Friday, May 25, 2018

It's Not Even Past #21 - Israel, Gaza, The Impossibility of Dialogue? - Part 1 - Final Draft

When I began this podcast I made a very specific decision that it was going to be only me, all me, me, glorious me, because we are living in an age when so many people think that problems can be solved if people can just sit down, realize each other's humanity, and come to an understanding. Well... how's that workin' out for us? Not every person's opinion is equally valid, and dialogue is never a replacement for knowledge. If you want to have an opinion, demonstrable knowledge - statistical knowledge, conceptual knowledge, and perhaps especially historical knowledge, is the ante to having an opinion that is meaningful. Until then, meaningful dialogue is impossible for what should be a reason too obvious for me to state outright. 

Many people say today that this lack of dialogue is what prevents marginalized voices from being heard. Once again, in a two-dimensional way, who can argue with that? The marginalized have expertise when it comes to the depth of precisely how they're made to suffer in relation to the rest of us. There is no question that in a conceptual way, this is important information. But as stories of human interest, designed to move us to action, they are quite dangerous. These are stories told with a very specific political agenda, specifically designed to prevent a meaningful conceptual discussion of the statistical knowledge which hundreds of thousands of knowledgable people collect in good faith. Statistics and concepts, properly applied, are precisely what will make sure that people have a minimum of stories filled with such sadness in their lives. 

We have a very different attitude in our time to a similar concept. Nobody in my generation seems to accept the old notions of political bipartisanship that the objective political truth is simply the middle point between two poles, and both sides of American discourse claim that the other side became extreme while their side continually capitulated; and yet there's just as little evidence that dialogue will inevitably lead to a solution that works, and yet so many millions of people in our time persist in that notion. If there's any solution on which either side is not willing to move, it then seems that people simply gravitate toward a greater extreme, with ever more grievances about how they're humiliated, ever more receptive audiences for the louder and more bellicose voices, ever more forceful tactics against their opponents. There are certainly times when dialogue can yield dividends beneficial to us all, but the belief in dialogue as a means that will inevitably create greater results is an unsupportable belief by evidence, requiring its supporters to simply believe in it rather than judge according to fact. 

The world as ever turns in its orbit, too vast to even be remotely apprehended from one point of view, no matter how broad-minded. In an era like the late 60's when intellectuals who asked for mutual understanding and tolerance was the exception rather than the rule, with so many of the older generation having their mentalities created by Munich and the breakdown of the League of Nations and the failure of interwar pacifism, such radical notions that people might be able to work through their differences were kind of exciting precisely because hardly any intellectuals believed in them. But soon enough the United States and the Soviet Union started to negotiate seriously and understand each other a little better: in the wake of that came the SALT agreements, the opening of dialogue with China, the Rejkjavik summit between Reagan and Gorby, and the Oslo Peace Accords for Israel and Palestine. 

Whether or not it had anything to do with Oslo, it was pretty soon after Oslo that the idea on the Left that dialogue will inevitably resolve conflict gained enormous traction, with seemingly every American university having a special department with studies in peace and social justice and conflict resolution, and of course, since Israel was both the most perpetually threatened country on earth yet kept winning all its conflicts, these departments developed a special animus towards Israel at the same time that their ideology became the dominant campus voice. Many of the students at these departments are Jewish, and these students provide a certain degree of cover for their more noxious beliefs in the same manner that black or gay Republicans do. For more than two-hundred years, college campuses have been badly disposed towards their Jewish students, for the majority of that time limiting the admission of Jews because so many Jewish students were clearly better qualified than the more powerful young gentiles whose places they would have inevitably taken. But what used to be the animus of the conservative establishment has now become the egalitarian animus of an establishment that's done a complete about face and now believes just as monolithically that all forms of conflict and militarism are evil. The irony of course being that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of antisemites who believed that Jews are poisonous cosmopolitans corroding the greatness of nationalism are now antisemites who believe that Jews are poisonous nationalists corroding the greatness of internationalism. No matter what side the true believers are on, they always seem to find a way to exclude us. 

