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virtus junxit mors non separabit

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joined 2022 October 17 16:57:34 UTC


User ID: 1678


virtus junxit mors non separabit

0 followers   follows 0 users   joined 2022 October 17 16:57:34 UTC


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User ID: 1678

A few days ago, a Jewish event at UC Berkeley was violently shut down and now an upcoming event with Tzipi Livni at UCLA is being moved online for fear of violent disruptions. Worth noting that Ms. Livni is a liberal secularist with a history of arguing for the necessity of negotiations and a path to peace.

How representative are these of a broader shift against Israel within the left? The polls are mixed. On the one hand, the US public appears to be overwhelmingly favoring Israel over Hamas (>80%), but I am not sure if this means as much as Israel's supporters claim. I've seen many pro-Palestinians and anti-Zionists denounce Hamas for other reasons and I got the sense that not all of them were for sake of optics. And even many who refuse to condemn Hamas do so out of a "an oppressed people has a right to resist" framework rather than a genuine sympathy for the group.

It's worth recalling that even before Oct 7th, the sympathies for Israel among democrats in America were collapsing. My sense is that this trend was halted - and perhaps even reversed somewhat - in the immediate aftermath of the attack but soon began to resume its plunge. It now appears to be very difficult for even liberal Zionists to get a fair hearing among only Jewish audiences on progressive campuses, let alone to a wider public.

While it is true that the core groups making these interruptions are small and heavily concentrated among muslim and "POC" demographics, along with a few white leftists, what's remarkable to me is the wider silence among the broader progressive coalition. Many Jews have remarked upon this, that sympathy seems to be muted or even absent. There is an unwillingness to police these radicals among the wider liberal public, which seems to suggest a hidden reserve of silent sympathy which is not being publicly expressed.

The former AIPAC president Steve Rosen once said that the Israel lobby is like a nightflower: it best operates in the shade. That is now becoming impossible as progressives with a national profile such as AOC are publicly likening them to NRA. Another very important principle has been bipartisan support. Israel needs Western backing and among all Western countries, the US stands heat and shoulder above the rest. America was unique among Western countries that Israel had broad support among both the left and right for so long, whereas in Europe the left gave up on Israel early. The UK Labour party's Keir Starmer may try to resurrect matters after the Corbyn years, but one gets the sense he is fighting against his own base which is usually not ending well for leaders in the long run.

But this exceptionalism now appears to coming to a close as well. Support for Israel among the right-wing is as strong as ever, but being a Zionist is now increasingly a right-coded statement. It was remarkable to see Biden in his latest interview with Seth Myers to state publicly that he is a Zionist. It's an uncontroversial statement for a man of Biden's age, but I suspect it will be a toxic statement for liberals under the age of 40, at least among non-Jewish liberals. I think Israel becoming a bipartisan football is ultimately bad for the country, but I don't see how it ends any other way. And given how liberals dominate elite institutions in America, I'd argue that this does not augur well in the long run. If Biden loses in 2024 because of Michigan, then a narrative will be set that you cannot be too pro-Israel as a democrat anymore.

Michael Tracey, who has a good track record of predicting presidential winners, is saying Michigan augurs badly for Biden but not for the conventional reason most people are citing, i.e. the uncommitted vote is a bit overrated but looking at a larger set of indicators the picture changes.

Will Gaza even be a live issue by the time the real election finally rolls round?

Given that Israeli generals have said that the war will continue at least for this year (albeit in lower intensity), I suppose so. In addition, there are negotiations underway for an extended ceasefire to do a prisoner exchange. And all of this ignores a potential blowup in the North with Lebanon.

One thing that I don't understand is how countries like France, with a larger and often more radicalised muslim population, doesn't seem to have the same problems. Sweden also has a larger muslim population (in proportionate terms) and while Jews in Sweden are under concurrent attack, at least elite institutions seem to weather the pressure fairly well. Their PM is openly saying things like immigrants from MENA have problems with antisemitism and even questioning their loyalty.

