requiem aeternam dona eis


I started several blog topics today, but I just can’t. I know it may sound precious and silly, but after seeing pictures of those dead toddlers being carried out of the rubble of Qana today, I’ve had it. Go ahead, conservatives, make fun all you want. But I’m utterly heartsick over the way every piece of this Middle East mess has been conducted.

I imagine Lucy in all of those little children’s faces. There was a time when I could read a story like today’s, be suitably horrified for about five minutes, and move on. Those days are over.

New Yorkers, while cleaning up the charred remains of their compatriots downtown in late September 2001, were noticeably reticent about going to war, any war. We saw firsthand what happens, we were breathing the air, we were washing soot out from behind our ears for weeks. You’d think we were the ones crying out most for revenge, but all around us you saw people clamoring for peace.

I’ve had it. I’m going to join my brother Kent as a pacifist Quaker. Perhaps not a pure pacifist, but Pragmatic Pacifist (look it up if you’re interested). I know Israel has to defend itself and root out terrorists, but nobody will ever convince me – or any other sensitive living creature – that the only way to do it is through blowing 37 children to bits. Don’t anyone dare say that war has casualties, and they are regrettable. Fuck you in advance if this is you default setting. Your heart is diseased, and mine is damn near broken.

0 thoughts on “requiem aeternam dona eis

  1. Mom

    And those people had gone to that house because they it was thought to be safe. They had taken refuge. Women, children, elderly… Not a terrorist in the bunch, just a slaughter of innocents.
    There are no words. . .

  2. Matt

    Make fun? Something to remember: civilians die when Israel misses her targets, they die in droves when Hezbollah hits theirs. Israel drops leaflets warning civilians to flee before it bombs Hezbollah strongholds. Hezbollah tries to prevent them from fleeing, using them as shields. Your “default setting” is morally out of whack, Ian.

  3. DFB's&T's

    My heart breaks for all folks killed by war: soldiers, civilians, kids, elderly, et al.
    Having said that, I do not know any way to avoid some tragic casualties. The terrorists are not wearing a uniform, they fire their missiles and then immediately duck back into civilian positions. I do not know what I would tell Israel to do even if I did have their ear.
    Having said that (again), all of us must have some persepctive. We can not allow ourselves to be suckered by the technology of our generation. There is no such thing as a “smart bomb.” This ain’t Dukes of Hazzard or Chips where there are enormous car wrecks and then the camera flashes for an instant to a scene where all the drivers are pulling themselves out of their smashed cars.
    My dad has always asked my left-leaning brother whether D-Day could have happened in this day and age. Hell, more people died in the dress rehearsal for D-Day than died in several months of fighting in Iraq! But, yet, D-Day is seen as one of the most courageous military exercises (and exercise of Presidential decision-making) in our nation’s history. War is hell, people, and shit is going to happen. Tragic indeed for all sides!!

  4. Claverack Weekender

    If you were waging war against an enemy that had overwhelming military capability what tactics would you use? Especially if the enemy already had the moral high ground? Hezbollah has already proven themselves to be pretty heartless, so I wouldn’t put it past them to manufacture Qana. Dead children always seem to quickly turn public opinion.

  5. alan

    It is certainly a very sad situation when innocent children die in war. However, as Matt pointed out Israel has gone out of its way in an attempt to clear these people before they bomb. They were not trying to kill civilians. Hezbollah is killing civilians on both sides by hiding among the people. So if you are Israel what do you do? Stop fighting while your people are being killed? Being a pacifist is not always the practical thing to do.

  6. Salem

    Yesterday, I was transfixed on the photo of a mother and child awaiting evacuation in Beirut. The photo was and I could not turn away from the child’s expression. I saw my daughter in her eyes.
    No matter what our political opinions are on the Middle East, we cannot just click past the suffering. I hope, for the sake of the Lebanese children who have survived, that Isreal and the international community finish the dissarmament of Hezzbollah at least in Southern Lebanon. Lebanon is not Iraq.

