Israel vs the World in Rafah

Netanyahu is defying the international community.

NPR (“Israeli military operation in Rafah ‘cannot proceed,’ U.S. ambassador to the U.N. says“):

As Israel prepares to escalate its military campaign on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told NPR that Israel has an obligation to keep civilians safe, and that under current conditions, a planned military operation there “cannot proceed.”

The flow of humanitarian assistance continues to lag far behind the needs of the nearly 1.5 million Palestinians who have taken shelter in Rafah.

BBC (“Warnings over Rafah offensive mount as Israel plans push in Gaza“):

Israel is facing growing international warnings over its planned offensive in Rafah – the city in southern Gaza crammed with Palestinian refugees.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said “over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area”, while Dutch FM Hanke Bruins Slot said there could be “many civilian casualties”.

Saudi Arabia warned of “very serious repercussions” if Rafah was stormed.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers said there could be “tens of thousands” of casualties.

Israel launched its operations in the Palestinian enclave after more than 1,200 people were killed in southern Israel on 7 October by Hamas gunmen.

On Sunday the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 112 more Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli military over the previous day, bringing the overall death toll to more than 28,100 and more than 67,500 injured.

Many Gazans have ended up in Rafah having been forced to flee their homes elsewhere at least once.

Saturday’s warnings came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his military to prepare to evacuate civilians from the city ahead of an expanded offensive against Hamas.

“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war without eliminating Hamas, and by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah. It is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat,” Mr Netanyahu’s office said.

The prime minister also rejected Hamas’s latest proposed ceasefire terms.

The US has already warned Israel that an invasion of Rafah as part of its assault on Gaza would be a “disaster”, while the EU and the UN both expressed their own concerns.

Aid groups say it is not possible to evacuate everyone from the city on the border with Egypt.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator Jamie McGoldrick, who has just been to Gaza to assess the situation, told the BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher that people in Rafah would have “nowhere to go” if Israeli troops launched their offensive.

“The safe areas that were declared are no longer safe. And if these people have to move – where can they move? We are really fearful of the horrific nature of where we are could only ever get worse,” he said.

[…]

In a social media post, Mr Cameron said he was “deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.

“The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

Meanwhile, Ms Bruins Slot described the situation in Rafah as “very worrying”.

“Many civilians in Gaza have fled south. Hard to see how large-scale military operations in such a densely populated area would not lead to many civilian casualties and a bigger humanitarian catastrophe. This is unjustifiable,” she added.

WSJ (“Defying Biden, Israel’s Netanyahu Doubles Down on Plans to Fight in Rafah“):

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government is preparing plans to evacuate hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the southern Gaza city of Rafah so that Israeli forces can expand their campaign against Hamas there, despite warnings by the U.S. and United Nations of the potential cost in civilian lives and suffering.

The Biden administration has signaled increasing discomfort with Israeli talk of entering a city where more than one million Palestinians have taken refuge. President Biden last week called Israel’s offensive “over the top.”

That hasn’t stopped Netanyahu. In a move that puts his government at odds with the U.S., the Israeli leader is doubling down on military plans to enter Rafah. Analysts say Netanyahu is seeking to extend the war in Gaza as polls show waning domestic support for him but strong support for pursuing Hamas.

Netanyahu is taking his message directly to Americans, in an interview scheduled to air on ABC News later on Sunday. In a released preview, he declared that “victory is within reach” and that “we’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion.” Netanyahu said that not entering Rafah would be akin to losing the war against Hamas and allowing the group, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, to survive.

Israel’s stated goal is to destroy Hamas and prevent it from posing further threats to the country’s security. Netanyahu’s government has also said that military pressure on Hamas is needed to compel the group to release more than 130 hostages still in Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday that deepening the pursuit of Hamas in Gaza brings Israel closer to a “realistic deal in order to return the hostages.”

Israel’s proposed push on Rafah threatens to deepen a rift with the Biden administration, which faces growing pressure to temper its support for the war during an election year. Some Biden aides fear the president’s support for Israel could hurt his standing among younger voters as he seeks another term.

Netanyahu appeared to try to bridge that gap with the administration by saying Israel is focused on protecting civilians. “This I agree with the Americans. We’re going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave,” said Netanyahu.

The U.N. has warned that an Israeli offensive in Rafah would “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare.” The city has so far been mostly spared from the heavy firefights seen in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis and Gaza City in the north.

On where Palestinians would be able to go after Rafah, Netanyahu said Israel is working out a detailed plan, while mentioning “plenty of areas” north of the city that he said Israel had cleared. “We’re not cavalier about this,” he said.

A horrific war is about to get uglier. But, as much as world leaders urge restraint, Netanyahu and his war council clearly believe this is what’s necessary to achieve their incredibly challenging objective of destroying Hamas once and for all.

Recent remarks from Secretary of State Antony Blinken strike the right balance:

The brutality of Hamas attacks on Israel, he said, cannot be used to justify brutalising Palestinians.

“Israelis were dehumanized in the most horrific way on October 7,” he told a news conference in Tel Aviv. “The hostages have been dehumanised every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanise others.”

“The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7,” Mr Blinken went on. “The families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families. They’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who want to earn a decent living, send their kids to school, have a normal life. That’s who they are. That’s what they want.”

But translating that into foreign policy is another thing. The administration has made it clear that it will not condition military aid to Israel.

President Biden is in a particularly tough spot here, as he has fully embraced Netanyahu, to the consternation of many of his own staff. But urging “peace” and “restraint” is to little avail absent an end state that’s acceptable to Israel.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Barry says:

    IMHO, Netyanahu is figuring that the more innocent people killed, the better his chances of political survival are.

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    he has fully embraced Netanyahu

    I don’t think this is quite right. I get the feeling the Biden administration is playing a longer game. No doubt he remembers South Africa’s arc from “essential bastion against communism” to “pariah which cannot be publicly aided”, Israel is on that path. A few weeks ago the administration made it clear that they back a two state solution and implied that they meant it. If so, that presents Israeli with two clear paths: begin the generational effort to find a way to live alongside the Palestinians or lose support from the Western world. So far it looks like they are choosing the latter. And it is not just Netanyahu. This policy has the backing at the highest levels of the government, the military and the private sector movers and shakers and has for decades. They are content to let Netanyahu be the face of the effort, but he is not acting as a dictator.

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  3. wr says:

    Yes, but if the IDF doesn’t kill every man, woman, and especially child at least twice over, then they are guaranteeing Israel’s doom, and anyone who disagrees is a weakling who doesn’t understand the world.

    Just filling in for Michael here!

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  4. Kingdaddy says:

    It’s not just Netanyahu flipping the bird to the rest of the world, it’s also the religious right. Here’s an example. (Warning: The cruelty and willful stupidity of blocking aid convoys may cause your soul to blacken in despair. As will the complicity of soldiers on the scene.)

