Ireland vs. Israel: The Value of the Comparison

In response to one of my posts a medievalist colleague of mine posted a comment here and a thread on his own site in which he compared the situation in Ireland with that in Israel.

I confess that I’m not sure how he got from my post, on the cognitive dissonance that results from trying to pressure the Palestinians to behave rationally and, for example, during Operation Cast Lead, stop bombing Israel in order to stop the damage to their own people’s lives and infrastructure, to “Who is to blame in the Israel-Palestine [sic] Debate?,” but it certainly gave him the occasion to make a series of comparisons between the conflict in the Middle East and that in Ireland. I confess to feeling that his analogies were defective throughout, but didn’t quite know how to respond substantively.

One of my regular and valued commenters here at the site responded with an excellent essay on the historical differences which, I think, illustrates just how ill-informed the comparison. With his permission, I republish it here with some short comments of my own [in italics].

Historian Fails History Test
Ray from Seattle:

When I read comments like Paul Halsall’s, I am incredulous. How can any objective person possibly compare the Arab/Israeli situation to Ireland’s?

Protestants ruled the Catholic majority in Ireland for hundreds of years before the “troubles” – which were really a recent flareup in the ongoing struggle by the natives of Ireland over several centuries to divorce themselves of British rule and gain independence. The modern troubles are just another chapter in that long saga of Britain’s colonialism and its ultimate decline.

The state of Israel was created by deliberation of the UN, including all of the new Arab states whose membership required their legal commitment to honor all agreements reached by that body. It concerned the fair assignment of sovereignty over the stateless territory of Palestine – according to majority populations in those areas of the two main ethnic / religious groups living there. It was a generous attempt by the democracies that won WWII to avoid further war and genocide by fair and legally enforceable deliberation and negotiation of opposing interests as judged by that world body of nations.

One side, the Arab states that had agreed to honor the vote of the UN when they became members of it, responded to the Partition vote by immediately declaring their intention to destroy Israel and the Jews who created it. The past sixty years has been a litany of their many failed attempts at it – so far.

In the case of modern Ireland you had a centuries long religious sectarian struggle for a land unfortunately situated close by the shores of a huge military power whose vast wealth was the product of centuries of colonialism and whose past glory was declining. Britain saw Ireland as an essential bulwark on their western shores and as one insult against British power they would not be forced to swallow. Britain confiscated prime land from the Irish by military force and gave it to transplanted Protestants from Britain. Britain’s militarily power has since been placed in service to the descendants of those minority Protestants of Ireland and to their advantage against the poorer Catholic majority whenever it was necessary.

[Note that the French were faced the same problem at the end of World War II. The Americans begged them to get out of Vietnam and they refused, for the sake of French “glory,” despite their particularly inglorious performance in WWII. As De Gaulle says in the opening page of his massive history of his people: “Sans sa gloire, la France n’est pas la France.” And so, we get a) Dien Bien Phu, b) French gloating over American failure in Vietnam, and c) France at the head of the Eurabian alliance in the hopes of taking the US down a notch.]

In the ME you had Jews migrating to a non-state territory they had been largely, but not completely expelled from, many centuries earlier. They did this not as clients of some state, or even as a stated people, but as individuals motivated to one day establish a state in their ancient homeland where no state had ever existed and as a refuge for Jews worldwide who had escaped the holocaust.

Against severe odds by 1947 they had reached significant numbers and were attempting to establish a secular democratic government over that small part of Palestine where they were now the numerical majority, leaving the rest for the Arabs. They attempted this not through conquest and terrorism but through peaceful immigration and the legal instrument of the UN. And they did this while both the Arabs and the Brits were using explosives or their military mandatory powers, respectively, to thwart them. [This feature of the historical process distinguishes Zionism from all other “Western colonial” imperialism (not to mention Arab colonial imperialism): All the others, including the British colonists in Ireland, settled after a conquest. The Jews managed to settle Palestine without conquest, an unprecedented event in the history of foreign settlements.]

Remember that the Partition Plan required that no Jew or Arab be removed from their land or property – while both were free to relocate the few miles necessary to end up under Israeli or Arab sovereignty, as they wished.

Israel occupied the WB as the result of repeated Arab attacks against Israel over the last 60 years. Remember also that the WB and Gaza were both over-run as a result of one of those attacks in 1967. Israel has attempted repeatedly to return most of the WB according to UN Res 242 and has returned Gaza in whole.

RL seems to know you and consider you an historian. As an academic how can you so easily avoid stepping back and seeing the larger picture around which the conflict churns. The Arab/Israeli conflict is not about suicide bombs or occupation of “Arab land” or settlements. Those are only its effects.

It is about the free-world’s attempt to settle issues of sovereignty where two peoples both have some valid claims – peacefully, without killing those on the other side.

It is about one side’s desire to establish a secular democratic state for itself in a recognized and fair international process without resorting to war.

It is about the other side’s fanatical desire to destroy them for “offending their honor”.

It seems to me a scholar of medieval history would be able to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive egocentrism at least enough to appreciate some of these over-riding issues.

74 Responses to Ireland vs. Israel: The Value of the Comparison

  1. [...] the example post: Augean Stables » island vs. Israel: The Value of the Comparison Share and [...]

  2. Paul Halsall says:

    Richard,

    You do know, don’t you, that this guy’s account of 1947 is completely fallacious.

    It is history according to Leon Uris.

    The Yishuv before 1947 clearly established better (=massively more functional) state institutions, and that was why it won in 1947.

    It’s major problem from a current standpoint is that it did not do so in Samaria or Judea (the historic homeland of the Jewish people), but near the sea and in Galilee (which varied in provenance in antiquity).

    None of that reflects on the situation of Palestinian peasants and their descendants who were *cleared* in 1947.

    I am in fact quite sanguine now to regard 1947 as *verdict of history* reflecting a struggle of differet factions, for good or for ill.

    Eventually of course, 1967 will be regarded like that.

    But let’s just be fair here and acknowledge, without * Cognitive egoism* that this is what the Isreali elite are trying to accomplish.

    As it happens, I think 1947 may have worked out: as it is I doubt Israel can survive.

    If it does or if it does not, it will be its own fault.

    Personally I think some Jews in the future will write a Book of Isaiah about the present.

    But that

  3. Paul Halsall says:

    [As a side note, it is a feature of conversation that it veers off. Just because someone says something to me does not require that I respond as expected. In fact, as I expect Mencius or Oscar Wilde, or someone equally quotable, once noted, it is a generic feature of conversation]

  4. Ray in Seattle says:

    Paul, You say that just because someone says something to you does not require that you respond as expected.

    Responding in a forum like this is voluntary. Nothing is required – except perhaps civility. But, if you make a point and someone refutes it. Assuming there is some merit to the refutation, if you don’t address his reasonable points then others following the discussion might assume that you could not. i.e. you will lose by default in the eyes of others.

    That doesn’t mean you were necessarily wrong but you do get to decide how and if you wish to defend your views.

    I’m not sure about your assertion that my history of 1947 is a Leon Uris-like fiction. After re-reading it maybe I could have stated it more clearly. I might have said,

    (Additions in bold)

    “Against severe odds by 1947 they had reached significant numbers and were attempting to establish a secular democratic government. They were hoping for more land but as the UN worked on their proposal they had reconciled themselves to that small part of Palestine where they were now the numerical majority and the mostly uninhabited Negev, leaving the rest for the Arabs. They supported these efforts not through conquest and terrorism but through peaceful immigration the legal instrument of the UN. Throughout the years leading to 1947 the Jews tried to peacefully increase their numbers and establish institutions that would lead eventually to statehood and they did this while both the Arabs and the Brits were using explosives or their military mandatory powers, respectively, to thwart them.”

