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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Palestinian Civil War Watch
Now that were a Jewish and Israeli blog, we should probably redirect our attention to Gaza, which I don't think we've written about since Israel got the %#$* out of there. You may be wondering how the happy Gazans are doing with their newly acquired autonomy from the oppressive Zionist occupation.

Here's an eye catching story:

Palestinian gunmen blow up U.N. club in Gaza City

First of all, just the headline cracked me up! Whom do I root for when Palestinians go after U.N. facilities? It's the archetypical win-win situation. Let's read.

GAZA (Reuters) - Masked gunmen stormed into a club for United Nations workers in Gaza City on Sunday and blew up the drinking hall in a new sign of spiraling unrest ahead of a Palestinian election.

It was the first such attack in Gaza on a U.N. target and came against a backdrop of growing unease among foreigners. Just over one day earlier, a group freed three British hostages that had been seized to demand foreign pressure on Israel.
Hang on. Demand foreign pressure on Israel to do what? They're already out of Gaza? You want them out of Tel Aviv? You want them to blow up U.N. clubs for you? You want France to pressure Israel to kidnap British aid workers?

The bombing was another big blow for President Mahmoud Abbas, just hours after he had vowed to impose order ahead of a January 25 election and as militants announced the expiry of a de facto truce with Israel that they had followed at his behest.
It's good to announce when the truce ends because rockets have been flying out of Gaza all along, so it's hard to tell any other way.

Gunmen burst into the U.N. club, one of the few places that alcohol is served in conservative Muslim Gaza. It had been closed for the day. The attackers tied up the security guard and struck him with gun butts.

Then they set explosives in front of the bar, unrolled a detonator cable and blew up the charges, ripping up the roof and shattering the windows.
I realize it's immature, but that just gives me the giggles.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Well, I didn't do it.

The United Nations is generally viewed with sympathy Gaza. Its agency supporting Palestinian refugees and their descendants, more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million population, is the second biggest employer after the Palestinian Authority.
Yikes! That sentence buried in the middle of the article tells you everything you need to know about Gaza's economy. The number one employer is the PA, a thoroughly corrupt quasi-government. The second largest employer is … ha, aha teeheehee… THE UN!!!! Bwaahaaahaaaahaaaa!!!! That's not an economy. That's a gigantic socialist cluster-f@#%.

"These events ... harm our international credibility and strengthen Israel's pretext to undermine peace and stop withdrawals," Abbas said in a New Year broadcast.
Gee, ya think?

Chaos has been increasing in the Gaza Strip since the departure of Israeli troops in September after 38 years of occupation intensified a power struggle among militant factions, gangs and security forces.

Gaza is widely seen as a testing ground for statehood.
A testing ground? You guys get a D minus.

I have to believe that the average Gazan has very little control over the lousy economy he finds himself in, and has very little representation in any of the various groups that are currently shooting it out for control. I also believe that he has been thoroughly brainwashed by a generation of state-controlled media to believe that his misery is largely the fault of evil Zionists. This average Gazan will now find himself in the crossfire of a civil war which has no chance of improving his lot, and the U.N. to which he looks for a job merely serves to prop up a corrupt authoritarian bureaucracy.

The only positive outcome is that Israeli soldiers aren't being killed. Yet.
Nice post. But before we get too gleeful at the prospect of the Palestinians turning their weapons on one another, let's not forget that the U.N., the Quartet and the rest of the world are all pressuring Israel to go ahead with the 'safe passage' route - essentially a route that would allow Gazans to transfer weapo... er, I mean visit family in the west bank - essentially cutting Israel in half in the middle. Do you really think that once this route is opened that the various militias are going to pass up the opportunity to use up a little ammo along the way? Just curious.
Treppenwitz: Ah, so that's what the international pressure that they're asking for is about.

