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As prisoners reach the breaking point, what will Israel do?

A fateful moment awaits as Israel is forced to choose how it will handle the Palestinian prisoner revolt.

In the next few days, something momentous will occur. A group of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for over 60 days will either be released from incarceration in Israeli prison without charge or trial, or they will likely die.

And it will not end there, either. Many more have followed them down this perilous road of life, death and principle. In fact, thousands more.

Two Palestinians—Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi—have already crossed the finish line, securing their release from prison—through deals cut with the Israeli government. Yet will Israel release any more, and in so doing, allow the military justice system, in place in the occupied territories for decades, to crumble?

Know their names. Bilal Diab. Thaer Halahleh. Hasan Safadi. Jafaar Izzedine. These men and thousands more men and women—prisoners with no rights—have usurped some of the power from their jailers and are challenging the system of imprisonment that has been used to subjugate Palestinians for nearly half a century.

Under the radar, Israeli leaders are scrambling for a way out. All types of measures have been used to break the will of hunger strikers, including excessive bouts of solitary confinement and psychological pressure aimed at weakening their resolve. The tactics have not worked. As thousands have joined the hunger strike movement it appears it has gone well beyond Israel’s ability to stop.

The future remains uncertain. Will the death of prisoners in Israel jails ignite the occupied territories or will they simply fizzle out? Although very little seems capable of mustering mainstream Palestinian society these days, the reaction to this eventuality is unpredictable. Prisoners are a decisive issue for Palestinians (read here). Moreover, as the peace process comes to an inglorious end, the status quo is increasingly fragile. The political and economic horizons for Palestinians are beginning to close once again. Times are changing.

LATE ADDITION:

One reader pointed out the connection to Bobby Sands and the IRA hunger strikes of the early 1980s. This connection was pointedly made during the 66-day hunger strike of Khader Adnan (coincidentally Sands would die of starvation on the 66th day of his own hunger strike). @RichardL also gave a link to a Guardian piece on the impact of the IRA hunger strikes, which ended in the deaths of 10 prisoners during Margaret Thatcher’s government and its impact.

The death of 10 men in the 1981 hunger strike was to prove a defining moment in the struggle between the Provisional IRA and the British government or, to be more precise, the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

The end of the strike after seven months was reported at the time as a victory for Thatcher’s fortitude. In fact, it proved to be the opposite. It boosted the ranks of the IRA, radicalised nationalist politics and can now be seen as the beginning of the process that led to Sinn Féin’s emergence as a vote-winning political party on either side of the disputed Irish border.

The article also discusses the English press’s coverage of the IRA hunger strikes. There is really little reason to discuss the Israeli press’s coverage of the hunger strike movement because it has been next to negligible. In the words of Haaretz columnist Akiva Eldar in an interview with me:

[Israelis] don’t give a shit. They think that they deserve it. And in the best case they should rot in a jail for the rest of their life. In the worst case they should be executed. And it is a waste of money to keep them there and to feed them.

This is the way they feel good with themselves. You see, most Israelis don’t really care about anything that is connected with Palestinians, or with ‘the other.’ They are so busy with their victimization, which they will never give up. So, prisoners are the victim of the occupation, victims of the violence, victims of the situation. But Israelis will never give up their right to be the victim. This is not only in regards to the prisoners, but to the occupation…

Yet the parallels to the IRA hunger strikes are remarkable. As the Guardian article notes:

But there was no genuine attempt to answer that question. Instead, the response was pitiless. “I will shed no tears when Sands dies,” wrote John Junor, then editor of the Sunday Express. “My only hope is that if and when he does every other IRA terrorist will go on the same sort of hunger strike in sympathy. And stay on it until they are all in wooden suits.”

As I reflect upon all this, I do it with the belief that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is steadily moving its way down a new path. The resolution of this conflict at the official levels of state, where they have worked to no avail for at least the last 20 years, is coming to an end. The people are once again taking action into their own hands. The hunger strike movement will do nothing for the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority. But it will be a lightening rod in the hands of those who wish to continue to rally those inside Palestine and around the world to their cause.

Read also:
Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: Hundreds join hunger strike
Randa Adnan, wife of hunger striker, discusses her husband’s struggle
Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: The numbers
Khader Adnan agrees to stop hunger strike in exchange for April release

 

 

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  • COMMENTS

    1. sh

      I believe this will be decisive. This is the third or fourth time in as many days that I wish things had not reached this stage.