    I hardly think the difference justifies the charge of “completely fallacious” though. Nor can I see how it takes from my premise in any way.

    Finally, you say this, “As it happens, I think 1947 may have worked out: as it is I doubt Israel can survive.”

    That’s seems to be a pretty stunning admission of bias from a guy making comments about “understandable” attacks on Israelis by Arabs in the ME while using his status as a scholar for credibility.

  5. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    I’m afraid it’s a waste of time trying to have a civilized, fact-based discussion with moral criminals.

    Accuracy is hardly what interests such self-appointed judges and hindsight prophets. The exemplar here, hostage of his own “cognitive egoism” and limits, didn’t really bother reading, much less comprehending, either what you or RL wrote.

    What does bother “intellectuals” of that ilk is that you dare contest his authority (that’s why he takes critique personally), nothing else.

    But if your substantive replies are lost on the flatulent provocateur, they’re not for other open-minded, intellectually honest, thinking persons.

  6. Cynic says:

    It’s major problem from a current standpoint is that it did not do so in Samaria or Judea (the historic homeland of the Jewish people), but near the sea and in Galilee (which varied in provenance in antiquity).

    Seeing as it had to function under the heavy hand of the Colonial Office and, for example amongst other things, the Ethnic Cleansing carried out by the British in 1929 Hebron after the Arab riots there.

    By the way Ray, E.G. and others here are two links with some interesting comments & facts:

    Jonathan G. Campbell on Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars by Yaacov Lozowick

    It also results from the sloppiness of modern journalistic methods which ‘tend to obfuscate reality and dissipate clear judgments in a haze of moral relativism’ (p. 282). Yet, so pervasive and persistent is the hostility that it requires a deeper explanation:
    Given the longevity, potency, and centrality of anti-Semitism in Western culture, it would be an act of supreme gullibility to pretend that nothing about the blatant anti-Zionist strands in the international sphere has anything to do with the preceding centuries of hatred (pp.286-7)

    Jerusalem, Jerusalem

    In the words of the UN’s first UNEF Commander, Lieutenant-General E.L.M. Burns, the United Nations has “almost no powers to oblige any nation to make peace. More explicitly, it lacks the power to impose terms of peace or a general settlement. The Security Council can recommend only; the limitations are set out in Chapter VI of the Charter.”

    He has some salient facts about Jewish occupancy from the Muslim invasion through to the present.

    While there’s no argument that a number of Arab villages surrounded the city, most new Arab neighbourhoods were a direct result of Arab population growth due to Jewish and British investment in the city.

  7. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG,You’re right of course. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt but as in this case I sometimes go way too far. He could have saved me a lot of trouble if he’d said that thing about 1947 working out well in his opinion – as unviable for Israel – in his first comments.

    sshender says, “Ray, you should consider posting this on his blog as well.”

    Have you looked at his blog? Talk about third rate.

    Cynic, Thanks for the hook suggestions. I need something else to read while I struggle through “Land and Power” of which I’m only about 1/3 of the way.

  8. Eliyahu says:

    Paul, the first residential area in the country where people were driven out during the 1947-49 war, and could not return after the war or after the armistice, was the Shim`on haTsadiq Quarter, a small Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, in the part that the Arab side named “East Jerusalem” after that war in order to insinuate that Jews had not lived in that area before the War of Independence.

    The Jews were driven out of that quarter in late December of 1947. The nearby Jewish quarters of Nahalat Shimon and the Siebenbergen Houses were also taken by Arab forces early in the war, early in 1948 to be sure, with the complicity/help of the British mandatory power and its army.

    These facts are little known today when so much misinformation, so many lies, fill the minds of almost everyone, even intellectuals and scholars.

  9. Morey says:

    Eliyahu,

    You are correct. Most people are unaware of Britain’s underhanded attempts to prevent Israel’s birth. In the case of Sheik Jarrah and Nahalat Shimon, British troops pulverized the Haganah with artillery and tanks, inflicting heavy losses, to prevent them from protecting these neighbourhoods. The Haganah had moved into the area only after repeated attacks against Jewish residents and a horrendous attack on medical staff headed to Hadassah hospital. Sheva Brigade Commander Ben Dunkelman described the events in detail in his autobiography ‘Duel Allegiance.’ I talk about it on my blog (which I see someone else has also linked to…thanks!)

    This 1948 article from Nation Magazine is also fascinating: http://emperor.vwh.net/history/br.htm

  10. E.G. says:

    Well, here’s one doubt Paul is not going to benefit from.

    This Israeli who, like the vast majority of Israelis, is not a Shtetel child, and not even a Shtetel great-grandchild, whose ancestors read and wrote savant texts in a European environment adulating trees and stones, is not going to conform to your expectations.

    This Israeli, like the vast majority of Israelis, is not going to fulfil your wet dream and join a row of curved-back, head-bowing, long-nosed and bearded relatives, obediently walking under a gate emblazoned with one of those lovely signs informing us that work sets free and that to each his due.

    Nor is this Israeli, like the vast majority of Israelis, going to sit in a ravaged dwelling, mourning and thanking God we survived, and just wait for the hordes to come and finish the job of the previous ones, whatever their hair and eye colour, or the more or less guttural sound of their language, their horses’ race, their weapons’ shape, or the saint/prophet in the name of which they perpetrate their barbaric atrocities.

    This Israeli, like the vast majority of Israelis, has a heritage to preserve and a future to construct. And is forced to fight so as to defend these basic Human Rights. Nobody else will do it. And nobody else can do it in conformity with norms as high as my ancestors’ multi-millenary and my contemporaries’ ethical and moral ones.

  11. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    Recall the exchange we had about French property in Jerusalem?
    I just found out – on Morey’s blog – that part of it had been purchased by the Pereire family (wealthy French Jews, of Portugese descent, who contributed a lot to rail and train development; contemporaries of the Rothschilds and the Camondos) that donated it to the French state. Why they did so is an interesting question (both other families made huge donation too, but not of Holy Land land; Maybe that’s why the Pereire got a Boulevard and a train station in Paris named after them).

    Todah Morey.
    For non-Hebrew readers, he writes in #11 “Exactly”.

  12. Paul Halsall says:

    See the kind of people you are now hanging around with, Richard?

  13. Paul Halsall says:

    And Richard, you need to state that, as long as you have known me, I have never been an anti-Semite.