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/10/gaza-aid-blockade-protest-kerem-shalom/

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  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: You seem to be implying that even “liberal” Israelis are in favor of this move and merely don’t want their fingerprints on it, correct? Is it possible that the Biden administration is looking to the same game, knowing that “lose support from the Western world” is, even now, probably still a game that has a generation or more life in it (and may be immaterial given that there is a non-Western world for Netanyahu to turn to for his “moral” support)?

    Maybe the bet here is that Netanyahu will have to back down because while it’s certainly capable of handling Hamas and the gang indefinitely, Israel wouldn’t be able to face down a direct attack by Iran and other national actors? Seems dicey to me (but I AM just a cracker, and all that).

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  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: You left out and what is your solution, anyway. That seems to be the feature he leans on now.

    ETA: Oh yeah, and there’s still and until they do, this is still not genocide to fall back on.

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  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    No, you are not, you’re lying about me. You do that a lot.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    You seem to be implying that even “liberal” Israelis are in favor of this move and merely don’t want their fingerprints on it, correct?

    Not quite. I think that Liberals in Israel haven’t had any significant influence on foreign policy in a generation or more.

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  9. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “No, you are not, you’re lying about me. You do that a lot.”

    For someone so quick to slam everyone who disagrees with you, you sure are mighty sensitive when you get a little of it back.

    You choose deliberately extreme positions and dare anyone to disagree with them — and when they do, you start hurling invective and claiming that you are the only mature adult in the conversation.

    And that’s fine, if that’s what you choose to present here. But then you can’t start whining about people being mean to you if they use your own tactics against you. You can either be Reality’s Real Man or you can be a whiny-ass titty baby. You don’t get to be both.

    You repeatedly advocate mass murder, and when called on it insist that this is simply how the world has always been and anyone who can’t see that is a fool. Your opinion, you’re welcome to it.

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  10. mattbernius says:

    I’ll give it to Bibi, he has proven himself the only person who could bring @MR and @JKB together as there seems to be no daylight between either of their takes on this war.

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:

    You repeatedly advocate mass murder,

    Show us all a single instance.

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    I know @wr is too limited to handle nuance. I’m surprised at you, though.

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  13. Matt Bernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    From what I’ve read Michael, the nuance you think you are putting into you posts doesn’t necessarily match what comes through in the actual posts. In part, I think that’s because you tend towards a confrontational approach when arguing a point.

    If you’d like to explain the difference between your position on this topic and JKB’s I’m here to listen… um, read it. 🙂

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    I’m sorry, but I have not memorized @JKB’s position on anything. Here’s my position, stated about a million times now:

    1) No one has a solution. It’s a tragedy, and no one anywhere has proposed a real world solution.

    2) Withdrawing US support would leave Bibi free to do his worst. And if you think he’s already doing his worst, consider the possibility that your imagination is limited.

    3) Applying the word ‘genocide’ is a) factually incorrect and, b) a witting attempt to denigrate the importance of the very real genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.

    Have I ever advocated for mass murder? Obviously not. But just to drive the point home: I will Venmo $1000 to anyone who can show me ‘advocating mass murder.’ *

    Now, does @JKB agree with all that? I don’t know. And while many here may be dumb enough to accuse me of something false, you are not dumb enough to assume that an overlap between me and any one other person says nothing about the accuracy of my position.

    As for me seeking confrontation, no, that is false. I use simple declarative language and I invite contradiction. And I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever accused anyone here of ‘advocating mass murder.’ Which would be rather confrontational. No?

    *I have to work, but I’ll check back in later.

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  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Okay. Thank you for the clarification. I don’t follow Israeli politics enough to know how the influences run. On the other side, if what you say is true, a resurgence of liberal thinking/policy in Israel would be unlikely. We need to accept that Israel may well be broken in the same ways America is moving in its brokenness. Even more so.

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  16. @Michael Reynolds: You might want to consider how you are are coming across, as Matt is a pretty level-headed fellow.

    I tried to point this out to you months ago, but you never respond to even reasoned criticism (which is why I think that wr and others hurl hyperbole at you).

    And there is a definite “pot calling the kettle black” thing going on here. The other day you accused a critic of Israel’s policy as only step away from accusing them of blood libel.

    You once told me I was like a “good German” because of some analysis of mine about Trump you didn’t like.

    You constantly assert you want truth and to learn, but usually, you just bluster and hurl invective.

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  17. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Thanks for the reply. I am heading out to an event that will take up much of my afternoon. I will reply later.

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  18. @Michael Reynolds:

    1) No one has a solution. It’s a tragedy, and no one anywhere has proposed a real world solution.

    You keep saying that like it justifies current actions. It doesn’t.

    Indeed, by your own logic, the current actions should also be condemned. (If everything is bad, then the current actions, as part of everything, is bad too).

    2) Withdrawing US support would leave Bibi free to do his worst. And if you think he’s already doing his worst, consider the possibility that your imagination is limited.

    I would argue that without US support and the patina of legitimacy it currently provides Bibi that he might actually be more cautious without it.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You keep saying that like it justifies current actions. It doesn’t.

    That is your characterization. I have made it perfectly clear that I despise Bibi and his settler pals. Saying ‘there is no answer’ is an invitation for someone to suggest an answer. No one has, including you. Do you honestly believe that if I saw a workable, real world solution I’d cry, “No! The slaughter must continue?”

    I would argue that without US support and the patina of legitimacy it currently provides Bibi that he might actually be more cautious without it.

    In that case I’d ask why Bibi is not just defying us, but doing it rudely. I think a more realistic explanation is that Bibi thinks he’s getting Trump in less than a year, at which point any rupture will be repaired. I think Bibi would be quite happy if we withdrew support because while I dismiss the nonsense that we are witnessing genocide, Bibi et al are quite capable of something approaching that. What a lot of Israelis see is that one ‘solution’ to Gaza is ethnic cleansing.

    Don’t forget that Bibi’s motives are entirely about himself. If the US pulls the plug, Israelis will either come apart, or unite more tightly. Flip a coin. But one thing is for sure: if/when this war ends, Bibi has an excellent chance of going to jail, an an even better chance of being forced out. Tell me what we could do, realistically, to convince Bibi to risk that.

    And let’s be honest about something else. If we were to cease weapons sales to Israel, Congress would pass an appropriation and probably have enough votes to overcome a veto.

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  20. steve says:

    Netanyahu F’d up in a major way but he wants to stay in power. While Hamas is responsible for their attack they would never have been able to carry it out if the Netanyahu had been even minimally competent. In order to stay in power, retain the support of the religious conservatives and continue expanding into the West Bank his only chance is to look like he was willing to employ overwhelming force, not worrying about civilian deaths, in an effort to kill all of Hamas. Now he has a plan to remove the Palestinians from Gaza.

    Expect him and his party to try to focus the blame for the lapses that let Hamas attack on others and tout the fact that only he was strong enough to do what was needed.

    Steve

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    We need to accept that Israel may well be broken

    My gut tells me this is true, but I’ve felt this way about other strifes that have found accommodations.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    as much as world leaders urge restraint, Netanyahu and his war council clearly believe this is what’s necessary to achieve their incredibly challenging objective of destroying Hamas once and for all.

