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


From The Guardian, 17 Nov 2012

This is a typical ethnic war between neighbors. History shows these cycles of attack and reprisal can continue for centuries. Longer. Until one side exterminates the other, or sense returns.

(a) A look at the numbers

For details of Israeli deaths from rocket attacks see the Wikipedia page (and its links). These numbers are disputed; see here for another count with smaller totals.

  • 2012 = 3
  • Total since 2000: 61

For more numbers about the Israel-Gaza conflict see “Israel and the Palestinians: Gaza abacus“, The Economist, 19 November 2012.

(b)  “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, only then will Israel be calm for the next 40 years.”, Haaretz, 18 November 2012

(c) Gaza: four children killed in single Israeli air strike“, The Guardian, 18 November 2012 — “Attack believed to be aimed at Hamas official wipes out 11 members of a single family as onslaught continues.”

(d) Israeli strikes have killed 32 Palestinians today, taking the Gaza death toll to 109“, AFP, 20 September 2012

(e)  “Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi … warned Netanyahu of serious consequences from a ground invasion of the kind that left over 1,400 people dead in Gaza four years ago”, Reuters, 20 November 2012

(3)  Portents of the future, echo’s of the past

Read the following to hear a man who knows no mercy, no justice. Who has no empathy, no understanding of what Israel has done to the Palestinians.  No regard for the international laws created after WWII. Force is all he knows; all he wants to know.  Until some future day, perhaps, when their neighbors’ force crushes Israel. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

A decisive conclusion is necessary“, Gilad Sharon (son of the great Prime Minister and General Ariel Sharon), op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, 18 November 2012 — “There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.” Excerpt:

With the elimination of a murderous terrorist and the destruction of Hamas’s long-range missile stockpile, the operation was off to an auspicious start, but what now? This must not be allowed to end as did Operation Cast Lead: We bomb them, they fire missiles at us, and then a cease-fire, followed by “showers” – namely sporadic missile fire and isolated incidents along the fence. Life under such a rain of death is no life at all, and we cannot allow ourselves to become resigned to it.

A strong opening isn’t enough, you also have to know how to finish – and finish decisively. If it isn’t clear whether the ball crossed the goal-line or not, the goal isn’t decisive. The ball needs to hit the net, visible to all. What does a decisive victory sound like? A Tarzan-like cry that lets the entire jungle know in no uncertain terms just who won, and just who was defeated.

To accomplish this, you need to achieve what the other side can’t bear, can’t live with, and our initial bombing campaign isn’t it.

The desire to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.

… We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.

Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared.

If the government isn’t prepared to go all the way on this, it will mean reoccupying the entire Gaza Strip. Not a few neighborhoods in the suburbs, as with Cast Lead, but the entire Strip, like in Defensive Shield, so that rockets can no longer be fired.

There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip. Otherwise there will be no decisive victory. And we’re running out of time – we must achieve victory quickly. The Netanyahu government is on a short international leash. Soon the pressure will start – and a million civilians can’t live under fire for long. This needs to end quickly – with a bang, not a whimper.

(4)  For More Information

(a)  Articles about Gaza — these will be updated:

(b)  Posts about Israel:

  1. Important:  The Fate of Israel, 28 July 2006
  2. Are Israel’s leaders insane?  Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so., 15 August 2010
  3. We can only watch as the nation of Israel slowly commits suicide, 30 November 2011
  4. Israel leads America on a march to war.  A march to folly., 16 February 2012
  5. Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel, 6 March 2012



42 thoughts on “Israel becomes its enemy”

  1. Is Sharon mad, or merely evil? Keep in kind that Sharon elder first made his military career in the special unit 101, which apparently specialized in conducting punitive raids and reprisals againt civilians (ie “special” like in the german Sonderkommando rather than the anglo sense of SAS or SOF) . Martin van Creveld opined a decade ago that Sharon the elder was always willing to “go all the way”, just that the time was not right and the opportunity missng. The conditions for going all the way are close to being realised now, just missing a pretext… is the will still there in Netanyahu and Likud?

