Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gaza or Bust?

Bitkhonists stirring the Helba

Pressure is mounting among the type of "bitkhonists," mentioned previously by Jeha, for the army to pursue a more aggressive policy in the Gaza Strip. Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon, the chief of staff who preceded Dan Halutz, last week called on Israel to launch a major ground invasion into the strip, in order to eliminate the rocket threat. Ya'alon, who still opposes the 2005 unilateral disengagement from Gaza, and who has been sharply critical of former chief of staff Dan Halutz's handling of the Lebanon war, argued that
The problem in Gaza will not solve itself and no one will solve it for us. It requires us to reach the terrorists and the areas in which they operate, and strike at the industry of terror. We did this during Operation Defensive Shield, and before that operation we were unsure about whether to proceed. Today, you must be blind not to realize the necessity of entering Gaza.
Defensive Shield (חומת מגן) was a massive military operation conducted by Israel in response to a month of suicide bombings, including the infamous attack at a hotel in Netanya, which killed 30 Israeli civilians, on the eve of Passover on March 27, 2002. Under Halutz's direction, the IDF mounted a major campaign in the West Bank, targeting Ramallah, Nablus, Betlehem, and, especially, Jenin. Ya'alon seems to be suggesting that the operation "finished" the suicide bombing squads. It is true that, as far as I can recall, Israel did not experience anything close to the level of violence that it faced in March 2002. But were the tactics of the duo of former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Chief of Staff Ya'alon throughout the al-Aqsa intifadah really the reason for eventual defeat of the suicide bombers? During their administration, it did not look that way at all.

Ze'ev Schiff, Ha'aretz's military correspondent, is
more cautious than Ya'alon. In a recent piece on the qassams and the situation in Gaza, he suggests that "A temporary incursion by the IDF deep into certain parts of the Gaza Strip is also a possibility." However, his assessment of the situation in Gaza is equally pessimistic, and he offers no diplomatic solutions at all, arguing pretty much for purely unilateral measures.

The thrust of the piece is that the Palestinians cannot be trusted to abide by agreements with Israel or any other state (the argument is in the title: "If that's how they act in Gaza"):
the Palestinians do not want to, or are not capable of, keeping agreements. They'll always find an excuse or a pretext, even if it ends up hurting them. Some say this happens because the Palestinians have no national entity. But Yasser Arafat had such an entity and controlled a majority of his organizations, and he continuously violated agreements (Ha'aretz ).
I am not entirely convinced that this is true (though I'm certainly leaning this way), and Schiff, too, believes that "Israel has no choice but to continue to seek agreements with the Palestinians." What measures then does Schiff think Israel should take? Rather vaguely, he speaks of "maintaining broader margins of security," which translates into isolating the West Bank from Gaza, to prevent the spread of qassams (as well as internecine fighting) there. This means that Israel must oppose the Dayton recommendations. He also insists that Israel must keep striking at the sources of qassam fire (before or after rockets are launched). In this respect, the logic is again very familiar from the Lebanon war:
Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations, which seek mainly to strike civilian targets in Israel, are now complaining about Palestinian civilians being harmed. Israel mustn't punish Palestinian civilians for the attacks on its communities, but it must return fire immediately to the sources of fire, even if civilians nearby are hurt. This is the most basic and natural right to defense. The fact that Russia was the first one to criticize Israel on this is utterly ridiculous.
And, according to Schiff, Hamas has scored a victory against Sderot and Israel as a whole, perhaps the same kind of "victory" claimed by Nasrallah's katyushas. The other big problem for Schiff is Egypt, which he accuses of turning a blind eye to weapons and cash smuggling into Gaza, and thereby of playing a "two-faced game in the war on terror."

I still think that a ground operation would be a huge mistake. Throughout the al-Aqsa intifadah, Mofaz and Ya'alon kept arguing for permission to carry out some decisive operation that would "wipe out" the terrorists. The same kind of logic led to the utterly fantastic war aims of eradicating Hizbullah that were articulated by Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz during the Lebanon war. We must resist the temptation of a "dramatic solution."

A combination of more subtle defensive as well as "surgical," small-scale measures offensive measures, not the mammoth campaigns like Operation Defensive Shield, have been the key to managing the conflict - i.e., to dramatically decreasing Israeli civilian as well as military casualties. Among these measures I include the security fence, checkpoints, and the diplomatic isolation of the Hamas government. The problem is that this strategy also precludes a dramatic negotiated solution of the type that so many of us keep yearning for.

31 comments:

Aardvark EF-111B said...

Benefit versus risk my dear Boogie

Gazza is insanely over-populated & armed to teeth, do you want to try your luck in a Falluja-Style, all-out-attack?!?

the recent qassam childish spasms are mockery in comparison to situation 2002, it is an expression of desperation.

