Monday, December 29, 2008

Palestinian Decents?

Hmmm, check this guy out ... viz:

Cushy position at a US university, far away from the sharp end? Check.

Bellicose, sloganeering rhetorical style? Check.

Strong belief that it's someone else's job to solve own political problems? Check.

Seeming belief that it's only the moral turpitude and corruption of international institutions that stop them providing said deus ex machina solution? Check.

Specific phrase "never again"? Check.

This is a very worrying development; the Alan Kuperman strategic victimhood thesis meets the Decent style of politics, in the crucible of the world's worst national liberation movement. I think we can all see how this is going to metastatize. One, two, many thousands of Decentisms! Sheesh.

49 Comments:

Anonymous Marc Mulholland said...

On which topic, Seth Freedman's piece argues that this is the result of a 'strategic victimhood' Hamas policy:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/28/gaza-attacks-israel

12/29/2008 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Yes, I think he's right. (Also cf, the Justice & Equality Movement for Darfur, which is largely run out of Maynooth University in Ireland).

Hamas really are the pathetic sharks of national liberation movements by the way. "We Are All Hezbollah" was, as noted several times in these pages, a really stupid slogan, but it's notable that nobody is bothering with "We Are All Hamas". The amount of money and resources they have pissed up against the wall over the last twenty years, and what have they achieved with it?

(I also reiterate my view expressed at the time of the Lebanon War that "proportionality" under the Geneva Conventions refers to proportionality to the war aim involved, rather than being a tit-for-tat condition, and as a result it is entirely possible for *both* sides to be using disproportionate violence, particularly in a situation where both sides are acting purely to prop up their domestic political support - any collateral damage at all is disproportionate to an attack which has no military value whatsoever).

12/29/2008 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Hamas may have got nowhere, and be going nowhere, but given that they probably have nowhere to go to and no way of getting there, where does anybody propose they go?

12/29/2008 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

(They should of course not fire rockets into Israel, because there's not much point in fighting guerilla wars where you can't gain any territory even at night, but while I think we can take that as axiomatic, I think we can also take it as axiomatic that there would be no viable Palestinian state and no peace regardless of what policy was taken by any Palestinian movement. Given that preventing such a state from coming into being is the goal of Israeli policy, and all.)

12/29/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

actually I'm being a bit unfair to Hamas here; they did actually function as a sort of political/welfare organisation on old-fashioned Muslim Brotherhood lines for quite a while. It's only really since becoming the government in Gaza and getting into a disastrous fight with Fatah that they've become so comically useless.

12/29/2008 05:11:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Actually, see Normski's take on this, which as far as I can decipher is: Yeah, it's disproportionate, but since I agree with Israel's stated war aims, so what?

Norm also blethers on a bit about how the peace-loving Israeli guvmint should go on a peace offensive to create a two-state solution... as long as it can find trustworthy interlocutors. FFS, it's bad enough when Freedland does this, but you would hope for a bit more rigour from Norm.

12/29/2008 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Eric "Grandpa Simpson" Lee on Harry's Place (ding!):

Some editorial writer somewhere has surely already used the expression “final solution” to describe what Israel is trying to do.

and yes, he does immediately segue into a discussion of something that happened twenty-six years ago. Some would have thought that if we were playing the "turn back the clock to a year when other people were doing much worse than Israel", you could pick better years than 1982.

12/29/2008 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

as long as it can find trustworthy interlocutors

This appalling rhetorical gambit Watched, passim.

12/29/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Strategic victimhood' worked for (much of) the KLA. OTOH, the Serbs didn't have hydrogen bombs (themselves rather a giveaway when Decents play the 'poor little Israel' card), thus it's pretty unlikely to work now, and thus Hamas fail any number of the still rather useful 'just war' tests.

But I'm with ejh here: Arafat's statesmanship acheived precisely fuck all for the 'Palestinian nation'. They know what the outcome of the 'Surrender and see what kind of deal they'll let us have' was. So why bother with all this piffling and ultimately futile compromising when you can strike a final macho pose and get a jolly big turnout at your funeral?

