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100 Responses

  1. Sarah TX
    Sarah TX December 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm |

    I have no comment, besides: Thank you, Fauzia.

  2. Cara
    Cara December 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm |

    *Via this comment I transfer with extreme gratitude to you, Fauzia, jurisdiction over the Feministe Gaza Comment Wars*

    ;)

    Excellent post. Thank you for writing it.

  3. Fatemeh
    Fatemeh December 31, 2008 at 2:29 pm |

    Fauzia, this is a great post: comprehensive, well thought-out, and reasoned. May God keep you, and protect those who are suffering.

  4. gogojojo
    gogojojo December 31, 2008 at 2:32 pm |

    Thanks for the post and the reading list, will definitely be checking them out. Also I have am going to have to look up the documentary it sounds really interesting.

  5. fauzia
    fauzia December 31, 2008 at 2:34 pm |

    Thanks, everyone! It means a lot!

  6. Lala
    Lala December 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm |

    That was very well put forth. Beyond that I don’t know what to say…

  7. Morningstar
    Morningstar December 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm |

    yeah, excellent post fauzia.

    just FYI, i’ve been extremely disturbed by egypt’s handling of this crisis. mubarak’s really sunk to a new low this time.

  8. fauzia
    fauzia December 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    Morningstar,

    I totally agree. Mubarak’s reaction to all of this is appalling. I don’t even know what else to say about it. I want to say nothing surprises me anymore…but…this…is just…ridiculous.

  9. Aaron
    Aaron December 31, 2008 at 3:06 pm |

    Of course, a really remarkably effective way to stop Israel from defending herself would be to stop attacking Israel with rockets. . .

  10. dan
    dan December 31, 2008 at 3:07 pm |

    Excellent post.

    Theres just one thing I don’t understand. How do you sell this to the Israelis themselves? Your points seem logical to me but I know far, far less about this than you and many others do. How do you get a country like Israel to convince its own people of taking, what many might view, as a big gamble when many of them feel they are the aggrieved party?

    Asking people to be the bigger person rarely seems to work. One difference between say the Marshall plan you mentioned and Israel, at least as far as America goes, is that a majority of Americans in 1945 could trace their ancestry back to Europe, seems that is a major motivating factor in this kind of thing. If we cant muster the will to care too much about Rwanda, Dharfur or a hundred others, what will muster the will of America and other nations to invest so much? Is the Middle East just more important politically/economically?

    Minor question; When you say unprecedented use of force, do you meaning only within the framework of Gaza?

  11. Ellen
    Ellen December 31, 2008 at 3:15 pm |

    I told myself yesterday that I wasn’t going to read these posts anymore. I am glad I didn’t listen. THANKS!

  12. Pat
    Pat December 31, 2008 at 3:28 pm |

    I disagree that Israel was using excessive force. They killed relatively few civilians according to the UN especially since Hamas is using them as human shields. If Hamas were not to use schools Israel would not be bombing them.

  13. jake
    jake December 31, 2008 at 3:46 pm |

    The stastistics for those killed in Gaza are little whacked. They don’t count adult civilian men in Gaza. Also, the Israeli government is quick to label civilians they kill as terrorists. Their government are the bigger dogs and knew well in advance exactly what they were doing in this situation. They have complete control of this situation. So yes, the force they used was excessive.

    Obama fully supports the Israeli government as far as I know. Why wouldn’t the U.S in general not stand behind Israel? They tactically represent a good advantage for U.S/Israeli endeavors in the Middle East. Israel is just an attack for the U.S over there.

  14. Renee
    Renee December 31, 2008 at 3:48 pm |

    @Pat seriously look at the difference in the number of deaths and the weapons that are being used by both sides and then tell me again that Israel is not using excessive force.

  15. Rachel
    Rachel December 31, 2008 at 3:50 pm |

    yasher koach, Fauzia – thank you for a thoughtful, nuanced post.

  16. William
    William December 31, 2008 at 3:51 pm |

    Call me a cynic, but I really don’t see much of a solution at all in this conflict. I mean, what you essentially have are two peoples stuck between a pair of governments that are determined to continue killing until the other side is either utterly subjugated or completely destroyed. Both governments has comitted attrocities so grave that they have forfeited any claim on moral justification. How do you break the cycle when two groups of leaders want nothing other than to see eachother slaughtered?

  17. ol cranky
    ol cranky December 31, 2008 at 3:52 pm |

    CNN is reporting that Hamas has told the Russians they are serious in their commitment to establishing a real peace. I’m not sure if I believe them but I think, if Olmert has a working brain, he will friggen seize on the opportunity to go back to pre-six day war borders – this will be Olmert’s way to have any sort of positive legacy.

    Your points seem logical to me but I know far, far less about this than you and many others do. How do you get a country like Israel to convince its own people of taking, what many might view, as a big gamble when many of them feel they are the aggrieved party?

    Dan, I think you’ll find that quite a large percentage of the Israeli population (and much of pro-Zionist American Jewry) do support going back to pre-’67 borders provided there is a real peace to go along with it (that means the UN and others have to not only condemn any threats to Israel’s borders, they have to back it up).

    What would Hamas’ recognition of Israel’s right to exist mean? It would mean that Hamas would almost immediately lose power and legitimacy, and a new, more radical government would take its place. The recognition is almost irrelevant to the peace process at this point, and is implicit in Israel’s military position and the backing of the United States, anyway.

    Fauzia: Sadly, the accuracy of this statement made me chuckle. I remember, ass a teenager, having arguments with some sabras and my own family members who would spit bullets at the sheer mention of Arafat despite my pointing out that compared to others (Hamas, as a matter of fact), he was easier to deal with. I don’t give a fiddler’s fart if Hamas “recognizes” Israel as a country, just as long as they recognize and respect the borders as they would be required to do for any other plot of land that borders their country. Mind you, the reason Israelis and the American Jews who support them don’t trust the peace process is due to the fact you note any sign to not spew hatred and foster terrorism against Israel is considered a weakness on the part of those extremists who chose to stand in as proxy for the Palestinian people. I think this is why the process seems to start to proceed and then fails miserably. The Palestinians have the right to elect a government that endorses terrorism against Israel but Israel’s supporters needs assurances that Israel will be able to retain the right to protect herself when provoked without condemnation.

  18. fauzia
    fauzia December 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm |

    hey friends,

    i promise to respond to some of the comments in a little bit. i’m on cairo time and it’s 11 pm here and there are about fifteen egyptian friends sitting in the other room gobbling food and enjoying drinks and laughter and im literally glued to the screen :)

    @ William: well, i think it has to come from international pressure. global pressure for both sides not just to pretend to sit down…but actually sit down and execute some serious, serious diplomacy. and all the other things i mentioned above.

  19. Jill
    Jill December 31, 2008 at 4:04 pm | *

    Fauzia, you are incredible. This is a great post, and thanks for keeping up with the comments.

    Just an FYI to commenters: These threads have a tendency to get out of hand fast, so we will be deleting any comments that violate the Feministe comment policy (basically, anything racist/sexist/etc; comments that disagree with the post are fine, but they need to be made in good faith and they need to not attack the poster or other commenters). Also please keep in mind that it’s New Year’s Eve, and so most of us are not going to be checking the mod queue all evening. If your comment gets stuck, our apologies — we will get to it as soon as we can, but please be patient.

  20. Hugo
    Hugo December 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm |

    A good and thoughtful post, Fauzia!

    Best thing I’ve read today (and I come from a perspective closest to that of the Zionist Left, like the Meretz Party) is this David Grossman piece. He calls for a ceasefire, international mediation, and says this to his government:

    Therefore, stop. Hold your fire. Try for once to act against the usual response, in contrast to the lethal logic of belligerence. There will always be a chance to start firing again. War, as Barak said about two weeks ago, will not run away. International support for Israel will not be damaged, and will even grow, if we show calculated restraint and invite the international and Arab community to intervene and mediate.

  21. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla December 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm |

    Thank you for this post, Fauzia, and for moving the discussion away from that trollfest the other thread had become.

  22. Matt
    Matt December 31, 2008 at 4:43 pm |

    Fauzia, when Israel evacuated Jewish citizens from the West Bank, it was part of plan that would have soon included the evacuation of a good bit of the West Bank. A particularly strange twist is the amount of criticism leveled at Israel for withdrawing unilaterally rather than negotiating their withdrawal (although they did discuss some matters with the Abbas government). Hamas responded with rockets, and the seige was largely a response to those rockets. In other words, there was a brief period when there was neither settlement or seige of Gaza, which cost Israelis a lot in terms of security.

