>>Rather how much suffering can Israel inflict on the civilian population of Gaza and still justify it as HAMAS's fault.
And how much chaos, uncertainty, and death can Hamas rain down on Israel and still justify it as "freedom fighting" to you? To me, the key is once the rockets start flying, all bets are off. We fought in Vietnam for over a decade for a lamer reason than Qassam rockets.
>>And of course wars are fought with moral and strategic calculi
Who is the judge or executor of such calculus? The international community? The military generals? The politicians? You have got to be kidding me. Nope - once the fight gets to the bombs and rockets stage, I think the most universal rule is still shoot first and ask questions later.
>>And where do you get the idea that I underestimate US public opinion.
To quote your previous post:
>>And having a sense about how "these things play out to an American audience" is not the same as having a good sense of how these things play out.
I would argue that having a sense of how issues play with an American audience is extremely important to knowing how these issues are likely to resolve. How hard can Obama push Netanyahu, for instance? In my opinion, he has already overplayed his hand and risks further erosion of support if he continues to push Israel. Of course, he risks erosion of support if he continues to listen to Larry Summers in my view - and a host of other non-related issues.
>>I desperately want US opinion, including your own, to be more informed. And I am distressed when someone like you seems to indicate that they have strong opinions based primarily on TV news.
I don't base my opinion on TV news. But I base some of my understanding of where the US public is likely to be based on a loose survey of popular American news media. When they see a story like Neda dying in the streets or Palestinians teaching their children to be suicide bombers, Americans get pissed off - pure and simple. America is a place where we have 50 million people without health insurance, and even getting some basic health insurance is not a slam dunk - and people suffering in the Gaza strip is not likely to gain much sympathy when we are not even sympathetic to our own people. If you believe that you are on the side of what is good and moral, fine, but in order to convince the American public the Palestinians need to completely ditch the violence IMHO - it cannot continue to be excused. Context may have caused their present situation but they need to dig themselves out of it without fighting back with force. Of course, that's just my 2 cents.
I don't think Israel would do anything like that. But if the question is if a Qassam rocket took out an Israeli school, how many Gazans would Israel be justified in taking out - my point remains - there is no appropriate calculus in war. There is no "Golden Rule" of violence.
I don't care whether you find my opinion credible or not. And yes, I only read CNN - you've figured me out - never heard of DailyKos or Politico or 538, etc. etc. etc. Anyway, underestimate the role of US public opinion at your own peril. The US is going to be a key player in any peace deal - and one call to my Congressman is likely as important as anything you can do from Israel.
>> I really don't think you have any real understanding of conditions in the territories, material or political, and thus you deal in moral abstractions.
I never claimed to be an expert, but I would give myself more credit than you do. And I think I have a pretty good sense of how these things play out to an American audience that probably receives much less news on these matters than I do.
>>My question for you is since you seem so committed to even-handedness, why are you so much more outraged by a movie than a blockade that limits food, medicine and building supplies to a bombed-out civilian population
To the extent that necessary medicine and food are being denied to the Palestinian people, I am outraged. But, if you watch CNN or other mainstream news sources, they will say that "Palestinians say not enough food is being allowed in" while "Israel says X number of trucks have been let in", so the facts are a little unclear - and I do believe Israel has a basic security right to screen trucks and cargo containers to verify that they contain what they are said to contain. It is very clear, on the other hand, that this television show ran on Gaza television. It is very clear when a suicide bomber kills Israeli civilians.
>> You think that the state of that living room and the cause of that state has nothing to do with the attitudes that find acceptance there. I look at the specifics of the situation and see a direct link between context and rhetorical perspective.
I didn't say that context has nothing to do with attitudes that find acceptance. What I will say is that the average person in France, Cuba, the US, or most of the Western World will have much the same attitude that I do about this - which is that context is no excuse for this BS programming choice. And it is pretty self-defeating to try to excuse it. A story like this does no good for Hamas or for the people of Gaza - once again I think the people of the US and elsewhere in the Western world are overwhelmingly on my side of this issue. That you fail to see that boggles the mind. I had a visceral reaction when I saw the story on CNN - "Mommy went to a better place?" I asked myself. What horse shit.
