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2 followers   follows 2 users   joined 2022 September 05 01:50:31 UTC




User ID: 355

Obviously not the parent poster, but one glaring thing about the whole essay is that she doesn't seem to waste a single word of reflection on what she, or the other women she talks about, could have done to avoid the bad outcomes they experienced. A good start would be to spend some thought on questions like: why was I attracted to the guy that turned out to be a jerk? What did he say that made me believe he would be or do something he actually wouldn't? Could I have recognised the deception beforehand? Were some experiences better than others? What set those apart? Is there a way I could optimise in that direction in the future? Instead, she is lamenting it in the fashion of people who complain that everything on TV is boring, or social media addicts who lament that their social media is toxic and make periodic shows of quitting it, only to inevitably come back and resume being prime contributors to it being toxic for everyone else.

It seems to me that every single one of your arguments again places a convenient cutoff point on history. The 1948 war was preceded by massive Jewish immigration into Palestinian lands, terrorism by armed groups representing it, and them leveraging their ties to the international community to secure support for plans that already amounted to mass expropriations of Palestinians; the post-WWII Germans had just finished doing WWII (and as far as I can tell the expatriate ethnically German populations were friendly with the Nazis wherever they encountered them on their drive east); presumably "fedposting" implies things that are not proportional to vaccine mandates and lockdowns (but I have to say that if anti-lockdowners created a compound where they kept loudly pro-lockdown individuals under house arrest, I would not feel like an injustice is being committed).

The particular reason why Palestinians are more entitled to engage in unrestrained terror tactics than these groups is that they have been subjected to unrestrained terror tactics first and continuously.

Sorry, I didn't quite grasp the structure of the argument there. I don't know enough about the IRA to answer this with confidence, but my vague understanding is that a lot of the IRA bombings certainly looked like they were maximising English civilian deaths.

maximizes civilian casualties on their own side tactically

This is such an extreme claim about Hamas that I would want to see evidence from it, ideally not just consisting of opinions from pro-Israel sources - unless you stretch the definition so far that it applies to any case of "use civilian infrastructure for cover so you are harder to eradicate with anything short of omnicidal measures [which you figure your enemies won't take]", in which case this seems to cover Ukraine as well (a bridge that I imagine people who are going to argue for "American foreign policy is basically good" are not willing to cross).

(P.S. Your account of the genetic and cultural history of the Jews and Palestinians is very off. I can send you some of Razib Khan's substack posts if you actually care, but I don't think you do.)

By all means please do. I don't understand why you think I wouldn't care, unless you pegged me as running my argument due to some ideological stance that is very different from my actual one. The studies cited in this Wikipedia article seem to be broadly in line of what I believed, though.

So, if the Israelis just continue on this path another couple centuries they will own their land just as much as the Scots, English, or Palestinians do now.

That is not particularly at odds with my moral intuitions, though it is not quite equivalent to what I said - I think that direct descent from conquered and conquerors gives you moral license to reclaim much further into the future, and in the Palestinian case that descent is broken because the Jews only have this license against the Romans, who have long been expelled. The future is not now, though; the Israeli invasion is still very fresh.

Would Hezbollah even be anti-American without the American support for Israel? The situation may be different from Iran whose present political system emerged as a direct reaction against past American chicanery, but on the other hand even Vietnam, which got treated a lot worse than Iran, is basically friendly to the US nowadays, and the Taliban are also acting all conciliatory since their comeback. I'm sure that if the US wanted to be friends with Iran in a post-Israel world, they could do so quite easily by just promising to keep Saudi Arabia on a leash and pushing them to agree on mutually acceptable spheres of influence. The barriers would actually be on the US side, since it seems like the deep state can nurse very old grudges over matters such as BP and the embassy hostage taking.

Yeah, as I already said in several parallel responses I'm already regretting reaching for that piece of polemic hyperbole. I don't actually believe that Hamas was de-escalating; I just think that any claim that Israel deescalated or showed restraint looks ridiculous on the face of it, in the "I only broke one arm of the angry toddler" way.