    I have seen little evidence that they are destroying Hamas, and a lot of evidence that they are destroying all Palestinian infrastructure and historical sites in Gaza. And have killed almost 1.5% of the population while they are at it.

    Assuming that there actually is somewhere for the civilians to go, Hamas will just go with them. It’s not an effective strategy for defeating Hamas.

    The plan has long looked like an effort to drive the population up to the Egyptian border, and then create enough of a nightmare to push them over that border. And this would be the next step — increase the pressure on the population so they rush the closed border with Egypt, and put Egypt in a position of opening the border or killing refugees to keep the border closed with force.*

    Any refugees pushed over the border would never be allowed back to their homes, which have been destroyed in the meantime.

    I expect that if it works, that the West Bank is next, because why wouldn’t it be?

    ——
    *: There’s a third option, of course. Rather than opening its border, or keeping its border closed with force, Egypt could attack the IDF forces pushing the Gaza population against its border. (If Mexico were using its military to push its undesirable population north, I have no doubt that we would attack, so I assume Egypt is weighing that option, and deciding if they want a war)

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  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Have I ever advocated for mass murder?

    You have at the very least: 1) claimed that all Palestinian civilians are collectively responsible for Hamas’s acts (example), and 2) claimed that the response should be overwhelming rather than proportional (example)

    So if you think the civilian population of Gaza is responsible and that the people responsible should be subject to overwhelming violence, what is someone supposed to conclude your desired outcome is?

    But you are a very smart man, which means that, yes, you will never explicitly state you want mass murder. But you’re using what I like to call “the dictionary fallacy” where someone replaces a particular phrase with a much longer explanation that is essentially the definition of the phrase, but then denies the phrase applies because they never said the magic words (e.g. “I only said I wanted a seared slab of muscle tissue extracted from a domesticated member of the species Bos Taurus, I defy anyone to show where I said I wanted a steak!”)

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  24. JKB says:

    This is just posturing in case the worst does happen with a lot of non-combatant casualties. If Israel pulls it off this will go by the news cycle wayside. And the UN has no credibility since their employees are implicated in the October 7 massacre and holding of Israeli hostages over the last 4 months.

    Old Joe’s in an Obama bind. If he cuts military aid to Israel, American’s loss their jobs as Israel, since the Obama renegotiation is required to spend American military aid money on American weapons and ammunition. That would scramble all kinds of support in Congress.

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  25. Moosebreath says:

    @Gustopher:

    “The plan has long looked like an effort to drive the population up to the Egyptian border, and then create enough of a nightmare to push them over that border. And this would be the next step — increase the pressure on the population so they rush the closed border with Egypt, and put Egypt in a position of opening the border or killing refugees to keep the border closed with force.”

    Agreed. In other words, ethnic cleansing.

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  26. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Applying the word ‘genocide’ is a) factually incorrect and, b) a witting attempt to denigrate the importance of the very real genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.

    Or just using the definition in the UN’s Genocide Convention. Read up on it. Take the time to understand who is arguing that Israel is violating it — it’s not just antisemites. Look at previous cases of genocide after WW2. It’s not a clear case that it is genocide (the requirement of intent is hard to meet), but it’s also not a clear case that it isn’t genocide.

    There’s no doubt that the Germans were more thorough with their genocide. Germans build nice cars and do efficient genocide.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    if/when this war ends, Bibi has an excellent chance of going to jail, an an even better chance of being forced out. Tell me what we could do, realistically, to convince Bibi to risk that.

    The International Court of Justice really ruined any tradition of brutal dictators retiring (or prime ministers engaged in crimes against humanity). On balance, it has done more good than harm, but I think it would work better with a few countries being willing to flaunt it and just offering up protected exile. Just from a harm reduction standpoint. Add a carrot along with a stick, so we don’t incentivize people to cling to power.

    Would Netanyahu enjoy an extended vacation in Mara Lago? There’s an omelet bar.

    Only about a quarter joking. Mara Lago is awful.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You keep saying that like it justifies current actions. It doesn’t.

    It seems to me that this point also affects a point of his that he seems to have forgotten: the Hamas action that precipitated this response was so egregious that Israel has no other choice than to pursue this current policy.

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I wish for you that your gut will eventually be proven as wrong as it probably is about cookies, then.

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  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: “And have killed almost 1.5% of the population while they are at it.”
    You could have said that the have killed barely 1.5% of the population, you know. It’s almost as if you’re trying to perpetuate this fiction that Israel is engaging in genocide that MR is always defending both Bibi and us from.

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  31. DK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    1) No one has a solution. It’s a tragedy, and no one anywhere has proposed a real world solution.

    This is an empirically false statement. Many have proposed solutions, including the US State Department.

    Many solutions have been proposed, many times. This is a fact. I repeat: many solutions have been proposed to Israelis and Palestinians many times.

    “The extremists who control Israel and Palestine keep rejecting solutions because they are stubborn, violent, religion-addled, and determined to fight each other to the death” and “no one has proposed solutions” do not mean the same thing.

    Israel did not have to make Netanyahu its longest-serving Prime Minister. Palestinians did not have to vote in Hamas. If we want to justify the choices being made, that’s fine: there are rationales. But we must first still acknowledge these are choices with consequences, not fait accompli. And these choices have often been in direct opposition to the proposed solutions of allies all around.

    As with Trumpers in the US, please let stop acting like these people are choiceless innocents devoid of agency. They have rejected the proposed solutions, but solutions absolutely have been proposed. Many, many, many times.

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  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You have at the very least: 1) claimed that all Palestinian civilians are collectively responsible for Hamas’s acts (example), and 2) claimed that the response should be overwhelming rather than proportional (example)

    Again: wrong. 1) I have never subscribed to collective guilt. A belief in collective guilt is one of the causes of the actual Holocaust. I have asked why Gazans don’t get rid of these parasites who’ve brought them to this. People asked the same of Americans when George W. Bush was blowing shit up. It’s an interesting political/philosophical question, no? How much responsibility does a citizen have for the actions of their government? Is it proportional? ie.: Do citizens of democracies have a great responsibility? Do people living under dictatorships have less responsibility?

    2) I have long argued that proportional response leads to setting a price for American deaths, a price malefactors might (and do) willingly pay. I’ve discussed this many times in relation to our response to terrorist attacks against us. I don’t believe I ever talked about it in relation to Gaza, and if I had, I’d have had to agree that a disproportionate response has already been carried out. 1200 Israeli deaths, 28,000 Palestinian deaths, a 23 to 1 ratio is unmistakably disproportionate.

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  33. @Michael Reynolds:

    That is your characterization.

    It is because you have repeatedly defended the policies of the Netanyahu government, whether you despise Bibi or not. And you attack people who suggest that maybe the actions are unwise (and not just those who have deployed “genocide”).

    That there is no easy solution (there rarely is) does not mean that the status quo is, therefore, the best option (which is the essence of how you have argued this, whether you want to admit it or not).