[A combination of more subtle defensive.....] totally agree!

[The other big problem for Schiff is Egypt...] yes, but not intentionally, [CORRUPTION]!!

after all, fatah/hamas current intimacy matters great deal!

A Nightmare Senario:
[100KG Warhead of 70KLM Range direct hit to Ashqeion or Q.Gat? what are you going to do??]

Eamonn said...

If it wasn´t "Defensive Shield", what do you think it might have been?

Anonymous said...

Hazbani
Looking at the world press/TV/Blogs & so called public opinion in the USA, EU, &UN it can be seen that the war was/is/will be won or lost there. If one has the best electronically managed an guided supper dupper A & H bombs and the other side stones and sticks (not talking even about totally unguided "flying pipes" which are the most cost efficient weapons at this time and place) BUT if one is not able (for any reason in the world) to use either A & H bombs and/or stones and sticks this one will be killed by stones and sticks (or flying tubes) and then finally by modern weapons. Also, in this kind of war, it always help to have a BBC reporter in the basement. As I have noted above, when offering my humble opinion about the nature of this war, it is the supreme "public opinion modifyer" of the BBC and other media by:
1) Clearly telling the "free press", which is now not free at all, what to print, say, show & imply and limmiting the numbers of non local reportes to 0. 2) Assuring that all news from Gaza will come from people with local ideologies and much more important local familes ( every body in gaza know where their children go to school). The reporter in the basement has become the doomsday ultimate weapon and it is even much more cost efficient than flying pipes.

Jeha said...

This is just like a gangrened war wound that has been left far too long to fester. With amputation out of the question, you would need to heal it, slowly, and painfully.

In practical terms, you need to find a way to give Palestinians an "alternative" where they have none.
But this would mean a global approach which includes the West Bank. And this would mean a vision of what you want Israel to be; a Jewish state? A state founded by Jews? ... A bi-national state? And if so, what kind?

You're not able to do it now, with a weak, discredited leadership.

But bear in mind that there can be no such a thing as a military solution; the military can only be a tool in the service of a policy. A means to an end...

So, what end do you want to reach?

Amos said...

Jeha,
As you know, most Israelis want to preserve what they see as the status quo in the country - "a Jewish and democratic state." What this means more specifically: a nation-state with clearly defined borders that has a Jewish majority and a political system akin to Western democracies.

Of course, Israel, to the chagrin of some of its citizens, will always have a large Arab minority. But the number of Israelis who want a "bi-national" state is miniscule; hence, both the state and society will do everything possible to divide "our Arabs" from those in the West Bank and Gaza. To do anything else would mean the end of "the Jewish and democratic state."

Many Israelis will say that they have offered the Palestinian leadership alternatives. Others will dispute this. But at the end of the day, very few Israelis believe that the Palestinians will ever unite behind (and then implement) a solution that might actually be in Israel's interest.

This explains the continuing support for unilateral solutions, despite the fallout from both the Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals, i.e., katyushas and qassams respectively. Indeed, the qassam fire and the anarchy in the Strip only reinforce the notion that it is useless talking to anyone over there. I am afraid, therefore, that Israel will not be presenting any alternatives to the Palestinians in the near future.

As it is, constructing nations and building states are tremendously difficult processes when carried out by people who imagine themselves as belong together. For a hostile and hated foreign power to attempt these seems to me impossible. Thus, while I agree with you that military measures are means to political ends, I do not think that Israel can play a meaningful political role among the Palestinians - certainly not while they lack a state (i.e., a monopoly on violence).

Amos said...

Eamonn,

There were many suicide bombings after the conclusion of Defensive Shield - from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to Haifa between May 2002 and late 2004. I would attribute the decline in the number of suicide bombings in the past 2 years to the construction of the security fence along the Gaza border and the oppressive system of checkpoints and road closures in the West Bank.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani
Jeha! I will tell you what one Israeli want and I got it from my father and I gave it to my two sons.
So at one time it was four now it is three Israelis who think like me, probably there are more but the number is going down. So be it, here is the political dream of three very nationalistic very zionists Israeli citizens. Two of us, including me, were born in Israel and all have had non Israeli passports but all of us are here because that is our land. All of us served in the army, some in so called special unites some for long times but always in the field in the dirt, "grunts" it is called in the USA. We also served in active reserves, there I used to meet people with the same political ideas like me but that was very long time ago.
I want a Jewish state even if it is as big a my palm. I do not care if I have to go to some places, sorry many places, which are now under Israeli "control" with a passport and a visa. Amos I do not want the status quo I hate the status quo. It drives me mad. So one son came back from the reserves with a flower given to him by one of the women goups for being good at the "Mahsom" so what !. I dislike immensely both Shalom now and the Jerks on the right. But not under my real name I will tell you all that I avoid crossing the green line as much as I can but I will never make it a show, it is betweem me and my self.
If I could do it Israel will have returned last year or before to the Green line with minor modifications in the North and in the center of the country. I grew up in social democrate environment and under this status quo israel is becoming social hell. I wish for peace hoping that some thing can be done about this social hell.
But as far as I can hear there is no answer on the other side. And least I will be misunderstood my Israel can be as big as a palm but not less and if any body want to take any thing from this palm? well that is war and then? let the whole world and the sun and the moon and the stars burn to crisp. So if Jeha can bring some body to talk with I am ready. I know very well that it is not Jeha I have to talk to but still I am waiting.

