Monday, January 19, 2009

Mission accomplished?

Both Israeli forces and Hamas fighters have called a ceasefire and let's all hope that it can last. But the scale of the carnage is so high it is difficult to see where reconstruction is to begin, let alone how the psychological wounds can be healed.

The BBC assessed the damaged caused over the last few weeks; They put the figures at more than 1,300 Palestinians killed, thirteen Israeli deaths, more than 4,000 buildings destroyed in Gaza, more than 20,000 severely damaged, and tens of thousands of Gazans are now homeless.

This bombardment and invasion has scarred a generation and levelled the infrastructure of Gaza. Israel's claims to be targeting military targets were flimsy lies from the very start when they targeted a traffic police graduation ceremony. One in three of the dead are children.

It looks like they've succeeded in closing down the tunnels that were flouting the blockade bringing in food, medicines and other goods that would not have been available had those tunnels not existed. Israel's objectives of collective punishment on the people of Gaza have been met. The immiseration of the Gazans is complete and what's left of Hamas and the state are left to pick up the pieces under the glare of international censure.

You might like to contribute to the reconstruction of Gaza via the Islamic Relief Fund.


Raphael said...

You forgot weapons in your list of items smuggled through the tunnels.

Do you really believe that Israel's aim in this operation, and in particular the destruction of the tunnels, was to prevent smuggling of food through the tunnels?

It is sometimes useful to try to look at such things from both perspectives. Especially when you have the chance like you and me of not being directly involved in the conflict.

Why do you think this operation enjoyed such massive support in Israel? Is it because Israeli in general are murderers? Or is it the case that if thousands of rockets had been fired over the UK, popular support for a military action would have been very high too?

The answer to the latter question is of course Yes. Look at the reaction of the popular press at, for example, the possibility that "our British gas" could be used to help eastern EU countries. Nationalism is not pretty.

I condemn this war between Hamas and Israel. I think it was a mistake and it has caused massive deaths and traumas that could have been avoided. It has led to a rupture of the peace process between Israel and Syria, and between Israel and the Palestinians. I think that the international community should have done much more to force Israel and Hamas into negotiations.

But it is all to easy to see the situation in black and white. Hamas is the "democratically elected gvt" as you wrote in a reply to one of my previous comment. That is true, but it is only a small part of the truth.

It is also an organization which wants the destruction of Israel and has sent thousands of rockets at civilian targets after Israel withdrew from Gaza (starting before the blockade). It is also an antisemitic and genocidal organization. It is also a network of charities that help Palestinians to survive. It is also the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a proxy for Iran, etc.

Your justified (desperate) irony at "Mission accomplished" could as well apply to Hamas who has claimed victory too. More than thousands of their people killed and they call that a victory. Can you understand that?

Jim Jay said...

The essential supplies that are taken through those tunnels are essential for the civilian population. The blockade is causing deaths, this is likely to worsen now the infrastructure has been flattened... oh sorry I mean military targets.

I don't support Hamas, but Israel's war was against the people of Gaza, not simply their democratically elected government.

Hundreds of dead children in a few weeks. Not one word of sympthy?

S Ali said...

Good post, Jim, in which you do not perpetrate the following fallacy:

"X has a point of view. Y has an opposing point of view. I cannot see where the truth lies so let me slip into a convenient moral relativism. - Or, let me slip into a convenient moral relativism so I cannot see where the truth lies."

Israeli psychological operations is itself a form of warfare and it pays to know how to interpret it; to see lies, groupthink and the power of denial for what they are. Maybe this seeing requires a soul. Spokesperson Mark Ragev described this carnage (disproportionate, indiscriminate and more) as "worthwhile".

Here is a short film, Children are Gaza Victims. Of course, if one were in denial one could allege that the pictures were staged, but that would be analogous to compounding the injustice of Armenians around the world, who say, "To have the genocide denied is to die twice."

The people of Gaza are being depopulated by stealth.


Raphael said...

I note that you have not responded to any of my questions. Instead, you respond by a question tending to suggest that I have no sympathy for the children of Gaza, which is both absurd and insulting.

John Mullen said...

The Israëli state, it is clear, cannot be reformed. It is based on an idea of "racial" separation. Since it cannot be reformed, to be in favour of its destruction should be uncontroversial. Like other colonial states which have been destroyed in the past (say French Algeria...).

