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January 07, 2009



Super post. Nothing to add, except that you ignore the main price a Gazan will pay for 'speaking out' will be that he may get killed, for Hamas do not only control patronage, they are also violent. Sorta goes with the territory of being "a terrorist".

Contrast with the equivalent in Israel, where the "speaking out" option remains open. Which is why, when push comes to shove, if I absolutely had to choose, I would side with the liberal democracy, however imperfect.

But I also don't really care that much.

Tony Sharp

"Put yourself in the position of a Gazan opposed to terrorism. What can you do to oust Hamas? Chances are, you lack the influence or wealth to mount a meaningful campaign against them. And you face an opponent which has the benefits of incumbency and patronage."

Forget social science. The average Gazan would also face an opponent not adverse to chucking such opponents off rooftops, blowing them up, or machine gunning them as they open their front doors or drive through the territory.

Just ask the Fatah movement, who saw around 400 of their members murdered in such a way in Gaza by Hamas during their bloody takeover. In fact at the start of last August around 200 Fatah members (including notorious Al Aqsa Brigade members) threw themselves on the mercy of the Israelis at checkpoints rather than join their murdered compatriots. A number were taken to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

These things are easily forgotten by the media and observers in the race to paint Hamas as a 'normal' government under attack by oppressive Zionists.

Luis Enrique

Care is a funny choice of word - you can care about people suffering, while being wholly uninterested in the arguments surrounding the situation. Isn't what you're really saying that you are not interested, rather than you don't care?


The real problem is that even the "official" Hamas leadership can't control the vast majority of it's, well, members is too strong as term. So a ceasefire only lasts as long as the next arrival of rockets from Iran or wherever.
It's very like the Irish problems and the Lebanese problems of 30 odd years ago. Until one side or the other is effectively defeated, there can be no resolution. Arguably, WW2 happened because the Germans never believed they had been beaten ( yes I know there were lots of other things as well) in WW1.

Andrew Duffin

Erm, weren't Hamas elected?

Surely they could be "un-elected"?

Perhaps that would make no difference.

Or perhaps in Gaza election are as secret and incorruptible as they are in Birmingham, or something.


Luis Enrique
good point.


Intellectually I find people's responses to the situation more interesting.
The situation on the ground is horrific, but not intellectually interesting.

Charlie Macmenamin

I'm assuming this is a Swiftean "modest proposal/let them eat babies" kind of post. So I'm assuming that you do actually accept that the problem is with social science if its intellectual tools make an argument about ownership of land, and the struggle for the legitimacy of that ownership, seem uninteresting.


Cold hearts are with malcontents.

Bob B

"Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has said he is hopeful that a ceasefire agreement can be reached in Gaza."

Another brilliant (? fatuous) insight from Tony Blair since the alternative to a ceasefire is indefinite perpetuation of hostilities . . .

In the United Nations debate in 1947 on the partition of Palestine, the then British government warned that partition would lead to continuing conflict, which is precisely what has happened.

"Conductor Daniel Barenboim has called off two concerts in Qatar and Egypt. He said the concerts have been axed 'due to the escalating violence in Gaza and the resulting concerns for the musicians' safety'. Barenboim had been due to appear with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra on 10 January in Doha, Qatar, with a second date in Cairo, Egypt, two days later. . . Last year, the musician announced he had accepted honorary Palestinian citizenship."

Btw in previous personal experience of online debates about conflicts involving the state of Israel, it has invariably resulted in me be dubbed a "friend of David Irving" - whom I've never met or seen - or a Nazi sympathiser. At the risk of alienating other extremists, I can affirm that I regard Hitler as the embodiment of evil despite all the nice things that Lloyd George said about him after their meeting in 1936.


"...aren’t cold hearts better than hot heads?"

Only in Munich.

Or if you like prosy pseudish comments that people with too much time on their hands can play with: in respect of Israel you're not dealing with a rational agent.


It isn't just the west's immigration policies, otherwise Gazans could move to more peaceful neighbouring Arab countries.


The point is that anti-Israeli camp patronise the Palestinians by presenting them as diminished in responsibility and culpability in comparison to their Israeli counterparts. Israeli's who elect warmongering political parties are far worse than Palestinians who elect an openly terrorist organisation. The Israeli's can be pressured to control their military activities but unfortunately the Palestinians can't, because they lack the capacity for it.

That's why we have silly protests against Israel, demanding Israel changes, but we don't get the same level of expectation for the Palestinians. For the Palestinian sympathisers they are a diminished people, like children or the mentally ill, you can't expect them to control themselves. Unfortunately as long as this is the view of even Palestinian sympathisers it's hard to see a positive way forward.

Nicole S

You gentiles are hard to please. The future of Israel, the possibility of a Palestinian state, the resurgence of anti-semitism, the threat of jihadism, the machinations of Iran - not interesting enough?

Bob B

"Israeli's who elect warmongering political parties are far worse than Palestinians who elect an openly terrorist organisation."

It's much worse than that. Israel was originally created through systematic terrorism - remember the Stern gang who tried to ally with the Nazis during WW2 to fight the British, the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 and look what happened to Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 who aimed to negotiate a peaceful settlement in Palestine and was assassinated.

Menachem Begin, who organised the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946, which killed 91 people, went on become PM of Israel 1977-83. Who said Israeli terrorism doesn't pay?