Yeah, it sounds like our moral intuitions are really greatly different. I don't know what was the trigger for that, but I felt visceral disdain for the whole notion of innocent civilians in a democracy for as long as I can remember - the whole thing just seemed like some sort of pickpocket's attention trick with moral responsibility where a large swath of people elects politicians to enact their will and serve their interest, but the voters refuse to take responsibility for their government's actions because they're just civilians and politicians refuse to take responsibility because they are just following the voters' will. As I see it, conscripted military in a democratic country are the ones who it is least just for someone attacked by that country to retaliate against, because they are coerced into doing what they do and often are not even allowed to leave before completing their service. The civilians who vote and their elected representatives, and to a lesser degree even those who don't vote but freely choose to stay and benefit, should be fair game.

From where I stand, this seems a totally bizarre statement.

Is it really that bizarre? As an intuition pump, what does the total morality thing say about obligatory meat consumption? Does the wrongness of the Inuit hunter who tries to kill the walrus to feed his family and the walrus that gores the hunter trying to kill it sum up to >=1? I would consider dodging this question by saying that the walrus can not be a moral subject to be a copout.

I thought we had enough previous interactions on other similar topics before that you'd know that I find the notion of "international law" to be somewhere in the class of Mohammad (PBUH) claiming that he received a revelation from God saying that Mohammad is his prophet and you must obey him, and so certainly whatever proportionality argument I make would not be intended as a reference to a "proportionality argument from international law".

Re: the other question, I think I responded to similar ones in parallel threads already. I leaned too far out of the window there and don't actually believe the Palestinians were de-escalating; I just don't think the Israelis were either.

I don't particularly mind colonialism, but I think colonialism is not the appropriate term for what Israel is doing here. The central example of colonialism is when you turn up somewhere and bribe the authorities with shiny trinkets until they willingly relinquish their power to you, whereupon you are now in charge of their former subjects. Nothing delta-immoral happened unless you claim a moral right to be ruled over/oppressed by your coethnics rather than someone else. When you turn up to someone's home and violently seize it with force of arms, that's not colonialism but invasion. To come back to an example I mentioned earlier - would a bunch of Harvard graduates with PhDs, accepted to be moral and socioeconomic superiors by most Westerners, seizing the house of some redneck and building highly civilised institutions like a Gender Studies study circle in it be an instance of colonialism that you cheer for?

I do recognise that the Spanish seizure of the new world looks more like that, but if you magnify it enough even there the usual mechanism was actually more that they insinuated themselves with some local faction in the shiny-trinkets way, helped that faction defeat all the others, and then bought up what was left of the faction's autonomy with more shiny trinkets. Spaniards might not have violated the law of the locals directly that much at any point.

I don't know of anyone claiming Israel is deescalating. Obviously they aren't.

I could swear I was responding to someone somewhere in the thread who was all but asserting that, at least in the form of claiming that they silently tolerated Palestinian rocket attacks without retaliating proportionally until Oct 7th. Unfortunately I can't find it now.

And personally, I'd be fine with the US reducing its support for Israel. But that isn't what you were asking.

What was I asking? I started the thread with asking about whether there is a moral case to be made that Israel's cause is as just or more so than the Palestinian one, but I thought I clarified in lots of responses that the reason I asked this was to counter the demand that I support Israel because its cause is more just.

Does this argument generalise into one against animal rights/welfare?

(It doesn't seem so ridiculous to me. Noblesse oblige.)

So what is actually the realpolitik argument there? How can Israel keep the Suez canal open in a way that the US other powers in the region couldn't? The assertion that there is actually some convoluted realpolitik reason for whatever the US middle east policy of the day is - as opposed to blindly doing whatever the lobbyists of the day demand because their similarly short-sighted investors will make their stock value go up if it happens - looks a lot like a series of all-caps hail-mary "trust the plan"s. In the meantime, approximately every major problem that the Americans face in the Middle East themselves is their own creation. If the politicians of the cold war were given a crystal ball that told them of the future of Iran and Afghanistan, with all their implications for American interests, as a consequence of the interventions that they were advocating for then, I'm sure some of them would have managed to concoct a speech about how the Islamic Republic and the Taliban are also necessary to preserve American interests.