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  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DK:
    I specified ‘real world’ solutions. Three ‘solutions’ have been offered:

    1) Immediate ceasefire, which leads to the question of how Israel should respond when Hamas breaks the deal and fires missiles into Israel. Without that next step, it is not a real world solution. We had a ceasefire already for a hostage exchange. Did that solve anything? Nope? Well then.

    2) Two state solution. Which is probably the right path for the West Bank and the PA. Though the PA as rejected every such offer. But the issue is not the West Bank, it’s Gaza, which is not run by the PA but by Hamas which rejects all two state solutions and promises literal genocide of Jews.

    3) We stop the flow of arms. Which sounds great, we could certainly do it. Would it stop Israel? Nope. Israel has a very robust domestic arms industry. So, it’d be a gesture, not a solution. And with no allies left, Israel would be free to take next steps. And if that happened we would be talking ethnic cleansing, and possibly even actual genocide.

    So no, no real world solution has been advanced. Just facile slogans. And this is before we start looking at who is capable of imposing any sort of government on Gaza. Hamas would happily murder PA cops/soldiers, and the PA is too useless even to try. Then there are ideas about Arab or African forces moving in to establish order. Who would then be murdered by Hamas until they threw in the towel, which may be why EVERYONE who might inject such a force is not taking any phone calls.

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  35. @Michael Reynolds: So, obviously the only thing to do is exactly what is being done!!

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  36. DK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    So no, no real world solution has been advanced. Just facile slogans.

    This is a flat footed falsehood no matter how many times you repeat it.

    For one, your three bullet points are most definitely not the only solutions that have been proposed. They’re not even real solutions. Genuine proposals could not be summarized in an OTB bullet point comment.

    And any solution that tries to divorce the West Bank from the problem is a joke. The West Bank most certainly is part of the problem; these issues do not exist in isolation. Serious solutions — which absolutely, definitely, 100% have been offered many times for decades by serious, thoughtful peoples whose life’s work is diplomacy and international relations — take into account these complexities, including necessary changes in political leadership.

    Many complex, detailed, real world solutions have been proposed many times, including by people at the State Department who literally spend their careers thinking about this stuff.

    Those insisting otherwise are obsfucating. And it’s not even a good deception. It’s obviously false, bordering on Dunning-Kruger know-nothingness.

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  37. @Michael Reynolds: BTW, you act like you are the Dungeon Master who gets to provide both the parameters of the game, and how those parameters are met.

    Your incantation of “real world solutions” and how they are defined means heads you win and tails everyone else loses.

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  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    When did I defend Bibi’s actions? Saying that a thing is inevitable is not a defense. Israel was absolutely going to hit back. I do defend their right to retaliate. Does anyone here really question that? I don’t think so, the objections have been to intensity and collateral deaths.

    And you attack people who suggest that maybe the actions are unwise

    No, I ridicule people who have nothing to offer but empty slogans. I don’t have a lot of patience for people who can only parade their feels without bothering to understand the realities, let alone offer a solution.

    So, here’s where we are: No one has come forward to claim the prize for demonstrating @wr’s libel. (Normally an apology might be in order, but emotions are running high.) Still, it is interesting that the clear failure of that attack has not led folks here to remonstrate with @wr, but to maneuver desperately to find new ways to attack me.

    I’m sorry, but I diagnosed this issue accurately from the start: a tragedy with no apparent real world solution. The actions taken by Israel were inevitable after the attack. American abandonment of Israel would most likely (IMO) lead to Bibi doing his worst, and his worst is horrifying. It’s a trap, and we’re in it.

    I’m not a fan of emoting for the sake of emoting. I’m not going to play the game of ‘whose heart bleeds most copiously.’ And that is the real beef many people here have with me: I skipped the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance phases, and jumped ahead to the, ‘now what?’ Outrage does not interest me, answers do.

    As an aside, you misread my ‘feels’ on the ‘no solutions’ question. Finding my way out of impossible situations is what I do professionally and have done personally. I always believe I can figure it out. When I can’t, the emotion I experience is not smug contentedness but frustration.

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  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Your incantation of “real world solutions” and how they are defined means heads you win and tails everyone else loses.

    False, and without any justification. I have asked for a solution and gotten no answers. I even make it super simple, by posing it as a) Ceasefire, b) Hamas continues to shell Israel, c) ? And other equally simple presentations. No one here has an end game. Indeed, no one here is even prepared to discuss the end state they hope to see.

    Come on, show me the end state. Show me the happy ending. Hell, show me the not-appalling ending. Two state solution that has fuck-all to do with Hamas in Gaza? Force Egypt to take Gaza back? Or should Israel just allow itself to be attacked? Or should Israel cease to exist? And if that happened, would we have Vermont on the Jordan and peace on earth?

    Two people want to eat one hamburger. Neither person is willing to share. No one is able to force them to share. Solve that problem, because that’s what this is. And at least make some effort to see what has not happened but could happen. It’s contradictory to make Bibi out as a monster (with which I’d agree) and yet rant that he’s doing his worst. 1.5% of the population is clearly awful, but if you think that’s all Israel, a nuclear fucking power could do, you simply lack imagination. If you like I could put together a little list of shit Bibi could do.

    There are no answers, and it pisses everyone off when I point that out. You want a bête noire, you want someone to beat up on, so you don’t hesitate to lie about me to achieve that trivial goal.

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  40. Modulo Myself says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yeah, you are doing wonders for yourself. Keep on going, keep on whining, keep on posting. All I can say is that the Hamas attack broke your mind (or was the final straw) and like most people whose minds have been broken, they think they are completely logical and the only reasonable ones.

    Your entire worldview is that peace and a 2-state solution is impossible because Israel is like Putin and will react to anything, like 1 missile and 5 dead, as an existential crisis. The one with the limited imagination is you. You simply can’t get around the fact that peace requires serious work at trying to get there. Does that happen? Probably not. But that is a solution, and not an absurd one any more than any actual hard solution is absurd. People can work at things and make things better. They are not simply bloviating sacks of power-worship. But that takes to real imagination to see, and not the mindset of a guy who plays the Great Game on his own, with no friends and no actual reason to play it.

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  41. @Michael Reynolds:

    When did I defend Bibi’s actions?

    From day one.

    And anyone who has suggested that maybe some other route out to be taken has been attacked on a spectrum from naive naif who cannot understand the real world all the way to full-blown antisemite.

    Just once maybe you should take a breath and think about how you are being perceived. Forget wr, who is clearly playing your hyperbole game.

    Matt Bernius is not a hothead prone to hyperbole, and neither am I.

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  42. BTW, I agree that there are no neat and tidy happy endings here.

    So, I am forced to conclude that killing over 28,000 Gazans and creating a massive humanitarian crisis might not have been the most just and efficacious response to Hamas’ heinous acts on 10/7.

    It is unlikely that this will destroy Hamas, and if it does that stage is more than set for Hamas 2.0.

    Further, I have to wonder if the remaining hostages are even still alive, especially since they are in the kill zone that Gaza has become.