      Reply to Comment
    2. caden

      Let them die.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Igor

      Unfortunately, it looks like nothing is going to be done. World media is totally silent about them. Google search brings some Facebook profiles and 972 articles, and that’s all.
      I really wish I’ll prove wrong, but until first death nobody will wake up. Media has more important issues to report – soccer and reality shows.

      Reply to Comment
    4. RichardL

      For once Israel was forced out of the driving seat. Whatever they would have done with Khader Adnan (other than do the moral and sensible thing by giving the prisoners their full rights) was going to trigger this confrontation. I think Caden is going to get his nefarious wish. People are going to starve to death here. And while the Israeli leaders will be as indifferent as Margaret Thatcher was to Bobby Sands’ campaign in 1980 they will be foolish if they do not learn the lessons from it, and fast. The West may ignore it (at first) but I don’t think the Arab world is going to, and that will be where the crunch will come.
       
      Regarding the current silence of the media, it is worth reading Roy Greenslade’s assessment 30 years on of the events in the Maze prison in 1980. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/17/ira-hunger-strike-fleet-street
      Greenslade told us that the British press had rubbished the protest up to and beyond the deaths of 10 strikers.
      “And then? And then there was silence. “I shall never give them political status,” Thatcher has said. “Never.” But papers averted their gaze as the government gave in to every demand: prisoners wore their own clothes within two weeks, prison work was eventually dropped, the men were allowed to associate freely, and they were given educational facilities.

      As I pointed out earlier, the strike was hugely influential outside the Maze. Again, the British people did not realise that, because their newspapers did not tell them. And many still do not grasp that fact today.”
       
      But then no Israeli politician is going to waste time reading mundane British political history.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Elisabeth

      Who would mourn Caden?

      Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      Caden, being such a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, knows that nothing will bring this issue into the light of world opinion like actual prisoner deaths.

      Reply to Comment
    7. @RichardL thanks for the link. I have made an addition to the piece in honor of your comment.

      Reply to Comment
    8. mark

      These poor prisoners are terrorists, there is a good reason they are locked up. If they choose a hunger strike, and they are offered food on a daily basis by Israel, then Israel has fulfilled there humanitarian duty.

      Inmates do not run the asylum, if they want to starve to death so be it. Releasing these people will lead to some of them murdering Israeli citizens so that is not going to happen.

      Reply to Comment
    9. palestinian

      @ Mark ,we are talking about 7000+ prisoners ,how many of them participated in killing Israelis ? define Israeli citizens ?in any “democratic” country even murderers have rights ,right ? Why few of them wanted to kill Israelis ..why not Chinese ?I would love how see how any people would react if they were occupied by a state like Israel …

      Reply to Comment
    10. caden

      Not feeling the love, Liz.

      Reply to Comment
    11. RichardL

      Caden, Babe. Ever wondered why?

      Reply to Comment
    12. RichardL

      @Omar Rahman:
      That is a good quote from Akiva Eldar, the truth of which seems to be exemplified by a couple of commentators here.
       
      The fact that Israel blinked on the first two cases shows that they are concerned about something – presumably their image overseas (and Roy Greenslade mentions the damage done to Britain in this respect). So they might decide the answer is to force feed them all. With the connivance of the Western media that should keep the lid on it, even if the odd one dies in this fashion. Right now Palestine’s answer to Bobby Sands (of whom the Palestinian prisoners are acutely aware, and Marwan Barghouti would fit this role admirably) would be a devastating blow to Israel’s image overseas.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Shlomo Krol

      I don’t think that it’s right to feel sympathy toward a prisoner simply for declaring a hunger strike. In order to make an opinion, we must know details about these people and not the mere fact that they are on hunger strike. For example, people would rather have sympathy to a human rights activist, jailed by a dictatorial regime, or to anti-corruption journalist, jailed by corrupt government, than to a terrorist or, let’s say, a child molester. Second: if the punishment is not proportional to a crime, people also would have sympathy to those in jail. For example, if somebody is sentenced to life imprisonment for having two grams of marijuana on pocket – we would have sympathy to this person, but if he was sentenced to five life imprisonment for assisting murder of five people – we would probably not sympathize them, even if they refuse to eat. Another factor is jail condition. We feel sympathy to those who are jailed in unhuman conditions, who find themselves in the Midnight Express. But if the jail condition are fair and correspond the norms of the humanitarian rules and allow a person, whoever he is, to save his human dignity – than we would probably not feel sympathy to their hunger strike. Finally, I don’t think that it’s a good argument: release them or they die and then Palestinians will start another intifada. I think, the Palestinians and the Israelis have learnt from their history, that they cannot intimidate or blackmail each other, that it never helps.