To be clear, if Israel subscribed to your morality, then they would grind Gaza to nothing; Scatter the population to the 4 winds and kill any who resist. We would not be talking about 1% dead as if it were a big number. Such a thing is, historically, the norm.

I feel like I have to reiterate this too many times, but I don't mean to implore Israel to stop; I just want to implore my country (/the Western countries) to stop helping Israel. It can't be helped if people put their self-interest over morality, but as I see it we have no interest in the well-being of Israel.

(Same for your Rome argument; if Rome built its capital in Barbarian territory and got annihilated, sucks for them, but my neck of the woods is not obliged to send them aid.)

Because they never end. Both parties think they are in the right, that their escalation is justified. They only finish when one side dominates the other into abandoning their claim.

Uh, I think that in the ideal case the blood feud ends when both parties recognise that they have done approximately equal damage to each other, and does a greater deal to discourage blood being spilt to begin with. The ancient Scandinavians had a system of blood feuds, but outside of some degenerate cases like Iceland their society survived and prospered.

I think you need to flesh out your idea of what exactly constitutes ‘initiating’ and ‘unjustified violence’. I am willing to grant that the initial Zionist colonization of Israel was an injustice to the Palestinians living there, though not a particularly unique injustice historically speaking. I do not see how this gives Palestinians moral carte blanche to assault Israel from now until the end of eternity. At some point they need to accept the facts on the ground. I do not think the Germans would be justified in nuking London in 2024 because in their moral calculus the WW2 bombing of Germany was immoral. I do not think the Turks need to give Istanbul back to the Greeks.

Again, I'm viewing this from my perspective, not some Kantian "I must deem the Israelis/Germans wrong and stop helping them <=> the Israelis/Germans must realise they are in the wrong themselves and take the boot to the face" universal-or-bust one. If the Germans actually thought the WW2 bombing of Germany was immoral and kept suffering from the consequences, then yes, they should go ahead and nuke London. I would think they are wrong and the Brits are right and send aid to the Brits in that case, without thinking that the Germans are committing any moral mistake beyond just getting the initial moral calculus wrong.

History is a continuum. Nobody ever really ‘started it’

I think Israel-on-Palestine is almost as close to Israel having unambiguously started it as any of those things get in history. Their ancestors were driven out of Israel by Romans almost 2k years ago, the ancestors of the Palestinians always universally treated the Jews that stayed behind or made it back better than any other major power of the day, and the invading Israelis had no meaningful cultural ties to the area remaining apart from a carefully nursed religious belief. Then some Germans go genocidal on the Jews, and the answer of the allied powers that defeat Germany is to... enable the Jews to invade and displace the Palestinians? In what world was this a sane and just solution, as opposed to the obvious choice of carving out Israel from the defeated Axis powers? With some care you could even have used a part of Italy, finally avenging the original sin from two thousand years ago.

Palestinians seem to think so, since they typically demand hundreds or even thousands of Palestinian prisoners be released for each Israeli (a price Israel has paid in the past). If that's the price you set, unfortunately you set yourself up for the same equation in war.

Well yeah, I figure everyone involved feels like this. That doesn't mean it's a good state of affairs.

Maybe, but why should they accept being turned out of their country to become refugees somewhere else? In what world would a people who won every war waged against them surrender to their defeated enemies and abandon what is now their homeland? What other descendants of colonists are ever asked to do this? Even Americans are told we should make reparations to Native Americans, not all pack up and move back to Europe. This just seems like a very non-serious proposal.

I mean, the premise of the entire debate is that right now we are being told that it is our moral imperative to pour large quantities of arms and equipment into Israel and also invest further resources and subvert our (codified or apparent) principles to help it break the backs of any Palestine supporters on our territory. I think there is a gap between "tell them to surrender when they are winning" and "stop doing whatever it takes to make sure that they keep winning" that you are glossing over here, and I'm advocating for the latter, not the former.

Again, this is the sort of solution that works if you are King of the World and can wave a wand and make it happen.

