (In part, this was due to Lyndon Johnson reneging in 1967 on American security guarantees provided by Eisenhower in 1956--Israel saw that the U.S. could not be trusted to guarantee its security.) Israeli military and political leaders believed that holding at least some parts of the West Bank gave Israel the strategic depth to ward off, or even entirely discourage, an attack from the West, which proved prescient when Jordan declined to involve itself in the Yom Kippur War.

In 1973, by the end of the Yom Kippur War, Israel had crossed the Suez canal, had a huge segment of the Egyptian military surrounded, and was prepared, if necessary, to march on Cairo (Juan Cole, displaying his usual penchant for accuracy, calls this a "draw-to-slight victory" for Egypt). Damascus was also within range. The U.S. insisted on a cease-fire, because the Soviets threatened to intervene on behalf of Egypt and Syria.

In 1977, Anwar Sadat had tired of the Soviets and had thrown them out of Egypt. When Jimmy Carter naively sought to invite the Soviets to a regional "peace conference," Sadat hastily decided to make his famous visit to Jerusalem. While Sadat and Menachem Begin had little in common, they did by this point share a loathing of the USSR--Begin had been deported from Poland and imprisoned in the Gulag by the Soviets during WWII.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, the Soviets funded every rejectionist and terrorist movement willing to take money from it. Dovish arguments in Israel were met with skepticism because of the continued role of one of the two superpowers in financing those who called for, and acted for, Israel's destruction. Meanwhile, U.S.-Israeli ties grew closer as the old socialist ethos in Israel gave way to strong anti-Soviet sentiment under Likud rule, and a generation of Israelis came of age--including a few hundred thousand Soviet Jewish refugees--with a Soviet Union sworn to their country's annihilation.

By contrast, the fall of the USSR was one of the major factors that allowed the Oslo negotiations and agreements to move forward. Without the backing of a superpower, Yasser Arafat seemed less like a potential destroyer of Israel and a lot more like a has-been terorist who would be willing to settle for what he could plausibly get. Strategic depth became less important when the Soviet's last major ally bordering on Israel, Syria, virtually collapsed militarily in the absence of Soviet aid.

This story, indeed, would likely have a happy ending, but for the rise of new ideological movement, replacing Communism, even more implacably hostile to Israel--Islamic fundamentalism. But that's another story.

In any event, ignoring the role of the USSR in the Arab-Israeli conflict vastly impoverishes our understanding of Israel's motivations over the decades. To emphasize one point above, while commenters today often assert that Israel's settlement activity on the West Bank, beyond perhaps a few locations right near Jerusalem, was either obviously foolish or a reflection of an inherently colonialist ideology, a major rationale for it at the time was to provide strategic depth against a threat ultimately emanating from the Soviets. Similarly, while many question why Israel was unwilling to try to negotiate earlier with the PLO, this becomes more understandable when one considers that the PLO was a creation of, and financed by, the Soviet Bloc, which was overtly hostile to the very existence of Israel. Similarly, Israel was reluctant to give back all or much of the West Bank to Jordan when it had the chance for fear that a Soviet-backed Palestinian coup could topple King Hussein--as almost occured in September 1970. One could surely not imagine the ideological evolution of many right-wing Israelis into the implicit acceptance of a Palestinian state if the USSR was still around to be the primary sponsor of the Palestinian cause.

J. Aldridge:
War has always been the best and final arbitrator towards peace. It's just the ones on the losing end who do not appreciate the fact.
1.8.2009 11:39pm
Hoosier:
Before we reach 200 comments on this thread, a question. And it is meant quite seriously.

The objection that I've been hearing re: the Israeli use of force is that it it "disproportionate."

Fine. Accepting proportionality as the standard, what would the media and academia say if Israel responded to Hamas attacks from Gaza by lobbing poorly made missiles in the direction of Gaza City?

Can it even be argued that this would not be a condign response? If so, would that be acceptable?
1.8.2009 11:39pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Hoosier, you're off-topic, but I'll respond anyway since you are such a valued commenter. I think it's well established by now that just about everyone who says Israel is acting disproportionately thinks that ANY Israeli military response is disproportionate, either because they think Israel is the aggressor, or because military force is so obviously doomed to fail that Israel is killing people for no reason. The only exception I've seen is one commentator, maybe it was Kristof, who said that Israel should have limited itself to destroying the smuggling tunnels (while also opening the checkpoints).
1.8.2009 11:44pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And I'll pause to note that commentators who naively think that Hamas's real goal in firing missiles at Israel is to get the border crossings open neglect the long history of Hamas terrorist activity against those crossings with the intent of forcing them closed.
1.8.2009 11:46pm
Passing By:
If you measure a war by what Egypt achieved, is it not reasonable for Cole to suggest that it amounted to a "draw-to-slight victory"? I'm not disputing what would have happened had the war not ended - but it did end, and within a few years Egypt had every inch of its territory back. If you're going to imply that somebody else is working from an alternative history, the least you can do is acknowledge the facts. (As for your personal attacks? They don't impress targets like Cole, Greenwald or, as far as I can tell, anybody else. So maybe it's time to reconsider that tactic.)
1.8.2009 11:47pm
Bruce:
"But Eisenhower and Dulles were afraid this would drive Arab public opinion into the pro-Soviet camp."

Well, also they were ticked off that Israel, France, and Britain started the war without even consulting them.
1.8.2009 11:48pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
DB,

In regard to settlement, can a distinction be made between occupying lands with military force and allowing civilians to settle those same lands willy-nilly? I can see military occupation as a legitmate method for providing a buffer. Settlement without annexing the people however is something else entirely.
1.8.2009 11:49pm
iolanthe (mail):
But wasn't Soviet implicit support important at the very birth of the State? As I understand it, Israel would not have been able to defeat the Arab armies or undertake the other military operations necessary to its survival in the very early years without buying a substantial quantity of arms from the Czechs who had been given the OK by Stalin. After a couple of years Stalin had a change of mind but by then the State was, if not exactly secure, at least not in immediate need of buying more weapons. Without those Czech weapons Israel might well have been either completely destroyed or not have been able to secure vital areas such as the Galilee.
1.8.2009 11:51pm
iolanthe (mail):
Off topic obviously but the phrase "if the U.S. had allowed it, France, and the UK to triumph in the Sinai War in 1956" raises the question has the US ever provided support to a war allies such as UK or Australia were involved in but that it was not a direct party to? Roosevelt obviously went as far as he felt her could pre Pearl Harbour but at the end of the day the US sold not have its material support. I can't think of an example but nor can I think of another case where the US was so obstructive as it was in Suez.
1.8.2009 11:56pm
Hoosier:
DavidBernstein
Hoosier, you're off-topic,

Way off.

But I wanted to ask the question immediately, since this is the first Israel/Palestein thread that I've gotten to before the deluge.

but I'll respond anyway since you are such a valued commenter.

Thanks very much for that. I need it today.

BTW--One of my major fields of specialty is the Eisenhower foreign policy. (My book on Ike will be out this fall. EXCELSIOR!)

So getting me off topic on this is a major achievement. But a close Israeli friend living in Chicago has called me at work to vent about the coverage of this issue the last two days, and I admit he has me worked up. I have a strong bias in favor of fairness and integrity on the part of scholars. So people like John "Call Me Juan" Cole frost my ass. To use a terminus technicus from my field.
1.9.2009 12:04am
Elliot123 (mail):
The US swapped around AWACS on NATO patrols to help the UK in the Falklands War. I think Reagan also did some other things which I forget, but perhaps someone else remembers.
1.9.2009 12:05am
Hoosier:
Bruce:
"But Eisenhower and Dulles were afraid this would drive Arab public opinion into the pro-Soviet camp."

Well, also they were ticked off that Israel, France, and Britain started the war without even consulting them.


