Tag Archives: palestinian

Martin van Creveld looks at the propaganda fog that covers modern war

Summary: Today Martin van Creveld discusses the difficulty of finding the truth amidst the sea of propaganda that surrounds us. It’s an essential skill Americans seem to have lost. He concludes by examining the stories about the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza.



The Facts of the Case

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 27 August 2014
Posted with his generous permission

Perhaps I should start this article with a little cautionary tale. Years ago I was teaching a course about the history of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). I had just said that the kingdom of Jordan already had a Palestinian majority when a young student raised her hand and asked me, very politely, how I knew. To my shame, I must confess that the question took me by surprise — here in Israel everybody and his neighbor had been saying this for years, as they still do.

When I recovered I told her she was right and offered her a deal. She would look into the matter and do a research paper about it. In return, I would release her from the final exam. She agreed, and a few months later I received the paper which neither confirmed not contradicted my original claim. It did, however, draw my attention to some facts that I, and presumably many others as well, had never thought about.

First, there was and is no accepted definition of a Palestinian. One reason for this is that there are several different kinds of Palestinians — old ones, medium ones and new ones, all depending on the date at which they had arrived in the Kingdom. Second, Jordan being the only Arab country that has granted the Palestinians in its territory citizenship, there were many mixed marriages with offspring, making the question as to “who is a Palestinian?” even harder to answer. Third, the Jordanian Ministry of the Interior for its own reasons is keeping a very tight hand both on definitions and on figures, with the result that nobody knew.

Another personal story. Back in 2003, at the height of the Second Intifada, my son had an American girlfriend who lived in Utah. One evening we were sitting in front of the TV when the phone rang. It was Christine. “Jonathan, there has been shooting in your town. Are you alright?” It turned out there had indeed been a few shots; but even though our town is rather small she, living on the other side of the world, knew it before we did.

Continue reading

Israel learned from its patron the art of righteous theft and killing

Summary:  Just as the West’s endemic antisemitism has infected other nations in the Middle East (or exacerbated it), Israel acts out the West’s standard imperialist scripts on the Palestinians. Take the natives’ land, oppress them, and their violent reaction justifies repeating the cycle. In Israel today, as in the many previous times in Western history, it’s done with righteousness. and indiscriminate violence.

The trade of Bible for Land


The Most Dangerous Moment in Gaza“, Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, 1 August 2014 — “What happens if this conflict comes off the rails?” Excerpt:

There is near-unanimity in Israel already that Hamas represents an unbearable threat. Add in the perfidy of a raid conducted after a ceasefire went into effect and near-unanimity becomes total unanimity. The most interesting article I’ve read in the past 24 hours is an interview with the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, the father of his country’s peace-and-compromise movement, who opened the interview with Deutsche Welle in this manner:

Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusual way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

With these two questions I pass the interview to you.

The point is, if Amos Oz, a severe critic of his country’s policies toward the Palestinians, sounds no different on the subject of the Hamas threat than the right-most ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing cabinet, then there will be a national consensus that it is not enough to manage the Hamas rocket-and-tunnel threat, but that it must be eliminated if at all possible.

This is the typical madness of imperialism. Let’s look at from different perspectives.

First, consider Oz’s question. If I shoot my neighbor it is simple self-defense. But that’s not an analogy with Gaza, which require that I use heavy weapons to destroy his entire apartment building — or the entire city block. By Oz’s analogy, I’d be guilty of mass murder. How odd that neither Oz or Goldberg see this.

Continue reading

The Fate of Israel

Summary: As Israel has another round of conflict with one of its neighbors, we should neither overlook the toll of causalities nor focus excessively on these details. More important is the long trend. History shows the difficulty of distinguishing strong from weak players in 4GW, and that choosing the wrong grand strategy can be terminal for a state.  It could easily prove fatal for Israel. Events today show how a nation might look strong while on a path leading to bad outcomes. This is a revision of a 2006 post, chapter two in a series of articles about grand strategy when 4GW has become the dominate form of war.

“It is not possible to found a lasting power upon injustice, perjury, and treachery.”
— Demosthenes (Athenian leader, 384 – 322 BC)





  1. Is Israel is stronger than the Palestine?
  2. Winning requires strategy, not just power
  3. Israel abandons the high ground
  4. Comparing the Strategies of Israel & Palestine
  5. Strengths of the Palestinian people
  6. How ight the Palestinian people defeat Israel?
  7. Other predictions of doom for Israel
  8. For more information


(1) Everyone knows Israel is stronger than the Palestinians. That might be wrong.

