Israel, Hamas, boycotts and peace


by Sunny
18th June, 2007 at 11:49 am    

Later today Hillary Benn MP, International Development Secretary, will host a debate at the House of Commons on: ‘The Middle East: How to make peace possible’, sponsored by the Fabians and FPC.

Given the carnage in Gaza and West Bank now, it looks easier to draw blood from stone than see peace in the ME. Earlier this month I mentioned the publication of Professor Tony Klug’s paper which has prompted this debate.

The 30 or so pages in the paper are definitely worth reading. Prof Klug does something interesting; he has written it from a future period looking back at how peace broke out in the ME. He constructs a series of events that lead to peace based not on what he thinks should happen, but going by statements already made by various politicians. His point in essence is that everyone wants peace, it’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling. The question is who has the balls to start. It’s very convincing and almost electrifying. You can almost believe it could happen.

Which brings me to the current state of affairs, on which I have a few points to make.

It is rather ironic that the organisation Israel tried its best to destroy in the past (Fatah) by creating a new one (Hamas) has now become its best friend while the latter has become its worst nightmare. Within the context of a trying to achieve peace for a two-state solution, Israel’s policy toward the Palestinian Authority has been a monumental failure. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.

First it kept trying to destroy Fatah, until Hamas became a serious political power and won the elections. It had the chance then to bring Hamas into the peace process (yes, I know about its charter, but we’re talking about the Middle East here, actions mean much more than words. Read the paper above) and bring about some semblance of political negotiation but it set about to destroy Hamas by funding Fatah.

Anyone with half a brain can see that this would further reduce Fatah’s credibility with Palestinians and push Hamas further into the arms of Iran and Syria. And now we’re fucked. Israel is now hoping that approving the new Fatah government will somehow resolve the crisis.

Israel screwed up when it launched a full-blown attack on Lebanon and now it is further screwing up by fuelling the crisis (by funding Fatah instead of bringing both to the table). Johann Hari today explains exactly why Israel must negotiate with Hamas. The man speaks sense (as does Shiraz Socialist).

The Academic boycott on the other hand I think is a bad idea. And like David Osler, I too have been debating hard in my head over this decision. The standard retort, that there are far more repressive regimes out there, is certainly true. I’d like to see supporters of the boycott extend that to Chinese products or the Pakistani cricket team (over hudood laws) for me to take them seriously.

But surely the fact that supporters of Israel such as Alan Dershowitz have to even point fingers at Nigeria, China, Zimbabwe etc and say ‘well, they’re worse‘ is a problem, no?

Who really wants to be even near that company? And, for some reason, Dershowitz seems to be defending freedom within Israel rather than the Palestinian Territories.

I have no doubt that there are plenty of liberals in the UK who are uncomfortably asking themselves: “Sure, Israel is surrounded by anti-semites who want its extermination but frankly those idiots are dreaming. Their firepower is pitiful. But shouldn’t Israel, given its beginnings, be holding itself to higher standards than being roughly in the same league as China?

Would Dershowitz et al really be happy if the SWP clowns also boycotted that bunch?

All the boycott has done, as any attack such as the ‘War on Terror’ does, is to play into the hands of the extremists on either side. The Israeli right will feel vindicated.

So, what now? I have no idea. We have transitional British, US, Israeli and Palestinian governments. Everything is up in the air. I do know that if things get worse, the more impetus there will be to peace. Tony Blair was useless in the ME. I hope Gordon Brown can push further along with the rest of the EU and, erm, China and Russia.


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  1. Muzumdar — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:12 pm  

    But surely the fact that supporters of Israel such as Alan Dershowitz have to even point fingers at Nigeria, China, Zimbabwe etc and say ‘well, they’re worse‘ is a problem, no?

    But that’s not Dershowotz’s point. His point is that Israel is singled out for extreme criticism, while the others get a fleeting slap on the wrist.

    His point is that Israel is singled out because it is the ‘Jew among nations’. Interestingly, Dershowtiz describes himself as a diehard liberal.

    Problem is, doesn’t matter who is in power in the Palestinian territories, rockets are constantly being fired into Israel, giving the Israelis the excuse they need to do whatever they want (firing rockets into civilian neighbourhoods is an act of war, no?)….First Katushas landed yesterday….

  2. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    Exactly Sunny. You have no idea.

  3. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    does anyone?

  4. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:47 pm  

    Israel will not negotiate with a body whose aim is to destroy it. I really do not understand why you find that difficult to comprehend or why it is thought to be unreasonable. Hamas’ charter is a declaration of war.

  5. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:49 pm  

    I am completely in agreement with Muzamdar.

    Sunny:

    Your argument seems somewhat contradictory. Firstly, you imply that everybody wants peace based on their statements. You then say Israel needs to negotiate with Hamas. Now, I accept that there is a realpolitik argument for negotiating with Hamas, but not one based on their statements; Hamas, going by their constitution, is still devoted to the destruction of Israel.

  6. Refresh — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    I do.

    I am even more optimistic now.

  7. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:54 pm  

    Since Israel withdrew from Gaza there has been no Israeli military presence there, not even on the Egyptian border. Israel left greenhouses and farms there for Palestinian citizens to go to work on and razed perfectly usable houses because the Palestinians wanted to build their own. As soon as Israel left Gaza became a launching ground for rockets against Israel. None of the infrastructure that was left was used to bolster the Palestinian economy, in the same way as Hamas has distributed none of the considerable aid that continues to roll in every year, preferring to use it to stockpile weapons to use against Israel and now Fatah. The reason civil war has broken out in Gaza is because the Palestinian people now realise that Hamas has done nothing to improve their general conditions. In fact some Palestinians now say that they were better off when Israel was in occupation. But you can’t have it both ways, Sunny. Israel withdrew so that the Palestinians could have self-determination in Gaza. Now they’ve got it.

    As far as funding is concerned, I have read that Israel refused to arm Fatah, for a very good reason: they could see how things were going in Gaza and they feared to arm Fatah because if Hamas took control of Gaza any arms bought by Israel for Fatah would end up with Hamas. And they were right. I am not sure where you read that Israel was funding Fatah in Gaza but I don’t think that’s right.

  8. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    I must say, I would love to know what “actions” of Hamas’ speak louder than their charter.

  9. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    What are you optimistic about Refresh? Another war, more bloodshed, more suicide bombings, more intractibility, hot head hysteria, hatred, bloodshed.

    Rejoice!

  10. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    For anyone who is interested in knowing what is actually going on in the Middle East and particularly in Israel and Palestine, and finding a concrete solution to it, as opposed to just hammering whichever side it’s fashionable to demonise, Good Neighbours is a collective by various different Middle Eastern commentators which is an interesting read and also a good portal for a variety of Middle Eastern blogs.

  11. Muzumdar — on 18th June, 2007 at 1:20 pm  

    Israel left greenhouses and farms there…

    The Gazans destroyed these, and all the Synagogues, as soon as the Israelis left. Talk about stupid.

    Can you imagine the uproar if the Israelis uprooted a Mosque?

    The reason civil war has broken out in Gaza is because the Palestinian people now realise that Hamas has done nothing to improve their general conditions

    I’m not so sure. The Pals were genuinely fed up with the embezzlement ridden US-loving Fatah, which is why they voted for the champions of Islam Hamas.

    I really hope that Hamas stop the rocket fire and Israel leaves Gaza well alone.

    Then the world can see the fruits of Islamic utopia.

    (And by the way, Hamas cannot complain about not receiving financial support from the West as, if they accepting any money from the West, they would be accepting interest-usury-ridden haram money).

    Thanks.

  12. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 1:23 pm  

    I would be very surprised if Israel went anywhere near Gaza. I know that some Palestinians hope that Egypt will come in to keep order but I think that is unlikely too.

    This internecine fighting has been going for months, by the way. I can’t understand why it hasn’t been more widely reported before.

  13. Muzumdar — on 18th June, 2007 at 1:31 pm  

    Katy

    I’m afraid that the first rockets landed yesterday on Israeli soil.

    The Hawks will soon be demanding action.

    I for one wouldn’t blame them if they went in.

    Egypt won’t do anything. I doubt Hamas has any respect for a country that has declared peace with Israel.

    It’s being reported more now clearly because the government has actually fallen and the fighting has got more intense.

  14. Riz — on 18th June, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    It’s a mediterranian salad problem: It’s difficult to see ‘olive’ branches extended between Palestinians and Israelis when there is war going on between between Fetah and Hummous.

  15. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    Mazumdar – I think rockets have been coming from Gaza for some time.

  16. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    But that’s not Dershowotz’s point. His point is that Israel is singled out for extreme criticism, while the others get a fleeting slap on the wrist.

    That doesn’t negate my point. As I say later – Would Dershowitz et al really be happy if the SWP clowns also boycotted that bunch?

    You then say Israel needs to negotiate with Hamas. Now, I accept that there is a realpolitik argument for negotiating with Hamas, but not one based on their statements; Hamas, going by their constitution, is still devoted to the destruction of Israel.

    I did say Johann Hari explains this better than I why this is necessary and important. You folks really should read the article.

    What’s the alternative? Keep the Palestinians locked up like that forever?

  17. Muzumdar — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    Yes, but I mean the first rockets after the installation of Hamas as masters of Gaza.

  18. Muzumdar — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

    Dershowitz doesn’t give a damn about the SWP.

    He is talking about the UN, the mass media and human rights groups – who are far more influential than the SWP and all seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time, money and effort vilifying Israel while going soft, in comparison, on other countries.

    His ultimate point, which he has made several times, is that he agrees that Israel should be criticised. But he’s just fed up with the disproportionate criticism it gets from anti-Semites masquerading as people who care.

  19. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

    The academic boycott is a crap idea and the crappiest sort of thing around. Why boycott academics when academics around the world have much to share regardless of what bloody nation-state they are stuck with. plus i’d like to see what british academics would think if thanks to the iraq war they got boycotted – would it be fair? no.

    and the americans don’t let cuban academics come over to the USA and that’s is really crap too.

  20. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:12 pm  

    thanks for the link to good neighbours katy

  21. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:23 pm  

    “I did say Johann Hari explains this better than I why this is necessary and important. You folks really should read the article.”

    Whatever good points have been made, Sunny, I wouldn’t want my government to negotiate with people whose aim was my destruction.

    Was it Hamas or its doppelganger Hezbollah whose spokesman said it would be good if all the Jews emigrated to Israel as it would be easier to kill us if we were all in one place.

  22. Muzumdar — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

    Sunny

    I have a lot of time for Haari, I quite like the preachy way he writes, and I particularly like his comments about Northern Ireland power sharing – great stuff….however, he does talk out of his arse sometimes.

    This is one such time.

    Nothing went in; nothing went out.

    If this is true, then why did nobody have a pop at Egypt?

    Israel must negotiate with Hamas. They are offering a long, long ceasefire.

    Could have fooled me. First rockets came in yesterday.

    if only Israel returns to its legal borders

    Too late. Arafat had that opportunity. Pals in 1948 had that opportunity. You only get so many chances in politics I’m afraid.

  23. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:29 pm  

    But he’s just fed up with the disproportionate criticism it gets from anti-Semites masquerading as people who care.

    Well, I can’t do a test on people to see whether their motivations are anti-semitic or not and neither am I given an indication as to what proportion of criticism is proportionate. Everyone seems to think Israel is either not criticised enough or too much.

    It’s still a losing game if you’re saying – ‘well the Chinese and Nigerians should be criticised more than us’.

  24. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:37 pm  

    This debate is going down predictable lines. So I’m going to quote from Prof Tony Klug’s report.

    1) Reminding reporters of the Arab Peace Plan authored by the Saudi king – which was endorsed by
    the Arab League in March 2002 and again in March 2007 – he referred to a speech delivered to the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington DC on 11 October 2006 by former Saudi Ambassador Prince Turki Al-Faisal, who said: “In Saudi Arabia, we believe that the path to peace begins with peaceful coexistence between a Palestinian state and an Israeli state, and peace between Israel and the entire Arab world”.
    “We are serious about this”, Prince Bandar added, but lamented that many Israelis appear still not to be aware of the Arab Peace Plan and too many others don’t believe a word of it.

    2) In an interview with the Washington Post, Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister and a leading Hamas member, announced his support for President Abbas’s stance on the settlers. He reminded his interviewer than in the same paper, on 26 February 2006, he had stated: “We do not have any feelings of animosity toward Jews. We do not wish to throw them into the sea. All we seek is to be given our land back, not to harm anybody”. Asked how he could reconcile this sentiment with the virulently antisemitic statements in the Hamas Covenant, he declared that the covenant is in an advanced stage of review and he expects that some parts of it, “especially those parts”, will be revised or even excised and intimated there had been a lack of consultation when the document was originally drawn up.