  7. Liberal but confused

    Dead civilians and children are sickening anywhere. But this conflict is also showing us that terrorist groups like Hezbollah are always around, always ready for the next fight. They are not interested in peace, and if they were closer to our soil, we’d want them eliminated.
    What do we do if we ignore them and let them grow until they get nukes?
    I am starting to wonder – and gasp, someone set me straight – whether it’s good that we’re in Iraq after all, because at least we’ve got a place to watch the terrorists and try to keep them from getting stronger.
    Yes, this new conflict is actually making me see a point in Bush’s war! Since I don’t know anymore than what I glimpse in the papers, anyone want to set me straight? I shudder that I’m starting to see Bush’s position…

  8. Chris M

    Hezbollah has conducted its terrorism fight against Israel by using the standard terrorist tactic of mixing non-uniformed fighters with civilians to draw fire into civilian populations. This is effective because it does not make rockets fired at Israeli civilians any less deadly while it is only matter of time before an Israeli bomb hits a lot of civilians. Then Israel is shamed into a cease fire while Hezbollah lives to kill more innocent civilians another day. Hezbollah has no shame. “Stop the killing” is only delay and extend the killing.
    In World War II, a normal week would result in 5,000 U.S. soldiers killed. The number of civilians killed is mind boggling. Millions and millions. The alternative was fascists killing millions for decades. Kim Jong Il and his father have been at it for decades and have killed millions in one small country.
    Sometimes there is no good choice. Right now there is no good choice.

  9. Josie

    Once you have your own kids, those scenes — whether from the news or the Hollywood set of a movie — affect you profoundly, in a way you might never have thought possible pre-kids. It’s all so sad…

  10. Piglet

    How dare those children stand in the way of bombs! They probably did it on purpose just to make Israel look bad!
    Just change a few words from the Republican PR script for the dusky-hued victims of Katrina, and you’ve got the excuse for this one, too…

  11. kjf

    tom friedman was interviewed by tim russert this weekend on meet the press. one part of his interview really summed up what is wrong with this administration….see excerpt below.
    MR. RUSSERT: Let’s talk about the Bush administration and a quote from your column on Friday. And here’s what Tom Friedman wrote: “America should be galvanizing the forces of order – Europe, Russia, China and India – into a coalition against these trends. But we can’t. Why? In part, it’s because our president and our secretary of state, although they speak with great moral clarity, have no moral authority. That’s been shattered by their performance in Iraq.
    “The world hates George Bush more than any U.S. president in my lifetime. He is radioactive – and so caught up in his own ideological bubble that he is incapable of imagining or forging alternative strategies.” Pretty strong.
    MR. FRIEDMAN: It was strong. It’s meant to be strong. Look at the situation we’re now in. You can’t go anywhere in the world right now—and I travel a lot—without getting that feeling from people thrown in your face. Why is that? You know, I’ve been asking myself that a lot. Some of it’s excessive, this dislike, this distaste, this hatred of George Bush. But what’s it about? Whenever you see something that excessive, you know?
    And the way I explain it is this way: Foreigners love to make fun of Americans. Our naivete, our crazy thought that every problem has a solution, that silly American notion, that silly American optimism. But you know what, Tim? Deep down, the world really envies that American optimism and naivete. And the world needs that American optimism and naivete.
    And so when we go from a country that, historically, has always exported hope to a country that always exports fear, what we do, and what this administration has done, is actually stolen something from people. Whether it’s an African or a European or an Arab or Israeli, it’s that idea of an optimistic America out there. People really need that idea, and the sort of dark nature of the Cheneys and the Bushes and the Rices, this, this sort of relentless pessimism about the world, this exporting of fear, not hope, has really left people feeling that the idea of America has been stolen from them. And I would argue that that is the animating force behind so much of the animus directed at George Bush.

