raising the stakes

In “Why I’m a Pacifist: The Dangerous Myth of the Good War”, published in Harper’s May 2011 issue, Nicholson Baker argues that Hitler’s Jewish policy was that of a hostage-taker. Baker concludes that the Allies should have heeded the pacifists such as Abraham Kaufman, Dorothy Day, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Rabbi Abraham Cronbach, Vera Brittain, Arthur Ponsonby, Clarence Pickett, Bertha Bracey, Runham Brown, Grace Beaton, and Victor Gollancz, by negotiating peace with Hitler in order to rescue Jews, instead of demanding unconditional surrender of Germany. According to Baker, this insistence inculpates Winston Churchill and FDR in Nazi genocide of the Jews.

So the Allies should have let The Axis absorb most of Europe in Germany and let Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere pay tribute to Japan, in exchange for Hitler letting the Jews go? I see no clues as to what Nicholson Baker might recognize as bargaining chips for the Allies to control and trade with the Axis. The Untermenschen residing in the occupied territories might want to have their say. Furthermore, the notion of Hitler holding Jews hostage against escalation of a European conflict into a world war is belied by the body count achieved by the Einsatzgruppen prior to America’s declaration of war against Germany. In the event, the lesson Hitler failed to teach to his adversaries, that terrorism on large enough scale can earn immunity from prosecution and be traded for political gains, is recapitulated today in the position taken by that Hamas-Fatah alliance:

ROBERT SIEGEL: You said recently that by signing this accord with Fatah, Hamas, and I quote you now, “became part of the Palestinian legitimacy,” that the movement gained legitimacy. The Israelis and others, some others, point to the 1988 Hamas charter very often and say that you should renounce that.

And I looked at the document, and, you know, at one point it claims that the Jews started the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, both World Wars, that they operate in league with the Freemasons and set up the Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs to do their bidding. Do you think that Western democracies are going to grant legitimacy to people with a document that reads like the paranoid conspiracies of the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party?

Mr. HAMAD: Look, and first of all, I think people should not judge Hamas according to their charter because many changes happened inside Hamas. But many people in United States and the West or in Israel, they say no, no. Hamas is still as it is before 20 years, no. I think Hamas show a lot of flexibility, and it became more pragmatic, more realistic. Hamas could be a good player in making peace in this region, but please don’t use stick against them and punishment against Hamas.

SIEGEL: But people who point to the charter say, well, even if Hamas says it has changed and there’s evidence that it has changed, the charter hasn’t changed. These are still the declared principles of your movement, aren’t they?

Mr. HAMAD: No one talk about removal of Israel. We’re only talking about removal of the occupation, and I think this is according to United Nations resolution, this is legitimate.

For example, my parents were born in Tel Aviv. We have seven millions Palestinian refugee – as refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, every – and Europe and Brazil and everywhere. They have no chance to return to their homeland. Is it their destiny to live as refugees forever? And Israel have a right to bring the Jews from South Africa, from the United States, from Russia, from everywhere to live inside the Palestinian territory, in settlements in the West Bank. I think it’s not logic. It’s not fair.

SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Hamad, thank you very much for…

Mr. HAMAD: Thank you.

SIEGEL: …spending time with us.

That’s Ghazi Hamad, who is deputy foreign minister of Hamas. He spoke to us from Gaza City. And we’ve also requested interviews, I should add, with a leader of Fatah and also with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is the endgame. Hamas will renounce its “great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”, avowed three days ago by Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the its government in Gaza, in exchange for Israel recognizing a Hamas-led Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank with its capital in Jerusalem.




Hard-liners in Israel and the U.S. will resist this capitulation to two generations of terrorists taking Jews and gentiles hostage, when not blowing them up. But there is a difference between Israel considering a compromise with Hamas and Fatah and the Allies considering a compromise with the Axis. Unlike the Nanking massacre and Babi Yar, Arab terrorism did not proceed under the color of authority endowed with international legitimacy. It must be well understood by both sides in asymmetrical warfare, that terrorist acts lose their advantage of asymmetry upon being perpetrated in the name of a state that itself is liable to be held hostage to a crushing military defeat, the likes of which befell Germany and Japan sixty-six years ago. So let the terrorists raise the stakes by getting their state this time. We’ll always have our recourse to carpet bombing and show trials.