    I keep saying this – read the fucking report.

  25. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    If memory serves, Hamas was bankrolled and helped set up by MOSSAD. Were the antisemitic passages in the Covenant more agreeable to MOSSAD in those heady days of anti-Fatah?

  26. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

    Go away Muzumdar. I don’t want to debate I/P with an imbecile who thinks Muslims in South Asia should be ‘driven out’ or something. I’m being preached to by a bloody bigot, how’s that for laughs.

  27. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:03 pm  

    Perhaps if I take Mazumdar’s point you’ll deal with it, Sunny. The point he makes is that one lone voice in Hamas tentatively suggesting that the charter might be rewritten over a year ago is hardly enough to set anyone’s mind at rest given that it hasn’t actually been rewritten, nor has anyone since suggested that it will be. What do you say to that?

  28. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

    Sid, I know that there were suggestions that Mossad played a part in funding Hamas, but I do not think that they have ever been proved. Hamas’ Charter is not acceptable to me as a Jew. Nor, I am sure, would you find a Charter by a Jewish group saying the equivalent thing about Muslims acceptable regardless of who had funded it.

  29. Devil's Kitchen — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

    Johann Hari explains this better than I

    I never thought that I’d ever see that sentence written, I must say.

    If memory serves, Hamas was bankrolled and helped set up by MOSSAD.

    Oh yes, I remember seeing that press release too. It went out over AP, didn’t it? I love the way that MOSSAD obligingly tell everyone what they are doing; so unlike our devious secret services.

    I keep saying this – read the fucking report.

    Sunny: I will. However, if it’s full of guff similar to that which you have quoted, I may need to get some extra beta-blockers before I start.

    DK

  30. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

    Katy, I don’t have any concrete evidence either. But as usual, I go to wikipedia, which you may or may not have a problem with.

    If you don’t, you might see this


    The majority of Hamas funding comes from Saudi Arabia.[61][62] According to the U.S. State Dept,[22] Hamas is funded by Iran (led by a Shiite Islamic regime), Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. The party is known to support families of suicide bombers after their deaths. Some believe the financial support includes a monthly allowance.[63] However, various sources, among them United Press International,[64] Le Canard enchaîné, Bill Baar, Gérard Chaliand[65] and L’Humanité[66] have highlighted that Hamas’ early growth — before its official founding and the creation of the military branch — had been supported by the Mossad as a “counterbalance to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)”. Furthermore, the French investigative newspaper Le Canard enchaîné stated that Shin Bet had also supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO and Fatah, in an attempt to give “a religious slant to the conflict, in order to make the West believe that the conflict was between Jews and Muslims”, thus supporting the controversial thesis of a “clash of civilizations”.[67]

    Which suggests that there were other Israeli orgs (Shin Bet) who supported and funded Hamas when the PLO were the cause of all problems.

  31. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    the PLO was, of course, secular.

  32. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

    The point that Muzamdar and others are making is that the words of peace uttered by Israel’s enemies do not equate with what is actually happening. It was clear this was the case during last year’s Lebanese war when everybody was talking about a ceasefire existing, while Hezbollah rained down Qassam rockets on Israel.

    In an ideal world, Israel would never even need to acknowledge Hamas. However, given the implosion of Fatah in Gaza, negotiation with Hamas needs to be explored; the West should be under no illusion about Hamas.

  33. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

    Sid – I saw that. I go to Wikipedia too. But it looks like more of a rumour to me than a fact.

  34. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:22 pm  

    The West has a long and proud history of ignoring bald statements of intent made by people who clearly intend to carry them out.

  35. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

    “The West has a long and proud history of ignoring bald statements of intent made by people who clearly intend to carry them out.”

    Indeed. A. Hitler springs to mind.

  36. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

    The point he makes is that one lone voice in Hamas tentatively suggesting that the charter might be rewritten over a year ago is hardly enough to set anyone’s mind at rest given that it hasn’t actually been rewritten,

    Katy, this point is rather like Israel saying – well they must accept our border. What borders? Israel hasn’t defined them itself.

    Firstly, Haniya isn’t a lone voice, he is the PM. Secondly, polls consistently show the Palestinians want a two-state solution so he knows that is what the people want.

    I’m not saying Haniya should become our best friend. Neither is Johann Hari saying that. The point is though, if he’s made an offer, why not call his bluff?

    hardly enough to set anyone’s mind at rest given that it hasn’t actually been rewritten

    Why does the initiative lie with them alone? Why can’t Israel also make some advances and both do it together?

    What is the alternative (as I keep stressing?) to keep all those Palestinians in a massive open prison indefinitely? I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter what China does, that still does not strike me as a particularly humane foreign policy.

    It could have at least started some dialogue with Hamas, which has been advocated by nearly everyone (incl Jonathan Freedland) apart from Melanie Phillips with a view to pushing Hamas into changing its charter. Instead it decided to withhold money that was legitimately of the PA and keep funding Fatah so they could take out Hamas.

    This is a kind of stupidity that led to Lebanon.

  37. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:27 pm  

    If Hamas was indeed funded by the Mossad and that could be proved, surely then it should discredit them in the eyes of the Palestinians.

    The question then is if someone thinks that it can be proved they should be trying to do do so.

    And Katy’s point about the Hamas Charter is a good one.

    Even if Hamas decided they would take out the bit about destruction of Israel, the problem that they are not secular- and are Islamist – would remain.

  38. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

    Indeed. A. Hitler springs to mind.

    Hold on a second. Are you comparing Hamas’ firepower to Nazi Germany’s? Do I really have to trot out figures to show you how lame this comparison is? Israel can, militarily, take out the entire region single-handedly even if it had the 6-day war again. Lame comparisons to Hitler I’m afraid don’t hold any water. Israel has the upper hand here, overwhelmingly.

  39. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

    Hamas is not calling for a two-state solution; it is calling for the Jews to be driven into the sea. Until they moderate their language and behaviour, what common ground can Israel have with Hamas?

    A minor point; Haniya is no longer PM, having been sacked by Abbas.

  40. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:29 pm  

    Here is a UPI article from 2002 about Israeli aid to Hamas. Some interesting quotes in there.

  41. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:32 pm  

    My (and I presume Katy’s) point was that the West has often been confronted with persons and groups who have threatened something terrible; the West ignores it, as they did with Hitler over German expansion. I was not trying to draw a direct link between Hamas and Hitler in terms of firepower, but I will draw one in terms of intent. Hamas are backed by Iran, so who knows what fiepower they could accquire.

  42. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:34 pm  

    Lebanon? Where Israel failed to take out the entire region single-handedly?

    Sunny, if your next door neighbour was annexing part of your garden, would you expect him to negotiate with you if you knocked on the door and said to him “Hello. I want to take over your entire house. I might put off doing that for a few years if you give me back the bottom of your garden. Don’t worry about the fact that when you gave me back the side of your garden I used it to try and break all of your windows, and only because I couldn’t get the sort of ammunition that would permit me to burn the whole thing to the ground.”

  43. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    Sunny, if Hamas’ opening gambit was “We will recognise Israel if…” then I would agree that Israel should negotiate. That is not their opening gambit.

  44. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    I don’t draw comparisons with Hitler because I’m Jewish and therefore will be accused of emotional blackmail.

  45. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    no sunny, sorry but you haven’t addressed Katy’s point – i can’t see much of an analogy there. A charter is a specific document – so to take forward your analogy, you could refer to somet thing written in a document that the Israeli government have, and which they say they are going to change, but haven’t done. so in your example, as you say, Israel hasn’t defined its borders. if it had done so in a document, then when referring to it claimed it was actually meant some other position, then that would make some sense as an analogy.

  46. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    Sid, I don’t know if the funding is right or not, but the Hamas charter wasn’t drafted until 1988. I would be very surprised if they were receiving funding from Tel Aviv at the time that they drafted it.

  47. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:42 pm  

    Instead it decided to withhold money that was legitimately of the PA and keep funding Fatah so they could take out Hamas.

    Where’s your source for that? My understanding is that Israel has only just agreed to release funds for Fatah and only because Hamas is no longer part of the Palestinian government.

  48. Kulvinder — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    point was that the West has often been confronted with persons and groups who have threatened something terrible; the West ignores it, as they did with Hitler over German expansion.

    Erm no. ‘The west’ (whatever that actually means) has had a tendency to overreact to groups and/or follow its paranoia into the abyss. Theres a big ‘IRAQ’ and ‘VIETNAM’ sign waving at you.

  49. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    Even if the Hamas leadership wants to change their charter and recognise Israel, they have spent so many years encouraging their followers’ loathing of all things Jewish, that it would probably reduce their popularity considerably.

  50. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    Sunny, if Hamas’ opening gambit was “We will recognise Israel if…” then I would agree that Israel should negotiate. That is not their opening gambit.

    I think this is to misunderstand the nature of the organisation here. Hamas is a terrorist organisation. I’m not disputing that. But it has legitimately also won the election in Palestinian territories. In the meantime it has had a ceasefire on suicide bombings for a long time (incidentally its Hizballah AFAIK that is doing the rockets thing).

    The point is orgs change over time as long as you give them the incentive to. That is how Northern Ireland was resolved. That is how many of the terrorist orgs in Europe were also brought into the fold.

    Playing by absolutes – “we’re not going to give an inch unless they change everything” – will not bring peace, that is what I’m saying. I don’t want Isreal to be driven to the sea or to be attacked by some surprise attack. But given its overwhelming military superiority, it has more leeway than most countries in such situations.

    One could easily also say… is Israel is serious about peace, why does it keep building and expanding illegal settlements into land it does not own? We could sit here playing tit for tat whole day, no?

  51. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    Where’s your source for that? My understanding is that Israel has only just agreed to release funds for Fatah and only because Hamas is no longer part of the Palestinian government.

    Oh they’ve been secretly funding Fatah for longer than the announcement made yesterday Katy. I have to head out now for a meeting but everyone knows this. It was in the US papers too.

  52. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    Which part of Northern Ireland’s charter evinced an intention to take over the whole of the UK as well as Northern Ireland, Sunny?

  53. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:48 pm  

    point was that the West has often been confronted with persons and groups who have threatened something terrible; the West ignores it, as they did with Hitler over German expansion.

    Perhaps The West’s tendancy to overreact to is due to their total lack of reaction to threats made by Germany and the USSR before you were born, Kulvinder.

  54. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

    anyhow. i can’t see for all the goodwill in the world on the part of hilary benn and prof klug, or whomever over here, is going to make a difference to the fighting between hamas and fatah.

    “His point in essence is that everyone wants peace, it’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling”

    well i don’t know that everyone wants peace. Some clearly want power and are quite happy for bloodshed to happen as they trail towards power. Hamas no doubt looks around the world, realises that if you want power, the accepted way is to get it with guns. NOw of course there is a ‘distinction’ made between nations with guns and wannabe-nations with guns, but once you become a nation-state then you don’t have a problem.

    So i can’t quite see what is so electrifying that we’ve been missing for all these years. Frankly there has been so much bloodshed, its easy for us out here to sit and talk about peace, but out there in the field, there’s a lot of killing and not many people seem to care who they kill, whether its a fellow Palestinian or an Israeli soldier.

  55. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:51 pm  

    and my point is until Hamas and Fatah sort themselves out, they’re not going to go anywhere. end of story

  56. Refresh — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:51 pm  

    Not going too well this debate is it.

    Jagdeep, optimistic? Of course. What else should we be. It will focus the minds of those who have access to the levers.

    It shows what a disastrous US/EU policy towards Hamas has been. To the extent that governments were willing to watch people starve for making the wrong decision at the ballot box.

    It is as much a disaster in logic as Iraq was and as Iran is going to be.

    Its extreme to think the only democracy is the one where the elected government (I think Hamas had overwhelming support) has to be one of our choosing.

    And as Sunny says, read the report. The most optimistic thing I’ve read on the subject in a while.

  57. Leon — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

    Sunny, I wouldn’t want my government to negotiate with people whose aim was my destruction.

    I would, that’s how real peace is achieved. I’ve said it before too, seeing as we’re in the ME with this one, that I think the cleverest thing Britain via Europe could do would be to call Bin Laden etc bluff and offer real negotiations (with a clause of cessation of armed operations etc while they are ongoing).

    The worst thing you can do to an extremist is offer a moderate position as a way out, to draw them into protracted negotiating situation. It keeps them busy and erodes their base support for violent actions while there is a possibility of non violent achievement of their aims.

  58. Kulvinder — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

    Perhaps The West’s tendancy to overreact to is due to their total lack of reaction to threats made by Germany and the USSR before you were born, Kulvinder.

    The Vietnamese and the Iraqis send their thanks for rational thinking.