  12. Matt

    Ouch, LFMD.
    Piglet, is that what the Iraeli children are doing as well? Just trying to make Hezbollah look bad? Of course, in the case of Lebanese civilian casualties there is evidence that Hezbollah has prevented them from fleeing to safety (hoping to use them as human shields) while launching rocket attacks from residential areas and near UN compounds.
    I truly don’t understand the animosity towards Israel for trying to protect itself, unless it’s simply a proxy with which to bash the U.S. (e.g. “And Israel will keep getting free bombs from the United States while Condi plays the piano.” — What, no curiousity as to where Hezbollah gets its bombs?) How many posts are there on this blog that exhibit a similar condemnation of Hezbollah for the *intentional* murder of Israeli children? I know Ian doesn’t approve of that, of course, but what use are his War Is Bad platitudes that ignore the fact that Israel didn’t start this conflict, is trying to avoid civilian casualties while protecting their own population and would end their offensive operations tomorrow if the Islamic extremists would only stop attacking them. I can only recall one such post about 6 months or so ago, for which he later recanted and apologized.
    And you’re wrong on the race factor of Katrina, too, Piglet.
    “Did New Orleans blacks die at a higher rate than whites in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? On the evidence so far, the answer is no. Of the 1,100 bodies recovered in Louisiana after Katrina, 836 were found in New Orleans, and the state has released data on 568 of those that were judged to be storm-related. As of last week, blacks, which were 67.2 percent of the pre-storm population of New Orleans, account for 50.9 percent of the city victims so far identified by race. It was New Orleans Caucasians who died way out of proportion to their numbers-28 percent of the population, 45.6 percent of the city’s known Katrina deaths by race. …
    “[T]he Los Angeles Times ran an excellent article, also on December 18, that began this way: ‘The bodies of New Orleans residents killed by Hurricane Katrina were almost as likely to be recovered from middle-class neighborhoods as from the city’s poorer districts, such as the Lower 9th Ward.’ The paper reported that its own analysis ‘contradicts what swiftly became conventional wisdom in the days after the storm hit–that it was the city’s poorest African American residents who bore the brunt of the hurricane.'”

  13. Wayne

    I don’t comment here too often but this post, and the comments so far, prompt me to say a couple of things.
    Despite Ian’s pleas for a deeper consideration of the tragedy of innocent lives lost, some here still respond with righteous indignation. One even goes so far as to look into the faces of dead children and say, “Shit happens.” All the comparisons to WWII are thinly veiled attempts to tell all those concerned by this “Well, it could be much worse. Stop whining.” Personally, I reject this logic as the tripe best spewed by the Majors of Simpleton.
    For those, I have three simple questions:
    1. What would Israel have to do to lose a degree of the blind support of the US?
    Defy UN resolutions regarding its military tactics? That worked for Iraq but apparently does not apply to Israel.
    Read here:
    Or here:
    2. What does the US get in return for its unwavering support of Israel?
    Did they jump to our aid in Iraq or Afghanistan? No. Does this aid assist us with our “War on Terror”? No, it exacerbates the problem. What strategic goal does it help us met? Why are Americans ok with almost $3 Billion dollars in direct aid and another $3 Billion in indirect aid every year? That is at least $5 or 6 billion of our tax dollars! That is more than all of Africa and Latin America combined.
    3. Why does Israel get an exemption to any serious criticism in this country?
    It is almost as if it is the dangerous third rail that can’t be touched. Despite everything you may have heard on Fox or CNN, being against Israeli policy is not at all the same thing as being anti-Semitic. We should be able to have a serious debate in this country about this—especially if it is decided that a multi-national force is to move into this area. Yet, House Resolution 921 (supporting Israel’s attacks on Lebanon) passed with only 8 people voting against it (7 Democrats and 1 Republican.)
    Meanwhile, only a few hours after Israel announced a 48 hour cease fire period to investigate the killings in Qana, they ….
    Wait for it….
    started back bombing.
    So much for giving the people of Lebanon fair warning, right?

  14. Lee

    I read some article in Vanity Fair a few months ago talking about our blind support of Israel and how it’s all about the Rapture and this fundamentalist Christian belief that we can expedite the second coming of Christ if we provoke Israel into some kind of Revelation type apocolypse. And supposedly W is of that camp.
    I don’t know if people are really that crazy, but it was way creepy!
    Their archives are down right now or I’d link it.

  15. Salem

    Do not try and interpret any political ideology from this statement, because it is not intended to be political, simply an observation. Isreal is surrounded by armed combatants and nations (Iran) whose leaders have sworn to fight until Isreal is wiped off the face of the globe. I have never witnessed a nation, with the military power and wealth of Isreal, show such restraint.
    Now a political comment. Unless you stand for the relocation of the Jewish nation, Hezzbolah are the bad guys. Really,really,really, the bad guys. They were the bad guys when they blew up our Marine barracks in the 80’s and they are the bad guys today. They should carry the blame for those children killed by Isrealli bombs.