Perhaps it's a combination of two things. First, many Islamist radicals are not poor and downtrodden but often well-educated and from relatively more affluent families. Britain's status as a magnet for relatively more prosperous migrants from non-EU sources could perhaps account for this. Second, perhaps the British state itself has been a bit more hands-off rather than the forceful French assimilationist approach. I can't say that it seems like the French have succeeded with their attempts to assimilate these groups, but perhaps an inadvertent side benefit is that they have greater control over various radicals.

As a final note, in a sane society these remote Middle-Eastern squabbles should not have been a major issue in the domestic politics of various Western countries. But we are now well past that point in Europe.

The reason why Twitter (uncensored) is popular for political discourse is because you don't actually need a forced verbose comment for most discussions. I've long felt The Motte could use a more casual venue as an alternative hangout with less strict rules compared to the weekly CW thread. Think of it as a downstairs café instead of the uptight think-tank.

But yes, I share your view that too much of content here is very "snoozy" and unnecessarily long.

Social status isn't always objective. A lot of it is just about who can play the social game better. Plenty of dumb(er) people dunk on their smarter peers who also happen to be less socially savvy and thus gain status. Office politics is the same.

I agree with Nybbler that being disagreeable per se isn't really the issue here. Lots of people in high-powered positions are. It's being punished for it, which is associated with low status/low power.


Israel bent the knee, unsurprisingly. The siege is all but broken. There are also reports floating around that the US is pressuring Israel to delay the invasion. The Israelis basically tried a genteel version of ethnic cleansing by enticing Egypt to take them in, apparently with the blessing of EU+US. But it flopped and the Egyptians told the Europeans that the refugees would be allowed to stream into Europe the first possible moment. Given the explosive politics re: mass migration in Europe, I suspect the Europeans got cold feet and backed off.

So we're seeing two different versions of reality playing out. Israeli statements continue to be incredibly hawkish and all-but-confirming an invasion. Meanwhile the US is undercutting and undermining those efforts by either reversing or delaying Israeli decisions. If Israel will not be able to ethnically cleanse the Gaza strip - which it transparently wants to do - then I don't see how they are not walking straight into a trap here.

The track record of the world stepping in to prevent genocide is not actually that great

Depends who the victims would be.

There's been speculation that a ground invasion may not happen at all but rhetoric coming from Israel's defence minister would make it very hard to climb back from:

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to troops on the Gaza border: "You now see Gaza from afar, soon you will see it from the inside. The order will come."

Hard to be more clear than that. Others have noted that Israel's bombing campaign signals indecision but doing massive air strikes is normal procedure before any urban warfare. Certainly the US did the same before the Fallujah campaign.

More interesting to me is the endgame. Some kind of ethnic cleansing is clearly a goal that Israel pursues, but it prefers if it was done in co-operation with Egypt. Remove the Palestinians "temporarily" to tent cities for safety and then refuse to take them back. The Egyptians are smart enough to understand this and refuse to play ball (alternatively, seeking a higher price for their complicity).

The Israeli foreign minister has also stated that after the war is over, the territory of Gaza will decline. This was assumed to be annexation. But now the latest rumors making the rounds are a new buffer zone. I suspect the Israeli top brass are still debating these things among themselves. The final decision will probably be decided by a combination of battlefield developments and external pressure. But it certainly seems clear that Gaza's territory will shrink. Already 100K people are internally displaced with bombed out houses. That will increase dramatically in the case of a ground invasion. Perhaps this could be the endgame: making a huge number of inhabitants unable to return to smoldering ruins and thus force them outside Gaza (just as most people who lived in Mariupol left and likely never came back).

Either way, skepticism about any potential ground invasion now appears unwarranted barring any unforeseen event.

they just aren’t willing to concede to the second order effects of that being implemented (ie slaughter of the region’s Jewish population)

The same was said by the Afrikaners who had a far more precarious position before Apartheid fell. It is easy to say in hindsight that such concerns were overblown but they certainly did not feel it at the time (hence the massive emigration once the system fell). I don't think genocide would happen (the world would step in) but I agree that ethnic cleansing á la Karabach could happen or though we may see Israel do it in Gaza over the coming months instead.