Of course, one hopes that a lot of the population of Israël will at some point give up defending its state, to make the destruction of the state less violent...

Jim Jay said...

Raphael - you do a good impression of someone who's in favour of the bombardment and invasion. I've seen a lot of comments from you in various places making demands on people - but you're not stating what you think.

I think it's fair to ask whether you care about the deaths as everyone else has exhibited this basic human empathy. Whether you find it insulting or not is completely irrelevant to me as you seem oblivious to the offense you cause for your apologist stance over their murders.

Why would it hurt you to mention that you think the killing of hundreds and hundreds of children is wrong? Is it on your radar at all?

I didn't answer all your questions because you're always making demands of people without reciprocating. The one way street gets tiresome.

What's your position on the bombing? Do you think the Israeli state has been justified in its actions or not?

Mira said...

I don't think the Israeli government was justified. But it seems obvious to me that Raphael is worried about what you think, because unlike Israel you are in his back yard and highly influential in his political party. So asking him to perform is missing the point.

For the life of me, I don't know what I would tell the Israeli government if by some mistake I were the person who got to decide how to stop Hamas showering rockets on Southern Israel, and had to convince Israelis that Hamas were not going to be in a position to do the things they have threatened to do to Jews in the region.

What I find utterly useless is that so few of the protesters against Israel acknowledge that some response to Hamas is needed - and one which does not involve Israel having to assume that rewarding Hamas' violence and hatred with a turned cheek will bring about an end to said violence and hatred.

I'm afraid that would be wishful thinking - but I'd at least expect all of those who appear to seriously believe it to make the case for it in a way which the Israeli people, who are profoundly anxious about Hamas, could engage with. As far as I know, nobody has. I think that's because nobody can. Maybe John Mullen could broker some kind of agreement?

No. So we have to support the peace activists on the ground.

One other thing. Hamas is murderous, corrupt, misogynistic, homophobic and (cherry on top) genocidal. Hamas has killed hundreds of palestinians since taking power in Gaza, to no particular objections from Britons who evince so much more concern for Palestinians when they are killed by Israelis. Hamas may also be, or become, other better things (I am genuinely not sure) but if you could stop being so soft on that you would do everyone - most of all Gazans - a favour.


Raphael said...

I am stating exactly what I think and I very rarely refuse to answer questions. Your comment that I am "always making demands of people without reciprocating. The one way street gets tiresome." is a simple lie as well as a strawman argument. Back it up or withdraw.

I said "I condemn this war." Clear and simple.

How do you translate this as "being in the favour of the bombardment and invasion" is beyond me.

I think that the killing of children is wrong whoever kill them.

Is that enough?
Do you speak to me again?
Are you going to answer my points?

Or do you still refuse to engage?

Your last two questions:
What's your position on the bombing?

A military intervention with terrible (and predictible) consequences for thousands of innocent civilians, terrible consequences for the peace process and very unlikely to bring any benefits to the Israelis.

Do you think the Israeli state has been justified in its actions or not?

Should be clear from the above (and from my previous post although it was not its focus). No, I do not think it was justified.

Matt Sellwood said...


To be frank, for someone who spends a lot of time criticising others and demanding answers from them, you don't deal particularly well with requests to make your own position clear.

I think if you're going to demand explanations from others, you need to expect similar demands upon yourself.

Mira said...

If you care about Gazans support people like Yish. He has done time in prison for refusing to do military service in the occupied territories. The reason I tell you this - other than that you might actually listen to what he has to say - is that it is a really hard thing for an Israeli to refuse in this way, and for Yish and others to build support among Israelis for the organisations he now supports (such as Combatants for Peace and The Abraham Fund) depends on him being able to make the case to ordinary Israelis that a free and viable Palestinian state is in their best interests. Support him.

Raphael said...


If you think I did not make my position clear, ask a specific question regarding the aspect(s) of my answer that you think are unclear.

That is how dialog and discussion can progress.

I cannot clarify further if you do not tell me what you find unclear.


Raphael said...


It looks like you do not intend to respond which is your absolute right.