    I don’t think it should be hard to see why most Israelis now believe that unilateral concession aren’t going to bring peace. The withdrawal from Gaza was not a token concession.

    At this point, I think the major advance needed is for Palestinians to better understand the Zionist narrative. Although there are many Palestinians willing to compromise, there are only a very few who are willing to confer any sort of legitimacy on Israel. Sari Nusseibeh is pretty much alone among Palestinian leaders and intellectuals in that. They don’t have to agree, necessarily, but just to accept that Zionists believe in the morality of Israels existence for some reason other than evil or colonialism or racism.

    Btw, I take exception to Ilan Pappe in your reading list. And most especially the lack of anything on the development of Zionism or the nature of Jewish oppression. It is relevant.

    Given the amount of antisemitism in the previous thread, at least, I would add Jeffrey Herf’s The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during WWII so that people know something about what constitutes antisemitism. I’m afraid people tend to reduce it to certain aspects and ignore the features many Jews find most significant. Also, Shulamit Volkov’s Germans, Jews, and Antisemites which discusses the pattern of rising antisemitism in pre-Nazi Germany. Then some Zionist primary sources to see how they developed a nationalistic Jewish liberation movement in response to a particular view of Jewish oppression.

    You can find online such resources as: Steve Cohen’s “Funny, You don’t look antisemitic” and Why Your Revolution is no Liberation. As well as a short article, With Hitler on the Road to Samara, which covers some of the myths invented by Stalinist propaganda, which led to many deaths and purges in the name of “anti-Zionism”. I can’t manage to link to it, but you can google the title. Those are all really helpful.

  23. The Flash
    The Flash December 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm |

    This was excellent. I don’t agree with a lot of it, but it’s still excellent. The peace process is badly hampered by an unwillingness by most of the Arab world to allow discourse– not just on this subject, but on almost all significant political issues– and I think that if there were more visible moderates willing to take your stance, that there would be an easier sell on Israel’s part to start the Marshall Plan process.

    The point about Hamas being replaced if it moderates is also a big deal. One can recall the reports, from the round of peace negotiations with Barak in 2000, of Arafat saying that if he even slightly compromised demands for the Palestinian right of return– effectively forcing a one-state solution instead of a two-state solution– he would be killed. Is there a path to permitting Palestinians to say that they’re willing to compromise on a permanent basis?

  24. Mireille
    Mireille December 31, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

    I don’t have much to add, except this… For all the times I’ve read people say “Imagine so-and-so was firing rockets at us, we sure would have a right to retaliate!” my response is this… Imagine so-and-so rounded up 1-1/2 million of your people, forced them on to a sliver of land, disallowed free movement, made it impossible to earn a living and blocked necessary supplies from you… How would you expect to react? And suppose no matter what you did, how meek and compliant you were, there were a few idiots that kept firing rockets no matter what, and that was used over and over again as an excuse to use overwhelming military force against every single person settled on your densely populated sliver of land… Would that make you want to stop the rocket fire, or increase it? I’m just asking, would this set you on a path to peace?

  25. Pat
    Pat December 31, 2008 at 5:25 pm |

    @Renee Look at what Hamas does (firing randomly) and Israel does (striking important buildings) and tell me that Israel is not holding back where Hamas is looking to kill any one they can. So you are saying an eye for an eye? Hamas killed one so Israel should kill just one? Or should they take out the Hamas organization and save many more lives?

  26. Blue
    Blue December 31, 2008 at 5:59 pm |

    Pat, your characterization is completely unrealistic. The numbers are something in the neighborhood of 100 Palestinians dead for every 1 dead Israeli.

    The weapons are rickety, out-of-date rockets vs. nuclear capability.

    Your reactions are assuming some semblance of a power balance when there is no power balance whatsoever.

    And your suggestion that Renee is pushing “eye-for-an-eye” is disingenuous considering you seem to be pushing “one-hundred-Palestinian-eyes-for-one-Israeli-eye”

  27. Renee
    Renee December 31, 2008 at 6:14 pm |

    @Pat
    It could never be an eye for an eye because Hamas does not have the same kind of weaponry that Israel does. I find you unwillingness to recognize the disparity in power disturbing. As terrible as the death of any innocent is retaliating 100x fold is wrong. Let us not forget the cruel living conditions of the Palestinians before this latest assault started. Israel has been strangling the West Bank and Gaza. It is inhumane. Its horrible treatment of the Palestinians has been decried by the United Nations. Let’s not pretend for one minute that Israel is innocent.

  28. ol cranky
    ol cranky December 31, 2008 at 6:39 pm |

    Imagine so-and-so rounded up 1-1/2 million of your people, forced them on to a sliver of land, disallowed free movement, made it impossible to earn a living and blocked necessary supplies from you

    @Mireille the Arab League is/was as complicit in this as the Zionists are/were

  29. Ravenmn
    Ravenmn December 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm |

    William wrote: How do you break the cycle when two groups of leaders want nothing other than to see each other slaughtered?

    Simple. Ignore the leaders and work directly with each other. That’s the only way true change comes about. The so-called leaders have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the new realities created by people on the ground. As it has always been so it always will be.

    The Flash wrote: “The peace process is badly hampered by an unwillingness by most of the Arab world to allow discourse” Did you not notice this thread was written by an Arab woman speaking to us from an Arab nation? Why isn’t she included in your “Arab world”.

    Fauzia wrote: “It means building schools and hospitals, roads and water processing plants, creating job opportunities for the Territories’ residents. It means opening trade with Israel.”

    Absolutely second and third this. People helping people makes all the difference.

  30. Mireille
    Mireille December 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm |

    ol cranky – OK, so they are as much to blame, but the Arab League is not currently bombing Gaza. I don’t see how launching a full scale assault is going to help Israel in winning hearts or minds. It’s going to come down to concessions or extermination. This does exactly nothing to remove Hamas from power or support. And considering that the rockets are flying into Israel and not Arab Leagues countries, perhaps it would behoove Israel to start thinking outside the box.

  31. Kristen R
    Kristen R December 31, 2008 at 7:13 pm |

    Thank you for the rare clear, level-headed take on this issue.

  32. jake
    jake December 31, 2008 at 8:12 pm |

    ol cranky: @Mireille the Arab League is/was as complicit in this as the Zionists are/were

    Where is this so? The Israeli government was one that mainly closed Gaza crossings, trying to destroy any chance of humanitarian aid to the people there. At times, they even switched off their power to 1.5 million Gaza residents. And now these people are extremely impoverished and a lot of families are forced to subsist on grass. I think the Israeli government was the main perpetrator in this instance.

  33. Pat
    Pat December 31, 2008 at 8:35 pm |

    @Renee No, because one is killing citizens while the other is killing terrorists (Hamas). Israel is NOT trying to kill civilians, unlike Hamas, only stop their own from dying and as such it is not disproportional. The fact that people must die is sad but the fact remains that Israel must protect itself. All they want is to stop the rockets from landing in Israel. Hamas should not hide in schools but they want to use innocent people as pawns in the media.

    The embargo is wrong but using violence to fight it is not a solution and Israel must protect itself and her citizens. I believe the embargo should be lifted.

  34. cats
    cats December 31, 2008 at 10:01 pm |

    Thank you, Fauzia. I’ve read very little about Gaza with this measure of compassion on either side.

    Thank you for the resources, as well.

  35. Howie
    Howie December 31, 2008 at 10:37 pm |

    I’m not t all clear how you can say that Hamas was elected for its social programs and then go on to say: “What would Hamas’ recognition of Israel’s right to exist mean? It would mean that Hamas would almost immediately lose power and legitimacy, and a new, more radical government would take its place.”

  36. sad
    sad December 31, 2008 at 11:28 pm |

    What you ignore in this post is that what you recommend was tried in gaza. The Israeli settlers – you know, the crazy settlers – left behind all their equipement from the greenhouse industry so that the palestinians could re-start these businesses (and the settlers who left gaza were doing a great business w/ vegetables grown in these greenhouses w/ Europe and israel). The first thing the Palestinians did when they got Gaza was destroy all this expensive equipement that the israelis left. (Then they voted in Hamas, and started lobbing rockets). The intention was that Gaza would be the next Singapore, the US and the European Union were going to pour all this money into Gaza, and they did start with this!
    The blockade of Gaza only happened because Hamas was smuggling weapons rather than gettting to work on the economic development projects the world wsa offering them. YOu say open the borders yet Israelis expect w/ good reason suicide bombers to enter immediately if they do that. They should accept that risk, when the Palestinians have indicated no interest in turning to econmic development or no ability to do so when repeatedly given the chance?

    Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? The Palestinian Mandela? I think if he shows up he is shot immediatedly.

    thougt experiement: Transfer the population of Singapore to Gaza and the Gazan population to Singapore. Gaza would prosper and Singapore would be a hellhole, because the problem is the culture, and THEY need to fix it, no one can fix it for them.

    The problem is not that Israel is not willing, or that the international community is not willing to develop Gaza. The problem is the mentality that puts war w/ Israel ahead of Palestinian’s own interests.

    Your analysis treats Palestinians as children. Hamas doesn’t have to worry that they radicalize Israelis, but Israel has to defend itself ineffectively out of worry that they will radicalize Palestinians. Israel has to risk, risk, risk, and Palestinians have to do nothing except to wait for even more handouts. How about Palestinians actually elect a government that puts their economic development first? Should we not expect that, or is the idea that we are asking Palestinians to act in a mature, adult way which is inherently affair?

    two points: I Have read that economic projects in Jenin are having some effect. Note this is under Abbas not Hamas. We need more of that but it would be done already if more Palestinians were willing. Two: If Gazans see that all that comes from Hamas is violence and death, maybe they willl move towards the JEnin model. But they need to first realize this. Israel can’t realize it for them, nor can the US or the EU. They can only be ready for Palestinians to realize and change on their own.

  37. Skullhunter
    Skullhunter January 1, 2009 at 12:11 am |

    No, because one is killing citizens while the other is killing terrorists (Hamas).

    And how do we know they’re terrorists? Because the IDF says so.

    Same way we know all those people incarcerated in Gitmo are terrorists. Authority says so. Authority doesn’t lie to hold on to its power and control. Authority doesn’t engage in acts requiring plausible deniability. Authority never designates an “other” to be feared by the citizens as a method of maintaining order.

    Plainly put, when the IDF says it’s not trying to kill civilians, it’s distracting from the fact that they still WILL kill civilians if they deem it necessary and they WILL claim those civilians as combatants because they have an out. The enemy engages in asymmetrical warfare, typically does not operate in uniform or with a standard loadout of equipment that can be designated as originating from a specific standing military. So, just as that makes it easy for the enemy to strike and fade, it also makes it easy for the IDF to claim ANY casualty as an enemy. There is nothing about the IDF that marks it out as being too honorable or honest to do so; if anything their past behavior strongly argues that they would indeed do so if for no better reason than self-justification.

  38. Lisa
    Lisa January 1, 2009 at 1:15 am |

    Pat: If Israel is not trying to kill civilians, I guess it’s pretty ironic that they admit to killing at least 62 (assuming you count all of-age men as not-civilians, which is, by the way, insane) in the current conflict to Hamas’ 1.

  39. Mireille
    Mireille January 1, 2009 at 1:37 am |

    Sad, you place a warlike mentality with all Gazans. I’m sorry, I can’t believe that. Are there irrational and violent people in Hamas? In Gaza? Certainly. The people that are not are locked in with these people. Treat people like criminals and they will tend to become criminals. If one analysis treats Gazans like children, yours treats them like a single entity, one monolithic mound of hate. I don’t believe that, either. The blockade may have started after rockets started flying, but before that were enforced border crossings, the seperation wall, etc… It’s a continuous escalation by both sides, and someone, the one with power, the one with SOMETHING left to give up, is going to have to break the cycle.

  40. Stlthy
    Stlthy January 1, 2009 at 5:03 am |

    Thanks so much for the excellent post, Fauzia, and for the book recommendations. It would be such a relief if this were resolved, as the amount of death and destruction being unleashed at the moment is just horrific.

  41. Ariane
    Ariane January 1, 2009 at 5:58 am |

    That’s a great post. Says a lot of what I was trying to say in a frustrated post I wrote and the followup discussion I had with someone.

    @sad, I think a valid criticism of my own position, and possibly that of fauzia is that it is condescending to the Palestinians. My position is based on what I think is a reasonable assumption that when you are struggling for survival on a day to day basis, you don’t have much opportunity to gain the kind of education that allows for the sort of questioning and debate that is going on here. I could be wrong about that, and I am aware it is a flaw in my position.

    But good education and a true involvement in the international community is a luxury Israel does have, allowing the government and its people to truly question the conventional wisdom of attack and counter attack. So I see a moral obligation for them to commit to maintaining the moral high ground in the face of Palestinian bigotry and ignorance for long enough for the Palestinian people to have that luxury too.

    I don’t know how long that might be, even without the complications that exist in the Middle East, emerging nations face an uphill battle to govern themselves effectively. Witness East Timor. Lets face it, lots of old timer nations struggle frequently. It’s a huge ask of Israel, but in the end, it seems the only answer that can eventually work for them. The only other options are ceaseless fighting or the obliteration of Palestine. Cash and weapons rule out the obliteration of Israel.

    I do think an arbiter is an essential part of this process, but I don’t have an obvious candidate. I usually joke that they should send in the Dalai Lama. Someone with real compassion and understanding for both sides at a human level, as well as real political skill is needed. Should be easy to find one of those.

  42. fauzia
    fauzia January 1, 2009 at 6:41 am |

    @William:
    “…I really don’t see much of a solution at all in this conflict. I mean, what you essentially have are two peoples stuck between a pair of governments that are determined to continue killing until the other side is either utterly subjugated or completely destroyed.”

    You’re right. It does seem bleak when you step back. But I honestly believe that both Palestinians and Israelis want peace. I think, though, now, it’s time for the rest of the world to take some serious action. Not just the two countries involved.

    @Howie
    Hamas was elected for their social services. Though, I am sure there were already extremist Palestinians who voted for them too. I think you can say that if Hamas moderated itself, there would be another extremist group ready to take its place because…well…it’s true. There are plenty of extremist off shoots to carry on the torch of “violence only.” I don’t think that there’s any contradiction in the fact that Hamas was elected on social services even though it was an extremist party.

    @sad
    “Your analysis treats Palestinians as children.”

    Well, I certainly hope not. And if that’s the way it came off, I apologize. I initially became interested in the history of this conflict in eighth grade. No one in my family has ever really…”cared”…too much about it. Only enough to read the headlines, but not enough to really take a stance. So I wasn’t brought up in a pro-Palestinian household. just as a preface. Since 8th grade, I’ve gone from extreme left wing, pro-Palestine to what I hope is a slightly more level headed and moderate approach to the conflict. I’ve also watched Palestinians getting pushed further between a rock and a hard place, with their own government with global opinion (especially US opinion and policy) and with the Israeli government. I can understand why they would feel…stuck. Why they might take the gamble on an extremist party even if they just wanted peace. I think every day Palestinians might have a difficult time looking ten years into the future and thinking about the economic viability and their GDP and all the statistics. I think what they worry about, day to day, is surviving. So choosing a party that offers medical services or food, even if that meant taking the violent extremist wing of the party as well, was their only option TO SURVIVE. I’m not treating Palestinians as children. I’m asking the party with the greater resources, the greater military power, the greater wealth to be the bigger person.

  43. fauzia
    fauzia January 1, 2009 at 6:44 am |

    @ Matt

    Thank you for the books on Zionism and the history of the movement. I definitely think it’s an important perspective and narrative to read about if you’re interested in learning more about the conflict. I only took a few Zionism classes in my undergrad experience at NYU, but from my own perspective, I know that it has definitely impacted my view of the conflict in many ways. So, thank you!

  44. fauzia
    fauzia January 1, 2009 at 6:49 am |

    @ sad

    “because the problem is the culture, and THEY need to fix it, no one can fix it for them.”

    …um. well I wouldn’t pin it entirely on the “culture.” I won’t deny that hate is often an indoctrinated mentality, but I know, from personal experience, that it’s not the status quo in the territories. Don’t believe everything you see on TV. I do believe Palestinians have to take responsibility for some of the hatred, I don’t believe they started out that way. Palestinians aren’t INHERENTLY violent people. They aren’t going to wake up tomorrow amidst bombed out buildings and overcrowded refugee camps and start clapping their hands and loving their lives. It’s easy (albeit, not right) to be hateful when you’re living in squalor. And no, that squalor is not just the fault of the Palestinians Authority.

    @Hugo
    Thanks for the article! It was great.

  45. sonia
    sonia January 1, 2009 at 8:52 am |

    Nice post. Just a few points, I wanted to add:

    *I don’t think the US could ever realistically be a “honest”, “un-biased” moderater. I think we should be in the same room because (for many many reasons), we are surely a stakeholder, but not the “broker”. If this was conflict mediation between two individuals then you wouldn’t want the mediator to be someone as incredibly biased as the US (for the right or wrong reasons, leaving that discussion behind.)

