[Discussion] The Middle East in Crisis

A place to post and discuss news related to the recent events in Israel, including the Hamas/Islamic Jihad incursion and repercussions.

And this is pulling everyone in at all levels.

I am a steward in my (federal government) department, and the Clerk (highest non-elected public servant in Canada) sent out a rather milquetoast letter that referenced the terrorist attacks by Hamas, and the rise in antisemitism, as well as the increase in anti-islamic and -muslim opinions, and to check in on our colleagues.

I got contacted by one of my muslim members who was very angry at this message and is looking forward to the action I will take on this.

What the hell do they think I can do? I'm a middle-aged white dude working a government job with a defined benefits pension plan and damned good health care. And I have no idea what I should say that won't get me in sh*t from one side or the other. Especially given there is at least one high-level advisor in the3 federal public service of Canada who is getting disciplined for talking out of turn.

farley3k wrote:

On a less hostile note - don't all Israelis have to serve a military stint? Honestly would that not make them all not innocent civilians? I mean they were or are in the military so almost by definition they are not civilians - the question would be innocent or not.

That's a pretty f*cked up take, farley.

SallyNasty wrote:
farley3k wrote:

On a less hostile note - don't all Israelis have to serve a military stint? Honestly would that not make them all not innocent civilians? I mean they were or are in the military so almost by definition they are not civilians - the question would be innocent or not.

That's a pretty f*cked up take, farley.

Kind of like saying every person in Gaza - babies, toddlers, the elderly - are not innocent civilians.

The key difference being I am just some shmuck on the Internet but Isaac Herzog is the president of Israel. I would suggest that my f*cked up take is a lot less dangerous/deadly than his.

Zeihan makes the point that the monumental intelligence failure was possibly because the Israeli government is largely incompetent in general. This is mostly because of the preferential status of religious nutbars in Israel who are basically paid by the government to have kids and radicalize them. He makes the point that roughly 10-15% of the Israeli knesset is dominated by folks worse than Matt Gaetz that have never held a job in their lives, have no obligation to pay taxes, and do not serve in the military, but have a whole lot to say about how Yaweh promised the land to them personally.

I have a hard time disagreeing.

The argument that the evacuation order is a de facto declaration of an intent to annex half of Gaza is a compelling one. I have zero doubt that this is Netanyahu's intention. He plans to permanently displace 1.1 million civilians as collective punishment for the terrorist actions of Hamas. This is ethnic cleansing and we are watching it happen.

Have the Israelis been working on solving the tunnel problem? Unless we're about to see the next evolution of warfare here (armed drones/robots flushing out tunnels) this is going to be absolutely horrific for both sides. And I'm dreading what happens when the AI warfare genie is fully out of the bottle.

Minase wrote:

Have the Israelis been working on solving the tunnel problem? Unless we're about to see the next evolution of warfare here (armed drones/robots flushing out tunnels) this is going to be absolutely horrific for both sides.

I mean, none that I've heard. Obviously, we're not going to hear anything and perhaps Israel has some amazing trump card up their sleeves, but by all indications, they're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way.

The tunnel network will also negate the advantages that the IDF has in terms of technology and intelligence, magnify the difficulties of urban warfare, and pose a lethal threat to Israeli troops, according to Dr Richemond-Barak.

"First of all, Hamas has had plenty of time to booby-trap the entire network," she says. "They could just let the soldiers enter into the tunnel network and then eventually blow the whole thing up."

"They could kidnap [the soldiers in surprise attacks]. And then you have all the other risks - running out of oxygen, fighting the enemy in one-on-one combat, and rescuing wounded soldiers becomes virtually impossible."

She adds: "Even if you don't go inside the tunnel, to secure an area where you suspect that tunnels might be present is very different from just securing an area in general. Here, you have to secure something that is invisible."

The Israeli forces will, however, have some ways to mitigate the risks.

According to Colin Clarke, director of research at the Soufan Group security consultancy, these might include sending drones and unmanned vehicles into tunnels to map them and identify booby traps before soldiers clear them.