To plan a successful grand strategy the strategist must know if he has a weak or strong position. Failure almost certainly results from getting this fundamental wrong. Unfortunately, history shows the difficulty of correctly determining weak from strong during times of rapid change.

“So confident of victory were the French that many sat up late drinking, gambling and boasting about who would kill or capture whom. Some knights even painted a cart in which Henry V would be paraded through the streets of Paris!”

Description of the French camp on 24 October 1415, the night before Agincourt – the last of the 3 great English victories over the French during the Hundred Years War.

“You are now my prisoners. Let this be a lesson to you that Americans are weak. You must realize that Japan will rule the world. You are stupid for letting your leaders take you to war.”

Speech by Tetsunosuke Ariizumi, Commander of His Imperial Majesty’s submarine I-8, addressing captured Americans from the SS Jean Nicolet on 2 July 1944.

“No Viet-Minh cannon will be able to fire three rounds before being destroyed by my artillery.”

— Colonel Charles Piroth, French artillery commander at Dien Bien Phu, quoted in Hell in a Very Small Place, Bernard Fall (1966), p. 102.

Measuring strength between peoples has become even more difficult in our age — when 4GW is the dominant form of war. Hence the endless stream of surprises from the anti-colonial wars after WW2 to our defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So which looks stronger: a stateless people with no modern government, economy, or army – or a developed state with its vast superiority in ideas and hardware? An occupied people or the nations that rules them?

(a)  Israel, a western industrial nation, has rationally educated elites in a modern bureaucratic government. Israel’s army and intelligence service (the Mossad) are superior to their Palestinian counterparts in every way.

(b)  Israel has wielded these advantages to win many tactical victories over the Palestinians. For example, Thomas X. Hammes (Colonel, USMC, retited) describes how Israel won the second Intifadah in chapter 9 of his book, The Sling And The Stone.

(c)  The Palestinian people have none of Israel’s advantages: stateless, politically mobilized in only a primitive manner, with severe internal fractures, and a history of weak and self-interested leadership. Each year their enclaves on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank sink further into poverty and chaos.

Who has the best odds of long-term survival, Israel or the Palestinians?

Continue reading

Why Israel didn’t win in Gaza

Summary:  Yet another in the long series of wars between Israel and its neighbors.  The trend is not their friend.  Power is not enough, especially when outnumbered and surrounded. Our support for Israel might be enabling them to act boldly but suicidally. Here is a guest post by Adam Shatz explaining what happened in Gaza.



Excerpt to “Why Israel Didn’t Win
By Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books
24 November 2012
Reprinted for a limited time with their generous permission.
Go to the LRB website to read the full article.


The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after 8 days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever: according to a recent UN report, the Strip will be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020.

And this is to speak only of Gaza. How easily one is made to forget that Gaza is only a part – a very brutalised part – of the ‘future Palestinian state’ that once seemed inevitable, and which now seems to exist mainly in the lullabies of Western peace processors. None of the core issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the Occupation, borders, water rights, repatriation and compensation of refugees – is addressed by this agreement.

The fighting will erupt again, because Hamas will come under continued pressure from its members and from other militant factions, and because Israel has never needed much pretext to go to war.

Continue reading

Israel becomes its enemy

Summary: Israel fights for its very existence against an enemy who has no regard for life.  From a cosmic sense, Israel can lose in two ways. Violent defeat in some fashion (causing economic collapse or out-migration). Or spiritual defeat, becoming inflected by the evil Israel has fought for so long: antisemitism in Christendom, NAZI genocide, and now Islamic racial hatred. The former seems increasingly likely, eventually.  The latter might be happening now.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

“A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, or an inquisitor makes better sport in Hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.”
Letter 23 from Uncle Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood


  1. Prelude to slaughter: Threatening a Gaza holocaust
  2. Fast Forward to today: the situation heats up
  3. Portents of the future, echos of the past
  4. For More Information

(1)  Prelude to slaughter: Threatening a holocaust in Gaza

During similar conditions in 2008, from Haaretz on 29 February 2008:

“The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” {Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai} told Army Radio on Friday.

… “shoah is “the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster. The word is generally used to refer to the Nazi Holocaust, but a spokesman for Vilnai said the deputy defense minister used the word in the sense of “disaster,” saying “he did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide.”

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said of Vilnai’s comments: “We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people.”

The Jerusalem Post whitewashed this more adroitly. Als0 see The Telegraph’s terse analysis.

(2)  Fast Forward to today: the situation heats up

Continue reading

Where did the great post-war dream for a new world go sour?