If we're honest, both sides view the conflict as zero-sum so I don't think there's a moral lesson here. Only who is more powerful.

The odds were always low because of the war aims. The sheer number of hostages means that any ground operation would be all but impossible. Moreover, a series of Israeli ministers have communicated very clearly to the public that hostages are of a secondary importance.

PiS made extremely good political hay from its anti-immigration stance

A major scandal during the campaign was the "cash-for-visa" affair. Moreover, PiS does a lot of posturing on illegal immigration while opening the floodgates to legal migration. In many ways, they remind me of the GOP. Pretty hardline on stuff like abortion but totally hypocritical on immigration

One of PIS's condemned policies was its functional de-Germanification of Polish media.

Instead, Soros' Open Societies foundation literally bought one of the most prestigious newspapers ("Rzeczpospolita") as part of a wider consortium under their noses, LOL. They simply scaremonger about the Germans while allowing US plutocrats to buy up domestic media instead.

We've been having an "honest" conversation about Zionism in the West for a long time

I don't think so. Keith's perspective is missing and most of the anti-Zionism in the West is typically very leftist. I think folks like Keith Woods bring the perspective that Zionism is responsible for instability and unrest in the Middle-East and thus brings floods of refugees to Europe. Jewish Zionists living in the West then shame White people to take them into our countries - even as they support ethno-nationalism for themselves. So nationalism when in Israel but liberalism in the diaspora. So far, I agree with Keith's analysis.

Where I differ with Kieth is that I think this is actually the common norm among most ethnic minorities. He makes it sound like Jews are outliers. I've often talked about Turks living in Germany, NL, France etc but there are many other examples.The main difference is not behavior per se but power. The Jewish diaspora is infinitely more powerful and influential than whatever little crumbs that Turks, Kurds, Armenians or any other Middle-Eastern group get off the table, despite often being far more numerous than Jews - at least in Europe.

In other words, it's White people who are abnormally non-tribal rather than Jews being unusually tribal. Jewish tribalism makes much more political and social impact because of relative power differentials favouring Jews compared to other ethnic minorities who are much less influential. But that doesn't mean those other minorities' fundamental patterns of behaviour are any different.

None of the major non-US powers required for WW3 (Russia, India, China) have great stakes in any of this. If Russia was losing in Ukraine, I'd be more worried.

The only power that cares is the US but none of its potential adversaries in the region (Lebanon, Iran) have nukes nor are any of remaining nuclear powers willing to use theirs to defend them. So a nothingburger. Sleep tight.

I'd still like to think Bibi is smarter than this, and that this is just bluffing. I recall him saying, years ago, that a key part of his strategy against Iran was them thinking "there's a crazy guy in Jerusalem willing to do anything".

Judge people by their actions. So far, Israel's tactic has been to starve, bomb and wear out the civilian population of Gaza. The endgame is clearly a massive ethnic cleansing. There are also rumors the US has offered Egypt monetary benefits to host at least a million Gazans in a "tent city". If I were Bibi, I'd act just like he has thus far. It's the smart, cost-effective strategy. Clearly, the status quo cannot continue and Israel is trying its level best to get rid of the Gaza civilian population. But doing so, even with the backing of the US, is harder than you might think given 24/7 media.

One last thing. One theme I've harped on is Bibi rhetorically boxing himself in. He has now set expectations very high that he may simply be forced to do things he knows are foolish because it would end his political career otherwise. I understand this sounds extraordinarily callous that a man in his position would be willing to sacrifice many lives to save his political skin, but I am no longer discounting any possibility.

Is the left-right distinction really the relevant political metric we should look at the in US?

