06 January 2009

Gaza and Proportion

Shrinkwrapped has written "Adolescence and Societies" and "Gaza and the Palestinian Hostile-Dependent Adolescent."

I think he's on to something, although I reserve judgement regarding his take on the meaning of Insh'allah. He also neglects the role that honor/shame culture plays into the violent refusal of Hamas and the Palestinians to "grow up," but that's because he's a psychiatrist, not a sociologist.

And what does the world do? The world subsidizes the genocidal ambitions and persistent violence of the Palestinians. The aid does not help build the Palestinian economy, it merely preserves the Palestinians in their state of adolescent hostile-dependency. And yet, aid to the Palestinians can be analyzed in more detail to make it seem a complicated business.

The most charitable interpretation one can put on the Palestinian situation is this: every time the Palestinians raise the level of violence against Israel, Israel limits access to its economy to the Palestinians. The Palestinian economy tanks, and the world steps in to rescue the Palestinians from starvation. That is, the world steps in to rescue the Palestinians from the consequences of their actions.

I could blame the Palestinian leadership, Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, claiming that these two parties oppress their people and perpetrate violence against Israel that their people do not condone. But that would be a lie. These two parties mislead and rip off their people, but their violence against Israel is wildly popular.

What is Israel to do? What would you do to me if I took up the habit of firing a few shotgun blasts into your house every night? If there were a functioning government over us, you would call the police. But suppose this is lawless country, and that you are on your own. I fire my shotgun a few more times into your house, while you are thinking about it. I blow the arm off one of your kids. You try to reason with me. I shoot your kid in the leg. You try some more. I shoot your kid again. And so on.

At some point, you stop trying to reason with me, you stop apologizing for whatever you did that gave me cause for anger, and you try operant conditioning. You shoot back. Then you wait. If I shoot again, you shoot again. If I stop, you stop. You keep this up for as long as it takes, cycle after cycle, for me to figure out that this is a dance, and I am playing the tune. If I play war, you dance war. If I play peace, you dance peace. It's up to me. If I am not willfully stupid, I will eventually stop shooting into your house. Especially if you have a cannon that can blow my house to bits, should I make you angry enough.

Yes, I know. The actions of the Israelis look like disproportionate use of force compared to the military weakness of the Gazans. Apparently they have decided to give the Palestinians the propaganda victory in exchange for achieving a limited military objective, namely degrading the ability of Hamas to shoot rockets into Israel. To all the world it looks like Israel lost the conflict in Lebanon against Hizbollah, but no rockets have been launched into Israel from that area since then. If the current operation achieves a similar result, Israel will live with it. As they have said.

On the other hand, there was no worldwide appeal for a cease-fire while Hamas was shooting rockets into Israel. The images are gruesome, but given the anger they must feel, the Israelis must think their actions are restrained. Or are only Muslims allowed to get angry? The Palestinians hit Israel with all they've got, and the Israelis hold back. When they finally react, they do it with their hands mostly tied behind their backs, compared to what they could do if they really let their anger have free rein. The world does not complain about the Palestinians's violence, but it never fails to complain about the inevitable Israeli reaction.

And what would a "proportionate" use of force look like? Would the world stand by while Israel sends exactly the same number of rockets into Gaza every time Gaza launches rockets into Israel? Would the world stand by while Israel drops a bomb into a Palestinian market every time a Palestinian suicide bomber strikes in Israel?

Would you want to live like that? Or would you prefer to strike your enemy hard enough to get them to rethink this whole rocket business in the first place? And just how hard is hard enough, when your enemy seems impervious to learning from the previous six decades of experience?

Perhaps Israel should negotiate with Hamas. What would a "proportionate" opening position look like? Hamas has dedicated itself to genocide against Israel, which it calls the "Zionist Entity." Should Israel dedicate itself to a proportionate position with respect to the Gaza Strip?

Instead of calling for the Israelis to be proportionate, maybe the world should call for the Palestinians to grow up and build their Palestinian state if that's what they really want. They have already had more foreign aid per capita than it took to reconstruct Europe after World War II. And no small part of that, I might add, has come from the United States.


Anonymous said...


I can't disagree with your argument for they are indeed the painful truth of the situation in Palestine. Still, any chance for real peace in the area can only be achieved if both the Israelis and Palestinians can agree to a two state solution. And the predicament of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees needs to be resolved once and for all. Obviously both sides have to make great sacrifices. I hope and pray that there are enough level-headed people with moral courage who will soon bring peace to the region.


Perpetua said...


I have been thinking that Israel needs to Pay reparations to individual Palestinians who will relocate. Them money would be only used to buy land and a house in another Arab country. This requires other Arab countries to accept them. But maybe accepting people who can afford to buy a house is different than accepting penniless refugees.

Anonymous said...

Hamas was trying to achieve legitimacy and I think most of the rockets were from disparate groups - the reporting has been a little shaky in the U.S.

I agree that Israel has every right to protect their people. It's a little like cowboys against indians since Israel has every advantage in weaponry, organization, money, freedom, etc. I don't think that the use of illegal weapons (by Israel or the US) can be justified, nor can the bombing of schools and hospitals.

Don't you find even the timing of this offensive a little suspicious? Check out the comparative death tolls, even before this started.

Israel itself is divided on this.