  14. Richard Landes says:

    Paul, i confess to being somewhat confused by your last two remarks. first, i don’t know what you mean by “the kind of people that you hang out with?” the conversation so far has been extremely interesting, and the only part that strikes me as in any way polemical and emotional was by E.G., and it’s a sentiment i think israelis have every right to feel (and certainly vastly more mature than the kind of raving that passes for “nationalism” among Palestinians). otherwise it strikes me as extremely informative and thoughtful. is it the material on british malfeasance that makes you unhappy?

    second, has anyone here called you an anti-semite? the closest i can see is the quotation from Lozowick (a strong liberal by the way), who claims that you have to be naive to think there’s no connection btw historic anti-semitism and current anti-zionism. now you, paul, as far as i can make out, are, like many liberals and progressives i know, driven by a kind of disappointed anger to swallow much of this. “i never expected israelis to behave like cossacks.” well they don’t; it’s a systematic dysfunction of the media (hence the name of this blog) that puts those nuggets of moral schadenfreude before you, and you, whatever your motivation, are responsible for not only ingesting them but regurgitating them.

    so let me throw the question back at you. who are you hanging around with, that makes comparing IDF soldiers to cossacks so easy and unchallenged a claim that you would make it here as well? and what do you think of yourself and your friends’ discourse that when you bring it here, you find the criticism it engenders offensive and the people who express it that “kind of people”? my bet is the cossack remark was a toned down version of the stuff you hear on a regular basis. please tell me if i’m wrong.

    finally, on the point of your not being an anti-semite. as you may or may not know, i have specific definitions for a wide variety of forms of judeophobia. and i certainly don’t include you in the category “anti-semitism.”

    but somehow i don’t think that that’s what you had in mind. small comfort not to be identified as a paranoid genocidal maniac. do you dislike jews? personally, certainly not. do you dislike autonomous jews who hold their head high and don’t take shit from anti-semites, maybe. i don’t know.

    what i do know is that eliyahu addressed you with great respect and suggested you’ve been misled by the media and that you examine what he’s written on the subject. i agree with him.

    if you want respect at this blog, don’t complain, respond. i would suggest you start with eliyahu’s link.

    this is not a trivial matter. i would argue that the fate of europe depends on the ability of its democratically-inclined inhabitants to overcome the appeal of anti-zionism and start getting clear on what ails their culture. so i hope you’ll accept the challenge. it’s one way to show you’re not even subject to the terrific gravitational pull of anti-semitism which, right now, at places like Comment is Free is getting stronger.

    i hope this responds to your comments.

  15. Morey says:

    I’d like to add something, if I may, on the subject of the IDF.

    Anyone familiar with the situation knows that much of the criticism of last year’s mission in Gaza (and other operations) came from Israelis. Self-criticism and introspection is alive and well here. Can others say the same? When allegations are made against Israeli soldiers, it’s front page news everywhere. Inevitably, these stories are refuted but the damage is done. Of course, when similar charges are made against Americans, the stories are buried or never see the light of day. For example, when a US sniper testified before a military court in February 2008 that “he had ordered a subordinate to kill an unarmed Iraqi man who wandered into their hiding position near Iskandariya, then planted an AK-47 rifle near the body to support his false report about the shooting,” the New York Times buried the story on page 8. When the newspaper learned in August 2008 that two American soldiers confessed, in a signed statement to army investigators, to executing handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners and dumping their bodies into a canal, the story ran on page 11. And when the soldiers were formally charged with murder a month later, it was noted on page 16. [source]

    But the stories do get out. We’ve been reading about abuses, including torture, by American troops for years; there were similar accusations against NATO troops fighting in Kosovo. Canada’s elite Canadian airborne regiment was so discredited by evidence of torture in Somalia that it was forced to disband. There have been similar accusations against troops in Afghanistan. In other words, Israeli soldiers are being accused of acting like, well, soldiers. When you’re dealing with human beings, neglect and exploitation of power are, sadly, inevitable. Especially when you’re working with a civilian army of reservists. But, it’s also worth considering that most of these accusations of abuse are coming from Jews and Israelis themselves. We don’t hear similar tales from Syria, China, Sri Lanka, Rwanda…the list is endless.

    There’s no question that keeping the peace isn’t always an easy job, for example, more than 400 unarmed demonstrators and even bystanders killed over ten years, and no police have ever been convicted for any of the deaths, not even on manslaughter charges, not in Israel, as you might be thinking but in Britain.

    I tend to agree with Paul Robinson, author of numerous works on international security, military history and military ethics who writes: “The Israeli Defence Forces’ ethical standards are different from, and in some ways higher than, the British army’s…but in the end the question is not whether IDF actions are moral, but whether they are wise.”

  16. Eliyahu says:

    Jonathan Campbell writes:

    Given the longevity, potency, and centrality of anti-Semitism in Western culture, it would be an act of supreme gullibility to pretend that nothing about the blatant anti-Zionist strands in the international sphere has anything to do with the preceding centuries of hatred (pp.286-7)

    I agree of course. I only point out that its a shame that Dr Campbell had to come to this realization ca. 2005. Conor Cruise O’Brien said much the same in an article he wrote about the Western press coverage of and other Western reactions to Israel’s first Lebanon campaign in 1982. What we are dealing with now is a mystique of a “palestinian people” that never existed in history, but that is made to resonate however with old Judeophobic themes in Western culture and religion by the arts of psychological & cognitive warfare. It is my view that the very notion of a “palestinian people” is a chef d’oeuvre of British psywar/cogwar experts. In 1946, Arab expert witnesses told the Anglo-American Committee [Commission?] of Inquiry in Palestine that there was “no Palestine” in history. It was all Syria. This claim, although knowingly deceitful, fit the traditional Arab geographic concept of bilad al-Sham, usually translated as Syria or Greater Syria.

    The “palestinian people” notion appeared in the early 1960s [PLO founded 1-1-1964, as I recall], fully equipped with a set of slick arguments to cancel out the history of the country known in the West, replacing the Jews –accepted as the historic pre-Arab inhabitants of the Land even by anti-Zionists– in the history of the Land of Israel, and thereby delegitimizing Zionism.

    The diabolic cleverness of the set of anti-Israel arguments deployed in this cognitive war was to disarm Israel and its defenders by accusing them of using the charge of “antisemitism” and “Holocaust” to reject every mere criticism of Israel. This argument was used dishonestly in order to justify or protect accusations against Israel that were clearly Judeophobic, often based on traditional themes in Western Judeophobia. Denying any Arab history of Judeophobia or of oppression of Jews was also used. These ultra-clever arguments were used to pave the road for the fanatical “palestinian people” mystique and its false ancillary claims [such as that Britain favored the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, a claim made by Ahmadinejad and others]. These arguments helped open the door to today’s reigning unreason.

  17. Cynic says:

    RL,

    Could Paul Halsall just be transmitting that typically British colonial/cultural attitude of putting down the natives?
    Not disliking them but disdaining anything they might do that conflicts with his thinking without bothering to evaluate the whys and wherefores?

    I must say that having lost grandparents to the behaviour of Cossacks I found his comment to be in extremely bad taste. Maybe he just thought it an appropriate put down of that uppity people.

  18. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    You didn’t expect the children of Norwich to behave like… ahem… the people of 12th century Norwich, did you?

    Or the children of Marshalsea to behave like Uriah Heep.

    Well, I’ve got news for you.
    You want to hear the good ones first?

  19. Ray in Seattle says:

    Morey, The first part of your comment makes good sense but then you end with this puzzling comment about the IDF’s actions:

    “…but in the end the question is not whether IDF actions are moral, but whether they are wise.”

    You, like too many others IMO fail to consider the most crucial of all moral determinants in conflict – that of defense vs aggression – and by so doing you make aggression and war even more likely. When a people are violently attacked by an outside force the government of that people has one moral act that trumps all other – to do whatever is necessary to end the aggression and assure that it can not resume.

    It is popular to think of the Arab / Israeli war – ongoing now for some 60 years – as an unfortunate state that both sides accept as given. That is absolutely not the case. Only one side in this war continually chooses to wage it. Only one side refuses to end its aggression against the other no matter how many opportunities it has had to disengage and make peace.