Not quite - I am assuming for the sake of argument that Israel actually needs the support that they demand from us. If they can win just as well without us giving it to them and we don't actually have any leverage, why are we still giving it to them? Conversely, if Israel can't survive without Western support in the long term, as both Israel and the Western governments seem to assert in public, why can't we dictate terms to them?

US financial aid to Israel alone is around 3 billion USD a year. Considering that the US occupation of Afghanistan only cost about 20-40 billion per year according to estimates, I'm sure that a colonial administration of Palestine, which is much smaller and easier to reach, could be implemented for the same sum, and Palestinians would surely be an easier population to work with than Afghans.

The "disproportionate response" argument has never seemed very relevant to me. There is no Rule of War that you're only "allowed" to kill a similar number of people in response to some of your people being killed. Palestinians only kill fewer Israelis because they have fewer weapons - you can bet if Hamas could level Tel Aviv they would. It's not "deescalation" when they simply don't have the capability to kill as many Israelis as they would like.

Calling what the Palestinians did deescalation was admittedly polemic, but I do mean to insinuate that it is strange to call what Israel does deescalation. If an angry baby kicks you wiuth murderous animal intent (achieving nothing), are you, as an adult, "deescalating" if you merely break the baby's arm instead of throttling it as you easily could? Most people would surely say no; both intended and achieved/achievable damage have to figure into what is considered an escalation.

Well, I'm not American, but as a matter of fact Americans are currently made to support Israel in those three ways (same e.g. for Germany, whose citizenship I have), and the argument fielded for it is primarily moral. (I haven't seen convincing materialistic arguments, and that doesn't seem to be a domain a great deal of effort is poured into by anyone.) It's not like I'm not aware of all these factors you mention, but I get the sense that they would not withstand the load that they would have to bear if the moral pillar disappeared (soft power of "the only democracy in the Middle East" is discredited, geopolitical implications are lazily reasoned, millenarianism is no longer as influential as it was during the Bush years and anyhow they'd actually cheer the war if you convinced them Iran/Palestine is Gog and Magog...).

It is absolutely ridiculous that a neoghbouring state would be allowed to rain missiles on your civilians without retaliation

Apart from this sentence being almost perfectly constructed to invite the "which of the two do you mean, now?" response - allowed by whom? I don't mean to presume to tell the Israelis what they can and can't do, but the main thing being discussed is whether I (as a non-Israeli) am supposed to send money to help the Israelis, Palestinians, both or neither.

Either way, what would happen if the Palestinians "got good" is a fully unexplored counterfactual. If we assume things are operating on blood feud logic, it wouldn't be surprising that if they actually managed to level the kill count and get their 100ksomething kills of Israelis, the Palestinians would consider the debt settled and be willing to negotiate earnestly. (Of course, 100k dead Israelis would likely make Israel go nuclear, with the US paying and delivering the nukes.)

"Justice"/moral right is what I mostly see being invoked to convince populations of third-party countries including ones I live and pay taxes in to support Israel, transfering things of value and exposing themselves to risk. This is why I see the need to argue against it. If I am asked to sacrifice for a cause for the sake of justice, I would like to know if the cause is actually just.

For those people like you (@4bpp) who I assume does not actually want the destruction of Israel, what do you see as a solution?

I honestly think that either of the two no-state solutions might be long-term preferable to the perpetual continuation of what we have now. Most of the Jewish population of Israel would find its bearings in the West very quickly, and I think that a future repeat of Nazi Germany or conditions in other countries around then seems exceedingly unlikely; on the other hand, giving Israel free hand to completely wipe out the Palestinians would be the solution that in German idiom one would call a "horrible end, instead of a horror without end", and certainly would make for an interesting addition to our collective consciousness.