Now, please understand, it's absolutely true that without any dialogue between conflicting parties, there is an infinitesimally smaller chance for any kind of resolution. But at least if there is no dialogue, it is much easier to uphold the status quo. There is much less excuse to back away from the table and say, 'well we tried to negotiate with them, and that didn't work, so now let's try something far more violent.' 

All throughout the Cold War, it was a widely shared consensus that dialogue is an incredibly risky undertaking. The reasons for that were plainly obvious to them, they lived through two World Wars - the First World War was brought on by diplomatic alliances between countries that were much too strong and therefore compelled countries to fulfill their diplomatic commitments, even if it meant decimating their countries. The Second World War was brought on by Germany, who engaged in dialogue with other countries in extremely bad faith and betrayed their major promises, and felt justified in doing so because they believe that at the end of World War One, other countries negotiated in bad faith. 

It's pretty much de rigeur among politically active left of center people to believe that any and all dialogue with people who disagree has a good chance to end constructively - the Obama candidacy practically hinged upon that idea. But so much evidence in the last generation exists to disprove that notion. Do I really need to list a litany of the events we all lived? The problem with believing that conflicts can be resolved through dialogue and mutual understanding is that mutual understanding requires people to literally adapt parts of each other's mentalities which both sides find offensive. That's a literally almost impossible task - for people whose beliefs trend Left as well as for people whose beliefs skew Right. Try telling the average intersectionalist that if they want to neutralize the threat of reactionaries either here or abroad, they will have to understand and accept why some people feel justified in racist beliefs. 

Furthermore, the belief, a mostly Leftist belief, in the constructiveness of dialogue is predicated on the idea that an exchange of ideas is what sophisticated, educated people do, and that the more dialogue one engages in, the more those who are against dialogue will come around to the ideas of those who are pro-dialogue. That doesn't seem to work nearly as constructively as people think either, because whether or not that's what people who believe in conflict resolution truly believe, that is usually the sense which people who do not believe in the automatic constructiveness of dialogue come away with. When people of the Left get correctly indignant about racist or sexist or imperialist ideas in what's supposed to be a dialogue, people of the right say that this is not a true dialogue, and they're absolutely right. 

What works in real life would not seem to be dialogue, what seems to work, at least middlingly well, sometimes, is compromise; the idea that nobody gets anywhere even close to everything that they want, but if a new problem presents itself urgently enough, a solution that factors enough of the new concern in to make this existential problem something less than existential lets just about everybody live on tolerably until the next existential problem presents itself. It's not much, but it's what seems to work. I wonder if there even is such a thing as conflict resolution. Perhaps there is only conflict delay, and the more you risk by trying to end the conflict, the more terrible the conflict will become when it eventually turns bloody again.

The application of all this to the conflict between Israel and the Muslim world should be pretty obvious. In retrospect, the peace talks between the Israeli government and a potential Palestinian one were a kind of catastrophe. Arafat negotiated in completely bad faith, Rabin, because he negotiated in good faith, was killed by right-wing nut after half the Charedi rabbis in Israel seemed to incite their congregants to do it. The experience pushed both Jews and Muslims all around the world into still greater hatred of each other, and both Israelis and Palestinians embraced still more militant governing parties than they ever had in the past.

So all this is a way of saying that I have no idea what to say about Israel except that I fear the very worst is upon us. All the adults have been removed from their ability to supervise and in their wake this corner of the world has been left in the hands of dangerous and savage children. I sometimes find myself wondering if the closest anyone ever came to solving the Israel/Palestine conflict was Arik Sharon, the uberhawk and supposed great champion of the settlements, who unilaterally made a decision to forcibly remove the settlements in Gaza. Had that 330 pounds, near-80 year old man not had a series of strokes that put him into a seven year coma, perhaps he would have done the same in the West Bank, and thereby laid the beginnings of a Palestinian state, should Palestinians have found the wherewithal to embrace something other than a party that demands some other foundational goal than genocide against Israeli Jews, which is in the Hamas charter. For a good laugh everybody should read the Hamas charter, it's so cartoonishly antisemitic that you wouldn't believe it could exist unless you read it. 