  59. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

    “Oh they’ve been secretly funding Fatah for longer than the announcement made yesterday Katy. I have to head out now for a meeting but everyone knows this. It was in the US papers too.”

    And everyone knows that Diana, Princess of Wales was murdered at the behest of the Royal Family.

    That was also in the US papers.

  60. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

    Sonia wins prize for most sensible and pithy comment at no 55.

  61. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

    Katy, I think the funding from Israel came well after Hamas shitty, sixth form “Covenant” was drafted in ’88. Israel’s intentions could be less affected by the contents of the Covenant than with the utilitarian motive of dismantling Hamas’ predecessors, Fatah.

  62. Devil's Kitchen — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    Sunny,

    Katy, this point is rather like Israel saying – well they must accept our border. What borders? Israel hasn’t defined them itself.

    Erm, but the international commmunity has. It did it in 1948 when the Jewish state was set up, in fact. Does no one actually bother reading documents anymore or, indeed, use them to glean facts?

    … but everyone knows this

    Obviously not.

    DK

  63. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

    And I daresay the problem is that reality on the ground during a war situation is something that ‘policymakers’ and ‘senior statesment’ not on the ground seem to have an enormous difficulty understanding. and it’s very nice to discuss theory but it is somewhat all up in the air once bullets have started flying.

    i’d like to see someone actually address this fact instead of sidestepping it. the irony is of course those who write such publications are obivously not doing it in the middle of the conflict they’re writing about.

  64. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

    Sid, the article that you linked to referred to funding in the late 1970s.

  65. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

    You can’t compare Vietnam or Iraq to Hitler or the USSR though Chairwoman — to be fair, those were/are both moral disasters and show just how far ideology (domino theory and neo-conservatism) amongst the powerful can lead to unimaginable horror and leave the world more unstable than it was before. Over-reaction is the right way to describe it.

  66. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

    Kulvinder, I was an active opponent of the Vietnam War, and consider the current activities in Iraq pointless.

    But bless your little heart Kulvinder, you are so Right On.

  67. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:59 pm  

    Jagdeep. I crossed in the post with you, so-to-speak.

  68. Kulvinder — on 18th June, 2007 at 3:59 pm  

    But bless your little heart Kulvinder, you are so Right On.

    …yeah?

  69. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:00 pm  

    Wow, a DK post without tons of expletives? I almost didn’t recognise it.

    It did it in 1948 when the Jewish state was set up, in fact.

    Why don’t you ask around how many people are willing to go back to the 1948 borders?

  70. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    Which part of Northern Ireland’s charter evinced an intention to take over the whole of the UK as well as Northern Ireland, Sunny?

    My analogy was that of showing how orgs change and move over time Katy.

  71. Leon — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    Well, we’re fasting approaching the magic number of posts before the thread becomes useless…

  72. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    Oh right Refresh, you’re optimistic because of the ‘best scenario’ article, yes that it very nice if it becomes true.

    I thought you were optimistic because you were a supporter of Hamas or something.

  73. Leon — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

    There we go!

  74. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

    But it’s a crap analogy, Sunny, because Northern Ireland never represented the sort of threat to the UK as an entity that Hamas represents to Israel.

  75. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:03 pm  

    Jagdeep. I crossed in the post with you, so-to-speak.

    I would have been by your side on the march against Vietnam Chairwoman! Then we’d have gone back to my place in Ladbroke Grove and smoked some spliffs and listened to Love and Hendrix and Santana!

  76. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:04 pm  

    Why don’t you ask around how many people are willing to go back to the 1948 borders?

    What? Ask who? You said that Israel hadn’t fixed its borders, which was wrong. DK pointed out that actually its borders were fixed. What does your answer mean? Are you another one who thinks that Israel is full of warmongering lunatics who love the smell of burning Palestinians in the morning?

  77. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:05 pm  

    Sunny – I think you will find that the majority of Israelis in particular, and Jews generally, would be more than willing to return to 1948 borders, with exceptions of the old Jewish Quarter in East Jerusalem, and, of course, the Western Wall.

  78. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:06 pm  

    Leon, do you really think that drawing Bin Laden into negotiation would make any difference? When the attack on 9/11 was being planned there were massive attempts by America to get a settlement in Palestine. Didnt make any difference.

  79. Refresh — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:07 pm  

    Jagdeep

    “I thought you were optimistic because you were a supporter of Hamas or something.”

    This is why I think you are a twit. You mustn’t continue a debate on the assumption you already know someone’s position.

    A bit like this whole debate about Hamas and Fatah and Israel.

    Katy, for more on Hamas funding you need to read Dilip Hiro (I forget which book).

  80. Refresh — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    But given none, I assume none, of us are in mortal danger, can we not get out of our foxholes and see what it is we would like to see and how we as individuals or collectively can do to put things right.

  81. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    Jagdeep – That sounds like ’67/’68 to me!

    And I still listen to Santana :-)

  82. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    This is why I think you are a twit. You mustn’t continue a debate on the assumption you already know someone’s position.

    Phew!

    I thought you said ‘twat’ when I first read that.

  83. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:09 pm  

    Leon – bingo!

  84. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:09 pm  

    thank you Katy.

    and of course here is the other bombshell – peace in the middle east won’t necessarily follow even if Israel decides to agree to a 2 state solution. Why? because if Hamas and Fatah are going to fight themselves so desperately, there ain’t nothing going to be stopping them from fighting over who rules the second state.

    Rule no. 2: once you’re used to fighting, you don’t turn ‘peaceful’ overnight. think democracy and peaceful negotiation is so hot. war simply then is then thought of as ‘civil’

    Bangladesh is a case in point. Some strangely naive people seemed to think that because the people were united against West Pakistan, when Bangladesh came into being, we were miraculously going to be peaceful amongst ourselves and automatically be in agreement on how to govern this new country.

    So: my point again is: let’s be realistic. ‘Peace’ is something it takes a long time to get right. i would be wary of any electrifying vision that doesn’t seem to get that : that is typical of people who have not seen or experienced conflict.

  85. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

    Refresh – As long as Paul McCartney isn’t singing ‘Pipes of Peace’ while we do.

  86. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:11 pm  

    Sonia is wise. Seriously. The point about people being used to fighting is an excellent one.

  87. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:13 pm  

    Boys and young men are pre-programmed to fight.

    Sorry chaps, but you are.

  88. soru — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    Are you comparing Hamas’ firepower to Nazi Germany’s? Do I really have to trot out figures to show you how lame this comparison is?

    I think that is one of the areas where conventional wisdom is really quite badly wrong.

    In 1932 the German army was limited by treaty to 100,000 men, a pittance compared to the milti-million strong french army, which also had much more modern equipment and training.

    Everyone knows how that worked out.

    In contrast, according to this military estimate, Hamas in the gaza strip alone has a reserve military strength of 300,000, three times what Hitler had available to him when he came to power.

    Like Hizbollah, most of the hamas fighters are hardened full-time professionals with no other job, wheras almost all the IDF are part-timers, the equivalent of the home guard, ‘Dad’s Army’.

    The only advantage Israel currently has is heavy weapons and air power, for which they are reliant on imports from the USA and Europe.

    That’s why hamas don’t want to sign any permanent peace deal – they know in 5 or 10 years time, they won’t need to settle for what Israel would voluntarily give. They confidently expect, under cover of an arms boycott, to drive the jews into the sea.

    Ultimately they would almost certainly be wrong to think that. But, like Hitler, they could do a lot of damage before the impossibility of that plan became apparent.

  89. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    its like trying to explain to a child what it takes to achieve a group dynamic where people don’t come to blows the minute they disagree, and the difference between that and a society where people speak to each other politely, wait their turn say, and don’t come to blows because they disagree with each other.

    its quite easy to disintegrate into violence, and its pretty damn difficult when everyone is used to violence, to come back out. You only need one person to break out and boom it can all fall back. that’s how fragile it is.

    I don’t think it takes a whizz kid or a professor of some sort to work this out.

  90. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    Katy, you’re right. Funding probably dried up by the late 80s, but by then Israel had been funding Hamas for almost 20 years. In those 20 years it was clearly growing into nothing other than a vigilante front for a social welfare group, with marked terrorist leanings.

    All the more reason why this kind of thing smacks of hypocricy.

  91. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    And I still listen to Santana

    Me too. Loving that music in the summertime (even when it rains)

    As long as Paul McCartney isn’t singing ‘Pipes of Peace’ while we do

    I vote for Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World’, with multicoloured children holding hands and skipping around us as we release white doves into the sky.

  92. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:15 pm  


    Boys and young men are pre-programmed to fight.

    Sorry chaps, but you are.

    Not me, I’m Bengali. We’re lovers not fighters.

  93. Devil's Kitchen — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:16 pm  

    Sunny,

    Wow, a DK post without tons of expletives? I almost didn’t recognise it.

    Your space, your rules. I try not to swear too much in other people’s spaces, no matter how stupid they might be. Occasionally, I admit, I fail.

    It did it in 1948 when the Jewish state was set up, in fact.

    Why don’t you ask around how many people are willing to go back to the 1948 borders?

    Well, we’ll start with the UN and move on from there, shall we? After all, aren’t Israel breaking all those precious Resolutions about returning to the pre-1948 borders? Yes, yes, they are.

    Unfortunately, until the Arab countries decide to recognise those borders, the Israelis are rather unwilling to give up their military buffer zones.

    However, you might have noticed that they have, in fact, started to do so. They have returned the Gaza Strip (displacing the Israeli settlers there). They have indicated that they are willing to return the strategically important Golan Heights if the other Arab countries will recognise the Israeli borders (those 1948 ones).

    Understandably, if the neighbouring countries are going to continue to rain down rockets on Israeli towns and continue overtures to invade, then Israel is not willing to give up militarily important spaces. I would suggest that, were I in the same situation, I would have the same attitude.

    As you said, Sunny, actions are more important than words and the only people who have made any actual, positive, concrete concessions are the Israelis.

    The actions of the rest have been to fire rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip — 29 had been fired a mere six days after its return — and from southern Lebanon and the West Bank. Israel are effectively in a constant state of war and it’s a war that they did not start.

    DK

  94. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:17 pm  

    I am not sure I understand, Sid. Do you think that Hamas is right to refuse to remove those words from the charter? Or that if you have once funded a terrorist group you are then estopped from preventing it from being funded once you realise what a colossal mistake it was? Just wondering.

  95. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:18 pm  

    i don’t think anyone is ‘pre-programmed’ to fight more than anyone else – as humans we all have the fight or flight instinct. one could argue that women are pre-programmed to fight if their young is threatened.

    on top of that, there is the social dimension of encouraging violence over peaceful negotiation. that’s what you learn – you learn what you can get away with, and what you can’t. the more violence there is in a society, the more you feel you can do the same ( this pertains to what i was saying above)

    if that weren’t the case, i can’t see why all boys and young men here are not going around wacking each other over their divergent views on I/P

  96. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:19 pm  

    That’s why hamas don’t want to sign any permanent peace deal – they know in 5 or 10 years time, they won’t need to settle for what Israel would voluntarily give. They confidently expect, under cover of an arms boycott, to drive the jews into the sea.

    soru you are a Zionist pig!

    Anyway, no chance of an arms ban, even if the EU voted for one (would be entertaining to watch how Germany votes), America would always be there, and probably India too eventually.

    You see, this is why I am not optimistic.

  97. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    Incidentally, Sid, isn’t it pretty hypocritical of Hamas to take the money too? You know, if we’re talking about questions of principle.

  98. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    and also – that is a dangerous line of thinking – a lot of men come up with that to excuse their violence which is not acceptable.

  99. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    I’m saying that funding a terrorist group is a marvellous utilitarian way of destabilsing your enemy. But what is coming down hard on organisations funding other terrorists nothing if not hypocricy? Call it realpolitik, but either way, if it quacks like a duck…

  100. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

    hah sid, bengalis are lovers not fighters

    some would say we are both

  101. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

    Sonia, I bet they would be if we were having this discussion in the pub.

  102. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:22 pm  

    Incidentally, Sid, isn’t it pretty hypocritical of Hamas to take the money too? You know, if we’re talking about questions of principle.

    But they’re non-negotiable vigilante terrorists, right? Whereas Israel is a beacon of democratic principles, remember?

  103. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:22 pm  

    if that weren’t the case, i can’t see why all boys and young men here are not going around wacking each other over their divergent views on I/P

    Because we haven’t tracked down each others home address yet!

    Just wait till we do. I have custard pies ready for flinging into faces.

  104. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:23 pm  

    oh for goodness sakes i think there is no point arguing who is hypocritical and who isn’t. frankly that is what people have been doing for yonks and everyone has their own p of view by now. the issue boils down to the fact that some people want power, and some don’t want others to have any, and some want to share but are not sure how.

    obviously wanting power and not wanting to share can be called hypocritical, but seems to me that’s always been the case the whole power thing. so let’s move on.

