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06 January 2009


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"If Israel can not restore its image and self-image by dominating the outcome, then Israel's future will be permanently affected for good or ill. pl"

Are they that confident of "dominating the outcome"? Is that their reason for their Gaza excursion now? It seems all Hamas needs to do is survive and keep firing their homemade rockets and not agree to any ceasefire that imposes additional conditions on them. A very low tactical and strategic threshhold it would seem barring of course the humanitarian consequence.

What would Israel have gained if they could not dominate the current outcome?


As I have written before, the main issue in the Middle East hangs in the balance in Gaza.

Col., my Palestinian colleagues think Hamas would be unwise to accept any offer of a ceasefire/truce, believing instead that this is the moment where determined resistance, however futile it may be militarily, might be the fulcrum to radically change the (political)status quo in the region.

They point to the astounding comments by the Turkish PM, the seething hatred generated by the latest civilian attacks, etc. as signs that something is finally ready to give and just needs that final push, that being a Gaza Ghetto and a fight to the end. The more Hamas resists, the more shame it brings on the Arabs, who have sacrificed whatever claim they had left to being the best of the Muslims. How much can regional puppets really withstand if Hamas shows a willingness to fight it out?

It is a tough call.


They are restoring their self-image by smashing up a large refugee camp?


Even for a DC pundit, Richard Cohen has a long history of obtuse remarks on a large number of subjects. Given this fact, I don't really understand why he gets any credence at all from anyone. The reason his career probably continues to flourish is that people like Cohen present an acceptable version of liberal thought (in other words, not liberal) for the dysfunctional oligarchy that owns and runs this country (incompetently).

Charles I

"If Israel can not restore its image and self-image by dominating the outcome, then Israel's future will be permanently affected for good or ill. pl"

Let us pray it be so.


In my lay opinion, Israel's desire to instill fear is doomed to failure because the only successful way sufficiently to instill fear would be genocide of most Gazans and that would ultimatley be suicidal for the Israelis themselves. Short of that, it seems that enough of Hamas will survive to carry on. By surviving, Hamas will prove Israel's impotence again. Massively bombing children will ultimately result in the losing the war even if they think "fear" is instilled. What will inevitably be created is a more dedicated group of Gazans who are willing to do any act to inflict mortal revenge on Israel over the next seventy years as those infants grow up, mature, and turn old. The six hundred thousand children will long remember the event and forever hate the Jews. (One should not forget the demographic are strongly moving against the Jews in Israel itself.) The whole strategy of massively killing civilians to instill "fear" is simply bonkers, messhugge.

Instead of bombing civilians, if the Israelis wanted to induce the Gazans to abandon Hammas, the only viable strategy I can imagine would have been a strategy of compression, that is taking Gaza, acre by acre, clearing it, and moving on to the next plot, all conducted with as much mechanical mechanical muscle as needed and with as little bloodshed as possible. In the process, the Fatah fighters would have to come forward to oppose the process and to suffer casualties. And, most importantly all of the time the compression was proceeding carrots should be available for the Palestinians to eat if they would agree to acknowledge Israel's right to exist and to toss Hamas.

One would expect that as the million plus Gazans became more and more crowded, more and more compressed with the continual availability of the carror of peace, internal pressures would make blaming Hamas deadenders more and more common as living became more and more unbearable. Ultimately, internal politics might result in a positive political change within the Gazan polity. Certainly such an approach would approach criminality for "punishing" civilians, but not so serious as the full genocide that is the present option.

Of course, the most likely option might also happen: Israel's neighbors just band together and finish Israel off after the rest of the world abandons it in disgust. This option is probably furthered by the present Israeli strategy as Israel proves itself unable to eliminate Hamas by military activity and the images of mangled children sinks into the world's conscience. As things seem now to be going, Israel is losing this political struggle badly now and mostly because of its own stupidity.

If Israel cannot learn a more effective way to deal with the Palestinians, it will be finished soon.


the purpose of the war was for Barack/Livni to beat bibby in the election. Will it work - don't know yet. Daniel Pipes suggests the solution to the problem is for Jorday to take over administration of the West Bank and Egypt to take over administration of Gaza. I suspect this is the leakage of the new Israeli idea for a way out.

Patrick Lang

Ed Finnerty

The election is a contributing cause but there are much deeper underlying psychologies of dominance involved.