Chris Williams

12/29/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Daniel - correct me if I'm wrong but didn't you write an article at CIF after Hamas was elected saying that the Israeli strategy of attempting to sideline them until they officially recognised Israel was probably a sensible strategy?

I don't wish to be rude but I think you may misunderstand the dynamics of the organisation. They will never officially recognise Israel. They can't. Their religious beliefs mandate that Palestine is a religious waqf (inheritance) that was given to Muslims. You can't seriously expect them to denounce a core religious belief. Its like asking the Catholic church to come out and decree that homosexuality is not a sin.

This of course is why Israel set this precondition to any talks with the organisation. It wants to negotiate with a pliant Palestinian partner who will accept statehood limited to a series of disconnected Bantustans. Hamas won't accept that and despite relentess attempts to co-opt them Fatah is unlikely to do either. Any leader that did would get the bullet and the conflict on the ground would continue anyway.

Hamas has repeatedly offered a hudna- a long term truce in exchange for a state on the '67 borders. This amounts in effect to de facto recognition of Israel and is the farthest they are ever likely to go.

Freedman's article was rather depressing wasn't it? Especially since his other stuff on the conflict is quite good. The way he writes the article you could almost think that the rockets came out of a vacuum.

On a final note I must bring up the subject of Principia Wingnuttia. Justin has repeatedly argued that we shouldn't have anything to do with HP because its basically full of loonies. Whilst this is true it is also a place where you sometimes see what we might call the more credible (yes and this is a very relative 'credible') Decents reveal their true colours.

Check out this article by Eric Lee

This surely shows that there is no real distinction between the sort of Decent who gets to write comment pieces in Democratiya and the most unhinged lunatic who posts in HP's comment boxes.

12/29/2008 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Just for Justin who I know can't bring himself to visit the site - which is totally understandable -here are two of the most ridiculous passages:

It’s not the victims – no one cares about the victims. It’s who’s doing the killing that matters. What infuriates much of the Left is that Israel is using a tiny fraction of its military power to try to restrain its enemy from firing rockets against Israeli civilians.
I should emphasize that phrase: a tiny fraction of its military power. If Israel were really trying to kill as many Palestinians as it could, were really aiming at genocide, there wouldn’t be 300 dead. The numbers would be far higher – on the scale of the slaughters carried by Assad in Syria, or the Algerian generals, or even that darling of the Left, Saddam Hussein.

The Qassam missiles are Hamas’ V-1 rockets. The Israeli Air Force is the RAF. Israel is defending itself against an uncompromising fascist enemy, and while it is entirely legitimate to debate its tactics and to insist that it make the utmost effort to spare civilian lives, a decent Left should have no difficulty say which side it is on.


Nurse the Screens!

12/29/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I think this is the article you're thinking about. By "recognise Israel", I only ever meant to recognise it in the way in which Dr Ian Paisley recognised Sinn Fein - to recognise that there is such a thing and that it has to be dealt with in the real world. That prediction about "forcing Hamas to the negotiating table" was, I think, more or less right although I completely shat the bed on the assumption that Israel was negotiating in good faith.

12/29/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

This of course is why Israel set this precondition to any talks with the organisation. It wants to negotiate with a pliant Palestinian partner who will accept statehood limited to a series of disconnected Bantustans. Hamas won't accept that and despite relentless attempts to co-opt them Fatah is unlikely to do either. Any leader that did would get the bullet and the conflict on the ground would continue anyway.

Exactly. And if were not Hamas or Fatah, then it would be any other group that is representing the Palestinians. This has been continuing Israeli policy - don't forget that they initially promoted Hamas as a counter to Fatah.

But the main point is that the situation is continually represented in this top-down manner. As though Hamas and Fatah exist independently of the Palestinian population and could in come way impose whatever terms Israel demands on them.

If Hamas collapsed, then they would just be replaced by another group, upon which impossible conditions would be placed.