  16. Ian

    It seems as though a number of people have had their comments blocked by my blog software because they are putting their “blogspot” URL in the space provided. That’s because hundreds of thousands of spammers have started using blogspot accounts to post torrents of spam on this site.
    I’m going to try and delete that particular rule so you can all put your blogspot accounts back on here, but for now, just leave the URL field blank when you post (if you use blogspot).
    Thanks muchly!

  17. Anne D.

    War is hell. Period.
    We got a taste of that hell on 9/11. Others must live with it day in and day out, for decades, even lifetimes.
    It is exhausting and depleting to contemplate the human waste and pain happening in the Middle East and other troubled areas of the world. Thankfully, our daily lives force us to go on in spite of it all.
    Being mindful and constructive is good. Sometimes it’s all we can do.

  18. CP

    3. Why does Israel get an exemption to any serious criticism in this country?
    It is almost as if it is the dangerous third rail that can’t be touched. Despite everything you may have heard on Fox or CNN, being against Israeli policy is not at all the same thing as being anti-Semitic.
    excellent point. very true. (the exception of course being mel gibson, who was obviously talking about the revolutionary war.)

  19. Zel M.

    Disclaimer: I am not an evil, no-feeling bastard. The sight of the tragedy at Qana is gut-wrenching. That having been said, this is the kind of post and topic that sets my bullshit detector to warp factor 8.
    First, I’m not saying what the Israelis did was excusable. Not in the slightest. But you certainly can’t think this action was intentional. Bad things happen in war. OK, so fuck me in advance, but to deny this is like saying “please explain why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but don’t use any of that rotating Earth bullshit.”
    Second, why did Israel bomb Qana? Because that’s where Hezbollah was firing rockets from. Let’s not forget who started this. More questions: why does Hezbollah exist? For the annihilation of Israel, right? What, exactly, is Israel supposed to do? How are they to respond?
    We have been told by those who oppose the war in Iraq that since we were attacked by al-Qaeda on 9/11, then we were OK to chase al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. How is this different?
    Third, the cries have been for cease-fire, and that it is somehow the responsibility of the United States to broker the cease-fire. Two parts to this one:
    A) So it’s OK to get involved in Somalia and Bosnia, not Iraq, but now somehow we’re responsible for Lebanon and Israel? Could someone on the left please provide the secret decoder ring so we all know what international things we can get involved in and which we can’t?
    B) Did any of you read Charles Krauthammer’s piece in the Washington Post about two weeks ago? Basically, he says that Israel has given practically everything their Arab neighbors have asked for at the bargaining table, and yet they keep provoking Israel. And where is Hezbollah attacking Israel from? South Lebanon, from where Israel agreed to withdraw as a result of negotiation.
    Fourth, who exactly is Hezbollah shooting at? Is Hezbollah targeting exclusively military objectives? How about suicide bombers – only walking up to the police stations and military barracks, right? Same in Iraq, right? Oh, civilians are being killed by the “insurgents” and Hezbollah, huh? Who knew?
    Finally, the question I would pose to all from the left (and those on the right and in the middle who oppose current policies): What would you do? How exactly would you handle it? What would you do specifically? Every time I ask that question on this blog I am swatted away, or I get “well, I wouldn’t have done that.”
    And nothing personal, Ian, but I did look up “pragmatic pacifism” and I chuckled at the Wikipedia definition (OK, there are lots of things to chuckle at in Wikipedia, but follow me here): “Pragmatic (or Consequential) pacifism does not hold to such an absolute principle but considers there to be better ways of resolving a dispute than war or considers the benefits of a war to be outweighed by the costs.”
    Well, no shit, Sherlock. Anyone with any degree of humanity or civility thinks that, or at least I hope they would. But at some point, to borrow your term, pragmatism has to take over. Israel has learned that at the bargaining table.

  20. Chris M

    Israel has been shedding its own blood fighting our enemies (I’m sorry — the enemies of most Americans) since 1967. Israel was our proxy in the Middle East during the Cold War and fought Soviet armed and funded Syria and Egypt twice. In 1981 Israel later took out an Iraq nuclear reactor. Israel’s courage and abilities helped avoid direct confrontation between the nuclear armed superpowers. Israel continues to be one of our strongest allies. What ally has done more?
    Of course if you don’t support a strong defense policy for the U.S. it is unlikely you would ascribe much value to the efforts of Israel.