Nobody said...

So, what end do you want to reach?

to put it short (amos has already put it too long) - our most desirable end is to convince these idiots to take the west bank, gaza and preferably a few places inside israel proper but populated by arabs and leave us in peace ...

given that these people are both unwilling and incapable of creating/maintaining a state of their own our end is to hold out here until there miraculously happens a dramatic increase in the average brain size of the palestinians ... this process can take another few decades ...

Shaul Hacohen said...

The Gaza strip is a can of worms that was created and nurtured by Egypt long ago. One day, it will turn to haunt Egypt. We are beyond the Nationalistic logic of the Arafat Palestine and into the global nation of Islam influenced by the Egyptian brotherhood. With such a philosophy there is no where to go (This is the same one you are facing in Lebanon Jeha). Such a problem can be only resolved on a short term by force as per the Arab tradition, and on a long term by reducing the productivity of the Palestinian woman and increase the standard of living of the people there. But these are tasks beyond the responsibilities and the capabilities of the State of Israel. The utopist suggestions of Jeha of co-habitation, love and peace are exactly this, Utopia. Let see how you are going to get out of your coming problems in Lebanon.
Israel made a mistake to pullout of Gaza and pull out of anywhere unilaterally. People trusted Sharon thinking that if he decided to pull out, he know what he was doing. But even Sharon was fooled by the Palestinians and by his peace dreams.
The fact is that Israel must and can do to everything to stop the negative impact that Gaza has on Israel. This has to be done in very pragmatic and calculate steps. First retaking the Philadelphia axis and cutting completely any supply routs that are not controlled. Israel controls the water, the electricity, the money, the food, the aid on which Gaza lives. Every time that a Kassam rocket or other anti Israeli activity from Gaza happen, Israel must create shortage of supply, even cutting it completely if need be. I would like to see people in need of water support the militants.
As to the foreign media and propaganda, it is simple, they are welcomed to go and convince their friends in Gaza to behave. In any case Israel is not in favor of the media anyways and whatever it does will not change it. So is Russia in Chechnya, so is America in Iraq. So what? Israel must try and invest more in the media, like the Arabs do (their only material achievement) but no countries security can be managed by foreign media.
As to the peace and love long term solution; I don’t believe that it will be in our life time. Things will get much worse before (if at all) getting better. In any case, solutions will not come neither from Israel, the Palestinians or the Middle East. We are still in the early stage of a war of civilization that is fueled by the petroleum strategists. The players are in Washington, Peking, Brussels and Moscow. For Israel and the Jews in general, we must stand together and defend our small state with all our capabilities. There is no alternative. Arabs that want to leave in peace and benefit of modern life are welcome. Those that want to revert to the Middle Ages and want to kill us must be handled as enemies and killed if necessary.
It is time to understand that there are times for peace and times for wars. In peace people talk and negotiate to resolve problems. In war the objective is victory.
The Palestinian want truce (Hudna). This is becoming part of the lexicon. We are already adopting this word as a solution. I say truce is for the weak, for them. It is either peace or war. Accepting truce is victory for the weak giving him time and hope to be stronger and start again. It is in the Moslem traditions. They aim is ether Jihad or Hudna. It is only Istislam and never Salam. Isn’t it so Jeha?

Jeha said...

I note two salient things; Amos talked to the "Palestinian leadership", but peace is made among individuals first.

When Shaul Hacohen talks about "Moslem traditions"; all religions have this sort of violence in their DNA. It is just that Islam is doing it far more than others today, but we should not forget that the Holocaust had (at least some) Catholic inspiration.

The key here is religions; I do not agree with Hazbani that one needs to have a "Jewish" state because this will bring in the next question as to what is Jewish. We need to find a way to be governed by rules that are not inspired by books written 2,000 years ago by our nomad ancestors. Or even 20 years ago for that matter; many "secular" ideologies, like Communism, also did much damage.

My point is this; the Middle East troubles come to increase, and our technological means for destruction and damage increase. Of all people, we in the Middle East should be more aware of this, and we should strive to find new solutions to a growing problem. And no, the answer does not lie in 2,000 year old books, though we should draw much inspiration from them.

