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The Lives of Children 2 Update

Here is more on our subject of how children are spending their summer (at least in the Northern hemisphere).

ABC reporters are in Gaza. They saw first-hand an Israeli shelling of a beach where four boys were playing. Their Report here.

The story is confirmed in this eyewitness account of Guardian reporter, Peter Beaumont.

"It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: "They are only children."

"In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen's shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family."

UPDATE:  You may remember New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks from various mideast wars. He has this account in Thursday's paper of the killing of the four Palestnian boys. His photos show the grusome condition of their blown-apart bodies.  Here.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Meanwhile on the other side:

On the walk home there was a siren, my husband grabbed the kids and ran to the closest building. They were at least undercover if not in the safest room. Together with my two younger children, aged 2 and 4, my husband watched 4 rockets explode in the sky. With each boom the world shook, and my kids squeezed their father a little tighter. Tonight my four year old heard a sound during dinner, “A siren!” he wailed. Luckily he was wrong, but this is what is now ingrained in his heart. [...]

What do I tell my 6 year old as she lies in her makeshift bed too scared to sleep? As she wails in fear when her father leaves for a wedding? Do I make promises that all will be well? How can I? [...]

The other day my daughter told my husband she wishes she could kill the Arabs herself and make this all end. My husband responded that she is too small, that’s the army’s job  

This little girl will grow up and become an adult who will readily kill Palestinians.

The children in Gaza who didn't die in the attack described in the link will probably also grow up and become adults who readily kill Israelis.

How can this conflict ever end?

And also in Israel ... "10-Year-Old Girl Injured in Rocket Attack Fighting for Her Life"

How can this conflict ever end?

I believe there is an old saying, goes something like this:
The killings will end when the people, on both sides, decide that they love their children more than they hate their enemies.

All this goes down to what history will finally describe as one of the great blunders of the twentieth century, the creation of the state of Israel. No matter what its moral justifications, it condemned the region to seventy six years of endless violence, and counting. Along the way, the Jewish nation has emulated the ruthless tactics of the Nazis: special license plates for Arabs, punishment of whole families and communities for actions by a few, a security apparatus based on terror, the expropriation of Arab land, and on and on, However Israel has suffered during this time, the plight of the Arabs is exponentially worse. Every man, woman, and child suffers from traumatic stress disorder.

A hundred years from now, the violence will continue. Lost along the way is Israel as a morally righteous nation. It is run by sociopaths. It may survive through its atomic bombs and U.S. supplied super weapons. But it will go down in history as a moral pariah.

Mr. Taylor, What has the creation of a Jewish state to do with what is going on today in Syria and in Iraq? The original sin dates back long before 1948, to Babel. It is tribalism and its uptown version, nationalism, which made such a horror of the 20th Century. If you want to see it at work, count the American flags at the hate rallies where god-fearing Americans demand that buses with children from Central America stay out of their communities. With just a small trigger, some of our neighbors would unleash rockets or bombs on those children in the name of nationalism. Laws for them, liberties for us.

Mr Taylor, I would also look a bit further into the past, say British interference post WWI. Whatever the sins of the State of Israel, it seems to make more sense than subduing, say, ethnic Kurds into states run by Arabs. I'm not sure there are many nation-states in southwest Asia that actually deserve their borders and sovereignty, given their behavior toward people-not-like-us. But life, including international relations, isn't always fair.

I think that as a practical matter all we can deal with are present day realities. I think we all understand by now that mistakes were made during the creation of the state of Israel. However, we will be arguing until the goats come home and this is not the most productive way forward. Ditto for the current national boudnaries of the mid-east.

But this kind of violence is off putting and I don't think assigning black and white hats to each sides is helpful. Each has made their contributions and each has to own their part.

As a strategic and political move, the Palestinians and Hamas would be far more effective if they engaged in non-violent disobedience of any and all laws surrounding their occupation and the kinds of restrictions imposed on them. In this day of media coverage, they would gain much more sympathy.

Their current tactics and ideology is actually backfiring. Muslims are increasingly rejecting the kind of Islamic ideology of these groups once they become more well known (can't recall where I saw that poll).

As for Israel, their finest spiritual tradition of ethics and ethical behaviour are being undermined by existing practices as William outlines.

At the same time, Hamas is acting very irrationally, erratically, and is difficult to reason with.

Hard for me to make judgements with limited information, context, history, and frankly interest. But all this makes me reflect on how I can better resolve conflict in my neck of the woods in my immediate surroundings.

Parsing responsibility for the current violence in Israel-Gaza doesn't come up with clean hands for any party. What is striking to me in reading several recent histories of Hertzl, Zionism, Britain, Truman and the U.S. is how many politicians, foreign policy advisors, Jews living in Palestine pre-1948, and Zionist activist, in the U.S. and abroad, understood that the establishment of the state of Israel was based on a false premise. That premise was that Palestine was virtually without a significant population and that Jewish emigres were displacing no one. It is summed up in the oft-quoted slogan: "A land without a people for a people without a land."

Many Jews and non-Jews alike recognized that there was indeed a signficant population of Arabs in Palestine. Some were prepared to overlook this. Some foresaw trouble in declaring a Jewish state and favored a plan that would create a federation over which Britian, the mandate power, would stand and prepare the country for future independence. Ardent Zionists, and their ardent U.S. supporters worked assiduously to thwart any such configuration, which was proposed by some officials in the British foreign office.

Arab officials in Palestine, (who represented the last vestige of the Ottoman Empire, and who after WWI were subject to the British Mandate Authorities), were opposed to large-scale Jewish settlement. The struggle immediately after WWII to settle Jews from displaced persons' camps in Europe set off a great struggle between the Zionists and Great Britain, which remained the mandate authority. The Zionists ultimately forced Britain out. The state of Israel has been dealing ever since with a land that aready had a people.

MOS, People is just another word for "tribe," and I don't think Israel's problems will ever be solvable tribe-to-tribe. I remember reading that Mohamed Mossaddegh, when he was prime minister of Iran in the 1950s, refused to meet with Greek diplomats because he was still so ticked off by what Alexander the Great did to Iran (Persia) in the 300s B.C. Long memories. Deep passions.

