Ayende @ Rahien

It's a girl

Politics: Morality isn't math

I don't do this often, but this is an exception. My apologies to the people who just want to read about tech, I'll soon resume the regular topics.

Oh, and just to clear the records, I served for 4 years in the IDF, and I am still a reservist. I haven't been activated, and this post contain my own thoughts about the current situation. I assume that this post is going to be a hot topic. I am going to keep comments open until someone invoke Godwin's law, at which point the discuss will end.

There is a term that was a big buzzword several years ago (yes, even outside the tech world there are buzzwords). It is called low intensity conflict. Low intensity conflict is also sometimes called 4th generate warfare. And yes, I am probably making some military history buffs cringe in pain, deal with it.

It describe a situation in which regular army forces find it difficult to utilize their forces due to non military concerns. In many cases, it is political, media or humanitarian concerns that limit the ability to apply force. A common scenario is shooting at someone from a crowd. The fact that the shooter is in a crowd make the utilization of fire arms against the shooter a problem, because it is likely that other people, presumably innocent, are going to get hurt.

Israel has quite a history with such conflicts, I am sadden to say.

Low intensity conflicts are a good way to neutralize the ability of an army to respond appropriately. I think that the best way of explaining the problem in low intensity conflict is with this (extremely famous) picture.

image

I don't think that we need to go into the actual historical background of this picture, it doesn't really matter for the discussion at hand.

This is a very powerful picture, and it capture the sense of disparity in forces that exists.

What is doesn't capture is that a tank vs. kid is not what is going on. The tank cannot realistically do anything to this kid. Any response at all is unthinkable. As a result, we have a situation in which the kid may act with imputiny.

Now take this picture and zoom it out. Let us see what we have in southern Israel and Gaza at the last three years.

We have a densely populated area which contains about 1.4 million people. The vast majority of them, I want to remind you, are people who want to live their lives just like anyone else. They bloody well deserve to live their live in peace, freedom and prosperity.

In 2006, in democratic elections, Hamas has won the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. That caused quite a problem for a lot of people, since Hamas is a terrorist organization, and is recognized as such by the EU, US and the rest of the gang. In case you are not aware of this, let me give some of the highlights from the Hamas' charter.

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.

And how do they intend to "obliterate Israel" ?

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

Notice the part about all talk being a waste of time. We can move on to the next bit of prose. Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant states the following:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Cedar tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.

As I said, following a democratic elections in which the Hamas won, the world had a problem.

Several months before that, Israel has unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza, moving all forces and all citizens out of Gaza. The people of Gaza had the chance they wanted, to manage their own lives. This was a highly contentious act in Israel, those who spoke against it warned that disengaging from Gaza will bring disaster, that the terrorist organizations inside will seize the chance to arm themselves and attack Israel. Those who spoke for it said that this way Israel could give the people of Gaza the freedom that they wanted, and the chance to build a place of their own.

It didn't quite work that way, I am afraid. As I mentioned, Hamas took over the PNA, and the situation, from the point of view of Israel, has gotten worse. Let me give you some idea about the numbers.

In 2006, 1121 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.

In 2007, 2313 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.

in 2008, 1713 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.

From 2003 - 2008, 8827 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.

On Jun 17th, 2008, there was an informal truce between Hamas and Israel, lasting until Dec 23th, 2008. During this period there were several violations of the truce on both sides, for reasons that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

On Dec 24th, 2008, 70 rockets were launched against Israel. And in the previous weeks regular barrages of rockets were fired on the southern part of Israel.

Moving on to another topic all together.  Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations states:

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

This is also called the Principle of Self Defense. This principle is recognized in just about any legal system.

Going back a week and a half ago. They are shooting at us. They are explicitly targeting civilian targets.

This is were low intensity conflict come into play. The usual, ineffective, response from Israel would have been within the boundaries of low intensity conflict. A raid, an air attack against rocket teams, something in this order.

Hamas was perfectly willing to continue playing by those rules. After all, it is to their advantage to keep the conflict in low intensity.

This time, however, Israel didn't respond in the usual ineffective manner. Instead, Israel has started a full scale operation with a single goal. To stop the bombardment on the citizens of Israel.

There is a lot of cry from people saying that there is no possibility of this being a moral action, and trying to point at the numbers of dead & wounded on both sides as proof of that.

There are a lot more dead and wounded in Gaza than in Israel.

The problem, however, is that morality isn't math. You don't get to play around with numbers and come up with an answer.

The situation is quite simple. Hamas had been firing rockets on Israel for years. A truce attempt has failed. Hamas has not only continue to fire rockets on Israel, but has stepped up the number and the range. Hundreds of thousands of the citizens of Israel are at risk.  Israel has chosen to act to defend its citizens.

I am sadden by the loss of civilian life in Gaza, but my people's safety is my main concern.

Any situation in which rockets are fired on Israel is not acceptable. Any attempt to equate dead count is not acceptable, because it in there is the hidden assumption that Israel should let its own people die before it is allowed to act.

There is a lot of history and motivation behind all the actions that are going on here. There have been books written about it, and I can't do it justice even if I tried. But the plain facts are quite simple.

Hamas is shooting at the people of Israel. Israel is acting to stop this shooting.

I can already predict people trying to bring justifications for why Hamas is shooting at Israel. There can be no reason, to put it plainly. I do not accept any reason that justify shooting at my people.

The current situation could have been avoided quite easily. All Hamas had to do was not to shoot at Israel, and talk. There are channels of communications and there are things to talk about. Hamas has followed its charter, of terror and destruction, and fired at Israel.

Now Israel is acting to stop this from happening again.

If you want to dispute Israel's current actions. You have to start from Dec 24th, with Hamas shooting at Israel, and any act that you make must end with no rockets fired at Israel.

I intentionally limit the discussion, because attempts to bring history or justifications to the mix are not really relevant. This is the situation that we have to deal with.

Israel cannot accept its citizens being fired upon, full stop.

Comments

Stephen
01/05/2009 09:39 PM by
Stephen

More recently people think scientology is crazy, people need but remind theirselves of just how crazy all region is.. while it gives people great faith to do things, it leads to the worst in humanity.. I don't even think this is so much religion.. I think its the abstract effect of people believing in something so much, and the effect of masses.. the same problems you see in everything.

Peter Morris
01/05/2009 09:57 PM by
Peter Morris

No matter how much some people want peace there will be enough in this situation to want war.

I believe the only solution to this is Jihad. Not because I want it to be the only solution, but because I believe that neither side will stop until things get too bad to continue.

Ariel
01/05/2009 09:57 PM by
Ariel

Quite true, though I'd like add an implied detail not always known to non-Israel people: Hamas is not just firing rockets at Israel, they are targeting, almost exclusively, civilians cities. This is an important detail which is very much in alignment with the Hamas charter i.e. all Jews are the enemy, so why bother targeting the military when civilians are easier to hit. This, btw, is the exact opposite behaviour of the Israeli Defence Force which targets Hamas terrorists and tries to prevent loss in Gaza's civilian life, many times on the cost of the Israeli soldiers’ life.

Any war is sad, but sometimes war is only solution before peace can be achieved. Israel tried all other avenues to end this conflict, but with Hamas ruling the area, and giving Hamas charter, this cannot be achieved. It saddens me to say that, but I think an armed conflict is the only solution before achieving peace.

R(Spain)
01/05/2009 09:58 PM by
R(Spain)

It's nice to read about this from someone that has been closer to the situation then most journalists.

Chris
01/05/2009 10:02 PM by
Chris

Ayende, I was hoping to send a direct tweet but, smartly so, you have restricted that.

I know much of the history of which you speak. It is complex and fraught with disagreement, at best. You distill the most relevant issues well here.

Israel is doing what it must to protect its people.

You, your people and your land are in my prayers. Also, in my prayers are the peace loving citizens on "the other side" that are willing to live in peace and are suffering as a result of this extremist mentality.

paul cowan
01/05/2009 10:07 PM by
paul cowan

I have been saddened by a protest march attended by well known celebrities in the uk against isreal's military action.

as a protestant from belfast I have even had the misfortune to se holywood films starring actors like brad pitt and liam neeson telling only one side of the story.

x
01/05/2009 10:11 PM by
x

You can not brush of "Math" when it is not convenient.

450 dead people vs 4 dead people.

Of course "math" must be made irrelevant when "math" inconveniently points to genocide.

The Israeli leadership has killed two orders of magnitude in Gaza than the rockets did in all four years.

Funny that you would talk about the rockets and mortar fire coming into Israel, but you posted no statistics on the kind of attacks that Israel imposes on the territories that it continues to occupy illegally.

Why not quote some figures from here:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

Israel has demolished with bulldozers 18,147 homes in the Occupied Territories. Not houses in Israel, but houses that were built on the West Bank and Gaza.

That is 18 thousand Palestinians that lost their home. What justification is there for that? It was probably one of the "avenue" that Israel followed to end the conflict. Or maybe you will cook up some lame reason "The houses held terrorists".

At the same time, Israel has been illegally building settlements in the West Bank, 233 of these exist, which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. I am sure you will come up with some "math" or some "legal" framework that justifies that.

Of course, I expect this to be censored.

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 10:18 PM by
Ayende Rahien

X,

You have chosen to post anonymously, why?

More to the point, you have utterly ignored the crucial question I laid in the end of the post.

Do try again.

George Mauer
01/05/2009 10:21 PM by
George Mauer

There is one thing you forgot to mention that cannot fairly be excluded from the discussion. Namely that there are serious doubts that Israel's actions will achieve anything but an extremely temporary payoff and be far more damaging in the long run.

I do not doubt the IDFs wisdom on the matter - if generals and the secret service are at a consensus that they can achieve something then I believe they know what they're talking about far more than I. However, they are not a single entity and at some point politics starts to play a role. People start to say "we have been quiet for 2 years and they're still shooting at us, good lord, we need to try something different". A fair judgment to be sure but a fickle, anxious and forgetful one - one that is unwilling to consider that the obvious alternative might not be a better one after all. Politicians of course have to react, and even if the people most educated on the subject are recommending riding out the storm, they get only one measly vote each.

People like to say that there is no simple solution to this particular dilemma, and they're right, its not simple - currently its downright unfeasible - but there is a solution and as unfeasible as it is, acknowledging it is enlightening.

  • No high profile reaction from Israel to any Hamas provocation whatsoever (blockade included)

  • Ignore all political pressure to switch tactics

  • Wait 25 years

Maybe Oren you would disagree with me whether that would pave over the problem nicely, but I doubt it. In this case the question becomes how can we make this plan possible? This being a tech blog I'm going to go ahead and say that technology might be able to help. Yes its incredibly difficult to intercept small rockets in flight, but now we've at least got a starting point!

So we have this idea. It is silly, impossible, completely ignorant of human psychology and recent military and political history (25 years without switching tactics!?) and smacks of cowardice to boot. The thing is, I don't see any other long-term plan on the table.