      Reply to Comment
    14. aristeides

      Prisoners have been force-fed at Gitmo, with scant repercussion, as the place has news blackouts in place.

      .
      Shlomo – the proper view of most of these prisoners is somewhere between POWs and political prisoners. When belligerents make peace, their respective prisoners are released. That’s how it goes.

      Reply to Comment
    15. sh

      “In order to make an opinion, we must know details about these people and not the mere fact that they are on hunger strike.”
      .
      Unfortunately administrative detention does not afford us this information as the prisoner does not have the right to a trial, the reasons for his or her incarceration being too confidential to be released.

      Reply to Comment
    16. It is not exactly difficult to commit a crime under martial law, as so many things are declared illegal. Demonstrations are illegal in the West Bank, so it is possible for the army to get someone sentenced to prison for standing in the street with a banner. In January this year, 17-year-old Amal Hamamdeh was taken before the military court on a charge of throwing water at a soldier. Last spring, Khaled Zawahre was famously arrested on charges of ‘participating in an unauthorised demonstration and disturbing a soldier on duty’, and given the rather arbitrary-sounding sentence of 101 days. (The ‘disturbance’ he caused was blocking an army vehicle that had arrived to quash the demo.) This type of thing explains the phenomenally high conviction rate in the military courts. It is not hard for a Palestinian to get locked up.
      .
      The use of administrative detention and the absence of an age of criminal responsibility (the IDF tried to arrest a two-year-old in Kufr Qaddoum a couple of weeks ago) are two of the best-known features of martial law, but there are many others. The people who call the prisoners ‘terrorists’ seem to be assuming that all these people have undergone a fair trial and been convicted a specific crime by people who actually have legal authority over them. The situation in the OPT does not match this picture.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Kolumn9

      This is what happens when you make short-sighted humanitarian exceptions to common sense policies. Had Khader Adnan not been released, none of this would be happening. Yep, I am suggesting that he should have been allowed to take his own life. There is decent food and they are not eating it, so they are choosing to die for PR purposes. It is their choice and probably the only realistic way to remove this as a tactic in the future.
      .

      It also might make sense in the future to adopt more Obama-style tactics in dealing with terrorists.

      Reply to Comment
    18. AYLA

      thank you, sh, who wrote: “Unfortunately administrative detention does not afford us this information as the prisoner does not have the right to a trial, the reasons for his or her incarceration being too confidential to be released.”
      *
      And Vicky, yes: sneeze and you could end up in an Israeli prison. Which does not mean that some have not committed violent crimes. But thanks to administrative detentions / lack of basic, due process, it is our moral obligation to suspect injustice. Those who suspect justice despite an unapologetic lack of a justice system should consider Anne Lammott’s reflection: “You know you’ve created God in your image when God hates all the same people you do.”
      *
      I’d only add that when a group of people are willing to give their life for their cause–and please note, haters: not taking your life; only their own; when people are willing to risk living with sustained brain damage and organ failure, we might want to consider that the effects of the occupation are more serious than they may seem to those living safely on the other side.

      Reply to Comment
    19. AYLA

      I misquoted Anne Lamott, who said, ““You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