Absolutely. Ike had some choice words on the subject of Tony Eden during the crisis. Keep in mind that the Suez Crisis, the Hungarian Invasion, and the US presidential election were all happening at the same time, and one understands why Ike might have been a bit frustrated.

NATO was seriously bruised by this event. Adenauer and the Italians worked hard, and effectively, to put things back together.
1.9.2009 12:07am
Hoosier:
(Please note that I am in Indiana, and so the latter is pronounced EYE-talians. Just in case there was any confusion.)
1.9.2009 12:10am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Passing By, if you read the context in Cole's post, he is clearly referring to a military victory, not a political one. Either that, or his writing is horribly unclear. And Greenwald is the one who insulted me (calling me an "Israel-obsessive" and "childish", among other things). As for Cole, you can search my previous posts on this blog to see why I find him especially irksome.

Soronel, Israel has a small population, and thus a small standing army, and a small geography. In those circumstances, civilian settlements provided barriers to advancing armies providing the military time to call up reserves. That is also why Israel put settlments in northern Gaza. I don't know how militarily obsolete this strategy is, or was at the time, but Israel certainly believed in it.
1.9.2009 12:10am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't know enough about it, but did the Suez fiasco help persuade De Gualle that France would be better off without Nato, and the implicit control of the U.S.?

I've always thought of Suez as one of the great foreign policy blunders of the second half of the 20th century. The U.S. had the opportunity to dispose of Nasser without getting its hands dirty, and also to allow France and Britain to reassert some military muscle, reducing the burden on the U.S. Instead, the U.S. decided it wanted to be in charge, good for the power of our politicians, not so good for everyone else.
1.9.2009 12:13am
Hoosier:
"As for Cole, you can search my previous posts on this blog to see why I find him especially irksome."

I find him worse than irksome, for a few reason. But perhaps more than anything, it is his two-faced approach to commentary.

On The News Hour and the other shows, he is the soul of moderation and even-handed analysis. On his blog, he's a dishonest anti-Israeli crank. Why the secret alter-ego? Is he some sort of superhero?
1.9.2009 12:13am
Hoosier:
DavidBernstein
I don't know enough about it, but did the Suez fiasco help persuade De Gualle that France would be better off without Nato, and the implicit control of the U.S.?

Indeed. NATO constrained the independence of foreign policy among all of its members, including the US (when it came to European policies and relations with Moscow). DeGaulle knew that France could gain freedom of action while still remaining under US protection. Nice work if you can get it.

Until 1957, the French right had been largely CD, which meant, by definition, "European." Think Schumann. It lurched nationalist after with the triumph of Gaullism, and is still largely there today.

The British right, on the other hand, became so darned nice after '56. Macmillan was an Atlanticist. And a total push-over. (Just ask Khrushchev.)

(Can I get student editors on some journal to revise the above into an article?)
1.9.2009 12:20am
Jonathan Rubinstein (mail) (www):
It is difficult to exaggerate the nasty role of the Soviet Union but suspicion of the Soviets had nothing to do with Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Despite the ridiculously casual way the fool Dayan gave away Jerusalem the more thoughtful Israeli leaders understood several things: while Arabs had an absolute right to live in Palestine, they had no right to sovereignty. They had a right to be there which was equal to that of the Jews but the West Bank as it came be known only after 1967 was part of the Mandate. While few Israelis thought that the entire mandate would return to the table, Jordan was now Jordan, these people were intent on securing a lodgement in the West Bank commensurate with the security of what had developed as the new Israel -- essentially a settlement in the coastal region which the Turks and Arabs sold them believing they would quickly succumb to the malaria which had decimate the population, a malaria caused by swamps created as the Turks decimated the Judean hill forests for naval timber that the English and Venetians kept sending to the bottom. The Allon Plan formulated in 1968 I believe called for extensive Israeli settlements on the hilltops of the Judean hills, settlements on the aquifers under the Hills and complete control of the Jordan Valley. And that is what happened. Religious fanaticism had nothing to do with this. This is what is called securing the land. It is why the idea of a two state solution is not workable. Israel needs to turn to the very demanding and long term task of securing the cooperation of its Arab citizens, something too long postponed. It may take a century, it may fail, but it is a better bet than pursuing ridiculous fantasies about two states with corrupt murderers who were nurtured on Soviet money and Saudi Salafism.
1.9.2009 12:28am
TGGP (mail) (www):
I've heard it said that the reason the Soviets were for Israel in the 40s was that they thought it would give us a tremendous headache later, but that sounds suspiciously U.S-centric.

Conservatives were actually rather pro-Palestianian/Arab back then.

I agree about Suez, on isolationist grounds. If people on the other side of the ocean want to blow up the Middle East, that's their business.
1.9.2009 12:28am
John Moore (www):
An excellent reminder of the complexities of the history of the conflict.

Sharon explained how the settlements in the West Bank provided Israel the ability to interdict hostile activity in the area, when needed.

The "religious extremists" who settle there are a part of Israeli politics, but ultimately, defense in depth is the issue.

I am always amazed when people call for Israel to withdraw the settlements. In the cases where the settlements did not involve confiscation of the land, the Jews have as much right to live there as anyone else.

But somehow, in this modern world which supposedly condemns "ethnic cleansing," Jews are an exception. Many liberals and other deluded folks think the Israelis are trespassing by living on the West Bank. If they had there way, there would be now Jews in the "occupied territories." Rather disproportionate (and, I suppose, off the subject).
1.9.2009 1:02am
LTEC (mail) (www):
A few questions.

1) Stalin supported the creation of Israel. When exactly did the Soviet Union reverse its position? Was it under Stalin or Khrushchev?

2) When and why did the Left become anti-Israel and begin supporting Islamic terrorism and Islamic nationalism?

3) Are the above two questions related? Is it actually possible that the reason Noam Chomsky is anti-Israel today, is because Josef Stalin woke up one morning 60 years ago with a bad back and blamed his Jewish doctor?
1.9.2009 1:41am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I see the history of the Middle East a little differently. If Soviet backing was the biggest factor, I don't think we would have seen the intifada as a whole at all. After all, the big factor there was the fact that Egypt relinquished all claims over Gaza as part of the peace deal with Begin. This happened in Carter's day. In essence, though Egypt's claims over Gaza had been custodial, pending the development of a Palestinian State, so Egypt's withdrawal lead to a sense that the only way forward was resistance.

The Oslo process also occurred because Jordan was willing to cede all its claims to the West Bank and declare peace with Israel.

The problem though is that the Oslo process was deeply flawed. Israel was paranoid of an army on their borders, so the PA was left with no official army, leaving political parties like Fatah and Hamas to fill that role. All of the main political parties in the PA have armies and/or terrorist organizations attached to them. Israel's approach to negotiating with the political parties has been a dramatic failure.

What is absolutely necessary at this junction is for two shifts to occur:

1) The PA needs a sizeable, well armed, and well trained army, and they need to agree that NO other armies will be tolerated, and the PA has a responsibility to control such armies since it would have the means to do so (it does not currently under Oslo).

2) Israel needs to start negotiating only with the PA and its elected officials. No more negotiating with one party of another.

In short Oslo needs some major adjustments.
1.9.2009 1:55am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Moore,

I would have no problem with Israel settling the land if the actually claimed ownership over it and dominion over the people living there. The problem arises because they want dominion over only part of the population while not making a permanent formal claim to the land.

Which I do see as the eventual solution, 75 or 100 years from now, a one-state non-Jewish nation. Not through outright war but demographics.
1.9.2009 1:59am
Milhouse (www):

In the cases where the settlements did not involve confiscation of the land, the Jews have as much right to live there as anyone else.