Every time an Israeli war looms on the horizon, it seems a bit like the stakes are existential even if only a couple dozen Israelis die. For obvious reasons, we Jews have this Pavlovian reaction. and who knows, maybe this conflict will end just with one major bloodbath rather than thirty. But it must be said, this time feels very different. There is no Obama or Clinton, no Rabin, not even so much as a Bush or a Sharon on hand to let cooler states of mind prevail. It's as hard to believe that Hamas won't continue to throw protestors drugged by propaganda straight into the bullets of the Israeli army as it is to believe that the Israeli army won't be all too gleeful to use them. Something like this happens every few years, and the death tolls are usually somewhere around two-thousand. Roughly sixteen hundred in the 2006 Lebanon War, 1400 killed in the 2008 Gaza War, somewhere around 2200 killed in the 2014 Gaza War. The death toll in such conflicts is almost entirely Palestinian, and lately at least, has been almost completely Israel-inflicted. No Palestinian army can possibly hope to equal either the firepower or the manpower of the Israeli army. This does not, however, account for Hamas's tactic of using civilians, often women and children, and as human shields, and deliberately putting their weapons depots in the highest population areas and near schools, and using children for paramilitary activity and suicide bombing in the territories against Israeli soldiers.  

And there is also a lethal inter-Palestinian Civil War, and which Hamas depends upon going underreported. Between 1987-1994, well over 1000 Palestinians were executed by Hamas for suspected collaboration with both Israel and with the Palestinian Liberation Organization - which doesn't exonerate the PLO either, who killed well over 100 suspected collaborators with Israel. At the end of the 2008 Gaza War, Hamas killed a combined total of roughly 100 Fatah members and civilians around them, and shot a bunch more in the legs so that they could not tell the Israeli authorities until the operations were over. Untold Fatah members afterwards were taken to detention centers where they were tortured and blinded. And we're not even going to touch the Syrian and Lebanese Civil Wars, the Lebanese Civil War claimed somewhere between 120 and 150 thousand lives, the Syrian Civil War, now in year 7, has claimed somewhere between 350 and 500 thousand lives. Yet in the Lebanese Civil War, the most reported on massacre was Sabra and Shatila, merely for the partial collusion of Israelis but Israelis did not perpetrate, Israelis simply looked the other way while the Lebanese Christian Kateeb party did the dirty work. And in a single day, an Israeli massacre of sixty-three Palestinians has claimed more attention than anything in the Syrian Civil War since Aleppo. Whatever is true about Israel, it can't be denied that their real estate is in one of the world's toughest neighborhoods, and yet for its missteps, it is forgiven nothing at all. 

For the moment, this time gives the sense that the next war, be it now or in a few months or a year, will be astronomically higher, and since there seems no way to remove Hamas, the consequences will be unstoppable until such time as Netanyahu, indeed the whole Likud party with all their cabinet ministers whom given the chance would be still more toxic than Netanyahu, is removed from power. If Netanyahu can still remain Prime Minister after the last nine years, who the hell knows what his removal could possibly take - not just untold thousands of casualties on the Arab side, but untold thousands of casualties within Israel. All it takes is one missile with radioactive material on it, one chemical weapon from Syria strapped to a missile and detonated in the air, one small container of bioterror. 

These were, of course, the fears which propelled the Bush administration to their suspensions of civil liberties, and arguably to the Iraq War as well - and it can't be denied, there is something extremely Bush-like about Bibi's beliefs and decisions. Right down to the fact that he seemed to want the perpetual occupation of a country of Arabs who'd known terrible misfortune without providing them the economic support system to flourish rather than succumb to still greater chaos and still worse dictatorships. 