I say rather than any "right of passage" Israel offer all Palestinians a one-time right to move. If you've got a lot of family in Hebron and you live in Gaza, you can move to Hebron. Chose now.
Dr. Bean: You have such a great way of analyzing things: I, too, was chuckling as I read your post. How about offering the so called Palestinians a one time right to move to the real Palestinian state - Jordan? Oh, I forgot, the Jordanians hate their guts. Did you know it is harder for so called Palestinians to enter Jordan than to cross from the West Bank and Gaza into Israel?
I can understand the glee and giggling over what's going on in the Gaza Ghetto. Better they kill each other (or their UN buddies)then kill us. But I thought this was the same "democracy" in the Arab World that we're supposed to be admiring like in Iraq?

The UN is not going to rescue the Palestinians, nor is the Arab World (including Jordan). Even Ariel Sharon has moved beyond the old 1970's rhetoric that lord emsworth reminisces about. Truth be told, the Palestinians are facts on the ground that will not go away, whether Israel chooses to "separate" itself by building walls, barriers or no-man's lands. Treppenwitz is right to fear the safe passage route, but Palestinians need an outlet, both economic and social, for their to be any hope for the Gaza testing ground to succeed. Otherwise it will continue to be a festering wound in Israel's side, and only Israel (and the Palestinians) will suffer from the bloody discharge.
Wanderer... How much help is the world expected to give the Palestinians? Exactly how many 'confidence building gestures' is Israel required to make to help bolster the present cleptocracy?

Israel currently provides all of the electricity and water for Gaza. Israel left behind state of the art greenhouses and planted fields for the Palestinian farmers. The EU, US and other countries continue to pour unimaginable sums of money into the coffers of the PA without any request for accountability. Yet at every turn well-intentioned people like yourself pop up to make the same basic statement: "Palestinians need an outlet, both economic and social, for their to be any hope for the Gaza testing ground to succeed. Otherwise..." You can fill in the rest.

All of the bad behavior, bad faith, and missed opportunities that the Palestinians have squandered along the way will always be blamed on Israel or the rest of the world not giving them quite enough. If they had only tried to build a nation rather than expending all their energies on trying to destroy Israel, they would have had a state decades ago.

Can you tell me what Abbas' fiscal plan is for a future Palestinian state? What kind of government he envisions? What educational system? What kind of health care system? Where will the water and electricity come from? How will this new state fund infrastructure projects?

No idea?

The reason you don't know these things is because Abbas, like his predecessor Arafat, has no plans for any of these things. The Palestinians are like a bunch of 1960s college radicals (sans the education) who love the idea of taking over faculty buildings and talking about forcing change to the status quo... but if you forced any of them to actually enunciate a coherent policy beyond the present protest they fall strangely silent.

Yes, the Palestinians are a fact on the ground that cannot be ignored. But at a certain point Israel and the rest of the world have to step back and say "OK, rehearsals are over. You've gotten like a gazillion dollars in foreign aid, had your police and paramilitary security services armed and trained by foreigners and been provided with advantages that most fledgling countries could only dream of. Now it's your turn to step up and actually make something of yourselves. Nation building is a lot harder than nation destroying. When will the world finally expect the Palestinians to do the hard things.
Well said, David.

Gaza is the testing ground for a future Palestinian state. One can only imagine how much more horrible that will be. What astounds me is that the world can watch this unfolding under their very eyes and still insist that the "peace plan" needs to proceed.
Trep - I actually agree with everything that you have said. You are 100% correct and I sense your frustration as someone who lives these issues day to day, on the ground. You know I read your blog and comment occasionally - I think you are generally a very sensitive, intellectual and well thought-out person. I think you are cognizant of your Palestinian neighbors as fellow human beings. I think we share a committment to democracy and basic human rights.

However, you have to admit that this talk about Gaza being a testing ground for statehood is ridiculous. Does anyone honestly beleive that 1.5 million people living in one of the most retched, filthy swaths of land in the world without a meaningful economy, without a real air or seaport and with one border crossing leading to the Sinai Desert has any hope of becoming a viable state? Come on now. Such a testing ground was stillborn before the last Israeli soldier ever left the Gaza Strip.