On another tack I remember reading of a happiness survey where Israeli citizens rated their happiness quite highly. Kind of a contrast with Gazans I would think.

12/29/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Hamas has of course recognised Israel as a negotiating partner for years now; it's been Israel who has been reluctant to negotiate, as it was Israel who egged Fatah on into taking on Hamas.

You can't really say Hamas is useless and ignore rhe reality in which they have to operate; viz that their democratic election meant an immediate cessation of US/EU support for the Palestinian government.

Israel has always puled the trick of not wanting to negotiate with terrorists and the west has always supported them, until they're forced to.

Had Israel genuinely wanted a lasting piece, the election of Hamas would've been a golden opportunity, but they don't.

12/29/2008 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Geodesic Malarkey said...

To be fair to Ali Abunimah, whilst he notes the failure of international institutions to force a solution to the crisis, his proposal is not for more violence but for an international boycott. This hardly makes him similar to our own Decents.

12/29/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

You can't really say Hamas is useless and ignore rhe reality in which they have to operate; viz that their democratic election meant an immediate cessation of US/EU support for the Palestinian government.

They were dealt a tough hand (albeit not obviously a worse one than Hezbollah in Lebanon), but chose to play it in the stupidest way possible. Randomly chucking rockets at Sderot is about the worst use of resources possible. The only way in which it makes any sense is the one Marc alludes to above - as part of apolicy of provoking genocidal response from Israel which will somehow bring with it a deus ex machina international intervention to give Hamas all they want politically. Which a) obviously it won't and b) this is an extension of the old PLO strategy of using the stone-throwing eight-year-old as their main combat troop and it stinks just as badly. There's an awful lot of blame to be handed round here.

(Incidentally, I notice also that we can see that after a dodgy couple of months post the Lebanese humiliation, the idiotist-airpowerist faction within the Israeli military is back in charge, eh?)

12/29/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I have to second George's comments regarding peace building. I have a close friend who works in conflict resolution who at the moment is working on the Basque conflict. One thing he repeatedly stressed to me was that to fashion a peace agreement that will stick you need to bring the entire population with you. Getting the Big Man to sign on the dotted line without convincing the his wider constituency is a recipe for disaster.

This of course has been the Israeli strategy throughout the conflict - look for a strongman who will do the deal you dictate to them and fuck what the population think. It really betrays a very colonial mindset.

12/29/2008 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

This of course has been the Israeli strategy throughout the conflict - look for a strongman who will do the deal you dictate to them and fuck what the population think. It really betrays a very colonial mindset.

I find myself wondering whether it's not so much a colonial mindset as one based round economic theory and Thomas Schelling style 2x2 deterrence matrices; that a lot of Israeli policy has been based on the assumption that the Palestinians actually are a single decision-maker without internal politics. Robert Aumann shared the Nobel Prize with Schelling, has historically been an adviser to the Israeli government and is a founder of "Professors For A Strong Israel"

12/29/2008 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

I don't know whether it sheds light or just muddies the waters, but if my Irish history's right (and there's no guarantee there, it's not my best area) the Brits followed similar tactics when they withdrew from the Republic... i.e. Arm the people who are willing to deal with you to the teeth, and set them off against the hardliners.

Of course, that doesn't really work if you're constantly launching punitive raids - they have to hate each other more than they hate you. I don't think that Israeli politicians could actually follow that policy, because bombing the hell out of the Palestinians seems to be a big, big vote-winner and hence a constant temptation.

Maybe that's overly cynical, since I'm aware that belligerent loonies make up an even bigger portion of the Israeli Knesset than the British Parliement or the US Congress. I suppose that it's possible that the Israelis believe that this time it might actually work, but I don't know which version I find more depressing.

12/29/2008 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Marc Mulholland said...