  21. DFB's&T's

    Although Zel M and I are not the same person, it is insane the number of times he gets mistaken for me or Greg From Winston Dorm.

  22. Wayne

    Zel M.: “the question I would pose to all from the left (and those on the right and in the middle who oppose current policies): What would you do? How exactly would you handle it? What would you do specifically?”
    I believe that the answer is to address the root cause of the conflict -the 1947 UN Partition Plan.
    Perceived by many Arabs as the enactment of Der Judenstaat and the end of the British Mandate for Palestine, the Partition Plan has resulted in the mistreatment of the Palestinian people. They became refugees in their own country and have remained so for almost 60 years. All the while, Israel has denied them citizenship or rights of any kind. Do you know that today there are over 4,300,000 people classified as Palestinian refugees by the UN?
    Until these wrongs are corrected the conflict will go on. The Bush “road map” plan called for two states yet there still is no viable Palestine. Yes, attacks from terriorist groups have continued but so have settlements and further construction of the barrier in the West Bank (which illegally annexes land.) All of these things were to cease based on the plan. The problem must be addressed at the root, not by dropping bombs or blowing up buses.

  23. xuxE

    i agree israel is never held accountable and killing innocent children is not an act of self defense. the terrorists kill people, we kill people, what’s the difference other than a set of rules of engagement of war that we feel free to break anyway?
    i hold israel to a higher standard because they are considered our “ally” and thereby an extension of “us”. and i think there is a clear difference between self defense and the chess game that is going on right now over there. the self defense angle is just the same type of cover story spin that israel always puts on their actions.
    it’s the same ludicrous argument that gw made for some kind of pro-active self defense when we invaded iraq, a kind of rationale that means the US (and now its allies too, apparently) are apparently able to invade other countries when they deem it to be self defense and screw it if the rest of the world doesn’t agree.
    i think what’s most infuriating is that gw is implying that somewhere in all this there is some path to peace in the middle east. that is so ludicrous, i think at best you would get a bit of cold war detante.
    i mean, when i imagine what it looks like when a group of people want and actively strive for peace it is way different than power struggles and territorial and resource disputes, which is what this looks like and why it is so disgusting to watch.

  24. xuxE

    @wayne – i totally agree, but not just a contract, also the real will to abide by it and live peacefully, which remains to be seen.

  25. Steph Mineart

    In addition to what Wayne is addressing, we need an administration that is looking at the bigger picture. This level of conflict has been on the brink for decades, but has been held back in the past by the more moderate Arab states like Egypt reining in Hezbollah, working in concert with a US adminstration that keeps a steadying hand on Israel. But this adminstration forsook that role when invading Iraq; we no longer have credibility with more moderate Arab states, and our absorbtion with Iraq means we’re not holding back Israel’s overreaction to provocation.

  26. KTS

    Wayne, that’s great stuff you’ve been pointing out. Though it’s seldom heard in this country, it sure is heard in the rest of the world…
    Here’s another nice slice (from Reuters) of “collateral damage” that is totally unnecessary:
    “Along Lebanon’s sandy beaches and rocky headlands runs a belt of black sludge, 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean after Israel bombed a power plant.
    “Lebanon’s Environment Ministry says the oil flooded into the sea when Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jiyyeh plant south of Beirut on July 13 and 15, creating an ecological crisis that Lebanon’s government has neither the money nor the expertise to deal with.
    “We have never seen a spill like this in the history of Lebanon. It is a major catastrophe,” Environment Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf told Reuters…
    Through satellite, Greece has located the huge oil slick off the Lebanese coast. The Ministry of Mercantile Marine has briefed all neighbouring countries, while the Greek Port Authority has its entire means on alert to deal with the sea pollution in case it reaches the Greek sea territories.
    “The Ministry’s prime concern is to protect Greece’s sea life, especially in the area of the eastern Aegean, while it is willing to offer its know-how if requested.”
    As Lawrence Welk would say, “Wonderful, wonderful.”