Bibi is a far more articulate man than Bush in both Hebrew and English, but in his decision points he has no more spine when faced with right-wing nuts who whisper in his ear. Like Bush, Bibi comes from something approaching right-wing royalty in his country. Bibi’s older brother, Yoni Netanyahu, was the commander of the Entebbe Raid that rescued 102 Israeli passengers from an Air France plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and brought to Idi Amin’s Uganda. Yoni was the only Israeli soldier killed in the raid, and only four of the 106 hostages were killed. Bibi’s father is the historian, Benzion Netanyahu, perhaps Israel’s most important ultraconservative intellectual from its founding until his death in 2012 at the age of 102. For three generations, Benzion Netanyahu was a living link to the original circles of ‘Revisionist Zionism’ which advocated the forcible removal by any means necessary of all potential enemies of a Jewish Israel whether British or Arab. Even after turning 100, Professor Netanyahu continued to warn in public pronouncements of the coming nuclear threat from Iran and the necessity of bombing their nuclear facilities. His grandfather was Natan Milelkowsky, a prominent Zionist rabbi who like Bibi was thought of as an orator for the ages. He preached against socialism even before the Soviet Union, and after moving to what was then Palestine in the 20's, Rabbi Milelkowsky was one of the founding members of Revisionist Zionism in Israel - where he took an important part in the committee to defend the killers of left-wing Zionist leader Chaim Arlozorov.  Bibi’s uncle is a famous mathematician, and his aunt is a former Israeli Supreme Court Justice.

And the truth is, there is one person - no right-winger - to whom Netanyahu owes the entirety of his continued reign, and he knows it. It's driving him insane, because that person is only an arch-nemesis in his mind, for his arch-nemesis was not Khaled Mashal or Ayatollah Khameni, nor any of the Leaders of Avodah - the Israeli Labor party. You know who I'm going to say before I say it, his arch-nemesis was Barack Obama.  

To the fanatic, the heretic is a much greater enemy than the non-believer. The man who occupied more of Netanyahu's headspace over his second Premiership was not the enemies who could lead to Israel's destruction, nor was it any rival who could unseat him, it was the man who had the potential to show that it was possible to be moderately critical of Israeli policy yet also be a very proud Zionist. Netanyahu categorically rejected that, and as such, so now he faces a left-wing whose Anti-Zionism is much, much larger than it ever would have been. 

When I lived in Israel on an ulpan - one day I'll have to explain what that is, though even now I'm not quite sure I know what an ulpan is, I had a politics teacher who made a sweeping declaration on the night Ehud Olmert was elected Prime Minister that The Age of Netanyahu was now over. Even at the time that seemed more than a little absurd.

I have not been to Israel since 2008, the year before Netanyahu returned to power. Everyone I know who's been back has told me the same thing - Israel is prosperous on a level never seen before in its history. The standard of living is higher than Austria, Finland, and France. Perhaps Israel is almost too prosperous - all through history it's never a good idea for Jews to be conspicuously wealthy, and Israel's wealth is getting more and more obvious to everyone. 

Right-wing Jews can say that Obama stabbed Israel in the back all they want, but President Obama gave Israel more money than any president in history. Even in 2016, Obama was willing to let America sign a 10-year deal to fund the Israel to the tune of thirty-eight billion dollars! That is a twenty-seven percent increase over the deal the Bush Administration negotiated in 2007. Who was truly the more pro-Israel President?

During the Bush Era, Israeli unemployment was in the double digits due to the impact the Second Intifada had on investment and tourism - in one quarter of 2002, the economy shrank by 4%. But think of it this way - The Great Recession shrank America's economy 4.6 percent, but during the recession, Israel's shrank a total of 0.2 percent! It registered positive economic growth in 2009, the worst of those years. During the Obama Presidency, Israel was allowed its long-denied rightful place in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Anybody who thinks that Israel is capable of those economic numbers without American help is as delusional about the extent of Israeli power as any Anti-Zionist who thinks Israel is capable of anything more than a minimal influence on American foreign policy. Many Jews, in America too, think Obama negotiated a terrible deal to get rid of Iranian nuclear capability, but if the deal is bad, then Obama gave Israel all the tools they could ever want to fight Iran - including the bunker busters and the iron dome even George W. Bush kept from them. Anti-Israel leftists always accused Obama of an accusation so low that surely such a slur could not possibly be true - that Obama is a closet Zionist, and yet they were exactly right. 