That would be all of them. AFAIK all of the Jewish residents of the "territories" live either on land they legitimately own (or by permission of the legitimate owner), or on public land that they homesteaded, with or without the government's cooperation. The only "confiscation" of Arab land in the territories has been land legitimately taken by the government for genuine public use, mostly for roads and military bases, and in all such cases the owners have received just compensation.
1.9.2009 2:05am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
My replies to Hoosier:

Before we reach 200 comments on this thread, a question. And it is meant quite seriously.

The objection that I've been hearing re: the Israeli use of force is that it it "disproportionate."

Fine. Accepting proportionality as the standard, what would the media and academia say if Israel responded to Hamas attacks from Gaza by lobbing poorly made missiles in the direction of Gaza City?


I think there are two issues here. The first is that the suffering of the Gazans is certainly disproportionate compared to any gains Israel expects to win from this little conflict. I don't think this was a foregone conclusion with air raids, but with the ground forces in, it has become that way, particularly with interfering with medical care from the ICRC and related organizations.

I personally think that if Israel had a plan for a lasting peace and sold even the idea that this operation would get everyone there, the media might be a lot less critical.
1.9.2009 2:09am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Milhouse:

The only "confiscation" of Arab land in the territories has been land legitimately taken by the government for genuine public use, mostly for roads and military bases, and in all such cases the owners have received just compensation.

Only if you accept that Israel owns the title to the West Bank and Gaza. Otherwise the settlements outside the 67 borders are on land confiscated by Israel from Arabs collective rights to it.
1.9.2009 2:10am
eyesay:
Jonathan Rubinstein: You have a number of opinions that I don't necessarily share and may be unsupported by the evidence, but I'll focus on this: you say that a two-state solution is not workable, but over time (a century!) Israel needs to secure the cooperation of its Arab citizens. This is a strange comment given that (1) Israel is a democracy with universal citizen suffrage; (2) Arab citizens of Israel elect Arab MKs; (3) a one-state solution means full annexation of the territories; (4) Arabs have larger families and demographic projections show an Arab majority within Greater Israel in a few years; (5) it would only be "worse" a century from now.

You may consider a two-state solution unrealistic right now, but at least it's possible in principle. A one-state Israel as a Jewish state with democratic government, annexing the territories as you seem to propose, is not possible even in principle.

Surely you don't propose continuing the occupation forever?!
1.9.2009 2:11am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
However, the fundamental problem is that, aside from immediate current events, we really need to stop worrying about who should be blamed, and worry instead who we should ask to be responsible.

Israel is the strongest party in the conflict. They need to be responsible about peace. They simply have more control over the dynamics of the conflict than anyone else.

If we want the Palestinians to be responsible, we need to strengthen the PA so it CAN be responsible. This means it needs a real army.
1.9.2009 2:14am
Soronel Haetir (mail):

That would be all of them. AFAIK all of the Jewish residents of the "territories" live either on land they legitimately own (or by permission of the legitimate
owner), or on public land that they homesteaded, with or without the government's cooperation. The only "confiscation" of Arab land in the territories
has been land legitimately taken by the government for genuine public use, mostly for roads and military bases, and in all such cases the owners have received
just compensation.



I would say this statement is in question because the territory in question does not have an accepted government. Roads, rights-of-way and general fracturing of land claims would seem to be major issues raised by piecemeal annexation of occupied land. Which leads back to my question to DB above. How are armed outposts of 20 to 200 people meant to provide a buffer against an invading army, especially armies whose stated goal is to kill and not conquer?

Piecemeal annexation appears to me much more a tactic to absorb land without admitting what you are doing.
1.9.2009 2:14am
eyesay:
John Moore:
In the cases where the settlements did not involve confiscation of the land, the Jews have as much right to live there as anyone else.
Well, some of the settlements did and do involve confiscation of land, including Israeli court decisions that often (if not almost always) find some "defect" in the papers and title held by the Palestinian inhabitants. Israel bulldozes olive trees that Arabs have tended for more than the lifetime of any living person, as a prelude to re-drawing lines. Is this not confiscation of land?

As a second point, Israel wants to deny the Palestinians a "right to return" to their pre-1948 homes — understandably so. If this principle stands, and Israel has a right to limit the number of non-Jews coming to live in its state, by symmetry, shouldn't an eventual Palestinian state have a right to limit the number of non-Palestinians living in its state, and aren't the settlements an obstacle to the goal of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel?
1.9.2009 2:22am
luagha:
Whenever someone mentions 'olive trees' with respect to the Palestinians, that's how you know it's made up.
1.9.2009 3:52am
man from mars:
Has the tone of international opinion vis-a-vis Israel ever been as negative towards Israel previously?
1.9.2009 4:22am
Hoosier:
einhverfr
"but with the ground forces in, it has become that way,"

Israel sends ground forces in as an alternative to simply eradicating the the "problem" with absolutely massive air and artillery attacks. Which it is perfectly capable of doing. Instead, they put IDF soldiers at risk rather than inflict that sort of devastation. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why so many people don't grasp this.

Consider what, say, the Russians would do in such a situation. Hell, think of that the Russians do do in such situations.

(Heh-heh. I said do-do.)

In addition, I'd still like an answer to my original question.
1.9.2009 6:39am
Hoosier:
However, the fundamental problem is that, aside from immediate current events, we really need to stop worrying about who should be blamed, and worry instead who we should ask to be responsible.


Which is not the Palestinians in you book?

Why in God's name should Israelis—or those of us who would like to see Israelis survive—accept that sort of formulation?
1.9.2009 6:42am
Hoosier:
Israel gave as much as can ever be expected at Camp David/Taba. This wasn't enough for Fatah. So I feel safe in assuming that Hamas can't be expected to settle for anything less than the end of Israel. Meanwhile, the PA is not in a position to settle for anything at all right now. And it is not within Israel's power to correct this problem.

Enough of my thread-jacking. If others cannot see this, I am sure that I cannot convince them.

I'll leave you all with this: Kate Beckinsale is totally hot. Now is that ever off topic in any circumstance?

Pip-pip!
1.9.2009 7:04am
David Warner:
The USSR lost the Cold War. The Comintern/KGB tied, and may be nosing ahead.
1.9.2009 7:18am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Here's an interesting, related example to the first paragraph in the OP--a lengthy blog post on how conservative intellectuals moved from a an initial pro-Arab to a progressively more pro-Israel stance, that fails to even raise the rather obvious notion that conservatives were naturally attracted to a country that the USSR treated as an enemy, and naturally repelled by Arab forces like Nasser's Egypt and Arafat's PLO that were in the Soviet sphere of influence.
1.9.2009 8:10am
Hannibal Lector:
One aspect of Soviet influence on problems in the middle east that has not been mentioned is that these policies created an enormous reservoir of Russian and eastern European Jews who fled to Israel in large numbers as soon as the Soviet empire began to collapse. It is my understanding that the needs of these new immigrants for Lebensraum was one major reason for the expansion of Israeli settlements in disputed territories. It is also my understanding that a large segment of these east European migrants to Israel form a significant amount of the support for the more radical right-wing parties in Israel.
1.9.2009 8:24am
Lurker:
I'd like to note that in the standing international law, there exists a wide consensus (The Rome Statute of the Int. Criminal Court) that settling occupied territories with civilians of the occupying power is a war crime. All settlements in West Bank are results of illegal acts. As such, the inhabitants of the illegal settlements cannot hold any better right to the settlements than the Israeli government, which does not have the authority to found them.

Naturally, Israel is not member of the ICC. However, there will come a day when the UN Security Council agrees to give the ICC the authority to investigate the crimes committed by all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (This should result in most of the members of the leadership of both parties ending up in jail.)
1.9.2009 8:49am
Katl L (mail):
"Naturally, Israel is not member of the ICC. However, there will come a day when the UN Security Council agrees to give the ICC the authority to investigate the crimes committed by all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (This should result in most of the members of the leadership of both parties ending up in jail.)"