Their leadership sucks and they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Agreed. Israel is constantly blamed for the Palestinians inability to raise themselves out of the cycle of violence and despair. Agreed. As you have noted, throwing money at them hasn't solved the problem either. There is a vacuum of responsible leadership.

Sure you can wash your hands of them and do everything in your power to separate yourself from them, but they ain't going away.

I hear your frustration, but I don't hear you (or the Joe Settlers out there) offering any long term solutions either. Building new settlements or expanding existing settlements on the hillside across the way does not and will not solve the problem. I also don't think they make the problem any worse, by the way.

Sure the Palestinians need to step up to the plate and take care of their own business. Fact is that they're not. Ignoring it, building a wall around it and saying I'm frustrated that they can't take care of themselves isn't a solution either.

In the meantime, their frustration and desperation grows, and with it comes the continuing cycle of violence. I don't claim to have any better solution then you do, but I am also not willing to turn my back on them because that doesn't solve the problem either.

The world (and Israel) only needs to give the Palestinians enough help to solve the problem permanently, so that Israel can live in secure and recognized borders without continual threats to the safety of its citizens. Not an ounce more or less. How much help is needed remains to be seen, but throwing up your hands and saying "deal with it", especially with the Gaza Strip as the testing ground isn't going to get the job done.
Wanderer... When you ask a question like whether "1.5 million people living in one of the most retched, filthy swaths of land in the world without a meaningful economy, without a real air or seaport and with one border crossing leading to the Sinai Desert has any hope of becoming a viable state?", it makes me wonder if you've considered how things got to be this way.

The number itself is a matter of conjecture. The Palestinians refuse all attempts at a formal census and their aid is based on eth size of their population... so you figure out whether a lower or higher 'official' population number is in their best interest.

I will concede that Gaza is a very densely packed (perhaps the most densely populated) place. But that is neither Israel's doing nor Israel's problem. If they need more land let them ask Egypt for some of the vast unpopulated lands in Sinai since Egypt was technically responsible for them before Israel inherited the problem.

Next is the issue of 'retched filth'. This is also not Israel's doing. Israel can no more force the Palestinians to adopt western norms of community cleanliness and sanitary conditions than it can force any other western norms on their society. If someone is determined to sh*t in the same place where they eat and sleep (metaphorically, of course), there isn't much Israel (or anyone else) can do about it. So please don't suggest that it is Israel's responsibility to change the hygienic habits of an entire people.

Now let's move on to the economic issue. Before the intifada there was a shaky but viable Palestinian economy. It was based on a broad spectrum of both skilled and unskilled labor, tradesmen, agriculture, technicians, medical professionals and other professionals, etc. Most, but not all of these economic sectors were based on the continuing overlap of the Israeli and Palestinian economies. When the Palestinians unilaterally disengaged from the Israeli economy at the start of the Intifada, they destroyed their own economy overnight. Their leadership threatened anyone who kept a store open and continued to work with Jews. They used terror to make sure that even those brave souls who wanted to continue working with the Israelis could no longer be trusted because of security concerns. Throughout all this the leadership created a welfare economy whereby the PA became the single biggest 'employer' (with the UN being a close second) where nearly everyone was required to rely on welfare/patronage in order to survive. This is one of the largest reasons that basically good people are powerless to effect change in their own society. For a grass roots effort to succeed the people must have the ability to oppose the government. So long as nearly all the people are dependant on the government or its proxies for their subsistence, nobody will dare speak up, much less act. When Israel left Gaza they left fields that were already planted with crops. They left a high-tech agriculture economy in place that simply needed someone to come in and take over. What happened to those crops? what happened to the greenhouses? Who profited by the total mismanagement of these precious economic assets?

Another point you brought up is the lack of an airport and seaport. Are you seriously suggesting that the people who introduced the world to hijacking and who still have never renounced this tactic be given unfettered access to airplanes? The main reason you and I wait for hours on security lines at our own airports is that the Palestinians have never renounced using terror against airliners as a weapon to achieve their goals. Tell me honestly, what is a reasonable point at which you would be comfortable with them having their own airplanes? As to a seaport, does the Karin A incident ring a bell?