All Obama ever asked from Israel was that Israel pursue policies that allow it to thrive, because in the 21st century, the policies that allow Israel to thrive are the same that will give its neighbors the opportunity to do the same - should they ever, unlikely though it seems, be wise enough to take it. 

Left-wingers, and some right-wingers too, complain, ad nauseum, about some sort of insidious Israel lobby which ensures America's military aid to Israel and does Israel's bidding with regard to Iraq and Iran, even though there's evidence to suggest that Ariel Sharon warned Bush not to invade Iraq. Sometimes this lobby is just AIPAC, the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, sometimes this lobby involves everybody from the New York Times to the Christian Coalition. These people seem to have no consciousness at all about how these accusations sound like the old antisemitic canards about Jews controlling governments or secretly siphoning off the world's money. It was only fifty years ago, the era of Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, that liberals thought fostering a special relationship between the US and Israel would be one of the world's great liberal triumphs. America is only 13th in per-capita foreign aid. The funding to Israel shouldn't be withdrawn, 20 other allies should be funded by the US the way Israel is.  

Furthermore, let's remember at least some of what the Israel partnership has also allowed. Israel can't fund its military and science simultaneously, and for all the money Israel's borrowed from America, it is still a net lender nation.  If Israel gets a disproportionate investment from the United States government, then the money has paid off spectacularly in all manner of ways. The military aid is what allows Israel to have enough money left over to rank #2 in innovation by the World Economic Forum and start up 1,000 tech companies every year! Israel has easily more startups per capita than anywhere in the world, the highest number of scientists, engineers and technicians as percentage of its population, 10 times as many scientific articles published percentage wise as its population percentage to the rest of the world population. It's thanks to Israel that the world has modern desert irrigation, the USB stick, micro-robotics for surgery, water desalination technologies, digital firewalls, geothermal powerplants, heart tissue made from algae, bird migration radar for planes, solar windows, the cherry tomato, baby monitors that measure breaths to help prevent crib death, electronic hair removal, steel security doors, Waze - the GPS that gives you up-to-the-minute traffic and speed trap information. Try boycotting all that and see where it gets the world. 

Israel is the second-most educated country in the world, 78% of its education money comes from public funding, and 45% of Israel's citizens have post-secondary education. The average life expectancy in Israel is apparently somewhere between eighth and eleventh overall in the world. Israel has universal health care with a semi-public option, in 2013 Bloomberg Magazine ranked Israel as having the fourth most efficient health-care system in the world and the most efficient of any country that is not a relatively small East Asian country - though many estimates have ranked Israel's health care system as low as the high twenties. But all of these statistics include the 1.66 million Arabs who are in Israel proper and not the Palestinian territories. Even if three-quarters of Israeli Arabs object to Israel being a Jewish State, 60% of Arabs within the State of Israel define their personal situation as 'good' and 55% consider themselves 'proud citizens' of Israel. There is no question of the existence of structural disadvantages for Israeli Arabs, many of which are clearly due to racism, but no matter what the anti-Zionists say - Israel, for all its messiness, or even perhaps because of it, is an extraordinary little country. Whatever one can say about American investment in Israel, the investment has paid off spectacularly. 

The massacre this past Monday, and yes, I'm sure it could have in some way been handled differently - Yitzhak Rabin used to at least employ rubber bullets on protestors. was not the result of a protest against America moving the embassy to Israel. It was about, as it's been every week in Gaza since March, the State of Israel's very existence. Every week since March 30th, Hamas has sponsored the 'March of Return', meaning not only that Palestinians return to their homeland, but that the Jewish homeland be eliminated. The March will continue until June 5th, the anniversary of the Jewish recapture of Jerusalem. 