Pretty much right on Ireland, Flying Rodent. The Brits played a blinder in 1921: forcing the symbol of the Crown on Irish republicans (of course, it's supposed to be only fanatical Irish insuregents who care to kill for the sake of symbols). This deprived the IRA of clear victory, important for demoralising opponents of the empire elsewhere. Even better, when the IRA refused to stand-down, and the Free State (understandably) forced them to put up or shut up, Britain armed the Staters from scratch in the subsequent Irish civil war, and allowed the new Irish elite to crush the heroes of the revolution.

Ironically, this arguably had happy consequences for the new state. First, the Free State army was so obviously mercenary, that it had hardly any hold on public affection and was vitually dissolved in subsequent years, and Irish state militarism with it. Secondly, a nicely timed, and not too horrifically violent civil war, spilt the republican cadre, so that Ireland was saved from decades of rule by a single 'national liberation' populist party.

The IRA, meanwhile, were seen as having won the war against Britain, but rather than thereafter becoming domesticated as the army of the new state, as was normal in such situations, it continued as an underground revolutionary movement, marginalised, but with substantial legitimacy with quite broad sections of nationalist opinion. It was there to pick up on the crisis when it blew up in Northern from 1968. In this regard, Britain's clever strategem in 1921 came back to bite it on the arse fifty years later.

Lord knows what relevance this version of events has for Israel / Palestine however ...

12/29/2008 09:54:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

... because bombing the hell out of the Palestinians seems to be a big, big vote-winner and hence a constant temptation.

... and of course there are elections coming up in Israel shortly ...

12/29/2008 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

DSquared:
Part of the reason that Hamas are so useless is that their intelligent leadership is either languishing in Israeli jails, or were assassinated by Israeli operatives.
Its also worth noting when Israeli apologists ask where the Palestinian Ghandi is - that the Israelis have killed most of the plausible candidates over the years.

12/30/2008 03:54:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Seth Freedman's piece argues that this is the result of a 'strategic victimhood' Hamas policy

He's a funny one. the HP lot absolutely despise him, because most of his writings on the topic are fairly balanced and often shed light on the scary, nutty end of Israeli politics which doesn't get very much attention in the Western media. But Freedman has his faults and it seems that whenever something serious is happening he reverts to the wingnut side - in the past he's cited 'honestreporting' as a credible source of information and he's written several articles which claim that the threat Israel faces from terrorists is the same one that Britain faces.

The only way in which it makes any sense is the one Marc alludes to above - as part of apolicy of provoking genocidal response from Israel which will somehow bring with it a deus ex machina international intervention to give Hamas all they want politically.

Although the status quo (ie ineffectual Palestinian rockets followed by massive Israeli bombings followed by rockets etc etc) is not ideal, it's not like Hezbollah's use of exactly the same tactics didn't work to their advantage, politically at least, in the end. Hamas's reasons for continuing the pointless rocket attacks are the same as Israel's for using the pointless bombing, mass imprisonment and continuing settlement - they're all vote-winners. Despite Hamas's reign in Gaza having been absolutely useless, they'd still probably get re-elected tomorrow because Fatah are alrgely seen as controlled by Israel, who did after all arm them in the effort to enact a Fatah coup in Gaza; Tzipi Livni was a dead duck until these bombings and she'll probably now win the election. Also note that the hardline position taken by Hamas secures them direct funding from 'terror-supporting states' as opposed to the aid being withheld which is all earmarked.

These acts of disproportionate killing in the middle east bring out the hidden wingnut in every Decent. The posts on HP have been entirely in keeping with this approach - the 'no honest partner for peace' (there is nothing approaching this on either side) and 'Israel claims to be minimizing civilian casualties while Hamas tries to maximize them, therefore anything the IDF does is fair game' claims being the two most common ones... I await those ones which say soemthing about how Israel has gay soldiers and therefore they are better and worthy of unqualified support (viz. Julie Burchill).

In my eyes this latest Israeli attack - in the face of rocket fire which was no worse than it had been before the truce, which was broken by both sides - is especially awful because the Israeli elections are so close, Abbas will be up for reelection next year, and Bush is about to leave office... I'm sure however it is antisemitism to point out these coincidences...