    *And leaving aside discussions on “right to defend” and all other chest-thumping rhetoric; does Israel believe that assaulting Gaza will lead to national security (much less peace.) Does it? Really? What chills me is that I don’t think Israel believes this at all.

  46. ol cranky
    ol cranky January 1, 2009 at 9:09 am |

    ol cranky: @Mireille the Arab League is/was as complicit in this as the Zionists are/were

    Where is this so? The Israeli government was one that mainly closed Gaza crossings, trying to destroy any chance of humanitarian aid to the people there. At times, they even switched off their power to 1.5 million Gaza residents. And now these people are extremely impoverished and a lot of families are forced to subsist on grass. I think the Israeli government was the main perpetrator in this instance.

    Jake: go back further in history. Balfour was a two state declaration and it wasn’t the Zionists who turned the Palestinians into pawns, it was the Arab League that supported Jordan when the country annexed that land partitioned for Palestine.

    Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? The Palestinian Mandela? I think if he shows up he is shot immediatedly.

    @sad – I would argue that Mandela was not a political prisoner like Steven Biko who was jailed (and murdered) as a prisoner of conscience or peaceful leaders of a resistance such as Aung San Suu Kyi & Ghandi. Mandela freely admitted to being involved in acts of terrorism that killed civilians and was a legitimate reason for him to be jailed; as matter of fact, his own autobiography reports that he “signed off” the church street bombing in 1983 while he was in prison. Nothing excuses the Apartheid regime(s) but it still bothers me that people ignore inconvenient parts of Mandela’s history, especially since he has never retracted his support for a “by any means necessary” stance which does include terrorism against civilians.

  47. Morningstar
    Morningstar January 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |

    “because the problem is the culture, and THEY need to fix it, no one can fix it for them.”

    in a way you’re right, but you’re absurd singapore/gaza exercise shows just how out of touch you are. it’s the same kind of nonsense racists say about blacks, they look at blacks in ghettos and say it’s due to their own laziness, and their drugs and their rap music. they then try to compare the black experience with the asian experience.”well if asians can succeed here, why can’t blacks?”

    the culture has changed under oppression, generation after generation has been stuck under someone else’s thumb, and now it has adapted into something else. it’s utterly impossible for anyone here to put themselves in one of these groups unless he/she has actually lived through the same experiences. i personally went to a palestinian refugee camp just for a little while and i was horrified with what i saw. and when israeli jets flew overhead, i was terrified, they would hit the sound barrier shattering glass just to screw with people. that sort of stuff isn’t reported here, but just imagine living with that sort of crap everyday for the rest of your lives. and your parents living through it, and their parents. and that is only a taste of what goes on there.

    just a little glance and what they have to go through day in and day out.

  48. Matt
    Matt January 1, 2009 at 12:22 pm |

    A point on the seige: The border was mostly open to aid trucks throughout, with something like 90 trucks of aid going through each day. In fact, a food aid organization recently suspended shipments because it’s warehouses were full. Aid trucks are still going in, at greater rates, and include medical supplies donated by Israel.

    The border was regularly closed in response to rocket attacks and other threats for a few days at a time. Certain types of supplies, as I understand it, were limited even as aid was allowed. Throughout, as a left-Zionist, I’ve found it difficult to support such action; yet, I’ve also found it difficult to condemn such actions knowing that Israel’s only alternative (at least in the short term) was violence of the sort we’re seeing now.

    Once again, the details always prove far more complicated than most source of information are willing to admit. There are asymmetries of every sort, and no measure we can clearly use to draw moral comparisons.

  49. Kai
    Kai January 1, 2009 at 12:41 pm |

    Nicely done, Fauzia.

    Not meaning to derail, but some might be interested in Cynthia McKinney’s report on her attempt to bring 3 tons of medical supplies to Gaza by boat and her call for words and action from president-elect Obama.

    Also, a message from Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun.

  50. Matt
    Matt January 1, 2009 at 1:01 pm |

    Also, I disagree that a more hardline element would necessarily replace Hamas were they to moderate their stance. The image of Hamas among Palestinians is so constantly spun, from all sides, that it’s hard to get a good feel for it. Both Palestinian supporters and Israel supporters have variously tried to play up and play down Hamas’s support among the Palestinians. But there are already more hardline organizations, like Islamic Jihad – they’re less popular. And recall that in the election Hamas won, their platform was one of ending Fatah’s corruption. They completely downplayed the militant rhetoric.

  51. Natalia
    Natalia January 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm |

    Thanks for this post, Fauzia. Gaza is essentially a huge prison. We all know what happens to people in prison, I guess. And I say this as a person who doesn’t sympathize with Hamas.

  52. exholt
    exholt January 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm |

    Transfer the population of Singapore to Gaza and the Gazan population to Singapore. Gaza would prosper and Singapore would be a hellhole, because the problem is the culture, and THEY need to fix it, no one can fix it for them.

    This statement shows a staggering ignorance of the different colonialist, historical, and geopolitical contexts of those two areas.

    Last I checked, Malaysia and Indonesia, two of Singapore’s biggest neighbors, have not been successful in blockading/invading their territory since Singapore gained complete independence in the late 1960′s. Moreover, unless I am mistaken, Gaza does not possess modern military forces with F-15 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, weapons the Singaporean armed forces have had to deter military attacks with access to help from powerful international allies(Britain, US, and Australia) if needed.

  53. William
    William January 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm |

    You’re right. It does seem bleak when you step back. But I honestly believe that both Palestinians and Israelis want peace. I think, though, now, it’s time for the rest of the world to take some serious action. Not just the two countries involved.

    I certainly believe that some Israelis and Palestinians want peace, but I think that both peoples have such rage at the moment that those voices are drowned out by calls for blood. Both governments were democratically elected in contested elections and in both countries the “moderate” position is belligerent and confrontational. As for the international community, I’m not sure what can realistically be done. There is only so much pressure that can be brought to bear and there are quite a few regional and world powers that are either actively opposed to peace or willing to accept it only on certain strategic grounds with a number of strings and caveats. Perhaps I’m a cynic, but I have trouble seeing any hope in the situation. England and Ireland fought a similar war for centuries before peace became possible.

  54. Kristen (The J one)
    Kristen (The J one) January 1, 2009 at 2:42 pm |

    “This statement shows a staggering ignorance of the different colonialist, historical, and geopolitical contexts of those two areas.”

    Not to mention lacking a basic understanding of human nature. People act differently if they have different needs they needs that are not being met. If you live in fear for your life and the lives of your family, you may not sit around all down pondering improvements to the cultural fabric of your people…trying not to die might be a slightly higher priority.

    Its very easy for those of us who live in (most places in) the west where we are relatively safe from someone bombing the shit out of our homes on a daily basis and relatively free from interference of the police as we go about our daily routine, relatively certain when we turn on the tap water will come out, relatively certain when we flip on the switch there will be electricity…

    There may be a great many things that the west should be doing better, but by and large people in the west have more privileges than I can even comprehend.

    Culture isn’t one of those fixed, external things…its created in part by the conditions under which a people live. Just look at how American culture changed after 9-11…we became an angry, vengeful and fearful people…and that was just ONE day.

  55. fauzia
    fauzia January 1, 2009 at 4:28 pm |

    For those of you interested in Mubarak’s response to all of this, Robert Fiske has a great article up at the Independent that sums it up decently. I can’t seem to figure out how to link through the comments so here it is:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-rotten-state-of-egypt-is-too-powerless-and-corrupt-to-act-1220048.html

  56. Howie
    Howie January 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm |

    1. Our son, Eli, suggests that Israel’s response would be disproportionate if it went beyond what is required to get the people in Gaza to stop shelling Israel. So far, obviously, it has not.

    2. Gaza’s rockets are ‘homemade’ in the same sense that cookie and pizza factories make ‘homemade’ cookies and pizza.

    3. Seems to me that Israel is being accused of using more effective rockets than Gaza. Does anyone think that, left alone, Gaza will not use bigger and more deadly rockets?

  57. misstickle
    misstickle January 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm |

    I didn’t read all the comments so sorry if I am repeating anything. I like the Marshal plan and having world involvement in TRULY seeking peace. However, I object to your saying East Jerusalem should be part of Palestine and I particularly object to your use of the term “religious fanatics”.
    Judaism’s MOST holy site is located in E. Jerusalem not it’s third holiest, it’s first and most holiest. It’s not terribly “fanatical” for practicing Jews to object to having their most holy site taken from them. I think for there to truly be peace there needs to be MUTUAL respect.
    Also, if I am reading you correctly you are saying the Marshall plan alone will not work it must be accompanied by the forming of a Palestine. But the two state “solution” still recognizes Israel’s right to exist (in a smaller version and without Judaism’s most holy site) But still it allows at least some existence for Israel. You said if Hamas acknowledged Israel’s existence they would be replaced by a more radical group. What would stop those more radical groups who want ALL of Israel from sabotaging anyone who tries this plan you put forth?