Warplanes could also drop "bunker busting" bombs, which penetrate deep into the ground before detonating. However, they would pose a risk of collateral damage due to the dense urban terrain.

I know this entire thing is f*cked because I come home and check Twitter, and it's basically a mix of people arguing that Palestinians are subhuman and fully deserve to get blown to smithereens, and people taking Hamas press conferences at face value and genuinely arguing that Hamas didn't purposefully kill any civilians.

Prederick wrote:

I know this entire thing is f*cked because I come home and check Twitter

There's your problem. Actual thoughtful discourse was hard enough to find on Twitter even before Musk ruined it.

Some writings that have got me thinking over the last week. Hopefully this is helpful for others.

Essay from Commentary on the meaning of Israel for Jews (from a conservative site). https://www.commentary.org/alana-ser...

Essay from Defector on the wages of violence from the socialist perspective. https://defector.com/subjugation-and...

Spoiler:
The Sandbox Full of Quicksand wrote:

I grew up in a family of whispers. Grandparents, great-aunts and uncles spoke Polish to one another but never to the children. Auntie Ala had numbers on her arm. She told me they were someone’s phone number when I asked. I was maybe three or four but I saw the pained looks the grownups shared with one another, their eyes filled with pain I did not understand.

I grew up in a family of fear. The police chased my Zaidy Sam when he refused to pull over for a routine stop. My Uncle Eli had to explain to them his fear of people in uniform. He refused to get in an ambulance despite nausea and chest pain. He did not wake up the next day.

I grew up in a lucky family. Only my maternal great-grandmother and great-uncle Morris were gassed. He was eight. Four sisters and the father survived. A miracle. My paternal grandmother and her children all survived the war but not the aftermath. My great-uncle was killed at the family’s jewelry store. The Poles told both families, “You were not supposed to come back.” They moved to Germany to live among their now-chastened tormentors, then the U.S. or Cuba, then Canada. Lucky.

I grew up in a poisoned family. Auntie Ala died of a cancer linked to her exposures at a Nazi munitions factory where she was enslaved. Teenagers deprived of food do not grow tall, they do not have strong bones or teeth. As the brain ages, memories fade, but trauma remains.

The bill may come late, but it must always be paid.

Eventually I learned what happened, inasmuch as they could bear to tell me, inasmuch as I could possibly understand. Bubbie Rena was at Ravensbruck. “Just a labor camp, not a concentration camp,” she would say. How could she possibly complain about it when her sister and father had been at Auschwitz? She was only a little starved. People around her were killed with bullets and beatings, not gas.

The constant refrain, to soothe my childhood fears and teenage terror, was, “It is different now. Now we have Israel.” It was my pacifier, my lovey, my blanky. My parents said it over and over to me and I said it over and over to my kids when I had to tell them about the whispers, the fear, the luck, and the poison. The wars, the bombs, the car rammings, the shootings, the missiles, gaping holes of absent friends and family were but a small if endlessly painful price to pay for a place I always knew we could run if/when things got really bad, a place in where I could wear my Jewish star without a second thought, a place where matzah was on the table at Passover even if calamari was on the menu.

On October 7, this illusion—delusion?—was completely shattered. Hamas led a pogrom—not the tables overturned, candlesticks stolen pogrom you may know from Fiddler on the Roof. This was the stuff of Jewish nightmares, of Jewish ancient and recent history—murdering, raping, and kidnapping men, women, children, old and young, Jewish and non-Jewish, Israeli and non-Israeli, religious and secular, hawk and dove.

What do we say? “They are like the Nazis.” No. The Nazis, efficient as they were, at the very least attempted to hide their crimes. Hamas broadcast them with pride and glee.

“Now we know who would have stayed silent in World War II.” No. Those silent today are far worse. The silent have refused to listen to reason, look at a map, read a book, learn the history. The silent saw the summer camps that trained child soldiers in Gaza. The silent saw the UN-funded math books that read, “If you have 10 Jews and kill 7, how many Jews are left?” The silent worried about the kids in Gaza and not the kids in Sderot as the missiles flew. About this they were not silent—“It’s Israeli propaganda. The Israelis are the new Nazis. Free Palestine! Globalize the intifada!” We tried to tell you what that meant. You did not listen. For those still saying the same in the comments sections or in letters at elite colleges or at rallies around the word, I really have no words and less hope.