    Sharon’s plan is to drive Palestinians across the Jordan“, The Telegraph, 28 April 2002 — “THE leading Israeli historian Martin van Creveld predicts that a US attack on Iraq or a terrorist strike at home could trigger a massive mobilisation to clear the occupied territories of their two million Arabs”

  2. “either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip”

    Collective punishment. An entire bucket of teeth for one tooth, and it doesn’t matter whose teeth, really, as long as they’re the enemy’s teeth…

    I can’t tell if he’s getting his ideas from the bible or the nazis.

    1. SDW,

      Your comment touches on Chet Richard’s view that 4GW is often not “war” in any meaningful sense, and to see it as such encourages inappropriate responses (ie, morally wrong, ineffective, etc).

      Your analogy of “prison riot” highlights this. Considering the level of force available to each side, how can this be considered war? The only questions are Israel’s willingness to inflict civilian casualties, and what the rest of the world will tolerate.

      This echoes the earlier discussion about what analogy best fits Gaza: concentration camp or ghetto?

  3. Fabius asshole, hypocrite .. loyal pupil of Gringrich; ”Israel fights for its very existence against an enemy who has no regard for life ” .. you are part of the problem and you make NAZI chiefs looks amateurs.
    To our Hasbara friends ( the evil, the brainwashed .. and the hypocrites ) to their US poodles too; The political creed of Zionism and his inhuman adherents have big ears and a long trunk and I think it’s time that was pointed out. Its policies, that seem to be part and parcel of the racist expansionist ideology of Zionist Rogue Israel and of its terrorist army, aim primarily at driving Palestinian families out of the country for the sake of their children’s future, and secondary to traumatize and terrorize Palestinian children while very young so that they would not dare grow up into revolting young men. Their TERRORIST army routinely demolishes homes, confiscates property, and forcefully evicts Palestinians out of their homes to give them to extremist settlers. When Palestinian young men demonstrate in the streets against such practices Israeli snipers target children in the head and upper body with live ammunition causing many fatalities.. Palestinian children, as young as 8 years old, have become the primary target for the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, the current ravaging of Gaza is not a war, it is a vile horror against the child.
    PS: I am Mizrahi … no longer fan of the Jew!

    1. This is the horror of writing the FM website in a society with a broken OODA loop: to be attacked by both sides of every debate. It’s not much fun.

      Supporters of Israel attack because of statements that Israel is oppressing the Palestinians, stealing their land and killing civilians. And they’re enraged at forecasts that Israel’s mad strategy — making enemies of almost everybody — if continued will destroy Israel.

      Supporters of the Palestinians attack because of statements pointing out the Palestinians use of terrorism, and often because they are (judging by their rants) hate-filled anti-semites.

      Is this a good time to point out the tip jar on the right-side menu bar?

    2. I think you misinterpreted the opening line there, bud. The way I read it, the enemy with no regard for life is an internal one: people like Gilad Sharon. Did you even read the whole post?

      1. phageghost,

        You’re right of course, but it’s partially my fault. I tried to write this in a quiet voice, presenting the data with as little annotation as possible. I hoped this would force partisans to think a bit to discern the meaning of the content.

        The opening line applies to Israel as “the internal enemy”, but *also* to the Palestinian terrorists using suicide bombers to kill civilians.

        I was too optimistic. Again. Call me “Dr. Pangloss” (from Candide).

        Sidenote: the ferocity of comments posted here has driven away two authors. I suspect (guess) that results from the diverse audience. Blogs usually have a focused audience that cheers the house viewpoint (eg, websites have fixed pro- or anti- views on AGW, attracting an audience that agrees with them). The exceptions — such as Glenn Greenwald’s articles — tend to have ferocious conflicts in the comments.

    3. “This is the horror of writing the FM website in a society with a broken OODA loop: to be attacked by both sides of every debate. It’s not much fun.”

      I think religious nuts are going to argue this regardless of the religion they support. Religion does not allow for variance of opinion. Each in their own right, is “THE ONE AND ONLY WORD OF GOD”. And anyone who does not think or worship like them is an enemy of God. The really sad part of all this, the three religions which do the most “bickering” all cam from the same source and there for all have the same “God” It is my opinion that the sooner nations begin outlawing any type of organized religion the sooner people will begin standing up for what they believe, instead of what some religious quack told them to believe.

      Raoul is the typical case of someone who was raised in a religiously fundamental atmosphere. Pissed of at the world because firstly, the bulk of his beliefs were made up, and secondly the anger he feels at himself and his people for being so stupid they start wars over whose fairy tale is the best.