    You have defended these actions by the Israeli government, or am I mistaken?

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  43. Andy says:

    I’ve been traveling and am only just getting back to the fun…

    I think Michael is correct that, currently, no one has a solution.

    That doesn’t mean people aren’t trying – negotiations continue, and various proposals by different parties have been offered and considered, with most rejected by Hamas.

    I think people need to fundamentally understand that any solution – outside of an outright victory – has to be accepted by both sides. The reality is that Hamas and Israel both have incompatible and non-negotiable demands and war goals. It’s the same reason why the fighting in Ukraine continues.

    The fighting will continue until that impasse is resolved by whatever means. Hamas and Israel still want maximalist demands for a long-term cessation of hostilities. The opinions of people in comment sections or those protesting and holding “ceasefire now” signs don’t mean much because none of us are parties to the conflict and have to live with whatever agreement or conclusion to this war finally evolving.

    Both sides seem to have a lot of fight left. If they didn’t, you’d see movement in their demands.

    Therefore, both sides are incentivized to keep up the pressure to strengthen their hand. For Israel that is keeping up the military pressure on Hamas, because it has a clear military advantage and continues to degrade Hamas’ capabilities. Hamas would like to use violence to strengthen its position, it just doesn’t have as much ability to do so, so it’s relying on other means, such as hiding in and beneath Rafah.

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  44. Gromitt Gunn says:

    From the BBC: Hind Rajib, 6, found dead in Gaza days after phone calls for help.

    One paramedic told journalists that Hind was among the six bodies found inside the car, all of which showed signs of gunfire and shelling.

    A few metres away were the remains of another vehicle – completely burnt out, its engine spilling onto the ground. This, the Red Crescent says, is the ambulance sent to fetch Hind.

    Its crew – Yusuf al-Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun – were killed when the ambulance was bombed by Israeli forces, the organisation says.

    In a statement, the PRCS accused Israel of deliberately targeting the ambulance, as soon as it arrived at the scene on 29 January.

    “The [Israeli] occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent crew despite obtaining prior coordination to allow the ambulance to arrive at the scene to rescue the child Hind,” it said.

    The PRCS told the BBC that it had taken several hours to coordinate access with the Israeli army, in order to send paramedics to Hind.

    “We got the coordination, we got the green light,” PRCS spokeswoman, Nibal Farsakh, told me earlier this week. “On arrival, [the crew] confirmed that they could see the car where Hind was trapped, and they could see her. The last thing we heard is continuous gunfire.”

    So a civilian family gets gunned down and shelled on what is supposed to be a safe evacuation route. The six year old is lone survivor and manages to call for help. The Red Crescent spends time negiotiating her retrieval with the IDF, only to have their paramedics also gunned and shelled once they arrive.

    Good thing this doesn’t meet certain folks’ definition of genocide, otherwise this would really be horrific.

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  45. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    According to Reuters, these are Hamas’ demands for a cease-fire:


    Phase one: A 45-day pause in fighting during which all Israeli women hostages, males under 19, the elderly and sick would be exchanged for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas of Gaza, and the reconstruction of hospitals and refugee camps would begin.

    Phase two: Remaining male Israeli hostages would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners and Israeli forces leave Gaza completely.

    Phase three: Both sides would exchange remains and bodies.

    Meanwhile, Israel has shown that they can’t take out the Hamas leadership. Gaza is destroyed, there are 28,000 dead Palestinians, and yet nothing has changed. Hamas has ‘strengthened its position’ as you say by the unique act of not wanting to be killed. They’re tricky like that, I guess. Israel’s demands to Hamas for the war to end might as well be for every leader to step and blow their brains out. What great incentives they are offering.

    And what does Israel believe is going to happen if Hamas would somehow go away? They don’t have even have a plan for Gaza. They rewarded the West Bank for not supporting Hamas by sending the IDF to defend settlers while they attacked Palestinians. Do they think that the next government of Gaza will be okay with all of the journalists, doctors, and professors killed by the IDF? Listening to some of you people, you really think that logically the Palestinians should hate Hamas and blame them for the IDF killing their brother and father, and at the same time be grateful to the IDF for not doing the same to their mother.

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  46. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, Michael is right that you, and most others, haven’t really offered any viable alternatives for Israel in terms of how it should fight this war in the face of Hamas’ methods and tactics. Unlike Michael, I don’t have a problem with you criticizing Israel’s actions, but I also don’t have a problem with pointing out that you don’t really have anything to offer other than a vague sense that Israel should do something else.

    And there is still the asymmetry I’ve written about since this conflict started, so we could point out that Hamas could be doing other things too, and it would perhaps be useful if there was more pressure put on it to make concessions to end this conflict instead of none at all – considering Hamas started this war in a historically brutal and criminal way and has, on a daily basis, violated just about every single norm and law of conflict there is.

    Finally, I’d also point out that this isn’t all about Bibi. Israel has a unity war government, and the war is being run by the war cabinet, of which Bibi is one member. I think you might want to consider what you’ve been calling “defending Bibi’s actions” to Michael is, in reality, the actions of Israel’s war cabinet and probably reflects the goals of Israelis generally. Public opinion is slowly shifting, however, with more Israelis in favor of prioritizing getting hostages back vs destroying Hamas.

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  47. Matt Bernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    What follows is my best-faith attempt to address your points. Warning… it’s long (and really needs a copy editor).

    Here’s my position, stated about a million times now:

    1) No one has a solution. It’s a tragedy, and no one anywhere has proposed a real world solution.

    2) Withdrawing US support would leave Bibi free to do his worst. And if you think he’s already doing his worst, consider the possibility that your imagination is limited.

    3) Applying the word ‘genocide’ is a) factually incorrect and, b) a witting attempt to denigrate the importance of the very real genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.

    So my first point, if these were the only points of your position, then I think there would be somewhat less disagreement.

    Without a doubt, I agree with point 1.

    I’m frankly increasingly skeptical of point 2. While I agree with the goal of trying to diplomatically reign in Bibi, I think we are continually seeing the challenges with doing that. In order for threats to have any meaning, there has to be a stop-supporting point.

    I’m going to steer clear of 3.b. as I think that probably deserves it’s own response and that isn’t the point of what I’m trying to do here.

    If these were your only consistent points on this topic it would be one thing.

    Point 2: The problem is tyou have a lot of strongly held unenumerated positions on this conflict that are left out of this section–expecially when it comes to the current appropriateness of the action and the historical imperative to end Hamas–not to mention that ending Hamas is a realistic objective.

    I’m not sure why you are not listing those here. It might be a blind spot. It might be because you don’t think of those as positions (perhaps they are points that flow from your existing positions). But for whatever reason, those three points do not functionally come close to covering all of your opinions on this topic.

    Have I ever advocated for mass murder? Obviously not. But just to drive the point home: I will Venmo $1000 to anyone who can show me ‘advocating mass murder.’

    Point 3: I think at the core of some of these issues are distinctions with, in practice, limited differences.

    Advocated for? No.
    Repeatedly and vigorously justified as historically and militarily necessary? Yes.