(I think the source for that is Steven Kinzer's All the Shah's Men, happily loaned out and unhappily never returned, so I can't verify that.)

Margaret, your historical sketch actually was covered at a high level in the Leon Uris novel Exodus which I read as a teenager (at that time, many years ago, it already was no longer a new book).  Looking back on it, it was one part history, two parts fiction, and six or seven parts pro-Israeli propaganda, but as a teen I found it a ripping good read.

It's hard to believe that a beach with children playing can be mistaken for a strategic target. We've been told so much about how hard the Israelis are trying to not target civilians. Really? 

And I'm sorry but I am tired of the constant "everyone is to blame" meme. This overlooks the vastly disproportionate cost of the conflict for the Palestinian people.

The so called "war" between an entity that has no army no air force no navy, nothing but a few rocket launchers that have killed 1, and Israel, one of the best armed nations in the world which has already killed 214 in this particular episode, is not a war. It's an episode in genocide.

Jim, Yeah, and the movie based on the book (with Paul Newman and Sal Mineo inter alia) was memorable, with a wonderful bit of movie theme music written by Ernest Gold. When Pat Boone (yes, white bucks himself) wrote lyrics, and Andy Williams et al recorded it, the following pericope topped the charts:

"This land is mine. God gave this land to me / This brave and ancient land to me / And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain / I see a land where children can run free."

Well, there you are. "God gave this land to me." It's in the Book. Not so much the part about children runing free.

I've never read Leon Uris's Exodus, never saw the movie. I have often heard it referred to as highly successful propoganda because readers took it for history. I doubt it represents that history except for the story of the ship itself being turned away by the British. There is a certain romantic view of the founding of Israel and its early days, especially the strenuous efforts of the Kibbutz movement and Kibbutzniks to till the land under a socialist rubric. Israeli politics has drifted a long way from those rosy views.

Rita Ferrone: A careful reading of the Guardian story and subsequent reports suggest that the gunners recalibrated their aim to catch the boys running across the beach after a first shot destroyed the shed they were playing near. The second (some reports say third) shot caught the four of them. I am not clear about the injured boy and which shot caught him.

I agree with George B.  The history of the founding of Israel has been summarized by Margaret.  It leaves out a lot, but it is just a summary.  History cannot be undone. Mistakes that may have been made in the 1940s cannot be undone 66 years after the fact.  Israel is. That is the reality.  

Hamas and the PLO and other extremist groups have not done their own people any favors in the ongoing struggle either. Some of the more extreme leaders seem not to really want peace or a settlement - perhaps they fear losing the hate that keeps them going.  Neither side has clean hands.

So, what do people here think might be done to bring peace?  A lot of very good minds have attempted to come up with solutions since Israel was founded. Some leaders on both sides have attempted to bring it about - and some of those have been killed for their efforts. 

Since history cannot be rewritten, how do you change the reality? How does one change the hearts of the Palestinian groups who put their weaponry in populated neighborhoods that include homes, schools and hospitals, knowing that their own people will suffer when Israel "takes out" the weapons, making victims of their own people so that they can portray the Israelis as evil people killing women and children?  They condemn, and yet they deliberately place their own civilians at risk, and they send martyrs (usually their own children - teenagers) with bombs wired to them to Israel when they can, to kill innocent women and children in shopping malls, buses and restaurants.  There is plenty of wrong on both sides.

How do you change the hearts of the hawks in Israel who believe that any sign of softness will be interpreted as weakness and potentially subject their people to a new round of attacks from the Arab countries who have publicly stated that they want to "wipe them from the face of the earth"?  Is it not at least somewhat understandable that the memory of the Holocaust may cause  some to decide "Never again. If we have to, in order to survive, we will be as violent as Christians and Muslims have been to us for most of our history. In the Hebrew scriptures, we find the source that religion once used to justify retribution -  of "an eye for an eye." We know that later generations of rabbis softened the teachings to conform with later views of monetary compensation for harm done. But just as there are fundamentalist Muslims who justify their violence as religiously demanded, and fundamentalist christians who do the same, there are fundamentalist Jews who still keep to the ancient understanding of retribution in kind.

How do you change all those religious minds who justify their violence and hatred by distorting the teachings of Islam, christianity and Judaism?

I have lived in a community that is about 2/3 Jewish for the last 40 years of my life. I have learned a lot. I do not approve of all that Israel does, but I don't approve of all the Arab countries and Palestinians do either.  However, while not approving of some of what Israel does, I have come to understand it at least a little bit. Last year I visited my dear neighbors while the family sat shiva, after the husband lost his father, a Polish Jew who somehow survived the Holocaust.  He is one of very, very few Jews who did survive in Poland.  There is a reason the survivors continue to tell the story. It is one that must not be forgotten.   I have learned to look through their eyes, at least a little bit.  Most of the Jews I know are not hawks - they remember the Shoah, but they do not use that remembrance to justify all violence against Israel's enemies. However, they also do not wish to see Israel destroyed.  They walk a fine line.

George's comment is spot on. The Palestinians within Israel were in the perfect position for non-violent non-cooperation. Think of the immersion into a nation's economy: workforce, tourism, residential communities, and such. A Gandhian approach would eviscerate the power of the powers-that-be. The way this conflict has been managed brings to mind the incompetence of WWI, the Crimean War, and the like.

And yes, blame all sides, by all means. But keep in mind that 99% or more of the collateral damage is borne by Palestinians.

"an entity that has no army no air force no navy"

And yet ... "Since 2001, Palestinian militants have launched thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip as part of the continuing Arab–Israeli conflict. As of July 2014 the attacks have killed 28 people,[1] mostly civilians, and injured thousands, but their main effect is their creation of widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life among the Israeli populace.[2]"  - if you want to be fair, read the wikipedia artic;e on the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel ...

I have a blogging friend who lives in Israel.  She is a wonderful person who never says a bad word about anyone, even now when she's spending parts of her day every day in a bamb shelter because of the rockets fired at her little town in the south. 

Until and unless Israel and the Palestinians elect leaders who are PUBLICLY and patiently committed to doing whatever it takes to ending this conflict, it won't happen.