Everyone wanted Israel to play nice in the sandbox, but it was full of quicksand.

So what now?

Now we mourn an avel that will not end. Now we comfort and care for the survivors—they are at risk of suicide from survivors’ guilt, from PTSD.

Now we raise money and send packages, and share stories both sad and hopeful. And we advocate for the hostages, so many hostages, and write our elected representatives and text each other and watch the news and read the comment section and reply in the comments section and get shat on in the comments section. And we unfriend and unfollow and withdraw support from our alma maters. And we are grateful for the tiny crumbs of empathy that come our way and we eat our feelings and we fast intentionally or unintentionally and we pray and we lose our faith.

And we volunteer and we tell people it is crazy to volunteer and we tell people thank you for being there for protecting our homeland and we tell people just leave and get somewhere safe but where is really safe? And we rally and hold vigils and we zoom and we blame Bibi and Biden and Trump and Ben Gvir and we blame those who voted for them or didn’t vote for them and tell grim jokes because we invented and perfected gallows humor. And we say it is OK to shop, to see a show, to go out to eat, and we say “Don’t let them win, don’t let them steal our joy,” and we don’t understand how life is going on because our lives are not just going on even if we are still alive—are we still alive—who is still alive—

Subjugation and Dehumanization Lead to Only One Result wrote:

The past week of violence in Israel, with a total death toll of 2,200 and climbing, has led to a constantly repeated talking point that this is its 9/11. Setting aside the myopia that requires something to be compared to an American equivalent, the characterization is unintentionally accurate: The aftermath of a tragic attack has become the impetus for blind bloodlust and a barrage of grotesque loyalty tests, a gross moral simplification that will be used as justification for subsequent atrocities 10 times as deadly.

The start of this latest cycle of bloodshed occurred on the morning of Oct. 7, when Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas launched a surprise attack from Gaza. While thousands of rockets were fired at Israel as a distraction, armed fighters surpassed the barrier using drone bombs to cut off communication and defense systems, then secured the area so that a wheel loader could break through the border fence; more Hamas fighters streamed through to kill hundreds at nearby military bases, settlements, and a music festival.

Despite the most advanced defense technology in the world and an army funded with billions of dollars from the United States, Israel was entirely unprepared for the attack by a group of roughly 1,000 fighters. Hamas militants caught them by surprise in their bases and at checkpoints; they took approximately 150 hostages.

Israel’s response to the attack has been to bomb Gaza and its residents, eschewing precision. The population of Gaza is around 2 million, with children making up close to half that number. Since 2007, Israel and Egypt have imposed blockades on the territory, effectively turning it into an open-air prison routinely bombarded through the IDF’s gruesome strategy of “mowing the grass.” In 2012, a United Nations report predicted that the area would be uninhabitable by 2020. U.N. secretary-general António Guterres once called the conditions for children “hell on earth.” When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the residents of Gaza to evacuate before the bombing began, Israel was bombing Gaza’s only border crossing with Egypt. Nowhere was safe, and there was nowhere to go. Even the U.N.-affiliated schools were targets.

Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant announced another step on Monday: Resources to Gaza would be shut off. “No electricity, no food, no fuel, no water,” he said. “Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.” Collective punishment for civilians is a war crime, but international law has not deterred Israel before, because this has been its strategy in Gaza over two decades, secure in the knowledge that no nation will intervene. Many of those nations have asserted Israel’s right to defend itself, which is manifesting as the bombing of one of the most densely populated places on the planet.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his own country currently fighting off an invasion, voiced full-throated support for the occupiers. The reaction reached a post-9/11 level of absurdity where the mayor of Providence, R.I., flew an Israeli flag. Many politicians called the attack “unprovoked.” As Jonathan Cook wrote last week for Middle East Eye, “the so-called opposition will not hesitate to support the military pounding of the long besieged enclave of Gaza, killing yet more Palestinian civilians to ‘teach them a lesson,’ a lesson no one in Israel can articulate beyond asserting that Palestinians must accept their permanent inferiority and imprisonment.” There has been a willful amnesia or a lack of knowledge about the last 75 years that adds crucial context about why Hamas might attempt such an attack, or why Gazans might try to escape. On Saturday, the occupiers experienced the daily life of the occupied—the fear, the powerlessness, the indiscriminate death—and it altered them.