Ryan Roberts
01/05/2009 10:27 PM by
Ryan Roberts

Very well put Oren. Your country was in an untenable position regarding the intensification of fire from Hamas at the end of the last Hudna. No nation could be expected to quietly accept such an assault. And aren't the low casualties on the Israeli side largely due to high levels of civil defense preparation?

Much of the UK media, and especialy the BBC has a systematic bias against the Israeli perspective in these matters.

Dean Granzer
01/05/2009 10:31 PM by
Dean Granzer

You're a great programmer. Ethicist, not so much.

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 10:31 PM by
Ayende Rahien

George,

You suggestion is not viable. It also doesn't solve the immediate problem of rockets fired at Israel's cities.

History teach us that such actions tend to leave lasting impression. We have seen the effect on that in Lebanon 2006. Where even now, they dare not do anything, because they realize what the response would be.

Hamas is the government, if it want to stay in power, it cannot continue this game with the new rules.

Omar Qadan
01/05/2009 10:32 PM by
Omar Qadan

i believe the problem started at 1948 when you kicked us out of our land after Grate Britni gave you our land this land is ours and we will fight for it 4 ever even if the political leaders like ABBAS or Mubarak gave you there word we will teach our children everything about our land

this link is not for you Ayende it's for the visitors to know our viewpoint

www.islamonline.net/.../index.shtml

Between Death and slavery we don't have choice

Ryan Roberts
01/05/2009 10:33 PM by
Ryan Roberts

Yes its incredibly difficult to intercept small rockets in flight, but now we've at least got a starting point!

A solid state laser defense system is apparently being tested at the moment:

http://tinyurl.com/8tacz3

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 10:33 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Dean,

I don't try to be an Ethicist. All I want is my people not get bombed.

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 10:35 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Omar,

At least try to appear objective.

And, you haven't answered the question of how to stop rockets on Israel's cities.

J Healy
01/05/2009 10:35 PM by
J Healy

I'd say fostering the conditions which led to Hamas' rise to power constitutes the opportunity cost associated with Israel's earlier inability to come to terms with Fatah.

My perspective is that, in the end, the continued cycle of violence between the Israelis and Palestinians is strictly a matter of pride on both sides. And that pride has now resulted in a 'two state' problem within the Palestinian side of the conflict as opposed to a 'two state' resolution to the conflict as a whole between to peoples who - again, from my perspective - have more in common with one another than with the rest of the world.

James Coffman
01/05/2009 10:40 PM by
James Coffman

Oren, Well said.

How many of those critical of Israel have rockets landing in their back yards on an almost daily basis?

Ryan Riley
01/05/2009 10:46 PM by
Ryan Riley

Omar's post pretty well says it all. So does history. So do the Scriptures. As sad as it is, this conflict will never end. Stephen's point about faith bringing out both the best and worst is also true, though I would disagree that faith is thus crazy implicitly.

I find those making a defense for the Palestinians the craziest. If you hit the big kid, you should expect the big kid to punish you. That Israel holds back so much is amazing to me. Israel probably has the power to wipe out a lot more than they have, but they hold back, knowing that they would quickly lose support from the rest of the world. Mercy and grace may sound like strange terms to use here--possibly "crazy" terms--but just maybe some faiths help prevent greater atrocities.

My prayers are with both groups. Instead of debating who's to blame, we should all be sorrowful and prayerful that the conflict would end.

josh
01/05/2009 10:54 PM by
josh

define:genocide - letmegooglethatforyou.com/?q=define%3Agenocide

define:terroristm - letmegooglethatforyou.com/?q=define%3Aterrorism

If you think its genocide, you clearly are ignoring the systematic/intentional part of the meaning of the word. In fact, the casualty reports indicate an attempt to minimize civilian palestinian casualties on the part of the IDF. That's contrary to Hamas's declared intent and clear actions which is to focus on Israeli civilian targets. (see define:terrorism) Considering Gaza is so densely populated it's hard to avoid; especially in the low intensity conflict situation which Oren described. Seems IDF tries to warn and avoid civilians.

It's not a matter of "more of us died so we're morally superior".. that's like saying "my car cost more so I get to drive however I like and rules don't apply". Also consider that the media coverage and photo's are controlled and often staged.

Ryan S
01/05/2009 10:58 PM by
Ryan S

@James

while true, there are those that have had bombs land in their back yard and yet still choose a different perspective. It may give Oren a different perspective but it does not make him absolutely correct, that sort of justification leads to all sorts of negative suspension of thought.

@Oren

Oren while I greatly admire you and I appreciate you actually LIVE there. I cannot see how Israel's actions will solve much, rockets likely will still be fired into Israel after this is over, and Hamas may end up in an even more powerful position. They rose to power by exploiting tensions, being the "good guy" to a lot poor people in a crappy humanitarian situation (which is crass politics at its worse), and the more reason they have to exist, the more recruits/money/brain trust they'll get. I hope dearly that I am proven incorrect.

I wish I had an answer to solve the rocket dilemma, and I'm afraid I do not have a short term one. The root cause is Hamas exploits a crappy situation to raise it's own fortunes and support...changing that paradigm needs to be first and foremost the long term solution.

josh
01/05/2009 11:03 PM by
josh

@Ryan S

so what should Israel do? sit on its hands and turn the other cheek while its residents and civilians die. Hamas isn't changing and isn't willing to talk or hold true to a truce. Is there no right to self-defence?

Dimitris Daskalakis
01/05/2009 11:05 PM by
Dimitris Daskalakis

The matter is that there are going to be rockets fired again, and it is not going to have an end. This is just what happens every time violence is used as a tool.

Besides, a full force attack is not a bloodless solution either, for any side.

So, since you are going to get through fire anyway, why not use another way?

Unless, of course you think you get a clear chance of removing all of the problem at once.

But then, the relation between math and morality should be reconsidered.

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 11:07 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Ryan,

There is a significant difference between what a ruling body can do and what a terrorist group can do.

A terrorist group is very hard to hit. Because as long as they have people, they are alive.

Actually, that is not accurate. They are hard to hit as long as you put humanitarian limitations on what you are willing to do.

A ruling body is another matter. It has responsibilities, it has points of pressure, and it has irreplaceable assets.

Hamas has kept acting as if it is a terrorist group. But as a ruling body, it is much more vulnerable. If they continue with their current actions, it would be Fatah in Gaza within the next 6 months.

Hamas has routinely abused, tortured and murdered Fatah people. I think that at that point I can say that Hamas will get its due.

Even without that, Hamas as a ruling body must answer to the people of Gaza. And they are going to come out of this with questions for Hamas. Such as: Why did you started this?

At the end of the 2006's war, Nasralla publically stated that if he knew what the result would be, he wouldn't have started.

This is what Israel is aiming at. If Hamas know that this is the sort of reaction that it will get from Israel, it wouldn't even try

George Mauer
01/05/2009 11:07 PM by
George Mauer

It is indeed not viable. And again, if there's something to be accomplished here, by all means go ahead. Let's not be jerks about it but lets do our thing.

But there needs to be acknowledgment that we're not really going to get anything done until provocateurs like Omar above (and plenty on our side too) are all irrelevant. And actually going out and killing them is swimming against an overwhelming tide.

I do not begrudge Israel defending itself but it's incredible how people choose to sidestep the issue of effectiveness. (Well, not incredible, morality is a far more interesting topic, but interesting.)

I am a russain jew living in the United States. I do not have rockets falling in my back yard. And that is precisely why its easier for me to say this: morality is not the issue, putting an end to this depressing chapter of history in the most painless way possible is. Do not listen to moral ideologues on either side, they've got a lot to say but scaring the life out of people is hardly a sustainable solution (and neither is wiping out the jews, its been tried, you can read up on it).

My point is this:

Stop wasting time arguing morality, its pointless and unless you're a philosopher and a historian you're premises are probably wrong. There's a more interesting discussion to be had you know.

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 11:09 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Dimitris ,

I don't believe that rockets will be fired again.

See 2006' precedent as a good example.

Also, you mention "another way", but you don't say what it is.

It is very easy to say "find another way", we tried, we failed.

Now we do what we should have done from the start, make it explicit that there is a line that thou shall not cross.

Rafael
01/05/2009 11:13 PM by
Rafael

I'm very sorry this is happening, but the worse part is that this is just another chapter of a never ending conflict. The numbers of "causalities", specially the 30% of children and women dead, is a good indication of how precise and effective are the so called "surgical strikes", and I believe this percentage is quite low. If we could sum up all the innocents killed it would be much much higher. It would be better to drop the hypocritical terms and assume the seek and destroy attitude.

Your foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, has already called it a "war on terror", and said that Israel is "fighting for the world", which I really disagree, that's just another PR maneuver to bring up FUD on peoples "hearts and minds", specially the north americans, which are essential to keep the bombs coming, and blocking any kind of real action by UN's security council, assuming they would be willing to do something. The self defense and war on terror are the usual tactics to justify this kind of action, just like Iraq and Afghanistan, but that's not the point here.

Not discussing history is mostly useless, since we're not discussing the root cause. For every palestinian killed, with or without reason, another one will rise and fight, just like a israeli would. And just like the israelis are living their forefathers dreams of fighting for their homeland, so will the palestinians fight for theirs, and the next generations will be fighting just like this, no peace will come for any side. No war will ever end this.

But again, who wants this to end? I'm sure, or at least hope, that a lot of israelis don't not want this fight, they want to live in peace, but the politicians are worried about their vote count, not the lives of people, any people. Every bomb that falls give the warmonger a new vote, and after this incursion is finished, and it will eventually end, the rockets will strike Israel again, the suicide bombings will resume, etc. What will be different? Nothing, and the war politicians will be elected, they will have won their war, the only one they care about. And don't forget the weapons dealers, they will be very happy to sell new weapons to both sides. In the end of the day war is good for business.

Israel won't be safer, the war won't end, palestinians won't have their land. Until everybody (including Hamas) seat down and arrive at a good arrangement for everyone, supposing that's possible, you guys will be killing each other until the end of time. This war will be added to the Intifada-like wars, given a number, added to Wikipedia, and we can go back and wait for the next.

Sad and unjustifiable by any side.

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 11:20 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Rafael,

a) The number of casualties are incredibly low. In large part because of superhuman effort on the part of the IDF to avoid killing innocents.

b) You have failed to point an alternative that would stop rockets on Israel's city.

Do try again

Henning
01/05/2009 11:24 PM by
Henning

Ayende,

I have great respect for you from a professional perspective. You're also, understandably, a very concerned citizen of a country that has endured too much sorrow, both of the unavoidable and self-inflicted kind.

However, if you were on the outside looking in - how do you think you would react to the situation? Morality IS math. More than 500 palestinians killed, 30% of which are women and children.

Ofcourse, this is to be expected, and Israels leadership KNEW that hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians would be killed. This is what troubles me. How can people in power willfully sign off on something they know will kill, maim and destroy the lives of hundres or thousands of civilians.

