12 January 2024

Already tried, already failed

Much of the recent Western discourse about Israel and its ongoing conflicts with genocidal Islamist fanaticism has frankly descended into gibbering lunacy.  Some of this is due to evil -- but more, I think, is due to ignorance.  The conflict between Israel and the Islamists is genuinely complex, involving concepts and history unfamiliar (or misunderstood) among most Westerners.  I've seen several posts on the topic which begin with the author announcing, "I know very little about this issue, but....." and then proceeding to make it all too clear how true that is.

Well, the Middle East is probably the area I know the most about, so here I'll address two examples of the aforementioned gibbering lunacy -- the calls for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Hamas war, and the "two-state solution".

Western concerns about the deaths of civilians in the Gaza Strip are understandable, but the calls for a ceasefire which would allow Hamas to rearm and regroup are madness. The Allied bombing of Germany during World War II killed a lot of innocent civilians too, and that was similarly unfortunate, but the bottom line was that the Nazi regime was irredeemably evil and needed to be destroyed whatever the cost.  It would have been insane to aim for some kind of negotiated settlement that allowed the Nazi regime to remain in power in Germany.  The same is true of Hamas.  Even the original Nazis didn't show the same kind of boastful glee in their atrocities that Hamas has.

Recall, too, that the figures for civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip that are appearing in the Western media are meaningless.  The media are simply parroting numbers from the "Gaza Health Ministry" or "health officials", all of which are part of Hamas.  Whatever numbers Hamas is claiming are what it wants the world to believe; there's no reason to think they have any connection with reality.  These figures also don't distinguish between civilians and terrorists being killed.

Nevertheless, it's obvious that many civilians have been killed.  Aside from Hamas's well-known habit of putting military installations in civilian sites (example), to use the people there as human shields, none of these deaths would have occurred if Hamas had not attacked Israel on October 7 and forced Israel into a war to destroy it.  The blood of dead civilians in Gaza is on Hamas's hands, just as the responsibility for the German civilians killed by Allied bombing rested entirely with Hitler, who started the war without which the bombing would not have happened.

And aside from all this, there was already a ceasefire in effect on October 7 -- Hamas violated it by attacking Israel.  It was Hamas that proved that ceasefires are worthless -- they merely give terrorists time to arm and prepare until they are ready to attack, at which point they simply blast away the ceasefire in a barrage of missiles and bloody atrocities.  "Gibbering lunacy" is not too strong a term for demanding a repeat of the very same thing -- a ceasefire -- that led to the current disaster in the first place.

The current Israeli campaign must continue until Hamas is destroyed.  Anything short of that would just set the stage for another round of atrocities and retaliation later, rendering the sacrifice of all those who have died meaningless, wasted.

As for a two-state solution, a couple of years after the original British mandate of Palestine was created, the eastern three-fourths of it was separated and made into an Arab state -- Transjordan, which still exists today, re-named Jordan.

But of course what the proponents today mean is creating a second Palestinian state on land west of the Jordan river.  The thing is, that has already been tried.  While the West Bank remains under Israeli occupation, all Israeli control of the Gaza Strip was withdrawn in 2005 and it has been effectively a self-governing Palestinian state since then.  This is what made the horror of October 7 possible.  Giving the same independence to the West Bank too would just put the most densely-populated part of Israel within range of the same kind of attack.

A two-state solution of that kind hasn't been a realistic option for decades (Palestinian leaders repeatedly rejected it), but October 7 has killed it utterly and for all time.  The Gaza Strip since 2005 has been a small-scale test of the concept, and the results are now revealed.  Israel will never again allow such a horrific threat to take root on its borders, and any Western pressure upon it to do so would be a betrayal fully on par with Munich 1938.

The situation really is closely analogous to that of Czechoslovakia before 1938.  The Sudetenland region within Czechoslovakia was geographically essential to the country's ability to defend itself; but because its population was ethnically German, Western democracies at the Munich conference forced democratic Czechoslovakia to hand it over to fascist Germany in exchange for promises of lasting peace.  As we all know, Germany simply invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia a few months later.  There is, of course, one difference -- unlike Hitler, the jihadists are not even pretending to offer peace if Israel is similarly forced to hand over the West Bank and Gaza Strip to them.  They are saying right up front that their goal is the total annihilation of Israel.