      All I have to say Grow Up; It’s time to put the fairy tales down and start thinking for your selves!


  4. How very slanted and biased. Well done!

    This is the BIGGEST crock of shit I’ve ever read. YOU need to check your sources. You’re quadruple posting and trolling a bunch of faceless drivel. The truth hurts you I’m sure but it hurts the victims of your delusions far more believe me. European Jews stole their -Palestinian’s- land, bomb their homes, take their water, drone their skies, kill their children, close their borders on land and sea…herd them into an open air concentration camp and rain living hell down upon them and Israel is the “good guy!!?” It’s not only the Jewish-owned press touting the “Big Lie”- ”Israel’s right of self-defense”- but the Massa’s boy in the White House who has been vomiting out the same old line of Zionist propaganda.
    As quoting Gilad Sharon, Ariel’s son, he told the Jerusalem Post: ” We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too” Hank you right wing asshole, Fabius blah blah !

    1. Roul demonstrates the problem of being so filled with hate: even simple reading becomes too difficult a task. He shows blind rage that chokes off thought.

      Roul’s comment about this post are an astonishing reading FAIL.

      I wonder to what extent this hatred and rage affect Palestinian leaders, and accounts for their extraordinarily ineffective resistance to Israel during the past 40 years. The art of 4GW is well-developed and tested in a hundred struggles. Fortunately for Israel they’ve proven incompetent at executing it.

    2. “He shows blind rage that chokes off thought.”

      Or perhaps it is a method by people who know what they are doing.

      After contending with an incessant stream of similar irrational drivel, non-sectarians get tired, do not want to bother with useless arguments any longer, and just withdraw from the debate. Leaving the field to strongly ideologically minded parties. Didn’t you shut off comments for quite a while because of this?

      A long time ago a colleague told me that, in his experience of local activist groups (in Europe), Troskyists were very good at being resilient in such environments, holding on calmly while attrition depleted the ranks of other parties, slowly exhausted by endless arguments, till they could press their own agenda.

  5. The apparent absence of reflection on the seemingly inevitable logic of power/strength is how Israel becomes its enemy.

    “There is no middle path here—either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza strip. Otherwise there will be no decisive victory.”

    It seems that Power/Strength pursued monomaniacally tends to boomerang and become counterproductive.

    Israel seeks to instill fear and awe in its enemies, causing them, in turn, to beef up their strength (I.e more and more sophisticated rockets) and thereby requiring a greater expenditure of power/strength on Israel’s part (in order to vanish them) in a never-ending spiral.

    It may be that power/strength needs to transform itself into its opposite—to learn how to become soft and conciliatory—so as to keep the stakes lower, thereby rendering its ends more attainable.

    It also seems that to go on raising the ante of confrontation with others ends up in a situation where both self and other are destroyed. Thus the internal logic of pure power/strength, if not constrained, may represent a type of death wish.

    Real power/strength may have to do with subduing one’s personal inclination to explode.

  6. Ironically you are sharing ” the ideology of hatred ” at its naked, well I am Semite and I am not antisemitic …however I am used to the Zionist political animals.
    Every death that takes place in Gaza is not just the loss of a human life but a gradual demise of collective conscience which is so agonizingly silent towards the sufferings of a downtrodden nation and to the unspeakable tyrannies of a colonizing murderous/terrorist regime. The criminal entity Israel is not like any other nation, It is a brutal occupying power, and the cause of the incoming rockets is its occupation and on-going colonization and ethnic cleansing of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and its blockade of the Gaza Strip… Israeli professional TERRORISTS have no interest in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept. “ Sadly, too few in Israeli politics today are willing to say that the strategic threat to the survival of Israel is not the rockets from Gaza…. We are told the Israeli people have given up on peace, that we shouldn’t talk of peace, that it’s a dirty word today…” said Jeremy Ben-Ami.
    Peace can’t exist in the Zionist way, they mean another PIECE of the Arab land. These unscrupulous Israelis are committing their heinous crimes against THE CHILD thanks to the US support and aids and paradoxally, US of Ass have no troubles in the ME before the damn 1948.
    You must read ” the 13 tribe ” by Arthur Koestler, a brilliant reporter assassinated by Mossad in London and ” the outline of history ” by H.G Wells .. maybe you can understand what happen right now in the ME.