Yeah, like in Darfur , where the EU didnt allowed the indictment to be served
Or like Yugoslavia, or Rwanda or Kashemira or Sri lanka o the Congo
1.9.2009 9:28am
Ariel:
einhverfer,

After all, the big factor there was the fact that Egypt relinquished all claims over Gaza as part of the peace deal with Begin.

That's actually not the way that it happened. Neither side wanted to keep Gaza. Egypt was well aware of how radical the Gaza population was and did not want them having an easier time linking up with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. (The Muslim Brotherhood is the sister organization of Hamas and the ideological brother of Al Qaeda.)

Israel did not want Gaza either. Negotiations nearly broke down over the fact that neither side wanted it. A little bit of American pressure was required to force Israel to take it.

In essence, though Egypt's claims over Gaza had been custodial, pending the development of a Palestinian State, so Egypt's withdrawal lead to a sense that the only way forward was resistance.

The first part of this sentence is a fantasy. While Egypt controlled Gaza, it did not do so in a custodial manner. There was no UN mandate for Egypt to hold Gaza for the Palestinians. Egypt had no intention of handing over the territories - until it realized, after the war, that Israel had taken them and would have to deal with the crazies.

The Oslo process also occurred because Jordan was willing to cede all its claims to the West Bank and declare peace with Israel.

There's a problem of timing here. Jordan did not declare peace with Israel until well after the Oslo process started.

Further, note the conflict between what you've written here about Jordan ceding claims while Egypt, in what you wrote above, was holding it in custody. The Jordan statement is the accurate one.

The PA needs a sizeable, well armed, and well trained army, and they need to agree that NO other armies will be tolerated, and the PA has a responsibility to control such armies since it would have the means to do so (it does not currently under Oslo).

Another fantasy. You can look up the numbers, but the PA has under its control the highest number of police per capita in the world. It is, quite literally, a police state. The police there are not armed with 9 mm, btw, but often have weapons that we would consider military (AK-47s, say).

Only if you accept that Israel owns the title to the West Bank and Gaza. Otherwise the settlements outside the 67 borders are on land confiscated by Israel from Arabs collective rights to it.

This is a very strange notion. In the previous comment, you talk about Jordan ceding its claims. You also talk about Egypt having a custodial position. Finally, you create a third set of rights, a sort of residual right to the land, a collective right to land that was lost when parties start a war, but that is associated based on ethnicity, not based on nationality or previous ownership.

Do the Druze also have these collective rights to the land? Just curious. Should we go back a little in history, to the Arabs taking the land from the Crusaders and create a Christian collective right? I think you know where this is going.

Israel is the strongest party in the conflict. They need to be responsible about peace. They simply have more control over the dynamics of the conflict than anyone else.

It only takes one party to make war. And that can be either the stronger or the weaker party. It takes two to make peace. Israel has made mighty efforts for peace, as evidenced by absorbing literally thousands of rockets before firing back. There is literally not another country in the world that turns its cheek like that.

If we want the Palestinians to be responsible, we need to strengthen the PA so it CAN be responsible. This means it needs a real army.

First, see the police point above. Second, there is a question of willingness and ability. You suppose, without evidence, that the problem is one of ability. I'd state that it's a question of willingness. You can listen to what the PA controlled muezzins say on Friday prayers, watch their TV stations, and read their educational textbooks, all thanks to MEMRI and others. If you actually put in this effort, you can see that, without even considering an army, the PA is not preparing its populace for peace, but for war. The problem is willingness.
1.9.2009 9:33am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Ariel:


Unless I am mistaken, aren't those police forces you speak of highly factional in nature, with as many grudges between themselves as with Israel? While I question the ability of the PA to create any homogenized force, be it police or military I also recognize that without such cohesiveness any attempt at peace is doomed.
1.9.2009 9:46am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
I'm not sure what the point is here. Don't be so hard on Israel, because the Soviets were so bad? Okay, but the Soviets aren't around anymore, so I can see why nobody is really spending that much time talking about them.

Anyway, I'm more interested in the apologists for Israel to offer their latest defenses for this.
1.9.2009 9:57am
Ariel:
Soronel Haetir,

They are highly factional. That was by design, courtesy of Yasser Arafat. He wanted to be the only one who could arrange how things would be, so he set up many parallel, competitive forces.

It is true that that is a problem. It would be better if there was one unified force, in terms of accountability. But all of the forces do report up to Abu Mazen (aka Mahmoud Abbas), particularly the most fearsome ones are well under his control (Force-17 and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades).

That said, for the point I am making, it doesn't matter. My point is that: (1) ability is there; however (2) willingness is not, so even if ability were there, it wouldn't matter. einhevfr proposes focusing on ability, which I think is putting the cart before the horse (willingness).
1.9.2009 10:00am
cjwynes (mail):
Speaking of Israel and the Cold War, what was the American reaction to those communes alot of Israelis were forming? Were we concerned that a radical left-wing movement would spring up and they would fall under the USSR's influence?
1.9.2009 10:01am
Seamus (mail):
In 1973, by the end of the Yom Kippur War, Israel had crossed the Suez canal, had a huge segment of the Egyptian military surrounded, and was prepared, if necessary, to march on Cairo

Yeah, marching on Cairo would have been a great idea. Taking it would have been even greater. Just like marching on and taking Moscow was for Napoleon.
1.9.2009 10:07am
Seamus (mail):
Well, also they were ticked off that Israel, France, and Britain started the war without even consulting them.

We also used to take seriously the idea that when countries promise, in the United Nations Charter, to refrain except in the case of self-defense) from the use or threat of force in their dealings with other nations, they should keep that promise. It helps keep us on the moral high ground when, e.g., North Korea invades South Korea, Russia invades Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or Afghanistan, Iraq invades Kuwait, etc. (It means we also have to tut-tut when Vietnam invades Cambodia and Tanzania invades Uganda, but that's the price of principle. Of course, since Gulf War II and the 1999 war against Yugoslavia, that principle has become inoperative. It was nice while it lasted.)
1.9.2009 10:16am
luagha:
Xanthippas, the Palestinians has faked such situations in the past in order to lure people in for attempted kidnappings. That means the area isn't secure, and when the area isn't secure, you can't let in the Red Cross.

There's a reason why such tactics are ill-advised.
1.9.2009 10:42am
DavidBernstein (mail):
In 1973, by the end of the Yom Kippur War, Israel had crossed the Suez canal, had a huge segment of the Egyptian military surrounded, and was prepared, if necessary, to march on Cairo

Yeah, marching on Cairo would have been a great idea. Taking it would have been even greater. Just like marching on and taking Moscow was for Napoleon.
Point is, from a military perspective, Israel could have utterly destroyed Egypt's capacity for warmaking, and force it to surrender, rather than simply sign a ceasefire.
1.9.2009 10:42am
Brian Mac:

The objection that I've been hearing re: the Israeli use of force is that it it "disproportionate."

Fine. Accepting proportionality as the standard, what would the media and academia say if Israel responded to Hamas attacks from Gaza by lobbing poorly made missiles in the direction of Gaza City?


Hoosier, when people are talking about proportionality, they're not talking about Israel's actions, but about the consequences of those actions. So seeing as Gaza is pretty built up, I'd imagine that even lobbing poorly made missiles in its direction would lead to a pretty high loss of civilian life, which a lot of people would still think to be out of proportion to the threat posed by Hamas' stockpiles (amongst other things).
1.9.2009 10:50am
Hannibal Lector:

We also used to take seriously the idea that when countries promise, in the United Nations Charter, to refrain except in the case of self-defense) from the use or threat of force in their dealings with other nations, they should keep that promise.
Exactly. And when Nasser forcibly nationalized and militarilly occupied the Suez Canal and began denying use of the canal that was a legitimate causus belli.
1.9.2009 10:53am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Xanthippas, the Palestinians has faked such situations in the past in order to lure people in for attempted kidnappings. That means the area isn't secure, and when the area isn't secure, you can't let in the Red Cross.