Jordan take back the West Bank? You must be joking! How do you think Jordan could be forced to do that? Egypt in Gaza? With the Cairo mob howling for Mubarak's blood shorthly thereafter

Ever been in any of these places? pl


"They are restoring their self-image by smashing up a large refugee camp"

Those of us who have been to Sabra and Shatila know this not to be entirely without precedent (I know, I know -- IDF had NOTHING to do with that lamentable episode but their monkeys sure did).


When you believe that you are entitled to shoot dead a child who unsuccessfully throws a stone at you (and then raze the neighbourhood) critics may leap to the conclusion that you just cannot play well with others.

Roll on the new beginning.


"Jordan take back the West Bank? You must be joking! How do you think Jordan could be forced to do that? Egypt in Gaza? With the Cairo mob howling for Mubarak's blood shorthly thereafter"

I sure hope you're right. Indeed you probably are, but I'm worried that with the right bribe...or threat, they might be induced. "Leaders" like Abdullah and especially Mubarak would sell their mothers for the right price. They sold their souls long ago.


Pl and Lysander

First of all - no I have never been in any of these places. But, in my attempt to understand what kind of possible end game fantasy that some people have in mind I report what Daniel Pipes said. I assume this represents some viewpoint within the movement. As insane as it may seem to a knowledgeable observer such as yourself, it may seem realistic inside the bubble - or it could just be disinformation.

Remember Suskin - " we make our own reality"

William R. Cumming

Once again those who have adopted organized violence to settle political issues will find out that they were not worthy of their leadership positions--Whether the rocket launchers or the IDF! Violence may bring on unusual developments this time. Is it the last hurrah for the IDF or for HAMAS? Perhaps for both.


What I find almost embarrasing is that the Israeli leadership has become so morally bankrupt that they think that kicking the shit out of the smallest and least armed adversary in the region makes them look strong.

It makes them look perverse.


David Habakkuk


'I am not clear on what the implication of "The Israelis know that the logic of ths development weighs heavily on their future as a state." is? Are they going to pack up and go somewhere else? Seems to me they will take a whole bunch of people with them if they go down.'

You raise a key question. The likely answer I think is that some of them -- in particular the most 'modern' elements of Israeli society -- can very easily 'pack up and go somewhere else', and many of these may already be thinking that it may make sense to do so. According to a 2007 poll, a quarter of Israelis are considering leaving -- including almost half of young people.

(See http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/12/12/the_changing_face_of_israel/.)

But of course, many would find it much more difficult to do so -- and would very likely not want to leave Israel unless they absolutely had to.

One needs also to look at the demographic trends. Not only is the figure of 4.6 children born to each Palestinian woman on average far higher than the 2.6 born to each Israeli woman -- among Israelis, 7.6 children on average are born to ultra-Orthodox Jewish women.

Accordingly, if the 'modern' elements leave in numbers, the trend towards a clear numerical Palestinian preponderance in Greater Israel will accelerate -- as also will the salience of 'non-modern' elements in Israeli society. And in both cases, the acceleration of these trends is liable to be self-reinforcing: the less the weight of the 'modern' Jewish elements, the more these will be inclined to leave.

The end result may well be a society dominated by ultra-nationalists and religious extremists, with poor long-term prospects of survival, and a large nuclear arsenal: a prospect which would indeed seem to imply the possibility of an outcome catastrophic alike for Israel and its neighbours.

Another important element in this has to do with the pressures that current developments are putting on Jewish identity in places like my own country, Britain.

Discussing the views of the Israeli historian Benny Morris last July, the Yale literary scholar David Bromwich remarked that:

'Morris sees Israel in 2008 as a state under perpetual siege and the focus of a clash of civilizations; he sees Palestinians -- and to a degree, all Arabs; and Iranians, too -- as a species of animals not yet inducted into full humanity.'


In a recent thread, Marcello commented that 'as far as most american conservatives are concerned, the only good palestinian is a dead one.'

As a Brit, I obviously hope that he is wrong, but am not in a position to make a confident judgement. And certainly, there are those in Britain who are happy to buy into the vision of the West as an island of civilisation amid a sea of savagery.

But there are many others -- I think among people who would call themselves conservatives quite as much as among people who would call themselves liberals -- who share Bromwich's view that this vision is both morally repulsive and a sure route to strategic disaster: and think that a 'clash of civilisations' is precisely what we need to avoid at all costs.