12/30/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

While I have some sympathy with BB's view that Hamas are not the brightest turkeys on the farm, how stupid is it to blockade 1.5 million people, provide them with sub-minimal humanitarian supplies, fire missiles into their densely populated areas, and then expect them to make concessions to your views?

12/30/2008 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

FWIW, I reckon BB has hit the nail on the head with his description of Ali Abunimah. It's a worrying development indeed, but I'd say it's not all that new - both sides seem to play directly to western audiences in the horrible identity politics manner adopted hook, line and sinker by the Decents. I'm not sure what they think this will achieve. The Palestinians really do seem to think that, if the Israelis are bastards enough, some external coalition is going to stomp in and sort it all out - not going to happen.

I can't help but feel that the noisy declarations of solidarity both sides get from people in Britain, for example, is exacerbating the problem. God knows how the I/P situation can be made better, but I doubt it'll involve contributions from people who treat the conflict as if it were Celtic vs. Rangers and it certainly won't hinge on emotive, bombastic Guardian Op-Eds.

12/30/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although Freedman's reverted to his old 'my Zion right or wrong' position once the bombs started to fall, I don't think that we've heard the last of him, and that's a good thing. His personal and political journey over the last couple of years has been about the only thing worth ready (present company excepted, of course) in CiF.

Chris Williams

12/30/2008 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

'Israel claims to be minimizing civilian casualties

Tangentially (and btw, Aaro's column today is a real stinker), I notice that this line isn't coming up as often as it used to (perhaps because it could only surivive so long in the face of repeated statements by the Israeli government that they weren't) and wonder whether it will die out entirely; I honestly believe that over the last ten years, the Anglosphere cheerleaders have moved from the right wing of the Likud Party to the left wing of the Kach Party, and my forecast for the next ten years is that a lot of strange Amalekite rhetoric is going to get mainstreamed. You can almost see it - the UK carried out genocides in India, the US was built on genocides, the Arabs carried out genocides in Africa, even the Belgians carried out a genocide - surely you can't seriously deny the right of a democratic nation to secure its future by a bit of democide?

12/30/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous TheIrie said...

"The amount of money and resources they have pissed up against the wall over the last twenty years, and what have they achieved with it?"

Do tell? How much money and resources have they pissed up against the wall? Not that I disagree with your assertion that "Hamas really are the pathetic sharks of national liberation movements by the way." But you might note that they were actually elected in free and fair elections. Then there was a US/Israeli coup against them, via Fatah, with massive arms flowing in through Egypt. This led to a kind of civil war that Hamas effectively won in Gaza, leading western commentators to describe them as having come to power by a coup. Then came the embargo, resulting in what the UN described as a humanitarian disaster in Gaza. And this basic narrative is what allows us to accept it as fine that Israel is explicitly targeting anyone associated with Hamas. As the article links to points out, Policemen are civilians. Targetting civilians for death is illegal. Its only the dread word "Hamas" that gives this the slightest sheen of acceptability.

So, precisely when in their 20 year history, with the last 2 years in power, Hamas have even had money or resources to piss up against the wall, is something I'd be interested to learn about. Thanks.

12/30/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...


Randomly chucking rockets at Sderot is about the worst use of resources possible.


Are they though?

Leaving aside the fact that there are other groups than Hamas chucking rockets at Sderot, as far as I know Hamas has only done so after yet another Israeli "retaliation raid".

They've also had some tactical successes, such as taking an Israeli soldier prisoner during hte last ground offensive or the tearing down of the wall between Gaza and Egypt a while back.

12/30/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

surely you can't seriously deny the right of a democratic nation to secure its future by a bit of democide?

Doesn't Benny Morris say this more or less explicitly?

12/30/2008 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

re: the Hamas rockets, while I don't see what else they can do, I don't see that it follows that they should do that, or that it's useful. Of course the West would back Israel (implicitly or explicitly and with the usual mealy-mouthed caveats) regardless, but it still doesn't follow that it's useful.