It is said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but what actually does the paving is ignorance.  The West must stop pressing "solutions" which would merely repeat past errors and make an already agonizing situation even worse.


Blogger NickM said...

I always thought the two state solution was guff. Some naively believed it could work and some folks mendaciously pushed it because publically advocating a non-starter meant the mess could continue. I mean, without the eternal conflict Islamists would be deprived of their ONE BIG MOAN.

Why "guff"? Well, I suppose Israel/"Palestine" can be seen as the original* India/Pakistan in miniature. The two parts of the putative Palestinian state are geographically seperated by their sworn enemy. They are quite different from each other. Gaza is a failed city state (yes, it could have been the Singapore of the Eastern Med) and the West Bank is largely agrarian. Other than religion and (dubious) claims of shared ethnicity they have very little in common. I think a three state solution could work if, basically, the Palestinians wanted it to work. There is no compelling reason in principle why Gaza and the West Bank couldn't be really nice, rich, democratic states. But they're too small. Go tell that one in Luxembourg or Andorra!

Alas, the Palestinians seem so consumed with hate they can't even conceive of that. Of course for the likes of the Hamas leadership (living high on the hog in Qatar) the enduring abject state of their "subjects" is a plus and not a minus especially when that deep embitterment can be re-directed.

I am not exonerating Israel entirely. They have made mistakes such as the settlements in the West Bank. I guess that's what happens when Netanyahu relies on the support of Israel's own religious fanatics...

*Before Bangladesh became independent of Pakistan.

12 January, 2024 07:36  
Blogger Ami said...

Thank you for the thoughtful analysis. I'm one of those 'I don't really understand what's going on' people, except there's no way in hell I'd write about something like this. I often share your posts with friends because you take the time to explain and you don't seem to be burdened with the urge to do what I call author intrusion.

You know what I mean, right? A person will be reading a passage or article or essay and be in sync with what's being laid out when suddenly the person who wrote it tosses out a big word or an odd phrase that takes you away from the flow. Almost like, "Hey Ma, look how good I'm writin'!!"

I have learned many things from reading your blog. Thank you.

12 January, 2024 11:11  
Blogger Green Eagle said...


First, a seeming diversion to an apparently irrelevant subject: the MAGA movement in the United States. Here we have a political party which exists solely to aid a tiny number of sociopathic billionaires in their campaign to loot the entire wealth of our country. They accomplish this by spending billions on propaganda to fool 30% of the populace into believing an insane collection of paranoid conspiracy theories, and then lend their support to forces that are tearing their lives to shreds.

We have essentially the exact same thing going on in the Middle East. A minuscule number of criminal billionaires, the Arab oil dictators, are desperately threatened by this tiny little state in their midst that is thriving on its own; a state which shows every one of the 460 million Arabs what they too could have without the billionaires' yoke around their necks. So the billionaires have spent decades fabricating a gigantic lie about Israel and spending all it takes to feed this lie to the world. And it is having phenomenal success with "progressives." It is an almost exact left wing duplication of the creation of the MAGA hordes. All supposedly political differences are nothing but varnish on top of the greed of wealthy criminals.

12 January, 2024 14:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: They seem to be more interested in rehashing the past than in building the future. The 1940s saw many population transfers far larger and more violent than the transfer of Palestinians from Israel in 1948, but in almost all cases people settled down and adapted to where they were living instead of obsessing about reconquering the places they were kicked out of. The Palestinians didn't, and haven't. I don't know how much of that attitude was their own idea vs how much was fomented by Arab governments, but today it no longer matters. Just imagine if the Germans were still obsessing over reconquering and resettling Silesia and Pomerania. You don't build a successful future that way.

The most insane part of it is that they treat the status of refugee as something that can be inherited from generation to generation. 1948 was seventy-six years ago -- obviously very few of the actual refugees are even still alive. Most of the people called refugees now are their descendants, not actually refugees themselves.