Such leaders will never be elected by either side.

This conflict is doomed to be with us in perpetuity.

Things are complciated by the US complicity with Israel in supplying money and arms to them.  The Palestinians know this and, hence, the US is determined to be as guilty as IsraeL and is The Great Satan in the eyes of the militants. 

And maybe it is.

Militant Islamists and Jews are like Fundamentalist Christians:  God is on their side and they will never let anyone forget it.

Psychological trauma vs. corpses piled higher and higher.

It's so easy to identify with the well-protected, well-established, well-fed people, our allies, whose fears and injuries we see as a great and unprovoked injustice. Wonderful people, Just like us! So much harder to identify with those other people, the poor and dispossessed and desperate, the ones mourning their dead and imprisoned in endless ranks, the ones turned out of their land and their homes, terrorized by the state and without hope. Why are they so violent, we ask ourselves, mystified. Why don't they realize it's their own fault and accept their lot without resistence?

To be fair, count the corpses. 

In today's The Tablet (I don't know if the link opens only for subscribers or not):

Israeli leaders might loathe Hamas, but they know and understand an old adversary

17 July 2014 by David Blair


I realize you don't like me much - that's become apparent at other places like Pray Tell -  but please don't attribute dispicable opinions and feelings to me ... 

It's so easy to identify with the well-protected, well-established, well-fed people, our allies, whose fears and injuries we see as a great and unprovoked injustice. Wonderful people, Just like us! So much harder to identify with those other people, the poor and dispossessed and desperate ...

Actually it's not, at least not for me.  I identify with the downtrodden and it's unusual for me a left leaning liberal to be on the "side" of Israel.  But I've read a lot about the centuries of anti-Semitism, about the Jewish experience in WWII, about the beginning of Israel, and about the many terrorist attacks on Jews there and around the world, and I've come to the conclusion that we, especially we Catholics, owe them big time.  And while I don't agree with all Israel has done, I don't think we in the US would be doing any better in their place (Cuban missle crisis).  And I think the Arabs who are fueling the terrorism do not want it to stop and are sacrificng their own people to keep themselves in power.

Margaret - based on what you wrote about Exodus, which you've never read, I can only say - no need to read it, as you pretty much recapped it perfectly.  (Writing about books I've never read was a skill I mastered as an undergraduate, but I've gotten rusty in the ensuing decade.  I could never be a late-night televiision host).

Tom - I'm sorry to say that your note about that song piqued my interest, so I hunted it up on Youtube.  That's 3:16 of my life I'll never get back.  

I have nothing of weight to contribute to the topic at hand, except: pray for peace.  Whether allowing Christians to live in the Middle East contributes to that effort, I can't say for certain, but it couldn't hurt.

Hmm, rereading my previous comment, "decade" should have been plural.  Emphatically.

From Jacobin:

Our media cover Israel and the Palestinians as they do the Republicans and Democrats:  Both Sides Do It.  It's "fair and balanced," which means lame, craven, and irresponsible.

Crystal Watson: Your generalizations and non sequiters are tolerated here because generally they are inoffensive. For the record, I object to this:

"But I've read a lot about the centuries of anti-Semitism, about the Jewish experience in WWII, about the beginning of Israel, and about the many terrorist attacks on Jews there and around the world, and I've come to the conclusion that we, especially we Catholics, owe them big time."

It is offensive.  Especially the word "especailly" and the word "we."

Jim, Don't blame me. I told you about it so you wouldn't have to listen to it. (Actually, the tune is kinda neat if you imgine acres of sand dunes, palm trees and Paul Newman.)

Being Israeli nowadays is a moral quandary. A few years ago I read about an Israeli soldier who shot and injured a Palestinian woman, then saw that she was pregnant, started yelling: "How can we be doing this? How can we be doing such things?", removed his rifle and furiously tried to break it. He had to be restrained and was later declared unfit and discharged from the army.

Without weapons, Israel would be anihilated instantaneously, in a few days - most of the Israelis I know are deeply convinced of that. Such is the hate between the people around them and themselves. But what the Israeli government and army are doing is unconscionable. But there is no way forward that I can imagine.

One of the very few places where Arab and Jewish youth can meet peacefully: the Sea Scouts of Yafo. "The Sea Scouts of Yafo were founded in 1957 within the framework of the General Scouts of Tel Aviv-Yafo. The Yafo Sea Scout Troop (one of eight Sea Scout troops in Israel) is distinguished by the fact that it has a mixed Arab-Jewish demographic. The troop meets seven days a week; over 100 of its 250 members are defined as at-risk youth. Having a safe haven to go to provides these teens with an alternative activity to life on the streets."

Such initiatives are strongly discouraged by the current govenment. I believe that there is no governmental financing for it. Since, in dangerous times, loyal people are expected to gather around their leader, the Israelis who criticize the aggressive stance of the govenment are viewed as traitors. Being Israeli nowadays is a moral quandary.

As Jim wrote: pray for peace.

And I think the Arabs who are fueling the terrorism do not want it to stop and are sacrificng their own people to keep themselves in power.

Crystal, I am most definitely not an expert in the mid-east. But I have read enough to know that what you say is certainly part of the problem - perhaps a big part of it. The Palestinians are killed at much higher rates than Israelis. They do not have as sophisticated of weapons, but they also choose to place the weapons they do have in civilian areas in order to continue their almost daily rocket assaults on Israel.  By doing this, they are deliberately choosing to put their own people in harm's way, and it does seem to many mid-east experts it is so they can stay in power. Meanwhile their people continue to suffer. When the corpses are counted, how many of them are there because the Hamas and PLO have placed their rocket launchers in civilian buildings and neighborhoods?  

I have no idea what might end this endless cycle of violence in the middle-east.  Jim P says to pray. That is pretty much all we can do, but if prayers brought about world peace, given all the billions and billions of prayers that have been sent up in the last century, all the wolves should by lying with the lambs right now.  Prayer alone will not bring about the peaceable kingdom.  The Palestinians need a Ghandi.

Margaret, why is Crystal's statement about the history of anti-semitism that christians, including Catholics, are sadly part of offensive to you?  