Hamas, like Russia does in America, exploits the naivete of people in democracies whose beliefs lie on what at least used to be at the fringes of discourse in a democracy. They set up a march with the specific intentions of getting as many Palestinians killed as possible - knowing that people who approach politics sentimentally will never question what caused these Palestinians to be killed. The same Americans who fall for this are the ones who fall for the Bernie-bots. They spent millions to build infrastructure for the demonstrators with the specific intent of calling for a breach of the border fence. They deployed operatives among the demonstrators and ordered them to use violence on Israeli soldiers. 

Hamas won an election in Gaza in 2006 and for twelve years has done everything within its power, including mass murder, to make sure that Gaza never has an election ever again. The mass genocide of Israeli Jews is in the very charter of Hamas, and Hamas's various bombings in both Israel and any future Palestine have killed very nearly 1800 people. Hamas bans abortions and the honor killing of women is still a fact of life in Gaza. It's banned the celebration of Christmas and homosexuality is punishable by death. As has happened so many times in the past, whether Hamas or Fatah or the PLO was calling the shots, the higher ups wanted a bloodbath to coincide with a moment when the eyes of the world were on Israel. 

To do this, Hamas deliberately spread the lie in mosques that the fence into Israel had already been breached and that Israeli soldiers were fleeing so that thousands of people would crowd the fence, knowing that Israeli soldiers would mow them down because if there were a breach in the fence, hundreds of potential militants could escape into Israel and be virtually untrackable. 

Even after the massacre, one Hamas cleric bragged that a full 50 of the murdered sixty-three were members of Hamas. It would be fully in Hamas's interests to point up as many civilian casualties as possible, so even in these situations, the Israeli army was careful enough that five out of every six people murdered were militants, not civilians. Once aid was sent by Israel, Hamas set fire to the main road and turned trucks with aid away. Unlike what many pro-Palestine supporters alleged, there was no eight-month old who died from tear gas, and yet, once these memes are shared, as they always are by people willing to blame Israel for everything, they can never be retracted. Sixteen years after Jenin, many people still think there was a massacre when it's been proven over and over again that there wasn't. So with regard to this massacre, even though Israel bares far more blame for this than they ever did for Jenin, bloodbath though this situation may be, my sympathy is 75% with Israel. What the hell is Israel supposed to do in a situation when they are facing a totalitarian dictatorship who is deliberately keeping their population as deceived about reality as possible? 

But in the larger scenario of perpetual encampments of Gaza, the story is very different, and Israel has to take an enormous portion of the blame for the fact that an organization as insane as Hamas is in power at all. The laws in Gaza seemed almost tailor designed for maximum humiliation, and because Israel never gave Gaza the opportunities to be independently prosperous, Israelis can't be too surprised when Palestinians embrace a theocratic party that promises victory by genocide. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not yet apartheid like South Africa, but it draws ever closer to the same circumstances, and if Israel's governance doesn't change in the next few years, it may very well get there. It grows less defensible every year, and the already controversial arguments that Israel was worth liberals' defending it in the 90's or 2000's grows ever harder to defend. I believe that a boycott against Israel is a potential disaster for Jews everywhere, but if Israel does not don't shift left or at very least to the right-of-center in future circumstances that currently seem unlikely at best, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction is an eventuality nobody can prevent. 

Israel claims that it's insecure in a manner that only people who are secure ever believe themselves to be. The more prosperous Israel grows, the more paranoid they become and the more reactionary their political beliefs. Israel still believes that its prosperity can disappear overnight, and they're exactly correct about that, but not about how it's most likely to happen. Once a boycott against Israel begins to attain success, a critical mass of money will eventually disappear from the state, and so then do economic investments both from private investors who won't see as good a return on their investment, and public funding from the US government due to the pressure of their citizens.  