  27. kent

    I am a pacifist, but I feel like pacifism is a process, not an absolute. As a friend of mine pointed out, true pacifism only works when everyone is a pacifist. In game-theoretical terms, in a world of mostly pacifists, the warlike run rampant.
    I’m also, I like to think, realistic, and realistically, war is just diplomacy by other means. Wars happen because someone with the power to go to war decides there’s more to gain from the war than the price of the war.
    The world has been tantalizingly close to a peaceful Middle East many times, and there’s always one party or another who shits all over it. The only way I can see peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and Israel’s Arab neighbors is for enough of the parties to the conflicts to see more to gain from peace than from war.
    I think Hizbullah made a cynical, calculated decision to provoke Israel, and they saw things turning out the way they have in advance. I have no sympathies for Hizbullah, but you have to admire their cunning. With a tiny effort, they have provoked a huge response that is very unpopular, both in the Arab and Western nations.
    Hizbullah yanked Israel’s chain, and the Israelis did what they did without a second thought. But Israel was played. They could have put their citizens in shelters, or moved them out of the North, and put on a full court diplomatic press to get their soldiers back by peaceful means. I doubt that Hizbullah would have kept up the level of rocket attacks on Israel if they weren’t being attacked; they would have no grounds for moral equivalency.
    This is, after all, still a world where there is a powerful plurality of nations of the world who will attempt to solve problems without bloodshed, with whom the moral high ground matters. And diplomacy would have work eventually, because even Hizbullah fighters need clean socks and bread. Without public support and the argument of moral equivalence, Hizbullah stands naked as a bunch of thugs, and reasonable people everywhere won’t be drawn into support their actions.
    The best story of Quaker pacifism is this one: William Penn, as a English noble, was expected to wear a sword at all times. He asked George Fox about being a Quaker and wearing a sword, and Fox didn’t tell him to take it off, he said “Wear it as long as thou canst.”
    The point of the story being, I guess, that even in an imperfect, often violent world, if you accept the view that war solves nothing, you eventually must let go of the weapons of war, and find other ways to defend yourself.
    Israel, eventually, will have to see past an eye for an eye violence, because there’s never an end to it. They might not immediately or totally quell the violence against them. But their current tactics of assassination, bulldozing people’s houses and all out war only engenders more support for Hizbullah and a new cycle of violence and revenge. Giving up violent retaliation as the weapon of choice robs Hamas and Hizbullah of their most valuable property — a brutal bogeyman of an enemy.

  28. Chris M

    Looks like Qana may have been staged by Hez for propaganda value. They do it because it works. A lot of people really dislike Israel because they don’t like Jews or don’t like anyone allied with the U.S., or both.

  29. xuxE

    hkk – anytime you doubt that pacifism is a viable approach (even as an absolute) all you have to do is remember that five-foot-nothing bald indian guy.
    be the change you wish to see in the world.

  30. Matt

    Ghandi’s approach was effective, xuxE, because it was employed against the British, who tend not to mow down peaceful protestors. Islamists don’t have such qualms. You would never had heard of Ghandi had he been born in Saddam’s Iraq or Nasrallah’s Lebanon.
    Qana faked? Reports are making that look like a distinct possibility. Remember Jenin?

  31. kaz

    wayne and others, the problem with going to 1947 (or any other arbitrary time) is that the jews/israelis/bedouins/”palestinians” have all been in that area for 5000 years. so, you’re getting to the scorecard a bit late. and the whole game of “we were here first” will NEVER make sense. because the palestinians should be attacking the BRITISH to get their land back, not the beneficiaries of western politics post-WWII.
    besides that, the he-said/she-said doesn’t actually lead to an answer. AND, as has been pointed out here and in many other places, if this was just about land, israel has bent over backwards and then some to make offers and negotiations. it’s NOT about land. the end.