Israel is - it exists. History can't be rewound and Israel not founded. The same is true of the history of anti-semitism.  Christian complicity, including Catholic complicity, in the sad history of anti-semitism in the west is reality.  As Catholics, we do not like that part of our history, it is more than just embarassing, it is shameful, but we can't deny the role christians and the Catholic church too often played in this tragic history.

Clair, thank you for the information about the Sea Scouts.  Here is another program that brings together Palestinian and Israeli youth.  One hopes that the younger generation may learn to be friends on the courts or in Sea Scouts and will want to end the cycle of hatred and violence.

 I'm not trying to insult Catholics, but it's historical fact that the Church has had centuries of anti-Semitism, from the homilies of Hohn Chrysostom ... ... to papally  created ghettos ...

AC: Read her statement!

"We, especially we Catholics, owe them big time."

Christian anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism is historically documented. Also documented is that it waxed and waned throughout history.

The Holocaust may have been the most virulent form of anti-Semitism, but it was the work of Nazi Germany, of Hitler, and of the machinery of death created by Hitler's German state. In fact, the Germans have paid up big time and continue to do so. Catholics, Protestants, secularists of European and /or American lineage have accepted responsibility for not stopping the Holocaust. Using the Holocaust and guilt thereof to compel support for Israel and its actions is offensive.

You write above about "fine lines" for Jewish Americans, Americans, etc. There are many fine lines.

Whoever shot those Palestinian children, what was he thinking?

Was he like the frightened little girl, wishing he could just kill the Arabs and thereby bring peace? Let's see what kind of plan takes that route. If you kill all Arab men but let the little children live, do you know what will happen when those children grow up? I can tell you: big trouble.  So if you go the way of killing, then you have to go all the way; you can't stop half-way, killing some and sparing some. That won't bring peace. To obtain peace, you have to kill them all. (And, for good measure, maybe yourself as well.)

Or was he blinded by his hate of Palestinians? Maybe his brother got killed by a suicide bomber, and he (or she) thinks that all Palestinians are terrorists. When he sees some hiding and running, he does not stop to think about their being children, but he reflexively targets and shoots. Indeed, if Palestinians are terrorists, then Palestinian children are just young terrorists, and hide-and-seek is guerrilla war practice.

Israeli writer Bernard Avishai has this to say.  "One Israeli man was killed at the border. The fresher grievances turn the older ones vague: three hitchhiking Israeli teens were kidnapped, two protesting Palestinian youths were shot dead two weeks before, there was a revenge murder by a rogue group of Israeli fanatics—you can unspool this vendetta back to the Balfour Declaration, in 1917."

New Yorker   on line.

Crystal @ 3:33, you are wrong. I actually like you a lot.

Also, you are mistaken in thinking that I was attributing despicable opinions to you personally. These are far more general attitudes which I believe are alive and well and influencing policy. If you don't share these attitudes, good. But they are very real, and "being fair" too often means favoring the people with whom we naturally identify because we really can't imagine the point of view of a displaced and oppressed people in an occupied territory.

There is a huge bias in our system in this conflict. The more the Palestinians are humiliated and dehumanized, the easier it is for some people to loathe and exclude them and regard their status as "proof" of their culpability and incorrigably violent nature, etc. So rather than come to terms with the fact that violence is being done systematically to these people we blame them for holding life cheap, and other slanders that demonize them and deflect criticism away from the powerful. 

Whatever you may think we owe Israeli Jews, we don't owe them a whitewash of the current political regime. What we owe the memory of the Holocaust is the commitment to opposition of racism and state-sponsored violence, whoever today's victims may be.

"Whoever shot those Palestinian children, what was he thinking?"  He wasn't.  Thinking, that is; at least not rationally.  Makes me think about the situation on our southern border, also involving children.  All it would take, would be for some hot-headed or mentally unstable vigilante to lose it and open fire.  And a tension-fraught situation would escalate to a nightmare. I'm just praying that nothing like that happens.

Mr. Avishai is right. But that doesn't provide a road forward. The world will not go back to 1917 or to 1948 or to June of 1967.  If you think this is possible, many would be interested in hearing how it would come about.

Using the Holocaust and guilt thereof to compel support for Israel and its actions is offensive.

I'm not so sure that it's an attempt to "compel" support for Israel as it is an attempt to get people to try to walk in the shoes of the Jews for a while and to see the "other" side. To try to see at least a little bit through their eyes. The Jewish people have been persecuted for most of their history, thousands of years, including a good bit of the last 2000, One does not have to "support" Israel's policies in order to try to understand them.  And to understand why they might not trust anyone - including christians - to have their survival at heart.

You write above about "fine lines" for Jewish Americans, Americans, etc. There are many fine lines.

Yes there are. Many fine lines for all of us.  

I have a very hard time fully "supporting" either side. I do not support Israel's wholesale attacks, but I also do not support Palestinian tactics to deliberately put their own civilians at risk by using them as human shields for their weapons installations.. I do not support their terrorist actions in wiring up their own kids as human bombs and sending them to ride a bus in Israel.  

I do try to at least begin to understand both sides as best I can - which is not much real understanding, because I am neither an oppressed Palestinian or a Jew who has a bomb shelter in my home and whose grandparents died in Auschwitz. I actually do empathize with both sides. Both have suffered. Both have been "right" and both have been "wrong".  Commonweal seems to be totally on one side of the issue, however. I think Crystal was trying to bring another viewpoint into the discussion. Because there are two viewpoints.

 I live in relative safety and with material comfort as do all commenting here. But living in a Jewish community has led me to study the history of the Jews more than I might have had I lived in a nice, comfortable Irish Catholic milieu all my life, surrounded mostly by nice, liberal white Catholics who think just the same way I do.

 We descendants of the Irish know that our ancestors suffered also, but few peoples have been persecuted as consistently throughout history as the Jews. I cringe every time I read a quote from John Chrysostom, because no matter how beautifully he expressed some things, the ugliness and vileness of the words of his Eight Homilies against the Jews tend to come to mind. Few christians have read those homilies, nor even know about them. But many Jews know about them, and know about a lot of other things that the christians have airbrushed out of their histories.