Now on to the border crossing with Egypt; There is a nearly unchecked flow of people and weapons across the Egyptian border with Gaza today. Because of agreements forced on Israel by the US, Israel is powerless to control the arming of the many armed factions in Gaza and as a result, primitive Kassam rockets will soon be replaced by high-tech weaponry that will bring Ben Gurion airport and Tel Aviv within easy striking range. When this comes to pass I predict that there will be much hand wringing in Washington and other world capitals. This will be a great comfort to the families of those who will inevitably be killed.

I never suggested that building settlements or even expanding them was any kind of a solution. I said just the opposite. I said that settlements and their expansion have nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the Palestinians decide to become a state or not. They have turned Jewish settlement into a red herring of enormous proportions in order to take the world's scrutiny off of their own lack of any serious plan for the future.

The biggest issue where I disagree with you is where you state , "Ignoring it, building a wall around it and saying I'm frustrated that they can't take care of themselves isn't a solution". This is the basic disconnect. These measures aren't meant to fix the Palestinian's problems. They are meant to try to fix one of Israel's problems; providing security for its citizens. So long as nearly all factions of the Palestinian leadership refuse to take steps to disarm terror groups and deal with lawlessness, there is no reason for Israel to sit by and not take defensive steps.

You end with some well worn tropes: "...In the meantime, their frustration and desperation grows, and with it comes the continuing cycle of violence..." that have no connection to Israel. Yes, the Palestinians are frustrate (as well they should be). But Israel did not cause their current dilemma nor can Israel pull them out of it. Their leadership has always had the ability to turn things around for the Palestinian people nearly overnight... but they have steadfastly refused.

And I'm sure you are familiar with how offensive the non-sarcastic use of the term 'cycle of violence' is to Israelis so I won't even address that beyond saying the following:

If a person meets you on the street and punches you in the face you have two choices: You can respond or you can turn the other cheek. If you choose the latter and the person continues to punch you in the face each time you pick yourself up off the ground, the pacifist route begins to seem a little silly. After a few more punches you finally decide to respond in kind. An outside observer who chooses only to see one punch exchanged for another may call it a cycle of violence... but you know it to be a matter of survival because a person can only absorb so many punches to the face before he/she dies. The outside observer may suggest that you simply walk away or choose another place to stand... but that doesn't deal with your basic right to stand peacefully without being hit (not to mention that there is nothing stopping your assailant from following you to the new location and continuing the assault.
Wanderer... In rereading my response to you I noted several things (not the least of which is the need to do more proof-reading before hitting the 'submit' button). But more importantly I failed to tell you that I appreciate the respectful tone in which you presented your views. I hope you know that any point or counterpoint I make here is simply addressing the statements, not the person who made them. I enjoy the way your mind works and am more than happy to exchange views with you in any convenient forum.
Lord Emsworth, Wanderer, Treppenwitz, and Psychotoddler: Y'all are having a very nice exchange here without my help, so I won't respond to every single comment, mostly because I don't want to turn this into a dogpile on Wanderer, and Trep answered him better than I could. I'll just add two thoughts.

Re the comparison between Gaza and Iraq as testing grounds for democracy: I don't think anyone thought of Gaza withdrawal as setting the stage for a testing ground for democracy. Even Israelis who supported it saw it as simply a security measure to avoid further IDF losses there. I don't think even they made the case that withdrawal was supposed to be good for Palestinians. Now, Iraq is being set up by the US purposefully to function as the first Arab democracy. It is supposed to serve as an example to surrounding Arab countries. I don't think anyone thinks of Palestinians as an example to other Arabs. The experiment in Iraq may not work, though I am optimistic. I believe in the next one or two years Iraq will have the largest non-oil domestic product in the Arab world. If they also have a representative government and law-and-order, it will be a major victory.