Israel is trying to instill so much fear in the Palestinian populace that they will throw down Hamas from power. If the IDF were really after Hamas - this kind of operation must be stupidly ineffective. The population of Palestine are probably now more behind Hamas than ever. Hamas leaders and operatives are given the chance to escape because the attack is so brutally obvious. Special forces, sabotage, surgical bombing, anti-missile defense systems... THOSE are the kind of solutions that would work.

Also - a much stronger relationship with Egypt which is essentially the only country that can stop the trafficking of the rockets into Gaza by way of their tunnels.

At least you didn't play the anti-sionist card against anybody who oppose you, a play I've seen so many times on television by the Israeli ambassador to Norway it sickens me.

rizzo
01/05/2009 11:35 PM by
rizzo

Ayende, IMO Israel is totally doing what it has the right to (e.g. protect its people), however, I agree with George in questioning whether the result will be anything other than a temporary restraint by Hamas, PIJ or whoever else ends up being in power in Gaza.

What does IDF do after an operation in Gaza today? It heads back to Israel for sleep. Eventually the entire operation will be over and Israel just won't be in Gaza to babysit the terrorists, leaving them to their own devices once again. Remember that IDF had a similar operation following abduction of Cpl Shalit that resulted in absolutely nothing.

Unless the objective is to place a well equipped army of peace keepers into Gaza (as in Lebanon) to be babysitting Palestinians, we will be having the same conversation in 3 years time.

MakeTeaNotWar
01/05/2009 11:35 PM by
MakeTeaNotWar

Ayende,

Can you tell me how military action will stop the rockets (and by this I presume you mean forever)?

Ive seen nothing in history that would convince me that this would be the case

I dont question Israel's right to defend herself, just her method

gabe
01/05/2009 11:37 PM by
gabe

I see this the same as gun control:

Only two ways to be safe, either, you assure that 100% of the people are unarmed, or you know as close to a 100% of the people are armed. No one is going to break into your house if they know you are armed. Likewise, if enough Hamas are affected by this, they will think twice before attacking Israel. Of course if it's only the people of Gaza maybe they will think twice before electing a group like Hamas.

Acting "peaceful" doesn't work when the other party isn't; if the car ain't gonna swerve, don't play opossum.

I pray for a speedy conclusion to this with minimal casualties on both sides.

rizzo
01/05/2009 11:38 PM by
rizzo

@Henning I am curious. How would you resolve this situation from Israel's standpoint? How would you stop the rockets?

Ayende Rahien
01/05/2009 11:39 PM by
Ayende Rahien

MakeTearNotWar,

2006's Lebanon.

Cuba missile crisis

Georgia & Russia

Cartago

I can give lots of examples.

Judah Himango
01/05/2009 11:42 PM by
Judah Himango

If Side-A kills 100, and Side-B kills only 15, Side B must be morally superior! Bad Israel! (Or so goes the thinking among the foolish.)

"Morality isn't math."

If it were, we'd have to chide the Allies of 2nd World War, since German civilians casualty count was greater than the US or UK.

I guess they used disproportionate force. But they won the war and brought meaningful peace to Europe.

Israel ought to ignore the ignorant fools who jeer from the sidelines and do whatever is necessary for the peace of its citizens.

João P. Bragança
01/05/2009 11:43 PM by
João P. Bragança

The quickest way to peace is for one side to attain total victory over the other (please read a high school history book for examples). Ignore the news. Like most of my fellow 'mericans I hope it is Israel.

That is what is so insidious about this so called peace process. It is nothing more than a milk cow for rich people to fly all around the planet, to stay in fancy hotels, to attend glitzy conferences, to stay in the limelight, all on the taxpayers' dime, all in the name of 'continuing the peace process.' It is disgusting.

Henning
01/05/2009 11:44 PM by
Henning

@rizzo

There are no simple answers. But Israel has a completely different situation to resolve now. The collective disappointment of the entire western world bar it's long-time protector, the USA.

Sooner or later that fact is going to come back to haunt Israel when it is in need of friends.

if you read my entire post, I also said that Israel needs to refocus its efforts on stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza. Both the EU and the UN has at times offered semi-permanent monitoring and peace-keeping forces that are specialists in these kinds of operations.

@Ayende

Georgia & Russia : this wasn't solved through armed conflict, this was solved by collective world-wide pressure on Russia.

Cuba missile crisis: this was basically pure luck. You think Cuban rockets being fired would have solved it?

Rafael
01/05/2009 11:46 PM by
Rafael

So, because they are so "low", 540 people killed is reasonable? I though summing up deaths was a bad excuse. There's no such thing as "low body count", just body count, specially when we are talking about any innocent, on both sides.

Supposing there is a solution, it won't be a military one. No matter how hard you crush them they will come back, in fact I believe it will only make it worse. Calling Hamas a "terrorist group" and not negotiating with them is an error. True, they are terrorists of sorts, but they represent and "defend" part of their people, that sucks but that's reality.

I don't see the war ending unless the palestinians have their own state, without any foreign intervention safe for UN observers of sort, and a peace agreement is reached with all the factions and Israel. I don't believe any anti-israel faction would have great support if the palestinians had their own really free state. But then again, I don't know what Israelis think about a palestinian state.

And no, Gaza Strip and West Bank doesn't configure a free state.

Ricardo
01/05/2009 11:59 PM by
Ricardo

Roy Osherove also had a post on the current situation in Gaza. I'll just crosspost my response here.

======

I truly hope that the IDF is able to kill every single terrorist in Gaza (and elsewhere). However, I doubt that that will lead to a long (permanent) ceasefire.

If my neighbor tries to kill you and you take him out by shooting him in the head, fine by me. If you take him out by destroying our apartment building, killing my 3 year old daughter in the process, well... you just made a new enemy.

OTOH, If you want to kill me, I'll do anything to take you out first, even if I have to destroy... oh well, you get the point :-(

If I had a solution for the current situation, you would be reading my blog instead of me reading yours. The only thing I can think of is allowing the Palestinians to have a 'normal' live.

Hopefully, in a few years time, a conversation in Gaza will go like this.

"Hey dude, I'm bored, wanna make some rockets to shoot at Israel ?"

"I can't, the Apple store just called, I can pick up my new iPhone in 30 minutes"

"Coooooool, after that then ?"

"Sorry, I have to go to the travel agency, booking my holiday to Thailand."

"How about tomorrow?"

"I'm supposed to play WoW then. BTW, shouldn't you be rehearsing your presentation on unit-testing for Tech-Ed Australia ?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right. Oh well, never mind then."

"We're still on for tonight right ? That new Israeli restaurant around the corner supposedly has the best food in the middle-east."

"Of course, I'll meet you there at 19:00."

João P. Bragança
01/05/2009 11:59 PM by
João P. Bragança

Did the United States totally and utterly crush the Japanese empire? Did the Soviets not completely and utterly smash the 3rd Reich? And yet to this day there is no grievance industry around the people of any of these formerly warring states. In fact you could say that for the most part, relations between them are pretty good (NATO, Gerhard Schroeder on the board of Gazprom, etc).

Why? Because in fact one side was completely beaten. I'm talkin' scorched earth! One out of every two males DEAD. No factory that hasn't been bombed out. Israel has never done this to an Arab country, because they can't or don't want to.

gabe
01/06/2009 12:04 AM by
gabe

@Rafael did you miss this part in the post:

from the Hamas' charter.

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.

unless a "palestinian state" means no israel (or Jews for that matter), groups like Hamas won't be happy... and even then they'll only be happy until they find the next target.

gabe
01/06/2009 12:09 AM by
gabe

@João but then every struggling nation loves the US to bomb the crap out of them because we just get a loan and rebuild 'em. We're super cool that way.

Alexis Kennedy
01/06/2009 12:10 AM by
Alexis Kennedy

Ayende,

b) You have failed to point an alternative that would stop rockets on Israel's city.

Is there a time frame in which this should be achieved for you to consider the solution acceptable? A week, a year, a decade, immediately?

At what point do solutions start becoming unacceptable to you? I assume 'Gaza is depopulated' and 'Israel makes any concessions Hamas requires' are both out of the question. What is the most extreme level of civilian casualties, or the greatest degree of concession by Israel, that you would permit in an attempt (ultimately successful or not) to end the attacks?

PeteGoo
01/06/2009 12:10 AM by
PeteGoo

Scorched Earth? Kill every single terrorist? The world really is in a terrible state.

Try a different approach. Non-Violence does not mean non-action. One life is too many.

www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=sr12

Pete

(Northern Irish)

Rafael
01/06/2009 12:11 AM by
Rafael

@gabe

No, I didn't miss that. The thing is that it doesn't matter. The support from people is the important thing and they just support Hamas or any other radical faction because they are defended by the radicals. If they don't need their help, they won't have support, and the only radical remaining will be the crazy ones.

The better option is to attack the cause not the symptom.

Parag Mehta
01/06/2009 12:11 AM by
Parag Mehta

@Henning

You can't do math that just because 500 Palestinians dead, a conflict is a conflict.

@Rafael

Even after Palestinians do have a state, they will still create same mess. What makes me think so? Look at all the Islamic world and you get the answer. Pakistan is making trouble for our country(India) since long time. Suppose you have a Palestine state, you would end up with same sort of problems.

@Ayende

How come Hamas attacking Israel not making news and Israel retaliating is always part of the news (as aggressor) ? At least in India this is true.

In my honest opinion, I do not see a permanent end to the war. It's pretty hard to trust people who feel every other religion in the world must be killed.

Rafael
01/06/2009 12:26 AM by
Rafael

@Parag

People will always fight for something, be it religion, land, ideology or resources. But most people don't want to fight, people want peace, military, political leaders and arms dealers like war, but if don't have a good excuse you make things a little bit harder for the warmongers.

And when talking about the "Islamic World" you need to include all the states that are not at war, like Jordan, Quatar, Kwait, Emirates, Egypt and others. I'm not saying they're heaven, just that they are relatively more at peace. Don't let islamofobia get you, please. There's more to Islam than the CNN shows.

Giovanni Bassi
01/06/2009 12:36 AM by
Giovanni Bassi

Oren, I cannot and will not try to justify anything. You know A LOT more than me on this conflict. The only real person I know of that lives in Israel is you, so, this is just for support. I understand and agree with your arguments. History is passed, and I agree we have to deal with the current problem.

Sometimes I get caught on thoughts like "Why doesn't Israel just finish this whole thing, by force?", or just the opposite "Why can't this people make peace?". It's complicated. I really with I could see this ending, it's almost unbelievable. The feeling that when I die, in like 50 years, this might still exists is just unbelievable.

The fear I have is that this will scale up to a full world war. If Iran joins Hamas, or some other scale up happens, the US and Europe would enter the conflict, and so would the other muslin countries, and the result would be a humanitarian disaster. Then I go back to the "Why can't these guys make peace?" thought. Hasn't the world learned from the past wars? How is that even possible?

It's really hard for me to understand what drives all this free violence. The whole religion thing doesn't appeal to me, religion is supposed to be about love, not hate.