The question remains, and I will adjust it; what do WE want to reach? In my view, we're better served in a secular system, based on rules of morals and common sense. But that negates much of what all our countries claim to represent.

Amos said...

Jeha,

I like your point about peace being made between individuals.

I have to agree that all religions have a potential for violence (in addition to being depositories of great moral visions). Indeed, this potential exists in all ideologies and cultural practices. I say that not to relativize the problem posed by Islam-inspired terrorism and oppression today. But anyone who has studied the history of Europe cannot ignore the legacy of religious wars and violence inspired by Christianity (on the continent and overseas). Neither is the Jewish tradition free of brutality.

But I don't quite understand your reference to 2,000-year-old books, Jeha. I really don't think that religion is behind the current self-definition of the Israeli state.

We know that all nations are constructed or imagined entities; the Jewish people is no different from other nations in that sense, though it was constructed earlier than many. The point is that today the Jews are a nation with a nation-state in the Middle East, just as the Palestinians are a nation with the ambition to establish state of their own. The Hebrew Bible, the Christian Scriptures, and the Qu'ran have little to do with all this, as the nation-state, especially in the Middle East, is of far more recent vintage.

The forces militating against utopias of binationalism are the same ones that led to the collapse of Yugoslavia, the "Velvet divorce" of Czechoslovakia, the separation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the imminent independence of Kosovo - to name just a few recent examples.

Of course, having said all this, I share your conclusion/plea that "we're better served in a secular system, based on rules of morals and common sense." But I don't think a confederation of Israel and the Palestinian territories is a solution (though I'm not sure this is what you were suggesting). The problem is that pretty much since the French Revolution (or, some say, the American Revolution) people have gotten the idea into their heads that if they are going to be screwed over by a government, they should be screwed over by people who are ethnically "like" them.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani
( By the way the pen name is a village in South Lebanon, it is not nervous, though my style of writting is kind of nervous) Israel is not a big player. The capabilities of the IDF, like any army, are not end less. The last war in Lebanon demonstrated that to achive some thing real a real part of the national energy must be spent. Drafting the whole reserves ect. real training of the whole reserves for the previous 4 years would have meant a real change in the Israeli system. Four mothers on one side and end less greed of the elite created a society that is not realy ready for what it was ready in 1930 -1960. The Barak theory of small and clever army was a sub conscious (or conscious !!) trick to make war and money at the same time. The experiment in Lebanon, a pilot plant, clearly and boldly demonstrated that this trick does not work. In a world pictured by "nobody" and Hachoen Israel need a very large Army and a very clever Army. And a society "that will be ready to take it". Reading "the Marker" in the morning show that this is not what is going on. The problem is not the Pal. see how "nobody" and Hachoen drifted to the Pal. norms by which all blame is on the other side or on the "Imperialits ect". It was the outsider Jeha who told them (us) to look in the mirror. The question is "what should Israel do". Rabin and Sharon acted toward the Palestinians the way they did ( Oslo & Gaza )because they rightly estimated the capacity of the IDF + the Israeli society. They were 100% right in their estimation, as we see in Leb. and Shdeot. Which show the quality of the vanished elite. Compare these two to Halutz, Ulmart and Peretz. Personally I belived that Peretz knew the real situation but thought that the others knew better and kept silence. Not long time ago the same population as in Shderot, but poored and less educated, in the Jordan valley and Beit Shan behaved totally different toward constant shelling from Jordan. Things in Israel have realy changed the nature of the society, Jeha noticed, which is nice and also Natzralla noticed which is critically important. To face a world pictured by "nobody" and "hachoen" Isreal as in old battle ships must do a bold estimation of the situation ( Remember Ben-Gurion "seminar" at 1947-8)clean the decks and prepare every nail (Jeha again)and rope. Presently Israel is living in cognitive dissociation. Read "the marker",see the stock market, hear the people of Shderot and Gaza and the whole ME and the wildly murderous antisemitic media all over the world ( helped by well stationed well paid members of the Israeli elite). As this Leb. intelectual told you. Define what YOU as individual and society WANT TO DO AND CAN DO and act accordingly as in the days of Old Zionist Mapai. Blaming the "others", very big or very small and expecting evolutinary changes in their brains and/or social-technical changes in the energy consumption of China will not do and it is useless. The present cognitive dissociation can not go on without very bad consequences.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani
I wrote my previous note prior to Jeha and Amos. Jeha last note is unreal. I am also afraid of..and sorry to say that.. As a supper observer he does not get Israel or worse, he pretends that he does not. Religion has nothing to do with it. Also this thing about personal salvation offered by him is starting to sound kind of like a religious preacher, may I say Jesuite? Please do not put this nail in my wall. Making peace with ones soul or with an individual in the street is not the issue and never was. As the rascial say go "I have a lot of colored, Jewish, Arabic, ect ect friends. The question is Israel as a STATE -SOCIETY in the Middle East. Israel is a nation state, period. As for religious charachter? It has less than Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia & Irland and more than perhaps France and Switzeland, and I am not so sure about the last two.It is no more no less a "natural state" (what is that? ) Than Pakistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iraq and Indonesia. The list can go for ever. The vanished Greek in Alexandria, the Arameic Syrian Christians in Sweden, all in Syria and Egypt long time prior to Islam and the later so called "nation-state" do tell a tale. In 1940-1950 there were 20.000-30.000 Jews in Leb. where are they now? The world, the UN tell a real fact that now, at this moment, it is the age of the nation state. Minorities pay the price of this relatively new social inovation. Jeha is OK. The social system in which he lives offer me the Iranian-Saudi solution to the Jew as individual and as group. Die, go away, live a second class dhimi. Very well, make me do it, as in the USA I will add "you and who else?".