The president of NYU's student bar association lost their job offer after expressing support for Hamas. I say they, because it's a trans person who also happens to be black. Can you hit higher on the diversity bingo? Well, take the wrong side where Israel is involved and apparently that does not help you. And it's not like NYU is a conservative campus.

I'm sure this person has a history of anti-White statements (that is usually the case with black progressives). But what got them into trouble was taking the wrong side on Zionism. So, this isn't a case of being a leftist or a rightist. It's a case of being against perceived Jewish interests. Sometimes people talk about the progressive stack and we have once again found out that being black and trans is no defence if you go against Jews. No such punishment against being anti-White. This seems to imply two things:

  1. The highest position on the progressive totem pole is being Jewish, not black or trans.

  2. People who claim Jews are White must explain why making anti-White statements rarely carry punishments but going against Jewish interests does. In other words, Jews have relative privilege in America in a way that is not available to Whites.

Yeah, the ghoulish commentary from what are mostly chickenshit individuals can be a bit grating. But this is how it is in all wars. People from a distance pick sides and then cheer on them as if it were a sports team from afar.

From Israel's viewpoint, the attack leading to Iran attacking Saudi Arabia would be a good thing because this would bring US air power into the war.

Yes but it would also tank the world economy. And ultimately the US cares far more about that. Already today there are news of a major meeting between the Big Three of Europe (UK/FR/DE) and the US, ostensibly to prevent a wider conflagration in the region. Ultimately, Israel is a client state of the US and has to behave as such. It's on a short leash.

All eyes are on Gaza but reports are also coming in that the Israeli military is putting the West Bank on full lockdown.

Part of this is to prevent wider contagion but it surely cannot be lost on various government ministers (some of whom belong to the utter fringes of the Israeli far-right) that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do things in the occupied territories that otherwise wouldn't fly. Israel has a narrow time window for any such actions, so while the world is glued to what happens in Gaza, I would also try to keep an eye on the West Bank.

I suspect the real prize for many members of this govt would be simultaneous ethnic cleansing of both Gaza and West Bank in a massive show of force. 300K reservists have been called up. I'm not predicting it will happen, just pointing out that if there was ever a time, then that time is now.

what will the actual effect be?

I expect it is mostly a "softening up tactic" before a major ground incursion. If Israel actually kept a full blockade for weeks if not months - and we're assuming effectively enforced (a big if) - then it would be committing a textbook definition of a warcrime. That would essentially guarantee it would lose in the court of public opinion. Like it or not, winning the propaganda war is just as important as the real war. Public sympathy would dry up real quick if tens of thousands were to be dying on live TV. Disproportionately matters.

The Israelis are a paper tiger without daddy America. As this conflict showed (8 billion dollars needed from Uncle Sam within the first day of rocket attacks). If the Israelis had the capability to attack Iran, then they'd have done it years ago. They don't and ultimately depend on the US to do it. Successive American administrations have turned down every request from Jerusalem.

Iran today is much more capable than it was 10 years ago. If Iran is attacked, they would almost certainly conduct a a massive attack on Saudi Arabia and other US-aligned countries. That would send the world economy into a gigantic depression if oil output suddenly crashed by 10-15 mb/d. Many Western strategic oil stocks are already depleted after the UA war so there wouldn't be much buffer space to absorb the shock.

TL;DR near zero.

A great many of them will accept ethnic cleansing or genocide of Palestinians as a solution; perhaps will participate if a chance presents itself

Israel would be welcome to try and it would fail. These same "liberals" would also find themselves the targets of Islamic radicals in the West doing revenge attacks for months if not years. Given their embrace of genocidal rhetoric, I certainly wouldn't shed a tear for them.

Another factor Netanyahu will have to consider is his goal of rapprochement between Israel and a bunch of more despotic and American aligned Arab countries. A bloody ground war and occupation would kill such goals for many years to come

I think you underestimate the sheer venality and corruption of these puppet Arab regimes.