You have publicly accused me of:
1. refusing to answer questions
2. being in favour of the bombardment and invasion
3. "lacking basic human empathy"
4. being an apologist for murder

All of this is wrong, not based on what I say but on what you think I should say or what you think I think.

I do not come here to be insulted but to engage in meaningful debates based on rational reasoning.

This was my last contribution to your blog. I am sure you are happy about that. I am not.


weggis said...


Jim said “.. closing down the tunnels that were flouting the blockade bringing in food, medicines and other goods ..”

Raphael asked Jim why he didn’t specifically mention weapons. It is an omission that I noticed too, and then had a think.

In any conflict [war?] one objective of each side will be to knock out the other sides military capability: whether or not they are in a position to do it, it will still be an objective. Each side will therefore protect its military installations and it’s military supply lines in whatever way they can. Smuggling weapons through tunnels is one way of doing this.

However, there is a difference between having to protect military supply lines and civilian supply lines. I can understand that for some [possibly Jim] civilian supply lines are not a legitimate military target, but unfortunately these things are not conducted according to the Queensbury rules. Britains merchant fleet suffered heavy losses during WWII.

If we are to make any sense of this, we have to understand that conflict [war?] is a dirty business, and people, including children lose their lives. Of course it is far better not to do it in the first place, or end it quickly when it occurs. But there is no clean war. It is the horror and the suffering that make it what it is. We can’t change the nature of war, but we can, if we stay together and put our minds to it play a part in stopping it.

That last part is directed specifically at Jim, Raphael and Matt. We should always remember that the way we choose to express ourselves may not be perceived by others in the way we intend. And if you are going to write a blog you must expect to defend what you write.

Jim Jay said...

I'll come back to this thread later, I'm very unwell... feel free to carry on without me.

weggis said...

best wishes
get well soon.

Jim Jay said...

Phew, yet another angry comment thread on Israel... oh well, although this time it's my fault. Perhaps I got food poisoning as divine retribution...

I'll not deal with everything as it's too long and I have one main thing I want to say.

Raphael: Having reread your first comment in this thread you did specifically say "I condemn this war between Hamas and Israel" and went on to briefly expand on that about the human cost of war.

For whatever reason I missed this the first time and I apologise - you were actually very clear and for whatever reason I didn't see it the first time I read your comment, possibly due to the length of it, but for whatever reason I was totally in the wrong on this point.

Whether you post here again or not is up to you but, although we disagree on many of the questions surrounding the region (not all by any means), I've been guilty of ignoring something pretty basic that you've said out in the open and I feel pretty shitty about having done that.

It was a genuine and stupid mistake on my part rather than a deliberate attempt to smear you - but the effect would feel the same to you and it would have been pretty unpleasant at your end. I'm extremely annoyed at myself as it was a golden opportunity to seize some common ground and work towards better understanding of our mutual positions.

I blew it. Sorry.

Raphael said...

I'm back, of course. Thanks for the above.

Jim Jay said...

Well, thanks for accepting the apology - I was pretty rude whilst being wrong which makes it doubly irritating. Sorry again.

Mira said...

This is nice of you Jim. However, personally I don't spend my time complaining about bad ways of thinking about the Israel-Palestine conflict articulated on blogs in order to obtain apologies. I am much more worried about discourse and influence. You have apologised to Raphael, and that makes a huge difference. But your omission on the subject of the weapons endures in your post above, and your readers will read that post without being reminded that the reason Israel went into Gaza, and the reasons that the blockade was imposed, was the weapons and the warmongering of Hamas. In fact your readers could well get the impression that the Israeli blockade was an end in itself, and that would indeed be reason for them to smash Israel and supporters of Israel.

I realise you have been ill and are probably playing catchup, but I hope you will insert an update in the post to that effect, and that you understand that this request is not to rub your nose in it, but to educate your readers - your many readers.

Jim Jay said...

Mire. Re weapons:

a) everyone has the right to self defence and whilst Israel is willing to kill its neighbours Palestinians have a right to defend their territory - so the fact that arms get into the territory does not fill me with horror. That doesn't mean I support how those tools are used, but I don't oppose any people the right to have arms.

b) the key point about cutting off the tunnels is the misery this will cause to people unable to bypass the blockade. With an economy and infrastructure in tatters it is vital these lines are left open - regardless of whether they are also used to ship arms.