      Reply to Comment
    20. I think Ayla’s comment (third paragraph, first comment) exactly right. Fasting is a social weapon, as Gandhi and more recently others have shown. It is a very difficult weapon to deploy, and that should make us ask why it is being deployed.
      .
      I wonder what Adnan is saying since his release. Omar has posted pictures of him speaking publically, but not content. I am prone to believe that such a fast can change both fastor and the social environment. I would like to know what Adnan advocates now, after his release.
      .
      It took a long time for (most) of the Northern Ireland conflict to be diverted into politics proper. The decision to create a political party wing of the IRA (or, rather, a party autonomous from the IRA) was not welcome to all within the IRA. Adams, head of the political party, won a seat in Parliament more than once; he refused to go for he would have had to swear loyalty to the Queen, as all MPs–and in any case the House of Commons stripped him of his seat upon election(s). Adams had to keep contact with violent operatives, else he would have been ineffectual ag shifting things. I happened to be in London when the “Real IRA,” a splinter group opposing a political settlement with the Protestant parties, became active (they, overall, were rather ineffectual; but if one of their attempted bombings had come off it could have killed many, on a heavily used traffic bridge). Adams said he would not condemn them outright “for if I did, they wouldn’t talk to me. Then where would we all be?” They did stand down, partly for being inept, but also because they found little real support at “home.” And that is a point worth remembering.
      .
      What is most important now is what those released do. If they advocate violence now they will destroy this newly minited weapon. But they must, for their own world, do something. That is real struggle, and it entails more than the struggle with Israel. Adnan’s challenge, possibly begun in despair and resignation, is far from over.
      .
      Gandhi fasted in part to convince his opponent of the veracity of his position. What is, now, Adnan’s position? I do think there is a good change that his self willed act may have shaped something new.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Last sentence, above, should read “good chance,” not “good change.” I have no idea how my fingers work anymore. Sorry.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Leen

      Murderers, Serial Killers and pedophiles are treated a thousand times better in Western democracies than a Palestinian in an Israeli jail.

      How’s Charles Manson being treated? Like a king compared to the Palestinians, whom a lot of them their biggest crime is throwing a stone in their youth.

      Reply to Comment
    23. aristeides

      People like Kolumn say such things because they are confident no one will ever kick in their door and drag them off to administrative detention without charges or trial. The Kolumns of the world hold their own lives as infinitely valuable, and the lives of Others as worthless.

      .
      Kolumn doubtless doesn’t think about Jews like Jacobo Timerman, who were abducted by the Israeli-supplied Argentinian military police state in just the same way that Israel seizes Palestinians. Most of them were not as lucky as Timerman – they died.

      .
      I assume that Kolumn is very happy that Argentina employed the common-sense policies of throwing Jews from aircraft into the sea to drown. He would doubtless have advised the junta to reject the short-sighted humanitarian impulse that led them to release Timerman, who then exposed the evil of their policies, and later those of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    24. the other joe

      Point of information: SF were not banned from the British Parliament but refused to take up their seats due to the need to make an oath to the British crown.
      .
      Coincidentally, their constituents were for a long time in the same situation as the residents of East Jerusalem – taxed but not represented.
      If anyone really cares about such things, this British parliamentary paper goes into excruciating detail: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-01667.pdf

      Reply to Comment
    25. AYLA

      @GregPollock–thank you for your insights and presence.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Kolumn9

      So many assumptions about people like me, some correct. It is true, my survival and that of my friends and family members are very important to me, which seems pretty reasonable. Another relatively reasonable expectation is that my government to do its utmost to defend us. Within that framework I really do put very little value on the lives and rights of terrorists and those working to cause me harm.
      .

      I am pretty confident that no one will kick in my door and take me into detention, though I am significantly less confident that I will not wind up stabbed to death or blown up by a suicide bombing. Between the government holding 300 of the ‘other’ in detention and a single suicide bombing in my city I prefer the detention laws. I am sure my preferences sound silly and unenlightened to some who would prefer to wait for the suicide bombing before launching an investigation or perhaps just pleading with the terrorists to stop. I sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those more enlightened than me.
      .

      I will point out though that from a cause and effect perspective the humanitarian compromise in the cases of the previous two hunger strikers has brought us to the point where thousands choose to pursue this path. In fact, I would argue that half the reason for the hunger strike is that the uncertainty of the Israeli reaction is what gives the hunger strike the publicity that its initiators crave.
      There are three logical conclusions from this. The first is that the compromises were obviously a mistake given the fact that they created a precedent and uncertainty as to the Israeli reaction, thus increasing coverage (the whole point of the exercise) and led to a worsening of the situation with no actual credit for being willing to make the humanitarian gesture. The second is that continued compromises on the matter make it even more likely that similar means will be even more commonly used in the future until the practice is somehow disincentivized. The third is that if in the future there will be no choice anyway but to actually make the hard decisions it is better to make them now and not be put into the same situation after having made a large precedent of compromising.
      .