Anonymous said...

Hazbani to Jeha.
This will be short, unlike me. I and other Jews will define what is a Jew. IT IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS. The idea that an one sider will define what is a member of a group is an extreme no no. The French as a group, from the inside ! will define a french person. The Muslim as group from the inside, The Catholic Church from the inside ect ect. Stay away from thos path ! it is dangerous !

Amos said...

Hazbani,

I don't understand your last three sentences above (1:37). I really don't think that Jeha was offering Jews an "Iranian-Saudi solution."

Also, I don't see him offering personal salvation.

I agree with the beginning part of your post. Neither states nor nations are natural. To your observation that minorities have paid the price for the recent innovations, I would add only that some have also benefited from the logic of national self-determination. Indeed, many have been victimized by it, then benefited from it, and later victimized others based on it.

Nobody said...

The forces militating against utopias of binationalism are the same ones that led to the collapse of Yugoslavia, the "Velvet divorce" of Czechoslovakia, the separation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the imminent independence of Kosovo - to name just a few recent examples.

the velvet divorce is basically what this region should be striving for ... it went vastly underreported because the separation was absolutely quiet and peaceful but in practical terms it was an impressive achievement .... a very intelligent and pragmatic solution flawlessly executed ...

i should repeat that it's not going to happen and most of this region will eventually go the way of iraq as it appears that across the arab world the idea of a velvet divorce is not popular at all but rather all sorts of lunacies are thriving about how the arabs are going to abolish nationalities and religions creating bi-national and tri-national states, demographically dominated by the arabs of course...

it goes without saying that it's mostly the muslim arabs themselves who entertain themselves with these fantasies ... most minorities, like the kurds for example, would never buy this idea ...

Nobody said...

I agree with the beginning part of your post. Neither states nor nations are natural.

nations are certainly something natural and inborn in humans .. and given natural conditions children tend to develop the sense of national identity even if their parents are immigrants living in a foreign country ...

Nobody said...

Define what YOU as individual and society WANT TO DO AND CAN DO and act accordingly as in the days of Old Zionist Mapai

not going to the days of old mapai is one of them ...

Blaming the "others", very big or very small and expecting evolutinary changes in their brains and/or social-technical changes in the energy consumption of China will not do and it is useless.

expecting drastic changes in energy consumption does not mean blaming somebody else or wishful thinking ..i advise you to start following news on global warming and related issues ... in particular i would recommend you to examine legislations enacted recently in many countries regarding mandatory ethanol and biodiesel blends in regular fuel ...

dont know if it makes for a very interesting reading but it's certainly a better way to spend one's time than mentoring other people on what they should do as individuals and a society...

Anonymous said...

Hazbani
I stand corrected and I appologize to any person or group I insulted. I realy do, if only for the fact that I wish this blog to grow expand and do good and I hate to do it harm in any way. But also on personal ground I would not wish, realy, to hurt any body personally.
How ever, the beauty of the Blog system. It can be checked above. I categorically separated Jeha which is OK, as if he need my OK which I am sure he does not, and the social System in which he lives -Lebanon. Yes, there are some Jews in Lebanon but they live double life which I would not wish on any body, I will keep their identity as they wish. There are perhaps Jewish teachers in the AUB and other scholarly-Medical institutions. I know about one young woman who teachs in AUB who may be Jewish. As far as I know she is rabidly anti Zionist & anti Israel. Also she does not belong to any community or Jewish religious group. Hence is my problem of who define what is a Jew. For example : see Uriel D' Ocosta and Baruch Espinosa in Holland and the present contemporary problems in Israel. It is very complex and should be done internally. Sharon wanted to define all the Palestinians as Jordenians and several Israelies would like to define all the Pal. refugees in Leb. as leb. and give them local citizenship. SO WHAT.
As for personal salvation, well I think that personal peace is closer to personal salvation than to political peace. As one who never took one houre of Philosophy I will use an example, knowing very well that an example is no proof. Some body in Egypt or Jordan hate my guts and is ready to kill me this very moment, but Jordan and Egypt are in peace with my country. In some other arab countries which are at war with Israel there are people I know personally, realy, and are in peace with me personally. I like the first situation, I can live with it. The second situation is lethal. Also this personal peace did not work very well in past Yogoslavia where people who were in "personal peace" killed each other, obviously after the killing it became obvious that there was no peace there but this was kind of late. I also have problems with "personal peace in Iraq". Yes it is a very complicated subject.
Again sorry I meant no harm. I have a congenial prolem in grammer & spelling, in all languages, so this is a small problem to my readers a large problem for me.

Eamonn said...

Anonymous says:

"As for religious charachter? It has less than Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia & Irland"

Any comparison between Ireland and the other countries on that list is simply absurd and reveals the profound ignorance of the person who makes it.

Amos said...

the velvet divorce is basically what this region should be striving for [...] a very intelligent and pragmatic solution flawlessly executed

Actually, it was quite silly, and the Slovaks would have been better off staying in Czechoslovakia. It was about as intelligent as the Quebecois separating from Canada, God forbid. But as I said before, in our age people prefer being royally screwed over by people who are like them, to being mildly screwed over by "strangers."

nations are certainly something natural and inborn in humans .. and given natural conditions children tend to develop the sense of national identity even if their parents are immigrants living in a foreign country ...

Nobody, is this why people happily went without nations and nation-states for many centuries?

Nations, nationalism, and states based on them are relatively recent inventions; this does not mean that they are somehow less legitimate than other cultural practices or state forms. Nor does it mean that they are not perceived as "natural" today.

For better or worse, nations and nation-states have been the dominant paradigms of human social organization for the past few centuries. Since the end of WWI they have become enshrined in international law. It doesn't help to rail against this fact and to see it as the source of all evil, but it also doesn't do any good to pretend that nations and nation-states are eternal and the only possible state of affairs. The idea of "national self-determination" took a long time to develop in the West, and spread to the rest of the world only afterward.

Eamonn - Hazbani's comparison was based on specific, narrow grounds; it was not wholesale.

Anonymous said...

It Hazbani again
Eamonn your response is Interesting. I stayed in south "Free Irland" for a while in a small community. The green was realy blinding. I drink very little which gave me a lot of looking-thinking time. I was surprised at the high number of people also young who went to mass on Sunday. Also I found the role of the church more comprehensive than in Israel in many aspects, such as education and norms of behavior in general, lately we have been hearing about abortion. Also the attitudes to marriage and divorse are very much influenced by the church. As an Israeli who read daily comparisons between Israel and all kind of past totaliterian system I know that nobody like to be compared but still I think that it is impossible to divorse Irish nationaly from catholic elements in the same way that it is impossible to do it to Judaism and Israeli nationalism. BUT IN BOTH CASES IT IS NOT THE SAME THING. I would have asked Leopold & Molly Bloom for their opinion, as you know "Poli" was a kind of zionist but I think they are un-approchable at the moment.

Nobody said...

Nobody, is this why people happily went without nations and nation-states for many centuries?

Nations, nationalism, and states based on them are relatively recent inventions; this does not mean that they are somehow less legitimate than other cultural practices or state forms. Nor does it mean that they are not perceived as "natural" today.


you mix two notions together - nations and nation states ...there was not one single day in human history when people happily went without nations .. this is for one simple reason that humans always prioritize their relationships with other human beings at several levels .... and it is for this reason that people will never become cosmopolitan citizens of the world and they will never love equally all other human beings with the same love ...

in the same way that you don't expect any normal person to care more for strangers than he cares for his family and his immediate friends you cannot expect from people to drop national identities or whatever may come in their place and become universal citizens of the world ... the need to establish shared identities at this level is a deeply ingrained human instinct and need ... the scope at which such a group identity is established may be influenced by the technology and the way of living but there will always be one and maybe several identity levels separating individual and the whole of mankind ... to insist on the opposite is to defy the very human nature itself since this prioritization of relationships between themselves is what makes humans and some other mammals different from herd animals ... in this sense nation states are an expression of a timeless thing that was present in the world from the moment the first humans appeared and will persist as long as humankind exists ...

and it's not the nations as such that are the problem ... israel offered the palestinians a deal that could perfectly satisfy all their national aspirations expect for destruction of israel itself ... the fact that they opted instead for a few more decades of armed struggle is a result of fanaticism, lunacy and plain stupidity ... but the fact that israelis and palestinians are two different nations does not mean in theory that they cannot peacefully partition the land and co-exist as two sovereign states side by side ...

people should respect national identities and take demographic issues seriously without resorting to blaming others in racism ... this way it's possible to achieve and maintain stability just as czechoslovakia has done ... where it's possible to establish new borders , where it's possible to avoid pushing nations at the throats of each other and you can reorganize even such a region as this in a way that will reduce chances for more wars and violence ...

in fact it's not for nothing that so much of the former yugoslavia and soviet union has later descended into bloody chaos.. it's a result of all these lunacies that held themselves to be above nations and national identities ... fantasizing about a world without nations, pushing people into 'two nations one state' or 'three nations one state' solutions is a sure way to create more yugoslavias ...


all these speculations about what nations are for are a waste of time ... and whatever the enthusiasts for transcending national identities may be thinking is absolutely impractical as people are not going to listen to and live by their wisdom anyway ... and basically if one cannot figure out what function nations serve, then one can safely assume that he is lacking in the real understanding ... if one sees something so persistent such as nationalities that defies one's understanding and common sense, it's a safe bet that this is because life is smarter than this person and not because this person is smarter than life itself ...

Amos said...

and whatever the enthusiasts for transcending national identities may be thinking is absolutely impractical as people are not going to listen to and live by their wisdom anyway

I just wanted to make it very clear that I am not one of those enthusiasts - I thought my comments were quite explicit on that point. I don't think that national identities have to be transcended.

... the need to establish shared identities at this level is a deeply ingrained human instinct and need

I agree with this. I only disagreed with your assertion that nations and nationalism have always been the ways in which people have constructed shared identities. Religious, regional, and more local identities have been more potent loci of communal identification until recently in human history. This is not disputed by any serious historians today.

Again, I am not one of those cosmopolitans whom you are thinking of. Or, perhaps I am, but I don't have the illusion that cosmopolitanism is a solution or that it should be imposed on anyone else. National identities today are as real as the ground beneath our feet; which is to say that they too are subject to change and have not always been as they are now.

all these speculations about what nations are for are a waste of time

Which is why I don't engage in these kinds of speculations. It doesn't make sense to me in the first place to ask "what nations are for." Today, nations are, and they have been for several centuries. That's enough.

Nobody said...

I agree with this. I only disagreed with your assertion that nations and nationalism have always been the ways in which people have constructed shared identities. Religious, regional, and more local identities have been more potent loci of communal identification until recently in human history. This is not disputed by any serious historians today.

to this i said

in this sense nation states are an expression of a timeless thing that was present in the world from the moment the first humans appeared and will persist as long as humankind exists ...

in other words the ways the thing expresses itself may change depending on the historical circumstances ... but the universal love and brotherhood of all men remains as unachievable as ever because it goes against the human nature to start with ...

and no .. this post was not addressed particularly to you .. i had mostly some other people in mind

Nobody said...

but just to put the final end to this bi-national israeli arab state idea i should say this :

when the palestinians and israelis would become as identical as twins then maybe they won't mind removing the fence and living together in one state .. but right now they are finishing another decade in the state of an escalating conflict ... what kind of a twisted logic one should employ to reach the conclusion that if the arabs and israelis did not succeed in establishing two separate states they may succeed living together in one single one ??? !!!

but the clinging to this binational state idea which is so common on the other side makes me think that some people are only half as innocent as they want to appear ... this is because the numbers are very clear - the binational state means a state in which arabs get the majority outright and a few decades later the israelis are reduced to the position of a marginal minority ... calling things by their names it's just another way for the israelis to surrender their state to the arabs ...

we did not come here and did not fight all these wars for this .. and whatever one may think about jews they were never held to be stupid people.. israelis will never buy into such an idea just because of some 'hey, we are all just simple human beings' discource ... the arabs should better lose all illusions and start getting used to the idea that israel is here .... if they want a palestinian state then they should better convince the palestinians to drop this pipe dream of the right of return and get practical .. means to satisfy themselves with the west bank and gaza ... and not as an intermediate step on the way to tel aviv ...

Amos said...

Well said, Nobody.

Jeha said...

Sorry about throwing an idea and disappearing, but the vagaries of my connection are such that I cannot do so as regularly as I would have liked.

Let me clarify a couple of points;

1- I see where y'all come from, and I understand your perspective. In a sense, I agree that what I am proposing is Utopia. But that does not mean it is not a goal we should not strive for.

2- I see our problems as related to the ideas of nation-states; Europe went through it since the French Revolution, and it gave us much bloodshed, suffering, and at least 2 World Wars.

I understand that, in the present state of affairs, the Middle-East is far, far from outliving the nation state. I also understand that the new threats we're all facing are much more existential and "deep" than the Franco-German squabbles about "natural borders". Therefore, I understand that there are elements of "Millenarian cults" that can only be defeated by steel and blood, not talk...

