Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Today's News: My List about the Israel-Hamas War

Credit: WarMapper

I have started a new Twitter List of people who have useful perspectives on this awful war -- I call it just "Israel-Hamas War" and you can sign up to follow it here: 
I wish Threads had a "list" function - I like Lists because it makes less likely I will miss newsworthy posts on specific topics from people I want to follow. Hopefully eventually Threads will add this. 
But in the meantime, I will just have to continue to use the twitter list functionality. 

Catching up on recent news stories:
First, here is some recent reporting about the Oct 7 attack, which seems to have been virtually forgotten: 
Matt Gurney: What I watched Hamas do The screams I heard on Monday weren't fake. The monsters at the door weren't actors in a lot of latex. These monsters were real. 
I view these clips with something of a trained eye, and noted quickly that the shootings are methodical and efficient. The attack force was well-drilled and organized. The killers are mostly task-oriented and focused. They had objectives and stuck to them. But that doesn't mean they weren't having the time of their lives. The National Post's Sabrina Maddeaux was there on Monday as well, and in her column about the briefing, she made a point of flagging something I'd noticed too — glee. Pleasure. Delight. Whooping cheers, selfies with the boys (carefully framed to put dead or captured Jews in the background), huge grins. The attacks were efficient, but not joyless. The Hamas terrorists are thrilled to be doing what they're doing.
The survivors in the Re’im shelter played dead for hours. Ms. Yosefzon was shot in the leg and her boyfriend in the arm. Their two other friends were dead. All the while, they could hear shooting and yelling in Arabic outside.
Eitan Halley, 28, a student, was drifting in and out of consciousness on the floor. He was full of shrapnel, and the fragments of someone else’s skull lay on his leg. Two of the friends he had arrived with had been killed. “I saw the face of death,” he said.
Reuters: Hunted by Hamas: 27 hours of slaughter and survival inside Israel’s Kibbutz Be’eri
The survivors, just beginning to process the nightmare they endured, spoke in the days after the attack. Many described how spouses, children or grandparents were killed by the Hamas gunmen who had invaded their homes. Some were shot dead, others burned alive. In some homes, entire families were slaughtered or kidnapped.
“It’s like a 9/11,” said kibbutz secretary Alon Pauker, referring to Al Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, but with a difference: “You know everyone who died.”
Some of the survivors cried as they spoke, others were stoic. Some were enraged, their ire directed at the killers but also at Israel’s leaders, who they said had failed to fulfill their most fundamental duty – protecting them.
Like many Israelis, whose sense of security has been shattered by the attacks, they wanted to know how Hamas militants had so comprehensively breached Israel’s border defenses, and why the army they trusted had been so taken by surprise and taken so long to respond.
Anger at the government is intense. Some ministers who have tried to visit the injured in hospitals or displaced survivors have been berated and forced to leave.
The Israeli state “failed us totally,” said kibbutz secretary Pauker.
Washington Post Hamas envisioned deeper attacks, aiming to provoke an Israeli war 
Even if its current leadership is effectively destroyed, she said, Hamas and its followers will continue to regard Oct. 7 as a victory. That’s partly because the group unquestionably succeeded in focusing the world’s attention on the Palestinian conflict, she said.
“It’s the first time I can remember that Hamas has become so prominent on a global scale,” Katz said. “So many people have already forgotten Oct. 7 because Hamas immediately changed the discussion. It put the focus on Israel, not themselves. And that’s exactly what they wanted.”
Next, some analysis about public reactions and protests: 
The Atlantic: Tom Nichols The Juvenile Viciousness of Campus Anti-Semitism Some of America’s students are embracing an ancient evil.
The emergence of so much racist, bullying trollery shows how deeply the thrill of self-actualization has tempted young people into a decadent waltz with an ancient and hideous hatred. This behavior is all the more appalling because it comes disproportionately from a privileged class of young men and women who are rationalizing their moral destitution for the sake of a transitory sense of self-satisfaction....