    The other side, Israel, acts only in the defense of its people and has never in the 60 years violated that first rule of international relations. When so acting, Israel has both the moral and legal right – as per Article 51 of the UN Charter – to do whatever is necessary to end aggression against it. This is true no matter what BS people like Goldstone and others produce to muddy the legal water with easily discredited accusations of improper behavior in combat.

    IMO the question is not whether IDF actions are wise but whether it is wise for Israelis and others in the West to publicly second-guess the IDF’s actions at all.

    Such concerns that focus on the fighting itself – jus in bello – rather than the justification for war which lies in the difference between aggression and defense – jus ad bellum are a subversion of the spirit and intent of the UN Charter.

    For those who seek the “wise” path in conflict I suggest that they first place all efforts toward condemning and punishing the side that starts a war through its aggression. After that there will be plenty of time to ask about the niceties of combat as each side pursued it.

    By reversing the priority on those – you only assure the aggressor that attacking the civilians of the Israel is largely acceptable or at least understandable to you – since you seem to be more concerned that the IDF doesn’t hurt too many Palestinians in their attempts to stop the rockets.

    This is also the message that the outside world receives. Many in the liberal west, because of their cognitive egocentrism, interpret this de-emphasis of Palestinian aggression and focus on the IDF’s operations and ROE by Israel’s putative defenders – as an admission that Israelis don’t see their own defense against Palestinian aggression as fully justifiable. And conversely, that the Palestinian’s aggression is perhaps really a matter of understandable “resistance” as the Palestinians have so adeptly managed to frame it, with the help of the Western media.

    This detracts immensely from Israel’s ability to defend itself and even from Israel’s existence in the West. i.e. you are confirming the Palestinian’s frame.

    Is that wise? After all, if aggressors did not start wars, then there would be no military or civilian casualties whose deaths needed justification and there would be no need to judge the morality of soldiers’ or their commanders’ actions on either side.

    Aggression is not justified, period. As long as do-gooders in the West fail to condemn aggression in the strongest terms and impose harsh punishment on those aggressors including arrest and indictment for crimes against humanity – aggressors will continue to take advantage of their naivete – and innocent civilians will continue to suffer the ravages of war and die horrible unnecessary deaths.

    Is your desire to appear “even handed and fair” to those who would happily see Israel disappear, worth all of that.

  20. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    If I may – without contesting your view – bring my input.
    I believe the “wise” question refers to whether the action achieves its goal.

  21. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG, I appreciate all input like yours. This would not be the first time I have seriously misinterpreted someone’s comment. However, after carefully re-reading Morey’s comment (#16) it seems to me that he is questioning the “wisdom” of IDF actions in terms of their perceived cruelty. For example, the excerpt,

    “When allegations are made against Israeli soldiers, it’s front page news everywhere. Inevitably, these stories are refuted but the damage is done. Of course, when similar charges are made against Americans, the stories are buried or never see the light of day.”
    etc.

    I don’t think that here or elsewhere in his comment he is referring ” . . to whether the action achieves its goal”.

    Of course, I see the IDF’s primary and over-riding goal in Cast Lead as stopping or severely hindering the rocket fire from Gaza. I certainly believe the IDF didn’t want to discredit itself or Israel’s government be engaging in inhumane practices in combat or against the Palestinian civilian population. I believe they accomplished this and so I don’t see why Morey would question the “wisdom” of their actions. Am I still missing something?

  22. E.G. says:

    From a Jewish perspective, acting wisely is necessarily moral (i.e., necessarily implies acting according to moral standards). Acting morally is correlated to acting wisely (e.g., giving the benefit of doubt can sometimes be costly in terms of operational success – like in the 2002 Jenin battle).

  23. E.G. says:

    Gee, I sound like a sphynx.

  24. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG, So then what do you see is Israel’s goal? Defending the lives of its citizens or appearing wise and just to the world? If as a commander you had to choose between the two what would you do?

    Remember that much of the world will see IDF actions as unjust and cruel no matter how hard it tries to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties and damage. I think the Palestinian know that Israel is more susceptible to world opinion than any other Western democracy and therefore focuses its efforts to damage Israel’s image in that regard.

    I suggest that as a commander if you pulled your punches to protect Israel’s image while endangering Israeli civilian lives (or your soldier’s lives for that matter) you would not be an honorable soldier. The honorable soldier does his legal and moral duty no matter what others may think of him.

  25. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    I linked on a previous thread to an article dealing with these issues.

    Generally speaking, Israeli military training combines, at all levels, “narrow” military and “wider” moral/ethical topics. Soldiers do the thinking and mental preparation beforehand, at the same time as their physical one. So that in real-time action, when life/death is a matter of seconds, the luxury of pausing to think won’t be too costly.

    The article discussed the effects of Human Rights NGOs criticism on military actions. Specifically mentioning the post Spring 2002 operation (including the “Jenin Massacre” hoax) criticism, that lead to IDF revising its operational procedures so as to minimise IDF casualties due to too lenient moral considerations regarding enemy casualties and collateral damage. IOW, the formula combining the protection of enemy lives (combattants and innocent civilians alike) vs. the cost in IDF lives to achieve maximum lives preservation changed. That’s not what the NGOs intended but that’s what their disproportionate criticism obtained. After all, why should IDF soldiers pay with their lives or body parts for the Human Shields they protect to go lying about IDF cruelty to all and any media and NGO credulous representative s/he encounters?

  26. Ray in Seattle says:

    Good. I’d like to read it again because I’m pretty sure I followed that link before – but in case I missed it do you have the link handy? Thanks

  27. E.G. says:

    Not offhand but I’ll try to find it asap.

  28. Morey says:

    In short (because I’m busy) the comment belongs to Paul Robinson, but I do agree with its sentiments, that is, before any military operation we must decide if it will achieve both military AND political goals. I wasn’t referring to specific acts within the campaign.

    After Gaza (and similar operations) the international community – indeed, many Israelis – failed to consider political and strategic goals, preferring the knee-jerk moral attack. But, within Israel (and the Jewish world) we must assume that the IDF WILL operate at the highest moral level (while ensuring there are mechanisms in place to safeguard adherence to its moral code) while always asking, will the mission achieve its strategic goals? That is the wisdom Robinson refers to.

    As for Gaza (and Lebanon) both actions did achieve at least one political goal: to decrease rocket attacks. It was tempting (both times) to let the army continue; but would achieving a military victory be worth the political fallout? This is what I wrote two years ago, after the Lebanon war: “In the minds of many, it made more sense to let the IDF finish the job it started, but it was the politicians – who recognize that not all battles take place on the battlefield – and not the generals who made the final decision. In the grand scheme of things, that’s how we all want it. For better or worse.” I still agree with what I wrote then. The final decision must be made by those who represent us in government, not on the battlefield.

    As for whether or not I think those missions were wise, I do. Both Gaza and Lebanon were justified and achieved partial goals. Lebanon would have been far more successful with stronger intelligence, better trained and equipped reservists and more advanced strategic planning. They were obviously making it up as they went along, and it could be argued that Olmert should have recognized these failings and aborted a military campaign. [Compare to 1967 when the IAF utilized a plan (code named “Moked”) that had been in the works for several years.]

    Anyway, here are a couple of very worthwhile articles:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204488304574424872677357720.html

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/24524/a-sense-of-proportion.thtml

  29. Morey says:

    Speaking of comparisons, the conflict here has at least one thing in common with its Irish counterpart: a separation wall:

    http://moreyaltman.blogspot.com/2009/12/holiday-showdown.html

  30. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    Found that paper.

    http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1253198167248&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

  31. E.G. says:

    Morey,

    Thanks, both articles are indeed worth reading.
    The Spectator paper is illuminating on some aspects, rarely discussed in non-Israeli media, such as comparative ethical codes.

    I’m afraid the WSJ author is not the same as the Spectator one, despite their similar names.

    And neither sounds Jewish enough to provide a shield for Paul Halsall to hide behind.

  32. Ray in Seattle says:

    The Spectator Article By Robinson fails to adequately address the real life questions facing states at war. Most egregiously, at the start when discussing jus ad bellum (the rules which determine whether you may wage war at all) he states:

    In the first category, the theorists postulate that it cannot be just to wage war when the possible harm done by the war is disproportionate to the possible good which will result.

    Such a statement seems grossly uninformed or ill-considered to me. Acts of aggression can not be justified by a weighing of penalties and benefits. According to this principle it would be perfectly moral for a large well-armed state to attack a smaller peaceful one, say one possessing significant mineral wealth, with overwhelming force.

    The large state could expect minimal damage to its citizens and military and it would be a short war because of the difference in power. The obvious benefit to the aggressor is the ownership of the resources that it currently does not have. But, you might say the small state would lose its ownership and that would be bad. How so? Someone will own it. Why is the small state losing it worse than the larger state not having it – especially in the eyes of the larger state? The larger state may even have better infrastructure and a more efficient labor force to exploit it – which would be a benefit to all in both states after the short war ended and the resources were placed in the “proper hands”.

    I would propose that such thinking by states contemplating aggression – weighing and balancing of possible good vs bad to the state – is exactly what causes almost all wars. Germany believed that the world would benefit greatly from German organization skills, technological expertise, and morality regarding the inferiority of some races.

    Since Robinson’s article does not differentiate between aggression and defense, for him, the same equation must therefore apply to defensive attacks. Such thinking gave England justification for not stopping Germany early-on and giving it Yugoslavia as a peace offering. That decision arguably resulted in the deaths of some 60 million persons.

    The moral considerations of attacking another state should be designed to discourage aggression, not justify it by weighing the costs and benefits. Such relativistic weighting is an exercise in justification of war. Preventing war requires an absolutist mentality or it simply will not work. Relatively speaking “my interests” will always be more important than “your interests” and the world be vastly better off when “my military” secures them for me.

    There is but one rule necessary to prevent war. That is the recognition of the criminalization of aggression by all peace-seeking world powers, including the expedient death penalty for the leadership of any state or group who violates that rule.

    Democracies built on the respect for human rights all recognize this rule implicitly in their domestic criminal codes. Those who use violence in the commission of crimes are given the harshest penalties, and rightly so. There is no allowance for a criminal’s judgment that the car he stole was a greater benefit to him than the inconvenience and loss of property was to the rich person he took it from.

    The purpose of such laws is to protect society. Societies that allow such weighing of benefits for criminal acts would soon devolve into chaos where the appearance of neediness would justify anyone to take the property of others, by force if necessary.

    Isn’t that pretty much a summary of what’s been happening in the ME for sixty years? I’d suggest that such thinking as Robinson describes regarding “just war” – and that Morey seems to agree with – is not what advanced democracies need to embrace. It has no place in a world that values human life and peaceful coexistence.

    In my view, it is exactly that kind of thinking that has caused the UN to become a farce in terms of its ability to prevent war. It’s become a place where outright aggression against the civilians of wealthier nations by poor nations is met by wringing of hands and attempts to “negotiate” for what they want. It’s a place where defense against aggression is met by condemnation and calls to arrest the leaders of the defending state.

    Such thinking has turned the concept of morality on its head and has caused many millions of civilian deaths in the poorest regions of the world since World War II. Such thinking – a permissive, almost apologetic view of aggression by the free world – is the cause of the Arab / Israeli conflict and is the reason it is so intractable.

  33. Ray in Seattle says:

    I meant Czechoslovakia, not Yugoslavia.

  34. Morey says:

    Ray,

    Your example is irrelevant because no international treaties or laws permit the acquisition of territory through force. But, what is your solution to solving conflicts when all peaceful means fail? I’m not being at all facetious. Obviously, the military option must be a last resort. The best case scenario is a compromise in which both (or all) parties achieve some of their goals, and presumably fail to achieve all of them. But, what recourse do civilized, peaceful societies have when they’re in conflict with forces which do not accept the compromise option.

    The Arab-Israeli conflict has endured for two simple reasons: one side supports its extremists (we have extremists too but they are not supported by the state, although at times their offenses have been swept under the rug by those in power), who by their own admission will accept nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state; and an international community which has been unwilling to allow either side to dominate in the conflict. That’s truly how most wars end: one side or the other must prevail.

    That said, we have laws which say when its legal (ie. the international community recognizes the need to go to war) and laws which determine how parties fight. Interestingly, even the Goldstone Report accepted the legality of Israel’s Gaza mission; its focus was human rights violations. That the report failed to substantiate these claims is another matter. But, one thing is clear: nations do have the right to use force at times when other options fail. For the most part, we say ‘self-defence’ is the best reason but defining what is self-defence is a complicated matter.

    In fact, one other thing is certain, international law is not so cut and dry. It’s time we revised laws concerning wars, but since they presently favour states which harbour or fund terror groups, this isn’t going to happen for a long time. Sadly.

  35. Ray in Seattle says:

    Robinson’s other article cited by Morey raises legal questions that bear on the current discussion. Robinson notes that absent any international police force such rules as Article 51 are subject to voluntary compliance.

    I would go further . . any state that can will defend itself from aggression. Since that is how the world is it would be useful for the UN to amend Art 51 to simply read:

    Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council.

    . . leaving out the first sentence clause:

    until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

    I’d leave out the rest of it too.

    Measures taken by Members shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    . . which just muddies the water. The UN should be free to offer assistance to the defending party but that party should have final say over who defends it and how. i.e. the defender should be free to accept or reject the offer. It is their lives and state that are at risk, not the UN. The UN is free to offer to prevent further aggression against the defending party. It can present its plan to the defender who can accept it and step aside or continue to act in its own defense with any allies it may muster.

    This would serve several purposes:

    a) It fits with reality. No matter what UN rules are in effect no sane democracy is likely place its life in the hands of an international body unless it has very good reason to believe that will be successful. It’s best when made laws match natural ones.

    b) It would put pressure on the UN for reform its act and penalize aggression rather than coddle it.

    c) Aggressors would not be able to depend on the Int. War Crimes Court to protect their ass as they do now.

  36. Ray in Seattle says:

    Morey, You raise some good points. You say . .

    Your example is irrelevant because no international treaties or laws permit the acquisition of territory through force.

    Robinson stated what he believed to be the determining factor regarding the justification for war . .

    In the first category, the theorists postulate that it cannot be just to wage war when the possible harm done by the war is disproportionate to the possible good which will result.

    He makes no mention of the illegality of acquisition of territory by force. It was his statement above that I was criticizing.

    But, let’s talk about “the illegality of acquisition of territory by force”. Wars often or usually involve occupation of territory by the victorious force. Such movements are often necessary in defensive war to prevent further attacks – such as the IDF occupation of Gaza and the WB in 1967. That was not acquisition because Israel . .

    a) did not start the war.

    b) offered immediately to return most of the land according to Res 242.

    c) still occupies it defensively waiting only for a treaty that guarantees security

    Res 242 implicitly acknowledges that the borders of a peaceful state may be such that they invite attack from aggressive neighbors. When that has occurred Res 242 acknowledges that territory may be acquired in defense to correct that deficiency – and thereby prevent further wars.

    But most importantly, wars are fought for other reasons than territory. Genocide seems to be popular on the list and civil wars are more about who runs the territory – not where the borders are.

    Robinson was stating a general principle that he believed was the over-riding justification for “just war”. I believe the over-riding consideration should be intent – not costs and benefits.

    IMO all assistance and consideration should be given by peaceful nations to peaceful states defending from aggression. The aggressors should simply be shot.

  37. Ray in Seattle says:

    Morey – BTW, I agree with most of your comment.

  38. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    That Robinson (who’s not the same one as the other one), adopts a multilateral view. That of a legally informed government as well as military and judicial experts/instances.

    A government (at least a responsible/accountable one i.e., democratic) necessarily calculates costs and benefits, in terms of lives saved/lost and objectives (military, geo-political/strategic) attained/failed, in the short, middle, and long term.
    The government’s view should be the broadest, while the others’ is narrower – limited to their expertise field.

    Justice is only one aspect, albeit an important one, in war and warfare.

  39. sshender says:

    The aggressors should simply be shot.

    Me like! ;)

    However, as ideal and just as your guidelines are, they are unrealistic, if only for the reason that a consensus would have to have been achieved by the intl. community as per the identity of the agressor between the two (or more) parties. I think the I/P conflict serves as a stark example of how such a consensus is unatainable, not least because of the cultural and religious differences of the state members of any such intl. body. If the self-evident underlying facts about the I/P conflict can be twisted and distorted by the Intl. community to the point of inverting agressor and victim, than there is just so much stock one can put into the objectivity of further judgement. Hypothetically, if your methods were to be applied today, Israel’s leaders would be facing firing squads instead of arrest warrants.

    As for Robinson’s obvious slip, you are absolutely right to point out his ill judgement, but given the rest of his piece, I believe that you have made more of it that it realy is – just a case of bad phrasing and/or omission – and he would endorse your points completely.

  40. Ray in Seattle says:

    sshender, You say my ideals and guidelines are unrealistic. You’re right but it’s within our ability to make them realistic again.

    I’d say they are unrealistic only as long as the free world fails to face reality and continues to pretend that there is some world body that can provide a framework for peaceful resolution of disputes. There is no such force for peace in the world today and there hasn’t been since May 15 of 1948. We are paying the price of that deception, the price of lying to ourselves to avoid facing the awesome responsibility of defending freedom and peace. Millions of other innocents in places like Rwanda and Darfur and Sri Lanka and Kosovo have have already paid that price with their lives and their blood is on our hands.

    The UN is not just morally bankrupt. It’s inverted so that the criminals who use aggression to get their way are rewarded and their victims are condemned. We continue to support that corrupt system while we pay for the their pretentious deliberations and lavish parties with our tax dollars. This while the criminals use their spoils to buy advanced weapons from us and endow chairs in our universities so they can teach our children the evils of creating wealth through productive enterprise and the skills to steal it instead.

    The only question is if we realize it while there is still time to kick their asses out and make them earn their membership through their actions – or face our military if peaceful coexistence doesn’t appeal to them so much. Or, we can just sit back and watch Western civilization go through its final throes.

    Right now we still have the military advantage and we are afraid to use it to defend peaceful states that are attacked – like Israel. When petrodollars bring about an equalization in armaments – like the day Iran gets the H-bomb it is working on – does anyone really think they will hesitate to use it on us?

    Sorry if I’m sounding a bit pessimistic but I get wierded out when intelligent people talk about how we must honor international laws of war while the criminal regimes use those laws to destroy us and what we stand for, breaking all of them, every day of the week.

    There should be only one “Law of War” and that’s that aggression is a criminal act that will result in the death of the person or regime who starts it – if the peace-loving people of the world can possibly make that happen. The rest is nonsense.

    You may be right about Robinson. But what I said here might help you see why I find some of his words difficult to read. He’s pretending that this edifice or reason and law exists some place in the world and it has the power to reduce war and destruction – and so we must carefully follow its dictates. The only edifice I see is the one that’s become a force for evil. And by pretending it’s something else he just makes it stronger.

  41. Cynic says:

    Ray,

    There is no such force for peace in the world today and there hasn’t been since May 15 of 1948.

    There was supposed to be one in the “League of Nations”
    (They thought it good to be a member of The Old Boy’s Club)
    but, in the years before the Second World War, as Italy and Britain went about their own policy implementations, the French navel gazed and the US only attended the club on poker nights all the good intentions went down the road to hell.
    Then came the UN and once again we saw the holier than thou crowd squandering opportunity and ability in their own selfish interests.
    And so peace in general was squandered which didn’t do them any good as time and time again they went ahead sacrificing their own while aggravating a situation to arrive at today’s general mess.

    There is no integrity nor honesty in the ruling class and that’s the problem. The pseudo academics and intellectuals, the hubris of the communicators and the politicians as they all vie to sell their snake oil just casts a blanket over reality keeping the populace in a kumbaya stupor.

  42. Ray in Seattle says:

    Cynic says: “And so peace in general was squandered which didn’t do them any good as time and time again they went ahead sacrificing their own while aggravating a situation to arrive at today’s general mess.”

    I’d say that’s pretty much sums it up.

    I’d also say that we are not blameless as citizens. We elect people who claim to understand these things and then we allow them to sell us and our ideals out.

    I’d say we need to demand a hell of a lot more of those in office and the best way is to make sure the sell-outs don’t get elected. I think I’m about to become very politically-incorrect about US security.

    The recent clueless statements by Janet Napolitano and the Obama administration regarding the Amsterdam/Detroit flight have my blood boiling right now.

  43. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    Do have a compassionate thought for that poor rich terrorist who must be terribly frustrated about his aborted mission.
    Also, his miserable prison diet, excluding McDoodoo and other unHallal stuff.
    And don’t forget to let the whole world know you’re ashamed to be an American.
    The Guardian will be happy to host you, and Haaretz will joyfully report. So here’s your chance to become a celebrity before 2010. Le Monde will too – but only after the holidays.

  44. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    Wow, one could almost call it a flying pig moment as the truth strikes home for London.
    These guys played with fire and “grilled and bared” themselves waiting for that supposed soothing lotion of peace. Sigh!

    By the way did you read this?
    A decade of anti-Israel clichés

    Yet, from anonymous talk-backs to elitist editorials, today’s conventional wisdom holds that it is a “disproportionately” powerful Jewish state that risks bringing down Armageddon on the world by trampling on the rights of hapless Arab Muslims who would gladly make peace if they were only offered a “halfway equitable division of holy land.” The fact that even a proposal that offered the equivalent of 100 percent of the territory claimed by the Palestinians was spurned is conveniently ignored in order to cling to the popular narrative

    In some places the fog seems to be thinning.

  45. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Less here.

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/011/947.html
    It’s in Hebrew and, given the relevance to Honour/Shame, I think the piece needs to be translated.

  46. Lianne says:

    Col. (ret.) Adv. Daniel Reisner on what it takes to bring clarity:
    http://media-line.co.il/Events/Jcpa/Law-Conference/eng.aspx
    4:00- 12:00

    Includes a reference to how badly the British military was misled by its experience in N. Ireland.

    Reissner’s basic point seems close to one that Yaacov Lozowick made recently, you police where you can police and you fight a war where you need to fight a war.
    http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2009/12/flare-up-0f-violence-contd.html

  47. E.G. says:

    The Myth of Tuba and the Shalit Deal
    by Ofra Yeshua-Leyth

    Maariv nrg, 30/12/2009

    “Legend of a Village” is a compilation of orally transmitted folk stories told in the Palestinian Israeli society, that includes many insights into local culture, unknown to most Hebrew speakers.

    Thus the founding story of Tuba, a Bedouin village in northern Galilee, as it was told to the late editor Yoram Miron by Ahmad Mussa Alhayav: Once upon a time, there was a gang of lawless bandits that intimidated the whole North of the country. The Turkish condemned them all to death, but didn’t manage to capture them in order to execute them. It was not until the governor of Acres, Ahmad AlJazar (the butcher!) suggested to take hostage the gang members’ wives and children in order to force them to give themselves in, given that the Bedouin honour code will not permit such humiliation.

    Indeed, the gang and its leader, Abu-Kaedan, showed up as expected at the governor’s AlJazar’s residence. AlJazar, famous for his cruelty, suspected a trick. He separated Kaadan, the leader’s son, and then invited the gang to a horror meal. The youth was slaughtered and his head was exposed on a big tray as part of a dish of rice and human flesh.

    One would expect that the gang that had come in the first place to get executed would assault in reaction on the soldiers’ bayonets and would end its existence in a blood bath. But Abu Kaedan responded differently: “that”s my son’s flesh. We’d better consume it rather than let dogs be fed on it” he told his subordinates, and they silently obeyed.

    Not all murderers become recidivists once released

    AlJazar fainted. When he came back to his senses, he turned to the gang and asked why they had chosen the way of crime. The leader replied that their problem is that they don’t have a piece of land to live on. The governor granted amnesty to the group, as well as the land of Tuba, on which their descendants live in peace to this day.

    Myths explain thinking and culture. The Tuba myth touches the logical limits of the male honour. Dying for the family and the next generation sounds reasonable but the living, in the end, are more important than the dead. To kill and get killed in revenge is an existing habit in Arab culture, but no less important are the mechanisms that bound killing: Sulha, Hudna, and the Elders’ judgement.

    In the Jewish Kiddush HaShem [Martyrdom] myth, life is unfortunately not the first priority. Starring there are HaShem may He be Blessed [God], His terrestrial servants’ honour, and the belief that what happened is what is going to happen. The main explanation for the non-execution of the prisoners in for Shalit exchange deal last week was defined as the need to maintain the image of national honour.

    After a century of bloody conflict, it will not hurt us to learn something from the wisdom of those who lived here hundreds of years ahead of us: Not everyone who murdered in the past is a potential killer in the future; amnesty and hope for the future are equally powerful forces as revenge; restraint about honour and grief give a chance to better life. This body of knowledge does not only concern one lonely captured and abandoned soldier.

    Nothing sweet is going to come from Gaza as long as its residents are choking under the Israeli siege. Long-suffering citizens of Israel do not have to continue to receive the “securitist” theory, according to which we have nothing to wait for except the next failed war, as if it were the Thora received in Sinai. It is worthwhile for everybody to follow the example of the legendary bereaved father’s courage, the gang leader Abu Kaadan.

  48. E.G. says:

    Sorry, I forgot to put an / and everything is in bold…

  49. Eliyahu says:

    EG, I followed your link earlier today to the original Hebrew article but could not read much of it. This hypocritical, folksy “leftist” repels me.

    This Ofra dummy apparently doesn’t know that Ahmad al-Jazzar Pasha had a Jewish minister at one time. His name was Hayim Farhi and his family was very prominent in those days in Damascus. One day, al-Jazzar got mad with Farhi for some reason or other and decided to punish him. Actually, the punishment was rather mild by Al-Jazzar’s standards. He only had Farhi’s nose cut off. There is a fairly famous painting of al-Jazzar’s court in `Akko showing The Butcher sitting down, while Farhi stands near him with his nose cut off. If you have never seen a guy with his nose cut off, check out the painting of al-Jazzar’s court.

    The painter was a British naval officer who visited the court. As you know, the British navy helped al-Jazzar resist Napoleon in the siege of `Akko [Acre] circa 1800.

    Miss Oprah or Ofra shows her bigoted ignorance when she writes: “… it will not hurt us to learn something from the wisdom of those who lived here hundreds of years ahead of us…”
    There were Jews in the country in al-Jazzar’s time, even at the court. Does she know or not know that?

    Further, I can’t stand this insincere reference to “us” and “everybody” when she hates “us” and “everybody” in Israel who does not fit into her way of thinking and her advanced and enlightened circle.

    Nor does she understand what’s going on with the Shalit deal. By the way, when the translation above says “execution”, it [the word ביצוע ] does not mean to execute the prisoners. It means to execute [carry out] the deal. She wants to release Hamas murderers wholesale, failing to honestly admit or maybe to understand that releasing the 1000 prisoners being talked about would create a great danger to the lives of thousands of Israelis. She may be too stupid to understand that, and likewise too stupid to understand that having honor and acting with self-respect can also help preserve one’s life.

    I am also revolted by the nativism of her piece based on her poor knowledge of history and her false knowledge and beliefs. If non-Israelis want to know why so many people here hate “the Left,” they can read Dear Oprah’s heart-rending message of drivel — and try to understand what it means.

  50. Eliyahu says:

    Forgot to mention that in the painting of Al-Jazzar’s court, Hayim Farhi is standing barefoot near al-Jazzar.

  51. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    I tried not to let my revulsion interfere with my far-from-perfect translation. Please correct it!

    That Ofra (I’m less sure about the transcription of her last name) is intellectually dishonest, misinterpreting both Bedouin/Islamic and Jewish/Israeli sets of notions, in a sinister (molto sinistro!) manner, adulating Noble Savages.

    I can’t find enough cruelty to wish her the exquisite experience of eating her own son’s flesh, though.

  52. E.G. says:

    For those who are not very familiar with Jewish history, Jewish martyrdom is not a myth. It’s a long series of documented atrocities, of Jews who were put to very unpleasant and rather lengthy death penalty procedures for refusing to abandon their faith.

  53. Eliyahu says:

    Getting away from Oprah’s “leftist” pretense at being one of “us,” we see that her purpose was to promote the trade of one unjustly captured soldier, Gilad Shalit [to whom the Red Cross has not been given access in violation of international law], for some 1000 terrorists, successful, very successful, less successful and unsuccessful. She sets up the straw man of national honor as the reason why the govt turned down the deal. The main reason was probably the danger to everybody else from the release of these terrorists into society in the country, or even only in Judea-Samaria. So if life is her highest value, as she self-righteously pretends, she would oppose the Shalit deal [if I described it rightly]. But her loyalty to the living is only a pretense, as I have explained. Shalit’s life does not mean a damn thing for her. She wants to help the terrorists.

    Now, Jewish tradition has a famous story about a captive held for ransom, Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg. He was taken captive in the Middle Ages by some baron or other. He told his followers NOT to pay any ransom because that would only encourage further kidnappings of Jews.

    Oprah is also dumb –or dumb-smart– because she does not seem to understand that her parable of Arabs forfeiting their honor could lead to a different, an opposite practical conclusion. She wants Israel to forfeit its honor, supposedly in order to save Shalit, as Abu Kaadan and his men did [with the ancient wisdom of Arab tradition, supposedly]. Actually, if she had thought about it more, she might have considered the reason Abu Kaadan gave to his men for eating his son. It was to prevent the son’s body from being fed to the dogs. And dogs are considered low creatures. So now we’re back to Arabs standing up for their honor.

    But maybe the concern about dogs was only Abu Kaadan’s pretext for his recognition of al-Jazzar’s superior power. Indeed, Arabs too can be pragmatic, as Oprah says. They can recognize superior power like almost everybody else. And if they feel that they can’t defeat an enemy, they may come to terms with him. Consider the Arab saying: The hand that you cannot bite — kiss it!! That’s why the Arabs did not send a major invasion force to recapture Spain after 1492, although there were of course pirate raids/slave raids on Spain, France, southern Italy, Sicily, and even England, Ireland and Iceland, up to the early 19th century. [Americans can recall "...to the shores of Tripoli..." in the Marines' hymn].

    Oprah wants Israel to emulate Abu Kaadan by surrendering Israel’s honor, supposedly for the sake of the living. But the story could just as well persuade some Israelis that it would be better to emulate al-Jazzar. He was unspeakably cruel, yet he got what he wanted. So someone might suggest taking five Hamas prisoners every day [Israel holds a couple thousand of them, including leaders taken after Shalit was captured] and butchering them in view of their familites or of the hypocritical world, etc., until Hamas gives up Shalit with no demands for an exchange.

    The American navy once did something like that to cause the release of an American being held hostage in Morocco by a rebel named Muley Whatever-His-Name. The American navy threatened to bombard Muley so-&-So’s city until Perdicaris, an American citizen, was released. And so it came to pass.

    So if Arabs can be pragmatic and recognize superior strength, why haven’t they come to terms with Israel?? After every Arab defeat, the Western powers, particularly the US and UK, plus the USSR in 1967, always encouraged the Arabs to hold out against Israel and not come to terms. Therefore, the Arabs [= PLO, PA] have never come to terms because the US, & UK and/or USSR, have always encouraged them to keep the war going under one pretext or another. And the “encouragement” was usually very generous.

    But Oprah is too stupid, smug and self-righteous [in her willingness for others to renounce their honor] that she cannot understand the above. Maybe if a rapist subdued her, a man ugly, filthy, smelly, covered with warts, she would tell him, you mustn’t rape me. You must respect my woman’s honor. Would that be her response to the rapist or would she tell him that she was fully and willingly at his disposal? How would she react if the situation were personal?

    There is one interesting fact to come out of Dear Oprah’s parable righteously dishonorable cannibalism. This is that the village of Tuba was a “settlement.” It was “settled” by Bedouin who don’t come Tuba originally and who did not live there before al-Jazzar took power before 1800.

  54. Eliyahu says:

    correction:

    …who don’t come FROM Tuba originally…

  55. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    Her name is OFra(h).

    But her loyalty to the living is only a pretense, as I have explained. Shalit’s life does not mean a damn thing for her. She wants to help the terrorists.

    I beg to differ. I don’t think she wants to help the terrorists. She wants to help/serve herself: make Israel behave after her self-image (a highly moral, multi-cultural, a- or anti-Jewish, humane, and feminine or emasculated).
    That this might help the terrorists doesn’t really seem to preoccupy her.

    It was to prevent the son’s body from being fed to the dogs. And dogs are considered low creatures. So now we’re back to Arabs standing up for their honor.

    Glad I’m not the only one who had this thought.

    The hand that you cannot bite — kiss it!!

    She does mention Sulha, Hudna…

    It was “settled” by Bedouin who don’t come from Tuba originally and who did not live there before al-Jazzar took power before 1800.

    Aha, that might be the reason she never mentioned any date… “those who lived here hundreds of years ahead of us”… Elementary!

  56. E.G. says:

    It would be interesting to rewrite the 10 commandments with the “forgo honouring” turn.

  57. Cynic says:

    Forgive me my stupidity but I imagined that this Ofra Yeshua-Leyth wants us to eat Shalit.

    It’s not enough that we have Teobald Jews but now “Eat Your Son Jews”.
    To spite the dirty dog by reverting to anthropophagy they call this honour?

  58. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    What’s “Teobald Jews”?
    It’s not honour but “go beyond honour”. The apartheid road, nay, the fast track, to Paradise.

  59. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    Think Norwich.

    From Jewish Ritual Murder in England Before 1290

    Scroll down to the heading:
    1144, Norwich. A twelve year-old boy was crucified and his side pierced at the Jewish Passover. His body was found in a sack hidden in a tree. A converted Jew, called Theobald of Cambridge, confessed that the Jews took blood every year from a Christian child because they thought that only by so doing could they ever obtain their freedom and return to Palestine; and that it was their custom to draw lots to decide whence the blood was to be supplied; Theobald said that last year the lot fell to Narbonne, but in this year to Norwich.

    This link is piece by David Solway.
    Jewish Self Hatred for Dummies

    According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144

    So all self-hating Jews, apostate or not are to be known as Theobald Jews. Actually it makes it easier to just describe them as TJs, all those Finkelsteins and ilk.

  60. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Tanks! ;-)
    (Here’s for that missing h)

    I still favour the more generic “Alter-Jews”.
    I’d rather read the Solway piece later tomorrow…

    Happy New Year!

  61. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    Tanks! ;-)
    (Here’s for that missing h)

    That’s Freud for right wing extremist; tanks indeed :-) :-)

  62. Cynic says:

    Maybe I should just have written;
    “Hey, Cossack your Freudian slip is showing”?

  63. E.G. says:

    :-DDDDDD
    What was that Scotch again? Raise one on my behalf!

  64. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Drinking my tank to your health. Best wishes for 2010 for whoever is sensitive to this kind of milestone.

  65. E.G. says:

    Bonne et heureuse année, Du-Savta.
    And a tHoast to your health!

  66. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    ‘Twas a Bushmills single malt.
    May the next period of 365 days be a better one for all of us and sufficient “schadenfreude” to maintain a smile every day. :-)

  67. Eliyahu says:

    I believe in being sober and anyhow, alcohol is especially bad for my health. Think of its effect on your carotid artery.

    As to the name עופרה , yes, I know how to pronounce it. I meant to subliminally compare our dear Ofra the Savior [Yeshua] with that very rich, not quite honest mindbender, Oprah winfrey. It seems that I did not succeed. But the name Oprah probably originates in the Hebrew עופרה.

  68. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    For the sake of subtlety that is sometimes lost on people, I thought it might not be a bad idea to specify the rapprochement. Thanks for doing so.
    And yes, the Saviour part of the surname does add an interesting savour.
    BTW, the 2nd part of the surname is pronounced light (but I’m not sure if that’s how it’s spelled).

    In the name of lightness, I strongly recommend raising virtual toasts. Here’s one for you!

  69. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    Nobody is talking about excessive imbibing. Anyway what happens on Purim?
    My cardiologist told me to have a tot each day as it is good for my coronary system.
    The only problem is that I could not get a prescription out of him to get the stuff cheaper through my health care “club” :-)

    The family toasted Friday night with a good red wine. Also good for my system according to the dietitian. :-)

  70. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    If you will forgive me if it in anyway impinges on taste here’s what came to mind: The “light” part was to distinguish this ersatz Saviour from the real full bodied one.

  71. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Not to speak about the real thing being a true blonde whereas the Ersatz seems שחורדינית.
    Remind me about it on Yom Kippur eve.

  72. Lianne says:

    Michael J. Totten’s take on the cultural differences between Gaza and Ireland
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/the-middle-east-has-always-been-hard-15338

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>