In more realistic and less edgy terms, I think that radically redrawing the borders of Israel and Palestine for a two-state solution that hurts both of them, perhaps surrendering half of Jerusalem and everything to the south of a line linking Gaza to it to a Palestinian state in return for everything north of it, performing full population transfer and deploying international troops enforcing the border (and possibly also a temporary "colonial regime" to "dehamasify" the Palestinian state, run not by the Israelis but by some far-removed and suitably ruthless third party like the Chinese, or even the Saudis), would in fact be achievable and likely solve the problem. The problem of Israel and Gaza as I see it is that Israel can not actually curb its cupidity towards Palestinian lands, Gaza as a state is geographically unviable (unlike the West Bank), and the Palestinians are forced to interact with Israelis for key needs as they do not have a fully independent state or economy, producing resentment-breeding interactions such as Palestinian workers having to undergo daily invasive searches as they leave their open-air prison settlement to work on non-autonomy land and in turn getting to scam and sass the Israelis in their cheap car repair shops. (Both things I've observed when visiting Israel.)

Israelis have made at least some attempts to ease up on the Palestinians and let them try to build a society, and every such easing up has resulted in more suicide bombings or October 7.

The "easing up" looked like thousands of Palestinians being killed in retaliation for a single-digit number of Israelis killed every few years. Going just by raw numbers, in the back-and-forth of action and reaction, it really looks a lot like the Israelis are constantly escalating and the Palestinians are constantly deescalating - there is not a single instance of Palestinians killing Israelis that was not followed by Israelis killing more Palestinians, and no single instance of Israelis killing Palestinians that was not followed by Palestinians killing fewer Israelis. Yet this is somehow being painted into an emotional picture of the Israelis trying to make peace, as the Palestinians escalate and push for war. It is very hard to avoid the temptation to interpret this reframing as stemming from an underlying feeling that in terms of weregeld an Israeli is worth about a thousand Palestinians.

I mostly agree with what you said, except your last paragraph seems like a bit of a category error to me. I'm not particularly concerned with which outcome would be more perverse here, but it does concern me that wherever I go, the government and influential parts of local society seem to assert that Israel is in fact in the right and it is our (and by extension my) moral obligation to support them with actions and treasure. It is this chain of reasoning that I want to argue against. Even if I accept the premise that I have a duty to contribute to right moral wrongs everywhere on the planet at all (and I don't!), I am not convinced that helping Israel is directionally correct to right moral wrongs. On top of that, it is not even instrumentally beneficial for me or the countries I live in, as helping Israel makes it a more likely target of spite and retaliation by the supporters of Palestine and produces a steady stream of low-human-capital immigration from the fallout, and, well, has a cost in actions and treasure. On the other hand, if Israel were actually obliterated, its high-human-capital people would probably emigrate into one of the same countries and contribute positively to living conditions here!

I don't think the Israel-Palestine conflict can be understood without considering the facts that (1) Hamas, and the Palestinian people in aggregate, are strategically committed to genocide against the Jewish people, and (2) Hamas, with the enthusiastic support of the Palestinian people, deliberately embeds themselves into the civilian population in such a way that the cannot be brought to justice for acts of terror without high civilian casualties. If you don't believe those two things, then the "occupation" looks unjust, and the Palestinian "civilian" casualties look morally outrageous. If you do believe those things, then Israel is taking just and necessary steps to defend themselves. So everything hinges on those questions of fact.

Did you ignore the part of my post where I said that I accept those facts and think the Palestinians are morally in the right to do that? It is not just to defend yourself against justified self-defense.

And the reason there are no examples is that in the real world, civilized people do not respond to oppression with campaigns of murder of civilians on the other side.

I'd consider the Israeli retaliation to be a campaign of murder of civilians on the other side just the same (I mean, even without getting into the weeds of how much the civilians they kill when allegedly going after Hamas seem to be treated as happy accidents by them, we have concrete cases of Israeli soldiers sniping Palestinian women and children for sport).

(A) IRA terrorism is or was morally justified

Yes, in my opinion. (Also the ETA and a lot of other examples like that) I think I'm generally much more sympathetic to terrorism than the socially accepted median, and find the idea that civilians inherit no culpability for the actions that a state they elected, supported, voluntarily cheered for and in turn benefitted from to be distasteful and self-servingly promulgated by people who stand to benefit a great deal from such exculpation.

I'm slightly overwhelmed with the number of responses, but I think a lot of them bring up similar points (e.g. the "Israel right to take revenge in turn for Palestinian actions?" ones). Please look at them for detail.