People who oppose the war in Iraq don't understand that Bush's vision is the least violent of alternatives. He hopes that by using force in Afghanistan and Iraq he can have effective "stick" and "carrot" examples for the rest of the Arab world so that with minimal additional force Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, and the rest all follow suit. The war opponents don't understand that if Iraq fails we will not go home defeated. After 9/11 we can not. If the Bush/Sharansky vision is false, we will have to defeat the Arab world the way we defeated the Axis, with an actual world war that will cost tens of millions of Arab lives. We will have to actually fight against Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc… We certainly don't have the national will for that now, but we will after a narcotized jihadi detonates a nuclear device in a van he drives from Tijuana to downtown Los Angeles.
Also, I really should lend you The Case for Democracy.
How about we just wipe them from the planet?

I'm sick of this. Religion of peace my hairy pimply white buttocks.
Og: I think that would only be justified if they continued to make themselves dangerous to Israel post withdrawal. Re your buttocks: a loofa may be just what you need.
Bean, I'm not a Jew, at least not not by birth, but in this sense, we are all Jews: Muslims want us all dead. I understand that Jews have a special hatred of the idea of genocide, having so nearly been a victim of it themselves, but sometimes I fear only Genocide will solve this problem. This is why the world will not be as the Muslims want it, not within the reach of my arm, not while I draw breath.

There is no helping my buttocks.
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Treppenwitz - Again, for the most part, what you say in your response is inassailable, and I can't disagree. However, I did ask you for your solution to the problem, and I don't beleive you provided one. While Israel certainly is not to blame for conditions in Gaza, or for how the entire Palestinian story has transpired, there is obviously a connection between the two. By virtue of its proximity and the intertwining of economies and infrastructure Israel will have to be intricately involved in any solution.

It reminds me that someone (who?) once said that Zionism was so successful that it actually spawned two nationalist movements.

It has taken many years for the Israeli Right to come to terms with the fact that there are such things as Palestinians. The old description of the Land of Israel as a land without people for a people without a land is simply a fantasy. Your last paragraph about getting punched and punching back could just as easily be at the end of a post by a Palestinian.

I'm also not sure if the measures you describe that are designed to increase Israel's security will have their intended effect in the long term. What they are doing is walling-in 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, dividing communities that have existed for centuries and making the miserable lives of many Palestinians even more miserable. Are they a necessary evil to increase security in Israel? Perhaps. Will having a wall going down the middle of a street in a Palestinian town make them drop their weapons and suicide belts and live in peace and harmony with Israel? Definitely not. (I have a feeling you're familiar with this blog). The walls, etc. are stop-gap measures for security today. The only possible long term solution will be a comprehensive one involving two states, with intertwined economies living side by side with mutual respect and the rule of law.

History is history and things got to be the way they are because they did. There is frustration, hate and blood on both sides. Israelis have always lived in the here and now because they have had no other choice. That is the imperative for creating facts on the ground, a central tenet of Zionism. It is interesting to me that the early years of the State were dominated by the Labor party who even up until Golda Meir were denying the existence of the Palestinian people. Now even Ariel Sharon (who I guess is now considered centrist?) has understood that the Palestinians cannot be ignored.

I guess my biggest gripe about what you have said is the washing of the hands from the whole thing. For years Israel chose not to recognize the leadership of the Palestinian people. I think that Arafat's passing created an opportunity for progress that can't be missed. Abbas certainly has his serious flaws, but he is there leader, and therefore must be taken seriously. The growing conflict between the PA and Hamas in Gaza may be a good sign that he is actually starting to take steps to wrestle control of his constituents. It may not be Israel's responsibility to fix all of Gaza and the Palestinian's problems, but they cannot be ignored or left entirely to someone else to deal with.

Bean - Actually your original post specifically says "Gaza is widely seen as a testing ground for statehood" and you have previously described the recent Palestinian elections as a significant event which proves Bush is on the right track. In any case, I would love to read Sharansky's book. I don't feel dogpiled at all by the way (note the name of my blog). It's tough to be a left leaning moderate blogger among mostly right wing religious Jews though.

