Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kurds, Palestinians . . .



Let me say this clearly: there is no doubt that Palestinians suffer from ongoing and seemingly unstoppable Israeli seizure of West Bank lands. There is no Peace Process and none in sight. (If you want to see how Israeli expansionism into the West Bank is now an awful norm, see Jane Eisner's superb reporting:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just a Game of (Chinese) Chess . . .




Instead of thinking about Israel and Hamas all day, as I am wont to do, in the course of ruminating about the tangled origins of Arab-Israeli enmity, I went to Harvard Sq., got parking, and laid out my Xiangqi  (Chinese Chess) board. I spotted an Asian man with family — adult children plus gaggle of tots, who looked at me like they were just getting used to the eerie sight of Westerners — at a nearby table, and held up a piece — a pawn, I think — by way of invitation. 
A pawn, I think

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Plus Ça Change. . .




A piece by the indispensable JJ Goldberg


points out how much the current war in Gaza resulted from missed cues, miscommunication, bluster, fear, nationalism run rampant, and suppressed differences between Israel's  civilian leadership and its more cautious military, not to mention wounds, everywhere, primed to reopen.

Cold comfort all that is.

This is not the first war to originate that way. (Are we not, for example, marking the centenary of that most horrendous of all misbegotten, vaguely avoidable, modern conflicts, World War I?)

It doesn't take much to tip Israel/Palestine back into the cycle of violence that has been operative since the 1920s. Of course, back then, the Yishuv (as the Jewish settlement in Palestine was known) was an embattled minority, and, make no mistake, Arab leaders — headed up by Haj Amin el-Husseini, who met and sought common ground with Hitler  — wanted nothing more than to utterly destroy it.

It's different today.

The British, who could be counted on to play Jews against Arabs, if for no other reason than that they lacked a more coherent strategy, a way to fulfill the contradictory promises they had issued to both people, are long gone. And there is a Jewish state, backed by one of the most powerful militaries on earth.

It's different today. These differences are substantial and not about to melt away. But if you study the history you might conclude, with me, it's just not different enough.


Friday, July 11, 2014

bibbi oh bibbi



Am I crazy to think Benjamin Netanyahu ought to take the U.N. suggestion and declare a halt to air strikes on Gaza, if only, say, for a day? To see if Hamas responds in kind? if Hamas doesn't, well then. . .

The prospect of Israeli troops in Gaza is awful to contemplate. I’ve been there. It was a tortured place before Hamas, which, in connection with recent history, tortures it further.

What good can an Israeli incursion do? Israel can never stamp out all of Hamas, or its roots. Or does it imagine it can, given the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (Hamas, for those who are not tired of hearing this already, being but the expression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine)?

But how can there not be intolerable damage to civilian life and infrastructure, or what’s left of both, in Gaza, as a result of an Israel incursion?

This will not look good Bibbi. Think. Think Bibbi think. Or are you as absolutely incapable of thought as other leaders in that conflict became (notably not excluding Yassir Arafat?)

Is your mind subsumed, doped up, on vengeance, power?

(Are you even a biseleh — in English, "remotely" or "a bit" — a mensch Bibbi, or have you mostly transmogrified into a monster?)

Israel has the upper hand, more than ever vis a vis Hamas. Hezbollah cannot and will not strike seriously at Israel from Lebanon in retaliation for events in Gaza. Whatever Hezbollah-Hamas alliance there might have been is over, given Hezbollah’s commitment to Assad’s viciously anti-Sunni (anti-everybody) tyranny in Syria. (A few stray rockets from Lebanon do not change the above.)

Bibbi, there is self-defense, and Israel absolutely has a right. And then there is vicious overkill.

You, Bibbi, may wish to avoid overkill, somewhat, or a bit, slightly, though who knows how much. You do seem to betray a certain resistance to it. But then there are those to your right, Naftali Bennett and others, whispering in your ear that you must take the most extreme measures, that there is no such thing as overkill in Eretz Yisroel, not when rockets aimed at Tel Aviv are involved.

Bibbi, let me say this: If you do your worst, it will come back at you.

Why would I bother to say this? For one reason only, which should be obvious by now: the big bucks I am being paid by the State Department to be a Bibbi whisperer.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

question about expansion. . .


ok, we know the universe is expanding

you may not like it
neil degrasse tyson might favor it
einstein didn't like it then changed his mind
god may not like it but so what
it's a done deal

more specifically, space itself is expanding, faster and faster
(it doesn't seem subject to the prohibition against anything going faster than light)