33 thoughts on “raising the stakes”

  1. I’m all for Palestinians having their state, it’s Israel’s greatest interest. But there’s no slightest chance to reach agreement with the Palestinians when Hamas is not just considered a legitime political force, but even is part of the Palestinian government. Oslo accords, by the way, state explicitly:

    “The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration once made will be canceled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions:

    1. commit or advocate racism; or
    2. pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non- democratic means.”

    Hamas is all of these: racist, unlawful and undemocratic.

    Neither Ismail Hania, nor this speaker offer Israel recognition or peace in exchange for 1967 border and East Jerusalem. In fact, the two say the same thing, just one says it in Arabic in belligerent mode, while the other says it in English in a “moderate” mode. Both demand return of Palestinian refugees to Israel which would automatically lead to “bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”. This position is symmetrical to the one of the hard-liners in Israel and the US – and these hard-liners are not those who “resist the capitulation”(there’s nothing hard-line in resisting capitulation to terror), but those who deny the right of Palestinians to the statehood and insist on the right of Jews to return to the whole territory of historical Israel, including Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) with predominantly Palestinian population. The right of Jews to return to the ancestral lands contradicts the Palestinian aspirations for statehood in the same way as the right of Palestinians to return to the whole territory of historical Palestine, including the areas with predominantly Jewish population, contradicts the right of Jewish people for self determination. Compromize would be if the both sides cede part of their rights for the sake of the rights of the others. But with Hamas it’s impossible. One should not be deceived by the Hamas declarations that it “accepts Palestinian state in 67 borders”. It doesn’t mean that it recognizes Israel or declares the end of claims and belligerency once this state is established. On the contrary, Hamas repeats time after time again that it doesn’t recognize Israel and doesn’t intend to or to accept any of the international community demands: recognition of Israel, accepting prior agreements and renouncing violence. Now, I don’t think that terrorists’ raising the stakes would make them less radical or less dangerous. I don’t think that this is what history teaches us. Besides this, I we have no option of “carpet bombings” or something like this: first of all, it’s immoral, second, it’s against the law and finally we simply have no such option.

    Here is an excellent historical example.
    Israel left Gaza and Hamas came to the power there (“raised the stakes”). Terror from Gaza not decreased but increased drastically. The Israeli south was for years under the daily rocket shelling, the normal life there was impossible. When Israel, after years of restraint, when no other choice remained, launched the military operation in Gaza – which was not “carpet bombings” or anything of this kind but indeed an operation relatively limited in scope – it was criticized by the entire world, its international standing was damaged severely, the anti-Israeli sentiments in region and in the world raised, countries, which Israel considered as allies, turned into hostile overnight and in general Israel’s interests were severely damaged.

    1. >“The nomination of any candidates, parties or
      > coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or
      > registration once made will be canceled, if such
      > candidates, parties or coalitions:
      >
      > 1. commit or advocate racism; or
      > 2. pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful
      > or non- democratic means.”

      >
      > Hamas is all of these: racist, unlawful and
      > undemocratic.

      So is Israel, but that’ s still no reason not to make peace.

        1. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in remarks broadcast Monday that Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse even that those that once held sway in South Africa.

          1. It must be true then. In my country, moral stature of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is exceeded only by current president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Jesus H. Christ.

    2. By the way

      > The Israeli south was for years under the daily rocket
      > shelling, the normal life there was impossible.
      > When Israel, after years of restraint, when no other
      > choice remained, launched the military operation in Gaza

      You’re trying here a little history rewriting. Before the beginning of operation “Cast Lead”, Hamas observed agreed to with Israel cease-fire for six months. It was ready to negotiate extension, but Israel was unwilling.

      1. This is a nonsense. First of all, no agreement ever was signed between Israel and Hamas. The decrease in rocket attacks (not the complete halt, by the way) was the result of military deterrence. This sort of lull was broken by Hamas, which used as a pretext Israeli military incursion, aimed to destroy a tunnel, dug under the border between Gaza and Israel. The tunnel was intended for terror or kidnap attack.
        What is the most striking in your comments is that you are trying to equate Hamas terrorists with Israel and then even to depict Hamas in a good light and Israel as a “bad guy”. This is ridiculous (and it’s an obvious lie, too).