My understanding is that the present ruling population, that is, Eastern European Jews (as seemingly everyone on Wikipedia's list of Israel's leaders in the 1948 war was), derive from a population that was expelled from the Levant by the Roman Empire. The Romans don't strike me as particularly ancestral to the Palestinians; even if you find some genetic signature, sociologically and culturally they were if anything also in the enemies-of-Rome camp.

As far as I know, genetically the Palestinians can be traced back to pre-Roman-era populations of the area (the namesake Philistines? Canaanites?), so the comparison with Normans in England does not work. If you want to create a British metaphor, the closest I could think of is if after a St Patrick's Day celebration in Boston gone particularly awry, Irish-Americans decided to invade Scotland and push the resident Scots into reservations, arguing that the Celtic part of the British Isles is their ancestral homeland, there were already some Irish people in Scotland (true) and the Scots got thoroughly culturally assimilated by the foreign Norman invaders anyway.

This is true to a point. It is also true that Israel was once far larger than it is today. The Israelis captured huge swathes of land through force of arms in defensive wars, and has mostly returned that land peaceably. The Israelis left the Gazans to their own devices in 2005. The common narrative that Israel is constantly expanding is ahistorical.

I don't accept "defensive" (would you label Russia's Ukraine war thus as well? After all, Ukraine was constantly attacking Russia's acquisitions in the Donbass), and if you keep seizing x units of land and then returning x/2 of them as a "gesture of goodwill" when settling with a thoroughly defeated adversary, this doesn't register as things being a wash regarding your expansionism.

I see this logic - not that I agree with it, but I see it. What I don't see is how your logic is not fully generalizable to the Israelis. They have also been wronged by Palestinian actions. How can it be in your paradigm that Palestinians have the right to invade Israel and kill every Jew they see, but then the Israelis do not have the right to bring indiscriminate death down upon the Palestinians in retaliation? (for the record, I do not believe either of them have the right to do this, nor do I believe that Israel's response has been indiscriminate.)

As I argued in a parallel response to @RobertLiguori, I perceive an asymmetry between initating unjustified violence and retaliating to it. If the Palestinian actions that wronged the Israelis were morally just, then any given act of retaliation for them is at least significantly less just than if the prior action were not. On top of all of this, even just looking at casualty figures, the Israeli retaliation for any Palestinian action is wildly out of proportion - generally, any conflict seems to look like "Palestinians killed n Israelis; thereupon Israel killed 100n Palestinians, with another 5n Israeli soldier casualties".

While I don't think the analogy is particularly fair, I will point out that there is only one moral paradigm in which the shooter in your story is unambiguously justified, and that is blood feud. That is inherently a might-makes-right morality. The shooter will soon find out the hard way that that the Mafia have no more scruples than he when it comes to killing children.

Why are blood feuds might-makes-right, except for the trivial sense that if you don't even have the might to take a potshot at the enemy team's weakest spot then you are really left with no recourse? Either way, blood feuds seem to have been the default mode of justice for functioning human societies for the overwhelming part of human history. I understand that they are questionable from the perspective of someone living in a functioning modern state and we have found approaches to justice that work better, but all of these presume that there actually is a functioning state that is willing and able to mete out non-blood-feud justice. The whole conundrum of the Palestinians is that there isn't - nobody could judge the Israelis for driving them out of their homes, levelling their cities or killing them in the tens and hundreds of thousands. Any candidate sovereign that could force the parties into court by force of arms is making a show of looking away and whistling. In this setting, blood feuds empirically seem like the best social technology that humanity has discovered.

Then unless you fall into your own bullet one above, you've got your justification not just for Israel's extremely restrained and humane war, but for actual full-on retaliation.

This description of the war does not match with my perception of reality, either based on casualty figures or the pictures that I see. Even the most dedicated pro-Israelis concede that Palestinian casualties have always far exceeded Israeli ones, but Israel's war is the "extremely restrained" one?

Either way, I think there is a basic asymmetry between unjustified violence and retaliation. If person A chops off person B's arm and everyone else around looks away and says that A is in their right to do that, then B has been wronged. If B then chops A's arm off in retaliation, B was justified in doing so. If A chops B's other arm off in retaliation for that, this is not justified, because justified violence does not beget a similar right to retaliation.