    I leave it up to the community to determine the degree of difference between the two in practice versus philosophy. Admittedly, this feels just shy of announcing, “This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you,” before punishing a child. I don’t think you cross that line, but in these debates, sometimes it’s necessary to rely on hyperbole to make a point (as you often do).

    Which gets to (a quick jump):

    When did I defend Bibi’s actions?

    First, I will note you have never defending Bibi himself. You have repeatedly defended the actions… Or perhaps the sticking term here is “defend.” Maybe you personally don’t see your writing here as a defense (we’ll get back to that point in a moment). Perhaps, as I’ve noted above, “justify” is a more accurate term. Case and point:

    Saying that a thing is inevitable is not a defense.

    If not a defense, then definitely a justification. Again, I leave it to the community to decide if this is functionally a distinction without a difference.

    This gets to the broader point about your argumentation style:

    As for me seeking confrontation, no, that is false. I use simple declarative language and I invite contradiction.

    Michael, I am sure this is what you think you do. 100% I believe that. And, perhaps in 1:1 conversations that are not conducted through the medium of asynchronous text, that’s how it comes across.

    Point 4: However, as I have pointed out with a lot of posters over the years, how you think you come across and how you actually come across can be really, really, really different. Especially, on opinion-based topics like this one.

    Having been around the way with you on any number of opinion-based issues, especially ones you hold a strong opinion on, I have NEVER seen you move an iota.* And I have seen your declarative language repeatedly become increasingly declarative and drawing really broad conclusions (see 3.b. and DECLARING that people who think what is happening is a genocide are intentionally trying to denigrate–note the value-laden word choice there–the Holocaust).

    I realize that you might see this as my subjective opinion, but if you look across the many, many, MANY arguments you have had on OTB (including in this thread), you will repeatedly see that others characterize your argumentative style in the same way I do.

    I leave it up to you to decide if we are all reading you wrong (i.e. the problem is with us) or the nuance of your thinking or your openness to other opinions isn’t coming through in your writing style.

    The one thing I’d suggest is if you opt for the second option, you might want to look at the other commenters who typically do that as well. I’m not sure that’s company you want to keep.

    Final point: All that said, at the end of the day, you should continue to do you. Your utter confidence in what you write and knowing where you stand is one of the things that makes you such a successful author.

    Just know that a strength in one area might cause challenges in another.

    —-
    * – One final and important parallel point:

    I have NEVER seen you move an iota.*

    To be fair, I don’t think I’ve moved an iota in those debates either. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone really move on a deeply held view here at OTB–at least not through a comment thread.

    All that is to say, I don’t think it’s unique to you (or me or anyone else). Comment threads on blogs don’t lend themselves to Road to Damascus moments–especially around opinion based issues.

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  48. Andy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Listening to some of you people, you really think that logically the Palestinians should hate Hamas and blame them for the IDF killing their brother and father, and at the same time be grateful to the IDF for not doing the same to their mother.

    I think Israel understands very well that the people of Gaza hate Jews and hate Israel. The goal isn’t to make Gazans grateful to the IDF. The goal is – at least from what I can see from far away as an observer – to destroy Hamas as much as possible and make it clear to the people of Gaza that the next government of Gaza (even if it’s still Hamas) should not be a genocidal death cult dedicated to making war on Israel at their expense.

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  49. Matt Bernius says:

    Michael, one final point… I personally have a number of commenters whom I consider divining rods. @Andy is one of those folks.

    So, if it was me, I’d take the second sentence here really seriously:

    Well, Michael is right that you, and most others, haven’t really offered any viable alternatives for Israel in terms of how it should fight this war in the face of Hamas’ methods and tactics. Unlike Michael, I don’t have a problem with you criticizing Israel’s actions, but I also don’t have a problem with pointing out that you don’t really have anything to offer other than a vague sense that Israel should do something else.

    I think that in almost all cases, Andy tries to read everything in the best faith. He’s better at it than I am.

    So if he’s pointing something like this out, I think it’s a valuable data point for how others are reading what you are writing.

    Again, you might not see yourself as doing this, but that’s the impression you are giving.

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  50. Gustopher says:

    I find the idea of looking for solutions and end-states silly. The end state is the heat death of the universe. Until then, history doesn’t end, it simply has less violent moments for some people.

    That sounds like nitpicking nonsense, because we all know history continues, but it’s a fundamentally different mindset.

    The best that we can actually do is lower levels of conflict and kick the can down the road, ideally in a way that lets the next generation kick the can further down the road, and maybe get into the habit of not killing each other.

    Does the Israeli response — which certainly looks like ethnic cleansing, and has definitely created raw emotional trauma in an entire civilian population on/in their borders* — do that? No. God no.

    Neither did the Hamas attack, or the previous apartheid state and sanctions regime.

    No one needs to find a solution. They need to find a way to de-escalate and kick the can down the road a few years.

    Manage the chronic problem. Go find your Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and start working at the bottom with whatever opportunities you have, accept setbacks as inevitable, and stick with it. Will it work? No. Will it be better than the current status quo? Usually.

    Do you know who was looking for a solution? Hitler.

    ——
    *: Serbs are still salty as fuck about the Ottoman Empire and battles in 1389. Blowing up everyone’s home and making sure everyone knows someone killed is the sort of shit that sticks around for generations. My “solution” is this: don’t do the shit that we know creates generational trauma.

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  51. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    So what Israel wants is for the Palestinians to forget their own history and forget who took their land and homes by force and drove them into refugee camps. It’s one thing to say there should be a different government than Hamas. But the next government will not be composed of people who really believe that Hamas started the conflict or was the one who decided to wage war on innocent ol’ Israel. Short of a military occupation by Israel to support the government of collaborators who would be the mouthpiece for this viewpoint it will not exist.

    If that’s Israel’s plan, then you might as well postulate a magic wand causing the Palestinians to forget who they are. Because magic wand equals the logic behind the argument.

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  52. Andy says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I think that in almost all cases, Andy tries to read everything in the best faith. He’s better at it than I am.

    Well, thank you very much for that, but you are too kind. I am not very good at it at all, and I certainly wasn’t earlier in this conflict. I’m able to be more analytical about it now.

    @Gustopher:

    No one needs to find a solution. They need to find a way to de-escalate and kick the can down the road a few years.

    Manage the chronic problem. Go find your Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and start working at the bottom with whatever opportunities you have, accept setbacks as inevitable, and stick with it. Will it work? No. Will it be better than the current status quo? Usually.

    From the Israeli perspective, they’ve been kicking the can, even to the extent of legitimizing Hamas and helping them when it suited their short-term interests. Many don’t seem to understand that 10/7 was the death of can-kicking. DK especially, but also others have pointed out dozens of times how Bibi promoted Hamas for narrow-minded and cynical reasons. And what everyone now understands in Israel is that was a mistake.