Elsewhere, I actually agree with you. Yes, Abbas should negotiate with Netanyahu and say "But we have no water, we have no concrete" - make a plea to the world. But nope - he refuses to talk. And the channels run stories of suicide bombers. And I'm supposed to be sympathetic to this? Nope - believe it or not I have more important things than trying to be sympathetic to each and every group regardless of their political and moral actions. I will still donate to UNICEF (and yes, I know, they aid the people of Gaza), and the local food bank, etc. etc. - but to me Hamas is clearly shooting themselves in the foot over, and over, and over again. Israel has done its fair share of shooting itself in the foot as well, but I think a lot of people, especially conservatives and moderates, "buy" the argument of military self defense, and do not "buy" the argument of promoting terror.
Put simply: I think the peace process would move a whole lot more quickly if you took out the terror (on both sides, where it occurs). What terrorist movements do you point to in history as being successful or worthwhile? And please spare me the "everything is terror, it just depends what side you are on" BS. I see lots of peaceful movements in history that have been far more successful. When these movements have resorted to violence it is often a step back for their cause. In the short run, what I am suggesting may mean more Palestinian suffering. But I believe they will find a more receptive global audience and a more receptive Western audience if they simply "take it" and rally around a peaceful leader and a peaceful protest than by electing a leadership that lets stories like this make it to the morning national news on CNN.
>>HAMAS is no reason to refuse building materials for schools and homes and no reason to supply Jewish settlers on the West Bank with water for swimming pools and green lawns while their Palestinian neighbors, a majority of whom support FATAH over HAMAS, barely have enough to drink and wash. How do either of these things serve Israel's security? What about taking responsibility for these acts of aggression aimed at civilians whom you mythologize as nothing less than a homogeneous population of blood-thirsty anti-Semites?
I don't see what this even has to do with making a show about suicide bombers and showing it to little kids. Even presuming that Israel is guilty of the things you mention, that does not excuse Hamas's emphasis on promoting a culture of death and violence in their youth. This approach solves nothing.
Give me a break. The show had 4 year old kids whose mother was a suicide bomber reach the understanding that "mommy went to a better place" and she had done something more important than helping to raise them or otherwise be involved in her family's life. How can you even attempt to justify such a message? It is heartbreaking.
And Sesame Street bourgeois? Wow - again - I think we just see these things differently. Do you think these Gaza kids actually had a say in what they were watching? Did the Neilsen ratings bear out that they like watching shows about suicide bombers instead of learning how to read from Big Bird and the like? Please.
"Three years ago, we did a study on children in Gaza between the ages of 12 and 14, and we asked them, what would you like to be when you are 18?" Sarraj said. "At that time, 36 percent of boys said, 'I would like to be a martyr,' and 17 percent of the girls said the same."
They are creating a permanent underclass of people. Sad. I prefer Sesame Street myself.
I acknowledge the reality of collective punishment. Not embrace.
>>Over the last 50 years, Israel has systematically worked to undermine moderates specifically.
Well, part of the problem here is that it is so difficult to prove anything and to find accurate information. If Israel is really working to systematically undermine Palestinian moderates, then of course I am against that, but all I see in the news is Arafat and Abbas and Hamas. To my knowledge, Israel would encourage a moderate Palestinian leadership, not oppose it.
>>But that doesn't fit your program of justifying everything about Israeli policy and painting all Palestinians as terrorists. I, on the other hand, am on record criticizing both.
I don't justify everything Israel does. I agree that more aid for the Gazans would be desirable. I don't think Israeli settlements should be continued in some areas of the West Bank. I don't think Israel should build a wall with Palestine.
>>Our moral, political, and intellectual universes agree on very little.
I think you're an idealist and I'm a realist, but otherwise I don't think we're too far off.
I never said Palestinians are terrorists or that they are equivalent to Hamas - I said they are the pawns of Hamas. Who is the piece of work here, putting words in my mouth?
>>Just so you know, living back in Jerusalem this summer, I encounter and engage with Palestinians every day.
Just so you know, I live with people of all faiths, colors, sexualities, as well - and I think all people are at base good. But I acknowledge the unfortunate reality that when a leadership is corrupt and resorts to terror, the consequences for its people are the fault of said leadership. Not any other party.
I also want peace, and honestly I don't know the best way forward, but I hope that damage to the Palestinian people is minimized, but I also acknowledge that some damage will be done - this is just the way the world / militaries / politics works in 2009, and this is no more Israel's fault than it is any other nation dealing with an asymmetric type of warfare, or any type of warfare. God-willing both sides will give in a little bit, and soon, and end this conflict once and for all.