      I am not even going to bother with the nonsensical historical comparison made above.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Joe, yes, you are right. I was indeed resident there for a bit of this, near the safe end. I asked what would happen if Adams took his seat. I was told, by academic eonomists, for what it’s worth, that he would be expelled by the Commons. The Commons, as the US House, determines its own sittings.
      .
      Kolumn9, yes the suicide bombings were horrific and they did happen. The IRA bombings were horrific and they did happen (see how a city block was almost leveled in London at one point). There is now a Northern Ireland government which has, as its Deputy PM, a known former IRA operative who switched to Adams’ party sometime before the settlement. If you ever want to end this you will have to risk. Just as the “Real IRA” tried to derail the talks (which took anyhow several more years) I think it quite probable that some group will try a bombing, suicide or otherwise. Anyone who doesn’t admit this is lying to you and maybe themsleves.
      .
      The only way to deactivate these networks in potential is to align Palestinians who do not want to return to those days, just as in the Northern Ireland case. Not all Palestinians are terrorits, Kolumn; you know this. By employing a global label you in fact provide more motivation for the support of violence. Rabin knew that to move forward towards a (now dead) solution he would have to absorb some violene; and he paid for that, no? If the occupation could remain indefinate as is I indeed can see some merit to your position. But I assure you, as things are heading there will be another blow up in deaths. I don’t know how, but I am pretty certain it will occur. The question boils down to this: can you, with real risk, treat you opponent as something different from an enemy. Can you believe many Palestinians want this too. You are in a unique social/competitive world. I do not have a solution, only a vague idea of possible paths. But, Kolumn, you are honest and you should be heard. There can be no new step without taking you into full account. Or so I think.
      .
      Ayla, I’m just an old guy sitting safely at home. You and others live this and don’t give up. But thanks. Like Kolumn, I too hope for efficacy.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Kolumn9

      Greg, the comparison is flawed. The IRA by policy called ahead to try to avoid civilian casualties rather than seeking them out. Targeting civilians was simply considered unacceptable by the Republicans and by their supporters. When Hamas and Islamic Jihad or for that matter Fatah start acting like the IRA and the majority of Palestinian society actually considers targeting civilians to be unacceptable let’s chat about your comparison.
      .

      The suicide bombings have stopped, primarily because the PA/Fateh really did line up to prevent them after understanding how much pain they caused to the Palestinians. That didn’t however happen because Israel compromised, but because it made the Palestinians pay very dearly. It would then appear that there is more than one way to stop suicide bombings. In any case, it really doesn’t matter that most Palestinians are not terrorists, what matters is that a significant minority are and the vast majority of the rest see their actions as eminently justifiable, even heroic.
      .

      No, I do not believe that currently many Palestinians are interested in resolving this dispute if it means achieving a state in WB&G while accepting conditions that would allow for the continued existence of Israel. As such I do not believe there is any chance at a negotiated settlement in the near future, nor do I see any point in taking risks to push toward such an unlikely scenario. Given that the Palestinians continue to have an ideology that supports terrorism, the existence of groups interested in carrying it out and the lack of a foreseeable resolution to the conflict, the only reasonable option is to maximize the ability of Israelis to sustain the conflict by minimizing its impact on the Israeli population.
      .

      I accept the premise that short of a massive departure of Arabs from the West Bank the occupation is probably not indefinitely sustainable, though it seems stable at the moment. However, even were the current status quo to eventually prove unsustainable, I believe that more sustainable situations can be established by Israel unilaterally and without a negotiated settlement which in any case I believe is impossible.
      .

      Also, it is pretty amazing how distorted the memory of Rabin’s ‘solution’ on the conflict has become these days. I realize that there was a lot of hope that he represented and his death has become a symbol of that lost hope. Nonetheless, the real Rabin was politically on the conflict at the end of his life roughly in the same place as Netanyahu is now. It is possible that personal trust between Rabin and Arafat could have meant that some gaps in the positions of the two sides could have been bridged, though it seems rather unlikely given how wide they were.

      Reply to Comment
    29. the other joe

      @Kolumn9 – with your shaky grasp of the history Irish armed struggle, I don’t know why you bother posting such drivel. The idea that the IRA (and the miriad of other armed paramilitary groups) avoided civilian casualties is rubbish. Go away and read something about the casualties and then come back here and talk.
      .
      And you’re wrong about the Palestinians. But then, given that you and others like you are unwilling to consider the removal of the settlements in the West Bank, we’re never going to know are we?