  105. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:25 pm  

    ha hah Jagdeep :-)

    fine, it doesn’t explain why the House of Commons sessions don’t erupt in a riot like Sangsad sessions in Dhaka are apt to do.

  106. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:25 pm  

    hah sid, bengalis are lovers not fighters some would say we are both

    That’s Punjabis, sonia, lovers and fighters (and dancers). Lovers and fighters all the way.

    Bengalis are lovers and fish eaters.

  107. Kulvinder — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:25 pm  

    I don’t really get what the big deal is if Israel did fund Hamas (assuming this isn’t about some principle). They’re both equally to ‘blame’ – one for giving the other for receiving. The US, Israel and Iran all got into bed over Iran-Contra.

  108. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

    Sid, is it your opinion that Hamas’ position in respect of its charter is justified now, twenty years on?

  109. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

    anyway, i can’t see why if Hamas had been funded by Mossad, people like Fatah couldn’t have pointed to that and used that to discredit them.

  110. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:27 pm  

    soru – again, bad comparison I’m afraid. Hitler had a huge industry to rely on to build weaponry and sustain a war. Hamas has zilch, and neither do the surrounding countries (who are mostly favourable to the US anyway).

    Folks, rather than going back and forth, this is my line of thinking.

    1) The current state of affairs, where over a million Palestinians are kept in a massive de-facto prison, canot carry on indefinitely.

    2) If a peace settlement has to be negotiated, it has to include Fatah and Hamas. Much as the latter is detested, it has political legitimacy and Fatah has been severly weakened by corruption and closeness to the States. So many people have argued this that I don’t want to regurgitate them. Please read Hari and Freedland.

    3) The point is, as Prof Klug’s article shows, is that we should call everyone’s bluff of peace. If Hamas is serious about peace, then it should be asked to stick to statements it has openly made. If Israel is serious about peace then it should allow money into the PT and stop the illegal settlements.

    4) And then you start a round of slowly slowly moving forward with bits of concessions. No one is saying Olmert should give Haniya a big kiss tomorrow.

    I keep saying, please read the report by Prof Klug. It’s not fantasy. He’s showing how the groundwork is already there.

    But one has to want peace not keep making excuses for why the other side is the devil.

  111. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:27 pm  

    It’s funny. I have made many concessions about Israel’s conduct on this website and I’ve yet to see you make any about Hamas. Do you actually think that either Hamas or Fatah have done the people who they’re supposed to represent any favours?

  112. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:27 pm  

    yeah, i think kulvinder’s got a point in 107.

  113. Sunny — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    Now I’m seriously late. How bad was this idea as a post in the morning.

  114. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    ok jagdeep, you can be a lover and a fighter if you like.
    :-)

    but perhaps on your next visit to bangladesh you can explain the violence to me then.

  115. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    Bengalis are lovers if the love poetry of Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda are anything to go by.

    Punjabis are fighters and bhangra dancers.

  116. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    katy :-)

    personally i can say that in some situations i feel pretty aggressive and if everyone were throwing a punch i don’t know i wouldn’t find it so easy to join in.

    i wonder how honest others can be about such a situation.

  117. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    heh Sunny ..so true, so many times ive been late cos i couldn’t resist a riposte on PP!

  118. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    Me too, Sonia, me too.

  119. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:31 pm  

    Katy

    Sid, is it your opinion that Hamas’ position in respect of its charter is justified now, twenty years on?

    You’re confusing me with a binary-ist.
    I am not a supporter of either Hamas or Hezbollah simply because I think Israel shares at least 50% of the blame.

  120. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

    especially if some Mullahs were involved boy i feel pretty militant i know, tis really bad thing for a peace activist like myself to admit! but they really make it a hard job to control one’s temper. but of course one has to at the end of the day otherwise..

  121. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    I think we should get one Punjabi and one Bengali to fight, and then make love to each other, to see who is better at both, and settle this once and for all.

    And if anyone else dares to say that men have an intrinsic violent streak in them (including me), I’ll f*@k$ng smash their face in.

  122. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    Am I confusing you? I thought it was fairly straightforward. I was asking if you thought that Hamas should remove that clause from their charter.

  123. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    of course there is blame to lay at everyone’s door, you dont get into a mess like this without everyone fucking up. but it seems to me that the point is, everyone’s to blame, so if they want to work out how to get back on track, you have to leave the blame thing aside.

    otherwise its like relationship counselling where the couple won’t shut up about who did what, and move onto how they’re going to live with it.

  124. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:34 pm  

    I’m not suggesting that you are a supporter as such of either, although now that Hamas has political credibility presumably there’s no shame in being a supporter of theirs. I just want to know what you think about that clause.

  125. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:34 pm  

    oh, Katy.

  126. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:34 pm  

    I’m particularly interested because you seem so incredibly reluctant to answer the question. My lawyery senses are tingling :-D

  127. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    and what with all the neighbours doing their bit to fan the flames!

  128. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    I often mistake feeling horny with that senstation.

  129. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    Come on Sidlet. Talk to me. Talk to Katy.

  130. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:37 pm  

    121. jagdeep you are funny you are. i do like how you lighten these morose threads up.

    where is anas?

  131. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    If I know Anas, he’s hiding away because he knows once he starts he won’t be able to stop :-D

  132. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    I am going to take out my seering, intense antisemitic feelings by going out paki-bashing tonight. Anyone want to join me?

  133. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    My lawyery senses are tingling

    Lawyers have senses, feelings, tingles? Wow.

    Sonia —- I used to fight a lot at school and with my brothers. No matter what anyone says, fighting is an incredile adrenaline rush. I remember creeping up on my brother after he battered me once, I was about 12. I crept up on him when he wasnt looking, slapped him up about three times then legged it away fast as I could — it was brilliant!

    Ultimately all men do have some innate instinct for aggression and potential violence in certain circumstances and situations.

  134. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:41 pm  

    111. Katy good question.

    Hamas are behaving so outrageously now that frankly, if they were Israeli, there would be an almight outcry. Just because they’re Palestinian ought not to excuse their activity. What on earth are the ordinary people meant to think or do? the ones who went out into the street got shot dead.

  135. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:42 pm  

    Oh Sid, no one called you antisemitic.

  136. Leon — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:44 pm  

    Leon, do you really think that drawing Bin Laden into negotiation would make any difference? When the attack on 9/11 was being planned there were massive attempts by America to get a settlement in Palestine.

    Er you do know that the Bin Laden group and their affiliates are different to the Palestinians? Right??

    I’m talking about negotiating with the octopus not its tentacles. Bin Laden has even offered negotiations but the US and UK rejected them outright (so it’s impossible to know whether he was serious or not). Idiotically in my view.

    We have to get away from this idea of them being evil men out to destroy everything etc. They, like our politicians/nations/even us, want the same thing; power. Therein lay the opportunity for a negotiated settlement.

  137. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:44 pm  

    See, people always complain that they can’t discuss Israel without being accused of antisemitism. But what I find is that I can’t discuss Israel without being accused of accusing people of antisemitism. You know?

  138. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:46 pm  

    ha jagdeep i hear you. i used to fight with my sister big time ( well she started it ha!) i could have almost killed her as a child, , i was so very hot-headed. of course i would have regretted it 2 seconds later. *(but killing someone is not an easy thing to live with,not unless you’ve done it so many times that you don’t care, or you think you had the divine right to do so, like our friend Prophet Mohammed.Who knows, maybe he had trouble with that too.)

    later on i used to think about hitting Mullah men to try and ease my aggression towards religious edicts.

    but …anger management techniques are what its all about. i found throwing things out of windows helps. ( just make sure there are no passer-bys)

  139. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:46 pm  

    i hear you Katy…

  140. sid — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    Oh katy, I didn’t accuse you of antisemitism accusations. But I admit, I think I knew where you were going when you wanted to pin and mount me over the Hamas Covenant thing. You wanted to drive me into the sea, didn’t you?

  141. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    “Ultimately all men do have some innate instinct for aggression and potential violence in certain circumstances and situations.”]

    Rubbish

    :-)

  142. soru — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:50 pm  

    who are mostly favourable to the US anyway

    On a 5 or 10 year time-scale, that is absolutely one of the things that a hamas supporter could expect to change.

    Saudi Arabia, in particular, has a military budget twice that of Israel, and it’s not _all_ spent on bribes and booze.

    The arab countries might not all have big military industries (though some have perfectly credible medium-sized ones), but they do have oil. Between Russia, China, France, the UK, South Africa, North korea, Cuba and Iran, it is a virtual certainty that someone somewhere in the world will sell them arms in return. They don’t need the most ultra high-tech gear, just something that allows the weight of numbers to count.

    I don’t know who specifically gains from the idea that Israel is some kind of military mega-power – it presumably suits all sides, as hardly anyone seems to be inclined to point out it is obvious nonsense.

  143. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:50 pm  

    Er you do know that the Bin Laden group and their affiliates are different to the Palestinians? Right??

    Yes — but that is one of the central planks upon which they build their holy anger about the perfidy of the enemy. Even when people were working towards a settlement of that like never before, they were planning 9/11. Doesnt seem like a sensibility prepared to moderate or allow for accomodation.

    As for them wanting power — Bin Laden should discuss that directly with the King and Princes of Saudi Arabia, and carry out a bombing campaign there if he doesnt get his way!

    Doesnt Bin Laden want the Catholics to vacate Spain too?

    Watch out Cafe del mar — no more sunrises over Ibiza!

  144. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:51 pm  

    leon, good analysis in your post. this whole ‘evil’ thing is a bit much, given that we all have behave pretty badly ( i dont mean me or you :-) ) but you know.. our leaders want power, all sorts of people want power, most of them do really nasty things at some stage or other. we are all so similar, this good and evil thing is a bit rich. makes me laugh actually

  145. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:58 pm  

    I would never mount a fellow commenter in the middle of a thread. That would be disgraceful behaviour.

  146. sonia — on 18th June, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    i think bin laden got what he wanted jagdeep which wasn’t territorial power in saudi arabia in my opinion. i think he wanted precisely what has happened – radicalizing all sorts of Muslims and he’s become some ‘hero’ to them. that’s the kind of ‘symbolic’ power he wanted i reckon – he wanted everyone to think ‘oh the West! what a rubbish bunch’ and suprisingly lot of people have fallen for the simple us/them dichotomy. ( on either ‘side’ i might add)

    which seems to have worked for all leaders, if you ask me. cowing your populace and all that kind of thing

  147. ZinZin — on 18th June, 2007 at 5:01 pm  

    Bin Laden has even offered negotiations but the US and UK rejected them outright (so it’s impossible to know whether he was serious or not). Idiotically in my view.

    Leon I don’t go for “we will not negotiate with terrorists” line, but Bin Laden is not the kind of terrorist that you can negotiate with due to his Caliphate driven Doctor Evil agenda. Sometimes the team America solution is the only one available.

    I/P threads don’t you just love ‘em? All it needs is Anas and this thread will be complete.

  148. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

    but …anger management techniques are what its all about. i found throwing things out of windows helps. ( just make sure there are no passer-bys)

    My dad bought a punchbag, punch ball and boxing gloves for us to work out our aggression. It works. Also, jogging and sprinting over and over can relieve alot of your need to assert yourself physically against something.

    But I do seriously think there is an aggressivness that is hard wired into men at some level that makes them more prone to violence than women, something primeval. Most people dont ever manifest it — but I even think it comes from the same source that the aggression and competitiveness in business or the office or in sport comes from. Basically wanting to be cock of the walk, reacting to threats perceived or real.

    If you mediate this impulse in society, channel this aggression, education, marriage, social responsibility, you sublimate it to a certain extent. Societies that have not mediated it (and have recent histories of violence — see subcontinent) have violence closer to the surface, is more easily brought up. Even societies like Britain that has done well still have elements of feral violence and aggression. until 10 years ago the IRA were still blowing up innocents, football hooliganism, inner city riots, the level of violence in city centres on Friday and Saturday night, the continuation of domestic violence.

  149. Leon — on 18th June, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    but that is one of the central planks upon which they build their holy anger about the perfidy of the enemy. Even when people were working towards a settlement of that like never before, they were planning 9/11.

    ‘Central plank’ isn’t the same as an organisation or command structure. I’ll say again, there was no direct negotiation (that I can remember hearing about anyway) with AQ while the I/P negotiations were ongoing. Besides, I really think the whole I/P was doomed to failure because they were brockered by the US, hardly an impartial chair…

    AQ are like a global venture capitalist firm with local investments and franchises. You’re basicily saying we should talk to the local company rather than their financial backer.

  150. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

    that’s the kind of ’symbolic’ power he wanted i reckon

    I think so too sonia. He wants what he has got. The power he wants is to awaken atavistic fears and hatreds and to surf on them. The power is in the rage and the violence and status and attention.

  151. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 5:15 pm  

    I’ll say again, there was no direct negotiation (that I can remember hearing about anyway) with AQ while the I/P negotiations were ongoing

    That’s exactly why they don’t have any reason to be negotiated with. They have no mandate for anything. They are their own self creators and self sustainers of their own righteous rage and violence.

    Besides, I really think the whole I/P was doomed to failure because they were brockered by the US, hardly an impartial chair…

    So what? The settlement collapsed (and that was Americas fault?), and they got attacked anyway. The point is, this kind of stupid, self immolating rage has no endgame, no mandate. What exactly is there to negotiate? Handing Seville back to the Caliphate?

  152. Refresh — on 18th June, 2007 at 6:01 pm  

    “Phew!”

    You may think that.

  153. Jagdeep — on 18th June, 2007 at 6:04 pm  

    *kiss* @ Refresh

  154. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 10:21 pm  

    ” For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails. …The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

    The enemies have been scheming for a long time, and they have consolidated their schemes, in order to achieve what they have achieved. They took advantage of key elements in unfolding events, and accumulated a huge and influential material wealth which they put to the service of implementing their dream. This wealth [permitted them to] take over control of the world media such as news agencies, the press, publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe in order to fulfill their interests and pick the fruits. They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of the revolutions we hear about here and there.

    They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like. All of them are destructive spying organizations. They also used the money to take over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread their corruption therein. As regards local and world wars, it has come to pass and no one objects, that they stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate. They collected material gains and took control of many sources of wealth. They obtained the Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that organization. They also stood behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials and prepared for the establishment of their state. They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it…

    Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there… Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war.”

    That is from the Hamas Charter.

    With the best will in the world, I cannot see how the Government of Israel could sit down and negotiate with them as long as their charter includes the above paragraphs.

  155. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 10:47 pm  

    Mum – forget it.

    Everyone who reads this site knows what it says and most of them don’t give a fuck.

    Apart from a couple of people, I don’t hear anyone saying that Hamas should remove that disgusting, offensive recital of antisemitic claptrap, most of which has no bearing on their personal beef with Israel, from their charter, or even that they should offer to do it if Israel will make some concession in return.

    The charter reviles Jews – not Israelis, not that that would be acceptable – but Jews – and Sunny rants about how Israel hasn’t made enough concessions. I wonder how I can let my name stand on a website that tolerates this shameless, vitriolic abuse against my people.

    I want Sunny to tell me what actions Hamas has taken which means that I, and Jews generally, and Israel, should disregard it. Right now Hamas is firing rockets into Israel and that shit is still on their Charter. Tell me, Sunny, if you can. Don’t direct me to an article by Hari or Freedland, because neither of them give an answer. I really want to know, from you, what Hamas does that negates that vile, libellous bullshit in their Charter, and why it is all right that they have never, as a body (I don’t give a fuck what their PM once said in passing) changed it.

  156. leon — on 18th June, 2007 at 11:13 pm  

    Well, I did have a massive post written up in response to a number of things above but I reason it’s not worth posting it. It wont make any difference, this thread is effectively dead due to the hysterical outburts and irrational demands.

    The obtuse political viewpoints and the misguided loyalties have conspired to hammer another nail into the coffin of ‘debate’ on this subject, on this site.

  157. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 11:19 pm  

    It’s hardly an hysterical outburst to be totally offended that ‘rational’ people think that the excerpt from the Hamas charter that I posted above should be acceptable to anybody Jewish.

    Misguided loyalties? They mean me, they mean Katy, they mean bananabrain.

    Are you going to hide us in your attic?

  158. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 11:23 pm  

    Katy:

    “I wonder how I can let my name stand on a website that tolerates this shameless, vitriolic abuse against my people.”

    I have often agreed with you on the threats and distortions that Israel faces. However, Sunny is right to at least raise the issue of whether Israel should negotiate with Hamas- if the world was perfect Hamas would not exist, but is does, and it will be difficult to defeat through military action, so perhaps some limited form of negotiation should at least be considered. Fatah, despite the West’s repositioning of it, is no ‘moderate’ faction. Israel has to do something.

  159. Chairwoman — on 18th June, 2007 at 11:29 pm  

    No. Hamas has to do something.

    I want a two state solution, but the first move must be the removal of those paragraphs from their charter.

  160. Rumbold — on 18th June, 2007 at 11:31 pm  

    I am no Hamas apologist Chairwoman; Hamas does need to renounce its intent to wipe out Israel, and provide evidence that it has done so- however, this does not mean that Israel should fold its arms until this is done.

  161. Katy Newton — on 18th June, 2007 at 11:41 pm  

    Israel hasn’t folded its arms. Israel pulled out of Gaza completely, leaving everything as the Palestinians said they wanted it. Hamas then moved in and used Gaza to bomb Israel.

    I do not think it is irrational of me to dislike the Charter, Leon, nor do I think it is unreasonable of me to ask Sunny to explain exactly what he had in mind when he said that actions speak louder than words in the Middle East. I don’t see any conciliatory actions from Hamas that speak louder than its Charter. But thank you for your understanding of my position.

  162. Katy Newton — on 19th June, 2007 at 12:11 am  

    For the record: what is baffling me is this. If I saw that a Jewish group, or an Israeli group, or any sort of group, had included in its charter or constitution or manifesto a passage along those lines which applied to Palestinians or Muslims or any other ethnic group, I’d denounce it. Regardless of my feelings about that group’s aims, any sympathy I might have for their wider cause, or whether I felt that they should nonetheless be negotiated with, I would denounce it loudly and clearly, because racism of any sort disgusts me. I have always spoken out against racism and prejudice of any form on this website. But I don’t see much criticism going on here. Apparently it’s irrational of me to ask it. I am genuinely surprised, and surprised that Leon of all people would be of that view.

  163. Tahir — on 19th June, 2007 at 2:10 am  

    It’s so sad what is going on in the Gaza this month – it’s troubled me all weekend.

    Hamas might have a dodgy charter but they have been the only legitimate authority to deliver basic services in the Gaza.

    People want health, education and water. They don’t want corrupt regimes.

    Many Palestinians have come round to the idea of a two state solution, maybe we should give peace a chance instead of questioning it. There will always be people who contest and challenge Israel’s right to exist – but this doesn’t stop us from listening to the voices that do argue for a 2 state solution.

    It’s too depressing.

    I’d love to see a special envoy with the status and the personality and prowess to push for a peace initiative.

    There are only two people who can do this on the international platform.

    Clinton or Mandela. Without a bold initiative spearheaded by these two personalities, I can’t really see the way forward.

  164. Sunny — on 19th June, 2007 at 3:53 am  

    Katy, I feel I’m being misunderstood here. Maybe I have taken the Hamas Charter a bit lightly, and I apologise if I gave that impression.

    Let’s be clear – Hamas is a terrorist org that I’d have no problems being disappeared from the face of the earth. And it is abundantly clear they are anti-semitic terrorists.
    I have no problem calling a spade a spade, as I have done in the past.

    I’m certainly not saying we should be ok with Hamas or its charter. I’m also not saying it can carry on as before (as a side note, the katusha rockets are a Hizballah thing, not Hamas. The former is Shia, the latter Sunni. At any rate, Hizballah has denied it was them).

    I’m saying although, that Israel’s policy, since last year when Hamas was elected, in trying to isolate and ignore Hamas, has failed. It has led to civil war and led to a strenghtening of the organisation. Like the academic boycott has strengthened the Israeli right, the recent policy towards Hamas has emboldened the extreme elements within that org.

    I’m also saying that going forward, Israel cannot afford to carry on ignoring Hamas. That said, changing its charter should definitely be a short-term goal. There’s no doubting that.

    I am not endorsing or explaining away the Charter or saying that it isn’t a factor. I’m merely saying that it is a work of fantasy and if the peace plan pushes ahead, Hamas will be in no position to come near it.

  165. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 9:06 am  

    It’s not about Hamas being a terrorist organisation, governments speak to terrorist organisations all the time. It’s about Jews (like me, but with a different accent), being told to sit down and ‘negotiate’, or in CiF speak, give them everything they ask for, with a group whose avowed aims are our destruction and the demise of Israel.

    Now before you jump in, step back, take a deep breath, and think:

    How willing would you, personally, be to negotiate with an organisation that wanted all your ethnic group dead?

    All that is being asked of them as a pre-requisite to talks is that they remove the offending paragraphs, and, by the way, be willing to negotiate with Jews.

    You’re all so busy pushing Israel. How about pushing Hamas?

  166. Rana Roy — on 19th June, 2007 at 9:50 am  

    Hi, guys. The Chairwoman’s succint question (#165) deserves a succint answer. No rational person should be willing to negotiate with an organisation that wants any ethnic group dead. Hamas has made its genocidal intentions perfectly clear in word and deed. What is there to negotiate? A ten-year “temporary peace” to allow Hamas to build up its military power? Nonsense. (BTW, I’m Bengali and therefore a lover not a fighter. Which is precisely why I have no love for genocidal racists.)

  167. Kulvinder — on 19th June, 2007 at 10:47 am  

    How willing would you, personally, be to negotiate with an organisation that wanted all your ethnic group dead?

    Assuming we weren’t negotiating my death, very willing?!!

    I’m not really sure what the argument is about, noone on this site as far as i can tell has ever supported Hamas, obviously i condemn that aspect of their charter, but i don’t see what that has to do with saying israel won’t talk to them. Ahmadinejad wants the destruction of the US, but that didn’t stop the US and Iran ‘talking’

  168. Kulvinder — on 19th June, 2007 at 10:53 am  

    No rational person should be willing to negotiate with an organisation that wants any ethnic group dead.

    Well you’re right i wouldn’t call the participants of this rational in the truest sense of the word, especially as earlier in the year they’d done this, but it was felt better to negotiate.

  169. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 10:56 am  

    Kulvinder – Ahmadinejad wants an end to the US not the death of all Americans.

    I’m sorry if the nuances are too subtle for everybody, but when the Hamas charter calls for the death of all Jews, not Israelis, Jews, it means me, it means Katy, it means Dmitri, it probably also means La Fluffita.

    How much more personal can it get?

  170. Kulvinder — on 19th June, 2007 at 11:03 am  

    The various parties involved in the former Yugoslavia wanted the eradication of each other, and they went ahead and tried it. That doesn’t mean you don’t negotiate over peace (quite the opposite in my opinion). As it is i’d find it odd if Israel didn’t have some sort of back channel communication/negotiation going on with everyone including Hamas.

  171. Leon — on 19th June, 2007 at 11:22 am  

    They fire rockets into Israel, Israel fire rockets into refugee camps. And we’re argueing over what’s written on paper? The US has one of the most amazing constitutions in the world, it hasn’t stopped it commiting acts of aggression. Actions speak louder than words. The actions of both sides in this conflict have been nothing short of barbaric.

    It’s easy for us to sit here and get angry with each other, we don’t have to risk our lives to write these words. It’s that that got me angry last night…

    How willing would you, personally, be to negotiate with an organisation that wanted all your ethnic group dead?

    Extremely willing. Because I know that a negotiated settlement is the only sane way out of this.

    I think I’m done with this thread.

  172. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    “All that is being asked of them as a pre-requisite to talks is that they remove the offending paragraphs, and, by the way, be willing to negotiate with Jews.

    You’re all so busy pushing Israel. How about pushing Hamas?”

    I still don’t see any meaningful response to either of these points that I made, particularly, the latter.

  173. Kulvinder — on 19th June, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    There aren’t any Hamas supporters on the site, but if they are absolutely they should negotiate.

  174. Rana Roy — on 19th June, 2007 at 12:00 pm  

    Chairwoman, it seems to me that you are not receiving a meaningful response to your questions because too many people refuse to believe that Hamas means what it says. Yes, one can negotiate settlements between violently feuding parties in territorial disputes – and in such cases a generous unilateral offer by one party can hasten such a settlement. But what on earth can Israel offer Hamas that would faciltate a settlement as distinct from national suicide? Btw, I do mean Hamas and its genocidal co-thinkers, not Fatah, PFLP, et al. It is not terrorism as a means that makes negotiation impossible – it is genocide as an end.

  175. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

    Rana Roy – It is also the total refusal of anyone having any intention of saying that Hamas also needs a shove in the right direction that infuriates me.

  176. Jagdeep — on 19th June, 2007 at 12:38 pm  

    How willing would you, personally, be to negotiate with an organisation that wanted all your ethnic group dead?

    I would be very cautious, to say the least, and that’s an understatement.

    As usual Chairwoman gets to the heart of the matter.

  177. Sunny — on 19th June, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

    It is also the total refusal of anyone having any intention of saying that Hamas also needs a shove in the right direction that infuriates me.

    Chairwoman I addressed this point already. Of course the Charter is a problem and Hamas needs to get rid of it. I don’t think anyone here doesn’t see the need for Hamas to get rid of it.

    But that is not mutually exclusive to the suggestion that if there is to be peace between I/P, then Hamas needs to be negotiated with. There’s no getting away from it despite Israel’s efforts for the past year. All they’ve done is strengthened Hamas.
    The alternative is that we carry on as before – keeping Palestinians locked up. I’m sorry but I see that as extremely inhumane. The status quo is not a long-term option, for the sake of Israel or Palestinians.

  178. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 1:45 pm  

    The Hamas position is that they won’t talk to or negotiate with Israel.

    Would it suit everybody if Olmert put on sackcloth and ashes and crawled into the Gaza strip and begged Hamas to talk to him?

    When there’s a general (and genuine) outcry against Hamas for refusing to negotiate with Israel, when the MSM starts telling them to get their backsides into gear and get to the negotiating table, when there are as many comments on CiF criticising them for their ingtransigence as there are castigating Israel, then the show may get on the road.

    Until then, rather than coming up with a solution, people who refuse to deal even-handedly with both sides are, in fact the problem.

  179. Sunny — on 19th June, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    Chairwoman, that’s not true.
    Here’s an article on the American neo-liberal magazine The New Republic on what’s been going on.

    http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070618&s=taub061907

    This presents an opportunity for Israel. Israel’s policy toward Hamas has been, so far, short of wise. By boycotting Hamas while simultaneously dealing with its Fatah partner nonetheless, it actually helped the dual system survive. Now that that system has perished, however, Israel has a chance to corner Hamas into accountability.

    Israel does not have to officially recognize Hamas as a legitimate government–not so long as it maintains its intention to destroy the Jewish state. But Israel can, and should, start dealing with Hamas on a pragmatic basis. The worst possible condition for Israel is chaos in Gaza. In a state of chaos, any radical group with a handful of Qassam rockets can hijack policy. There is then no one and nothing to deal with, no way to apply either carrots or sticks. But if the same hand that pulls the trigger is also the hand that feeds the people–the hand that’s responsible for water, sewage, electricity, jobs, and medical care–then one can expect incentives and deterrents to be more effective.

    This bit is what I’m saying. I think there’s many good points in the rest of the article too.

    Please note, TNR is a very pro-Israeli magazine.

  180. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

    Now show me similar statements from The Guardian, The Independent, BBC News, Channel 4 News……

    How big is the circulation of The New Republic in the UK? I imagine it’s you, Leon, and La Fluffita’s mother. Hardly headlines on the news stands.

    I am often awake in the middle of the night, and was heartened to find BBC News 24 and Channel 4 both having programmes on at 4 in the morning one day last week, blaming Israel for all the world’s ills. I assume they both work on the old principal that’s what’s whispered into the ears of the sleeping will be learnt.

    May I thank Jagdeep, at this point, for actually thinking about what I said earlier.

  181. Sunny — on 19th June, 2007 at 2:44 pm  

    Chairwoman, what other news organisations report is not my responsibility. Everyone thinks the media is biased against them, especially Muslims everywhere. How am I meant to respond? I don’t understand what you’re exhorting me to do.

    It doesn’t take away from my original point about the need for Israel to deal with Hamas rather than punishing all Palestinians for electing them.

    Here’s Jonathan Freedland, Israel must talk to Hamas:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,,2002920,00.html

  182. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 19th June, 2007 at 2:46 pm  

    Sunny, I think that you are missing Chairwoman’s point, it is Hamas that refuse to talk to Israel not the other way around.

    As she says what are you to do when an organization stated aim is to ignore you and kill everyone in your ethic group?

    Are they to go unarmed to Hamas HQ and beg for dialogue and hope that they treat the Israelis with more respect than the Fatah members they have been executing in the street in front of their families?

    Its all very well saying “the boycott of Hamas has not worked”, but who is to say what today might look like if this policy had not been in place? Would we really be in a better situation? Might not the current policies limited the number of rockets thrown at Israel? If some of the domestic problems fixed would there have been more suicide bombers?

    While I’m moaning about Hamas, did anyone notice that they used the Hay festival to announce that their “friends” had Alan Johnson and it wasn’t a “secret”, and how the only thing their “friends” want is to have some Islamist released from a UK prison? Then by an amazing coincidence a video is released of Alan Johnson the following weekend? What was the first thing that Hamas stated when they got to power after slaughtering their Palestinian brothers in Fatah? “Alan Johnson is a friend of the Palestinian people and should be released”

    Ever get the feeling that someone is taking the piss and our nice liberal viewpoints are being abused?

    TFI

  183. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 3:03 pm  

    Sunny – I know that you think that you’re being even-handed, and that I am blinkered because I’m Jewish, but you’re not and I’m not.

    When one votes a party into power, one accepts the consequences of having, and using, suffrage. As I see it, the residents of Gaza have what they want, they have a Hamas leadership, they are going to live under Sharia law. Of course they haven’t got the land of Israel, but then nothing’s perfect.

    As they are the ones who don’t want to talk to the Israeli government and expect to take the land by force, how can it be unreasonable to expect them to ask nicely for the commodities that only Israel can supply them with.

    I hope that you are aware that your refusal to see Israel’s point of view in any meaningful way has gone a long way, in a very short time, to hardening my attitude considerably. I am beginning to wonder why I have always wanted to negotiate with them, I have taken a long look at their charter.

    As I said, far from having a solution you’ve become part of the problem.

  184. Tahir — on 19th June, 2007 at 6:02 pm  

    Chairwoman

    I feel this discussion about the charter is taking us off the subject – which is what must we do to try and seek a solution. As someone has pointed out , in conlict both parties do bad things. This doesn’t mean we as outsiders ( and I include Muslims and Jewish people) not involved in Israel and Palestine as outsiders) to search for peace.

    So far your stance is to look at the negatives.

    But you have made one important point. The people of Gaza voted in Hamas. Let them live with it. But I don’t understand why international aid was suspended. Aid shouldn’t be poltiical -it should be humanitarian.

    Hamas is also a growing organisation and changing every day. It should be pressured to change.

    The people of Israel, like or not, have to negotiate with them.

    We negotiate with terrorists these days. Hamas were after all elected so not terrorists – if we stick to the official definition of terrotism – use of violence without state ( stateless) legitimacy.

  185. Chairwoman — on 19th June, 2007 at 6:15 pm  

    Tahir – I was quite specific. It is not about them being ‘terrorists’, it’s about them wanting Jews wiped off the face of the earth, and not wanting to speak to them while they’re still here.

    I have always been in favour of a 2 state solution, perhaps 3 state would be even better, I don’t reject it out of hand, but I genuinely can’t see how, or even why Israel can negotiate with people who want nothing to do with them unless they’re dead.

    All Hamas has to do, is remove the offending passages from their charter, and indicate that they are ready to talk.

    If they don’t do this, then they are putting politics before the welfare of their people.

    If my children were suffering, I would be sufficiently pragmatic to make concessions to stop their suffering. Simplistically, the government are the parents of the country, and it is their job to make decisions that benefit the majority.

    The truth being unpalatable does not stop it being the truth.

  186. Tahir — on 19th June, 2007 at 10:36 pm  

    Yes, but constitutions and other legal documents can be irrelevant and in time they change. The US constitution when it was first pronounced extended voting to only property owning white men . This did not mean the rest of the population refused to engage with the US constitution for its rights. In fact under considerable pressure the US constitution did change to be more inclusive.

    The analogy is slightly off the topic. But i make it to demonstrate the rigidity of your argument which stops you from giving Hamas the chance to prove that perhaps they can work for a peace whatever the political status of their charter/constitution.

    Your arguments in fact sound like you are putting ideology before the need for welfare of the peoples of Palestine and Israel.

    There are many on the Palestian side that dispute Israel’s constitution to exist and have seen their homes settled by new settlers but they are still willing to seek a compromise. They would do this because they are in a weaker position.

    To date we’ve all assumed Hamas cannot be a partner to peace and its about time we believed them when some of their support base want a 2 state solution.

    I wouldn’t be in favour of a 3 state solution – there should be one legitimate authority in the occuped terrotories.

    Only 50& of the UK population votes for the Labour Party – this doesn’t give the remaining 50% who didn’t vote to not take part in the legitimacy of the democratically elected Labour government. By giving the 3 state solutin a hearing we in fact underline the legitimacy of the democratic process.

  187. Chairwoman — on 20th June, 2007 at 8:13 am  

    Tahir – this is a different subject, to a degree, but you have raised an interesting point about suffrage. I would like to see a law similar to Australia’s, where it is illegal not to vote, be adopted worldwide. Then everybody would get the governments they actually want, and we wouldn’t be discussing who voted for what, and what percentage it is.

    But back to Hamas. I am sure that after a bit of nifty footwork, to mollify their most intransigent subjects, Israel would sit down with Hamas, should Hamas indicate their willingness to do so. But so far they say they won’t, so back to my point about Olmert crawling on his hands and knees across Gaza. Life has taught me that if somebody doesn’t want to talk to you, you can’t make them.

  188. Tahir — on 20th June, 2007 at 8:43 am  

    I think though this is where external and international pressure is helpful to enable both partis to sit at the table. Otherwise both are too close to be always ratinale.

    i am more disappointed that there is such little will in the international community.

    Israel and Palestine isn’t a regonal issue for me. It’s an international one.

  189. Chairwoman — on 20th June, 2007 at 9:36 am  

    Tahir – I and Israel are of a similar age, this gives me the advantage of having watched the Middle East longer than virtually everybody on PP. I came to the conclusion about thirty years ago that it suits the rest of the world to keep this little pot bubbling away.

    Initially the USA and the USSR used Israel and its Arab neighbours as proxies, having a small hot war to spice up the big cold war. Now, IMHO, they are frightened of what would happen were peace to break out in the ME. Apart from having to find new markets for their arms manufacturers, the combination of Israeli scientific, technical and medical knowhow, combined with Arab oil money would make the region a very big player indeed.

    Also people might start looking for something else to blame for ills of mankind.

  190. Katy Newton — on 20th June, 2007 at 9:39 am  

    It is both a regional issue and an international one because it is used by both sides as a symbol of the “clash of civilisations” that Melanie Phillips often talks about. I am afraid that I agree with her to an extent. At the extreme end of both sides that is exactly what is happening. In the middle you have a lot of people on both sides who just want to have a normal life.

    If it’s an international issue then there has to be some sort of understanding of the international pressures involved. The Arab League has been much more receptive to peace with Israel in recent years, that’s true. But Hamas is funded now by Iran, not Saudi Arabia, and Iran is not a member of the Arab League. Hamas has a different aim to Fatah. Fatah, for all its faults – and I accept that those are considerable – has always made it clear that it is prepared to give up its claim to all of Israel in exchange for all of the occupied territories. That is because Fatah is a secular organisation dedicated to the liberation of Palestine. Hamas, according to its charter, was set up to be part of the movement to establish a much wider Islamic empire in the Middle East, much like Hizbollah – also funded by Iran. The Arab League doesn’t like Hizbollah or Hamas much more than the West. They are as much a threat to the Arab States’ autonomy as they are to Israel or any Western state, which is probably why, upon Hamas taking control of Gaza, the Egyptian Government promptly moved its ambassador over to the West Bank: a clear indication of solidarity with Fatah over Hamas. I assume Egypt is concerned about Hamas forging links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The Palestinians, in the meantime, continue to be treated badly by everyone. Sunny refers to them being locked up in a big prison. Well, possibly, but not because of Israel. Israel doesn’t allow them into Israel except in strictly controlled circumstances, and the rights and wrongs of that are a slightly different issue. But it is not Israel that stops them from leaving Gaza or the West Bank to go to Egypt or Jordan, as far as I am aware. Jordan expelled the Palestinians years ago under Arafat and I think they are not now allowed back in, despite the fact that the land they lay claim to actually belonged to Jordan for quite a long time. As far as Gaza is concerned, there has been no Israeli military presence on the border with Egypt since Israel withdrew from Gaza. I am aware that some Palestinians have asked Egypt for sanctuary because of the current civil war raging in Gaza, but I don’t know what view Egypt has taken on that.

    My point is that Hamas, as long as it pursues its current stated aims, is bad for everyone – not just Israel. And the Arab League knows that, possibly because they have a much better grasp of the political situation out in the Middle East than the people who comment on this page from their armchairs in Hemel Hempsted (and yes, I do include myself in that group, I am not going to pretend that I am an expert).

    Hamas’ firepower is currently limited, I agree. But it’s being funded by Iran, which is currently making efforts to improve its firepower. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed that or indeed whether it bothers them.