To understand what drove such actions isn’t to excuse it; in order to avoid more death, there must be acknowledgement of the conditions that led to this. There is not enough time to go over the full history of the occupation—you could start with the Nakba in 1948 or the Balfour Declaration in 1917—but what happened this week was the result of apartheid. The Israeli government, which in the past year under Netanyahu has become fanatical and far-right even by the standards of the typical Israeli cabinet, did not pull the trigger, but it loaded the gun. This is no extremist opinion—it can be found in places such as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “If you tell someone that pouring gas on a pile of shredded newspaper and then throwing a match on it will probably make the newspaper catch on fire, you are not ‘supporting fire’ or ‘justifying fire,’” Jon Schwarz wrote at The Intercept. “On the contrary, you’re trying to reduce the amount of fire in the world by describing reality.”

Since January, Israelis have held demonstrations against their government and Netanyahu's seizure of executive power. Even the Israeli center was sick of his corruption. He is a man who has no other motivation but control. It is no secret that he strategically allowed Hamas to function in Gaza so that the Palestinians there could be isolated from the Palestinians in the West Bank; it is policy.

There would be a distinct arrogance in restricting the movement of 2 million people, depriving them of resources, bombing them while the settlers pull up seats to watch, and then assuming there would never be retaliation. I think Netanyahu is that arrogant, but he's not dumb enough to believe it. The occasional outbreak of violence is expected and accounted for, and useful for retaining and expanding power. It is policy, too.

Palestinians walk through debris along a street in the aftermath of Israeli bombardment in al-Karama district in Gaza City. (Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The last time Gazans tried resistance on a large scale, it was during the Great March of Return, which began in 2018. Every Friday for over a year, demonstrators walked to the Israel-Gaza border to protest the blockade and demand their land back. In response the Israeli military killed 223 of them and injured nearly 8,000 more. One IDF sniper, speaking to Haaretz, said that he shot 42 Palestinians in the knee over the course of one day of protests. Journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was fatally shot by Israeli forces in 2022 while doing her job; the IDF denied responsibility before reluctantly admitting it could have been one of its soldiers, then declined to identify or hold anyone accountable for her killing. At Abu Aqleh’s funeral, Israeli police kicked and beat the mourners carrying her casket. Look beyond the flashpoints that reach the international news cycle, and every day there is another instance of someone being beaten, maimed, or murdered in order to maintain the Palestinian population’s status as subordinate. “The world would be better off if it had more actual, committed, principled pacifists,” the philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò wrote. “But I suspect that what we have instead are mostly people who believe that violence is only the legitimate province of some people, and what is morally required of everyone else is submission.”

The bulk of the Western media has consistently presented this occupation as a fairly matched conflict, ignoring the stark ratio of Israeli to Palestinian casualties and injuries in the past 15 years. In news coverage, the Israeli’s life is considered infinitely more valuable than the Palestinian’s: when Israelis are described as “killed,” while Palestinians are “dead”; when a headline reports that a protestor was shot without identifying who fired the gun; when a CNN host allows a sitting U.S. senator to call for genocide. Mainstream media takes no interest in framing the Palestinian as an equal human, only as an equal combatant. The irony is rich when a clueless celebrity shares a photo of who they think are vulnerable Israelis, then deletes it when it turns out they are actually frightened Gazan children. It becomes a choking hazard when another prays for Israel while sharing a photo of a bombed-out section of Gaza.