It is moreover among such people that one finds many of the most traditionally philosemitic elements in British society -- people like myself and my wife, who have occasional Arab or Iranian acquaintances, but have had close Jewish or part-Jewish friends and colleagues throughout our lives.

For some Jews we have known, Israel has either had no part in their identity or been marginal to it. The legacy of the Holocaust has meant that for many there have been elements of 'dual loyalty'. But 'dual loyalty' is only a problem if the loyalties potentially conflict. It used to be that there seemed to be no possibility of this happening. But once Israel becomes identified with the kind of vision articulated by Morris, the possibility of conflict is there.

I think it is also fair to say that this vision is, to many Jews, a threat to their notion of what Jewish identity and the Jewish heritage means.

Clifford Kiracofe

"instilling fear of israel"

Seems to me that those with a strong religious perspective, will not be afraid of the powers and principalities of darkness in this world. Israeli barbarism just strengthens the logic of jihad I should think.

Stonewall Jackson advised not to "take counsel" of our fears.

Leila Abu-Saba

Ah but when the child throwing a stone is an Arab, well, that's really scary. You realize how frightening and dangerous Arabs are, when they throw stones, or wear tee-shirts with Arabic writing, or toss shoes. Blood-curdling. Must be stopped by any means necessary.


"In a recent thread, Marcello commented that 'as far as most american conservatives are concerned, the only good palestinian is a dead one.'

As a Brit, I obviously hope that he is wrong, but am not in a position to make a confident judgement. And certainly, there are those in Britain who are happy to buy into the vision of the West as an island of civilisation amid a sea of savagery."

Due to my interests I spend a lot of my internet time in american conservatives dominated forums. That is the prevalent attitude I see. Official polling shows republicans supporting israeli military actions in overwhelming majorities, though for obvious reasons no official polls will be made to whow the full extent of the underlying positions.


Now John Bolton is out with the same gaza to egypt - west bank to Jordan proposal. THis now looks orchestrated and serious - fantasy or not


No, this is not the Onion:


Joe the Plumber to go to Israel as a War Correspondent.


Unless Hamas shows a measure of willingness to stop its Quixotic quest "to return" or Israel is wiped out by its neighbors, there seems to be simply no real liklihood that the conditions in Gaza will improve or settle down.

If Col. Lang's view of the impossibility of Egypt taking Gaza is accurate as it seems to be, then an option I have not ever heard discussed of evacuating Gaza to the West Bank is a possible solution. If a transplant were forces, a large pile of carrots to sustain the transplants would be needed to be contributed by the world to ease the suffering. The children of Gaza deserve to be protected from the continued hell-hole of a place. They might well flourish in the West Bank if given sufficient material and educational support.

The sooner the whole festering sore is somehow lanced, the more suffering will be avoided. If something drastic is not done to ease the conditions in the Gazan prison, even more terrors and crimes will continue until one side or the other is simply obliterated.

Truly sad!

David Habakkuk


As I say, this is a matter I cannot judge. But the American conservatives who hold such attitudes are false friends to Israel, and do no service to the interests of Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere.


I don't know if this is the right chain for this comment, but I was quite baffled by a series of comments made by a Middle East Studies professor on a local news radio interview last night. The professor, Alahn (ph.) bin ??, was talking about how all the governments in the region were secretly cheering on the Israeli IDF as it attacked Hamas. According to him, Hamas was 100% controlled by the Iranian government -- a level of control that the U.S. probably never achieved with any of its clients -- and that all of the regional governments were deathly afraid of Iran. Without making Iran out to be a set of nice-guys, are the regional governments that afraid of Iran or of being the next version of the Pahlavi's, thrown out by an outraged population? And are the region's governments that happy to see Israel pounding Gaza when it seems to be inciting popular passion against them in the streets?

Mac Nayeri

The Kadima brass have rolled the dice and lost.

The PR war is lost.

Anyhow, if it is Gaza, it is b/c it Natanz is off limits.

Mac Nayeri

Col. Lang,

You are a wordsmith, let's be honest.....

And yet, "Perhaps that would lead to a new beginning. pl " is your closing....

It sounds as if the the master is holding back.

Remember what Thomas Aquinas wrote about 'maintaining one's neutrality" in times of moral crisis?

You're good guy, but being on the right side of history is worth standing up for....after all, lest you forgot, you are an heir of that great Revolution, from Bunker Hill to Yorktown.

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