If the escalation continues, I think the Israeli politics will change beyond recognition in the near future. For some decades now the OG-European-Labour-Zionist-Secular elite of the country totally lost its grasp on democratic majorities but have been holding on to power through risky political shenanigans. Their preferred approach to the Arab problem has clearly failed. While they were in no way bastions of humanism towards Arabs, these people still represented much more Western instincts about what is acceptable to do against your enemy. At least they were careful that when they felt atrocities were necessary, they worked well on the Western PR. Things might get much uglier very fast in the near term.

The rise of Israeli religious-right is demographic and structural. I doubt this event will have any real bearing on political trends over the long-term. Besides, many of the seculars are just as hawkish on security matters even if they are better at optics.

I recall reading that Israel also tried to push its African asylum seekers into the West and then there was HIAS' role in the Syrian refugee crisis.

I am generally speaking more sympathetic to Israel than to the Palestinians but I think many Westerners are wildly overstating how much in common we have with the Israelis, at least the part of Israel that is ascendant.

I've been unable to understand how there can be a stable equilibrium without something pretty close to ethnic cleansing

You're correct and many Israelis of the hard-right and even some on the center-left have publicly lamented that Ben-Gurion didn't "finish the job of 1948" where Israel ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands in what the Palestinians refer to as "The Nakba". There was another round of ethnic cleansing during the aftermath of 1967.

Since then, the political pressure on Israel has ratched up significantly and even if international opinion is with them now, I highly doubt the West would allow forcible removal of millions of Palestinians today. More importantly, I also suspect the Palestinians would put up a lot more resistance today than their grandparents as they're far better armed and co-ordinated at a local level than they were in the 1940s or 1960s.

In addition, such a large-scale ethnic cleansing would invariably drag in Arab neighbours and kill any attempt at normalisation with Saudi Arabia and dial back the Abraham Accords. Hezbollah is also armed to the teeth and could well join the fray. So I highly doubt something like this would happen. Israel is just boxed in with no good options.

What can Israel do to a very densely populated Gaza strip that won't be branded as a war crime or ethnic cleansing?

Nothing, especially as Hamas was smart enough to take dozens of hostages. Bibi was dumb enough to say "we're at war" when in reality it was a limited cross-border raid that affected the immediate vicinity border communities. A war would entail something like the 1967 or 1973 wars which were existential. This clearly is nothing even remotely similar. This miscategorisation has now boxed him in rhetorically and he can't be seen as backing down. It would have been better if he called it what it is: a major terrorist attack/raid.

In terms of propaganda, it seems clear that international opinion is (and should be) with Israel. But what I'm seeing from Israeli military experts is that this is being described as Israel's 9/11. It was a massive intelligence and military failure on their part and once the initial shock dies down, people will be starting to ask hard questions of the govt. So there will be a political angle to ramp up a massive response which may not be effective in the long run but needed to save the govt from its downfall.

Israel is now a very wealthy society and appetite for large-scale casualties which a major ground operation would necessarily require is very low. While you could do a lot of bombings which would level entire neighborhoods, you'd also risk killing your own hostages. It's really a gigantic failure on the part of Israel. I don't really see any good option for them. Gaza is this problem that they can't seem to solve and govt advisors have talked about "mowing the lawn" in the past, as you'd need to continually launch mini operations to degrade the militants' capabilities without actually solving anything at a root level.

I think this ties into Israel's larger failure of solving the issue with the West Bank situation. The left's "land for peace" formula is dead but the right-wing's continued settlement expansion invariably leads to ethnic tension. Bibi used to be good at "managing the crisis" which allowed the mainstream of Israeli society to sort of forget that there ever was an unresolved issue. This year has seen as a huge uptick in terrorist attacks and now this latest Gaza crisis just compounds the issue.

In a very weird way, Israel is safer externally than it has ever been from invasions from other Arab countries with Saudi normalisation on the tangible horizon adding to the Abraham Accords. On the other hand, the internal situation keeps deteriorating and not just between Moslems and Jews but even between religious and secular Jews. Seems like the place is just a perpetual cauldron of unrest.