And in the instance when a Palestinian, like Mustafa Barghouti or Husam Zomlot, is invited to speak on TV, they are first asked to condemn Hamas despite no connection to the group. From the outset, the speaker is bombarded with disclaimers and diminished. “When an Arab voice is heard it is selected in such a way as to make the least impression or [...] when a representative Arab view is put forward it is either by a Western expert or it is a quasi-official Arab ‘statement,’” Edward Said wrote in The Question of Palestine. “Quantity and quality are kept equivalent.” There are more mediums now than when he wrote that in 1979: Direct coverage from Gaza can be found via the efforts of Motaz Azaiza, Ali Jadallah, or Majdi Fathi, to name a few, as well as through aggregators on social media.

For all of these reasons and more, the calls ring hollow for both sides to stop the violence. There are no places for Gazans to go, no avenues for them to seek basic human rights, no punishments to deter further war crimes. Violence is wrong. Protests are callous. Boycotts are forbidden. Lectures are canceled. Speaking out results in unemployment. Can these armchair diplomats come up with an option for Palestinians besides dying slowly or dying quickly? And why do so many of them take glee in that choice?

There is an unspoken but notable fervor among Western cheerleaders to see Arabs killed while letting another country take responsibility for it. There is an appetite for death at a level not seen since Sept. 12, 2001. Each time I open Instagram, there’s a new blown-out building, corpse, bloodied child. Israel is committing war crimes in broad daylight and the bulk of the world is cheering them on. This is no solution, and it is not intended to be one. The only path to lasting peace is if Israel ends its occupation, the longest in modern history. Until then, the situation will never improve, can never improve. The Israeli leadership holds the power, but they will not be the ones to suffer the consequences. To this day, people around the world are still paying for decisions made by the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11. We will learn no different lesson this time.

Prederick wrote:

Like, imagine someone saying "we have 24 hours to evacuate Manhattan" (population 1.6M). If you're LUCKY, you're getting out half a million.

As a point of interest, since Manhattan is an island, it had advantages over a land-locked space. Volunteer boats were used to move 350K to 500K people off the island in just 9 hours, on 9/11.

Of course, Gazans will be killed if they leave the shore in boats, and so they are stuck with absolute gridlock, making Shank's Mare the fastest of a number of poor choices.

But it's immaterial, practically, since the deadline has passed and it's now open season in the north of Gaza.

Israelis blame gov’t for Hamas massacre, say Netanyahu must resign - poll

Four out of five Jewish Israelis believe the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are to blame for the mass infiltration of Hamas terrorists into Israel and the massacre that followed, a new Dialog Center poll released on Thursday found.

An overwhelming majority – 86% of respondents, including 79% of coalition supporters, said the surprise attack from Gaza is a failure of the country’s leadership, while a staggering 92% said the war is causing anxiety.

Furthermore, almost all the respondents (94%) believe the government must bear some responsibility for the lack of security preparedness that led to the assault, with over 75% saying the government holds most of the responsibility.

Was listening to a dialogue on the internal politics in Israel and it sounds like there will be a large reckoning for empowering a bully populist to vilify elites, sow division internally, empower radical fundamentalists (West Bank settlers) and take the eye off the ball (living in peace through a combo of diplomacy/carrots and professionalism in institutions like the military and security services).

People are rallying around their flag but there is an undercurrent of anger at Netanyahu as that poll above alludes to.

farley3k wrote:

Israeli President Says There Are No Innocent Civilians In Gaza
Damm guilty kid - you can see how guilty he is! f*cker

IMAGE(https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/71e88d4f-4a5f-4e0a-8a86-016a88d7a436.jpeg?c=original&q=w_1280,c_fill)

On a less hostile note - don't all Israelis have to serve a military stint? Honestly would that not make them all not innocent civilians? I mean they were or are in the military so almost by definition they are not civilians - the question would be innocent or not.

~mod~

inappropriate content removed

mudbunny

What a f*cking disgrace.

This is shameful.

Report and don't engage

Calling someone bad words is inappropriate content? But someone making the same argument that f*cking Hamas makes to justify murdering people is appropriate content? This place is rotten.

maverickz wrote:

Calling someone bad words is inappropriate content? But someone making the same argument that f*cking Hamas makes to justify murdering people is appropriate content? This place is rotten.