If anybody wants a real villain-of-the-piece, though, can I suggest President Mubarak? What a fucker he is, and how they love to describe his state as "moving towards democracy", which it is doing in roughly the same way that I am moving towards millionairehood.

I invoke him because the one time the blockade of Gaza really looked in trouble was when the fence got rushed by people from his side of the border. Why do you think that got put a stop to, do you reckon?

12/30/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I think what has been missing from most of the analysis of the I-P conflict has been how the international community has never stood up for justice for the Palestinians and how this led them to seek out violent paths of resistance.

The first intifada which was almost completely unarmed was met by massive repression including widespread murder and torture. The Oslo process saw the Israelis continually act in bad faith grabbing more land and containing the military occupation with all its intendant human rights abuses. The Palestinians saw any prospect of a viable 2 state solution disappear.

At the last election they threw out Fatah who had connived in the Oslo charade whilst filling their pockets. The Israeli response was to set up a series of impossible preconditions for negotiation, then arm Fatah in an attempt to destroy Hamas, and then attempt to topple Hamas by starving the Gazans.

And what did the international community do during all this?

Fuck all.

The Palestinians took their case to the ICJ, won overwhelmingly and what did the international community do? Fuck all.

Its all very well criticising the various Palestinian groups for the strategies they have adopted but the gutless turds who lead the EU (which is course Israel's major trading partner) must bear a part of the responsibility for failing to exert any pressure on Israel to do the right thing.

Israel, drunk on its military machismo seems oblivious to what a dangerous game it is playing. The Egyptian regime has no public legitimacy and is not especially secure. It has just cancelled all leave for its security forces. If this onslaught continues much longer it may be overthrown as nearly happened during the Second Palestinian Intifada. The likely replacement is the Muslim Brotherhood and that surely can’t be in Israel’s interests.

12/30/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

The likely result of that would be the US sending troops to organise a "pro-democracy" coup in Cairo, at which point I recommend we all cancel our pension contributions and go out and get ourselves exceedingly drunk.

12/30/2008 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

ejh is right on the button.

The Mubarak regime in Egypt is, of course, already the recipient of vast amounts of US "aid".

You would think that the opening the Egyptian border, even for a base level of humanitarian aid, would be the minimum that an Arab neighbour could do. And yet ...

12/30/2008 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I didn't actually think Aaro's piece was that bad. OK, the stuff at the beginning about proportionality was idiotic but I thought the rest of it was quite sensible. It's certainly far more even handed than your avenage Decent fare.

12/30/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I assume there will be a proper piece on Aaro's latest so I won't say too much. It's very unusual to see him veer between sensible even-handedness and bonkers partisanship in the space of two paragraphs. Normally his pieces are, if nothing else, well-constructed.

12/30/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Dylan said...

Anonymous dd said...

Tangentially (and btw, Aaro's column today is a real stinker),


Seeing as Aaronovitch Watch seems to be following its new policy of not watching Aaronovitch - which bit of Aaronovitch's column did you think stank?

Sorry I think my grammar got a bit twisted there.

12/30/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I decided I had better things to do when I hit this question, advanced as a fair-minded criterion for assessing Operation Cast Lead:

Will it, in the long term, relieve Israeli citizens from the threat of arbitrary extinction?

I mean... what? What world is he living in? What proportion of Israel's citizens have actually been killed (arbitrarily) by guns and bombs in the last twenty years? And what proportion of the occupied territories'?

The IDF's war on Palestinians grinds on and on, with hundreds dead last year and doubtless hundreds next year, and Aaro thinks it might all be worthwhile if it relieve[s] Israeli citizens from the threat of arbitrary extinction? This really isn't serious.

12/30/2008 09:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

After posting I was reminded of a comment I left on Comment is Free (and on my own blog) during the Lebanon invasion:

"If Israel’s apologists genuinely believe the country is engaged in a fight for survival at this moment, they’re self-deceived to the point of insanity. If they don’t believe that but think that what’s going on now should be understood by reference to a completely hypothetical worst-case scenario, they’re grossly dishonest."