There is no ethical principle other than "Whites bad" (or other general Who, Whom?) that condemns Israel while not condemning not just the Palestinians, but the vast majority of the Arab countries for their historic displacements and exterminations of Christians and Jews.

Please exercise the minimum of good faith to grant me that I am not approaching this from an ethnic perspective. I don't see where Christians come into this, but historical wrongs committed by Arabs against Jews seem like a better candidate for something that would justify the actions around Israel's establishment. This is an area where I have to admit relative ignorance, but my sense was that the scattering of the Jews of the Levant was largely at the hand of "Western" powers, starting with the Roman empire, and that actually Arab suzerains treated them better throughout history than the crusaders that would occasionally insinuate themselves into the region; and either way, any hostilities experienced by remnant resident Jewish population were out of proportion with the injustices visited upon the resident Arabs by the invading European Israelis. Because of the disconnect between the principal agents of Jews' displacement to Europe (the Romans) and the current "targets of retaliation" (the Arabs), who moved into the post-Roman vacuum much later, I find it hard to accept that the latter would have any moral culpability for what the Jews suffered in the European diaspora.

As a calibration question, I'm curious what you think of the Allies's campaign in WWII. Do you sympathize with the modern Neo-Nazi arguments that the firebombing of Dresden was an abomination, that the mass destruction of civilian life is never justified, and thus Nazi resistance to Allied occupation was justified then and justified now? Were the lives of the German civilians that died in Dresden precious enough that the war effort should have been forestalled?

No, not particularly, because as I said above there is an asymmetry between first-mover violence and retaliation. Since I don't accept the Nazi argument that starting WWII was proportionate retaliation for Versailles, they are the ones who moved first, with the civilian population as both an intended beneficiary and enthusiastic supporter of their actions. I would go even beyond the publicity-friendly rationalisation by military need and say that the Allies would morally not be so wrong to murder those civilians out of pure revenge. (Though actually still a bit less so than the Gazans, because they had more options to make Germany and Germans pay available to them at the time than the Gazans had wrt Israel!) To dispel any attempts to put a racial angle on this, I would say the same about the firebombing of Tokyo.

"Jews are literally all organized criminal gangsters, down to the children."

Ugh, I didn't anticipate that using that particular metaphor would invite this interpretation. The only reason I reached for it is that mafia/police collusion was the first trope I could think of where the protagonist is subjected to injustice and can't get succour. What matters for the metaphor is not even the collusion among the mafiosi, but the collusion between them and the police (the US + vassals). Would you be happier if I changed the stand-in for Israel to be a single guy who has a small frontier town's police and judges in his pocket, with a single pampered daughter who had a cushy upbringing thanks to what he racketeered from some townspeople?

You and SecureSignals can keep telling yourselves that, but it's a strange narrative that ignores the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the first time the Arab states tried to push Israel into the sea.

I wasn't intending to ignore it (and I reject whatever you are trying to hint at by lumping me in with SecureSignals), but looking at the Israeli-side list of "commanders and leaders" on Wikipedia, some two thirds of them were straight up born in Europe, and the remaining ones were born during the British administration to parents who are listed as such. This parses as invaders being expelled, not as people defending their homes.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The people promptly elected Hamas as their champions, and Hamas used that power to make war on Israel by firing rockets. Israel basically just withstood this (and built Iron Dome) for many years, until October 7.

I am quite aware of this, but as I think I argued at length I don't see any moral obligation on the people Israel crammed into Gaza to not elect a government that loathes Israel and will lob rockets into it. This list does not look like "basically just withstood this" either; the list is punctuated with fantastically disproportionate statements like "Israel launches a 22-day military offensive in Gaza after rockets were fired at the southern Israeli town of Sderot. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed before a ceasefire is agreed upon.".