Og - espousing genocide is not worthy of a response.
Wanderer: The sentence you cite was in the article from which I was quoting, not in my response. (The indented paragraphs are quotes.) I don't remember praising any Palestinian elections, though I praised the Iraqi elections, and I've said that the Iraqi elections suggest that Bush is on the right track. My memory is far from perfect though. If you find the post of me praising Palestinian elections, please leave a link.

Og: We didn't have to kill all the Japanese or all the Germans. A military victory is all that's necessary, and that involves, by definition, destroying the enemy's will to fight.

More later. I gotta go see a patient in the hospital.

BTW: I'm very much appreciating the civility here.
I just want to jump in here between Treppinwitz, Wanderer and Dr. Bean and add a thought. It is quite clear that Wanderer is playing the Utopian card when he asks for "a solution." There is no one solution, and any acute observer realizes that the Israeli Palestinian conflict is a geo political conflict with tentacles reaching to every corner of the world. To demand a one-line solution is, really, like one of the dim Hollywood stars I work with who are always demanding world peace. The Israelis can only deal with the here and now. As does any democracy. Only a genocidal state will propose a solution. Israel sees the world as it is, not as you or other utopians wish it to be.
Hey - maybe we really can win best Jewish/Israeli political blog. Or whatver it is we're nominated for.

No one mentioned my favorite part of the article - that Gaza is "conservative." You just gotta love the, um, liberal use of that word.
All the japanese and all the germans didn't have as their core tenet the destruction of all that is alien. Islam demands of it's followers the destruction of all that is not islam.

I'm not willing that anyone die, at all. Islam is the only thing that needs to die, not it's followers. If they won't leave behind their believe in sharia,in dhimmitude, in unilateral conquest, then it's simply us or them. I vote us.
Og - I think you're misrepresenting the extremist Muslim position - they want the Christians dead, too.

Gaza & the PA in general ain't a good example of a democracy because they are still holding "election" in scare quotes. They're still led by a nostalgic Stalinist leadership (not just Abbas - who is educated, by the way, he even wrote his dissertation... on Holocaust denial - he's all for denying). So Iraq does provide a good example - take out the corrupt leadership and let the people do their thing.

As Robert suggests, this would not be a one-step easy solution. You'd still have to constantly fight the PLO and Hamas. It wouldn't be too much better than it is now, in the short term. But at least the reality would be out in the open.
Wanderer... I agree with Robert. I didn't offer a solution because I don't think it is Israel's place (or within Israel's ability) to even contemplate fixing something that may not be able to be fixed. As to taking Abbas seriously, that is getting harder to do by the day. He is looking more lake Arafat with each passing moment. He rewards lawlessness by offering kidnappers and murderers jobs in one of the many 'security services' (a euphemism for a legitimized armed gang). His control is slipping, not getting stronger. Israel must have a partner with the authority and power to broker a deal. There is too much at stake for Israel to sign away more land and more concessions based on the word of a man who can't really offer peace. SO long as there are entire armed factions within the Palestinian camp that won't abide by any deal Abbas might make, Israel would be crazy to even sit down at the table. I may not agree with the unilateral decisions that Sharon is making for Israel, but I agree with him that at this point we have no choice but to act unilaterally.
Robert - Thank you for stepping in with your comment. You don't know me, we have never met, and I don't appreciate being labeled as anything, especially when it is wrong. I go to great efforts not to label people, and actually respect Treppenwitz a great deal because he is very cognizant of this problem in the blogosphere.

I actually don't think there is a one line solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict - its obviously a great deal more complicated than that. I hear lots of frustrated, angry rhetoric coming from the Israeli Right these days, and not a whole lot of solutions. I'd like to hear some. I also don't think that seeking a just solution to allow both parties to live out their lives in relative peace is utopian. I'm sorry if you are that cynical to think that. I'm not sure what you mean when you say "Only a genocidal state will propose a solution." Please clarify.
The idea of a civil war between Palestinians does have a certain appeal. Like when Iraq and Iran were at war, some people said, "It would be good if they both won."

The only problem is innocent people get caught in the crossfire.