Anti-Semitism is not a cause that can be dismissed as a youthful indiscretion. It is not some innocent blemish that can be backspaced out of a résumé. Chanting “From the river to the sea” after a terrorist onslaught isn’t something that can be rinsed away later merely by adding “But I meant it in the good way.” Ripping down posters of missing children is a hateful and cowardly act, not some gallant moment of defiance (and not a life lesson any of us should want to impart to our own children). It is no defense to support a terrorist organization that calls for the eradication of the State of Israel while adding that you mean only the state itself, with no harm intended for the Jews who actually live there.
Anti-Semitism, even if adopted stupidly or indirectly, is a moral rot that today’s students will one day have to either recant or endure. Many of them, I wager, will eventually feel shame about what they thought were righteous actions. And I worry that they (like many of today’s extreme right-wing voters and activists in America) will find themselves so far up the tree of rationalizations that they will never be able to climb back down. After enough time serving the insidious impulse to defend the indefensible, they will find themselves changed people.
The Globe and Mail: OPINION Why do people hate Israel? How did this tiny country go from a beacon of democracy in the Middle East to being so utterly reviled – especially by young progressives?
Today’s students are generations removed from Holocaust survivors and veterans who fought in the Second World War. They did not grow up on the war stories recounted to baby boomers and Gen Xers, even millennials – or the lessons that came with those stories.
“I think the average kid sees it as old European history,” says Dara Solomon, executive director of the Toronto Holocaust Museum. “So if that’s the case, they probably do not understand that the formation of the State of Israel was because we needed a homeland because our people had been decimated. I don’t think they make the connection.”
If the Holocaust has made criticizing Israel challenging – or even unseemly – in the past, it’s becoming less of a factor as those events move further into history.
Ms. Burke at CIJA was conducting a training session for a city council group, including mayoral staff, in Ontario (she would not disclose the municipality) on Oct. 27 about antisemitism – not Israel. While discussing the Holocaust, Ms. Burke says, she was told by an attendee: “I cannot sit here and listen to the story that Jews are innocent and that Jews are oppressed.” That person left the meeting.
“I do believe that there is a before and an after that Oct. 7 marks that we didn’t necessarily sign up for – but that will be a part of our reality for many, many generations to come,” Ms. Burke says.
National Post: FIRST READING: The Canadian lawyers and professors signing petitions to 'contextualize' Hamas terror. More than 700, some of whom have had intense influence on Canadian public policy, have now put their names to a letter characterizing Hamas violence as 'Palestinian resistance'
“We reject the notion that it is antisemitic, hateful, or illegitimate to contextualize the October 7th, 2023 attack,” they wrote. The signees add that Israel is a racist state committing genocide, and that Canada is now facing a “new McCarthyism” targeting anyone espousing such sentiments.
Justin Ling: "It's Complicated" vs. "No It's Not" The Israel-Palestine conflict has exposed and exacerbated our inability to figure out tough problems.
To be clear, I don’t believe Israel’s campaign in Gaza constitutes genocide. But I do believe Israel has violated the humanitarian law and risks much graver violations if this war continues. At the same time, the threat posed by Hamas is clearly much more significant than the world had considered prior to now. Both of those truths require public pressure, government action, and Israeli reaction.
Figuring out how to amass public sentiment towards a humane and effective position, one that spares Gaza while rooting out Hamas, is one we must shuffle towards. We don’t need to all be saying the same thing, but we do need to figure out how to have that conversation without turning on each other.
I am very glad to see these antisemitism rallys:
Here is some recent news and opinion about the war itself:
It is possible that if Israel dismantles Hamas’s infrastructure and military capacity and demonstrates that terrorism is a dead end, a new peace process could begin in the Middle East. But a cease-fire that leaves Hamas in power and eager to strike Israel will make this harder, if not impossible. For decades, Hamas has undermined every serious attempt at peace by launching new attacks, including the October 7 massacre that seems to have been designed, at least in part, to disrupt progress toward normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli forces will probably not be able to destroy the entire tunnel network.
“It is just too big, and there’s no point in dismantling all of it,” said Dr. Bregman. Instead, they will focus on blocking the entrances to the tunnels, likely by calling in airstrikes, or having engineers destroy them with explosives.