That's not really the case here. As the article-which quotes Israelis, in case you're assuming rescue personnel are completely biased-make clear, Israeli forces blocked access to the destroyed homes for days even though they were apparently in control of the area. For what?

Look, I give Israel credit for feeling the need to defend themselves, and acting accordingly. I don't think most Israelis hate the Palestinians and want to exterminate them, but if you think they haven't gone into this conflict with a certain degree of callousness towards Palestinian civilians, you're a moron. Israel has no issue with punishing the Palestinians collectively, and their callousness extends to the point of recklessness in targeting civilians, aid workers and U.N. personnel, and not only failing to respond to the needs of wounded civilians but preventing others from responding as well. If that is not obvious at this point, then you are not paying attention. Such things happen in a bitter and protracted war I guess, but that doesn't ever make it right, justifiable, or understandable in my book.

I would be interested to see if anybody can dig up similar incidents of the U.S. military preventing rescue personnel from reaching wounded civilians in either Iraq or Afghanistan. My guess is that they haven't done such a thing, but I could be wrong.
1.9.2009 11:07am
Seamus (mail):
Exactly. And when Nasser forcibly nationalized and militarilly occupied the Suez Canal and began denying use of the canal that was a legitimate causus belli.

Under international law, states have the right to nationalize property within their borders, so long as they pay just compensation. Egypt was prepared to compensate the shareholders of the Suez Canal Company, and in fact did so between 1956 and (IIRC) 1968. The Suez Canal itself was sovereign Egyptian territory (unlike the Panama Canal before we gave the Zone back to Panama), so there was no casus belli in Egypt's occupation of that land. The British had withdrawn their troops from the Suez Canal Zone by the time of the nationalization, so there was no attack upon British forces that would arguably justify armed resistance.
1.9.2009 11:38am
anon522 (mail):
Xan, quoting B'tselem for an "Israeli" perspective on a war-related matter is like quoting ANSWER for an "American" perspective on the war in Iraq.
1.9.2009 11:41am
anon522 (mail):
We also used to take seriously the idea that when countries promise, in the United Nations Charter, to refrain except in the case of self-defense) from the use or threat of force in their dealings with other nations, they should keep that promise.
And that's why the U.S. DIDN'T send marines to Lebanon in 1958.
1.9.2009 11:43am
Seamus (mail):
Point is, from a military perspective, Israel could have utterly destroyed Egypt's capacity for warmaking, and force it to surrender, rather than simply sign a ceasefire.

Destroying a country's capacity for warmaking doesn't solve all of the invader's problems, as the U.S. found out in Iraq and the Soviet Union found out in Afghanistan. An attempt to occupy the populated areas of Egypt would have been a disaster, but even withdrawing after having smashed the Egyptian military would have been problematic, as it would have left a hostile Egypt on Israel's western border. It's hard to see that such a solution would have been better than what Israel actually did, which was conclude a peace treaty that gave it a quiet border.
1.9.2009 12:05pm
Seamus (mail):
And that's why the U.S. DIDN'T send marines to Lebanon in 1958.

It's not using force or the threat of force in dealings with other nations when you go in at the request of those nations' governments of those nations.
1.9.2009 12:07pm
Seamus (mail):

It's not using force or the threat of force in dealings with other nations when you go in at the request of those nations' governments of those nations.



(Sorry, Department of Redundancy Department at work.)
1.9.2009 12:08pm
Ariel:
Xanthippas,

I'd like to see the Palestinian apologists protesting the rockets, or the Mumbai terrorism. Both are open-and-closed war crimes. World-wide protests against Israel's self-defense (and perhaps over-reaction if your story turns out to be true) elicit more protests than outright war crimes. Why, it's almost like people think less of the Palestinians - they don't want to hold them to the same standard, after all.
1.9.2009 12:51pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel:

I am sorry, but I am with Xanthippas on this one. Perhaps you should look up tu quoque....

Furthermore, if the ICRC and PRCS wants to go into an insecure area and risk being kidnapped in order to rescue survivors, that is their business, and the IDF has no basis preventing this.

My own thinking is that there is an element of collective punishment to the operation. This is found in the following events:

1) Delaying an international team of war surgeons from the ICRC access to Gaza hospitals.

2) Blocking ICRC personnel from the rescue in this case.

3) shutting down the PRCS's ability to respond to most situations fully, rather than properly searching ambulances on an as-needed basis.

I am sorry that I have to say this but the ICRC VERY RARELY makes war crimes allegations against any country, and their claims should not be dismissed so readily.
1.9.2009 1:10pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW, unlike how Prof. Bernstein characterizes the ICRC's statement on unrestricted access, the ICRC has ALWAYS stood by Israel's right to search ambulances, provided it does not result in an unreasonable delay.

I think 4 days is unreasonable by any measure. I am unhappy it took an ICRC press release alleging war crimes to even get access to the site at all......
1.9.2009 1:12pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
One more point on being the good guys. After WWII, Admiral Karl Doenitz was tried for war crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison. One of the allegations was that he ordered subs not to rescue survivors of sunk ships as they had previously done.

Now, the reason for the order, however, has largely been ignored. The fact was that a US B52 was ordered to attack German subs who were involved in such rescue operations. Hence Doenitz's order after the Laconia Incident was that sub commanders should treat their own safety as paramount and NOT involve themselves in rescue operations since these now made them subject to attack.

The tribunal still found him guilty.
1.9.2009 1:16pm
luagha:

Xanthippas, you don't seem to understand war. Similarily, your accusation of 'a certain degree of callousness', and 'recklessness' which while it isn't the worlds harshest allegation, demonstrates it.

Israels' first duty is to its own civilians and its own people. Israel has a minor contractural duty to avoid targeting civilians/aid/UN personnell, respond to the needs of enemy civilians. Included in that contractural duty are things that abrogate those responsibilities.

Booby-trapping your own wounded or faking wounds in order to lure the enemy makes it legally and morally acceptable to take additional care, days even, to ascertain the truth of such things in house to house searches. (A city area is never secure until after house to house searching and sometimes not even then.) Fighting without uniforms and using human shields only makes it worse. Preventing aid working from going in and 1. getting hurt 2. getting kidnapped 3. getting killed and 4. giving aid to the enemy and not the civilians is perfectly acceptable.

America received some bad press for not allowing the Red Cross immediate access to the prisoners (from Afghanistan) taken to Guantanamo Bay. But in actuality, there's a lot of flexibility on the timeframe for giving access to the red cross - it's supposed to be within six months. In recent history, it usually happens within three to nine months, and in the Afghanistan case, it was more like nine months.

As far as 'no issue with collective punishment' you obviously haven't been following the Israeli Supreme Court rulings on collective punishment either.
1.9.2009 1:17pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
the revisionism on settlements is curious. settlements don't make the territories more secure but less, because israel has to deploy troops to defend the settlers rather than focusing on defending israel proper.

this was a cover story. of course israel had designs on greater israel from the start. and they wanted to put facts on the ground to make a later land for peace exchange less likely
1.9.2009 1:18pm
Ariel:
einhverfr,

My point in the post to Xanthippus was the following: by holding Israel to an impossibly high standard and holding the Palestinians to no standard at all, you are dehumanizing the Palestinians. I'd make the same point to you as well.

As to whether four days is too long: I'm not in the military, so I don't know about that. It does seem long to me. But given that Palestinians have used ambulances for weapons and terrorist transport before (also war crimes), why didn't the ICRC complain about that? It's easy to say that the ICRC rarely complains about war crimes - I would guess that is indeed true, as it is for the UN as well.

