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Israel-Gaza Megathread #2

This is a refreshed 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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A Gazan hospital has been hit, allegedly by a missile, allegedly by an Israeli missile:

Here is why this seems incredibly unlikely to me:

  • Israel gains nothing from this.

  • Israel loses a lot from this.

  • Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc. whatever amalgamation of actors here are opposing Israel have demonstrated that they are willing to strike their own people.

  • Hamas etc. gain a lot from this (politically).

The narrative around this is already forming and I suspect that we will never be free of knowing that Israel for sure bombed a hospital (maybe they did).

This will be a major inflection point in this war. Causalities are approaching 1000 people (started at 500, now at 800)

Edit: here’s also why I’m so suspicious of this. If it’s true that Israel bombed this hospital, it basically evaporates any amount of good will I had for them. The 10/7 Hamas attacks were terrible. This is just as bad. Pull our aircraft carriers back, no aid, nothing. Still send in some bad hombres to get our citizens out, but other than that Israel is on its own, and I don’t want to hear any ridiculous moralizing from any us politician ever again.

Edit2: There are allegedly demonstrations happening in several countries now. Extremely dynamic news environment. Nobody knows wtf is going on. Israel is starting to get their narrative together about the cause of this, but it's way too late for them to get ahold of it.

Edit3: allegedly a video of both the initial rocket launch, as well as the explosion:

This matches up with the very first video of the rocket hitting the hospital, and answers why the guy filming was filming (because there were a bunch of rockets going overhead)

Israel's ambassador to UK just invoked firebombing of Dresden as a justification, that makes me think they would absolutely blow up a hospital.

It's interesting reading A.Vorobey (old rationalist blogger, Soviet-Israeli Google SWE, epistemic minor league, math, poetry, puns, very much the same Jewish Rationalist stock our community ultimately descends from, except with biological children) these days because he's very squeamish, very eloquent, and fully wed to Israeli culture and currently writes about the horrors of Hamas, how nice are all the people helping tourists, Middle Eastern Castalia blah blah we are fully justified (he's not very connected to its more virile, younger side). Here he is from October 13, independently making the comparison to Dresden:

In a nutshell, for those who really want to understand, I don't have time for arguments or careful framing with all the references:

The Israeli army has dropped 6000 bombs since the start of the war, and a report from the army says it's about 4000 tons. I first estimated from at 1000 tons, using a typical 500 lb bomb size I saw somewhere, but I may have been wrong about that. The argument works with both the 1000 ton estimate and the 4000 ton estimate.

According to Wikipedia about 4000 tons were dropped on Dresden Feb 13-15, 1945 and casualties are estimated at 25,000 to 100,000. I believe that the fact that Gaza has less than 2000 casualties shows - in this comparison - that Israel bombs selectively, on buildings and targets known to be Hamas-related. Surely sometimes mistakes and innocent casualties happen. The Dresden development was apparently (can be verified) much less crowded than Gaza.

Further, I have come across the following convincing evidence that we are nevertheless trying to avoid civilian casualties: 1) a general warning at the beginning of the war telling residents of different neighborhoods in Gaza which areas to move to for safety; 2) although we announced that we were eliminating the need to practice "knock on the roof", in some cases it has been documented in recent days, the army seems to be using it according to circumstances; 3) there have been examples of calls/texts to residents of a particular high-rise before a missile 4) we have not just sent a warning to residents of northern Gaza to temporarily move to southern Gaza, but are expending considerable effort to make them aware of it, including thousands of fliers in Arabic printed and dropped from airplanes.

People who find a moral equivalence between thugs entering a peaceful village and killing everyone in the streets and in their homes, women, the elderly and children, and the army bombing terrorist targets in dense urban environment and, despite considerable efforts to avoid it, killing civilians in the process, are scum.

I suppose that with all those qualifiers about density and scum all it will be no great shame indeed if a hospital or two is vaporized. Or, indeed, if any other necessary price is paid. After all,

Shylock may have his pound of flesh but only if he doesn't spill a drop of blood.

Israel may defend itself, but only if no civilian is harmed.

In other words:

Shylock does not get his bond.
Israel may not defend itself.

Only abstract rights for Jews, and no "Christian" love.

We can't have that, can we?

An interesting coincidence, as I just looked at the Motte for the first time in a year or so, on a whim. Some notes:

  • obviously I think it'll be a great shame if a hospital or two is vaporized; I am squeamish, as you say.
  • approximately zero people here in Israel think we bombed a hospital on purpose, even if it was us who did it (and I really don't know). This includes the people who are calling to bomb Gaza into the stone age and at least rhetorically disclaim any concern over any civilian casualties. They, too, don't believe the army would do it even if they, at least rhetorically, would.
  • given the pattern of bombings and casualties so far, and given the pro/contra incentives on our side (a weaker argument), I tentatively feel a detached rational non-Jewish non-Israeli observer ought to be able to recognize the "Israelis did it on purpose" theory as very unlikely, if not stupid.
  • if we did it (a big if), it's got to be by mistake. That'd be very tragic, but yeah, consistent with what I wrote on Oct 13, not quite so evil as the Oct 7 massacres. Very different league.
  • "any other necessary price" is doing a lot of dirty work in your comment, and isn't really how I feel about it, or most Israelis I know. Why would I bother to think about and collect evidence that we're trying to avoid civilian casualties, if I didn't care about it at all and considered whatever happened "a necessary price to be paid"? For brownie points?