I'm not sure the West Bank and Gaza could have been much better off than other non-oil-producing Arab countries, but being on the same level of development as, say, Jordan wouldn't be bad compared with what they have now.

As to the Jewish settlements, see the analogy with the Sudetenland again. After World War II Czechoslovakia dealt with that issue once and for all by expelling the German population from the Sudetenland and replacing them with Czechs. In the long run, something like that (hopefully as humane as possible) is the only option for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel can't give up the West Bank, at least, without becoming unacceptably geographically vulnerable. It can't assimilate the Muslim population there without losing its Jewish character. And it can't publicly acknowledge that it's trying to push the Muslims out of the West Bank, because American politicians couldn't publicly accept such a policy, because they're accountable to an American voting population which is irredeemably clueless about the realities of the conflict. So they have to come up with ways of pressuring Muslims to leave while maintaining plausible deniability about what they're doing. The settlements are one part of that.

Ami: Thank you for the encouragement. I appreciate it, and especially your sharing my posts.

I know exactly what you mean about "author intrusion". A writer's job is to communicate clearly, using language readers will understand. A writer who deliberately throws in obscure or technical words he knows most readers won't understand, without explaining them, is just showing off -- "Hey, look how smart I am, I know big words that you don't!" They're not fooling anybody. I believe it's possible to explain even complicated or strange topics in language that typical mainstream readers can understand

12 January, 2024 23:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Green: I really think this is exaggerating the role of a relatively minor contributing factor. The oil states didn't start building up really massive amounts of wealth until after the 1974 oil embargo, and the exterminationist hatred of Israel and the Jews goes back to Israel's origin -- earlier, really, considering evidence like the grant mufti of Jerusalem's support for Hitler. The real problem here is religious fanaticism. It's actually oil billionaires like the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE who are among the most willing Arab rulers to accept Israel. In fact, except in Iran, we don't see so much of the fervent calling for the destruction of Israel from the rulers any more -- the hate is being driven by the rank-and-file members of Hamas, Hezbollah, etc who are mostly not rich, but are deeply religiously indoctrinated, and consider the oil billionaires traitors who are not fully committed to the jihad.

As to the "progressives" in the West, I'm still shocked. I've had a lot of beefs with them over the years, but I never thought they would turn out to be closet Nazis. It seems that the old-style anti-Semitism of the pogroms and blood libels is still very much alive in that element of the political spectrum.

12 January, 2024 23:51  
Blogger CAS said...

I'm so glad to read your take on this. You make many excellent points. It's hard to imagine, however, that bombing the crap out of Gaza will result in putting an end to Arab hostilities.

What does it mean to "destroy Hamas"? Won't new psychopaths simply arise to continue what they proclaim is a fight for justice? Many Arabs, not just Palestinians, see Israel's government as corrupt and bitterly oppressive. With massive quantities of bigotry on both sides, an eventual peace seems decades away.

I like your analogy to Czechloslavakia and Germany after WWII but I think there is a much greater divide between Jews and Arabs than there was between Germans and Czechs. Religion is part of the problem.

15 January, 2024 12:29  
Blogger CAS said...

[Oops! I forgot to check the box to receive follow-up comments, so I'm adding this.]

15 January, 2024 12:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

CAS: Thank you. With regard to "bombing the crap out of Gaza", I would point out that it worked with Germany and Japan. Since 1945 those places haven't given any more trouble. It's not a matter of making enemies love us, it's a matter of showing them that committing aggression has unacceptable consequences.

It's the endless round of ceasefires, negotiations, shuttle diplomacy, and all the rest of it that has caused this conflict to drag on for decades. Wars normally end when one side totally defeats the other, as in 1945, but in the Arab-Israel conflict, that has never been allowed to happen. If the 1967 or 1973 wars had ended in the same way as World War II did -- with all the cities of Egypt and Syria bombed into ruins, their infrastructure smashed, their leaders executed, large parts of their territory annexed to Israel and the Arab population expelled, and so on -- then that would probably have been the end of it, as 1945 was the end of German and Japanese aggression. But every time, the West stepped in and stopped the natural progression of events before it reached that point. The conflict was never allowed to really end, so it just continues.