Rare complains, however, do not mean either (1) truth; or (2) non-selective complaints. And therefore, we run into the same problem. If the ICRC complains of Israeli war crimes by interfering with ambulances, where are the ICRC complaints about Palestinians using ambulances as military jeeps? Does the ICRC really believe so little of the Palestinians that it thinks that they cannot live up to this minimal standard? Should the ICRC really dehumanize the Palestinians so much? Or should the ICRC hold the Palestinians to some standard?
1.9.2009 1:28pm
Brian Mac:

My point in the post to Xanthippus was the following: by holding Israel to an impossibly high standard and holding the Palestinians to no standard at all, you are dehumanizing the Palestinians.

The idea that people should apply the same standards to the democratically elected government of a sovereign state as to Hamas is nonsense on stilts.


I'd like to see the Palestinian apologists protesting the rockets, or the Mumbai terrorism.

But you figure that they won't, because deep down, they just love a bit of terrorism?
1.9.2009 1:44pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"My own thinking is that there is an element of collective punishment to the operation."

Of course there is collective punishment. That has always been the situation with war. Are there any wars where collective punishment has not been a factor? I'm not aware of any. Anyone know?
1.9.2009 2:06pm
Yankev (mail):

Only if you accept that Israel owns the title to the West Bank and Gaza. Otherwise the settlements outside the 67 borders are on land confiscated by Israel from Arabs collective rights to it.
I'm sorry, but you are mistaken. Many of them, such as Gush Etzion, are on the site of Jewish villages that were destroyed by the Arab armies during the 1948 war, built on land that had been purchased from the owners during the Ottoman Empire or the British Mandate. Some of these were rebuilt after 1967 by the children of the pre-1948 owners, who had been evacuated before the Arab attacks. Gush Etzion is one example, but is not unique in this respect.
1.9.2009 2:17pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel:

First, please read this statement carefully.

In particular, see the following sentence:

The ICRC understands the security concerns of the Israeli authorities and has always acknowledged their right to check ambulances, provided it does not unduly delay medical evacuations. [emphasis mine]


While the ICRC does not provide a clear statement on what happened until a full and independent investigation has taken place, I do believe that they have been very clear on the main points of your argument.

At this point, I am suspicious of the IDF's claim about terrorism and ambulances simply because the IDF's actions go well beyond obstructing ambulances. It seems less problematic to me to assert planted evidence as part of a larger campaign than it does to assert widespread use by terrorists of medical infrastructure, especially given the willingness to let ambulances generally be searched by the ICRC and PRCS, and a variety of other anti-PRCS activities on the part of the IDF. For example, preventing ICRC personnel from attending Dr Suleiman's funeral.

A large part of the problem is that, as part of the legacy of Antisemitism, Israel sees everyone else as "the enemy" and this includes the ICRC, the EU (their largest trading partner), etc. If Israel is to survive, this MUST be turned around. Otherwise, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, everyone will become Israel's enemy and the country will be destroyed.
1.9.2009 2:20pm
Ariel:
Brian Mac,

The idea that people should apply the same standards to the democratically elected government of a sovereign state as to Hamas is nonsense on stilts.

According to Jimmy Carter, Hamas was democratically elected. In any case, if what we're talking about are international law norms, norms of human rights and decency, I'm not sure why sub-state actors should not be decent folks. Please do defend that.

But you figure that they won't, because deep down, they just love a bit of terrorism?

Not necessarily. Perhaps they're studiously indifferent to terrorism. Or perhaps, and more likely, they have dehumanized the "brown people" and hold them to a lower standard than the "white people." (Noting, of course, that brown and white are peculiar terms in the Arab war on Israel, where both parties have some claim to being white or brown.)

Witness: (1) the size of the protests against the Mumbai terrorism vs. that against the Israeli action; (2) the number of ICRC protests against Palestinian use of ambulances vs. ICRC protests against Israel; etc. Just using those two comparisons, by not holding the Palestinians to a reasonable standard of decency, by saying they cannot do what is expected for basic human decency, their apologists are dehumanizing them.
1.9.2009 2:31pm
gran habano:
Nice try, Bernstein, but the thread rats have struck again!

On topic, there's a couple (revisionist?) Soviet contributions to point out here.

Soviet backed Syria threatened Jordan, and this is what brought the Jordanians to the "peace" process... not any high mindedness. These ME countries are predators... omnivorous predators. Jordan chose the strong horse.

Sadat "chose peace" because the Israelis threatened to nuke the Aswan High Dam, if he made war on Israel again. This would have destroyed Egyptian civilization, and even the Egyptian thugocrats knew it.

The Soviets built that dam, so in some way, the Egyptian people can thank them for avoiding war, and sparing so many Egyptian lives these last 36 years.
1.9.2009 2:34pm
Ariel:
einhverfr,

RE: The Israeli perception of bias at the ICRC: See the comments of Sommoruga (sp?) regarding how allowing the star of david into the red cross would mean also having to allow the red swastika in.

Also see the number of complaints the ICRC has made about war crimes by the Palestinians for using ambulances.

Also see the fact that Hamas head honchos are hanging out in the hospital.

The linked statement that you've provided indicates that the ICRC condemned Palestinian use of ambulances. So I was wrong about the fact that they never did it, but not about that the proportions. I went to the /Israel and /Palestine pages on the ICRC's site and found three articles that were pro-Israel: articles noting that the ICRC had failed to get access to Shalit (in /Palestine), the same article, another on Shalit, and one more on the Lebanese prisoners (in /Israel). Some of the articles are neutral, but I'd estimate at least 3:1 in favor of the Palestinians. For the same of argument, let's say it's 1:1. Does anyone believe that the balance of war crimes is 1:1? Shouldn't the ICRC be as concerned with Palestinian war crimes as Israeli ones? Or should they routinely dehumanize the Palestinians?
1.9.2009 2:49pm
steveaz (mail):
Remembering Sadat's assassination, I wonder now if the Soviets didn't have a hand in that brazen act.
1.9.2009 2:50pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel:

RE: The Israeli perception of bias at the ICRC: See the comments of Sommoruga (sp?) regarding how allowing the star of david into the red cross would mean also having to allow the red swastika in.


Those facts are a few years out of date. Magen David Adom is a full ICRC and IFRC member these days and has been for a few years.

However, I do find your mention of the swastika interesting because, here in the US, we use the blue snowflake on our ambulances, the outline of which was used by the Nazis as a symbol of their eugenics programs.


Also see the number of complaints the ICRC has made about war crimes by the Palestinians for using ambulances.


In the absence of an full investigation by a neutral third party, the ICRC is right to avoid specific accusations. Are you aware of any investigations done by neutral third parties as to this effect?

The linked statement that you've provided indicates that the ICRC condemned Palestinian use of ambulances.


The ICRC once again said that they are not in a position to comment until they know what exactly happened, but did say that such a use would be condemned. Are you asking them to uncritically accept such accusations from the IDF without full investigation?
1.9.2009 3:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel, one more point:

Does anyone believe that the balance of war crimes is 1:1? Shouldn't the ICRC be as concerned with Palestinian war crimes as Israeli ones? Or should they routinely dehumanize the Palestinians?


Re-read my point about the Laconia Incident in WWII. German subs are attacked while rescuing survivors from a sub attack. German command orders subs to forego any future rescue ops. Tribunal upholds order as illegal.

I personally would highly favor issuing ICC indictments for leaders of terrorist organizations like Hamas. I would favor putting them on trial for war crimes. I would further favor putting IDF commanders who overly interfere with ambulances on trial. At some point it really should come to that.

One note on applying international law to Gaza.... Fighting a non-state entity, or insurrectional entity does not get one off the hook.
1.9.2009 3:09pm
Ariel:
The MDA is a full member, but is the only country which is a full member which is not allowed to use its symbol. Instead, the red star must be put in a red crystal.

