Extreme Moderates

Tzipi Livni framed the current conflict in Gaza during her address to the Knesset, “The world is divided between peace-loving moderates, and war-mongering extremists”.

On Saturday the moderates carried out a strike that left over 200 dead in less than 5 minutes. The body count is growing, we are past 300 Gazans killed, Saturday and today brought the first two Israeli civilian casualties. The peace-loving moderates vowed not to stop the overwhelming destruction until “the reality on the ground changes”.

Livni continued and said “We expect the world’s support for those who fight the free world’s struggle”. On this point all agree, Gaza is not part of the free world.

Dalia Itzik, the Knesset chairperson said “this is not a time for politics, we must stand behind the army”. Similar statements were heard across the political spectrum from left to right. Besides a Tel-Aviv minority, the only bitter cries of descent are coming from Palestinian-Israelis. The media has been quick to point it out, and the threat of this fifth column.

The pattern is familiar, the Israeli street is proud of the IDF’s potent use of force: The smart bombs, the effective intelligence gathering, and the cool-headed generals. A true Israeli moment. As Gideon Levy wrote “Operation Cast Lead, it will end with a Kleenex”. In a country where corruption and incompetence reign supreme in the halls of government, it’s citizens trust their future in the professional and war-hardened hands of the defense establishment. The IDF had some low-points, but it never stopped being a winning brand. What pride would we have left without it?

I voted for Labor in ’99, maybe I was foolish. In the last four years I have vowed not to vote for Labor many times, but here is another reason: The few Knesset seats that it will win in the general elections will have been procured with blood.

Extreme Moderates

20 thoughts on “Extreme Moderates

  1. Hi Eitan,

    I totally disagree with you. I feel like the extremest hammas government had every possibility to negotiate with Israel. Instead it decided to open a campaign of war and terror. You got to admit that the people of southern Israel have some have the basic right to live in peace.

  2. alien says:

    @nadav: The people who life in fear because of hamas have the right to defend thereself with commensurate means. Collective punishment and the arbitrary killing of people (terrorists, police and ordinary people) are no commensurate means, they are crimes against humanity or warcrimes. It is pretty straight forward, if all the options you consider include the extensive use of force you can not act morally, you have to suffer the pain and consider some new options. But this is not about moral or justice or the people in the south this is about campaigning. You should really consider to overthrow your goverment, they kill innocent people to gain some political advantage, people call that terrorismen everywhere outside israel.

  3. Tommi says:

    Israel is funny country. Not in any other country I have seen weekly gallups where it is measured that which political party is most and least corrupted, but in Israel this was done on weekly basis when I last time visited the country.

    And about those 200 dead in five minutes, yesterday UNRWA’s spokesperson gave statement saying that total body count was 322 from which “at least 57” were civilians, according to JPost.

  4. Dumarest says:

    @alien: “defend thereself with commensurate means” is what the IDF is trying to do, i.e. they’re trying to hit the Hamas terrorists, not the Gaza people. This is actually quite difficult for two reasons: 1. the Gaza strip is a densely populated area 2. the Hamas forces hide among the civilians using them as human shields. Nothing can be done about point 1., point 2. makes the Hamas organization carry a good deal of the responsibility for the civilian killings.

    So please don’t mix up collateral damages with war crimes: they’re not the same thing.

    1. Eitan says:

      Dumarest said: “So please don’t mix up collateral damages with war crimes: they’re not the same thing.”

      “collateral damage” has no standing in international law, it is a U.S. invention that legitimizes potential civilian casualties when carrying out a military objective. It is an extremely cynical term. It leaves the extent of the “reasonable” destruction and casualties up to the attackers.

      “collateral damage” is a term that fills in the gap between “lawful” military conduct and the limitations of weapons technology. Bombs are not smart, and there is no such thing as surgical strikes. Israel has determined that acceptable “collateral damage” in this operation is approximately one civilian killed for every one Hammas combatant killed. It is not acceptable, and it is not legal.

      Hammas is filling in a much larger gap, since their weapons and means are much more crude, and not as sophisticated as Israel’s. So when they fire rockets they render life unlivable in Israeli towns, by normal terms, and they accept the possible “collateral damage” of killing innocent children. This too is not legitimate, and further explains why the term has no place in international law or during armed conflict.

  5. Nadav said: “I feel like the extremest hammas government had every possibility to negotiate with Israel. Instead it decided to open a campaign of war and terror.”

    By that shallow standard, I feel like the extremist Israeli government had every possibility to negotiate with the Palestinians, but has instead decided to open a campaign of war and terror. Sad, isn’t it!

    Israel knows that this bombing campaign is futile; their stated goal is to impair Hamas’ ability to launch rockets into Israel… they know this will come at a tremendous price in civilian casualties, and that it will only feed the cycle of violence. But they cannot drag themselves into diplomacy; they don’t like the answers and solutions they find there, so it’s back to pointless violence.

    A diplomatic agreement, facilitated by the world community and agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians is the only way towards peace and security.

