Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fatah: "Hamas Are Criminals"

It seems the criticism of Hamas, including blaming Hamas and its supporters for the current death and destruction in Gaza, isn't limited to Israel and its supporters. A Fatah official in Ramallah, speaking on condition on anonymity to the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, said, in part:
"The Iranians and Syrians are using Hamas to undermine the Palestinian Authority and other moderate Arab governments. Victory for Hamas in this war would mean victory for Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. This is something we need to prevent."

So it seems even moderate Palestinians want an Israeli victory in Gaza. The anonymous official also hopes that Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh would be tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians.
"Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."

Funny, if you listen to the U.N. and some media outlets you'd think that Israel was responsible for all the killing and only Israelis could ever be considered war criminals. It seems that objective and honest people, even Palestinians, see things differently.

On the record Abdel Rahman, a senior advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, mocked claims made by Hamas leaders about their successes against Israel. He added:
"The Gaza Strip belongs to the Palestinian people. The Gaza Strip is part of Palestine and not a Hamas-owned estate."

I will repeat my contention that the only hope for peace to ever be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians depends on an Israeli victory in Gaza, not the premature ceasefire the U.N. is pushing for. Hamas must be removed from power and Gaza must be returned to Palestinian Authority control under international supervision.

4 comments:

Nicolae Andreescu said...

I will repeat my contention that the only hope for peace to ever be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians depends on an Israeli victory in Gaza, not the premature ceasefire the U.N. is pushing for.

Both the majority Israeli and Palestinian approaches to this conflict are Pareto suboptimal and continuing to pursue either one is nothing but folly.

Caitlyn said...

It's very easy for someone who doesn't understand the conflict (as is the case with the author you linked) to make such a comment. It's easy for you too.

Tell me, if rockets were flying towards your home and destroying your town what would you want your government to do? Clearly Israel has to defend itself. President Obama understands this. Why don't you?

Israel had the premature, unilateral cease-fire you seem to want and I objected to. The results: rockets are still being fired into Israel and Hamas is murdering its opposition in Gaza. Is that "pareto optimal" to you? A conflict can only stop when both sides want to stop it. Israel does, Hamas does not.

Nicolae Andreescu said...

Tell me, if rockets were flying towards your home and destroying your town what would you want your government to do? Clearly Israel has to defend itself. President Obama understands this. Why don't you?

First of all, I am not a US citizen and am not currently in the US. So I have no idea why Obama is supposed to be speaking for me.

In any case, I would want my government to come up with a rational response, not a myopic one. I have been in a number of personal crisis situations in my life, and the only reason I lived through them was because my head cleared so that I could think and then act properly. Back to the subject of Israel, there are some external variables to take into account here. Here is one of the most important, arguably the most important in my view: world opinion of Israel is very, very low right now. I'm going to kind of ramble for the next few paragraphs, maybe because I've not had good sleep lately, but my rambling does lead up to a point, so bear with me please.

As it turns out, those countries that are likely to wield the most power in this century are those whose cultures really do not entertain Israel's religious rationale for deserving the piece of land they live on. That is well worth taking into consideration. What Israel really has on its side now is US support. But that support may not last forever. So they can't pretend that foreign opinion does not matter.

Personally, I can't claim that anecdotes I know are an entirely accurate reflection of the truth, but ... when traveling in places where Israelis often visit, it's not uncommon for me to hear really negative remarks leveled at them. Even in India, where they have fairly good tourist relations, the negative sentiments have risen dramatically. (That's not anecdotal, but statistical! It's in the report I linked above.)

But Israeli behavior towards Chinese and South-east Asians is often exceedingly rude. (And I'll show why that's a problem shortly.) Here's a sign from a hostel in Thailand which forbids Israelis from entering. It's a sign of an endemic problem. I often have been shocked by the chauvinistic behavior on the part of many young Israelis towards these countries and the people who live in them, who are mostly very inoffensive. In other words, they take advantage of their hospitality. Granted, they may have just left the army and are looking for fun things to do, but trashing and stealing from hostels, taking stone flakes off of holy sites with hammers, yelling at wait staff for no reason, etc. are not going to win you any friends. It seems common for Israelis to be very unconcerned with upsetting and angering people.