They are also unlikely to take their fight underground — unless they believe they have no other choice.
I found two  lengthy tweets from Yoni Leviatan @songsofyoni, a musician from Tel Aviv, describing what is happening in the war:
Two predictions about this war that have not played out so far:
1. Everyone said a ground op into Gaza would greatly increase the casualties on both sides, but the opposite has happened – far less innocent Gazans have died from ground forces in the last few days than they did when the air force was busy preparing the battlefield. Most of the people dying now are Hamas. Just as important, far less @IDF soldiers have died than anyone expected, notwithstanding the tragic few we’ve already lost. They've also been able to safely evacuate 200,000 more Gazans from the northern strip – Gazans that Hamas was shooting at in order to get them to stay and die as human shields. The slow and steady strategy seems to be working well for everyone (except Hamas). Again, this is only true at this point, but the larger point is Americans forgot that Gaza isn’t Fallujah while Europeans forgot that Israelis aren’t blithering cowards. All of which goes to show why @Israel should continue to ignore the naysayers and stick to the business of eradicating Hamas, haters be damned.
2. Everyone said Israel would ruin its ties with the Arab world, but not a single friendly Arab country has chosen to do so. In fact, Saudi Arabia said it intends to continue pursuing relations with Israel. It also called for the hostages to be released at the Arab League/OIC summit this weekend. Additionally, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia all voted against a proposal that wanted to: cut ties, disrupt oil supplies to Israel and its allies, prevent the transfer of US equipment to Israel from bases in Arab countries, prevent flights to and from Israel using Arab countries’ air space, and form a joint mission to put pressure on Western nations for a ceasefire. Numerous Arab countries rejected all of that. Just as we should reject all of the NGOs, government quacks, armchair quarterbacks and keyboard commandos who don’t know the first thing about how to survive in the Middle East.
Just to expand on both points a little more after seeing some comments…
The reason IDF casualties have been lower than expected is because ground forces are mostly staying above ground. They haven’t gone chasing after Hamas into the tunnels and don’t seem like they will at this point unless they get specific intel about the hostages. Otherwise, the strategy has been to wait until Hamas comes above ground to challenge them.
This is where the IDF has some superiority now because it first cleared the area with munitions before turning over every stone with soldiers, and is fighting with combined forces like never before. Ground troops are able to call in whatever kind of airstrike they need within minutes as soon as they need one. Military officials say the coordination between the air, land and naval forces is unprecedented. What I meant by “Gaza isn’t Fallujah” is that even though they’re both instances of urban fighting, it’s still a different terrain and a different enemy, therefore it's not a 1:1 analogy.
It’s not so much the difference between US and Israeli forces (both are extremely capable) than it is the fact that Israel's been living next door to Hamas for decades and is very familiar with fighting them. It also has lots of real-time intelligence from numerous sources. We’ve had 44 casualties after 2.5 weeks of fighting. It’s still meaningful to Israelis as a small country, but it’s not the hundreds that were expected by this point. Of course, this can all change. Let’s hope it doesn’t.
As for the Arabs, the reason they haven’t issued anywhere near the amount of opposition as one would expect is because they don’t oppose what Israel is doing – they want it to finish the job. They need to put up some measure of protest publicly to satisfy their citizens, but those Arab governments who voted against that resolution consider Hamas a threat and Iran the biggest threat.
Israel needs to eliminate Hamas first and foremost for the future safety of its own citizens and to get the hostages back. But it also needs to re-establish its strategic deterrence and show its allies, including potential ones, that it’s a military partner they want on their side. This is not to say the Arabs don’t care about Palestinian suffering. They do. They just care about their own survival more. Which is why they’re not only glad Israel is getting rid of a peg in the axis of evil that targets them too, whether through Islamic fundamentalists at home or the larger Iranian threat in the region, they also respect that Israel is doing it fiercely and masterfully. That is how you win friends and influence people in the Middle East.
Today, Trudeau is taking heat for....supporting Israel too much: or for ....not supporting Israel enough:


Purple library guy said...

If a person covers a conflict, and everything or almost everything they say is true or merely quoting an opinion, but they consistently, almost solely, quote facts and opinions generated by one side of the conflict, is that news? Is it ethical?

So for instance, if you extensively describe ghoulish glee in Hamas forces, but do not mention that exactly such ghoulish glee has been a hallmark of the IDF and of West Bank settlers for decades, are you giving an accurate impression of the conflict?

If you give accurate accounts of terrible antisemitic incidents in North America, but ignore widespread firings of Canadians, including but not limited to journalists, of Palestinian or Arab descent, are you giving an accurate impression of the overall state of racism in the conflict?

If you make excuses for atrocities by one side--specifically, the occupying side, and more specifically, the side with by far the bigger body count--but ignore the context of atrocities by the other side, are you giving one side in effect a blank cheque for atrocity? And, are you in effect pretending the occupation does not exist? Because it sure looks like you're saying a few war crimes by Israel are okay or at least totally understandable as long as it's inconvenient for Israel NOT to commit war crimes. Nobody's trying to make such excuses for Hamas or the Palestinians, nor should they, but one would think sauce for the goose--if you're going to talk as if Palestinian violence just happens in a vacuum that has nothing to do with siege, hunger, bombings, imprisonment, then Israeli violence should equally be interpreted in a vacuum, with no excuses.

If you spend a great deal of time talking about hostages taken by Hamas, accurate news would spend equal time describing the hostages taken on an ongoing basis by the Israeli state--men, women and children imprisoned on a large scale, usually without charge, usually accompanied by torture. The more so since one of the explicit goals of Hamas is to trade their hostages for Israeli ones.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Accuracy is not good enough if you systematically leave out half the story. It becomes instead quite deceptive.

Cathie from Canada said...

I don't pretend to be a journalist. There are lots of places to read about the dismal and tragic history of Palestine and the mistakes Israel has made over the last century to screw up their own country and their relationships with their neighbours. But overall I will continue to support Israel over Palestine, and particularly over Hamas.
It was Hamas that started this war this time - they could end it by sending back their hostages or, likely by now, the bodies.

zoombats said...

"But overall I will continue to support Israel over Palestine, and particularly over Hamas". It's this kind of blind bullshit that the Israeli propagandists want to hear. People so shit scared to be labelled Antisemite they don't dare criticise the israeli murderous tribe. Wake up and smell the coffee and start to realise that you are being had. You don't listen because you don't want to hear it. Hamas is an unspeakable evil true enough but they pale by comparrison of the religous evil that is God's army of the chosen ones.

Cathie from Canada said...

I'm sad to read such an angry, negative opinion about Israel. They are not perfect, and under Netnatyu they have permitted too many of their anti-Palestinian racists to abuse without penalty. But Judaism itself is not evil.

Anonymous said...

The Israel-Hamas conflict involves ongoing tensions, with periods of intense violence. Issues include territorial disputes, Palestinian rights, and security concerns. International efforts aim for a two-state solution, but challenges persist. Public opinion varies, reflecting complex historical and geopolitical factors. The situation demands a nuanced understanding of the perspectives involved.

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Purple library guy said...

OK, that last response looked like ChatGPT on an outing or something, and talking about "The tribe of Israel" is bullshit on steroids.

But fundamentally, the situation in Palestine goes like this: The Palestinians were minding their own business when a bunch of people came along, massacred a lot of them, ethnically cleansed a bunch of them, then took over a lot of the land they ran to when they were ethnically cleansed, and have been abusing them ever since while denying most of them the vote. A normal ethical stance cannot overall support Israel over Palestine; Israel is the bully, Palestine the victim. Yes, Jews had themselves recently been victimized when their big push to take over Palestine happened--but not by Palestinians, or indeed by Muslims at all.

I put it to you that you generally support Israel over Palestine either because you were brought up that way and don't want to revisit the question, or because you are instinctively repelled by people who look dirty and beggarly and so prefer to identify with the spiffy, modern, prosperous looking people . . . who made the dirty beggarly ones look like beggars. So you avoid thinking about that last bit.

green-screen-remover said...

It is important to note that personal biases and stereotypes can influence perspectives on complex geopolitical issues. Constructive dialogue requires an open mind and a nuanced understanding of both sides. It's crucial to engage in informed discussions that promote empathy and understanding, fostering an environment where diverse viewpoints can be respectfully considered.