        1. > This is a nonsense. First of all, no agreement ever was signed between
          > Israel and Hamas.

          Now _that_ is what I call nonsense. There could be no signed agreement between Hamas and Israel, because Israel does not recognize Hamas. Nonetheless, there was a truce, brokered by Egypt, as you know perfectly well. It was agreed to by the prime minister and defense minister of Israel. You rhetorical ploy above is transparently dishonest.

          > The decrease in rocket attacks (not the complete halt, by the way) was
          > the result of military deterrence. This sort of lull was broken by
          > Hamas, which used as a pretext Israeli military incursion, aimed to
          > destroy a tunnel, dug under the border between Gaza and Israel. The
          > tunnel was intended for terror or kidnap attack.

          So the cessation of rocket attacks was both a result of military deterrent, and ended due to scaling up of military deterrent ? You don’t seem to be able to keep your story straight

            1. Really? You are denying that there was a truce, brokered by Egypt and officially agreed to by the prime minister and defense minister of Israel? That the number of rocket attacks fell tenfold, despite the continuing incursions into Gaza by IDF?

              Astonishing. I just can’t fathom why would someone try to deny what can be verified in 10 sec flat by cursory web search.

              1. OK. Again. It’s boring to argue with you. Every unbiased and competent person can see that you’re a liar. Nothing of what you wrote is correct, it’s pure demagogy. Please play the propaganda games with somebody else, with the right wingers or left wingers (I really can see no difference between them, they are the same fools).

                1. Israeli APC in Gaza Strip 11 June 2008
                  Israel carries out regular raids into Gaza to counter Hamas rocket fire

                  Israel and militant group Hamas have agreed to end months of bitter clashes with a six-month truce starting on Thursday, Palestinian officials say.

                  A Hamas official said he was confident all militant groups in Gaza would abide by the agreement, brokered by Egypt.

                  Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said it was too early to say a truce was in place but that Israel would “give it a chance”.

                2. 2008 Israel–Hamas ceasefire

                  The 2008 Israel–Hamas ceasefire was a twenty six week Egyptian-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel which started on 19 June 2008 and lasted until 19 December 2008.[1] It is part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more specifically of the Gaza–Israel conflict. The collapse of the ceasefire led to the Gaza War on 27 December 2008.

                    1. Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen
                      A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.

                      Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into southern Israel, although no one was injured. The violence represented the most serious break in a ceasefire agreed in mid-June, yet both sides suggested they wanted to return to atmosphere of calm.

                      Israeli troops crossed into the Gaza Strip late last night near the town of Deir al-Balah. The Israeli military said the target of the raid was a tunnel that they said Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence 250m away. Four Israeli soldiers were injured in the operation, two moderately and two lightly, the military said.

                      One Hamas gunman was killed and Palestinians launched a volley of mortars at the Israeli military. An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. In response, Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel, one reaching the city of Ashkelon.

                      Gee, this is really amusing.

                    2. Michael, you’ve been around long enough to know that your game is over the moment you’ve been outed as a troll. Absent an honest willingness to engage the issue, try to be more subtle the next time.

                    3. I am quite willing to engage the issue once something worthy on engaging has been presented. So far I a m dealing with absurdly blatant denial of common knowledge.

                    4. Re: trolling me now?

                      So far, my bringing up the six-month truce that was observed by Hamas have been met with outright denial that it happened and accusation of trolling. Just saying.

                    5. Re: maybe you’re doing it wrong

                      Javascript is disabled in my browser, so I am not seeing the content of your replies. However, if at any point you come up with something intelligible, I stand ready to discuss it.