Anyway, man, I am praying, as the whole world is praying for this to end. To you, the only person I can write to in person in Israel, I wish the best, for you, your family and the people you know.

Parag Mehta
01/06/2009 12:41 AM by
Parag Mehta

@Rafael

I can understand your point of view. It's sad but true that there is no end in sight atleast for now.

Yes I am aware of Islam, my country(INDIA) has second largest number of Islamic people in the world(after Indonesia). If every other religion is ended, these people will fight among themselves dividing their own religion. I am not saying the religion is bad, but the preaching out of Madressas(their education institutes) is really what is making them fanatic.

gabe
01/06/2009 12:44 AM by
gabe

@Giovanni

religion is supposed to be about love, not hate

this is untrue, actually religion is about beliefs and ideals, if one of the ideals of the religion is the annihilation of all others, well that is what that religion is "supposed to be about".

Jorge Alves
01/06/2009 12:54 AM by
Jorge Alves

@Oren,

I'm sorry for being pessimistic but this "war" won't succeed.

The only thing that will work is time to think, forgive and forget. These actions just reset the timer to zero.

Israel showed courage and good faith by leaving gaza and I'm sure the seeds of peace were planted in some Palestinian minds but now you're ruining that moment. From now on, people will remember today.

Jorge

Ryan S
01/06/2009 01:05 AM by
Ryan S

@Josh

I know these tend to cause heated responses, but respectfully that's an absurd leap to get that from what I've written. I'm not advocating inaction, but I still fear as many others very smart educated people do that this particular action, this campaign at this time will do nothing positive for Israel.

I may be very wrong of course, things are grotesquely complex and involved when it comes to Middle Eastern politics and exponentially so in this conflict.. Gut reaction response to it gets everyone in an even bigger mess. It's harder to see the correct bright and happy path, but it certainly seems easy to see the risky dark ones.

@Oren I hope you're correct, my fear is that Hamas's followers will be further emboldened and that Iran will further escalate their aide, also that the US and Israel will continue to be isolated from more and more of the world community in support of this engagement.

Lebanon is of course a different situation and I can point out (and I know you can just thinking for a few minutes) a number of historical occasions where pushing down hard on minority opposition results in ever more ferocious responses.

Dr. Brzezinski has suggested seizing the territories where missile strikes are occurring. Not being familiar with the logistics and reality of this situation I cannot comment but why was this not tried first?

Also Cuban Missile Crisis could not be a less apt comparison. That's about brinkmanship between too equal parties bent gaining the upper hand without a shot being fired (unless you're confusing it with the Bay of Pigs which would be very much against you're argument).

Slavo
01/06/2009 01:09 AM by
Slavo

Well, war is always terrible. But I simply do not understand one thing, and it seems that no one mention mention it.

I mean horrible fact that Hamas leaders apparently do not care about own people - they provoking Israel, knowing that they are no match for it in direct confrontation, and by this simply put their own people (women and childrens) in grave danger.

Does Hamas use own women and childrens as human shields, and hope that Israel would care about them more than about own people (for which Israel goverment is directly responsible)?

Or they are so despair (maybe crazy is better word) that they care about nothing beside destroying Israel?

Hamas had about 80% in elections. Do these people risks they lives voluntarily?

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:25 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Rizzo,

There is a significant difference between what goes on now and what happened for Shalit.

Frankly, I think that this is a shame, that should have happened for Shalit.

Alex
01/06/2009 01:27 AM by
Alex

If one day Hamas took all their weapons and threw them into the sea unilaterally what would happen? Now, what would happen if one day Israel did that same thing. Hmmmmm....I'm thinking that Jews would be the one to regret that action...

Israel needs to finish the job this time and leave Hamas in such a shambles that Fatah is able to enter the vacuum. This will also give second thoughts to both Hezbollah and Iran.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:28 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Henning

Israels leadership KNEW that hundreds, if not thousands,

You fail to provide a solution that keep Israel safe.

My people come first, and if someone attack them, a response that stop this is appropriate.

This is backed by common sense and international law.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:32 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Alexis,

Time frame for stopping attack on Israel? I don't have one.

I can tell you what is not acceptable.

Months is not acceptable.

Years in not acceptable.

The realistic scenario is that we take possession of Gaza again, and make sure that there are no rockets fired.

That wouldn't be fun, but it is a viable solution.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:34 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Rafael.

I think you are missing the point. There is a military viable solution for this issue.

Israel just don't want to take that action, but this is something that is currently planned and readied for.

You don't negotiate with people who try to kill you. They have to stop trying to kill you first.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:37 AM by
Ayende Rahien

"Why doesn't Israel just finish this whole thing, by force?"

Possible outcome, but not something that we want to do. This would require retaking Gaza, and while I believe that this will make the life of the people in Gaza much better, it is not something that Israel wants to deal with.

As for world war, that is unlikely. Iran isn't likely to start anything with the US army just across the border, and with a Israeli government that went "crazy" couple of times already. That is leaving aside the political situation in both Iran & Lebanon.

Both of them are facing elections soon, and in Iran Ahminajad isn't too stable

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:41 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Jorge,

You need to provide a viable solution to stop rockets on Israel.

Talking with people whose goal is the obliteration of Israel isn't going to work

Rob Cannon
01/06/2009 01:43 AM by
Rob Cannon

You are completely right that Isreal has the right to defend itself. I am ashamed that so many celeberties and journalists in my country (U.S.A) feel that peace is more important than self-defense and freedom.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:44 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Ryan,

They are currently launching from inside Gaza city. We are currently in the process of seizing Gaza city.

I think that you have a problem understanding the size of things. It is small.

Regarding your other comments. There was a reason that I asked for a viable solution for the problem. Any suggestions that doesn't cover that is nice, but not acceptable

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:47 AM by
Ayende Rahien

PeteGoo,

How many time did people try to kill you?

I can personally count 6 separate incidents so far.

Non violence only work if you have someone else who do the violence for you, or if you live in a temporary utopia. And it is temporary because at some points the barbarians are going to get to the gates, and you are going to try to fight swords with words.

Non violence is a self defeating, masochistic, stupid way of acting.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 01:49 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Does Hamas use own women and childrens as human shields, and hope that Israel would care about them more than about own people

Yes.

Not only that, but they gain propoganda value from that.

Ryan S
01/06/2009 01:53 AM by
Ryan S

in reply to:

Regarding your other comments. There was a reason that I asked for a viable solution for the problem. Any suggestions that doesn't cover that is nice, but not acceptable

@oren

I was referring to your previous reply to me only, so the comments of course wandered off your initial requirements.

I know what you're saying about having a solution to this, and I do not think there is a short term one, I think it's only long term change of strategy and approach and a more judicious use of carrot and stick ( only the stick for Hamas). My argument is Israel is falling into Hamas's plans. Again I very much hope I am wrong, and that the rocket strikes cease after the assault.

in reply to:

They are currently launching from inside Gaza city. We are currently in the process of seizing Gaza city.

I think that you have a problem understanding the size of things. It is small.

@Oren i was afraid of that I have heard many things from Dr. Brzezinski that I thought were intelligent or thought out, but I'm not surprised to hear that seizing a portion of territory to prevent strikes was not possible. I'll respect that you have a far more intimate knowledge on the logistics.

Josh K
01/06/2009 01:59 AM by
Josh K

Those who begrudge Israel for this situation need to ask themselves a simple question. What would happen if the terrorists put an end to their attacks? Would Israel have reason (or political capital) to continue (counter) attacking?

The situation as it exists poses a deep moral challenge for the reasons identified by Oren. If you attack, as a coward, from within the civilian population, you are at fault when retaliation eventually arrives at it's doorstep. Got grievances? Man up as a society and plead your case on the world stage, with the willingness to at least take seriously what the rest of the world suggests as a solution. Teach your children to establish an individual identity, rather than a collective one. Plead with fellow Arab states for guidance and assistance in developing a modern society.

But that won't happen. Why? The median age in the Gaza strip is 17. Nearly half of the people who live there are under 14 years of age. It is a culture of death, with an exploding population of children who know nothing other than to hate their neighbors. How many kids in Gaza are sporting a peace symbol on their shirts?

Where, in this suicidal society, will the adult leaders come from who can rise above generations of ignorance, unite their people behind a mission to create a better world for themselves, and argue their case on the world stage?

Ryan S`
01/06/2009 02:07 AM by
Ryan S`

in reply to:

Non violence only work if you have someone else who do the violence for you, or if you live in a temporary utopia. And it is temporary because at some points the barbarians are going to get to the gates, and you are going to try to fight swords with words.

Non violence is a self defeating, masochistic, stupid way of acting.

@Oren

This hides the key point. While I cannot see a way it would help Israel (see carrot and stick above) if the Palestinian's ever actually look at the examples of India and the US Civil Rights movement it would substantially change the dynamic of the this conflict.

India owes it's independence to a non-violence movement , and Barak Obama would not be able to have been elected without a non-violent movement some 40 years ago in the United States.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 02:09 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Meta comment: Removed comment that violated Godwin's law.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 02:13 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Ryan,

You are trying to compare two completely different scenarios.

Non violence is a privilege. It only works if the other side let you do so.

In the 60s, if there was a no violent protest, there was no thought to actually shoot at the people there. Well, at least no as a stated policy with frequent attempts to execute.

In those conditions, you could afford the luxury.

Non violence doesn't work unless the other side isn't violent.

This is not the current situation

Ryan S.
01/06/2009 02:22 AM by
Ryan S.

in reply to: You are trying to compare two completely different scenarios.

Non violence is a privilege. It only works if the other side let you do so.

In the 60s, if there was a no violent protest, there was no thought to actually shoot at the people there. Well, at least no as a stated policy with frequent attempts to execute.

@oren,

Reread what i wrote i wasn't saying it was viable for Israel (it's not). However for Palestine it may.

as to the civil rights movement you're quite incorrect about no though to actually shoot people there only when violent.

That did happen to just crowds that wouldn't disperse, as well as lynchings of Civil Right workers black and white, many people beaten to death, this was not a bright time in American history. Google Eugene "Bull" Connor for just a brief snapshot.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 02:25 AM by
Ayende Rahien

If someone in the other side had even half a brain cell to think with, they would seize the non violence arm and never let go.

That is a much better tool to use than anything else.

It would gain much from propaganda alone, but it would actually bring results to the street, and likely very fast.

Ryan S.
01/06/2009 02:37 AM by
Ryan S.

Oren,

I think you hit the nail on the head there. I seriously doubt that no one on the other side has considered that option.

Ergo, those that have real motivation for that have and continue the destructive course is to continue to use their own people as a way to help their more immediate situation (money and power), and until you figure out how to extract whoever those parasites are from those that desire to be live in peace, they'll continue to spurn on conflict.

rizzo
01/06/2009 02:46 AM by
rizzo

@Henning As Ayende pointed out, you are not answering the question. How exactly would you stop the rockets?

Your suggestion that Israel focus on stemming the flow of weapons into Gaza is pointless at this time: 1. The weapons are already there and 2. The Qassam rockets are actually manufactured there.