There is a long overdue Democratic wave coming to America, all the more progressive and perhaps even socialist for having been so long delayed. Anti-Israel sentiment will be red meat to them. Israel as anything but an underdog cannot ever exist without enormous American help. If Israel's aid package has to be renegotiated by a progressive President and Congress in ten years and Israel is still under a Netanyahu-like Prime Minister; and all of Netanyahu's potential successors at this point are, believe it or not, to his right, then Israel's funding from the United States could be cut to nothing. Once Israel's money for innovation in science, tech, and business, disappears, so eventually does the money for Israel's national security. When that happens, there might be five million Palestinians released on Israel who've been fed antisemitic propaganda for eighty years and could be out to claim land from Israelis with an army no longer sufficiently funded to stop them, and crazy as their demand for right of return might be, their grievances are not completely without justification. If Israel one day finds that it can no longer control the territories and Palestinians can break out into Israel proper, there is very little chance that their return will be peaceful. It will be war, and it will be bloody on both sides past imagination unless Israel finds a way to give Palestine something remotely resembling a functional state of its own before that happens. 

Israel may think it's alone, but Israel is thriving precisely because it's anything but alone. The price of Israel having the world's sympathy as it did when it was the small social democracy that could was for its very existence to be threatened every day. Jews may long for a a time when Israel had the world's approval, but rather than have the world's approval, they have the world's commerce, and that is a preferable tool. Nobody in their right mind would want to live as a Jew in early Israel vs. Israel now. Perhaps Israel could earn the world's sympathy again if they were perpetually endangered, but they've become villains to the world precisely because they are not anymore. 

It's true, we Jews are notoriously sensitive to criticism about Israel, and in a sense, it's completely undeserved. Contemporary American Jews are perhaps the most prosperous minority in the history of the entire world - what the hell do we have to be so ticked off about? But those who do find it enraging that Jews see antisemitism in criticism of Israel have to be a lot more sensitive to our narrative if they want us to be sensitive to theirs. The problem for us is that, unlike with Palestinian history, there is rarely such a thing as a mere catastrophe. There are very few historical episodes in which a couple thousand Jews being murdered without the catastrophe being a prelude to many thousands more being murdered too. History shows that it's generally been a hundred Jews, or a hundred thousand, or many more. When Jews react with oversensitivity on the issue of Israel, it's not because Jews are much too oversensitive to what fashionable parlance terms 'microaggressions' (or at least not just because of that), it's because we're worried that one wrong move means that we will die, our families will die, and everybody we've ever met will die. 

But if it's truly an apocalypse that modern Israelis are worried about rather than the usual incredibly irritating double standards that come from being a Jew in the world, one would think they would be cooler headed and formulate better, more creative, more long-term strategic thinking in their policies toward Palestinians. The fact that the Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories is so unchanging and monotonous, completely the opposite from the manner of Entebbe or the Six-Day War or the attack on Degania or the battles of Har Tzion and Tzfat and Katamon implies complacency, that Israel realizes that this is not a life-or-death issue for them, and that the Israeli government is simply mad that things allowed other countries are not allowed Israel, and is therefore determined to show that Israel is allowed everything that every other country would be allowed to do. 

When you realize the plethora of opportunities Palestinian militants have taken to terrorize Israelis, one can sometimes forgive Israel's warrentless search and seizure, and if you really squint, you can understand why Israelis don't allow certain young Gazans to leave for certain education purposes if the Israeli army thinks certain Gazans are leaving to be educated so they can return with new weapon technologies. But how does the Israeli government really not realize that by doing it as a matter of common practice, they've created a ticking time bomb that is all the worse? By not allowing for the possibility of a reformed Palestine, they can only create a still much more radicalized Palestine. 