 I do not condone much of what Israel does, nor do most of my Jewish neighbors condone all of it. Most of them support the Israeli peace groups. But, we cannot undo history. We have to try to understand both sides - neither of which are totally innocent. Perhaps by growing in understanding, some political genius will eventually find a way to move past the violent stalemate that has existed so long, the cycle of vengeance and retribution summarized in the quote by Mr. Avishai, because going back in history and redoing everything is not an option.


I'm glad you don't dislike me  :)    Maybe because I do tend to hang arund with other lefties, I see more often a tendency to err on the side of the Palestinians, and I did feel that way too before I began reading about this history of the situation.  Not saying I'm right in what I think - I'm sure I have my prejudices, and one of them is to want to go opposite to the majority view. 

 So if you go the way of killing, then you have to go all the way; you can't stop half-way, killing some and sparing some. That won't bring peace. To obtain peace, you have to kill them all.

Claire, you may be right that the shooter was "thinking" along those lines, although I doubt he was really thinking at all - blindly reacting to emotions of hate.  However, it is not Israel who has expressed a desire to wipe all Arab and Muslim countries off the map, it is Israel's enemies who have publicly declared that peace will only come after they have destroyed Israel completely - killed all the Jews.  Hate begets hate.  So how can it be changed so that love will beget love?

"But living in a Jewish community has led me to study the history of the Jews more than I might have had I lived in a nice, comfortable Irish Catholic milieu all my life, surrounded mostly by nice, liberal white Catholics who think just the same way I do."

Anne, on what basis do you think you have any idea at all what Palestinians' lives are like? How can you claim to sympathize with both sides and then say right out that you have lived among Jews and studied their history but say not one word about "the other side" which you claim to empathize with?

I am flummoxed by your statement that "Commonweal seems to be totally on one side of the issue." That is not even remotely the case. As I read Commonweal I find it to be pro-Israel, with a few conscientious nuances added from a few voices. The fact that you could think that Commonweal is pro-Palestinian (I presume this is your point) shows how little you've ever been even mildly exposed to "the other side." 

Claire asked what the guys who shot the children were thinking, whether they were influenced by other events in their lives.  I don't know the answer in that specific case, but  I think it must be true that many Israelis are affected by personal tragedy .... for instance, probably many of them have relatives who died in concertration camps.  I know Netanyahu is especially reviled here, but when I think of him and his attitudes, I think of his brother.  He was killed during Operation Entebbe, rescuing hundreds of hostages hyjacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1976.

Critics of Israel cite the disparity of casualties - few for Israel, many for Palestinians - as a reason to question Israel's actions.  But the scorecard approach would have us sympathize not just with Hamas but with many other aggressors, going back at least as far as King Darius.  Herodotus tells us that in the Battle of Marathon casualties for Greeks were 192, for Persians more than 6,000.  But few mourn the outcome of that battle.

Below is a voice from a beautiful, American, Palestinian poet, Suheir Hammad entitled, What I Will, that is apt for the occasion. I posted before.  I also enjoy her poetry. 

She really points the way forward in terms of resistance to Israel in a non-violent and assertive manner. Additionally, she provides an important face and voice of the Palestinian people.

Molloy -- the Persian casualties were soldiers.  The Palestinian casualties are mostly civilians.  You know, as in unarmed.


When the "Palestinians" stop initiating the unprovoked launch of missiles into Israel, from missile sites intentionally located in or near schools, hospitals, playgrounds, grocery stores, get the picture.  Whenever children and/or civilians are killed or maimed by IDF forces, it is the "Palestinians" who are responsible.  Please stop playing this game of words that seeks to fog up what are crystal-clear scenarios of "Palestinian" psywar operations designed to generate sympathy for Hamas, Hezbollah, and other murderous organizations.  You are obviously an intelligent and articulate person.  You are being played.

Enough with the quotation marks around Palestinians, de-legitimizing the identity of a people.  Joan Peters was debunked a long, long time ago.  

BTW, the idea that no state would tolerate having missiles fired into its territory, and that Israel has no alternative to aerial and ground retaliation, is wrong.  The IRA launched plenty of missile attacks into Northern Ireland in the 1970s, yet the British never thought either of aerial bombardment or of a ground offensive into the Republic of Ireland.  

And let's just review the empirical evidence, shall we?

“Both sides” rhetoric refuses to make even the easiest, most obvious judgment, to which any honest evaluation of the information points: that Israel is massacring Palestinian adults and children, 77% of whom are civilians, and subjecting them to collective punishment; that Israel evidently claims for itself a right to extra-judicially execute anyone who it says is a Hamas member, a practice too few among even Palestine’s allies have denounced; that Israel is bombarding what is essentially a giant refugee camp home to an imprisoned population of a people Israel has ethnically cleansed, occupied, subjected to apartheid, and repeatedly slaughtered; that international law does not grant Israel a “right to defend itself” against the Gaza Strip. And that international law does grant Palestinians a right to resist using armed struggle.

To employ “both sides” rhetoric completely misrepresents the situation. It is not “both sides” who take thousands of political prisoners. Both sides do not systematically torture each other. Both sides do not control each other’s freedom of movement, or access to the sea, drinking water, and education.

Since Israel began its bombing campaign on July 7, only one side has bombed a hospital for the disabled and destroyed a place of worship. It was that same side who on July 9 killed a pregnant woman and her one-year-old daughter and then on July 11 killed two civilian municipal workers in a refugee camp, killed nine civilians watching a soccer game, and “fired four missiles targeting the fifth and sixth floors of a hospital.”

In rebuttal to McCarraher's defense of Hamas' depravity see “Moral clarity in Gaza”, Charles Krauthammer, WP 7/18/14  :

"Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”....

"It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear."

[MOS: the original post violated copyright law; the first and last paras are above with a link to the Washington Post column.]

An op-ed piece in today's NYTimes captures much of what I have been reading in Haaretz and the Jewish Daily Forward on how Israel and Gaza came to the current pass. The author from the International Crisis Group points to the Palestenian Authority-Hamas reconciliation agreement as the beginning point of the current outbreak of violence. PM Netanyahu was and is opposed to the agreement, the U.S. supported it, but opposed any money transfers to the PA in Gaza, and you escalate from there.

A quote: "Israel strongly opposed American recognition of the new government, however, and sought to isolate it internationally, seeing any small step toward Palestinian unity as a threat. Israel’s security establishment objects to the strengthening of West Bank-Gaza ties, lest Hamas raise its head in the West Bank. And Israelis who oppose a two-state solution understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace."

Nathan Thrall writing in the NYTimes.

Thanks, Michael J. Kelly, for providing Krauthammer's column.  

I hope everyone, even Margaret and Rita, will read Krauthammer, particularly these passages:

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

. . .

Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.

Mr. Kelly has violated the fair usage rule in quoting the whole column. I have asked him to select an excerpt with a link to the WashPost. I hope he will oblige.

The tragic reality is that both sides are trying to kill each other, with little apparent regard for avoiding civilians, including women and children.  If we grant that the Israelis are not deliberately targeting civilians and that Hamas is, it should still be obvious to the Israelis that the airstrikes they conduct invariably kill women and children.  At this point the civilian deaths cannot be considered an accident; they are part of Israel's war calculus.  In effect, Israel, like Hamas, is willing to kill nocombatants as a means to their end. 

I think the whole implicit argument of who is to blame--or more to blame--is pointless.  There is too much blood on the hands of both sides--and on the hands of all the governments and peoples who enable and support the violence.

Including 100 U.S. Senators!


July 10, 2014

Mr. GRAHAM (for himself, Mr. MENENDEZ, Ms. AYOTTE, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. MCCAIN, Mr. CORKER, Mr. RUBIO, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. KIRK, Mr. TOOMEY, Mr. ALEXANDER, Mr. MORAN, Mr. JOHANNS, Mr. HELLER, Mr. INHOFE, Mrs. FISCHER, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. CRUZ, Mr. VITTER, Mr. PAUL, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. NELSON, Mr. FRANKEN, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. THUNE, Mr. GRASSLEY, Mr. HATCH, Mr. MURPHY, Mr. SCOTT, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. CASEY, Mr. WICKER, Mr. COATS, Mrs. SHAHEEN, Mr. TESTER, Mr. KAINE, Mr. LEE, and Mr. BEGICH) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.

Whereas Hamas is a United States-designated terrorist organization whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel;

Whereas Hamas continues to reject the core principles of the Middle East Quartet (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia)--recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements;

Whereas Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis and dozens of Americans in rocket attacks and suicide bombings;

Whereas, since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas and other terrorist groups have fired thousands of rockets at Israel;

Whereas Hamas has entered into a unity governing arrangement with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority;

Whereas the unity governing agreement implies Fatah's and the Palestinian Authority's support for Hamas' belligerent actions against Israel, potentially contributing to a false perception of legitimacy for Hamas' belligerent actions;

Whereas, since June 2014, Hamas has fired nearly 300 rockets at Israel;

Whereas Hamas' weapons arsenal includes approximately 12,000 rockets that vary in range;

Whereas innocent Israeli civilians are indiscriminately targeted by Hamas rocket attacks; and

Whereas 5,000,000 Israelis are currently living under the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza: Now, therefore, be it

 Resolved, That the Senate--

    • (1) reaffirms its support for Israel's right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel;
    • (2) condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel;
    • (3) calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel; and
    • (4) calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.



I don't see how that resolution addresses the issues outlined in Thrall's piece. If he is correct on the background and history, this resolution appears to me to be making things worse and not better. I am not always a fan of Obama but I do admire his more cool, analytic posture and not succumbing to knee jerk reactions.

Instead of blustering on the senate floor, the US should be heavily engaged in talk in Egypt and REAL talk about REAL issues and solutions a al the Thrall piece..

Krauthammmer is not an authority,

George D: Quite right. What are these Senator's doing except counting their campaign cash? I lament that Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Saunders, Al Franken, and some others appear to be among the signers. Do they read the newspapers? Watch TV? Surf the internet? You would think there might be a greater variety of views on the subject.

I did find the Thrall piece a good summary of what seems to have been going on since the PA-Hamas Agreement. I wonder if Abbas will pursue the international court membership as many in the West Bank are urging him. That could mean, of course, that Israel will start bombing Ramallah.

Krauthammmer is not an authority,

Perhaps you can refute his points.

Krauthammer has already conclusively demonstrated that he is both a crank and a charlatan.

Iraq is Hitlerian Germany, a truly mad police state with external ambitions and a menacing arsenal.

Saddam survived, rearmed, defeated the inspections regime and is now back in the business of building weapons of mass destruction.

...Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He is working on nuclear weapons. And he has every incentive to pass them on to terrorists who will use them against us. We cannot hold the self-defense of the United States hostage to the solving of a century-old regional conflict.

Kissinger says that regime change in Iraq is an appropriate goal. The point he made in his syndicated column, and which he continues to make, is that in its "declaratory policy" -- i.e., public posture -- the United States should emphasize weapons destruction rather than regime change in order to garner allies for the war. But our actual policy is to achieve both. After all, the goals are inseparable. Given the nature of Hussein's rule, destroying these weapons requires regime change.

The vice president, followed by the administration A Team and echoing the president, argues that we must remove from power an irrational dictator who has a history of aggression and mass murder, is driven by hatred of America and is developing weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions of Americans in a day. The Democrats respond with public skepticism, a raised eyebrow and the charge that the administration has yet to "make the case."

How far the Democrats have come. Forty years ago to the month, President Kennedy asserts his willingness to present his case to the United Nations, but also his determination not to allow the United Nations to constrain America's freedom of action. Today his brother, a leader of the same party, awaits the guidance of the United Nations before he will declare himself on how America should respond to another nation threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.

Hawks favor war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein is reckless, tyrannical and instinctively aggressive, and that if he comes into possession of nuclear weapons in addition to the weapons of mass destruction he already has, he is likely to use them or share them with terrorists. The threat of mass death on a scale never before seen residing in the hands of an unstable madman is intolerable -- and must be preempted.