As far as peacekeepers...I am sure Israel would love this. Hamas at various times said that they won't allow that. ( www.huliq.com/.../hamas-rejects-call-for-intern... )

So the question stands: You are in charge of Israel, how would you protect its citizens from incoming Rocket fire?

Falesteeni
01/06/2009 02:47 AM by
Falesteeni

There will definently be more REVANGE attacks on israel!

I hope that they will not get the idea to attack Iran before retard leaves office in washington.

Rafael
01/06/2009 02:47 AM by
Rafael

From your comments I take that you can only see a military solution, which will kills hundreds, if not thousands, of people on both sides. You didn't comment on the palestinian state, so I'll take that as a no-no option.

Taking Gaza is far from a lasting solution, you cannot take over someones land and expect them to be happy, I thought leaving the strip was a move to change this scenario.

Killing everyone in the strip doesn't seem to be, and should not be, an option, so that leaves expelling everyone from there, which will just change the place were rockets are fired from, and make them even more angry, no lasting peace there too.

So, what's the option? I really can't see one and I don't think attacking them is an option for quick long lasting peace, in fact I can't believe there will be any quick solution.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but from all I've read the Big Stick policy is the only one you think will solve the problem, and I just don't agree with that, peace won't be achieved with any kind of oppression be it a invading force or a constant fear of military action, there will always be someone willing to fight back as long as there's a reason.

Can you comment on the readied plan to fix things you mentioned?

GT
01/06/2009 04:25 AM by
GT

Its the Jews fault, they took all the bloody Cedar trees

Israeli (not a real name TM)
01/06/2009 04:54 AM by
Israeli (not a real name TM)

SAD THING IS...

  • The sad thing is, that Oren appologizing for his desire to live under the sun.

  • The sad thing is, that everybody and their grand mother are well versed in our affairs, yet they have no idea about Israel's geography. One commentator on BBC proposed 2-miles buffer zone inside Gaza. Grad missiles fell already 15-20 minutes ride from Tel-Aviv.

  • The sad thing is, that you may get Breaking News on CNN when kitchen gas explodes in Tel-Aviv restaraunt. But, when millions getting murdered in Darfur - they don't care.

  • The sad thing is, that the only reason we got ANY response after 8 years of constant bombardments is ELECTION and bad ratings of Minister of non-Defence.

  • The sad thing is, that our rulers value enemy civilians' lifes higher, than lifes of our soldiers.

Why 500 Gazans dead? Because:

"There is a deep problem in Islam. It's a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn't have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien."[2]

The only solution:

"[t]here are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide—the annihilation of your people—I prefer ethnic cleansing."[2] Morris has also written in the Irish Times in February 21, 2008, that "There was no Zionist 'plan' or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of 'ethnic cleansing'" and that "the demonisation of Israel is largely based on lies -- much as the demonisation of the Jews during the past 2,000 years has been based on lies. And there is a connection between the two."[24] Morris has criticized Ben-Gurion for not carrying out such a plan, saying "In the end, he faltered... If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."[2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Morris

[2] "Survival of the fittest": Part I Part II. Haaretz. By Ari Shavit. Published 8 January 2004.

www.haaretz.com/.../ShArt.jhtml
www.haaretz.com/.../ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=380984

Israeli (not a real name TM)
01/06/2009 05:04 AM by
Israeli (not a real name TM)

Cedar trees?!

Quran and Hamas agree that Lebanon is in fact just part of Nothern Israel ;)

Shadi Marei
01/06/2009 05:12 AM by
Shadi Marei

@Ayende,

The problem is you are not talking history, Palestine is not your land and you know this deep inside yourself, you know that you occupied the country with the help of Britain and now you are talking like its your land. LOL.

Israel has been doing all acts of terrorism against us the Palestinians, and now you call Hamas a terrorist because they are still alive and resist you. firing rockets on your people will continue and theres no way but Jihad untill we kick you all out and yes we believe that there will be a day where it will be your end, and by the way you know this too if you read well your bible.

Hamas will be there forever and you cant destroy Hamas, Israel and whoever standing beside it the US will not last.

Days will judge.

Steve
01/06/2009 06:01 AM by
Steve

I just want to say, I hate to see innocent people on both sides die.

It's sad.

From my view, I don't understand why Hamas would continue to lob missiles into Israel, they KNOW it will provoke Israel, who must respond. Period.

They can't sit back and ignore it either. I can't imagine walking around in my neighborhood in fear of a random missile killing my family. It's just absurb.

So, we end up civilians dying because of this decision to lob missiles at Israel.

Again, so sad, and so many people that just want to live normal peaceful lives - while we have these groups like Hamas, who are just thugs in my opinion.

Steve
01/06/2009 06:05 AM by
Steve

So, Shadi, your basically saying, that because you want that land, your willing to allow your people to die, and it's ok to send missiles into Israel - right?

This refusal to live peacefully together - this is the crime. Your not even trying to live peacefully, you just want your land. But that land is not just your land anymore.

PeteGoo
01/06/2009 06:48 AM by
PeteGoo

Ryan,

Thanks for picking up my point on Non-Violence, spot on. Although I would say scale and motives have nothing to do with the applicability of the principles. I'm not saying its the answer but researching it does get you thinking, which is time better spent, rather than reacting.

I've really enjoyed reading these comments. I do think though that the question is flawed and can never produce a sufficiently and mutually agreeable answer. There is an obvious analogy with trying to apply a quick fix to a problem that actually requires a larger refactoring.

Power corrupts. Corrupt people will bend truths and beliefs to suit their own will (see the many interpretations/twists on the meaning of the word "Jihad").The Jews were to return to Israel when the Messiah appeared, not after world war 2. Media should not be expelled from war zones. Religion and Nationality are both widely cherished but they are also widely leveraged and exploited in times of war. A religious state is surely a terrible idea. Why would you love people of another religion or nationality any less than your own? There is no mainstream religion I know of which promotes violence for any purpose. How can someone ever think that taking a life is justified?

I know it seems off topic to not directly answer the question but as I said, there is no answer to that question.

Tal
01/06/2009 06:49 AM by
Tal

You can insert math here also, count the number of rockets Israel fired and the number of rockets hamas fired. Less Israelis died just because most of the times the buildings were empty, like the kinder garden the hamas through rocket on 2 days ago

Shadi
01/06/2009 06:58 AM by
Shadi

@Steve,

Do you Palestainines to sit and watch kids, women and old men slattered every day from Israelis. Is this what you want? Each time there was a peace agreement, Israel go and violates this.

Do you believe in statistics? go and compare the damages, people who die, the way misslies are fired, even a comparison of the weapons used on both side before you start talking about peace.

Prakash S
01/06/2009 06:59 AM by
Prakash S

Non-Violence & Violence

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a huge topic to be discussed. Since I am from India I experienced Non-Violence. Non-Violence works if the other side has heart and if it cares for life. So it will work if you deal with guys who fight for real cause.

It worked for us when we fought against British. Because they cared for people but we wanted to rule ourselves. At the end we got the freedom.

But now we deal with UNTAMED ANIMALS. So we have to tame them in hard way. If they survive the hard way then they have to be treated well.

Hope all understand the problem India is facing now. India never invaded other county in her history and it never allow someone to control her people. Thought her lands were grabbed by 1-2 neighbor she still want to run in same phase and want to keep peace. She always thinks for her people rather than fighting with others for no cause. Because we deal with life directly if we try to solve the problem with military power. But if we left with no choice we have to TAME THE ANIMALS IN HARD WAY.

We deal with people & life. People and life matters more than land. If my people live happy in someone's land I should be happy about it and join with them rather than fighting to grab the land by paying the lives of those people.

HAMAS has to stop it's operation. In her action HAMAS kills her own people for the sake of a no-man's land. Which I feel worth nothing.

HAMAS may get her land. But who is going to live there. Even ALLHA wouldn't like to see that land :)

Shadi
01/06/2009 07:07 AM by
Shadi

@Prakash

We have been striving to get to a peace agreement with Israel for a long time since 1990 but what happend nothing, Israel keeps violating the rules? The problem is they keep sending disillusioned ideas about the other side every time, its part of their media. They will never admit their mistakes.

I dont think peace will ever work with Israel because simply inside themselves they have a hidden agenda.

Jonathan Washburn
01/06/2009 07:39 AM by
Jonathan Washburn

I started to comment, but it got away from me and turned into something rather longer. The rant is here... http://tinyurl.com/8ecsg2.

Obviously, the conflict is complicated and there are many considerations; however, we have a current, known state -- Israel is an existing country which has been senselessly sitting by while rockets shower down.

Not only is morality not math, there is moral high-ground to be taken, and that is the only likely long-term solution from the current state. Israel should declare clearly that it is assuming that ground and will do whatever it takes to assure it is not living under attack. That will provide the opportunity to make a choice -- either stop the initiation of force, for good -- or do not act surprised when the collateral damage is so great that there will be no-one left to light the rockets.

It's that...or a time machine.

Alexis Kennedy
01/06/2009 07:50 AM by
Alexis Kennedy

Ayende,

The realistic scenario is that we take possession of Gaza again, and make sure that there are no rockets fired.

Two posts below where you make this point, you say 'This would require retaking Gaza, and while I believe that this will make the life of the people in Gaza much better, it is not something that Israel wants to deal with.'

This is what I've heard Barak say as well: that Israel won't remain in Gaza.

Can you clarify what you expect to happen? Will Israel remain in possession of the Strip for an appreciable period of time? Or do you expect to withdraw and allow Fatah to overthrow Hamas and prevent the firing of rockets?

Can I ask you to outline a few other realistic scenarios you've considered and rejected?

I'm asking these questions because you say very firmly that this is a pragmatic response, but from the tone of your posts it sounds like a response motivated in large part by anger and outrage. This is understandable, given, as you point out several times, that there have been rockets fired at your country for months. But if you want to make your case to the international audience of this blog, rather than just vent, your argument would benefit from your showing you've considered the detail of other options before rejecting them.

Of course if you simply want to vent, it's your blog, but then we're rather wasting our time making counterpoints.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 07:52 AM by
Ayende Rahien

you cannot take over someones land and expect them to be happy

I have very little interest in the happiness of people who are shooting at me.

The Big Stick policy, as you called it, is a very old method, it is also a very proven one.

I don't think that we need to get there. Just the mere fact that you carry a Big Stick and is Willing to use it is enough in most cases.

Dragan
01/06/2009 07:53 AM by
Dragan

Well, it is provocative question, and you are deliberately restricting it to current events, so it is hard to discuss.

My personal take is that, sadly, at the moment, there is no solution for Palestinian conflict. As somebody else said, there will be no peace until one side is completely destroyed and humiliated. One side is Israel + US, other side is potentially whole Muslim world. I do not see any way for Arabs to defeat Israel, so answer to your question is:

Only way to stop rockets on Israel is to occupy several hundreds of kms of buffer zone around it and empty it of any population.

Do you find this acceptable? I do not think so.

