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Israel-Gaza Megathread #1

This is a megathread for any posts on the conflict between (so far, and so far as I know) Hamas and the Israeli government, as well as related geopolitics. Culture War thread rules apply.

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“It’s time to be cruel,” and Knesset member Ariel Kallner calling for a “Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48,” a reference to the massacre and expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians upon Israel’s founding.

So I looked up more on this Nakba:

Before, during and after the 1947–1949 war, hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated and destroyed. Geographic names throughout the country were erased and replaced with Hebrew names, sometimes derivatives of the historical Palestinian nomenclature, and sometimes new inventions. Numerous non-Jewish historical sites were destroyed, not just during the wars, but in a subsequent process over a number of decades. For example, over 80% of Palestinian village mosques have been destroyed, and artefacts have been removed from museums and archives.

You shouldn't be able to get away with this sort of thing right in the middle of the 20th century. After that, it's no wonder if there are Palestinians who will never accept Israel, and I also think Israel doesn't really have a leg to stand on to negotiate, as it's not really a legitimate state, just a top-down imposition.

Debating this elsewhere, some reactions were "Oh, but the Arabs wouldn't accept the partition plan", but why should they, why does the UN have the right to just impose that on them? Actually, the UN involvement just makes Israel seem like another High Modernist fuck up, another of the numerous errors of the first half of the 20th century.

Addressing something Ike Saul said below:

I don’t view Israelis and Brits as colonizers any more than the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Romans or the Mongols or the Egyptians or the Ottomans who all battled over the same strip of land from as early as 800 years before Jesus’s time until now. The Jews who founded Israel just happened to have won the last big battle for it.

No, I am not moved by appeals to ancient history. That cycle has to end at some point, and the end of WW II seems like a good stopping point for that sort of shenanigan.

Also, you can't have your high officials expressing themselves like the guy above and like this:

Gallant said that he had ordered “a complete siege of the Gaza Strip,” which is home to 2.2 million Palestinians, nearly half of them children. “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” he said. “We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly.”


The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.

You can't talk like this and then pretend you're the civilized party here! Though of course, looking at the so-called developed nations, especially America, maybe they don't talk like this, but they sure behave like it, so maybe there actually are no or few civilizations around.

But that doesn't make me think Israel is legitimate, it just makes me think the developed world is fake too.

Sam Kriss had a great article on Israel from some time ago:

It was almost inconceivable that this wasteland had been made by Jews, that my people and my religion could have created something so ungodly. I did not recognise myself in this mirror. Jews—like Mel Brooks, like Franz Kafka, like Albert Einstein, like Bruno Schulz, like Woody Allen, like the Coen brothers, like Walter Benjamin, like me. People with sexual hangups and a good sense of humour. Bookish men with overbearing mothers. Latkes and lokshen pudding. Candles on a Friday night. Jews, the guilty conscience of Europe, the bearers of messianic hope through every generation—reduced to this.

American support for an ethno-nationalist state can't last. All it takes is a sufficiently left-wing administration coming around to undo this by simply withdrawing support, which could easily happen in the next few decades.

Apologies if this is too much heat, but looking at the circumstances of Israel's founding, Israel genuinely just seems to me to be an injustice. Maybe Israel could have happened legitimately if they hadn't been in such a hurry, and maybe the hurry could have been excused because of the Holocaust, but not to the point that you pull a Nakba.

EDIT: And of course, Hamas' attacks were barbarous, but that doesn't really conjure up legitimacy for the state of Israel. Why should they?

That cycle has to end at some point, and the end of WW II seems like a good stopping point for that sort of shenanigan.

I think the history of peaceful resolutions to conflicts (of which there are not many) is that the stopping point has to be now. You can't go back and re-litigate what happened 50 years ago or 20 or even 5. And this has problems of course. People who had their loved ones killed recently will not be ready to let it go. But if you want peace then you have to work on an agreement from where things are now.

Whether Israel should have been created after WW2 is irrelevant. Whether Israel should have been building new settlements or blockading Gaza is irrelevant. Whether surrounding nations should have attacked Israel in 1967 is irrelevant. Those things happened and are part of history. For a peaceful settlement enough people have to be willing to ignore that and negotiate based on what today looks like and on what they want tomorrow to look like.

Clearly that won't happen any time soon. Tensions are running too high. But at some point if there is to be a real long lasting peace deal (and that is by no means certain), then at some point in the future Israelis are going to have to get past the deaths that occurred at the weekend and Palestinians will have to get past the deaths happening now.

For Northern Ireland, they didn't try to roll back the clock to a prior point, the agreement is based upon agreeing that Northern Ireland is currently British, that this can change in the future with the democratic assent of the people and that individuals can be British citizens, Irish citizens or both. There is a lot more to it, but those are the main points that addressed what Nationalists wanted (to be Irish, for Northern Ireland to be able to be part of Ireland) and Unionists wanted (that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and that they are and will remain British citizens).

As much as you have to learn history to not repeat it, sometimes that history will cause you to repeat it, if you cannot learn to let go of its emotional hold on your decision making. When it comes to deaths and hurt and war, if you want to create a peaceful outcome for the future, remember what happened, learn from it, let it inform you, but don't let it rule you.

And that is tough. It's especially tough if you have lost someone personally. It is hard to decouple when your father was killed by the IRA or your brother was shot by the UVF. Many Israelis and Palestinians will be out for blood to pay for the lives of their kin, that's an entirely normal human reaction, no matter who is to blame for the initial set of events which led us here.