Again, I suppose the people in some nations tend to be more 'brusque', and in others they tend to be more 'polite', and there will be some friction because of that, and because of other things as well. But it is possible to overdo it! ... so to speak; this digression is really too long, so I'm going to end it with a visceral example of what I'm talking about, to drive the point home. A friend sent me this page on Shanghaiist, which was a reaction to an Israeli Olympic athlete's comments about the taichi performance in the opening ceremony. A number of the reactions were very angry. Though this comment in particular is not representative of views in China towards Israel and Jews, it is not entirely uncommon either:

money-driven Jews' words? what a joke! ...
oh. maybe holocaust did not happen. Maybe it is a lie fabricated by those greedy Jewish. I am starting to believe what the Iranian president said... Do i have freedom of speech by saying this?


Anyway, I hope I made my point. International opinion does matter. When they have things like a clothing store in Hong Kong that feature shirts bearing the swastika tilted 45 degrees and faux toxic waste barrels reminiscent of Zyklon B cannisters for decor, that is of course in very poor taste, but probably not anti-Semitic per se ... at least not deliberately. However, when many Israelis go around aggravating people both in terms of policy and in terms of individual behavior, as they do now, matters might become substantially worse.

Israel had the premature, unilateral cease-fire you seem to want and I objected to. The results: rockets are still being fired into Israel and Hamas is murdering its opposition in Gaza. Is that "pareto optimal" to you?

No it is not Pareto optimal. (Pareto is a proper noun, being someone's name.) Both the IDF and Hamas (both) are acting according to their Pareto suboptimal Nash equilibrium. Believe it or not, seeing one's family charred by white phosphorus elicits the same strong emotional reaction in Palestinians that rocket volleys do in Israelis. In either case, these feelings will not die down just because of a ceasefire. (A ceasefire whose legitimacy can itself be called into question, but I'll ignore that for argument's sake.) That is why a third party, and a strong one, needs to intervene and set things right. Unfortunately, the UN does not seem to have real military power anymore like it did in the Korean War.

Also, the way you put Pareto optimal in quotes like that suggests that you have scorn for decision theory. If you can think of an instance where, as a rule, using gut feeling is better than decision theory in the long run, please come forward with it. I cannot think of any such examples myself.

Caitlyn said...

There is no doubt that Israel has a public relations problem. I would say, however, that the anti-Semitism you relate is a cause, not a symptom. It existed long before Israel was created.

The argument for Israel's existance is not simply religious. It's based on the fact that a refugee people were persecuted everywhere they went up to and including genocide as seen in World War II. The only choice was to reestablish the homeland and return from whence we came. The creation of Israel was more a response to world guilt over the Holocaust than anything religious.

If you've read the rest of my blog then you know that I am fully aware of anti-Israel feelings around the world. They will not go away if Israel stops defending itself and allowing its people to be killed. Please remember that Hamas' reason for being is the destruction of Israel.

Are Sudanese held in low regard because of their nation's continued genocide against non-Arab minorities? No. Chinese over Tibet? Not really. The anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred you describe has nothing to do with current policy other than as an excuse for bad behavior. The bias seen in the world press and educational systems reinforces anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias.

Do some young Israelis behave badly? Of course. In this country there are also negative stereotypes about Japanese tourists. Americans have an equally bad reputation in some parts of the world. None of this leads to signs prohibiting entry to Japanese or Americans, does it? Again, while this behavior is rude and should be corrected your are pointing out excuses and symptoms, not causal factors.

Oh, and yes, I don't feel that academic theories apply in a real world sitaution when missiles are flying. Sorry, I do find the sort of academic exercise you are engaging in to be pointless. "Scorn" is a very strong word and I don't think it applies. I would rather describe my attitude as dismissive.

BTW, The U.N. did not have power in Korea. The U.S. did. It was the United States' decision to use the U.N. as an umbrella organization that made the U.N. powerful. Today's U.N., which is dominated by dictators and despots, should have no power at all. I actually believe that in this day and age the U.N. does more harm than good. More on that in upcoming posts.