                    6. Re: maybe you’re doing it wrong

                      First of all, I think, that it’s not an honest way to conduct conversation: instead of confronting the point made by an interlocutor, to catch some more or less marginal phrase and to start trying to “discredit” it. I think it’s a kind of demagogy. Second, I think, everything this guy wrote is wrong. He wrote that there was no signed agreement between Israel and Hamas because Israel doesn’t recognize Hamas. He just failed to mention that Israel doesn’t recognize Hamas because Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel and doesn’t conduct negotiations with Israel as the matter of principle. Israel and the international community set forth tree principles for Hamas to be recognized as a legitime political force: recognition of Israel, recognition of the prior agreements between Israel and the PA and renouncing terrorism. Hamas rejects these principles. Then, there was indeed no agreement between Israel and Hamas, there were unwritten understandings, brokered by Egypt, which were forced on Hamas by Israeli militarary deterrence, economical sanctions and by Egyptian political pressure. The lull was incomplete, though, rockets shelling decreased but never halted completely, as other terror attacks, such as plotting roadside bombs by the border, mortar attacks and cross border shooting. The pretext for Hamas to end the lull was the foiling by Israel of kidnap attack: Israel destroyed the tunnel, dug under the border from Gaza. Now, the guy wrote: “So the cessation of rocket attacks was both a result of military deterrent, and ended due to scaling up of military deterrent ? You don’t seem to be able to keep your story straight”. I don’t know what he means. Foiling terror attack is not military deterrence. Hamas decided to end the lull because it believed it would profit from it. And, by the way, I highly appreciate Jimmy Carter, though not always agree with him. He brokered Israel’s first peace agreement. But again, quoting some selective quote from some book of a respected person as an argument without talking about the issue itself is a very bad manner of conducting conversation, in my opinion.

                    7. Re: maybe you’re doing it wrong

                      Jimmy Carter got me out of a Soviet jail in 1976, so I have a soft spot for the old crank. It doesn’t change the fact that his credibility in the U.S. is lower than whale shit. Otherwise, BBC’s bias against Israel is widely noted.

    3. I agree with almost everything you say except for the disclaimers that conflict with my abiding admiration for Sir Arthur Harris. Nonetheless, Israel’s main problem is not with terrorists, but with their international cohort of “useful idiots”, instinctually disposed to support the dispossessed regardless of their merit. It stands to be learned by all interested parties, that some that have been dispossessed cannot be entrusted with any sensitive possessions such as nationhood. And the only way to teach this lesson is by creating an example.

      1. I believe, that the main problem of Israel is unresolved conflict with the Palestinians, which is fed up by the both sides. I mean to some extent this problem stems from internal problems of the Israeli and the Palestinian societies.
        If you wish and if you have time, please take a look at the comments I posted recently:

        http://sentjao.livejournal.com/379671.html?thread=9478679#t9478679
        http://antizioni.livejournal.com/59259.html?view=1841275#t1841275
        http://antizioni.livejournal.com/59259.html?thread=1848699#t1848699

        1. We are in agreement then. Even your interlocutors in the referenced links would benefit from an opportunity to focus their anger on the political authority of a hostile state.

          1. What I’m saying is very simple. Even if no peace is possible at this time (and this is my opinion), Israel cannot block the future peace by further settlement activity. Israeli military occupation can only be temporary, to ensure Israel’s security in the absence of peace. Any military occupation is a temporary thing. Once political conditions for ending the occupation are ripe, it would end. There’s no such thing as permanent military occupation, because if some territory is annexed, it can no longer be considered occupied. The main problem with the Israeli occupation is that Israel has been trying to have it both. Israel treats the Palestinians as the occupied people and at the same time builds settlements as if the territory were annexed. My opinion is that even though peace is unprobable in the current situation, Israel should have done an absolutely necessary thing: to remove all settlements from outside the security fence and to grant all Palestinians who are within the security fence a choise: to have permanent resident status or to have Israeli citizenship. All this without formal annexation of the territory: the border of Israel can only be negotiated in the end, not set up unilaterally.
            The military occupation of the Palestinian territories is a totally different thing. One can argue on whether it would be better for Israel to defend itself from within or to occupy the West Bank (I’m in no position to judge, because I have no military expertize whatsoever), but the settlements don’t contribute to Israel’s security. They must be removed.
            Unfortunately, with the current composition of the Israeli government and the society I don’t believe such move is possible in near future. And in my opinion it’s very bad for Israel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *