Never Again

I don't know how many people are dead in Gaza. The body count is kept by the health ministry, and as macabre as this is, Hamas has an incentive to inflate the numbers. If they're overstating the dead, they don't have to. More people die every, single day. Every hour, even. If today's number is inflated, it'll be real enough tomorrow. Israel bombed, deliberately, a neighborhood in the Jabaliya refugee camp in what the military said was a targeted strike on a senior Hamas leader. Some 120,000 p

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22 thoughts on “Never Again

  1. I completed some courses at the US Air Force’s Air War College. A repeating theme is that World War II was won in large part by a strategic bombing campaign which sapped the enemy’s will to fight.
    Compare that message to Pearl Harbor, where the bombing campaign galvanized resistance in a way no politician could.
    The fact is, there is no evidence that widespread bombing wins wars. In Germany and Vietnam, victory or defeat lay in the ability place hands on the enemy and deny him the ability to fight on.
    Ukraine will continue to fight on as long as weapons are provided. The weapons will continue to find a way to the fighters no matter what infrastructure is destroyed. Victory for the Ukrainians seems impossible as long as they are fighting within their own borders. Victory for Russia seems impossible under the current scenario. The current stalemate will last at least until the 2024 US election.
    It seems unlikely that Israel will triumph over Hamas. The weapons and aid being provided to Hamas will continue to find a way to the fighters. Israel can occupy Gaza indefinitely, but they become a target in doing so. An Army of occupation is unlikely to win any victories. The Romans learned the lesson a long time ago. The US in Vietnam. The British in India, in Northern Ireland. The Soviets in Afghanistan. There are countless other examples. Peace was achieved in Northern Ireland. It can be accomplished. The first step is to stop fighting. Next is to stop arguing over who the victim is. War produces victims on both sides.

      1. Has it occurred to you that maybe — just maybe — Palestinians feel the exact same way about Israeli hardliners? That you can’t negotiate with them because they’re bad actors who won’t accept any outcome other than the complete dehumanization and displacement of Palestinians? (The “just maybe” is sarcasm. That’s exactly what many Palestinians think, and they’re not wrong.)

  2. Something I was thinking on a couple weeks ago: Israel is famous for its lopsided prisoner exchanges. Two examples: in 1985, they exchanged 1150 prisoners for just 3 Israelis. Then recently, over 1000 Palestinians were exchanged for a single Israeli soldier. There’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the practice, which goes back to the 50’s:

    This practice has long been a major flex for Israel: one of us is worth hundreds of you. I always respected that.

    No doubt Hamas had that in mind when they abducted over 200 people on October 7, but did anyone think to run that calculus in reverse? If one Israeli is worth 1000 Palestinians, what happens when Hamas kills 1400 Israelis in a single night of massacre and horror? Is Israeli leadership thinking to themselves that settling the score will require 1000 deaths for every lost Israeli?

  3. Bravo H, on that closing tiny paragraph. Two of the worst features of humans’ existence IMO — the failure to truly empathize and understand until it happens to you, and the failure to take what happened to you and using that experience to make sure it doesn’t happen to others.

    The third leg of this uncomfortable stool seems to be the combination of “my failure is not my fault” and “my success was all my own doing.”

  4. Wars always bring collective suffering, and disproportionately to the loser. Pretty much by definition.

    Rare exceptions being brief wars fought over lightly populated possessions (e.g. Falklands).

    This war won’t be an exception.

    I wonder if Gazans will try to break through the Egyptian border and take refuge in the Sinai.

  5. I know this goes against the grain of some, but I can’t help looking at this, as yet brief war in Gaza, and conclude that secretly Bibi wants it. He has wanted it for years. This is about vengeance, carried out in as brutally and publicly as possible. Pretending it was a surprise attack is clearly intended to hold Israel blameless. The fact is, to me at least, that Bibi is nothing more than a common war criminal who should be destined for the dock at the World Court. This thug makes no apology for murdering women and children and pretending they must be “terrorists.” Back in the 1930s Aldous Huxley wrote a fascinating novel, “Eyeless in Gaza,” based on the story of Samson. who was blinded for his treachery and exiled to Gaza for the rest of his life, forced to push a millstone to grind grain. Eventually, what is going on now in the Mideast will end up punishing all of us. This is not now, and never was, any kind of practical problem. It is purely down to a clash among the world’s three “great” religions stemming from their joint roots … purely a domestic dispute, as it were.

  6. H, I admire your compassion but I find it misplaced. Hamas needs to go, period. Calling this a genocide is absolutely disingenuous at best; Israel has enough armements to glass that entire strip if they wanted, but we have so far seen targeted areas attacks with warnings most of the time. Also, one thing would stop this entirely: have Hamas surrender.

    Hamas have been left to rule Gaza for almost 2 decades to build tunnels, steal aid, launch rockets, and train militants. Hamas literally goes on Russian state television and tells the world they want civilian casualties to “stir up blood”. They literally prevent civilians from evacuating from legitimate targets. Israel for its faults has tried negotiating in good faith while Hamas refuses any outcome that leaves Israel existing. That’s the problem.

    Palestinians in effect have their own territories in West Bank and Gaza. If they claim they want to destroy Israel, how how can we fault Israel for securing the border and controlling imports to prevent military buildup? It’s unfortunate and war is ugly. But this moral equivalency is laughable. There is no moral equivalency here. Israel is doing what it has to in order to 1. Protect its citizens and 2. Improve the life of Gazans in the long term. We’ve seen what 2 decades of Hamas had done for them: jack. It’s also kind of a farce that the world cares so much about victims in 1000s when Israel causes them, while ignoring Syria with 100,000s civilian casualties.