    It happens that I have said many times on this website that Israel should negotiate to a limited extent with Hamas; it’s one of those concessions that I keep making that no one ever seems to notice. But I look at the charter and I really understand why they don’t.

  191. Devil's Kitchen — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:00 am  

    Israel have made concessions.

    Hamas have not. They have, however, been firing rockets into Israel ever since they were elected.

    Actions speak louder than words, as Sunny said. So, looking at those actions, and combining that with their charter, would you say that Hamas is still quite happy to run around killing Jews. Er… Let me think about that one, eh?

    DK

  192. Devil's Kitchen — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:06 am  

    Oh, and while we are about it, the subject of oil has, inevitably, come up.

    Some facts to remember: oil is sold on a central world market. Iran, for instance, can withdraw its oil from that market totally, but it cannot refuse to sell its oil to particular countries, e.g. the US.

    If any of the ME countries decided to withdraw from the market, they would be pretty stuffed; the vast majority of them have almost no non-oil based economy.

    Further, their withdrawal would force up the price of oil and thus make alternative energy sources more economically viable, hastening the demise of oil as a fuel source (yes, there are alternatives coming to the market. I believe that we wil not be burning hydrocarbons in 40 years).

    The only people who should be scared are the ME countries.

    DK

  193. Kulvinder — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:59 am  

    What point are you trying to make with post #192?!!

  194. soru — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:01 am  

    Some facts to remember: oil is sold on a central world market.

    It’s worth remembering that that is a contingent fact – it is true, but not inevitable. Before the 1970s, the oil market was as thoroughly corrupt as the arms market is these days – everything was bought and sold by discrete long-term contracts, with bribery, coups and wars having as much influence in setting the terms of those contracts as economics.

    In WWII and before, things were even simpler – you wanted oil to run your tanks, you sent your tanks to where the oil was.

  195. Kulvinder — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:16 am  

    Before we all go congratulating ourselves on pwning the oil markets its probably worth remembering what happens in reality when oil producing countries embargo people they really don’t like.

  196. justforfun — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:37 am  

    In WWII and before, things were even simpler – you wanted oil to run your tanks, you sent your tanks to where the oil was.

    Ha ha ha – the best thing I’ve read for a long time and now I broken my self imposed embargo on posting on IP threads. I hate you.

    I can imagine the solar powered tanks of the future will keep the KSA of in business for some time as a world battlebot arena.

    DK – what you write is not new – Sheik Yourmoney said decades ago that when the oil began to run out and the West was forced to invest in alternative sources, the price would not rise, but rather would fall as producers dumped their only asset before it became worthless black goo in the ground. Will it create economic doubt in the minds of some investors? – whether to keep investing in new alternative fuels or use up the cheap oil that will be offered at knocked down prices. Or they will sell it to the chinese and others who will then be very keen on meddling in their politics.

    Justforfun

  197. Chairwoman — on 20th June, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

    justforfun

    “Or they will sell it to the chinese and others who will then be very keen on meddling in their politics.

    I was about to say something horribly similar.

  198. Refresh — on 20th June, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    Is it safe to re-enter this thread?

  199. Chairwoman — on 20th June, 2007 at 4:29 pm  

    Refresh – Did I go too far?

  200. douglas clark — on 20th June, 2007 at 4:54 pm  

    DK,

    You write nonsense with some authority, don’t you?

    It is the case that a petroleum exporting nation could come to an agreement with a petroleum importing nation (s), to their mutual advantage. You do know that, don’t you? This does not constitute withdrawal from the marketplace, simply, it is being selective. It does not mean ‘pretty stuffed’.

    No, really.

  201. Refresh — on 20th June, 2007 at 5:30 pm  

    Chairwoman,

    At times like these its quite useful for everyone to air their innermost fears, prejudices, resentments and whatever other baggage that makes them human. Only then do we finally get to understand one another.

    Its ironic, but I was (in my head of course) thinking this thread was becoming Israel and Palestine proper.

    Did you go too far? No.

  202. Tahir — on 20th June, 2007 at 7:00 pm  

    Chairwoman

    I agree that the real prize would be a greater Middle East that is united ( Israel and the Arabs) would be an immnese regional trading bloc and it might not be in everyone’s interest that this happens. The Cold War, too, was a conflict between two different types of economic regimes – one that emerged from the post WW2 called the Bretton Woods System which regulated world trading norms, and the Russians didn’t like, so called for an alternative and so a cold war ensured.

    Trade and resources is always the root cause, and ideology and ‘clash of civlisations’, sometimes ‘race’ thrown in for a bit of colour and distraction.

    I’ve always suspects there is a divide and rule thing going on the Middle East and it doesn’t help Israel or the Arabs.

    Katy – I am not sure I might agree with your point that Israel is not resposnible for restrictions of people to move around in Gaza. My limited understanding was that Gaza is sovereign with the exception of its security which is controlled by Israel.

    In international relations , sovereignty is meaningless if the people in question cannot secure their borders or broders are regulated by an external power. This is what Sunny was getting at I think.

    I’ve not travelled to Palestine but do work with a lot of humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross and MSF which operate on the principles of neutrality and impartiality and they would argue that Palestinians are indeed caged and repressed – and would lay the blame on Israel’s doors. True, other regional neighbours might not be forthcoming in welcoming refugees but neither is Europe.

    In fact if we are too look at the issues of how neutral we are in the West in our response to Hamas in international aid – it would seem that Amnesty didn’t have a problem with Hamas regime but does with Israel.

    So in the league tables of who’s right and wrong, it pays to stand back from our positions – in this case for me this would be the UK government which suspended aid to Gaza after Hamas.

    I would’ve thought the case for aid should always be humanitarian – not political. I’m always one that would agree with the likes of MSF, not others.

  203. Anas — on 20th June, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

    Hey everyone, I’ve been busy so haven’t been able to keep up with the discussion. However, this is an important topic and I’m glad that Sunny has taken the position he has, tho he hasn’t gone far enough. As for the boycott, I think that morally it’s completely valid (to the extent that the South African boycott during aparthied was), altho there’s an argument as to its effectiveness. At the end of the day however it’s funny that those who seethe in outrage at the very suggestion weren’t exactly first in line to protest the ongoing brutal and inhuman sanctions on the people of Gaza for voting democratically; sanctions that have meant large scale starvation and extreme poverty for the Palestinians — but no one seems to care about that. Least of all those whose hearts seem to bleed so profusely for the Israelis.

    It is important to understand that the best way to view I/P is as the attempt of an Imperialist state to brutalise and ultimately destroy a group of native people whose land it occcupies — all in the best traditions of the Europeans in Africa and Asia overtly during the 19th century, less overtly from then on. Firstly the whole Fatah/Hamas thing is clearly divide and conquer (and us British Indian/Pakistanis should know a thing about that! — although some Indians are hindered in seeing the parallels with British Imperialism by their deep rooted hatred for Muslims). Israel has always tried to crush any real opportunity for peace with the Palestinians — basically because, as the profusion of settlements show they want the land — and seeing in the secular PLO a real threat, they supported the Islamic fundamentalist alternative. Now they’ve managed to establish Fatah as a group of corrupt quisling proxies, they’re arming them and supporting them. It’s classic imperialist tactics. And yes to answer another point, the Israelis did withdraw from Gaza, which they should have done anyway, but allied this with an increase in activity on the West Bank.

    The Hamas charter is indeed disgusting in its villification of Jewish peoples (it’s important to understand that Palestinian anti-semitism is an understandable if not justifiable reaction to the despicable and inhuman 40 year odd occupation carried out by the Israelis — in the name of a Jewish state). However, at the same time you have to remember that although Hamas might call for the destruction of Israel, there’s next to zero chance of that happening. On the other hand, Israel is successfully destroying any chance of a Palestinian state ever existing and wiping Palestine off the map for good so to speak, and in fact every Israeli government since 67 has been consistent in its denial, as a matter of policy, to the Palestinians of the right to a *viable* state on the pre-67 borders (the policy has been “… we have no solution, that you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave — and we will see where this process leads? In five years we may have 200,000 less people — and that is a matter of enormous importance.” that’s from ‘dove’ Moshe Dayan). As for Hamas being a terrorist organisation, however bad the extent of its terrorist attrocities, they simply pale in comparison to the human effect of the bloody brutality of Israel’s 40 year occupation and Israel’s attempt to remove the Arab population from large swathes of the West Bank (and formerly Gaza). As well as this prominent Israeli figures (and Israel’s supporters in the West) can openly talk about the “transfer” option and the “demographic problem”, basically referring to the ethnic cleansing of all the Palestinians from Israel and/or other areas of Palestine– and it is within the realms of possibilty. The existential threat to the Palestinians from Israel is far greater than that of Hamas to the Israelis, let alone the Jews, as far as I can see. Does that mean that no Palestinian group should talk to Israel?

    Hamas have said they are willing to hold a long term ceasefire in return for a return to pre-67 borders (which legally, morally Israel has to do anyway), and they have proven able to keep to ceasefire agreements in the past.

  204. Tahir — on 20th June, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

    In case not read this is Amnestry’s latest country update :

    Sorry to take space but it clears up a few perceptions that are flying around..

    PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

    President: Mahmoud Abbas
    Prime Minister: Isma’il Haniyeh (replaced Ahmad Quray in March)
    Death penalty: retentionist

    Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (OT) suffered wide-ranging human rights abuses and humanitarian conditions deteriorated significantly due to military and punitive economic actions by Israel, cuts in international aid and growing violence between rival Palestinian political factions. Killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces increased threefold compared to the previous year, totalling more than 650; some of the victims were militants engaged in violence against Israel, but half were unarmed civilians. Palestinian armed groups carried out further attacks on Israelis, killing 27 Israelis, half the previous year’s figure, of whom 21 were civilians. Inter-factional violence between rival Palestinian security forces and armed groups increased; some 150 people were killed in gun battles and attacks, including scores of civilian bystanders. Abductions of Palestinians and foreign nationals, notably journalists and aid workers, were frequent. Foreigners were promptly released unharmed, whereas some Palestinians were killed or ill-treated. Impunity remained widespread, with law enforcement and the administration of justice virtually paralysed by inter-factional confrontations.
    Background

    Inter-factional tensions increased after President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, which had ruled the Palestinian Authority (PA) since its establishment more than a decade earlier, was defeated by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in parliamentary elections in January. Hamas formed a government, headed by Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyeh, in March. Armed confrontations between rival security forces and armed groups increased as repeated attempts to form a coalition government of national unity failed. In December President Abbas announced his intention to call presidential and parliamentary elections, sparking a new wave of inter-factional fighting.

    Following the establishment of a government led by Hamas, which refused to recognize the state of Israel, the Israeli government began confiscating tax duties due to the PA, and key Western donors ceased direct aid to the PA government on the grounds that they considered Hamas a “terrorist organization”. This created a deepening crisis in the Palestinian economy, exacerbated by frequent Israeli military attacks on Palestinian infrastructure and a blockade imposed by Israel on the OPT. The Gaza Strip bore the brunt of the Israeli bombardments and blockade. At the same time, Palestinian armed groups increased their firing of homemade “Qassam” rockets from the Gaza Strip into the south of Israel, notably in the second half of the year.
    Deteriorating economic and social conditions

    Conditions for Palestinians in the OPT deteriorated throughout the year. Their economic situation was hit hard by Israel’s confiscation of import tax duties that it collects on behalf of the PA, half the entire PA government budget; the cut in aid to the PA government by international donors, notably the European Union (EU) and the USA; and banking sanctions imposed by Israel, which prevented the transfer of funds to the Hamas administration. The measures left the PA government, the largest employer in the OPT, unable to pay salaries or deliver health, education and other key services to three and a half million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    The international community took no measures to require Israel, as the occupying power, to meet its obligation under international law to ensure the basic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population. The EU established a Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) in an effort to reduce the humanitarian crisis. However, by the end of the year it was still not fully operational and did not prevent further deterioration of the already overstretched health sector, which could not cope with a growing number of patients. The increased demand was caused by the numerous casualties of Israeli military attacks and the patients who were prevented from seeking treatment abroad by the continuing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

    Education and other crucial public services were similarly affected by the lack of funds, particularly when the PA was unable to pay the salaries of more than 150,000 public sector workers for several months. In September teachers joined other public sector workers striking to protest against the non-payment of their salaries. The education of hundreds of thousands of children was disrupted as a result. In December UN aid agencies launched a US$450 million emergency appeal in response to the growing needs of the Palestinian population.