For factors motivating Palestinian terrorism, try Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2001) - Avi Shlaim, who has Israeli citizenship, is professor of international relations at St Anthony's College, Oxford - and also this recent statement from the UN:

"The intense settlement activity in and around East Jerusalem by Israel were threatening to derail the Middle East peace process, the Permanent Observer for Palestine warned members of the United Nations Palestinian Rights Committee today."

For a reasonable attempt at objectivity, try too the six part BBC TV doc on the Birth of Israel:

The creation of Israel "displaced" 700,000 Palestinians and rendered them homeless. The Israeli complaint is that homeless Palestinians continue to resist that imposed status. Some Israeli actually believe that they have a divine right to all Palestine land.


Bob B, I'm not in any doubt about the dark side of Zionism. My late Grandfather served with the British Army in Palestine at the close of WWII and came away holding both sides in utter contempt.

The problem is that until both sides can be seen to be equally in control and equally culpable of their own behaviour then there's no way forward.

Bob B

"There’s nothing interesting here for the economist or social science, is there?"

How about this (via Yorkshire Ranter): http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2009/01/in_conflicts_over_beliefs_and_values_symbolic_gestures_matte.php

"It just goes to show that when people promote their ideas to the rank of beliefs, they risk losing the ability to view those issues rationally.

Ginges has an explanation for this. He believes we are almost programmed to avoid weighing things up in terms of costs and benefits when they concern our values or beliefs, preferring instead to rely on a moral compass. Indeed, we have such an inherent distaste for attempts to measure moral commitments in such a calculating way that such attempts are likely to be met by outrage and anger. So it was with the Israelis and Palestinians surveyed in this study"

Bob B

This week's The Economist has a bleak perspective on prospects for peace in Palestine:

Nothing much changes. I think we need to remind ourselves of Gerald Kaufman's speech in Parliament in April 2002 about Deir Yassin in 1948:

And this relating to 1953 comes from Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall:

“. . Unit 101 was commanded by an aggressive and ambitious young major named Ariel Sharon. Sharon’s order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses, and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out this order surpassed all expectations. The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to a pile of rubble: forty-five houses had been blown up, and sixty-nine civiliains, two-thirds of them women and children, had been killed. Sharon and his men claimed that they had no idea that anyone was hiding in the houses. The UN observer who inspected the reached a different conclusion: ‘One story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them.’” Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall p.91


The world should absolutely listen to this wise Israeli:



"a violation of methodological individualism"


Free Palestine!!!



"Oh, God! I have never seen such a terrible scene," cried Kayed Abu Aukal.

The emergency doctor could not believe himself seeing the remains of what was days back Shahd, a full-fleshed 4-year-old Palestinian girl.
She died when an Israeli shell was fired at the backyard of her home in the Jabalya refugee camp northern Gaza strip, where she was playing.
When her parents attempted to rush to the rescue of their kid, who fell to the ground amid a pool of her blood, rains of Israeli bullets kept them a distance.

For the next five days Shahd's which was left lying in the open left for dogs to tear out.
"The dogs did leave one single part of the poor baby's body intact," said a tearful Abu Aukal.

"We have seen heart-breaking scenes over the past 18 days. We picked up children whose bodies were torn or burnt, but nothing like this."

For five days Shahd's brother, Matar, and cousin, Mohamed, tried in vain to reach her body. They were fired at by the Israeli occupation forces every time.
Seeing the body of the little angel torn to piece by the assaulting dogs, the two made one final attempt, and it was their last.
They were showered by Israeli bullets before they could reach Shahd's body, joining a long list of more than 920 Palestinians killed by Israel since December 27.


Omran Zayda, a young neighbor, said the Israelis knew very well what they were doing.
"They chased her family and prevented them from reaching to her body, knowing that the dogs would eat it," he said.
"They are not just killing our children, they are intentionally doing so in the most heinous and inhuman ways."
Zayda said words, and even cameras, can not describe the horrific scene.
"You can never imagine what the dogs have done to her innocent body," he said, fighting back his tears.

Many Palestinians insist Shahd was not the first or only such case.
In Jabalya, when Abd Rabu's family was trying to bury three of its dead, the Israeli forces started firing at them, witnesses said.
They then released their dogs at the bodies, deserted by mourners who sought shelter from the Israeli gunfire, they added.
"What happened was awful and unthinkable," Saad Abd Rabu, the deceased uncle, told IOL.
"Our sons died before our eyes and we were even prevented from burying them," he cried.
"The Israelis just released their dogs at their bodies, as even they have not done enough."

(Gaza City - http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1231760488574&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout)


God's chosen IsraeHell planning the slaughter of Lebanese (2006) and Palestinian again & again (2009).

"It is permissible for Israel defense force to attack in the course of warfare a civilian population that is ostensibly innocent of wrongdoing. The law of Torah is to have no mercy upon them and save our civillians and our soldiers, and this is the true morality of the Torah of israel..."
(Rabbi Dov Lior, Chairman of the Council of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in "Settler Rabbi; Killing Civillians Permitted", Forward, New York, 28th May 28 2004, p,,5)

“And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them…” (Deuteronomy 7 : 16)

“One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail”.
(Israeli Rabbi Yacoov Perrin (Daily News, New York, 28th February 1994, p,6)

“Killing Palestinian is comand of God, don't let anyone breathe, although man or woman, old man or children, human or animal, kill them all...!!!”
(Deuteronomy 20:16-17 | Joshua 6:21 | Joshua : 10:28)


"aren’t cold hearts better than hot heads?"

no. they are mirror images of one another.

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