  32. Zel M.

    No, Emma, I am not DFB’s&T’s – but how come we’re never at the same place at the same time? Hmmmm…
    Wayne, you make my point. For radical Arabs, the point is the EXISTENCE of the Jewish state. And no cease-fire, no amount of negotiation is going to placate the radicals. Whether you use boundaries from 1967, 1948, or 100 B.C., it is irrelevant. In fact, one of the PLO’s Fatah network leaders was assassinated by his own bodyguard in the late 1990s for becoming too conciliatory with Israel.
    xuxE, I see your point about Israel being an extension of us. But I see it from a more sinister view, in that the Arab world sees it that way also, and considering the previous paragraph, our support of Israel therefore condemns us to the same fate, in the eyes of the Arab extremists.
    For the pacifists among our gentle readers, let me say that non-violence should always be a goal, that negotiation and conflict resolution should always be tantamount.
    That having been said, let me offer this history lesson – no armed conflict in modern times has ever been satisfactorily resolved by negotiation with both sides at equal or near-equal strength. One side has to be unwilling or unable to continue its war effort.
    That, in my view, is Israel’s strategy. Having been under attack since literally the day of their formation, they beat the hell out of whatever Islamofascist du jour comes along (Egypt, Syria, Hezbollah, etc), until the enemy is unwilling or unable to continue fighting. Then there is a period of relative calm until some new Islamofascist gets enough hair on his balls to try again. Then Israel smacks him down, and calm ensues until…well, you get the picture.
    The difference is that Israel just doesn’t care what the world thinks about them. They are fighting for their literal, not figurative, survival.

  33. xuxE

    @matt – i think it’s a very very weak argument to think that if there was a true peace movement in that region they would have to only read by ghandi’s playbook, chapter and verse. it’s the idea of nonviolence as a path to peace that is at the heart of the idea, not war as a path to peace.
    and actually, the british did mow down peaceful protesters. and when they did, it made the movement stronger and villified the british even further for what they had done than if the movement had fired a few pistols back at them (in which case most of them would have been dead anyway).
    @zel – but i don’t think israel has any credibility when they say they are purely victims. i think its not enough to live in an anti-war “leave us alone” mode, you have to be pro-peace. and israel does not behave in a pro-peace manner, it behaves in a protectionist, insulated, and ethnocentric and often downright racist manner towards its neighbors.
    why hasn’t the MLK of israel lead a pro-peace march to mecca?

  34. Wayne

    Since your comments are addressed to me directly (along with others) I would like to reply.
    Thank you for understanding that all the parties involved have been in this area for thousands of years. However, 1947 is by no means an arbitrary date. This is the date when the UN stepped into a hostile situation where Zionists were clashing with Arabs.
    In 1947, the UN put forth their solution that was intended to create a Jewish state for Jewish refugees as well as create a state for the Arabs. However, this agreement was never agreed to by the Arabs for many reasons. Yet it went forward anyway and suddenly there was a new country called Israel. I don’t think that the average American even understands that this is what happened. I think that the average American thinks that Israel has existed since the time of Jesus and has been there all along. Anyway, the Partition Plan has been abused, discarded and overrun by the IDF for every year since its creation. And this has caused enormous hostility on the part of Arabs that manifests itself in horrible retaliation.
    This is not an issue of “we were here first.” The issue is how the new invented state of Israel has treated the Arabs since the time of its creation. Other countries in the area took sides and the conflict became an ingrained issue that is not resolved. Protest groups have turned into terrorist groups because a solution has not presented itself and there are over 4 million refugees who Israel refuses to recognize.
    The reason to return to 1947 is that what was intended then, as a compromise, has turned into something else. Yet, Americans have been trained to turn a blind eye to this. And I would like to know why. Yes, Israel may have been an asset during the cold war. That is what billions of dollars will buy. But what are they to us now? I would say a liability that I am not willing to support.

  35. Wayne

    Zel M.,
    Your comments to me regard the right for Israel to exist. I don’t know you so I need to understand more about your position. Will you please tell me why YOU believe that Israel has this right?

  36. Zel M.

    xuxE: “Downright racist manner towards its neighbors”? I thought oppressed minorities couldn’t be racist by their very nature and definitions (sorry, had to get in that anti-PC dig ;-) )
    Seriously, I agree with you in that Israel’s actions have not been pro-peace. They are meant to be a show of force, to demonstrate to a hostile enemy the lengths they will go to ensure their survival.
    To me, it’s kind of like this: it is generally thought the USA and USSR never went nuclear during the cold war because of mutually assured destruction – meaning a salvo by one side would be met with an equally destructive salvo by the other side, so neither one tried it.
    In the middle east, on the other hand, salvos are launched against Israel all the time and the default response is to kick the shit out of the attackers so they won’t do it again, at least for a while. It is MAD gone mad – and in my opinion, if Israel doesn’t make it absolute hell for its attackers, it will only embolden its attackers further. No Israeli MLK has stepped forward for peace because it does not serve Israel’s interests to be at “peace” – it serves Israel’s interests to be able to say “swipe at me again and I will f*ck you up.”
    Wayne: I make no assertations about Israel’s right to exist, only that they do exist and their actions are preedicated on continuing to make sure they exist.