Based on the steady torrent of Israel-Palestine threads, the general impression I get is that a majority of people here is quite solidly pro-Israel in this conflict. I would like to understand the pro-Israel position better; in particular, I wonder if there are arguments for the Israeli position in the current war that don't mostly rest on one of the following:

  • An arbitrary cutoff of historical reckoning either shortly before the most recent Hamas attack, or else somewhere in the early '90s following the general Western mode of thinking about other geopolitical conflicts. Unilaterally declaring all scores settled is not a persuasive or universalizable moral principle.

  • Invocation of inherent superior qualities of Israeli Jews relative to Palestinians, be it intelligence, education or general "civilizedness". You would almost certainly either need to cut out a very contrived set of conditions to make the principle only apply to this case, or accept some hypothetical corollary you probably don't want that involves similar abuse being heaped on morally/intellectually/civilizationally inferior people that you care about or feel kinship to.

The way I see it, the moral case for Palestine is pretty clear, and unlike some seem to assume does not require you to subscribe to a lot of oppressed-are-always-right slave morality (though you do need to stop short of maximally might-makes-right master morality). The present ruling population of Israel mostly moved to that territory in the late '40s, and from the start has continued violently expelling the ancestors of present Palestinians from their homes to acquire their land for themselves. I do not think that Palestinians' stupidity or backwardness or whatever are so great that they can't be afforded what we otherwise consider basic human rights to property and safety, even if the people who want to take those from them for themselves were all literal Von Neumanns.

I don't think that this original wrong has been made right to the Palestinians, and the argument that some Palestinians submitted and got to live better lives under the Israelis than they would have had in an independent Palestine does not morally convince me either. If Bill Gates steals the plots some rednecks built their houses on, builds a mansion in its place and then offers them lavish jobs as domestic servants, do the ones who don't accept forfeit their right to complain about the theft? Another counterargument seems to rest on something like statute of limitations (like, the Palestinians and Israelis alive nowadays are not the ones who got robbed and their robbers), which would be more persuasive if Israeli settlements were not still expanding, and there weren't still Palestinians who are quite directly being made to suffer at the hands of the Israeli men with guns for no other reason than that they do not accept the "become Bill Gates's domestic servant" deal. It seems pretty clear to me that there is no recourse left to the Palestinians who do not want to to take this deal that preserves their human dignity - their conquerors certainly won't hear them out themselves, and they are backed by the US machine which not only could produce a personal cruise missile for every Palestinian if it put its mind to it but also has enough intellectual and propaganda firepower that they could make even the Palestinians doubt that they are themselves humans with rights.

If you are continuously denied justice in an existential matter, though, I don't think it's at all an alien viewpoint that you are morally entitled to do whatever you find appropriate to seize justice for yourself, including ineffectual and vile acts of revenge such as murdering the women and children of those who wronged you. To claim otherwise, to me, seems to amount to claiming that you can be absolved for arbitrary wrongs if you just amass enough power to make effective resistance impossible, and I don't like that even before we start taking into the account that the targets of Hamas terror were intended and more often than not happy beneficiaries of the original wrongs committed. (If you have been driven out of your house and into a corner at gunpoint by the mafia, the mafia boss's kid stands by watching the show and mocking you, and, seeing an opening, you shoot the kid, I will find it hard to fault you for the murder even though the kid is technically innocent of the misfortunes that befell you and this did absolutely nothing to help your situation. As a bonus, the corrupt police (my country) is then called in to arrest you, after sharing a smoke with the mafiosi.)

Though I said that the moral case for Palestine is clear, this is emphatically not to say that I rule out the possibility of a clear moral case for Israel existing at the same time. "They're both justified to continue murdering each other" is a sad reality of a lot of tribal conflict. However, in this particular case, I actually do not even see that case, or at least what I have seen seems much weaker to me, given that Israelis still have the option to leave Israel at any time as a large part of the world would welcome them with open arms (while the anti-Palestinians like reiterating that not even other Muslim countries want to take in the Palestinians, as if that helps their case), and even though in some sense they would also then be "driven from their homes" it's not like they are usually unaware of those homes' provenance.

edit: Thanks for everyone's responses, there were certainly a lot of interesting points to think about there. I'm too overwhelmed with the volume to respond to everyone, though to the extent there were some overlaps between the points I would be grateful if you could check my answers to sibling posts.