      Reply to Comment
    30. SHLOMO KROL

      Short google search cleared the things out alittle bit.
      First of all, all four mentioned in this article are held in administrative detention. They protest the orders of renewal of administrative detention of them. All of them are members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

      Islamic Jihad is not known as human rights organization, but rather as a terrorist organization. Membership, formal or informal, in a terrorist organization is a criminal offence in many countries.

      Administrative detention is authorized by the Geneva Convention. It is also fair to guess that security considerations of Israel do justify preventive detention or detaining people without trial when a trial could expose sensitive information, such as the names of informers or methods of gathering intelligence.

      There are however reasons to believe that Israel heavily abuses this tool. That it practices administrative detentions not only as a mean to prevent terrorism, but also as a punishment, deterrence, pressure or to use the detained persons as a bargaining chips. All this is obviously contrary to the international law, however, the very situation of secrecy and of denial of proper defence, as justified as it is, invites all sorts of violations and abuses.

      I personally have no sympathy for Islamic Jihad and for those on huger strike, I just see no reason to believe that they are struggling for human rights. They are members of murderous, fundamentalist, antiliberal illegitimate organization, which should be fought against.

      On the other hand, I believe that abuse of power by security services is intolerable, but I can’t imagine the mechanisms, which could prevent such abuse.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Kolumn9

      @TOJ, Yeah, I don’t really have to go away since I have read quite a bit about the IRA and conflict in Northern Ireland. You have no idea what you are talking about. By the late 1970s by policy and explicitly the IRA avoided civilian casualties and condemned the deaths of civilians whenever they took place. Even before that the IRA called in warnings before setting them bombs. One can contrast that with the actions of every major Palestinian terrorist group that has attempted to kill as many civilians as possible, with support from their religious leaders and financial support for the families of suicide bombers by the Palestinian Authority.
      .

      Where am I wrong about the Palestinians? The support for killing Israeli civilians? I can point you to polls. The lack of support for any solution under conditions that allow the existence of Israel? I can point you to polls there as well. That the Palestinians ended the suicide bombings because the Israeli reactions were too damaging to the Palestinians? Their leaders say this openly.
      .

      You are also quite wrong about my position on settlements. I don’t think there is anything wrong about them, but would be willing to consider evacuating many of them for peace. But until I see a shift in Palestinian attitudes that makes peace possible I see few reasons to even talk about it except where it might be unilaterally beneficial for Israel from a sustainability point of view.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Kolumn,
      .
      In the UK, the IRA’s advance warnings, which did not always occur, where thought hypocritical, a way “for them to feel good about themselves.” Nor is one assured that the preperation of the bomber will come off on schedule.
      .
      But I find something else to note. I was, in fact, in Tel Aviv, talking with a rather well known Israeli game theorist at the University there, in 96. Everytime we met we talked about the conflict, “my cup of tea,” he would say, my obsession. He said to me there “look at Northern Ireland. That conflict has been going on for over one hundred years. It will never stop. Nor will ours.” But it did stop, save for a few burps even today. It did stop. Since it did, there has to be something differentiating Northern Ireland from Palestine/Israel. If it hadn’t stopped, well, would you not be saying “look at Northern Ireland, in Europe, yet the conflict is over a century old…”
      .
      Our minds are made up, I guess. Both of us can say we fight for a better world for coming children.
      .
      Finally, that the bombings stopped does not necessarily explain why they have not started again. I do indeed think the occupation a major factor in that. But I am willing to consider the possibility that Palestinian society itself might be a factor. Which is why I ask Omar: what exactly is Adnan saying publically since his release? It won’t be hugs for Israel. But what exactly is he saying?

      Reply to Comment
    33. Kolumn9

      Greg, the fact is that the IRA did try to prevent civilian casualties. There was no communal support for killing British civilians and the IRA had to condemn or find excuses when it happened. This is angelic behavior compared to the Palestinian organizations that sought to maximize the deaths of civilians and a society where roughly half (48%) of the population CONTINUES to support attacks on civilians in Israel.
      .

      I admit that regardless of the actual resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland I would be able to either argue that it continues or that it is only resolved because it is different. That just demonstrates that making historical comparisons to completely different situations isn’t very helpful.
      .