However, we should bear in mind that we need to look beyond, to the goal we want to reach. What happens when the dust settles? After you cut that diamond with another diamond, you're still left with a diamond, albeit another "type".

That's what I mean by "what end do you want to reach?". The question remains, and it is not an easy one to answer.

I feel that the wisdom in our 2,000 year old books can help to answer that question, but it cannot serve as an exclusive guide.

Nobody said...


1- I see where y'all come from, and I understand your perspective. In a sense, I agree that what I am proposing is Utopia. But that does not mean it is not a goal we should not strive for.


it's not even utopia .. it's a dangerous utopia .. it's equivalent to the leftist experiments with abolishing family or private property ...

2- I see our problems as related to the ideas of nation-states; Europe went through it since the French Revolution, and it gave us much bloodshed, suffering, and at least 2 World Wars.

nation states are the most stable and resilient form of a state ... i can confirm it from my own experience as one who witnessed the demise of one multi national state ... you can find confirmation to this in the experience of your own country ... a nation state can withstand pressures and crisis that will cause any other form of state to collapse on the spot...

your utopia sounds good only on paper .. in practice it's very similar to the communist idea of abolishing private property ... the idea was of a collective ownership of the means of production.. in practice everything became no one's property ... people were stealing and had no incentive to care for and maintain equipment ..

a state not based on some form of national identity (not necessarily etnic, but at least cultural in the sense of a shared language or religion) is just another form of this thing .. dubai should be very close to what you are looking for - a sort of multicultural paradise that is not based on any form of national identity .. indeed, it's not a nation but it will exist as long as no serious economic trouble or a war hits it .. at that point most people there will simply pack their stuff and go away ... this is because another word for a multicultural paradise is 'no man's land'

Nobody said...

However, we should bear in mind that we need to look beyond, to the goal we want to reach. What happens when the dust settles? After you cut that diamond with another diamond, you're still left with a diamond, albeit another "type".

That's what I mean by "what end do you want to reach?". The question remains, and it is not an easy one to answer.


it's a very easy one to answer for the israelis ... it's much more difficult to answer for the arabs but that is none of our problems ... most israelis would be satisfied with having a nation state with a minimal arab minority ... if the arabs can be convinced to take the west bank and gaza and leave israel in peace it would be more than enough for israel ... if the arabs would also take a few triangles and 'cubes' populated by israeli arabs it's the top of the top of what we can be wishing for ...

after the 50 years the region spent in a deadlock imposed on it by arab dictators and sharia states, the earth is burning under the feet of arabs with ethnic conflicts and sectarian wars to be fought in the near future.... in my view it should be much easier to convince people to resolve ethnic disputes peacefully by means of federations, land swaps and velvet divorces ... the arabs may think that the solution lies in convincing people to drop their national identities and affiliations .. maybe ... but as i said this is not our problem ...

Nobody said...

to elaborate more on the nation states .. it's an easily observable fact that a state which is a national home elicits in its citizens and even diaspora emotional attachment and a degree of committment as no other form of state ... nation states obviously invoke in people a feeling of some sort of collective ownership .. this feeling may be vague and difficult to define with precision but it certainly exists ... when it comes to nation states people often take this approach that you don't choose your family .. that's why such a state can be completely screwed up, yet you will always have people trying to change it, refusing to leave .. you will rarely see such a committment in a society that transcended nationality ...

one of the contributors to my blog is an illustration to this idea ... he is israeli who lived for a decade in the far east and is married to a japanese woman .. he and his wife live in a big cosmopolitan place called shanghai ... he has a sort of lost his attachment to israel .. i would call him a true global citizen of the world.. he is a nice guy who would like to make the world the better place ... in one of our recent conversations we discussed education as a means to end poverty in africa (he is an educator) ... i think he is even writing a thesis on this at university ... it goes without saying though, that the very moment some form of shit hits shanghai, like terror attacks or an economic crisis, he will just pack his stuff and leave the place in no time ... this is what transcending nationality is usually about ...

in a way it's no different than universal love and similar stuff ... after transcending the particular and the individial and going universal it's suddenly revealed that there is very little left apart from some abstract concept...

this is the reason why nation states are so common ... they are so predomiannt by the simple law of darwinian evolution ,... they are the fittest ... you can also notice that most economic tigers and nations that did into the ranks of the first world after the ww2 are nation states like japan or south korea ... this is because such states are more resilient to pressures of rapid modernation and painful economic reforms ... they are more stable and much more difficult to knock out ...

so when it comes to nation states there is no reason to invest so much thinking and emotions in trying to outsmart the reality ... just because life is smart enough ...