  58. Howie
    Howie January 1, 2009 at 6:30 pm |

    A real-time Blog from Ashkelon by Sigal Arieli: http://ashkelonblog.blogspot.com/

  59. Skullhunter
    Skullhunter January 1, 2009 at 7:11 pm |

    Howie:

    1. I would respectfully suggest that your son does not understand the concept of proportional response. I could stop someone from stealing my car by telling them I’ve called the cops. I can also stop them by shooting them dead on the spot. Both achieve the same goal but one is obviously a disproportionate response. The IDF has people who are trained in infiltration, covert operations, reconnaisance. The Qassam rockets aren’t exactly subtle or quiet and their launch is observable on radar. Instead of leveling the entire block where one came from, you drop a team in after the launch crew. I realize this is armchair general stuff, but wouldn’t it be better to send in a small strike team to get JUST the perpetrators instead of giving Hamas another convenient pile of bodies and rubble to rail over? You get the guys who did it, you send a message that it can and will happen again next time and you don’t indiscriminately kill locals who tend to hold a grudge about that kind of thing.

    2. Gaza’s rockets are homemade in the same way that Gaza’s rockets are homemade. They are basic design unguided artillery rockets that could be turned out in any machine shop not staffed by decerebrated rhesus monkeys. They have no sophisticated avionics, no targeting system outside of the operators pointing them in the general direction they want them to go. They also have a rate of effectiveness that is beyond pathetic, with over 3,000 launched in eight years with just over fifteen casualties. I’d imagine I could probably find a higher rate of traffic fatalities in Israel in that same time period. Their only real value is to terrify and incite, which is indeed working. The Israelis are allowing themselves to be goaded into disproportionate response, which is precisely what Hamas’ more violent actors want.

    3. To get better, you have to pay for better. If they could actually afford better weapons, by your own supposition they’d all ready be using them. Sure, Israel’s enemies want Hamas to keep it up. They just don’t want to bankroll it because it’s money out of their pocket with little return and also a direct line back to them with little ability to deny it. Simply put, nobody in the region is suddenly going to play Missile Claus for them. Hamas itself isn’t going to blow their budget trying to purchase a half-dozen cutting-edge artillery rockets when they can keep cranking out Qassams on the cheap. It wouldn’t make any kind of tactical sense for them. When your enemy has sophisticated radar capable of detecting launches as they happen, you can either counter it by stepping up your own tech (which costs big money) or you can counter it by throwing hundreds of inexpensive and easily produced weapons at them to overwhelm their interdiction system. Expensive weapons systems are for prosperous nation-states. Everybody else works with what they can beg, borrow, steal or build. The idea that somehow Hamas is going to eventually outfit themselves with anything even close to Israel’s current level of military tech is laughable.

  60. dan
    dan January 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm |

    Great resources to be gleaned from this post/comments thanks for that. I have another question. What if Isreal’s elected leadership continually wants to act in this fashion or in any other way that pisses off much of the world? If the people of Israel dont elect people with a different outlook can anything be done? The only country in the Middle East I know a lot about is Iran and their stance is pretty clear. For the rest of the world community is it possible at all that they would ever really truly sanction Isreal? Embargo? Military action?

    I dont see any of that ever happening, especially from Europe. Is that a totally incrorect assumption? If it isnt, how many countries abandon what they think works best if no one forces them to and there isnnt massive change from within?

  61. Mireille
    Mireille January 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm |

    Howie – If the action needed to stop rockets from Gaza is complete eradication of Palestinians in Gaza, then that would still be proportionate? In addition, it is not just better rockets that Israel is using, but the support in money, arms and international clout of the US. If left to their own devices without the US support, I don’t think Israel would have quite the advantage.

  62. sad
    sad January 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm |

    I wrote a long comment that didn’t go thru. So I am giving up but just want to say that I see the responses to my comment revert to discussoin of how Palestianians suffer economically, etc without addressing the main point of WHY they are suffering economically when the US and EU threw so much money at it, when the Israelis left behind industry to be used by Palestinians – and they used the money for weapons and destroyed the greenhouses etc The West and Israel would love gaza to develop economically and prosper and turn to peace, and they keep turning it down in favor of war

    Second, I see folks dont’ distinguish between criticizing a culture and saying palestinians are “inherently” evil etc The latter is racism. The former is not. As a rough analogy (rough because I think the experience of blacks in the US is not really akin to the Palestinian experience, there is much more justice IMO in the sense of black victimization) welfare reform was very effective. The choice is not to say blacks in the inner city are just “lazy” (and the ones in the suburbs magically not lazy?) Rather, we recognized that we were enabling an unhealthy culture in inner city ghettos, of absentee fathers, crime etc and our policies had to be changed, when they were changed, the culture began to change. Blacks are not “doomed” to be on welfare, but we had to change our approach so that we stopped encouraging welfare to be a way of life with all the attendant problems that brings. Similraly, palestinian culture can chane. But we have to stop enabling it by “understanding” that it’s due to their poor economy and sufferieng, when their poor economy and suffering is in fact due to their repeatedly choosing guns over butter.
    If the Israelis dont’ listen to the sort of idesas being propounded here, and they destroy Hamas, that will be a biig gifr for the Palestinians
    There is progress on the West Bank since the Israelis went in in 2002. There will be progress in gaza when palestinians give up on the approach that brought them Hamas

  63. Daniel
    Daniel January 1, 2009 at 8:37 pm |

    “Proportional Response” is the new black.

  64. Tom
    Tom January 1, 2009 at 11:08 pm |

    What I can’t understand about the issue regarding “proportionality” is when is war ever proportionate? We bombed Germany during World War II and killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of German civilians. We did worse to Japan, even before the atomic bomb. We lost less than 600,000 people in WWII, the vast majority being battlefield casualties. Of course, this wasn’t proportionate. Except for Pearl Harbor, the US was never directly attacked, and our civilians were not targeted. But that was only because the Nazis and Japanese imperialists didn’t have the capability. We never doubted their intentions, likewise we have no doubts about Hamas’ intentions. They use crude rockets to kill Jews because that is all that they have. Does anyone here doubt that they would use more powerful weapons if they had them? Proportionality doesn’t fit here. The objective isn’t for Israel to trade one-for-one with Hamas in casualties, the objective is to stop them from killing Jews.

    Likewise, the point has been raised about civilian casualties. I think Fauzia pointed out in the previous post that this was “punishing” the Gaza Palestinians for their “democratic choice”. But that democratic choice was Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction. That’s sort of like saying that the Germans were “punished” for their “democratic choice” in electing Hitler. If they voted for the people who wanted to make war and kill Israelis, they shouldn’t be surprised when the Israelis make war back. They aren’t innocent victims here.

  65. Maggie
    Maggie January 1, 2009 at 11:10 pm |

    Thanks for writing this. While I think what is happening in Gaza is awful and horrifying, so many of the left-leaning articles I’ve read have left me very reactionary and defensive of Israel. As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I grew up with a sense of fear (bordering on obsessive) of anti-semitism and the targeting of Jews. It’s been really difficult to separate these feelings from my perspective on Israel (I’m working on it!), but articles like yours are really helpful because they’re rational, logical, and beautifully written. I do disagree on a couple points, but for now I just wanted to thank you for elevating the discussion.

  66. Amy G
    Amy G January 2, 2009 at 12:19 am |

    I believe in human rights for all human beings regardless of their nationality, political, moral and/or religious beliefs. I think any human loss is a terrible, unfortunate event. Therefore I think we should be concerned not *only* with what is happening in Gaza but also in Israel. All people living in legitimate fear that they or anyone else in their community ‘may be next’ is a terrible reality that BOTH Palestinians and Israelis face. Palestinians certainly have more of a threat but, like I said, please, lets not discount the deaths occurring in Israel. That said, I, personally, do not agree with your premise that the inequality in terms of force is a problem, per se.

    There is no easy solution to the situation (obviously) and though I disagree with some of your opinions I always feel we grow as thinking, concerned individuals interconnected to each other in this world when we read and try to digest opinions different than our own. So thank you for taking the time to write on such a personal and important issue.