On one hand I agree that this event might not even be the IDF's work (in fact this seems more likely now), and if it were IDF, there may be some sort of error (a spectrum of possible error/indifference options). There really isn't a compelling reason for the IDF to vaporize hospitals, from what we know. And on the surface of it, bombarding a mass of civilians is not so nasty as boasting of creatively butchering them… (or is it? Does it make moral sense to feel very differently?)

I wanted to make the comment to the effect that the most bloodthirsty Zniks were/are also uniformly denying Bucha and other more straightforward war crimes of Russia in another war you cover, as if Russian Armed Forces were inherently more squeamish than them; and it'll be ironic to see the same transpire here. But – sure, IDF to Israeli citizens really is not what RAF is to Russian ones.

On the other, I laugh at the handwringing about unwillingness to accept any "necessary" price. Your normal writing reminds me of that piece by Sam Kriss:

Liberal Israelis are obsessed with this idea: of being a normal country, like Denmark, maybe, or New Zealand. A Jewish state, but not a Jew among states, some special case sequestered in its own private ghetto and subject to different rules. A normal country is at peace with its neighbours and itself. In a normal country, you can hang out on the beach and eat falafel and spraypaint angry messages about veganism in a gentrifying downtown neighbourhood. In a normal country, political disputes are about normal things: the tax rate, the health system, the trains. It’s there in the stuff you hear from Israel’s advocates abroad. Why are you singling out this country, when you should be criticising China or Iran instead? How would you expect any other country to respond to Hamas and its rockets? Because that’s what they want to be. Not a messianic hope. Not a light unto the nations. Not a sign of the End Times. Just a normal country, like anywhere else.

[…] Outside Israel, coverage tends to focus on what this new government might mean for the Palestinians. Even for the most committed Zionists in the diaspora, Israel means the opposite of Palestine. But within Israel, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are simply not a political object. All the major parties agree; the occupation will continue indefinitely. Why bother even talking about it? It hardly matters now; Israel hasn’t really depended on Palestinian labour since 1992, and a big chunk of Palestinian capital ends up being invested in Palestine’s only real growth industry, which is the construction of Jewish settlements.

Only echoes survive. I found myself thinking a lot about the last line of that graffitied manifesto. ‘Go VEGAN_._’ So many liberal Israelis have started veering heavily into their veganism. They have the sense that something terrible is happening, that their ordinary consumer lives are structured by a great hidden cruelty, invisible behind concrete walls, unspoken, unacknowledged, something that seems to very faintly mirror the darkest episodes in recent Jewish history. Something is giving them the guilt. And so they decide that it’s the animals. All those harmless cows and sheep, funnelled into the slaughterhouse to meet the shochet’s knife.

But of course you're more self-aware than those NPCs:

мирных палестинцев, которые станут невольными жертвами этой войны, мне жаль, но если нужно выбирать сторону, то для меня выбор очень легкий, мое сердце с израилем. не только потому, что с этой страной меня связывает множество нитей, но и потому что я малодушно стараюсь ставить на победителя, когда он очевиден.
и это как раз тот случай.

I think what repulses me about Kriss (besides his deformed face, his lisp and his molesting a girl on a bus while telling her she should have sex with him because when his parents he would inherit their medium sized house in a nice London suburb) is this annoying, pusillanimous nature to his handwringing. I don’t think it’s particularly Jewish either, it’s not quite Woody Allen neuroticism, it’s more just this general worship of the weak and rejection of any duty or loyalty to the decisions, collective, of his people - even as he identifies with them, and this, this privileged man unwilling to consider what the price of civilization actually is, or has been.

You were discussing some settler shooting at Palestinians a few days ago, I remember the footage was from B’t selem, funded by Soros via the NIF, the charity itself led by an LGBT activist (whose last job was in fact as head of an LGBT group). This may be how gentile whites feel toward Robin DiAngelo or their other DEI types (I dislike them, and to some extent I hate them and am even scared of them, but I don’t feel a visceral disgust in the same way). Maybe you feel this way towards some Russians, I’m not sure, “our people have enough enemies shouting the bailey to your motte, they do not need your help”.

I think that both charity to the weak and the army boot stepping on the unreasonable rabble are the costs of civilization. Both the existence of Soros and the unapologetic violence of IDF.

Israeli settlers are, in my eyes, no better than Chechens expelling Russians from their homes after the fall of local secular religious cult. Brute assabiyah and Bronze Age greed hiding behind the alleged spiritual superiority do not a civilization make. I don't care if they're marginally better behaved than a people on the chopping board of history: it is not their achievement, and I can all too plainly see how any people can be likewise degraded to the point of their victims, becoming «fair game».

At some point whites have alleged that nobody ever is. I think it's a flimsy claim, perhaps just the cry of the guilty consciousness of recent colonizers and genociders. But if there were an objective progression in the ordeal of civility, I suppose it would lie in the direction of the state pretending that this claim is ironclad and its violators are defectors. Even if your state is all based and ethnonationalist as heck.

Han Chinese got Xinjiang all sorted out. Israelis will probably get Palestine all sorted out. As you know, I'm bearish on the former and bullish on the latter. Neither look like the civilization to me. Just alien civilizations on wholly alien trajectories. And those from those civilizations who react to those philosophies like whites do seem more human than the rest.

Then again I'm also bearish on whites.