  6. Dumarest says:

    I’m not interested in semantic games (what would it change if it had “legal standing”? civilians were killed in wars since men could wield weapons), nor in emotional responses (is it “cinycal”? so what?), I just want to point out the difference between terrorism and war: if the Hamas send rockets on Israeli towns hoping to kill people, that’s terrorism; if the IDF try to take out terrorists and innocent people die because that’s inevitable at the conditions I described above, that’s war. Talking of “war crimes” on the Israeli part just makes no sense to me, unless you can prove that they intentionally kill civilians.

    The Hamas chose to hit with terrorism Israel, and now the consequences are here, even for their people: too bad they didn’t care.

    1. Eitan says:

      @Dumarest: With intention or without intention, the IDF managed to kill more children in the last 5 days than Hammas could ever hope to.
      The IDF, and Israeli public opinion, believe that those tragic consequences are acceptable. I beg to differ.

  7. Dumarest says:

    That’s an entirely different issue (i.e., than considering civilian victims war crimes altogether), and I’m myself uncertain about it: killing children to save your children sounds awful however you turn it around. I guess that’s just inevitable, at least until dreams of martyrdom to free all of Palestine and force jews to leave will fade away. Doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

  8. Gadi says:

    I just love this righteous talk.

    Every one saying Israel is using disproportional force. Many shout “Genocide”, “Natzis”.

    What is a proportional solution in your opinion?
    6500+ rockets have been launched into Israel in the past 8 years.
    Should Israel be proportional and fire back 6,500 missiles on civilians? I have the feeling such a response would be truly grave for the Palestinians..

    IDF surely has much more powerful bombs, capable pf creating “Genocide”. Yet we send our best men to sweep the streets of Gaza instead, risking their lives to find another booby-trapped school, another house filled with Grad rockets. This, I believe, IS proportionate.

    And speaking of a diplomatic solution – it worked very well with Hezbollah. They all let down their weapons and stopped stocking Kantyusha missiles. Why, they even stopped calling for the destruction of Israel.

  9. M. Bolton says:

    Thanks for your brave post.

    The first step towards the solution to this problem is entirely up to Israel. Give back the unlawfully occupied land, go back to the 1967 borders and open up negotiations. The Palestinian authorities would have to guarantee Israeli citizens’ safety in return. The Palestinians have repeatedly stated they’d accept such a solution, and it’s a big concession on their side.

    Israel has shut out this option and gone for a strategy of slowly encircling and exterminating the Palestinian people, turning Gaza into a ghetto without food, water and basic services. This situation breeds extremism, which is part of Israel’s strategy of legitimizing their indiscriminate attacks.

    Some of the other comments here make me pessimistic about a solution, though. Israelis, with the world’s 5th largest military force, may end up convincing themselves they have to eradicate the Palestinians completely, sealing their own fate as the western world’s power and ability to protect them fades.

  10. Anonymous says:

    M. Bolton,
    You’re sadly naive.

    At the Camp David Summit, the Palestinian people were offered over 90% of the West Bank and Arafat refused.

    You need to stop viewing all Jews as oppressors and all Palestinians as cuddly and innocent fur balls. Both sides have dirt on their hand, but if you’re incapable of distinguishing between the two then you’re simply an uneducated fool.

    Israel’s air force calls up buildings and warns civilians to leave before they bomb them. The Palestinian people have chosen to turn to terrorism and do not distinguish between children and soldiers.

    Your claim that Israel may “eradicate the Palestinians completely” is laughable, as much as the claim that United States may suddenly decide to enslave all Mexicans.

    Please, stop trying to spread ignorance and turn PR against Israel when you clearly don’t know the facts. If you’d like to have an intelligent conversation, I suggest you read the book “The Case for Israel” by the Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz. It’s always more fun to be uninformed, but you have no right to spread misinformation about Israeli policies that you probably only heard secondhand.

  11. M. Bolton says:


    1) I’m capable of distinguishing between Israelis and Palestinians. Although both peoples are predominantly semitic, the former have invaded and are occupying territory belonging to the latter by international law.

    2) I don’t think Palestinians are necessarily cute or, uh, furry (?). They’re fighting back with the limited means at their disposal.

    3) Your reply equates Israel with Jews. This is bound to make a lot of Jews (and Israelis) unhappy. You can be excused for that, as it’s part of Israel’s policy to confuse the two, and it’s been a very successful policy. However, it’s a policy that also fuels resentment towards innocent Jews worldwide.

    4) I’ll read “The Case for Israel” if you read “Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians” by Noam Chomsky. I still feel like you’re getting the better part of the deal, though 😉

  12. Anonymous says:

    M. Bolton,
    I love to read books by people I disagree, because they’re my only way of (in)validating my own views.

    I’ve heard several atrocious comments attributed to Chomsky, but I don’t think its fair to judge him without actually reading his writings. I’ll happily read “Fateful Triangle.”

    1. Is “international laws” a joke phrase that you spit out when confronted and _only_ when its convenient? Israel accepted the UN’s two-state solution and the Palestinians didn’t- they actually went so far as to promise the world that the Jews would be driven into the sea along with the UN’s proposal.

    2. “Weapons at their disposal?” Does that also apply to Al Queda on 9/11 or is that too close to home?

    3. Antisemitism and antizionism are usually two separate things. However, when you judge Palestinians and Israelis by different standards, then the distinction is blurred.

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