There was a book (and a movie) some years ago, "The Mouse that Roared," about a tiny country in Europe that declares war on the US, hoping to be defeated so it can get all the Marshall Plan benefits the US likes to bestow on its enemies.

The Palestinians should do the same. Then the US would come in, take over, write a constitution for them, run elections for them (which they are totally unable to do for themselves), build an infrastructure for them, get their economy up and running etc.

(In the book the plan fails because the US unexpectedly loses the war, which admittedly could happen -- but if Palestine declares war on the US quick before the Dems get back in the White House, there isn't much risk of that)

Labels are a necesssary part of life or we will have chaos. Or do you propose that we are all just "humans."

You are Utopian because you demand that Treppinwitz come up magical solution when you know very well that there are none. Not in a world when Jihadists are bent on total destruction.

Israel has come up with many incremental solutions over the years and so far and they have all been rejected by the Arabs. And so the latest solution is unilateral disengegment. Naturally, the Arabs reject this too for their solution, really, if you are honest, if you read their press, is the destruction of the Jewish State.

I can tell you this, ultimately, the final arbiter of the Arab Israeli conflict, like all great conflicts, will not be through treaties and documents, but through war and conflagration.

It will be us or them.

And then Wanderer you will have the solution you so dearly wish for.
Robert: Welcome. I have been surreptitiously lurking on your blog for awhile. Glad you found us.

Once, I was attending an orientation to work as a facilitator at a battered women's shelter. The topic was drug and alcohol abuse. One of the memebers of the audience tearfully asked a drug/alcohol counselor what she could do to help a friend's child who was a completely out-of-control alcoholic. The panelist said that sometimes, there is nothing that can be done. Some people are just going to kill themselves. This same admonition rings true in the macro world for the Palestinians. There is so much suffering and misery in the world. Israel has money, compassion and a strong military. Outside of its own security, Israel could use her might to help people who appreciate and will benefit from the help, for example victims of natural disaster or children who need surgeries that are not available in their native lands. It is a waste of time, compassion and resources to continue to "help" people who are committed to self-destruction. You can call my position unkind, but I think it is more unkind to funnel money (which is a limited resource) to homicidal thugs committed to the murder of innocents at the expense of the suffering people who have done nothing wrong.
Dang. Og like ball-and-chain.
Dear Ball & Chain:

I have been reading your site for quite a while too. I consider Wanderer and those like him to be polite, civilized, naive, and quite dangerous. For it is such utopian thought that leads democracies to let down their guard against murderous regimes bent on their destruction.

Your position is not unkind. Let me take it one step further and expand it to war.

War much more than peace is an equalizer and a fomenter of social change. Recall the dynamics in America after WWII, including the civil rights movement and the erosion of anti-Semitism, all would have been impossible without the bloodletting of that horrible conflict.

Great change in the Arab world will only come after they have been brought to their knees by the well disciplined armies of the IDF and the US armies. When they are forced to surrender and not when the UN steps in and saves their wretched armies and murderous militias. Then we will see real change in the Arab world. Until then, I fear they will continue on their way backwards to the 7th century.

Always seeking peace is not the humane way. Sometimes it is the surest road to hell on earth.
I have nothing else intelligent to add to this conversation. Come to think of it, I never had anything intelligent to add to this conversation. But I would like to say that I think that THIS is what the internet should be about. Intelligent people discussing important topics with respect for each other's dignity (well, mostly).

I'd like to think that we could all be around a dinner table having this conversation and that no one would throw food.

Og have good taste.
Og like throw food. Og like catch food too. Warthog, elk, turkey, deer.

Actually, this is a great conversation, and I'm thrilled to see someone having it.
I would throw food. But nothing with sauce on it.
Robert: Welcome. I've very belatedly added you to our blogroll under "conservative blogs".

To our readers who haven't read him, Robert Avrech is an author and screenwriter and (unlike yours truly) is an out-of-the closet-conservative in liberal Hollywood. He is also an out-of-the-closet religious Jew (gasp!). His blog, Seraphic Secret, is very thoughtful and well written, and has a gazillion readers and commenters.
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