    Destruction of Palestinian infrastructure by Israeli forces caused long-term damage and a further worsening of living conditions. In June, Israeli forces bombed and badly damaged the Gaza Strip’s only power plant, which supplied electricity to half of its 1.5 million inhabitants and left them without electricity for most of the day throughout the hottest months of the year, and often without water that is extracted and distributed using electricity. Israeli forces also bombed bridges, roads, and water and sewage networks. Hundreds of Palestinians were made homeless as scores of buildings were destroyed and damaged by Israeli air strikes and artillery shelling in the Gaza Strip. Other homes were demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the West Bank, including in the East Jerusalem area.

    Conflict

    Palestinian armed groups launched a growing number of “Qassam” rockets from the Gaza Strip into the south of Israel. These indiscriminate rockets killed two Israeli civilians and injured several others, and caused widespread alarm, although most resulted in no casualties.

    The main Palestinian parties, notably Fatah and Hamas, restated their 2005 commitment to refrain from killing Israelis – known as the tahadiyeh (quiet) – but continued to carry out attacks on Israelis together with other groups. However, the number of Israelis killed in such attacks decreased to half the previous year’s figure and to the lowest level since the beginning of the intifada in 2000. In total, 21 Israeli civilians, including a child, and six soldiers were killed in Palestinian attacks. The deadliest attack was a suicide bombing claimed by the armed wing of Islamic Jihad on 17 April, which killed 11 civilians and injured 68 others in Tel Aviv. A second suicide attack killed four Israeli settlers, including a 16-year-old child, near the Israeli settlement of Kedumim, in the northern West Bank, on 30 March. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for most attacks. In June the armed wing of Hamas and the PRC claimed responsibility for an attack on an Israeli military base near the Gaza Strip in which two soldiers were killed and a third was captured. Hamas announced that the soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, would only be freed in exchange for the release of some of the 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Negotiations were reportedly ongoing but no exchange of prisoners had been agreed by the end of the year.

    Killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces increased threefold compared to the previous years (see Israel and the Occupied Territories entry). Some 650 Palestinians, half of them unarmed civilians and including about 120 children, were killed in Israeli air strikes, artillery shelling and reckless shooting into densely populated refugee camps and residential areas. Israeli forces bombed and destroyed several PA government ministries and other buildings, housing charities and institutions linked to Hamas. Israeli attacks escalated dramatically after the capture of Gilad Shalit in June. Most of the Israeli attacks targeted the Gaza Strip, although scores of Palestinians were also killed in towns and villages throughout the West Bank.
    Unlawful killings, lawlessness and impunity

    Security forces loyal to the previous PA Fatah administration and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and other armed groups linked to Fatah challenged the authority of the new Hamas administration, which set up a new security force made up of its loyalists. Armed confrontations between rival security forces and armed groups were particularly frequent in the Gaza Strip, where family feuds and common law crimes often were intertwined with political violence. Bystanders were frequently caught in the crossfire and scores were killed and injured amid growing lawlessness.

    • Ten-year old Ousama Ba’lousha and his two brothers, Ahmad and Salam, aged seven and four, were shot dead in Gaza City on their way to school on

    11 December, when gunmen opened fire at the car in which they were travelling. The boys’ father, a high-ranking officer in the PA intelligence services, had reportedly survived an assassination attempt some months earlier. Fatah and Hamas blamed each other for the killings of the children but the perpetrators were not brought to justice.

    The proliferation of unlicensed weapons helped fuel the violence and insecurity. PA law enforcement and judicial authorities were unable or unwilling to carry out their duties. Victims of abuses were denied justice and redress, while the perpetrators of abuses were not held to account. In the West Bank, the Israeli army continued in practice to prevent PA security forces from operating in many areas ostensibly under the jurisdiction of the PA. The economic crisis and the government’s inability to pay civil servants and

    others employed directly by the PA, including members of the security forces, led to strikes and demonstrations, some of which developed into riots such as in June and September when security officials stormed the parliament and ministries, destroying public property.
    Abductions and other unlawful killings

    Scores of Palestinians and some 20 foreign journalists and aid workers were abducted by Palestinian armed groups, mostly in the Gaza Strip. All the foreign nationals were released unharmed, mostly within hours, but two journalists were held for two weeks in August. The captors usually demanded jobs or political concessions from the PA in exchange for the release of their foreign hostages. Abductions of Palestinians took place in the context of confrontations between rival armed groups, security forces and feuding families, but little information was known about the identities of the victims or the demands made for their release. Most were released, but several were killed, including some who their captors accused of “collaborating” with Israeli security services. Killings of alleged “collaborators” were claimed by or were believed to have been carried out by the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and other Fatah splinter groups.
    Violence against women

    Women continued to suffer from the negative impact of the occupation and conflict, including the destruction of homes, increased poverty and movement restrictions that further restricted their access to health services and education. While there were increased demands on women as carers and providers, the deteriorating situation contributed to increased family and societal violence. At least four women were killed by male relatives in “honour” crimes in the Gaza Strip.

    • In August, Faiza ‘Id Abu Sawawin was shot dead in the Gaza Strip, reportedly by a member of her family, for reasons of “family honour”. It could not be confirmed whether the man who killed her was detained.

  205. Tahir — on 20th June, 2007 at 7:16 pm  

    I didn’t stick up the Amnestry sections on Israel.

    I am sure many are better informed than me, but Amnesty doesn’t call on Israel to merely scale back on human rights violitions and killings.

    It calls for Israel to be punished for numerous war crimes committed in its occupation.

    It puts things into perspective for me.

  206. Chairwoman — on 20th June, 2007 at 8:59 pm  

    Tahir – Please don’t hold the Red Cross up as some sort of paragon of fair play. They have played fair with every country in the world except Israel.

    It was only within the last couple of years that Magon Dovid Adom (Israel’s version of the Red Cross) was finally allowed to join the club, and even now, when assisting in disasters outside Israel, they have to cover up the Magon Dovid (Star of David) with a diamond shape, or something similar so as not to offend other people, for crying out loud.

    Anas – Regardless of how likely it is that Hamas could carry through its desire to eliminate Jews from the face of the earth, if you are part of an ethnic group that lost a large proportion of its people, within living memory, at the hands of a group that had expressed similar views, you tend to be a tad touchy about it.

    I am also sure that you are both aware that aid is entering Gaza from Israel. Today vegetables and oil, and tomorrow flour and more medical supplies. These are what the administration in Gaza has asked for.

    And regardless of what some idiot whose name escapes me said about Israel cutting off gas and electricity, this is, according to statements made, highly unlikely to happen.

  207. Tahir — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:04 pm  

    Chairwoman

    These orgs set standards of fair play for competing states . They operate outside of offical aid and development assistance of countries and the poltiical agendas behind ‘aid’ policies.

    These orgs are are the last word on conflicts.

    There is a history of orgs like MSF, Amnesty, and they are reliable on human rights abuse on all coutnries and countries with excesses like Israel. No holds barred.

    You are on shaky grounds if you dismiss the views of neutral arbitrators.

  208. Sunny — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:18 pm  

    I know that you think that you’re being even-handed, and that I am blinkered because I’m Jewish, but you’re not and I’m not.

    Hi Chairwoman, there are two elements here. Do I think you’re blinkered because you’re Jewish? No. There are plenty more people far more blinkered and polarising on this issue (like Christian evangelical Zionists) than you. So your faith has nothing to do with it, I’m interested in your arguments rather than your emotions.

    Similarly you see me as blinkered. Now this is clearly a subjective label because frankly speaking if I think I’m sitting somewhere in the middle then both sides accuse me of being blinkered and not going far enough. Or being oblivious to their side.

    Ok I’ll take that as given. But we’re talking here about how to go forward. My view is that the current state of affairs is not maintainable indefinitely. So how do we go forward should be the question.

    That is the debate that Prof Tony Klug has tried to start by saying that there are lots of signs on either side that people want peace. I don’t believe it is merely an Israeli initative.

    If both sides want peace then the way to move forward could be to call their bluff on statements they have already made. As I copied and pasted above. But to get the ball rolling, given it is the supreme power in the region and controller of where funds get allocated, Israel has to make a big viable move. I don’t see withdrawing from Gaza as that big a move. They should have done that ages ago. Withdrawal from the West Bank would be nice too?

    I’m not saying in the medium term Hamas should not be neutralised. Absolutely it should be. But I’m saying, and echoing the statements of many others, that in the short term Hamas has to be engaged for any political solution.

  209. Katy Newton — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:43 pm  

    I don’t see withdrawing from Gaza as that big a move.

    You are kidding me. Israel uprooted its own settlers against a considerable groundswell of public opinion and you don’t see that as a big move? Gaza is fifty per cent of what the Palestinians wanted, for crying out loud. And as soon as Israel left it was used as a base to bomb them. You think Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank so that the same can happen there? Jesus.

  210. Eremos — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:45 pm  

    The Hamas charter may well be repulsive, but people can change right? That can include terrorists as well. Look at how the Haganah and Irgun changed into the respectable IDF, as well as taking up government posts.

    How do we know that Hamas won’t follow suit?

  211. Katy Newton — on 20th June, 2007 at 10:54 pm  

    Anas, the BNP is never going to run this country but I still find their manifesto deeply offensive.

  212. Sunny — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:23 pm  

    Hi Katy, a big psychological move, certainly. But legally, they withdrew from a territory that doesnt legally belong to them. The West-bank settlers are there illegally too, as you are no doubt aware.

    In the paper, Prof Klug talks about how the settlers are a barrier to Israeli withdrawal and proposes an interesting solution – the Palestinian govt offers them the chance to stay as citizens of a Palestinian state if they dont want to move for religious reasons.

    You say it was 50% of what Palestinians want as a state, but a 2-state solution is predicated from a full WB too withdrawal. Shouldn’t we be arguing for a move towards that? That doesnt mean attacks by rogue terrorist groups should be tolerated. I believe a UN Peacekeeping force or an Arab force should move in to maintain peace.

  213. Katy Newton — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:31 pm  

    Sunny, whether they were there legally or not, the Israelis had been in control of that territory since 1967, no one could make them leave in all that time and yet they did, unilaterally, meaning that the Palestinians went from having no land to having 50% of what they asked for. That is a massive concession. Not “psychologically” but factually. From no land to half of what you want is a pretty concrete improvement in your conditions.

    And everyone is arguing for a two state solution. I am, you are, Mum is, everyone on this page thinks that’s what should happen. I just think that PERHAPS Hamas should promise to stop trying to kill Jews (not Israelis, but Jews) in return. But perhaps I’m fucking insane.

  214. Katy Newton — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:32 pm  

    In the paper, Prof Klug talks about how the settlers are a barrier to Israeli withdrawal and proposes an interesting solution – the Palestinian govt offers them the chance to stay as citizens of a Palestinian state if they dont want to move for religious reasons.

    An interesting solution and one that we will never see play out in practice because there is not a chance in hell that any Jew will put their life in the hands of the Palestinian government as a subject whilst Hamas’ charter says what it does. I wonder what planet Klug is on.

  215. Refresh — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:38 pm  

    Sunny, I wish you hadn’t closed that other thread. I wanted to play with Hannibal a bit longer.

    You cannot deny he is the best thing that’s happened to PP in quite a while.

  216. Refresh — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:39 pm  

    Sorry to everyone – don’t want to distract anyone from this important debate.

  217. Katy Newton — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:39 pm  

    Don’t worry, Refresh, there is a limit to how many times I can state the bleeding obvious before I get bored. Derail away.

  218. Refresh — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:43 pm  

    I was avoiding this thread like the plague. :)

  219. Sunny — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:44 pm  

    because there is not a chance in hell that any Jew will put their life in the hands of the Palestinian government as a subject whilst Hamas’ charter says what it does.

    Let me clarify – the Hamas charter would need to change before that.

    I just think that PERHAPS Hamas should promise to stop trying to kill Jews (not Israelis, but Jews) in return. But perhaps I’m fucking insane.

    I agree. I didn’t disagree with this anywhere. I don’t know why you feel the need to keep repeating it as if I’m happy for Hamas to carry on as they are.

  220. Sunny — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:48 pm  

    Just to clarify further, I never stated Israel should withdraw from the WB unconditionally and without any strings attached on behalf of Hamas.

    I agree with the view that before it withdraws from the WB, Hamas needs to change its charter.

    Do I assume Hamas will stop fighting if Israel withdraws even then? No I don’t… but I never said I think I see Hamas as a benign body. And this is where I think an international peacekeeping force would help.

  221. Tahir — on 20th June, 2007 at 11:57 pm  

    Katy, Chairwoman

    Do you participate in this thread, indeed on Pickled Politics because you suspect these threads need counter-balance on Israeli politics?

    I participate because I am lonely at home and occasisonally need to blog – no other agenda.

  222. Katy Newton — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:13 am  

    I can’t speak for the Chairwoman, but I participate here because I like it here.

  223. Sunny — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:24 am  

    Well on that note I think we can close this thread before the misunderstandings get out of proportion.

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