  7. GAZA IS 5,000 YEARS OLD – one of the oldest cities in the world. Its inhabitants today are primarily displaced Palestinians whose homes and land were taken by force by Zionist settlers from Poland and Russia in 1948.
    The Israeli ” Troika of Terror ” – Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak, are all from families of Zionist settlers who changed their names to sound more authentic.
    – Shimon Peres, for example, was born Szymon Perski in Wiszniew, Poland, in 1923.
    – Netanyahu’s father was Mileikowsky from Warsaw.
    – Ehud Barak was a Brog from Lithuania – until he changed his name in 1972.
    How can Roth
    schild-funded Zionist settlers from Russia and Poland claim to be the legitimate owners of Palestine …?
    This is the massive hoax at the core of the ‘David and Goliath’ conflict in which the Israeli army uses the most advanced American-made weapons to bomb the defenseless civilian population of Gaza – and the world does nothing. Hank you ale

    1. Roul,

      Your screams have been heard, but enough is enough. You are not commenting, but ranting. And it’s obvious you have not read (or perhaps understood) the post.

      Comments are moderated from here. Anything relevant to the discussion will be posted, esp if it cites sources.

  8. @ guest
    ” Leaving the field to strongly ideologically minded parties…” how very pretentious!
    If you read some blogs, some newspapers and if you watch FOX and CNN doesn’t mean you understand politics, go back to your factories aka universities and try to learn something we call ” tolerance” .. did not your hero- the green snake on green grass Chomsky say : If you don’t believe in freedom of speech of people that you despise is that you don’t believe at all.
    Pardon my English, I know it’s clumsy just like your weird thoughts!

    1. Raoul, I think if you can calm down for a little bit, I think you will find that the authors and most of the commenters here are sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians — there’s no need for the shouting and laundry-list of grievances.

      Perhaps you could suggest constructive means of ameliorating their situation? Obviously one prerequisite for political action in the U.S. is increased public awareness, sure, but I can tell you that if you come on with that same rap you just laid on us you’re not going to get anywhere with most folks I know.

      1. phageghost’s comment reminds me of a long-standing to-do list for the FM website.

        Some active websites have comment moderators and discussion leaders. It’s not something I do well. We need people like phageghost — whose reply to Raoul is perfect (calm, sensible, well-expressed).

        Thoughts on this? It’s off-topic, but there’s very few internal matters threads on the FM website.

  9. FM said something in one of his comments here that I find interesting:

    “I wonder to what extent this hatred and rage affect Palestinian leaders, and accounts for their extraordinarily ineffective resistance to Israel during the past 40 years. The art of 4GW is well-developed and tested in a hundred struggles. Fortunately for Israel they’ve proven incompetent at executing it.”

    I think this is a very interesting idea. Could you fill in with specifics? What more do you think the Palestinians might have achieved by now through a more effective application of 4GW? How would a lessening of rage have played into that?

    1. Matt D,

      That was just a stray thought. About the thinking of Palestinians I’m just guessing, and so have no more to say.

      I will write a post speculating on the Palestinian’s path not taken.

  10. >I can tell you that if you come on with that same rap you just laid on us you’re not going to get >anywhere with most folks I know.

    When you get to be my age, the prior art is all around you.

    “[…]But if you want money for people with minds that hate
    All I can tell you is brother you have to wait[…]”
    – John Lennon “Revolution”

  11. I have a question. Putting aside the fact that the U.S. supports Israel financially and politically, and is thus identified with Israel (i.e. hypothetically) (and putting aside domestic politics), what vital U.S. interest is at stake in the conflict and in general with the fate of Israel and Palestine?

    I don’t believe that the area produces oil or other strategic resources. Is it because Israel is a military powerhouse that we can partially control and which prevents any Muslim state from becoming too powerful thus allowing us to meddle at will? Is that outweighed by the downside of having a lot of Muslims hate us for our support of Israel? Or, in the calculus of our leaders, is that an upside which allows us to intervene and apply violence throughout the Muslim world?

    1. IMO support of Israel does nothing for US strategic interests. In fact, by alienating people in strategically vital areas, it weakens the US. And we’re supporting a nation that not only violates UN resolutions, but also violates the international laws which we worked so hard to create. This reveals us as hypocrits, further weakening our position.