[W]hy does the president, who is pledged to disarming Hussein one way or the other, allow Powell even to discuss a scheme that is guaranteed to leave Saddam Hussein's weapons in place?

President Bush remains apparently sincere in his determination to rid the world of Hussein and his weapons.

The president cannot logically turn back. He says repeatedly, and rightly, that inspectors can only verify a voluntary disarmament. They are utterly powerless to force disarmament on a regime that lies, cheats and hides. And having said, again correctly, that the possession of weapons of mass destruction by Hussein is an intolerable threat to the security of the United States, there is no logical way to rationalize walking away from Iraq -- even if the president wanted to.

Blix never really found anything big in his scavenger hunt through Iraq, but he reported to the Security Council that Iraq's regime had failed to cooperate and disarm.

Under Resolution 1441, that is a material breach. It is a casus belli.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the cozy illusions and stupid pretensions died. We now recognize the central problem of the 21st century: the conjunction of terrorism, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction.

The reason you [President Bush] were able to build support at home and rally the world to at least pretend to care about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is that you showed implacable resolve to disarm Iraq one way or the other. Your wobbles at the United Nations today -- postponing the vote, renegotiating the terms -- are undermining the entire enterprise.

The inability to find the weapons is indeed troubling, but only because it means that the weapons remain unaccounted for and might be in the wrong hands. The idea that our inability to thus far find the weapons proves that the threat was phony and hyped is simply false.

The most damning, however, is his July 18, 2003 column on the reasons President Bush went to war, which explicitly cites the risk of Saddam acquiring WMD and passing them to terrorists, not the need to create democracy:

The charge is that the president was looking for excuses to go to war with Hussein and that the weapons-of-mass-destruction claims were just a pretense.

Aside from the fact that Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction was posited not only by Bush but also by just about every intelligence service on the planet (including those of countries that opposed war as the solution), one runs up against this logical conundrum: Why then did Bush want to go to war? For fun and recreation? Because of some cowboy compulsion?

...On the contrary, the war was a huge political gamble. There was no popular pressure to go to war. There was even less foreign pressure to go to war. Bush decided to stake his presidency on it nonetheless, knowing that if things went wrong -- and indeed they might still -- his political career was finished.

It is obvious he did so because he thought that, post-9/11, it was vital to the security of the United States that Hussein be disarmed and deposed.

Under what analysis? That Iraq posed a clear and imminent danger, a claim now being discounted by the critics because of the absence thus far of weapons of mass destruction?

No. That was not the president's case. It was, on occasion, Tony Blair's, and that is why Blair is in such political trouble in Britain. But in Bush's first post-9/11 State of the Union address (January 2002), he framed Iraq as part of a larger and more enduring problem, the overriding threat of our time: the conjunction of terrorism, terrorist states and weapons of mass destruction. And unless something was done, we faced the prospect of an infinitely more catastrophic 9/11 in the future.

Later that year, in a speech to the United Nations, he spoke of the danger from Iraq not as "clear and present" but "grave and gathering," an obvious allusion to Churchill's "gathering storm," the gradually accumulating threat that preceded the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. And then nearer the war, in his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush plainly denied that the threat was imminent. "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent." Bush was, on the contrary, calling for action precisely when the threat was not imminent because, "if this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions . . . would come too late."

The threat had not yet even fully emerged, Bush was asserting, but nonetheless it had to be faced because it would only get worse. Hussein was not going away. The sanctions were not going to restrain him. Even his death would be no reprieve, as his half-mad sons would take over. The argument was that Hussein had to be removed eventually and that with Hussein relatively weakened, isolated and vulnerable, now would be more prudent and less costly than later.  

He was right.

He's about as reliable a commentator on international affairs as Michael Behe is on the natural sciences.

Gerelyn. There would be no point in refuting his "points." They come right off the Israeli ambassador's talking points, gussied up with Krauthammer cliches like "grotesque" and Kafkaesque." That is what he does -- takes someone else's spin on a third party's reporting and gussy it up for a column and regular TV appearances as, what is known in the trade as, a moosehead. That is his profession. I just hate to see it confused with on-scene reporting or the ruminations of experienced diplomats.

Take one of his statements: "Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war." Everyone does not know that. Even if you qualify everyone, make it "every honest observer," not everyone knows that. For evidence, see the previous 50 or so comments on this thread. The reason not everyone knows that is because everyone -- and even every honest observer -- has never agreed (and never will agree) on when this mini-war started.

A question about Britain and Ireland .... wasn't that different as the countries aren't continguous and I don't believe the IRA even sent rockets into Britain itself?   Yet still, there were "massacres" of ciivilians by British in Northern Ireland ...  .... and Britian still retains part of Ireland.

Ann Chapman @ July 17; 7:46 PM: "Mr. Avishai is right. But that doesn't provide a road forward. The world will not go back to 1917 or to 1948 or to June of 1967.  If you think this is possible, many would be interested in hearing how it would come about."

If not a road foreward, than an important historical reminder often overlooked. Zionism developed at the end of the ninetheenth and beginning of the twentiety century in the midst of nationalism and colonialism. Britain the greatest colonial power of the day agreed to the Balfour Declaration in 1917 with pressure from British Zionists and the support of British Evangelicals.

Interesting opening: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." 

Britain's attitude toward its colonies and the mandate that it exercised in Palestine until 1948 had a typically racist attitude toward brown people and lesser "civilizations" (also common in our own country). Perhaps that explains the British failure to uphold the understanding "that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." And perhaps it is an attitude that Zionists themselves adopted.

While Muslim Palestinians bear the brunt of Israeli views, don't kid yourself that Christians and other non-Jewish communities enjoy full civil and religious rights in Israel or the West Bank.

Today saw an interview with Bill Clinton who was in India doing some charity work with kids.  He  commented on the Israel/Palestine problem.  Here's just the beginning of that part  ...

NDTV: And it was a crisis you made a successful intervention in to de-escalate the crisis. There is another crisis in the world today that some would say needs the intervention of somebody like you. What's happening between Israel and the Palestinian people today, and I have to ask you and I know the world, not just India, is interested in what you have to say on this. 200 people dead on the Palestinian side in Gaza, almost 80% of them are children and women; one Israeli dead by comparison. Yet the statement we've seen from the White House, many people believe, continues to be partial to the Israeli perspective. Where do you come in on this? How can this crisis be resolved? Do you believe Israel has been fair?