Still works for me.

12/30/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Just to extend what was said previously:

... how stupid is it to blockade 1.5 million people, provide them with sub-minimal humanitarian supplies, fire missiles into their densely populated areas, and then expect them to make concessions to your views?

The point here is not that the Israelis are being stupid, but that the aims of what they are doing are not their stated aims.

Their real aims are, as always, to neutralise the Palestinians, to the maximum extent possible at any given time, and to maximise their own freedom of action.

You would think that the opening the Egyptian border, even for a base level of humanitarian aid, would be the minimum that an Arab neighbour could do. And yet ...

The Egyptians here are not responding to the Israelis, but to the Americans, which makes the US entirely complicit in the current disaster.

12/30/2008 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Sorry, looking at this thread reminds me why I originally found the word "apologist" so bloody objectionable in the first place.

It's horrible politics and it's no more appealing when it's deployed against the Israelis than when it's deployed in their defence.

12/31/2008 01:28:00 AM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

I would say it's over-used rather than horrible; plenty of people are called apologists when they shouldn't be, but there are plenty of people who do make apologia (as in, arguments to the effect that something which appears unjustified is actually justified) and it's correct to describe them as apologists. I'd tend on Korbzynskian grounds to attack the apologetics rather than essentialise someone as an apologist, but this often makes for convoluted sentences.

12/31/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Korbzynskian grounds

D2, you realise you're veering close to self parody here?

Meanwhile, I'd like to point out that I grew up under an "existential threat"; the USSR was pointing SS-20 IRBMs, Sukhoi 24s, Tupolev 22m3s, and God knows what else at me, you, and everyone we know, and the UK just isn't big enough relative to all the infrastructure targets here.

Dover was targeted for 2x 2MT airburst and 2x2MT seabursts - y'know, just in case some crazy bastard wanted to put out the fires and clear the glowing rubble and Jubilee Way concrete abutments off the quayside and remove the twisted sunken wrecks and *still* try to bring in a ship, they wanted to smash the breakwaters and bring down the cliff into the harbour. God knows what they had aimed at the NSA site at Menwith Hill, four miles or so from home, and the Navy world radio station just next door to it.

And the IRA kept blowing things and people up. But I have no desire for the invasion of Dublin or pre-emptive war on Russia.

12/31/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I just put that one in to give Phil the chance to correct the spelling.

12/31/2008 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Alas, I am not familiar with Mr Korb, or indeed any other members of the Zynski family.

12/31/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Also, the thing about your enemy having a policy of strategic victimhood is that it's not a reason to give them victimhood, just as if your enemy had a policy of owning a huge fleet of tanks, selling them tanks would not be wise.

What is especially depressing is that the whole idea of the power of the weak is the work of Martin van Crefeld, who explicitly based it on the Palestinians and has been saying this for 20 years now. And he is almost canonised as Israel's No.1 Strategic Mind. And they show no sign of paying him a blind bit of notice.

Further, van Creveld pisses all over the whole Decent movement intellectually, but that's not saying much.

12/31/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

arguments to the effect that something which appears unjustified is actually justified

We may further argue that ideology exists in order that people who are doing what is wrong may reassure themselves that they are doing what is right.

12/31/2008 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous john fallhammer said...

It depends what your definition of ideology contrasts it with. Both technocracy and common sense are just as capable of producing these behaviours (and let's not even mention "objectivism").

Korzybski biscuits lol

1/01/2009 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Ah, Korzybski. No, never heard of him either (until now).

I think it's a good argument, whether or not you invoke Mr K. - back on Usenet I used to insist on telling trolls they were acting like idiots, which sometimes caused great irritation. And yes, "X is an apologist" is perilously close to "X is a liar", which is a bit of a conversation-killer.

(Having said that, my original comments were directed against David Hirsh, and I do think he's an apologist.)

1/04/2009 11:08:00 AM  

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