      That’s not to say that we should stop our unconditional support for Israel, but we should be aware of the cost of it.

    2. “I don’t believe that the area produces oil or other strategic resources.”

      Actually, yes. Large offshore natural gas deposits have been found in a maritime area ranging from Syria to Egypt. Unsurprisingly, Israel is trying to deny Palestinians and Lebanese access to the gas fields in their own maritime zone, or pressuring them to put Israeli firms in charge of exploiting the finds.

  12. About the interesting Nietzsche’s quote, what if we apply it the other way around: the Palestinians in the Gaza prison (AKA enclave) –and outside- are “fighting with a monster… and might become a monster”?

    Was not Israel a “Monster” from day one? or wait, before day one:see Wikipedia for Deir Yassin massacre. Al-Dawayima massacre – “Wikipedia article here“. How about the Irgun and Lehi militias that were considered terrorist organizations at least by the British authorities (and later were absorbed by the IDF), and Yitzhak Shamir, Israel prime minister (1983–84 and 1988–1992) who was in the UK’s “Wanted a dangerous offender” poster? Menachem Begin Israeli prime minister (1977-1983) who was in the 1947 British authorities’ “top ten wanted men“ ?
    The list goes on and on…

    When did Palestinian suicide bombing become a tactic? Early 2000s during the brutal 2000 – 2005 years (few were done in 1990s). The Gaza’s [mighty!] rockets random firing? Late 2000s. Both were developed after almost 50 years of struggle… [Israel no doubt shares the blame of why the Palestinians used both tactics… along with the Palestinians’ incompetent 4GW as FM mentioned in a comment above – while The New York Times (18 November 2012) article implies they just start picking up: “ Brigades That Fire on Israel Are Showing a New Discipline“ ]

    In my opinion, Israel was from the start, or maybe before, an enemy of itself…

    1. “The list goes on and on…”

      That kind of argument is pointless — both parties are expert at unwinding the ball of recriminations as far back in history as suits their agenda. Israelis will reply to you by rehashing what occurred in 1936, and so on. And when it comes to tactics, they will tell you that before suicide bombs there were bloody airplane hijackings — remember the 1970s?

      Though I admit that an accurate timeline of the tactics used by Palestinians and Israelis against each other is informative and tells us something about the dynamics of their fight and their objectives.

  13. “Roland is fierce and Oliver is wise
    And both for valour may bear away the prize.’
    — Song of Roland

    As always, rational posts are countered with emotional outbursts., and vice versa :)

  14. Your Observe/Orient is a bit broken if you are looking at the “Loss of Palestinian Land” graphic uncritically. It seems to use bizarre and shifting definitions of both nationality and ownership. If we’re referring to the controlling governments that was all Ottoman land, then British land, then Jordanian, Israeli, and Egyptian land. If we mean who were the private owners of the land under those governments, the map doesn’t seem to account for public land – simply subtracting out land privately held by Jewish groups in 1948, then later shifting to a definition based on government control. A huge chunk of that map was Jordanian land in 1948, which was lost in later wars after aggressive military actions by the Jordanian government.

    If the purpose is to show occupation of land by specific ethnic groups instead of actual legal ownership, you should zoom out a bit and look at the entirety of the post-Ottoman middle east. Cultural identity is a mushy subject. Some Arabs may have referred to themselves as “Palestinian,” but it wasn’t the distinct, primary national identity that it is today. And in the end, the French and British turned over 95% of the Ottoman Middle East to Arab rulers. And in the end, fewer than 5% of modern Palestinians were displaced by the British creation of a Jewish state.

    If we lost New England in a land war with Canada, would the Americans there be able to claim that they were in fact “New Englanders,” unaccountable for the actions of the American government and deserving of their own nation? You certainly couldn’t dispute a centuries-long historical record confirming the existence of “New Englanders” and a cultural identity dating back to Plymouth Rock. But anyone ignoring the broader conflict between the United States and Canada would be failing rather badly. Even cropping a map down to Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire would frame the issue poorly.

    1. Dave,

      Thank you for the additional background information!

      However, I am unclear on your larger point (if you we’re making one in addition to providing useful and relevant details).

      The primary point from the map is that for several decades Israel’s settlements have been expanding on Palestinian land, by several methods. Protecting these new settlements, and even expanding them, is a major objective of Israel government policy, and is an important (but not the only) reason that a peaceful relations have been impossible.