What would it mean to destroy Hamas? The same thing it meant to destroy the Nazi regime in Germany, or to destroy al-Qâ'idah after September 11. The Nazi regime in Germany really was uprooted and destroyed, and there was no really large revival of Nazi ideology in the West until after October 7 last year. Al-Qâ'idah was wiped out as a functional organization, though a few ragtag remnants here and there still use the name. All its leaders who were in place in 2001 have been killed. There are always various Islamist terrorist groups in operation, but that particular one no longer is, and in more than twenty-two years none have dared to strike at the West on that scale again.

My impression is that actually hatred for Israel has declined substantially in most Arab countries. It's mostly just among Palestinians that this rancid culture of irredentism keeps simmering, and not even all of them. For those who do continue to hate, it was never about "Israel's government" or "corruption". It was about refusal to tolerate the existence of any Jewish state, no matter how small, no matter what its character. It's an existential, annihilationist mentality, just as it was with the Nazis. In both cases, there's nothing the Jews could have done differently to get such enemies to accept their existence.

Also, there is no "both sides" here in any sense. Yes, there is anti-Arab prejudice in Israel -- inevitable given the situation -- but it's basically just the ordinary kind of racism you can see in the US or France or anywhere else, nothing comparable to the jihadist ideology. Also, Israeli prejudice against Arabs is strongest among those Jews descended from the Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries in 1948, who make up about half of Israel's population. It's the hostility of the formerly oppressed against their former oppressors, comparable to some black people's hostility against whites in the US.

By the end of World War II, the "divide" between Germans and Czechs was pretty deep. You might want to read up on some of the things the Czechs did to the ethnic German civilians of the Sudetenland while they were expelling them after the war. Be prepared for a few nightmares, though. I'm not joking. The anger at the way the Germans had treated them during the war and occupation was fierce, and they were out for revenge.

Religion certainly is part of the problem, and makes it more intractable. Real peace may not be possible until the Arab world becomes as secular at the West, which will take another generation or two at least. Until then, as I say, it's a matter of inflicting unacceptable consequences in retaliation for jihadist atrocities, so that they are at least afraid to act on their hatred.

16 January, 2024 03:57  
Blogger CAS said...

Great information. Thanks for the lengthy reply. I think you're right about lasting peace being out of reach until the Arab world becomes far more tolerant. I'm not convinced that a strategy that results in slaughter and deprivation for tens of thousands of civilians is the best way forward. The torturous killings committed and celebrated by fanatic terrorists are indeed barbaric and terrifying and seem much worse than dropping a bomb on a neighborhood. But for the impoverished people who are affected, who are just trying to eke out an existence that at least includes rich ties with friends and family (it's almost all they have), such actions are seen as far worse.

17 January, 2024 11:00  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks. I was worried that the reply might be too long, but I really feel it's necessary to get the truth out there -- and the situation genuinely is complicated. I appreciate your open-mindedness.

The problem here is that, the way Hamas is set up in the Gaza Strip, there is no other way forward than what Israel is doing -- except allowing Hamas to continue to exist, which is out of the question. And Israel's response has been extremely restrained considering the provocation.

If there are really people (in Gaza or elsewhere) who make a moral equivalence between cutting women's breasts off and sticking babies in ovens to slowly cook to death, vs the unavoidable civilian casualties that result from bombing a terrorist organization that deliberately puts its sites in schools and hospitals to put those civilians in harms way, then such people are literally insane and the world is better off without them.

It's possible that the German civilians bombed by the Allies during World War II believed that what was happening to them was worse than the Nazi atrocities against other countries. If so, it didn't matter. The Nazi regime needed to be destroyed and there was no way of doing that except by waging all-out war against Germany. It's not nice or pleasant, but the reality of the world sometimes leaves us with no other options.

All this may not set back the normalization of relations with other Arab countries as much as one might think. It will enrage the religious fanatics, but they're usually outraged about something or other anyway. A lot of other Arabs have long been sick and tired of the Palestinians' attitude and behavior. 75 years of bloodshed for the sake of an impossible fantasy is enough.

17 January, 2024 11:25  

Post a Comment

<< Home