    On the matter of these “protests”, the organizers absolutely are pro-Hamas, that is very clear. Some people joined them in full support, but I agree the majority followed their cult-like behaviour out of sheer ignorance. There is no alternative/defensible viewpoint when these celebrations (yes that’s what they were) occur THE DAY AFTER the terrorist attacks. In the end, this is a battle of good vs evil.

    1. “Ignoring Syria?” I don’t think you want to go down this road with me, I really don’t. I have an extensive background researching and writing on Syria that predates this website.

      And no, Israel is not “improving the life of Gazans” by killing them. And there is no “long-term” for the dead. This borders on genocide. So that’s what I’ll call it. And that’s what I’ll keep calling it for as long as it goes on. It’s not disingenuous.

      One Israeli civilian isn’t worth more than one Gazan civilian. Gazan civilians aren’t “evil.” And a target isn’t legitimate if there are civilians there and you know it. You can’t kill 100 civilians to kill two militants. Well, you can, but if you do, don’t be surprised when the world gets mad. Also, no, the majority of the people protesting around the world aren’t doing so out of “sheer ignorance.” In a lot of cases, they’re doing so because they’ve been engaged in Palestinian rights issues for a very long time, are from the West Bank or Gaza themselves, are human rights activists, or at least have some loose connection to the region. Who are you to call them ignorant cult followers? Do you know more about this conflict than Palestinians? Or more than human rights activists? Is this a special area of study for you? Do you have relatives who live in the West Bank? Do you know anything at all about this other than what you’ve read recently? Because a lot of the protesters can answer “Yes” to one or more of those questions.

      Further, my compassion isn’t “misplaced” and it’s not compassion, per se. It’s me doing what other fortunate people have a hard time doing: Projecting myself into the situation because I know it could just as easily be me. Life is pure, unadulterated luck. I could be in Gaza City right now, and so could you. There’s no God that decided we deserved to be born into comfortable lives and Gazans into a hellscape. It’s pure chance. Try to internalize that. Think about it when you lay down to go to sleep tonight. Think about what it would be like to be laying there, with your family, knowing that at any time, you could all be killed in a “targeted” airstrike, and that some privileged Westerner, living far, far away, would claim the next day that it was justified, even as that person would concede it’s “unfortunate and ugly” that your wife and children have to be buried under tons of concrete. Then be grateful for your luck, because that’s all it is: Luck.

      Finally, I don’t know what your opinion on this particular matter is based on, but mine’s based on decades spent studying geopolitics, and the issues that create global conflict. I find your understanding of this particular conflict to be a bit lacking (“at best,” as you put it), and it’s pretty clear from your tone, the all-caps, the naive “good”/”evil” distinction and so on, that if one of us is letting “compassion” cloud our analysis, it’s you, not me.

  7. It seems to me that if your country has a policy of bulldozing houses, starving people, depriving them of water and allowing settlers to take Palestinian houses at will, you have created a generation of Palestinians who are justifiably angry at you. But now you bomb everyone to the point that a lot of families have been eliminated, the families that still have survivors will hate Israel if they are alive.
    The Palestinian – Israeli issue seems to be very intractable. The only way I can see any type of solution is for a commission to be formed like was done in South Africa. But I don’t see that happening because Israel does not have the capacity to do that.

    1. In my lifetime, the closest the Israel/Palestine came to a first step on a possible path to something that might have become a peaceful solution was in the mid 1990s-early 2000s (Olso and after).

      The parties then backslid during two decades of “relative” calm and now the problem seems as intractable as it ever was. In the West Bank, Netanyahu took territory via illegal settlements, destabilizing the crazy patchwork of Areas A B C D, and deliberately weakening the PA who does (or did?) want a peaceful solution. In Gaza, the Palestinians chose Hamas, the rest of the Arab countries, international donors, and the UN propped up Hamas (Iran with weapons, Qatar with safety, others with money, the UN with services), and what Hamas wants is hopefully clear to all.

      In my opinion Netanyahu deserves a huge amount of blame, Israeli voters collectively do as well (in the same collective way that US voters deserve blame for electing Trump), Hamas and Arab countries deserve plenty, the US isn’t left out, let’s not forget Britain . . .

      None of it matters. You can go back thousands of years and the blame keeps piling up everywhere and all hands just get dirtier. “Blame” matters if assigning it will lead to a solution. Here, I don’t see that it ever will.

      1. “A History of Israel” by Howard Sachar is a fascinating, but depressing read. Perhaps most depressing is the repeated cycles over the last 80 years where a long-term stable solution was possible, but did not happen. Always it was because one side or the other thought they could do better so they held out for more, got far less, and things inevitably got worse. Both sides were guilty of this at various times, though I will single out Yasser Arafat. He deserved a lifetime achievement award for squandered opportunities and overplayed hands. If ever anyone deserved the Nobel Peace prize less, it was he.

        The closest we’ve come to a durable peace in my lifetime ended in 1995. The Oslo Peace Process was moving forward in ways that seemed remarkable. Clinton and the Norwegians managed to get Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat to agree to a lasting peace process. Rabin was vilified by Israeli religious conservatives, with right-wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (you may have heard of him) at one point leading a mock funeral procession featuring a coffin and hangman’s noose at an anti-Rabin rally where protesters chanted, “Death to Rabin.”

        Rabin was assassinated by a religious extremist–a Jewish one, not that it matters. By 2000 the Process fell apart, and Arafat launched the second Intifada. Things inevitably got worse.

  8. “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” Martin Luther King Jr.

  9. Israel is making an enormous mistake. They are creating a whole new set of dangers. 7.3 million Palestinians and 7.3 million Israelis. How about honestly working towards a 2 state settlement with UN guarantees to prevent a war…Otherwise Israel will be a schlerotic apartheid
    state with no real future….

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