Regardless of whether the MDA is a full member, the fact that a former head compared the red star to a red swastika says something about bias, I would think.

Should the ICRC accept IDF investigations without its own investigation? No. If IDF investigations turn up a pattern of war crimes, is the ICRC excused from investigating? IOW, if a war crime happens in the forest and no neutral third party can be bothered to investigate it because it's a Palestinian forest, does it make a sound?

I'm not aware of neutral, 3P investigations. That doesn't mean they didn't occur. But I would be surprised if they did. See my previous points about Palestine being a police state. If the IDF releases videos of terrorists hopping in and out of ambulances with weapons, which they have, there isn't all that much investigating required, is there?
1.9.2009 3:11pm
Brian Mac:

In any case, if what we're talking about are international law norms, norms of human rights and decency, I'm not sure why sub-state actors should not be decent folks. Please do defend that.

I wasn't talking about that international law norms etc., I was trying to make the point that people expect a little more of the Israeli government than they do of a terrorist group, and that that's fairly reasonable.


Perhaps they're studiously indifferent to terrorism. Or perhaps, and more likely, they have dehumanized the "brown people" and hold them to a lower standard than the "white people."...Witness: (1) the size of the protests against the Mumbai terrorism vs. that against the Israeli action; (2) the number of ICRC protests against Palestinian use of ambulances vs. ICRC protests against Israel; etc.

It's just weird to assert that 1) and 2) are evidence, let alone proof, of subliminal racism. Maybe there weren't huge protests against Mumbai because:

a) it's pretty self-evident that most people are against mindlessly and randomly slaughtering civilians; and

b) terrorist organisations aren't thought to be particularly susceptible to public protests.

So it'd be pretty pointless and (maybe more importantly) not very chic or edgy to attend an "anti blowing civilians up" demonstration. The opposite is true when it comes to protests which are critical of Israel. Race seems to have very little to do with it to me.
1.9.2009 3:12pm
Hoosier:
And that's why the U.S. DIDN'T send marines to Lebanon in 1958.

?

The US did send Marines, and army, to Lebanon on 1958.
1.9.2009 3:15pm
Ariel:
Re-read my point about the Laconia Incident in WWII.

Can you draw the parallel more clearly? I don't understand what you're trying to say.

I personally would highly favor issuing ICC indictments for leaders of terrorist organizations like Hamas. I would favor putting them on trial for war crimes. I would further favor putting IDF commanders who overly interfere with ambulances on trial. At some point it really should come to that.

While this may sound like a good idea in the abstract, it ignores the bias of international organizations such as the UN and the ICRC. Somehow, we're supposed to assume the ICC, which has judges from Israel loving countries like the Saudi entity, will be fair to Israel? Just taking a look at the UNGA vote totals and noting the overlap in the UNGA and ICC membership should be enough to dispel any notion that the ICC would be fair in its indictments.

Incidentally, that's also the reason the US is not a member of the ICC. We have better things for our generals to do than to answer to folks in the Hague. Which is what their full time job would become, given the composition.
1.9.2009 3:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Brian Mac:

I would add to your point that, since the ICRC generally complains about war crimes against its own or affiliated personnel, we would probably expect to see similar complaints if Hamas was interfering with Magen David Adom ambulances in the same way. A lot of the perception of bias against Israel on the part of the ICRC comes from this.

Also a note on the Red Crystal symbol. I think the key issue is that if national symbols are allowed, then the swastika would need to be allowed. Why would a "Red Swastika" service not be allowed from, say, India, if that country decided to use the Swastika as their symbol for their medics? After all, the swastika is still in active use by both Buddhists and Hindus.... Certainly this would be less offensive than use of the Nazi emblem of their eugenics program on American ambulances (which we do).

However, one of the big issues is that the other two symbols (the cross and the crescent) are religious symbols, of internationalist religions. This creates a bit of an appearance of a double-standard, but I am not sure it is substantive.
1.9.2009 3:30pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel notes:

While this may sound like a good idea in the abstract, it ignores the bias of international organizations such as the UN and the ICRC.


Let me paraphrase you to see if I get this right "Most of the world hates us therefore we shouldn't care about what the rest of the world thinks." Is that a fair summary?
1.9.2009 3:53pm
Hoosier:
Certainly this would be less offensive than use of the Nazi emblem of their eugenics program on American ambulances (which we do).

Which you do? Why do you do that?

I think the key issue is that if national symbols are allowed, then the swastika would need to be allowed.

Where did you find the Indians who are anxious to use the swastika as a symbol on their ambulances? Sounds to me like you're just making stuff up.
1.9.2009 3:54pm
Hoosier:
Let me paraphrase you to see if I get this right "Most of the world hates us therefore we shouldn't care about what the rest of the world thinks." Is that a fair summary?

Ariel

I have a pretty good response. But it's really sarcastic. Do you want to take this one?
1.9.2009 3:55pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Where did you find the Indians who are anxious to use the swastika as a symbol on their ambulances? Sounds to me like you're just making stuff up.


I didn't say they were. Hence my note of "if" in a hypothetical way. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
1.9.2009 4:03pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
My big complaint though is that the complaints of bias on the part of the ICRC seem more a matter of perception than substance. I hear all these things, but it largely amounts to the ICRC complaints that:

1) National symbols alone should not be recognized as ICRC symbols and

2) ICRC complains when belligerents in the Israel/Palestine conflict interfere with ambulance access beyond mere searches. Since the IDF is the only belligerent that does this, it must mean that the ICRC hates the IDF!
1.9.2009 4:08pm
Ariel:
Hoosier - please feel free. Unfortunately, I have to sign off now, to get ready to eat some Christian babies (for the ICRC) or just make some dinner.
1.9.2009 4:22pm
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (mail):
Eric Raymond (esr) on Gramscian damage:

Call it what you will — various other commentators have favored 'volk-Marxism' or 'postmodern leftism'. I've called it suicidalism. It was designed to paralyze the West against one enemy, but it's now being used against us by another. It is no accident that Osama bin Laden so often sounds like he's reading from back issues of Z magazine, and no accident that both constantly echo the hoariest old cliches of Soviet propaganda in the 1930s and '40s.

Another consequence of Stalin's meme war is that today's left-wing antiwar demonstrators wear kaffiyehs without any sense of how grotesque it is for ostensible Marxists to cuddle up to religious absolutists who want to restore the power relations of the 7th century CE. In Stalin's hands, even Marxism itself was hollowed out to serve as a memetic weapon — it became increasingly nihilist, hatred-focused and destructive. The postmodern left is now defined not by what it's for but by what it's against: classical-liberal individualism, free markets, dead white males, America, and the idea of objective reality itself.
1.9.2009 4:25pm
Hoosier:
to get ready to eat some Christian babies (for the ICRC) or just make some dinner.

Don't do that to me! I haven't had lunch yet, and now you've got me salivating.
1.9.2009 4:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater:

One of the big issues IMO with marxism, the Left, in general, Christianity, and Islam is that they all seek to erase national boundaries, and strip cultures of self-determinism in the name of universal salvation of some sort.

The big problem is that the right isn't much better. They want spread and domination by military power.

I have, however, become a huge fan of Guido von List, and his concept of productive nationalism. von List's ideas were that everyone should be PROUD of his/her heritage, and nationalistic to a certain extent, but that this also demands expecting others to be nationalistic as well. Von List died just before the end of WWI, and the impact of his ideas were distorted by the direction German nationalism then took. One great tragedy is that the work that he put into trying to bolster Jewish nationalism and mysticism in Germany has been forgotten because the Nazis liked a few of his books.