  67. Howie
    Howie January 2, 2009 at 12:31 am |

    Gaza Arab Girl Blames Hamas For Family Members’ Death
    by Baruch Gordon
    (IsraelNN.com) A young Arab girl whose family members were killed Sunday in Gaza says in a TV interview, “I say Hamas is the cause of all wars.”
    In a Dec. 29 Al-Aqsa TV interview, the girl told of how she woke in the morning and part of her room had collapsed:
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/129117

  68. Alderson Warm-Fork
    Alderson Warm-Fork January 2, 2009 at 7:56 am |

    I applaud your analysis, Fauzia, but I would suggest that the ‘right to self-defence’ be rejected, not just for Israel but in general. A ‘right’ to kill innocent people because some other people killed some other people who bear a certain relation to you is not a right that makes sense for humans, only for governments.

    I have a fuller discussion in these two posts, if you’re interested:

    http://directionlessbones.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/a-new-understanding-of-just-war-part-1-of-2/

    http://directionlessbones.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/a-new-understanding-of-just-war-part-2-of-2/

  69. Cara
    Cara January 2, 2009 at 10:09 am |

    Godwin-ed at only 64???? Impressive!!!

  70. Howie
    Howie January 2, 2009 at 11:19 am |

    Skullhunter:

    Thank you for referencing my points by number. I was beginning to think it was too much of the engineer in me to number them. And thank you for your thoughtful responses.

    First, I apologize for intellectualizing what is a massive human tragedy on both sides. And a tragedy also in that the events have moved step by step with their own seemingly unstoppable logic towards a horrible conclusion.

    1. Israel tries to follow your suggestion. The IDF has posted a video in which a group of terrorists are seen from the air loading missles onto trucks and then they are bombed directly. See it at: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/129117 That the missles were apparently stored and are being loaded amidst civilians is the Gazan’s choice, not Israel’s. Another video showing the massive secondary explosions from stored explosives after a mosque was bombed is at: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/129117

    And, although Israel seems to me to be doing quite a bit to limit civilian casulaties, e.g., by calling people in targeted buildings and warning them to leave, it seems to me that another name for “expectation of a disproportinate response” is “deterrence”. There seems to me to be quite some value to the Israelis to get a reputation as a bunch of hotheads that shouldn’t be messed with. Nasrallah was quoted as saying that, had he known that Israel’s response would be so massive, he wouldn’t have ordered the kidnapping that triggered the response. And now that I think about it, the entire concept of a ‘trigger’ or ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ is that the result is much greater than that last straw.

    2. Seems to me that Gaza is quite satisfied to point missles to hit civilian areas at random. Recall that Hizballah had more sophisticated missles and aimed them anyway at civilians.

    3. Gaza does have a (hopefully) limited supply of longer-range, more accurate missles, which, as did Hizballah, they have aimed at civilian areas. I suggest that it is not Iran’s miserliness, but the difficulty of getting them through the Israel/Egypt border restrictions that is the limiting step.

    4. And it seems to me that the Israelis do in fact have a strategy: Kill enough Hamas terrorists, especially their leaders, and they will stop — preferring to retain the power to send others to be martyrs in the future than to become martyrs themselves now.

  71. William
    William January 2, 2009 at 11:20 am |

    I could stop someone from stealing my car by telling them I’ve called the cops. I can also stop them by shooting them dead on the spot. Both achieve the same goal but one is obviously a disproportionate response.

    I think that a bad analogy. There are a lot of place in the US (not to mention the rest of the world outside of Europe) where its perfectly legal to use deadly force to protect your property. If I was on a jury and the defendant shot someone who was clearly trying to steal their car, my perception of whether the response was disproportionate would have everything to do with the context and the circumstances not the act of shooting someone itself. Israel’s response is less like shooting someone trying to steal your car than it is like tracking your car on GPS and doing a drive-by on the building its parked in front of.

  72. Morningstar
    Morningstar January 2, 2009 at 11:57 am |

    sad @ 62 -

    saying that crime and gang life is due to poverty isn’t enabling it, it’s stating what needs to be overcome in order to tackle the problem. so to stretch this faulty analogy further, this is why it’s necessary to say that the restrictions imposed on gaza, and the lack of social programs, and israel’s policy of targeted assassinations is what’s aiding radicalism. as long as people are under occupation, the culture will never change for the better, it will always morph into something that will struggle against oppression.

  73. fauzia
    fauzia January 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm |

    Steven Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations makes some really interesting points…especially on why Hamas might have chosen to take the gamble they took on the ceasefire:

    (on Hamas’ radicalism)

    “Their radicalism serves them well in Palestinian politics. The radicalism within Hamas has become attractive to the Palestinians who support Hamas. If Hamas would not be radical, it would be like Fatah, which it does not want to become. I think that what has happened —and it is something we perennially misread about Palestinian politics — is that this is not some sort of suicidal thing, but there was pressure building within the Gaza Strip to do something about the crippling siege that the Israelis had imposed on Gaza. The cease-fire was supposed to allow more goods to enter the Gaza Strip. It happened to some extent, but not as fully as the people there would like. Resistance is a core part of Hamas’ world view. In fact that is the meaning of its name, the Islamic Resistance Movement. This garners support for them among Palestinians.”

    The rest of Cook’s interview is compelling. He makes some great points. You can find it here:

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/18080/assessing_the_gaza_flare_up.html?breadcrumb=%2F

  74. Ladyblog » Blog Archive » Gaza and Feminism

    [...] there a feminist understanding, give or take degree of radicalism, of the conflict in Gaza? Does feminism mean being pro-Palestinian, that is, [...]

  75. Charity
    Charity January 2, 2009 at 2:27 pm |

    It is also incredibly problematic to use “Gaza” and “Hamas” interchangeably, as I see Howie has done. It seems that people project whatever identity onto Gaza (terrorist-free-for-all, or nation-state equivalent to Israel) that best suits their argument but is never actually an accurate characterization.

  76. Howie
    Howie January 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm |

    It is also incredibly problematic to use “Gaza” and “Hamas” interchangeably, as I see Howie has done.

    Charity –

    Not quite, but glad you noticed. The United States and the Republican Party are not the same, but it is the United States, not the Republican Party that waged war against Afghanistan; and, yes, I think that all Americans bear responsibility for the actions of our government. The Civil War was the War Between the States, not the war between the Yankee and Confederate Armies. I used the term ‘terrorists’ in referring to those loading rockets, but, since the population, by their votes and by their tacit approval are enabling the terrorists, I think that the rockets are indeed Gaza’s rockets.

    By the way, whatever they call themselves in English, in Hebrew, ‘chamas’ means ‘violence’; I suspect the meaning is similar in Arabic.

  77. fauzia
    fauzia January 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm |

    Hamas is the acronym for “Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia,” the Islamic Resistance Movement. In English it means “zeal” or “enthusiasm.”

  78. sad
    sad January 2, 2009 at 3:27 pm |

    “This statement shows a staggering ignorance of the different colonialist, historical, and geopolitical contexts of those two areas.

    Last I checked, Malaysia and Indonesia, two of Singapore’s biggest neighbors, have not been successful in blockading/invading their territory since Singapore gained complete independence in the late 1960’s. Moreover, unless I am mistaken, Gaza does not possess modern military forces with F-15 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, weapons the Singaporean armed forces have had to deter military attacks with access to help from powerful international allies(Britain, US, and Australia) if needed.”

    I see a lot of reading comprehension problems in this thread, where folks either do not read what is written, or ignore the main point. What you write here would be (something I disagree with, but) relevant if the question I asked was why Palestine is not Singapore. But that’s not what I asked. I wrote – and you responded to this direct quote -

    “Transfer the population of Singapore to Gaza and the Gazan population to Singapore. Gaza would prosper and Singapore would be a hellhole, because the problem is the culture, and THEY need to fix it, no one can fix it for them.”

    The questions was: if the PEOPLE living in singapore moved to Gaza, under the same conditions that Palestinians now live in Gaza, and the PEOPLE who live in Palestine moved to Singapore, what would happen?? I think that the Palestinian culture – and read this carefully, a culture that I believe can be changed, not something “Inherent” in the Palestinian people – is such, that if they moved without changing their culture, Singapore would look like Gaza, whereas the palestinian terroritories would look like Singapore. The folks living in Singapore have not been conditioned and brainwashed to choose endless war over prosperity and Palestinians have been. That’s why I say the Palestinian culture has to change.

    But even if I’d written what you think I wrote, I think you are quite wrong. Gaza was not blockaded when the Israelis handed it over to the Palestinians in 2005. It was blockaded when they began smuggling weapons and turning to terror. Singapore is not doing that. To your second point, if Gaza would have made use of the greenhouses the Israelis left behind, and made use of the money the West was beginning to pour into Gaza for economic development projects, they’d have begun to prosper, and since Israel wants nothing more than peace with them, they’d be well on the road to a state, they wouldhn’t have to defend themselves from Israel since they’d be peaceful, and they’d have the weapons real states have for legitimate self defense. Nobody is fighting with Singapore because Singapore is engaging in terrorism! Singapore’s weapons are for legitimate purpose. Gaza is getting weapons from Iran and not from the US because Gaza is run by a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of Israel.