Summary:  Tom Hayden’s post The Syrian dominos sparked some fascinating threads in the comments. One discussed what might be a formative moment in world history, one of events which set 21st century history on a very different track than that dreamed by the victors of WWII.  A path that means that their generation’s great sacrifice and hopes were in vain.

The Kindly Ones


The NAZI plan to conquer Eastern Europe for re-settlement by Aryans was the last large instance of a dynamic that dominated history.  One of the great goals of the Allies — led by America — after the war was to make this illegitimate and impossible. And so it was for a generation.

The world experienced wars in first and second world, but of political expansion. Regimes which to forcibly reunite their people under a single political system — Korea, Vietnam.  Countless internal wars, revolutions and civil wars. But no major attempts to displace peoples, then re-settle on their land. Until Israel began to expand into the East West Bank.  IMO this was a key moment after WWII.  {per a comment, I’ve tweaked this for clarity}

The outcome of the Cold War was, probably, inevitable.  The communist experiments in the Soviet Union and China were doomed.  People’s rational drive for self-preservation prevented atomic war (although USAF generals were gung ho for the a nuclear holocaust).  The real challenge would be from within, our ability to discipline ourselves, and avoid the temptations of power.  We did so after WWII.  Instead of reparations, we gave aid. Instead of puppet governments, we created democracies — and got allies.  We showed wisdom with few or no historical precedents.

Continue reading

Darkness slowly descends on the world (two examples: Greece and USA)

Summary:  Recent events, such as the Greek election and the speeches of GOP congressmen, suggest it was premature to declare the “end of history”.  As the post-WWII era ends, each day brings forth new developments from the basement of humanity’s collective mind and soul.  We must wait to judge, but such political developments suggest that so far what’s emerged are monsters.

Logo of Greece’s Golden Dawn Party


  1. An introduction
  2. Greece, the latest example of Europe’s turn to extremism
  3. America, what was extreme infiltrates the mainstream
  4. For more information

(1)  An introduction

It has long been one world.  Social, political, and economic trends emerge across the developed nations, denying the existence of borders, varied cultures and languages.  For a powerful analysis of one such period see Three New Deals by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, “Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939”.  In many ways three (4, including Japan) different revolutions, but with profound commonalities.

Now a similar cycle may have begun.  Across the world nations are ruled by two opposed but like coalitions, together defining a narrow zone of solutions — together blocking alternative paths.  That works during prosperity, generating confidence in national leaders.  But the crisis that began in 2007 has no visible end, and each passing month weakens the developed nations.  Slowly people turn to the political extremes for solutions.  Unfortunately, most leaders on the extremes are crazy (usually in a non-clinical way).

Black Shirts return to Europe’s streets

This probably will not end well.

(2)  Greece, and Europe’s turn to extremism

While voters in America whine that their political machinery requires too much effort to work, votes in Europe have taken bold steps.  The pro-EU parties having discredited themselves, voters move to create a new Europe.  Greek voters flock to the extreme Right …

Parties must exceed a 3% threshold of the vote to be represented in Greece’s parliament. In the last general election in 2009, Golden Dawn received only 0.29%. It has seen its support jump as a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment has spread in financially devastated Greece. Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos said his party had delivered a blow against the country’s corrupt leadership.

“They slandered us, slung mud at us and shut us out of all the news media – the TV channels of the corrupt elite – and we beat them … The day of national revolution by the Greeks has begun against those who are selling us out and looting the sweat of the Greek people.”

Golden Dawn campaigned hard against illegal immigration, and its supporters have been blamed for a recent spike in inner-city street attacks against mostly Asian immigrants. The party’s supporters, routinely seen intimidating immigrants in run-down parts of the capital, wear black shirts, and its emblems resemble Nazi insignia. … Referring to immigrants, Golden Dawn’s campaign slogan in TV ads was: “Let’s rid this country of the stench.”

… Golden Dawn says Greece should reject its bailout commitments and write off its debt. “No one should fear me if they are a good Greek citizen. If they are traitors – I don’t know,” Michaloliakos said. Flanked by two muscly aides, he later told a news conference:

“Those who betray this country – it’s time for them to be afraid. We are coming. … We will fight to free Greece from the global loan sharks, for a Greece of dignity and independence, and for a Greece that is not a social jungle with all these millions of illegal immigrants that were brought here.”

—“Golden Dawn: leader of far-right party lashes out at Greece’s ‘traitors’“, Associated Press, 6 May 2012

… and to the extreme Left as well:

Continue reading