Another solution was maybe possible long time ago (before partition): to force Jews and Arabs to live as citizens of one country. UN and British were wrong to allow termination of British mandate so quickly -- they should have stayed until Arabs and Jews of Palestine made proposal how to govern whole of it as one state.

P.S. As for falling bombs in backyard, I was living on other end of the stick when US was bombing Serbia. They had similar objectives as Israel: Bomb government buildings, infrastructure, factories and military complexes to force Serbian government to do their bidding. All US strategists were expecting that, once Serbian people see their bridges, railroads and roads destroyed, they will blame their government and topple it. Opposite has happened: Many people who didn't like Slobodan were supporting him during the war. Same is probably happening with Palestinians and Hamas: People tend to rally behind government in time of war.

Alexis Kennedy
01/06/2009 07:56 AM by
Alexis Kennedy

That will provide the opportunity to make a choice -- either stop the initiation of force, for good -- or do not act surprised when the collateral damage is so great that there will be no-one left to light the rockets.

@Jonathan

What you seem to be suggesting here is that if Hamas does not cease to fire rockets, Israel should keep dropping bombs until it has killed all the 1.4 million people in the Gaza Strip (or just everyone old enough to operate a rocket - I'm not clear which).

Do you think this is morally acceptable, given the provocation? Do you think it's pragmatically the best way to ensure safety for Israel and its citizens?

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 08:11 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Alexis,

There several levels of taking Gaza that could be used.

One of them, which is what I believe will happen is that Gaza essentially become a security zone in which Israel is operating often and frequently.

You can see the successful implementation of this in operation Shield Wall in the west bank in 2003.

Who ever control Gaza has the ability to manage civilian affairs, but there is not military or para military groups allowed, and the IDF works freely all over.

John
01/06/2009 08:18 AM by
John

I find it disturbing that Ayende has neglected to mention the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt since 2006 that has virtually crippled any possibility of Hamas forming any possible government there. The world indeed had a problem when Hamas won the election, and they dealt with it by telling the Palestinian people that they weren't allowed to have a democracy unless they voted for the parties that the rest of the world wanted.

It's not like they really had much of a choice. You have Fatah which is hopelessly corrupt and really hasn't achieved anything of note aside from convincing the West that they are better than Hamas (big effort that took), and Hamas who has a bunch of grass roots support but is essentially a terrorist organization with social outreach - similar to Hezbollah in Syria.

So, they vote in Hamas and they get blockaded by everyone. Hamas gets to preach their rhetoric as the victims of Israeli aggression and strengthen their position while they keep launching their realtively worthless missiles at Israel (missile counts are awesome, but only to propogandize Israel as the oppressed party). Eventually Hamas finally succeeds in annoying Israel enough to the point that they fight back again, and Hamas gets a whole bunch of world sympathy because Israel doesn't have the forces to successfully occupy and pacify Palestine short of conscripting 75% of their population.

So, once again we're back at the same old situation. Israel will eventually get bored of killing women and children along with Hamas fighters while doing nothing more serious than scoring some more names on their kill sheet while creating another generation of suicide bombers who find nothing better to live for in their life than revenge on Israel. Hamas will remain focussed on terrorism without the weight of actually having to manage a nation being thrust upon them and the world will just sit to the side and armchair quarterback.

The only viable solution (other than some form of genocide) is to have a third party drop a few hundred thousand soldiers with a mission to shoot any Palestinian carrying anything heavier than an AK, and shoot any IDF soldier, tank or plane that crosses the green line. I can't see either side agreeing to THAT, nor can I see any nation providing that sort of military force for the decade of occupation it would take to establish a working Palestinian state. That doesn't even get into the fact that a nation can't really function without freedom of travel and I can't see Israel allowing free travel (ie no IDF checkpoints) between Gaza and the West Bank given they don't even permit free travel inside the West Bank.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 08:22 AM by
Ayende Rahien

John,

I didn't mention that because, again, this is not relevant to the current problem at hand.

As you mentioned, dropping several hundred thousands soldiers to Gaza from international source would be nice, but I hardly think it is going to happen.

As such, I am still in search for a viable solution that stops rockets being fired on Israel's cities.

Casey
01/06/2009 08:24 AM by
Casey

Oren, it saddens me to see some of your comments.

War is not a solution, you cannot win a war against people's beiliefs and hearts - the holocaust should ave taught you that no matter how hard you try to destroy beiefs, you will never succeed unless you destroy every inividual.

Only negotiation and compromise can succeed. You say that cannot happen because Hamas will just fire rockets, but as Israel has many UN resolutions against it,perhaps you should put your own house in order before claiming the moral high ground.

I don't want to get into debating facts with you, but suffice to say other news organisations outside Israel have different viewpoints on some of your facts. Perhaps sometimes it is a good idea to step away from a situation and evaluate it with an open mind

(general disclaimer ... my girlfriend and her family are Jewish, and I have lived with threats of bombing regularly, we didnt decide to invade and bomb Ireland because of it, despite the Irish goverment protecting the IRA)

Last point: sadly this will create more terorists, more fanatics, and lead the world to greater instability. You cannot win, you will never win. Sadly nobbody can win.

Peter Morris
01/06/2009 08:30 AM by
Peter Morris

Oren

You can't tell people to be objective when you yourself say "I intentionally limit the discussion".

If someone knocked down your house and stole your things would you be annoyed? From then onwards would you limit your discussion or would that event always be prevalent?

You can't limit the discussion to only the parts that suit you. You seem to think the solution is simple, Hamas must stop sending rockets, but that is the same as saying the solution is simple "The Palestinians must accept we have the land and are keeping it".

I do personally object to Israel's actions. Not that they want to stop the rocket attacks, but that they send in aircraft with missiles to do it. If you want to kill a few individuals you don't blow up a few streets. Not only is to too indiscriminate but there is too much room for human error. Such as the case yesterday when two children on a roof top were the only two casualties.

I am for capturing or (if the only solution) killing the people who are firing the rockets, but not the innocent people that are killed as acceptible levels of collateral.

John
01/06/2009 08:52 AM by
John

I didn't mention [the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt] because, again, this is not relevant to the current problem at hand.

It's very relevant - you can't look at the actions of Hamas against Israel in the 2006-2008 timeframe without looking similarly at the actions of the world against Hamas in the same timeframe. It's like complaining a rat bit you while trying to ignore the fact it was cornered and starved. Yeah, it's still a rat but cornering it sure isn't a good way to make it play nice.

I dunno what the solution is (if there even is one). I don't think Israel occupying Gaza will achieve anything more than suicide bombings radically increasing as people are left feeling hopeless and with a bitter taste towards the IDF, who will be viewed as occupiers and oppressors no matter what their real intentions are. I think the current attack will just make Israel less safe, in the same way the invasion of Iraq made the United States less safe.

I truly wish the Knesset wisdom in sorting through the mess that's going to be left over from this.

MakeTeaNotWar
01/06/2009 09:01 AM by
MakeTeaNotWar

"2006's Lebanon.

Cuba missile crisis

Georgia & Russia

Cartago

I can give lots of examples. "

2006 Lebanon??? Was to get your soldiers back.

Killed over 1000 civilians, dropped CLUSTER bombs making large parts of Lebanon uninhabitable and got your soldiers back 2 years later dead

  • good example thanks

Northern Island

Iraq

See I can give examples too...it doesnt escape the fact that killing civilians doesnt help the cause

When a member of my family was killed in the IRA bombing of a Birmingham nightclub in 1974 I was very angry - but I could never have condoned a ruthless slaughter of innocent children by bombing Belfast - even though the IRA where "hiding" behind civilians

You have essentially summarised a complex problem into a single statement - "they must stop the rockets".

Fine we can all do that - "Israel must lift the blockade and return to the 1967 borders"

See - pithey comments serve no purpose...this is too complicated a problem for you to condense into a single short post.

I have the greatest respect for you and all the crap Israel has had to face since her tortuous birth but when a country starts targeting civilians something is going really wrong

Varm
01/06/2009 09:19 AM by
Varm

I can sympathise with ordinary Israeli citizens but only so far. Violence begets violence. After sixty years Israel still hasn't learned that that.

If they really want peace they have to acknowledge that the Palestinians have a very valid grievance and frankly that they have nowhere else to go. The settlements in the West Bank must be dismantled and the settlers absorbed into Israel proper.

Until that happens the violence will continue and Israel will not be able to claim the highground. As a European am ashamed that the EU and its members is not doing more to force Israel to behave like a civilised country instead of a medieval empire.

Alexis Kennedy
01/06/2009 09:24 AM by
Alexis Kennedy

Ayende,

There several levels of taking Gaza that could be used.

What are the others, that you would consider unacceptable?

Can I ask also whether there is a level of destruction and a number of Palestinian deaths that would convince you to say: this is too high a price to pay and we are still suffering rocket attacks - let's try another approach? (I understand that 40 rockets were fired from Gaza yesterday).

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:36 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Casey,

you cannot win a war against people's beiliefs and hearts

Do you really believe so?

If so, take a look at WW II as a good recent example.

Casey, please do not use the holocaust in this context. It walks right over Godwin's law.

different viewpoints on some of your facts

Do you dispute either Israel's right for self defense or that there are rockets launched against it?

we didnt decide to invade and bomb Ireland because of it,

There is a difference between bombing and rockets, you are aware of that, right?

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:40 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Peter,

I am not interested in the overall discussion. I am interested in discussing one particular point.

How to stop rockets from falling on Israel.

Anything that isn't directly related to that point is not valid, because it doesn't stops rockets from being fired on Israel.

If you want to kill a few individuals you don't blow up a few streets

I don't want to do that. I want to stop rockets from being fired on Israel.

Show me another way of doing that, I am listening.

Peter, in the end, you still haven't managed to come up with any suggestion that would stop rockets from being fired on Israel.

That is the sole point of discussion.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:41 AM by
Ayende Rahien

John,

I don't really care what the historical context is. I want to end rockets on Israel.

Anything else is not relevant, period

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:44 AM by
Ayende Rahien

MakeTeaNotWar,

Since 2006, the border has been dead quite. Even during the current action in Gaza, Nasralla isn't able to act, because he knows what Israel's reaction would be.

The north border is quite.

I would consider this as a great success.

You have essentially summarised a complex problem into a single statement - "they must stop the rockets".

Yes, I did. Intentionally so.

As I said, anything that make the assumption that rockets on Israel will continue is not a acceptable solution.

Start from the assumption that Israel will no longer allow rockets to be fired on its people.

Now tell me what is supposed to happen to make this happen.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:45 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Varm,

You haven't provide anything that help to stop rockets from being fired on Israel's citizens.

Until you do, I don't see how you can benefit the discussion. Historical context is not important, the sole point that is important is to stop the attacks of Israel's people

Casey
01/06/2009 09:46 AM by
Casey

Casey, please do not use the holocaust in this context. It walks right over Godwin's law.

No, it highlights that despite the attrocities and suffering the jews had, they couldn't be broken by it.