~mod~

If you disagree with the moderation of the thread, the appropriate place to do so is via PM to myself or, if you prefer, one of the other moderators. If you feel something posted was inappropriate, report it, do not engage.

mudbunny

Not engaging is how you get normalization of this antisemitic garbage. One person! One person had the decency to say something.

What is it you said once, a lot of people sure are telling on themselves here.

Maybe we can have some more stories about people who wanted to convert to Judaism but then didn't because they disagreed with Israeli politics. That's definitely not textbook antisemitism.

Shameful.

Opposition to disproportional and indiscriminate civilian deaths is not antisemitism.

I would say there is exactly 1 person in this thread(on this page) who has been chased out of his homeland because of politics/antisemitism, and who has an actual lived experience with what is happening now.

If you are a white guy in the midwest, you aren't that person. Maybe a) listen and b) listen and c) not tell that person what is and what isn't antisemitism.

This is a very charged topic. I would just put out there that there are actual humans with lived experience very different than your own, so when you put a hot-take out there on the internet - you don't own it anymore, and people can/will react to it very differently than perhaps you intend.

Good point. Guess that does make me antisemitic then.

I would settle for not saying Jewish children deserve to be butchered because they may one day serve in the IDF.

I cannot believe I had to write that. f*cking monstrous.

If you want to actually discuss it rather than lash out because you misunderstood Farley, fine. I read it as Farley applying the Israeli President's own logic against him to point out how absurd it was, not him seriously suggesting that every Israeli who ever served in their military cannot be considered an innocent civilian. If Herzog is to be believed that all Palestinians are culpable for Hamas's attacks and war crimes because they "allowed" them by not rising up against Hamas, then all Israelis are culpable when Israel's attacks and war crimes for the same reason.

I'm not going to "discuss" the finer nuance of the murder and desecration of Jewish children. What the hell is wrong with you?

SallyNasty wrote:

I would say there is exactly 1 person in this thread(on this page) who has been chased out of his homeland because of politics/antisemitism, and who has an actual lived experience with what is happening now.

If you are a white guy in the midwest, you aren't that person. Maybe a) listen and b) listen and c) not tell that person what is and what isn't antisemitism.

This is a very charged topic. I would just put out there that there are actual humans with lived experience very different than your own, so when you put a hot-take out there on the internet - you don't own it anymore, and people can/will react to it very differently than perhaps you intend.

Agreed.

I have mentioned this upthread, but I think it bears repeating that the timing of people's criticism is complicated by the proximity to this event and that people should be sensitive to it. As Vexler says, it is entirely possible and appropriate to have different reactions to this on different days. And perhaps the immediate days after the greatest massacre of Jews since the 1940's is not the time to be pointing out that "Hamas might have a point" (they don't btw and if they did, they are certainly not the appropriate messenger).

I do, however, think that it is entirely appropriate for a friend of Israel and Israelis to grieve with them, support them in their self defense, and at the same time point out that the price of their rage will be many times greater than the satisfaction it gives them.

I wish America had listened to the friends we had that offered the same advice when we invaded Iraq in our 9-11 rage. The world would have been far better off for it.

maverickz wrote:

I'm not going to "discuss" the finer nuance of the murder and desecration of Jewish children. What the hell is wrong with you?

There is no nuance. It's f*cking wrong. That's the whole damn point. It's just as wrong when it's about Israeli children as it is when it's about Palestinian children.

maverickz wrote:

I'm not going to "discuss" the finer nuance of the murder and desecration of Jewish children. What the hell is wrong with you?

I wish this modified version of your quote would suffice, but I suppose treating all children equally is antisemitic.

Jewish lives lost are worthy of their own grief, sadness, and anger. They deserve to be mourned on their own without the condition that other lives lost must be acknowledged before they matter. They are worthy all on their own.

Edit: nevermind. I will simply let my point from earlier about the 600+ Palestinian children killed this week speak for itself.

Farscry wrote:

That is a bullsh*t take and you know it. Stop attributing malice to those with whom you disagree.

Get f*cked.