  37. CP
    AH: …which is why Gibson’s agent, Ed Limato, should immediately drop him as a client. And not because his boss at ICM, Jeff Berg, is Jewish, nor because so many of his clients, including Billy Crystal, are Jewish. This isn’t a matter of Jews sticking together or non-Jews showing solidarity. It’s about choosing sides in the real battle being fought all across the globe — the fight between extremism and rationality, between hatred and common decency.
    And Bob Iger at Disney needs to pull the plug on two Gibson projects that are in the works. The company is slated to distribute Gibson’s latest directorial project, Apocalypto, opening on December 8. They should refuse to do so. And ABC, which is owned by Disney, should, without delay, scrap its head-scratching plan to develop a miniseries about the Holocaust with Gibson’s company (yep, you read that right).
    Yet when asked about the status of the still-in-development miniseries, an ABC spokeswoman said, “It is not at the point where you would make those determinations. There is no script.”
    Question for ABC: Do you really need to see a script to know that the idea of having a Holocaust-set miniseries produced by a guy who thinks “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” is a god-awful one?
    Reading the horror stories of the survivors of the Qana bombing, any rational person’s instinct is to criticize the tactics Israel is using to take on Hezbollah. Then a thought arises: will this criticism come across as part and parcel of the anti-Semitic worldview of the Gibson crowd?
    Which is yet another reason Gibson needs to be ostracized: his lunatic ravings make it all-the-harder for legitimate criticisms of Israel’s methods to be expressed and to be heard with uncluttered ears.

  38. Wayne

    Zel M.,
    Please don’t try to avoid my question. I asked about your opinion about Israeli rights and I would like to hear your reply. Do you believe that Israel has a fundamental right to exist and if so, why? Thanks.

  39. Rebecca

    I’m totally with you on this one. It made me feel ill to see those pictures. My children get upset when I cry when reading stuff online, and then to try to explain it to them is damn near impossible. Now Ethan can read, and it’s difficult to shield him from the horrors that happen daily around the world.

  40. Zel M.

    I wasn’t avoiding your question. You assumed I believed Israel has a right to exist and I simply replied that my comments make no reflection on their right to exist, only that they do.
    As for my personal opinion, I believe I do not have sufficient standing to make any more than a stab in the dark. I am neither Jewish nor Palestinian, so I have no dog in the fight. This area, with the Jewish diaspora and the history of occupation, as well as being the junction of sacred soil for three major religions makes this a topic as deep as its two thousand-year history and one that may be beyond my pay grade.
    But, if that obfuscation wasn’t too much for you, my own opinion is that yes, Israel has a right to exist, not based on some historic argument or sacred Zionistic quest to return to the homeland.
    My opinion is based solely on the merits of the fact that the UN attempted to, rightly or wrongly, implement the partition plan of 1947. Although there was disagreement and breakdowns from the very beginning, if the door was opened for the Jewish state to be formed, then it has a right to continue its existence.
    We can argue Israeli motivations, land grabs, offensive/defensive maneuvers for hours (and, it sounds like it would be fun, Wayne). But to imply that Israel is not a legitimate state is to, by extension, imply that Australia or the US are not legitimate (among others) for displacing an indigenous population.

  41. Alyson

    I hope, I hope so much, that anyone who has experienced great loss (or great gifts, in your case, and, I hope, so many others) will see ALL the destruction in the world in human terms. I hope, I hope so much.
    And I am reminded to hope by things like your blog, where everyone is hopeful, despite their opinions, and where we’re led to that place by you every day.

  42. Wayne

    Thanks for the reply Zel M. I think that we are in total agreement on that part of this issue. I am glad that you can see the parallel with Australia and the US. Many Americans don’t.


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