Bill Clinton: Well, first of all Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets in Israel. They fired a thousand of them. And they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them. Now, I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu could and should make a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. I believe if he did it, and he did it with either President Abbas or with his coalition, if in return for Hamas' renunciation of terror and recognition of Israel's right to exist, I believe 60% of the people of Israel would support it ...

I don't wish to criticize President Clinton in making this remark, but it does seem to me that his willingness to make specific, public foreign policy recommendations like this is not the norm for a former President.  Am I wrong about this?  Would the kind of thing that Crystal has quoted here raise hackles in the Obama White House or the State Department?

Jim, Every time  Bill opens his mouth someone in the White House  bangs her or his head against the wall. But if you parse what he said, he didn't deviate from the White House line, and he didn't say anything that will lose his wife $1 in campaign support. He just sounded more coherent than Obama without being so.

As I am bowing out of this discussion now, a couple of comments for the record.   

Rita -  How can you claim to sympathize with both sides and then say right out that you have lived among Jews and studied their history but say not one word about "the other side" which you claim to empathize with?

I have not just studied the history of the Jewish people, I have also studied and read a fair amount about the lives and suffering of the Palestinians. I have attended special talks and events on the plight of the Palestinians. I live in Washington DC, and one blessing of this area is that we have access to many such opportunities to learn and to be exposed to all sides of various issues.

 I did not provide a full summary of my education nor of my research and study about the Palestinian tragedy because I did not think that necessary.  I specifically mentioned  living among Jewish families because having many Jewish friends and neighbors is what prompted me to study Jewish history (not just recent Jewish history and not focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - just Jewish history) because it was that study that caused me to look at the middle east conflicts with somewhat different eyes than I had before this study.  Like Crystal, for a very long time I tended to uncritically take the "side" of the Palestinians, especially before Hamas took control of the Gaza.  Now I see right and wrong on both sides, instead of seeing Israel as all "bad" and the Hamas-ruled Palestinians as all "good",  and I don't pretend to have an answer for the problem.  The only thing I do know is that we can't rewind the clock and undo  mistakes that have been made for the last century.

I am fully aware that non-Jews in Israel do not enjoy fully equal rights with Jews. Jews and christians do not enjoy any rights at all in many Muslim controlled countries. Christians still have a few rights in Hamas-controlled Gaza, but those rights are disappearing.

So I am also aware of the "Islamization" of the Gaza Strip by Hamas, which is increasingly imposing sharia law in that sector.  The already tiny christian population there has declined by more than half since Hamas took  over, and fewer than 1400 christians remain there.  Some leaders in Hamas have publicly stated that there is no need for christian institutions in the Gaza and that they must be ready for Islamic rule.  The "Talibanization"  (as one Palestinian scholar put it) of the Gaza impacts christians as well as moderate Muslims.  For example, new laws threaten the existence of christian schools, which are being forced to follow sharia-type laws.

Unlike some, I do not see this as a black and white issue, with all good guys on one side and all bad guys on the other. I see nuance and a whole lot of gray. 

Rita has made some conclusions about me  - ....shows how little you've ever been even mildly exposed to "the other side."  - a conclusion she makes while knowing nothing at all about me other than a handful of posts on this website. But  she is wrong. I have been "exposed" a great deal to articles, news, studies and commentary that support "the other side" - by which Rita  appaarently means means the Palestinian's "side". What I have not been exposed to is Commonweal's articles.  I have not subscribed to Commonweal for very long. So, if what Rita says is true, that Commonweal normally "favors" Israel, I apologize. I do not expect a bias towards Israel anymore than I expect to find a bias favoring Hamas.  I would expect to see nuanced and balanced discussion.  I will try to find older articles from the archives, and hope to find more of that type of discussion than is apparent on this particular thread.  Commonweal does not control the comments given, and they do not necessarily "represent the opinions of the sponsor."  However, I did wonder about this since an editor and staff writer are among the commenters here who most strongly criticize  those whose views don't wholeheartedly affirm their condemnations of Israel.

One p.s.  I am the mother of 3 sons and one very tiny grandson. My heart breaks when children become the innocent victims of conflict - all kinds of conflict. I cry when I see children dying of starvation that could be prevented. I weep for the children at the US border. But I do not know what happened when that ship shelled the beach and seemed to deliberately target the children. I do not know how clearly the gun operator could see.But I am prepared to say I don't know what happened. If it was deliberate, I fully join those who condemn that action. I weerp for the children I weep for the mothers and fathers. But  I won't condemn the entire nation of Israel for what may have been a rogue operator.

Not all American soldiers in Viet Nam would have participated in the My Lai massacre. Eventually our nation tried those soldiers and punished them. Israel has said it will investigate. Are you going to let them have time to do that? 

 Israel knows that civilians are "in the way". They know this because Hamas has chosen to use its own civilians, including its own children, as human shields for their weapons installations. Hamas targets civiians in Israel routinely. They don't aim only at Israeli military installations or infrastructure, they aim almost exclusively at civilian neighborhoods. They use their own children to try to protect their weapons, and, knowing it won't work,  they then use the casualties as propoganda.  They also use their own children as human bombs. Yet none of these tactics by Hamas are condemned here. except by Crystal and one or two others.  Why not?


If Kelly and Krauthammer want examples of depravity, let them read this:


Anne Chapman: Why don't you think of my posts here as part of a national effort to contribute to fair and balanced treatment by redressing the overwhelming pro-Israel views of the MSM, including your local paper and mine. The world is not going to collapse if I and others here raise a critical voice about PM Netanyahu (who is a much a thug as Kaled Mashal).

And for the record: I am not an editor of Commonweal. Once was. Must be a long time since you subscribed!

Anne C - I just wanted to say thanks for your comments. 

From the Pew Forum, people living in Gaza are becoming disillusioned with Hamas  ...  "In the Palestinian territories, 65% worry about extremism, with much greater concern in the Gaza Strip (79%) than in the West Bank (57%)."

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