    From the Israeli perspective, as long as Hamas is an organization dedicated to war with Israel, can-kicking is just another interregnum until Hamas leeches enough material from the international community to start another round of conflict This is why many Israelis – not just Bibi and the right-wingers – think destroying Hamas or at least mortally wounding it is a necessary war aim. I doubt very much Israel will settle for the old status quo.

    @Modulo Myself:

    No, IMO, Israel wants Palestinians to understand that Israel isn’t going anywhere. It wants Palestinians to understand that “from the river to the sea” and the various genocidal goals that hope to rid the region of Jews one way or another over the last century are all a fever dream. It didn’t work in 1948, 1967, 1973, or any other conflicts since, including 10/7. Hamas’s current war is a continuation of that failure and the definition of insanity – repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Palestinians should perhaps remember their own history of starting wars and losing them and perhaps consider alternative courses of action.

    And we could throw those questions and ponderings back in the other direction. Do Palestinians want Israelis and Jews to forget their own history, their own land, and how Hamas’s atrocities were modeled on those going back centuries? What about the next government of Israel, which will surely be a different government – has Hamas’ action made it more or less likely to be composed of people sympathetic to Palestinian views or interests? Did Hamas expect to waive a magic wand, causing Jews to forget who they are?

    Hamas started this war. Hamas is the one with the magic wand, engaging in magical thinking.

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  53. Kingdaddy says:

    The menu of choices presented here are pretty slim pickings. There are lots of options worth discussing. Some might seem remotely plausible, or unlikely of working. But they are options. For example…

    * Putting an international peacekeeping force in Gaza.
    * A different Israeli strategy for fighting Hamas that does not continue to inflict mass civilian casualties.
    * Better defenses against future incursions from Gaza into Israel.
    * Creating an aggressive cordon against foreign (i.e., Iranian) aid to Hamas.
    * Conditioning aid on the basis of Israel dealing with the decades-long cancer of the settler movement.
    * Conditioning aid on the basis of seeing Netanyahu step down. He failed to protect Israel, fight a sensible war against Hamas, and adhere to the rule of law. Consequences are a must.

    And so on. You may find some of these to be ridiculous, or unworkable. But at this point, it may be important to revisit our assumptions about what is or isn’t possible, or desirable. Both Hamas’ attack and Israel’s response has forced us to the point where the status quo, and the assumptions behind it, are both irreparably shattered.

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Point 4: However, as I have pointed out with a lot of posters over the years, how you think you come across and how you actually come across can be really, really, really different. Especially, on opinion-based topics like this one.

    Thank you for this x 1000! This is a point that I spent years and years emphasizing to students as a teacher (and I’m sure I’m not unique in this, BTW). When I was feeling waggish, I used to suggest that the motto for the class probably should be

    I know you think that you understood what I said; the problem arises because what you heard is not what I meant.

    There are any number of people here who go with the notion that flaws in communication happen as failures to understand on the part of the reader rather than failures of communication on the part of the speaker/writer. The charge that “your fault!!–you didn’t understand what I was saying” is nearly always bogus–and this judgement is coming from a person who used to make a living deliberately trying to misunderstand what his students “meant to say” (and warned them that this would be the case in writing on his course syllabus).

    Again, thank you for bringing this up. People can conclude whatever they choose to about my comments on the point (I’ve heard everything, I’ve even had a complaint from a state senator over a comment I wrote on a student paper–he didn’t disagree; he just wished he hadn’t had to field a complaint from a constituent). What people feel about me is of no consequence; your observation is crucially important for members of the commentariat to understand about their posts.

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  55. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Andy:

    It wants Palestinians to understand that “from the river to the sea” and the various genocidal goals that hope to rid the region of Jews one way or another over the last century are all a fever dream.

    I was just watching the Superbowl broadcast and notice during the preshow, they brought Post Malone on to sing “America the Beautiful”. Does this mean Malone, the NFL, and CBS are advocating the genocide of native Americans? Because there’s obviously there’s no other way “from sea to shining sea” could possibly be interpreted, right?

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  56. steve says:

    ” make it clear to the people of Gaza that the next government of Gaza (even if it’s still Hamas) should not be a genocidal death cult dedicated to making war on Israel at their expense.”

    I think the evidence is pretty good that Netanyahu either supported Hamas, at least indirectly, or undercut PLA efforts to make sure the Palestinians didnt have a unified government. There needs to be active Israeli support of the government you propose. Also, while they have a nominal unity government they are at war. There is nearly always a rally round the flag effect. While at this point I think a majority of Israelis support what he is doing it’s also true that Netanyahu plays a major part in helping to shape Israeli opinion.

    Also, I think we concentrate too much on deaths. Reports suggest at least another 60,000-70,000 wounded. Some of those will never walk again or never work again. Also, while the number of casualties is disputed and i dont really trust either side the WSJ at the end of December published numbers on property damage from independent sources, and given satellites should be easy to confirm. They claimed over 70% of Gaza homes are destroyed or damaged, over 50% of roads and IIRC only 8 out of about 35 hospitals sort of functioning. So while I believe Israel is trying to not kill civilians I dont think 70% of the homes in Gaza had Hamas in them so I think the numbers suggest they are favoring tactics like bombing which just arent as discriminate in their killing.

    Steve

    Steve

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  57. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    Again, you are saying Palestinians do not have human rights. If you don’t think the Nakba and the foundation of the state of Israel were massive injustices to Palestinians at the hands of Zionism and Israel, you are saying they had no right to be in the homes in which they lived.

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  58. JKB says:

    Israel just rescued two hostages Hamas was holding if Rafah. Despite Biden and the UN trying to stop Israel from trying to recover their kidnapped citizens.

    The two, Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Norberto Louis Har (70) were extracted in a joint operation by the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police in Rafah.

    They were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7.

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  59. @Andy:

    Well, Michael is right that you, and most others, haven’t really offered any viable alternatives for Israel in terms of how it should fight this war in the face of Hamas’ methods and tactics

    Well, kind of. First, I do not believe I am obligated to play by MR’s rules. As such, I do not think it is incumbent of me to have some obvious solution before I can criticize Israel’s actions. Second, I am clearly implying that a less violence response would have been morally preferable.

    I do not accept the terms of the game that I have to find a solution to an intractable problem to note that Israel’s approach is, in my view, disproportionate and, perhaps more significantly, unlikely to successfully solve the problems they purport to be trying to solve.

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  60. @Andy:

    Finally, I’d also point out that this isn’t all about Bibi. Israel has a unity war government, and the war is being run by the war cabinet, of which Bibi is one member. I think you might want to consider what you’ve been calling “defending Bibi’s actions” to Michael is, in reality, the actions of Israel’s war cabinet and probably reflects the goals of Israelis generally. Public opinion is slowly shifting, however, with more Israelis in favor of prioritizing getting hostages back vs destroying Hamas.

    I do understand that, of course.

    I only bring up Bibi in this discussion because MR seems to think his contempt for Bibi is a significant issue and somehow gives his position more credibility.

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  61. (Also, in conversations like this, naming the head of government is meant to evoke the entire government, rather than to assert that one person alone is responsible).