    “Not to mention lacking a basic understanding of human nature. People act differently if they have different needs they needs that are not being met. If you live in fear for your life and the lives of your family, you may not sit around all down pondering improvements to the cultural fabric of your people…trying not to die might be a slightly higher priority.”

    Again, will someone please respond to the actual point. Why do they live in fear of their life? Did hte israelis just start attacking out of the blue? They are in fear of their life because they are sponsoring terror. And please don’t say they are sponsoring terror because the are poor, and blockaded – they are poor because they fund terror not the economy, they were offered huge economic development projects and turned to terror instead, they were given millions of dollars of equipment for greenhouses and destoryed it – Isn’t the example of destorying the greenhoues industry the Israelis left behind for them relevant? If you were starving and impoverished, and someone left you expensive equipment and a prospering industy to take over – would you decide, no let me destroy the business and take what money I have and buy weapons?
    This is the future:

    “Gaza Arab Girl Blames Hamas For Family Members’ Death
    by Baruch Gordon
    (IsraelNN.com) A young Arab girl whose family members were killed Sunday in Gaza says in a TV interview, “I say Hamas is the cause of all wars.”
    In a Dec. 29 Al-Aqsa TV interview, the girl told of how she woke in the morning and part of her room had collapsed:”

    This is what will end the “Cycle of violence” – when more Palestinians realize that Hamas and terror has brought them nothing good.

    “saying that crime and gang life is due to poverty isn’t enabling it, it’s stating what needs to be overcome in order to tackle the problem. so to stretch this faulty analogy further, this is why it’s necessary to say that the restrictions imposed on gaza, and the lack of social programs, and israel’s policy of targeted assassinations is what’s aiding radicalism. as long as people are under occupation, the culture will never change for the better, it will always morph into something that will struggle against oppression.”

    They are not under occupation and haven’t been since 2005! The area was evacuated, they were left in peace, no restrictions and they turned to terror. Lack of social programs? Do you have any idea the amount of money the West was prepared to shovel into economic development? Targeted assassinations radicalize and enable terror – really? Do you know what a targeted assassination is? It’s when you target a terrorist and not civilians. Of course sometimes civilians are hurt and killed too. To minimize that Israel has been texting Palestinians and telling them to move out of areas they have to bomb, such as houses storing armaments.

    In one case, the Palestinians who were warned to leave called Hamas, who promptly sent down mothers with babies to stand at the house and dared Israel to bomb.
    The other day a Hamas leader was warned to evacuate civilians. And you DO understand that warning civilians in advance means that Israel loses the advantage of surprise and they only do this to ensure the bombing is actually targeted to terrorists and therir infrastructure and not civilians, right? Welll guess what happened. The guy was warned, he was there with his four wives and all the kids, some twenty odd people, and he didnt let them leave so now we have “collatoral damage” that you can blame on Israel instead of placing blame where it belongs, on Hamas

    While Hamas targets civilians, the Israelis make incredible efforts not to hit civilians, and you say the problem in gaza is “targeted assassinations.”

  79. Matt
    Matt January 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm |

    On Hamas’s radicalism: I think when we talk about Hamas as resistance, we have to ask what they are a resistance to. Hitler, actually (and, no, Cara, you don’t get to call Godwin when the topic involves Jewish history and antisemitism), described WWII as a defensive war started by the Jews. It’s a feature of antisemitism, because it describes a supposedly powerful group of Jews ruling the world, that it’s easy to make inversions like that and difficult for others to read antisemitism even at its most blatant.

    If you read the Hamas Charter, it’s filled with phrases like, “Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde.” That’s not a one-off quote out of context from something written 1,000 years ago (though some people argue that not all factions within Hamas hold to that charter, which is something I don’t claim to be able to evaluate). Things like that -which suggest global genocide as a goal- really should make one question the idea of Hamas as a resistance organization.

  80. Howie
    Howie January 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm |

    Fauzia –

    If you mean by saying that the ‘gamble’ that Hamas took by the ‘quiet’ (never termed a ‘cease fire’ by either side) was the risk of losing prestige to a more radical group, it seems to me that you are saying that the population in Gaza is even more extreme than Hamas. From the little I get from NPR’s interviews, I think and hope that they are not. Seemingly many, perhaps most, want to live their lives in peace and quiet. What I don’t know is whether they are willing to let Israelis have the same peace and quiet without ever achieving Hamas’s stated aims. And, in what way would another group be more extreme than Hamas? Then again, Fatah, whose aims are them same, but with a slightly different methodology, is called ‘moderate’. So, in that sense, I suppose there are increasing degrees of radicalism.

    My proposal would be for Israel to let Gaza keep firing rockets, as long as you are put in charge of Gaza’s educational, radio, and TV facilities.

  81. Blue
    Blue January 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm |

    Fauzia,

    Do you know how Hamas is spelled in Arabic?

    Howie,

    The United States and the Republican Party are not the same, but it is the United States, not the Republican Party that waged war against Afghanistan; and, yes, I think that all Americans bear responsibility for the actions of our government.

    Yet, when Daniel Berg was was beheaded for being an American, the vast majority of Americans did not see it as us having to take responsibility for our government’s actions. The vast majority of Americans (except his family, who blamed our government for starting a war in the first place) wanted revenge.

    You are essentially saying that you expect the Palestinians in Gaza to react in a way that is more forbearing than even people in some of the best global conditions in the world. Your expectation is completely unreasonable as it ignores anything resembling actual context and the real experiences of people who have to live with this.

  82. fauzia
    fauzia January 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm |

    @Blue

    I think it’s spelled ha-meem-alif-seen.

    @Howie

    “If you mean by saying that the ‘gamble’ that Hamas took by the ‘quiet’ (never termed a ‘cease fire’ by either side) was the risk of losing prestige to a more radical group, it seems to me that you are saying that the population in Gaza is even more extreme than Hamas.”

    What I meant was that Hamas was “gambling” on ending a cease fire or “quiet,” in that it would mean a response from Israel (perhaps they weren’t expecting something of this proportion…but a response nevertheless) and gambling on whether the Palestinian people would rally around Hamas or begin to blame them (as we’ve seen with the recent story of the young Palestinian girl). Wow. That sentence was much too long. Sorry about that.

  83. Blue
    Blue January 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm |

    shukran ya fauzia :D

  84. An israeli woman
    An israeli woman January 2, 2009 at 8:34 pm |

    What does this discussion have to with the subject of the blog (feminism)?
    If you want to speak about the situation in the Gaza strip why not ask fauzia to write a report on the status of women in Gaza, for example? Their role in the struggle against the occupaton? That would be the closest you can get to this subject without deviating from the topic of this blog.
    The way it’s done now is simply one sided (proarabic), unprofessional and repelling. Proposing to study the situation from Marwan Barguti who was involved in organization of numerous terroristic acts targeting civilians inside Israel (in simple word making some poor palestinian teenager blow himself up amidst a crowd, causing bloody carnage) is like proposing to study the situation from the point of view of israeli settlers (at the least).
    This blog is (was?) about feminism and I believe it strived to remain on some professional level. Now it has completely gone under
    PS
    I have to point out one thing I found amusing in this (and many other) threads about this topic. The pro-Palestinians have now gone beyond pittying the palestinians themselves and have arrived at pittying the poor palestinian “rickety old” rockets. I wish to hear your opinion on this when one such wretched thing hits your building (assuming you survive)…

  85. Blue
    Blue January 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm |

    @an israeli woman: I believe it’s called “intersectionality.” basic concept in feminist theory. therefore applicable I would imagine. You seem to be making the mistake of assuming that one can be either pro-Palestine or pro-Israel instead of anti-massacre. Also, implying, as you are, that firing home-made rockets in any way justifies retaliation via massive bombardment with some of the most advanced weapons in the world is highly problematic.

    How do you justify a 1 to 100 retaliation ratio of lives lost?

  86. exholt
    exholt January 3, 2009 at 6:48 am |

    @sad 62

    What you have just done is a mistake common among many history and political science undergraduates. In the words of one undergrad professor stated during a class discussion, “Social-science fiction is a poor foundation upon which to base an informed opinion on a given issue, much less a basis for policy.”