Do you intend to go that far against Palestine, because unless you do, you won't win. Would that be acceptable if the only solution?

different viewpoints on some of your facts

Do you dispute either Israel's right for self defense or that there are rockets launched against it?

No, I dispute your presentation. You have a clear bias, and lack objctivity - undeerstandable of course, but your post could have been posted in reverse by a palestinian. The BBC for example reports the ceasefifre broken in Nov by Israel. You forget to mention this bombing.

we didnt decide to invade and bomb Ireland because of it,

There is a difference between bombing and rockets, you are aware of that, right?

Explain how pubs, offices, clubs and shopping centres being randomly bombed over 25 years is less terriying or threatening than rockets which have killed only a handful of people. I have been within 1/2 mile of two bombs, one of which luckily did not kill anyone, the other of which did.

MakeTeaNotWar
01/06/2009 09:47 AM by
MakeTeaNotWar

"There is a difference between bombing and rockets, you are aware of that, right?"

Mmmmm not sure there is much difference between bombing a hospital and rocketing it...except if you use a bomb you could always use the "ooops sorry I missed" argument

Ayende, you put some good arguments forward but that statement is just churlish.

"I don't really care what the historical context is. I want to end rockets on Israel."

Put in a ceasefire, remove the blockade and return to 1967 borders then wait and see.

Gotta be better than kill loads of people and wait and see surely ?

Varm
01/06/2009 09:50 AM by
Varm

Orin, I'm sorry but you're wrong. It may be convenient for you to pretend that Israel is an innocent victim for the purposes of your discussion but it is not. The Palestinians cannot simply dismiss historical context because they are forced to live with the consequences of it every day.

Sixty years of violence has not stopped Palestinian terror groups, it has made them flourish. It has only increased the level of anger and hatred amongst ordinary Palestinians. The current attacks on Gaza will be no different and the rocket attacks will continue. You'd be foolish to believe otherwise.

So Israel must try something new: behaving like a modern civilised democracy. Completely withdraw from the West Bank. Help the people of Gaza live like humans instead of animals. The alternative is to continue giving the Palestinians a reason to hate Israelis and launch rockets at them.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:53 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Alexis,

The military options move from carpet bombing (which is obviously not acceptable) to small scale punitive strikes.

Past history shows that punitive strikes are not a valid option, they are too small to effect the desired outcome.

The valid option set that I see is:

a) Take over Gaza, militarily and civilian control.

b) Disband the current governmental infrastructure by not allowing it to operate. This include long term, continuous, fight. It can be mostly done via aircraft, but it has significant implications for the people of Gaza. Basically, it is creating chaos and not letting any order in. Long term, this is a very bad move.

c) Keep pushing until Hamas collapse. That is quite likely, mostly because there is a great deal of internal fighting inside Gaza, and if Hamas become weak enough, it is likely that factional warfare will keep everyone busy.

d) the option that I already outlined.

There are a lot of other alternatives, but they tend to be variations on this.

The best alternative of all is that the current effort will force Hamas to accept Israel's term and the

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:58 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Casey,

Sufficient military force is quite enough. There is no need to go to atrocities to make this happen.

I dispute your presentation.

I repeat, give me an option that stop rockets from being fired on Israel.

Explain how pubs, offices, clubs and shopping centres being randomly bombed over 25 years is less terriying or threatening than rockets which have killed only a handful of people.

Terrorist groups rarely have a target that you can act militarily against. In the current situation in Gaza there is a military target that we can hit to stop this from happening.

I am not talking about the terror effect. I am talking about the military viability of an action to stop this.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 09:59 AM by
Ayende Rahien

MakeTeaNotWar ,

We tried that, and now there are rockets on Israel.

Waiting is not a viable options while there are rockets being launched on the people of Israel.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 10:00 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Varm,

Israel is not a victim. I am not trying to paint it as such, because I don't believe it to be so.

You keep ignoring the heart of the question, how to make the rockets stops. Not in a year or a decade, now.

And as you completely missed out, we tried doing what you said in Gaza, which led to the current situation. I don't think that this would be a smart decision.

Varm
01/06/2009 10:04 AM by
Varm

Orin, I'm afraid nothing is going to stop the rockets right now. Even if Israel succeeds with that goal it would only be a temporary success. The solution has to be a long term one unfortunately.

And I dispute your implication that Israel was trying to support Gaza. Gaza has been living under complete blockade for two years and prior to that its citizens lived under incredibly harsh restrictions imposed by the Israeli military and settlers.

If ordinary Gazans had jobs and felt even remotely safe they would be less interested in supporting Hamas, but Israel's continued abuse of them only encourages them to join and support terrorists.

Casey
01/06/2009 10:06 AM by
Casey

Last comment ... Oren, you haven't tried, you have wealth of UN resolutions against you, and without US protection you would have UN enforcement of them.

This action is clearly timed to happen before Obama takes over, despite his campaign words, he is likely to be a lot less tollerant of Israels transgressions.

You want a solution - play by the rules - then you can hold the moral high ground.

Shadi
01/06/2009 10:07 AM by
Shadi

@Ayende, you are not talking objectively. You don't want to listen to other viewpoints, all you want is to stop rockets firing, that fine, at the same you have to accept that other people like me only care to stop the holocaust happening in Gaza where 40% of people died up to now are children. I'm not aware of any religion who accept this to happen.

Varm
01/06/2009 10:12 AM by
Varm

Oren, apologies for misspelling your name in my earlier posts. I guess I shouldn't try to program and have political discussions at the same time :)

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 10:13 AM by
Ayende Rahien

I'm afraid nothing is going to stop the rockets right now.

I disagree, see the current end of the operation and what it will bring.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 10:14 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Casey,

You are still not answer the main question, how to stop rockets from being fired on Israel.

There are no rules in the real world, there are only consequences.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 10:17 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Shadi,

I don't think that I ever said I am objective. I have one goal, and I explicitly stated it.

Please refrain from holocaust references, I remind you of Godwin's law and its enforcement.

John
01/06/2009 10:20 AM by
John

I don't really care what the historical context is. I want to end rockets on Israel.

Anything else is not relevant, period

That's an extremist position to take and closely parallels positions taken by the other side. How do you justify your position in light of the Palestinian desire to not be blown up by the IDF - especially if they decide that "anything else is not important" in the same way you do.

"Anything else is not important" is the argument that the end (stopping the missiles) justifies the means (killing of large numbers of civilians), however saying that the end justifies the means is the antithesis of morality. Morality is the argument that the means must be justified no matter how lofty a goal the end is.

Palestinians want the IDF and Settlers out of the West Bank. Does that justify their blowing up Israelis?

Iraqis want America out of Iraq. Does that justify their blowing up police stations?

The Irish wanted the Brits out of Northern Ireland. Did that justify their bombings in London?

The Israelis want Hamas out of Palestine. Does that justify the slaughter of civilians when it's unlikely to even achieve the goal?

The way to "stop the missiles" is to look at the historical context and find solutions to the historical problems. It's not a quick solution and as Israel doesn't have the capability, manpower or political will to enact a quick solution (complete military subjugation) then deliberately ignoring history means you're simply doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. How else are you going to understand the grievances (real or imaginary) of the Gazan residents that drives them to wish death on someone else, and having understood them act to remove those issues.

On the Northern Border, I wouldn't be so sure about it being quiet. Hezbollah has been rearming (thanks to Iran) and appears to be ready to act if Hamas looks like it's losing.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053014.html

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 10:27 AM by
Ayende Rahien

How do you justify your position in light of the Palestinian desire to not be blown up by the IDF

Let me think, what do they need to do in order to avoid this?

Well, they need to stop attacking us, that is all.

Here we have a very clear and simple plan of action for how to stop the IDF operation.

John,

We have been trying to find a peaceful resolution for over two decades now. It doesn't seems to have worked, and I am not willing to wait another two decades to see if it will.

Varm
01/06/2009 10:30 AM by
Varm

We have been trying to find a peaceful resolution for over two decades now. It doesn't seems to have worked, and I am not willing to wait another two decades to see if it will.

The continual expansion of the settlements in the West Bank is just a slow invasion. If Israel is serious about peace it must dismantle them and remove all the settlers.

Until it does that it only has itself to blame for its troubles.

MakeTeaNotWar
01/06/2009 10:40 AM by
MakeTeaNotWar

Ayende,

Quick question

If morality isnt maths i.e numbers aint important and both sides have done bad things surely each side is equally culpable ?

John
01/06/2009 10:55 AM by
John

Let me think, what do they need to do in order to avoid this?

Well, they need to stop attacking us, that is all.

And if you ask them, then they'll stop attacking about when Israel pulls out all the settlements and returns to the Green Line, allows Palestinians to freely work on farms around the borders, returns the Golan Heights, pulls down the wall that's inside "Palestinian Territory", removes all the roadblocks that divide the West Bank into little "prisons", stops the blockade on Hamas in Gaza, allows free passage without IDF checks between Gaza and the West Bank, returns all the "political prisoners" and a whole bunch of other things I can't remember right now because I really try not to pay attention to Palestinian propaganda.

(Please note I used quotes for stuff that's obvious propaganda)

Do you really believe that the IDF would tear down the checkpoints and walls if the rockets stopped tonight? Would they suddenly drop the blockade of a Hamas led government if the rockets ceased? They've given no indication of it in the past so I see no reason the believe that it would happen in the future. The only thing the IDF would do is continue the process of occupation, because to do anything else would give the appearance of cutting and running.

The reason no peace has worked for the last four decades is Israel will not give up their security for Palestinian freedom, and Palestine has never been trustworthy enough for Israel to do so. The more Israel puts up checkpoints and walls, the less reason the average Palestinian has to think of Israel as people worth living peacefully with, which means more missiles and more Israeli checkpoints.

Of course, underlying the whole thing is some other Muslim nations using Palestine for a proxy war with Israel, which certainly gives Israel no incentive at all to trust anything the Palestinians say or do.

Rather nasty catch-22 and frankly there's no quick way out short of one side's population being able to completely subjugate the other, which neither side has the ability to achieve. I really don't see any viable military solution to the problem.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:06 AM by
Ayende Rahien

John,

That wasn't what you stated.

You said, how can they stop the IDF action. This is what I responded.

If they stopped the rockets, they would have a chance to build a place of their own. No, it wouldn't happen overnight, but it could happen in under 5 years.

The reason no peace has worked for the last four decades is Israel will not give up their security for Palestinian freedom, and Palestine has never been trustworthy enough for Israel to do so.

This is a great quote.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:08 AM by
Ayende Rahien

MakeTeaNotWar,

I don't think so, because while morality isn't math, morality is about intent.

Varm
01/06/2009 11:10 AM by
Varm

The Palestinians had a place of their own until millions of immigrants arrived and got the UN to create them a new country right on top of the Palestinians' land. Over half the Palestinian population fled the resultant violence and have never been allowed home.

I think a few people need to remember how all this started and that the refugees and their descendents lost everything - their land, their homes, their possessions and their dignity.