      Do you disagree with any of this, as a large-picture statement (as opposed to differing on the relative size of these effects, which is an important but different discussion)?

      Also, can you refer us to a more accurate map?

    2. Dave’s comment provides interesting food for thought.
      “What is identity?”
      Your identity is your reality.
      Or at least your perception of it.
      It shapes who you are.
      Who you are reveals ‘why you are’, your purpose.
      Or at least your perception of it.

      Is identity something outsiders (including academics) can impose on people?
      Is it about force?
      Or is identity an absolute reality indifferent from human perspectives?
      Is it about destiny?
      Or is identity something you only decide for yourself?
      Is it about choice?

      I think it is about all of them.
      You are […] by birth, […] by force from others,
      […] by ‘fate’, and […] by choice.
      Dave seems to lean more towards the importance of choice, “primary national identity”.
      I agree, except for the “national” part.
      “Our identity, is what we choose to be.”

      The people of the Middle East (like all people) went through many different identities.
      Many identities coexist within each and every single one of us.
      Some more dominant than others.

      Ex-Ottomans don’t see themselves as ex-ottomans of course.
      Many didn’t even see themselves as ottoman during the final years of ottoman rule.
      The Ottoman Empire lost them before it lost the territory beneath them.
      It lost the territory because it lost the people.
      New Englanders see themselves as Americans of course.
      For now at least.
      What makes people proud to call themselves […] ?
      This is also one of the main points of “4th Generation warfare”.

      A lot of questions,
      not many answers.

    3. A bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is a recoloring of that map here:

      I don’t really have a great point to make, except that the geopolitical assumptions of the last century have been dissolving. International law has shifted significantly since 1948, when major powers had just finished murdering millions of civilians in legally-sanctioned war. Civilians are now expected to have the right to be unmolested, irrespective of the actions of their government.

      Legal land ownership can only be traced back to the last time it was taken in war. A necessary condition for winning a war is to claim the territory you won with absolute certainty, determine the legal structure of common and private ownership, and establish that policy through assignment of legal deeds. The Israelis have always been a bit too liberal and indecisive for the times, which actually makes things worse for the Palestinians. They leave things in limbo and never allow normality to set in, which makes issues drag out until their position become LESS liberal than international norms.

      And one of the side effects is that they have created a distinct, oppressed ethnicity where there really wasn’t one before. The international norms around the self-determination of ethnic nations really aren’t equipped to deal with multiple layers of cultural identity. What happens if the United States loses a war, and instantly fragments into 50 states who all claim they aren’t the ones who lost the war? What happens when individual counties and cities don’t like that outcome and claim that subsequent agreements don’t apply to them?

      For the Palestinians, what happens if Gaza doesn’t like the peace terms or the result of a war? Once they sever relationships with the West Bank, can they claim to be an ethnicity that still hasn’t gotten their due? You can’t argue that they have an identity associated specifically with Gaza. Then the map zooms in even further, we ignore the Palestinian state in the West Bank, and the narrative is about how its specifically the Gazians (?) that are oppressed and have no self-determination, and we see a new map talking about how the Gazians have lost territory in Israel.

  15. A thought with respect to this post (and leaving the occasional rants – by “Raoul” – for what the are): The lyrics of “Epitaph” by King Crimson

    The wall on which the prophets wrote
    Is cracking at the seams.
    Upon the instruments of death
    The sunlight brightly gleams.
    When every man is torn apart
    With nightmares and with dreams,
    Will no one lay the laurel wreath
    When silence drowns the screams.

    Confusion will be my epitaph.
    As I crawl a cracked and broken path
    If we make it we can all sit back
    And laugh.
    But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying,
    Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying.

    Between the iron gates of fate,
    The seeds of time were sown,
    And watered by the deeds of those
    Who know and who are known;
    Knowledge is a deadly friend
    When no one sets the rules.
    The fate of all mankind I see
    Is in the hands of fools.

    Confusion will be my epitaph.
    As I crawl a cracked and broken path
    If we make it we can all sit back
    And laugh.
    But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying,
    Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying.

    Mazzel & broge, Evert Wesker

    PS: Some of my personal views can be found at: “What Israel can learn from the German example”, Evert’s Page, 25 August 2001.

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