  87. Charity
    Charity January 3, 2009 at 10:43 am |

    “Seems to me that Gaza is quite satisfied to point missles to hit civilian areas at random. ” – Howie

    “Gaza does have a (hopefully) limited supply of longer-range, more accurate missles, which, as did Hizballah, they have aimed at civilian areas.” – Howie

    You set up a direct comparison, twice, between “Gaza” and “Hizballah”. Not Hamas and Hizballah, not “terrorists” and Hizballah, but Gaza. You said *Gaza* points missiles and aims missiles at civilian areas. That’s quite a bit more than saying that Gaza tacitly *approves* of and enables these actions, which you subsequently claim is what you said. Please knock it off with your disingenuous and smarmy “oh, but i *never said that*” while actually saying *that*. It’s juvenile. I wonder if you and sad are in the same undergraduate class.

  88. William
    William January 3, 2009 at 8:33 pm |

    @An Israeli Woman: Israel has a massive army of well-trained conscripts, state of the art weapons, guided missiles, cutting edge air superiority, machine-gun wielding robots, modern armored divisions, walls, fences, and one of the most sophisticated and experienced intelligence agencies on the face of the earth. Hamas has a poorly trained, poorly equipped, all-volunteer band of civilians with homemade rockets, cold war era small arms, and a prayer. All Israel’s response is doing is breeding more rocketeers, more militancy, more desperation, and more international sympathy (rightly or wrongly) for the Palestinian cause. Thats what happens when you use a blunt instrument in a delicate situation and ignore the reality of collateral damage.

    What that has to do with feminism is that, in the end, he human rights of everyone that will suffer from the continued conflict. Deaths, mostly of civilians with no role in the battle, will continue to happen on a massive scale. The rights of women in on both sides will falter as their respective cultures become more militant and insular, their very existence will be threatened as bombs rain down in an endless cycle of retribution. Leaders on both sides will disregard the more basic needs of the most vulnerable members of their societies as their hatred for the other side becomes all-consuming.

  89. Morningstar
    Morningstar January 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm |

    fauzia:

    what’s your reading on the “arab street” in egypt? any widespread protests? anything that might threaten mubarak right now?

  90. fauzia
    fauzia January 4, 2009 at 3:48 am |

    @An Israeli Woman

    I might argue that feminism, at its very core, is about human rights and is a movement that is a part of a greater, much larger movement for tolerance, equality and understanding. What is happening in Gaza is a violation of human rights. But then again, we all have our own definitions.

    @Morningstar

    hmm…well, I could write a whole other post on the various reactions I have gotten from my Egyptian friends and co-workers. It’s been a mixed bag. I don’t see any kind of movement that would threaten Mubarak’s position at the moment, though. While there have been several protests in various parts of Egypt, nothing that has made headlining news. Much of the reactions I have gotten from friends, though (and take this with a grain of salt because it’s just a sliver of the entire EGyptian population) is one of anger…against Palestinians. Most Egyptians blame Hamas. Most Egyptians are angered by the killing of soldiers, by Palestinians, at the Rafah border. I have noticed a lot of…nationalistic pride bubbling up. The attitude of “we don’t like Israel, but we sure as hell don’t like Palestinians right now either.”

    I have a lot more to say on this and will dig up a few articles I’ve found online that speak specifically on Egypt and Mubarak.

  91. fauzia
    fauzia January 4, 2009 at 3:48 am |

    *sorry…I have to amend my last comment. When I say “most Egyptians” i mean “most of the Egyptians I have spoken to”

  92. fauzia
    fauzia January 4, 2009 at 3:56 am |

    @ Morningstar

    I have to take back what I wrote in a previous comment. There have been a number of protests in downtown Cairo, some led by the Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood).

    http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=18840

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/03/world/middleeast/03egypt.html?ref=middleeast

    The Daily News of Egypt and the NYT reported clashes between plain clothes police officers and rioters.

    If you read the comments on the Daily News Egypt article you’ll get a good taste of the varying opinions amongst Egyptians. I would say, though, that the the sentiment of “we have shed enough blood for the Palestinians” has been popular amongst my friends, at least.

  93. fauzia
    fauzia January 4, 2009 at 5:32 am |

    Sorry to keep posting links to article after article but there are so many out there and some of them are pretty good:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-true-story-behind-this-war-is-not-the-one-israel-is-telling-1214981.html

    Johann Hari writes: The true story behind this war is not the one Israel is telling.
    It’s good.

  94. Charity
    Charity January 4, 2009 at 9:16 am |

    Thank you for the link to the Johann Hari article, Fauzia, and for your post. I found this Sara Roy piece informative regarding the conditions in Gaza since 5 November. Sorry if someone already posted it and I missed it.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n01/roy_01_.html

  95. Howie
    Howie January 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm |

    Regarding the desire of the Palestinians for peace, Hari says that it is predicated on the return of all of the territory taken over by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria in 1967. The Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular, have said after each war they fought against Israel that they want only to return to the status quo ante. Even Benny Morris, while still saying that there were expulsions, says that they could not have been undone then or now and that time results in new situations that cannot be — and should not be — simply unwound.

    Regarding the willingness of Hamas to accept Israel’s presence, his “the Israelis blockaded-so Hamas rocketed-so the Israelis blockaded more-so Hamas rocketed more” seems like a simple chicken-and-egg argument, making it pointless to try to find a beginning. But my recollection of the sequence of events is somewhat different. Whatever Ariel Sharon’s reasons for promoting a withdrawal from Gaza and Ehud Olmert’s reasons for carrying it out, I think that much of the Israeli populace viewed it as a backing-away from confrontation and a pilot trial for a scale-up (did I mention that I am an Engineer?) to a larger withdrawal later. After Hamas was elected, my recollection is that there was a breath-holding period hoping that the responsibility of governance would lead Hamas to exactly the position that Hari says they are ready to take. But, it seems to me, that Hamas’s actions have indicated the opposite. Especially, their repeated attacks on the border crossings themselves indicates to me a desire to further polarize, not soothe the situation. It has certainly been very clear for the last week that rocketing Israel will not open the borders, yet Hamas has continued, knowing full well what they are bringing to themselves and to the rest of the population.

    So, on reflection, I don’t find Hari’s position as convincing or as hopeful as I first thought.

  96. Howie
    Howie January 4, 2009 at 1:08 pm |

    Oops. Misssed the first part:

    At first reading, the article by Johann Hari seemed to me to be reasonable and measured: The vast majority of Palestinians want peace and Hamas (using the article’s terminology) is willing to put it’s ideology on indefinite hold to achieve it. But there are some things that bother me.

  97. Radfem
    Radfem January 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm |

    Even CNN stated that 30% of those killed and injured are children Yes, I’m very impressed with this “restraint” I keep reading about in the U.S. media.

  98. Howie
    Howie January 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm |

    Anyone know why this page (and not others) takes up half the CPU usage on my computer?

  99. Howie
    Howie January 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm |

    I find the concept that Israel is calling to warn the occupants before bombing buildings that belong to Hamas leaders and/or are weapons storage depots unbelievably at odds with how I think any other country would wage war. Likewise, the idea that someone would deliberately expose his family to violence. Also, I find the idea that Hamas is keeping victims from getting to Israeli hospitals extraordinarily cruel.

    Answering my skepticism, items from the UNWRA January 2 Situation Report that, in reporting the heartrending situation in Gaza, confirm all three:

    1. The main feature of the Israeli Air Force (AIF) attacks in the last 24 hours was the escalation in the targeting of residential houses belonging to Hamas leaders and militants. Some 25 such houses were attacked. Most of their residents received prior phone warnings by the IDF, informing them about the intention to bomb the house and advising their evacuation. In some cases the strike occurred only 5 minutes after the call. Additional people received similar warnings that did not materialize, thus leaving families in a state of panic and uncertainty. The estimate on the total number of Hamas leaders’ houses targeted so far is 45. There has been extensive damage caused to thousands of houses all over the Gaza Strip.

    2. Among the houses targeted yesterday was the house of Hamas leader Nizar Rayan in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, who refused to evacuate upon being warned of an imminent strike. As a result, Rayan and 13 of his family members, including 11 of his children, were killed and 12 were injured. According to the IDF the house served as an arms storage place.

    3. The Erez crossing is partially open today and two medical cases with two escorts are expected to be evacuated to Israeli hospitals. On Wednesday five chronic patients and one wounded person, together with six escorts crossed. Except for these cases, the PA MoH in Ramallah continues to refuse to authorize the referral of patients from Gaza to medical treatment in Israel as in the past, referring patients to Egyptian hospitals instead.

    The complete report is at: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_situation_report_2009_01_02_english.pdf

  100. Morningstar
    Morningstar January 4, 2009 at 11:04 pm |

    thanks for the excellent info, fauzia. it’s a little disheartening, but very interesting nonetheless.

    take care

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