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  62. @Matt Bernius: Indeed, if MR would take good faith criticisms of Israel as just that, I would likely not be engaging him on this issue.

    I would note that I have never pretended to be the fount of wisdom on this topic.

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  63. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would note that I have never pretended to be the fount of wisdom on this topic.

    FWIW, this is why I have been largely silent on this issue. It’s so far outside my bailiwick that I have nothing productive to add.

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  64. Assad K says:

    Given that Hamas was voted in when the majority of the current Gazan population could not vote, holding them culpable seems.. odd. And since that, to some, justifies the mass bombing of Gaza (numerous analogies to Germany and Japan have been brought up, mainly by one individual) one could probably logically claim that all Israelis, including the victims of 10/07, bear the burden for Israel’s policies towards the West Bank and Gaza far more, since Netanyahu gets voted back in every 6 months or so.

    It’s also worth noting that yes, Netanyahu was working to strengthen Hamas vis-s-vis the PA, but that doesn’t actually mean that life in Gaza was some sort of easy thing. Some people seem quite ok with things returning to the status quo, forgetting that the status quo is what created the environment for Hamas to thrive.

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  65. Kevin says:

    @JKB: yes, and 67 Palestinians were reported killed. Some number of those, I’m sure, were Hamas. Some were not. Some number of those killed were almost certainly children. What’s an appropriate trade off, of Israeli to Palestinian lives?

    Israel is apparently about to attack an area where they told ~1 million people to shelter, most of whom are children, in order to supposedly destroy some number of Hamas fighters. How many of those people is it appropriate for them to kill? How likely do you think it is that destroying those Hamas fighters will end Hamas?

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  66. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Because there’s obviously there’s no other way “from sea to shining sea” could possibly be interpreted, right?

    People can interpret things however they want, and can claim that their interpretation is benign. But one must also consider how others interpret it and how it’s commonly understood in a wider context both historically and currently.

    So yes, if you want to claim that “From the River to the Sea” doesn’t have genocidal connotations despite the documented history to the contrary, feel free – just understand that it’s not much different than claiming the Confederate flag is about “heritage, not hate.”

    @Modulo Myself:

    Again, you are saying Palestinians do not have human rights. If you don’t think the Nakba and the foundation of the state of Israel were massive injustices to Palestinians at the hands of Zionism and Israel, you are saying they had no right to be in the homes in which they lived.

    I am not saying that Palestinians do not have human rights. I’m saying that Palestinians will never secure their rights by trying and failing – repeatedly – to kill and expel Jews. Violence, as a method to achieve their desired political ends – has been a complete and utter failure.

    The Nakba, let’s remember, was the result of Arabs and Palestinians attempting to destroy the newly-formed Israeli state in the cradle – and failing. Starting and then losing wars of aggression (1948, 1967, 1973) comes with consequences.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As such, I do not think it is incumbent of me to have some obvious solution before I can criticize Israel’s actions. Second, I am clearly implying that a less violence response would have been morally preferable.

    That’s fine. In a similar way in another recent thread, it’s perfectly valid to point out all the problems with Biden running for President without it being incumbent on anyone to name some obvious alternative or solution.

    And sure, less violence is always good. Easier said than done. And the party that is best able to do that is Hamas. They are, after all, the party to this conflict, employing tactics deliberately designed to generate high numbers of civilian deaths. They are deliberately employing tactics that make “less violent” means not less violent when it comes to the risk of civilians.

    And then there is the wider context of this conflict, which has the unique aspect of being contained. In other urban conflicts, civilians can flee to avoid the fighting. In this case, even the people who claim to be on the side of the Palestinians would rather see them stay in Gaza than be allowed to leave the conflict zone. What is the morally preferable option there?

    Again, I see an asymmetry here where the only actor in this conflict with any moral agency is Israel and, secondarily, the US and its support when it comes to the level of violence.

    I do not accept the terms of the game that I have to find a solution to an intractable problem to note that Israel’s approach is, in my view, disproportionate and, perhaps more significantly, unlikely to successfully solve the problems they purport to be trying to solve.

    You may not accept the terms of the game, but it’s completely legitimate for Michael or anyone to ask you for an alternative to your criticism or at least to speculate about what a “proportionate” approach would look like.

    Again, I think it’s a perfectly valid answer to say something along the lines of, “I think what Israel is doing looks bad, but I don’t know what they should be doing instead.” This is a valid viewpoint to have. And it’s also true in the sense that this war does not have an easy button. There are no obvious alternatives and the nature of the conflict, combatants, terrain, tactics, and capabilities greatly narrow the field of choices to sub-optimal ones – which is often the case in war.

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  67. Modulo Myself says:

    The Nakba, let’s remember, was the result of Arabs and Palestinians attempting to destroy the newly-formed Israeli state in the cradle – and failing. Starting and then losing wars of aggression (1948, 1967, 1973) comes with consequences.

    Yeah right, let’s remember that everyone thinks the Palestinians were expelled because of the attack by Arab States on Israel and not the work of Israel itself. It’s not like that turning that view upside-down was one of the biggest and most successful acts of revisionism in history. Try googling the New Historians. The reason many younger Jewish people in America have turned against Israel is partly due to this view being overturned.

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  68. Andy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    As I said, starting a war of aggression with the goal of genocide – which was the goal of the Arab forces in 1948 – and then losing that war, has consequences. And that failure was compounded by further attempts in 1967 and 1973 and various other conflicts since.

    As much as Palestinians would like to reset the clock to 1947, it is not going to happen, certainly not by force of arms.

    My view is that Palestinians have to face the reality that violence hasn’t worked and is not likely to work and try to achieve their goals through other means. And that should be obvious from the current conflict where Hamas started another war which has resulted in what benefits, exactly, for Palestinians?

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  69. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    The Palestinian government in the West Bank are in fact working with the Israeli government and their reward has been to be treated like terrorists and have their land stolen. So I don’t know what they are supposed to take from non-violence and compromise.

    As far as starting a war goes, what exactly do you think Zionism was? A group of Europeans coming to a distant land and attempting to form a state in a place already occupied by another group is an act of aggression, no matter how you want to spin it. These were normal Europeans, for the most part, who had the same views that virtually every European had about the Arabs and Africans. In 1937 Ben-Gurion said, “We must expel the Arabs and take their place…” In 1948, the IDF had a report which listed the causes of the expulsion in 47-48. #1 was IDF/Haganah hostilities against Palestinian villages. They did not come to Judea wiith intentions other than getting rid of its inhabitants, one way or another.

    I think there are gray areas and the grand narrative of Zionism as an occupying force of settlers is not correct. I think the Zionists had good reasons for their cause and they were no different than anybody in their cultures regarding other places. But that’s meaningless for Palestinians, and rightfully so. Should they accept Israel as a fact on the ground? Absolutely. But if there’s going to be a solution, there has to be a way for Palestinians to have the right to nationalism and the right to think that they were wronged. And expecting Palestinians to take the worldview of a bunch of people who seem absolutely unsympathetic to their history is pointless. It’s an excuse to be indifferent.

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