MakeTeaNotWar
01/06/2009 11:15 AM by
MakeTeaNotWar

"I don't think so, because while morality isn't math, morality is about intent"

Intent is by its very nature hugely subjective.

You think your intent is good therefore you are moral. Meanwhile someone else thinks your intent is bad therefore they think you are immoral

Either way both sides are still equally culpable based on your original premise

Alexis Kennedy
01/06/2009 11:15 AM by
Alexis Kennedy

Ayende,

How confident are you that your option D - a rerun of the 2002 operations in the West Bank - would end the rocket attacks?

You've been clear before, and now, that a reduction in rocket attacks is unacceptable to you: that zero rockets are the only acceptable solution.

Wikipedia, citing http://www.terrorism-info.org.il , claims that the net effect of these operations was to reduce suicide bombings and Israeli substantially, to 'only' 25 in 2003.

I'll gracefully accept correction on these points, because I'm sure you're much better informed than me on details, but my understanding is that

  • missile attacks are easier to carry out than suicide bombings, because a suicide bomber only acts successfully once and has very limited range;

  • the rocket attacks are fired by cells, not by an organised force;

  • some of the attacks are conducted by other organisations than Hamas, including Fatah, and by unaffiliated independents - so the collapse of Hamas would not end the rocket attacks.

All this suggests to me that the current course of action isn't very likely to get you your one goal

Giovanni Bassi
01/06/2009 11:22 AM by
Giovanni Bassi

@Gabe

this is untrue, actually religion is about beliefs and ideals, if one of the ideals of the religion is the annihilation of all others, well that is what that religion is "supposed to be about".

Sorry, "religion" comes from the latin "religare", which means "link back to God" or "bond between humans and gods". You are as far away from the meaning as possible. If something is about annihilation, it is not religion. People often use religion as a reason to justify the worst acts, which is quite crazy in my opinion.

Varm
01/06/2009 11:23 AM by
Varm

This is grossly inaccurate

Not really. At the start of the 20th century the area had a tiny Jewish population (less than 5% or around 30,000 people). Around 90% were Muslim Arabs.

By 1948 mass immigration had brought the populations to near parity then during the war over 700,000 Palestinians fled. They have never been allowed to return or reclaim their possessions. Since then something like three million Jewish immigrants have arrived from other parts of the world.

The UN's own website will confirm this or you can check out the Jewish Virtual Library:
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:25 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Alexis,

Look at the situation in March 2003, where there was a bombing just about every other day, or so it felt.

Look at the situation in now.

The continuous operation of the IDF in the west bank means that there is a far reduced chance for them to act.

Just to give you the numbers. Deaths from suicide bombing attacks in Israel.

2002 - 55 incidents killing 220 people

2003 - 25 incidents killing 142 people

Here the numbers lies. Most of those killed in suicide bombing in 2003 died in the first few months of the year, before Shield Wall.

2004 - 14 incidents killing 55 people

2005 - 7 incidents killing 22 people

2006 - 4 incidents killing 15 people

2007 - 1 incident killing 3 people

I think that I can call this a success.

You are also ignoring some other aspects, such as responsibility to act and the need to act.

Rockets are easier to launch, harder to construct, harder to move, take more time.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:26 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Giovanni,

You are putting your own slant on religion

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:27 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Again, please read Roy's post.

You are ignoring quite a few of the developments that happened along the way, and putting your own interpretation for the numbers

John
01/06/2009 11:27 AM by
John

If they stopped the rockets, they would have a chance to build a place of their own. No, it wouldn't happen overnight, but it could happen in under 5 years.

I don't think this is possible in anything short of a century and certainly not without tectonic political upheaval in the Muslim world. Even if it were theoretically possible for an area the size of Gaza to be self-sufficient with 1.5 million residents that breed like rabbits, it's been so devastated by war, rampant corruption and abject poverty that they're always going to be looking over the border at Israel and feeling that they had it all somehow stolen from them. Human nature is always going to kick in and someone is going to capitalize on those feelings to start the whole cycle of violence over again. "Someone" in that context is probably sponsored by Iran.

Until you can build Gaza to even an order of magnitude of the economic status of Tel-Aviv, the whole thing is just going to go bad over and over again.

So, how do you stop the rockets? I figure that will be the last step after the major Islamic nations turn into multicultural democracies, or Israel gets its first Muslim Prime Minister.

MakeTeaNotWar
01/06/2009 11:33 AM by
MakeTeaNotWar

Ayende,

Im sorry this doesnt make sense...you've already stated that numbers are meaningless so the fact that there was "only" 1 incident in 2007 makes no difference.

As there was AN incident surely the wall should have not been considered a success and you should have invaded...or have a misunderstood you?

Plus Im sure the suicide bomber thought their intent was good so by your own reasoning they are moral (morality == intent)

Varm
01/06/2009 11:36 AM by
Varm

Again, please read Roy's post.

You are ignoring quite a few of the developments that happened along the way, and putting your own interpretation for the numbers

I did read the post and it really doesn't say anything which contradicts me, nor does it particularly defend the actions of Israel or the people who created it.

Are you denying that the land's population was overwhelmingly Arab, not Jewish? Are you denying that Israel's modern population is overwhelmingly composed of immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants? Are you denying that over half the Palestinian population was dispossessed in 1948?

Waheed Sayed
01/06/2009 11:36 AM by
Waheed Sayed

Oren,

First, I thought to write a complete response for every statement u come with then I realized something.. THERE IS NO HOPE !!

You care ONLY about rockets to stop! Fine, what about other people rights? U don't care about others.

It's a Closed/Infinite Loop. You want ONLY what you want and hell to others. and Others will not allow that, SAME AS you won't allow them to defend themselves or their land and values.

You talk about talking and negotiation. You never talk or negotiate except in October 1973 and reason is obvious. And I never doubt that you'll fight us, Egypt, again later soon. Then, you'll use same reasons and justifications while fighting. Because we want ONLY what you want. And we know what you want.

You came to that land by force and you'll never leave it deliberately.

Tell us, Oren, where are you from? When your family came to Palestine? Answer is very simple same as the solution. But, my believe that you've been programmed with wrong instructions during initialization, with respect to you sure. But this is the seed of the conflict.

USA and UK supports you because they made it before. They got lost in ocean then found a land they killed original people because they are WILD people!!!! Then they became the americans and original people became Red Indians :) Now, they teach people humanity and democracy !! I can't belame current americans. But, do they think about what their grandfathers did? I doubt but they are proud of being Americans!! They managed to be Americans because they almost kill all original people (only few tribes survived). So either to kill all of Arab and Muslims coz we are obliged to defend our brothers OR to find another Peaceful solution and forget about ur IDF solution.

I appreciate you when you talk technically so I'll try not to follow ur political writings or openions. The point that policitally we don't have any other issues but that CLOSED/UNRESOLVED Issue to talk about. So, no use of talking.

Right... Morality is not a math, It's something we see & feel while hard to prove or to show for others.

Thanks for the space (If you published this).

I said what I hoped to say one day.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:36 AM by
Ayende Rahien

MakeTeaNotWar,

Please don't try to nitpick what I am saying.

Shield Wall is a success because if has made life is Israel normal again. You are also missing the part about the IDF continuous operations in the Palestinian cities in the west bank in order to prevent just this sort of thing.

There is no need for a new operation, because we are already operating with as much freedom as we want there.

Torkel
01/06/2009 11:37 AM by
Torkel

Ayende,

I like you and your blog very much but I see the Israel situation from a very different perspective.

First, you cannot seriously say that the cause for the attacks on the Palestinian people are to increase security of the Isreali people. An 8th grade student could clearly understand that it has the opposite effect of just increasing the violence and threat. This is clearly understood by the Israeli army, as found in internal Israeli army documents.

Second, you say that Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization. No doubt they have performed terrible crimes. But if you look at the UN definition of terrorism:

"criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.

"

This makes Israel one of the leading terrorist state, having invaded and occupied another country and during 30 years performed terrorist activities that are on a completely other magnitude compared to the ones performed by by Palestinian groups like Hamas. In the process destroying thousands of homes, schools, hospitals, desecrating a whole society.

Almost every rebel or opposition/liberation force has been classified as a terrorist group by the ones being attacked. In short the practical definitional of terrorism is "terror directed at us or that we don't approve of".

I do condemn the suicide attacks as very terrible crimes and I sympathize with the Israeli victims, but what do you expect? to occupy and daily terrorize and humiliate a people, constantly steal their lands (I am talking about the settlements) have affects.

Personally I’m very much opposed to Hamas’ policies in almost every respect. However, we should recognize that the policies of Hamas are more forthcoming and more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel. So to repeat: the policies, in my view, are unacceptable, but preferable to the policies of the United States and Israel.

So, for example, Hamas has called for a long-term indefinite truce on the international border. There is a long-standing international consensus that goes back over thirty years that there should be a two-state political settlement on the international border, the pre-June 1967 border, with minor and mutual modifications. That’s the official phrase. Hamas is willing to accept that as a long-term truce. The United States and Israel are unwilling even to consider it.

I hope you don't get offended by my strong views on this conflict, they are just opinions on the facts that I have read and I understand that this conflict can be viewed very differently as an Israeli citizen.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:38 AM by
Ayende Rahien

You miss the point entirely.

I have no problem with talking, we tried that, didn't work.

I still see no other alternative being propose to stop rockets being fired on Israel.

If you want to talk, maybe you need to consider actually talking, and not turning to violence.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:41 AM by
Ayende Rahien

First, you cannot seriously say that the cause for the attacks on the Palestinian people are to increase security of the Isreali people. An 8th grade student could clearly understand that it has the opposite effect of just increasing the violence and threat.

Make a distinction between intent and practice. The current operation may increase the desire and intent to hurt Israel, but it will decrease the ability to do so.

The current situation is not acceptable.

Regarding the rest, please take a look at section 51 of the UN charter

MakeTeaNotWar
01/06/2009 11:43 AM by
MakeTeaNotWar

"Please don't try to nitpick what I am saying."

Ayende, you are trying to justify an invasion where 45% of the wounded are women and children.

I think nitpicking is entirely reasonable when you come up with utter nonsense like morality is intent (please dont say that you really really deep down believe that)

Come on now - you want a reasoned debate then address the holes in your argument......call it nitpicking if you will

Varm
01/06/2009 11:43 AM by
Varm

Waheed, the UK doesn't support Israel's actions against the Palestinians. I think the current government in particular would love to take a more decisive stance against them but they just don't have the guts. Incidentally, there were protests in 18 UK cities at the weekend.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:48 AM by
Ayende Rahien

MakeTeaNotWar,

Do compare the number of casualties in respect to where and how the operation take place.

I believe that the number is very low considering the type of conflict that the IDF is dealing with. And I know that the IDF is making all effort to avoid harming innocents.

However, that is not always possible.

War sucks, I fully agree.

Ayende Rahien
01/06/2009 11:49 AM by
Ayende Rahien

@All,

This is taking way too much of my time, just responding to everyone.

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