Israel has to blame itself for the fact that the situation got this terrible to begin with because they never gave Gazans incentives to change their behavior. Even in the most dangerous of circumstances, it's completely counterproductive to cut off water and food and medicine supplies as often as Israel has, and if the Israeli government counters that Hamas would cut off the water and food supplies to blame it on Israel anyway, Israel could have always tried harder to airlift them in. Gazan fishermen have been cut off from the best fish supply. And the fact remains, these protests would not exist as they currently did if Israel didn't enforce a fence with a 100 to 500 meter buffer around the whole of Gaza, which comprises a full third of Gaza's arable land. With Israeli camera technologies and radar, the army should be able to monitor border activity very well. And you can't believably tell anyone that the Israeli army can't rapidly respond to rocket attacks... 

Literally everything has to be done through the permission of the Israeli government. Israel may have a very dangerous government to deal with in Hamas, but they have provided just about no incentives to make Palestinians in the territories believe that life for Palestinians would be better if they didn't support a government which sponsors the genocide of Jews. Every time Israel conducts a war in Gaza, they do a financial level of damage that is quite a bit more expensive than Gaza's yearly GDP. Gazans responded by building tunnels out of Gaza that as so many articles in so many publications documented, were mostly used for economic necessities and occasionally by Hamas for terrorism. If Israel is worried about how the tunnels are used, then they have to find a way to give Gazans some kind of different economic benefit. You would think that of all things that might make Gazans think about something other than their humiliations at the hands of Israel - real or imagined, a functional Gazan economy would be the very top of the list, but Israel responded by blowing the tunnels up and provided nothing in its place. 

I would be tempted to beat the shit out of any non-Jew and frankly many Jews who made this next point, but once upon a time, there was a not-very-nice word for forcibly concentrating a religious minority into a highly-overpopulated, underfunded, and unsanitary place from which they cannot leave and are forced to remain in poverty while arbitrarily murdering some every once in a while with no legal recourse for their families,  So let's not mince words, that word was 'ghetto'. Should any person opposed to Israel's existence or to its right to defend itself make that point  I would be tempted to respond to them in the balls because that point is usually followed by the idea that the obvious next step is genocide, which I still have an impossible time believing that anybody but people significantly to the right of even Netanyahu would ever accept. But the real assholes among these anti-Zionists never miss a chance to bring up genocide or the Shoah, the worst crime in history as a way of remonstrating Jews for being similar to Nazis. 

But saying that Gaza is a ghetto is not nearly as objectionable. Just about every society Jews ever lived in put us at one point or another into a kind of ghetto. And one does not have to reference the Holocaust or Auschwitz to show that a Jewish state perpetrates something not unlike a lesser horror of our worst period. Militant Israel hawks can respond all they like that they were only enacting military necessities to prevent the spread of terror in their own country, but whether or not that's true, world opinion matters very, very, VERY much. If you continue to enact this repression long enough and stick up your middle finger at international media and world opinion often enough, the military necessities will eventually be imposed on you rather than them. Israel cannot face the world alone. 

Too many Israelis, too many Jews the world over, have demanded a lack of accountability for these supposed military necessities, but every year, these necessities look less like necessities and more and more like idolworship of a national security utopia in which all threats to Israel's security be eliminated, and so delusionally convinced are they of Israel's potential invincibility that they refuse to see the truth that is obvious to anyone whose two eyes have not been taken in an eye-for-an-eye: that their actions endanger Israel all the more. There is no such thing, nor shall there ever be, as an Israel that is not permanently endangered. If Israel wants to survive, it will have to take a beating far past what any Jew wants to take. It will have to allow for policies that ensure that a certain level of everyday terrorism exists against Israel, and simply turn the other cheek to it in the manner of Christians that neither Israel nor any nation of Christians has ever been. In the wake of it, we will have to except that the Israeli economy will not grow nearly so impressively as the hottest investors pull out and the tourism industry steeply shrinks. Tragic as it's always been, this is what it means to be Jewish in the world. The alternative is to invite into the country something much, much worse than a catastrophe. 

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