My view on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict is that both the Israelis and Palestinians have an unalienable right to their own national ambitions, and that peace will only occur when both sides can agree on this much. Unfortunately, this will only happen when the right-wings of both demographics start substantive negotiations and recognize this fact, while officially neither one does (unofficially, I think both are more supportive).

However, Israel needs to understand and even demand that a Palestinian state will be as sovereign and strong in controlling its armed forces as Israel is. Palestinians need to expect that Israel will respect their needs for a substantive state. Right now, with the centrists in control ruling over a dysfunctional democracy that wont happen. We need center-right leadership on both sides which substantively means both Hamas and Likud winning the next big elections in both states.
1.9.2009 4:53pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel, re the Laconia Incident.

Doenitz's conviction over the orders stemming from the Laconia Incident basically shows that the mere possibility that attempting or allowing a rescue may subject one to attack does NOT excuse systematically refusing to allow rescue of survivors of a ship sunk at sea.

As a close parallel here, I would argue that the mere possibility that a given ambulance may be faked or hijacked by Hamas does NOT excuse the systematic restriction of ambulances from evacuating wounded, though reasonable measures could be taken to ensure security, such as searching ambulances as needed (which the ICRC has always supported).
1.9.2009 5:11pm
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (mail):
However, Israel needs to understand and even demand that a Palestinian state will be as sovereign and strong in controlling its armed forces as Israel is. Palestinians need to expect that Israel will respect their needs for a substantive state.

IOW, Palestinians need to find a leader in the mold of Ben-Gurion, who can command respect and truly represent the desire of Palestinians to live in peace alongside Israel. Will that leader magically appear, arm in arm with the Tooth Fairy?

For me, I suppose, that deep down I personally don't think that there will ever be such a leader, unless Palestinians can get over the "original sin" of 1948, and I don't think that will happen short of Israel prosecuting a war against them along the lines of Generals Sherman or LeMay. Of course Iran and Syria may choose to fight to the last Palestinian, but as long as they have the spark of a dream of expiating that "original sin" alive, if that hope is not entirely crushed out of them, there will be no peace.

The essay on Gramscian damage interests me in large part because it essentially describes a hollow automaton, which continues to do damage long after its creators have been destroyed.. Has it been hijacked by others, or are those others merely its abandoned agents, serving a discredited master?
1.9.2009 5:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater:

IOW, Palestinians need to find a leader in the mold of Ben-Gurion, who can command respect and truly represent the desire of Palestinians to live in peace alongside Israel.

I would settle for Yitzack Shamir during his days leading LEHI (as a terrorist who sought Nazi support for the Israeli nationalism movement).

However, you largely make my case for me below:

Of course Iran and Syria may choose to fight to the last Palestinian, but as long as they have the spark of a dream of expiating that "original sin" alive, if that hope is not entirely crushed out of them, there will be no peace.


In the absence of a unified Palestinian army under the direct control and command by the Palestinian Authority, it is a matter of what Iran wants to do, right? Syria will get back Golan and probably stop supporting Hizbullah and Hamas attacks on Israel, but the issues with Iran are not so easily addressed.

On the other hand, if the PA has an army, at least it is up to the Palestinian leadership rather than the Iranian leadership, right? The PA army doesn't need to be an offensive threat to Israel, and I am sure Israel can invade with minimal casualties even with a strong PA army, but it provides a control which doesn't exist now.

In the absence of a real PA army, this niche is filled by terrorist groups and armies attached to the political parties. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have armed forces which fill both roles attached to their parties, and Fatah has separate terrorist and army units attached to their party. This means out of three political parties, you have four armies and nobody who controls them all. Hence there is nobody for Israel to negotiate with.

A real, strong, PA army capable of a competent defence of the PA areas against both foreign and domestic threats would be a stabilizing force in the region. We are here today because they don't.
1.9.2009 5:39pm
gran habano:
einhverfr: "A real, strong, PA army capable of a competent defence of the PA areas against both foreign and domestic threats would be a stabilizing force in the region. We are here today because they don't."

Substitute "Lebanon" for "PA" in your above statement, because "we" are in the same situation there. I don't expect either to change any time soon here.

We'll see how Iran responds now, with their money train slowing down. Hizbollah, Hamas, Syria, all their commitments in Iraq..... the mullah checkbook's gotta be gettin' thin these days.

The Saudis told Arafat to spurn the Israel/Clinton offer years ago, and Arafat let loose the bombs. But the Saudis appear to see the Iranian threat now, and Arafat's old gang seems to be putting aside the bombs (for now). Iran eventually has to be disavowed of their nonsense, somehow. 'til then, Hamas and Hizbollah will continue on with their barbarism.
1.9.2009 7:28pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Gran Haberno:

I think if there were no army in Lebanon, the situation would be far worse there too.
1.9.2009 7:48pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Two basic points about Lebanon:

There are only two armies in Lebanon, the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah. Of those, the Lebanese Army is not causing many problems. Compare to four armies in the PA: Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades and Tanzim, where all 4 have caused major headaches for Israel. I think consolidating this down to one official defence force would be a worthwhile goal.

The second point is this, it is more or less universal that terrorism can only flourish where the rule of law does not. A big part of the issue is the lack of rule of law in the Palestinian Territories and that also needs to be addressed.
1.9.2009 7:58pm
gran habano:
What rule of law are you thinking exists in Lebanon? People are blown up in the streets daily in Lebanon. Am I missing something here?

What distinctions are you drawing here between Hizbollah barbarians and Hamas barbarians?
1.9.2009 8:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Gran Habano:

What rule of law are you thinking exists in Lebanon? People are blown up in the streets daily in Lebanon. Am I missing something here?


Why do you think Hizbullah can exist?
1.9.2009 8:25pm
gran habano:
...because they kill anybody who says they can't?
1.9.2009 8:28pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I case it is not clear, I think the development of a PA army is a necessary step but one insufficient by itself. One also needs real transparency in government, much better law enforcement, courts, etc. The obvious power to initiate this process is Israel, but it will involve a full occupation.
1.9.2009 8:29pm
gran habano:
None of that exists in Lebanon, so Israel better plan on occupying that entire country, too (unless you can answer my previous question about the supposed distinction between Hamas and Hizbollah).

Iran is the larger problem here. You missed the point about how Arafat's gang settled down after the Saudis stepped back, Hamas/Hizbollah will do similarly when Iran steps back. Follow the money.
1.9.2009 8:45pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Gran Habano:

Perhaps Nato should occupy Lebanon.... If the stated goal is to build up a viable country, with an Iraq-style nation-building exercise, I will support it.
1.9.2009 9:08pm
Hoosier:
What distinctions are you drawing here between Hizbollah barbarians and Hamas barbarians?

The route by which Iranian money reaches them(?).
1.9.2009 10:45pm
anomdebus (mail):
einhverfr,
Could you link to somewhere that shows the Star of Life as a Nazi organization symbol? I have looked twice w/o success.

Not that I think it matters, the basis of the swastica's current reputation was it relative prominance in the Nazi party. The symbols don't become inherently nazi just because they used it, people would have to be aware of the connection.

By comparison, there were numerous flags for the CSA, but the only one that (most) people associate with it was a naval flag, not even the national flag of the CSA. If you flew the official flag, few would likely be bothered by it.
1.9.2009 10:54pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
anomdebus:

I could be getting the source wrong because I read it in a library book but I believe it was The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology by Nicholas Goodrick-Clark. Unlike other works on the subject I found is works well researched and fairly down-to-earth.
1.10.2009 2:07am
Best-Legal-Aid.com (mail) (www):
Iran has slowly taken the place of the USSR.
1.10.2009 8:56am
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (mail):
Iran has slowly taken the place of the USSR.

I'd say Iran is Brezhnev-era USSR, Al Qaeda is Maoist China...
1.10.2009 5:18pm

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