      Adnan is/was a spokesman for Islamic Jihad. The fundamental position of Islamic Jihad is that there is no possible justification for Jews having any sovereignty over what was once Muslim lands or for having control over Muslims. Going on a hunger strike for 60 days isn’t going to change his overall goals vis-a-vis Israel. I don’t know why you place such importance on his pronouncements.

      Reply to Comment
    34. the other joe

      @Kolumn9 – for your education:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_Day_bombing
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Manchester_bombing
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_pub_bombings
      .
      Civilians were the target. The only reason why the bombings stopped in Northern Ireland was that all parties were convinced that their concerns would be brought to the table and discussed as part of the peace plan. Nobody was excluded for being terrorists, those in prison were released, the walls were removed and the peace very largely held. The violence stopped because everyone realised it wasn’t actually advancing anyone’s cause.
      .
      Clearly that point has not been reached inside Israel, which repeats to itself the myth of redemptive violence. Palestinian armed groups are left thinking that they have to respond to show that they’re not ‘weak’ or lacking in masculinity even when they are facing an overpowering enemy. Hence the violence never stops.
      .
      The keys to peace are entirely in the hands of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    35. RichardL

      Kolumn, the fact is that civilians were killed and injured by the IRA and the bombings continued. Were they just stupid Paddies trying to perfect their warnings or were they calculating killers not concerned about the civilian casualties? The latter seems more likely.
       
      By the why are you only talking about Irish and Palestinians? The elephant in the room is the terrorist state of Israel. The list is impressive: DIME, flechettes (the sophisticated terrorist’s nail bomb), nerve gas, white phosphorus, starvation, torture, summary execution or prisoners, mass executions of rounded up civilians, communal punishments, depleted uranium, poisoning of water sources, targeted assassinations (not just Arabs either)…well that should do to tide us over. And in case you have not noticed the casualties from Israeli terror exceed by a considerable margin those killed by Palestinians. ‘Course I don’t know what percentage of the Israeli society (at least the Jewish part of it) supports the attacks on civilians, whether on the high seas or in Palestine or in Bahrain or wherever. Perhaps you would care to furnish us with that statistic?
       
      And I don’t buy your dismissal of the comparison of hunger striking in Ireland vis-à-vis Israel. Fact is two hunger strikers were released by Israel. Anyone who declares this was a humanitarian gesture either has a vested interest in saying so, or they do not know what they are talking about. Israel does not do humanitarian gestures (other than for PR purposes such as in Haiti after the earthquake). So why were they released, especially when it was obvious that it would provoke further hunger strikes? Presumably because the consequences of letting them die was a worst scenario for the Israeli rulers. And that is exactly the lesson that Bobby Sands and his fellow martyrs taught Margaret Thatcher. If we don’t learn the lessons of history we are condemned to perpetuating the same errors. It’s your call, suckers.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Kolumn9

      @TOJ, For your education in every case you listed the IRA insisted that it was targeting soldiers, faced condemnation from within its own public and apologized for the deaths of civilians. Would you like to compare this with the treatment of suicide bombers in Palestinian society? The reason the bombings stopped was because the IRA became convinced that it could not win. British soldiers still patrol Northern Ireland. The Orange order conducts its marches. Northern Ireland is still a part of the United Kingdom. The IRA compromised massively or lost entirely depending on one’s point of view. Everything else is a face-saving exercise.
      .

      I repeat. When Fatah and Hamas get to the point that the IRA they will find Israel generous. Until then there is no point in having a conversation with political groups that continue to believe that murdering your civilians is a legitimate act of protest.
      .

      @RichardL, whichever the IRA were they themselves opposed targeting civilians and were facing a public that condemned attacks against civilians.
      .

      Most of your anti-Israeli accusations are fiction that has no basis in reality. Israel by explicit policy does not target civilians, nor is there public support in Israel for attacking civilians. You will find not a single legal political party that would support the targeting of Palestinian civilians. Would you like to show me a poll or anything else that would prove otherwise?
      .

      There are certainly Israelis that make humanitarian arguments and sometimes they are accepted by the powers that be and sometimes not. Arguing that Israel is monolithic on an Israeli site where many writers agree with you is somewhat problematic. The hunger strikers were released because there are some Israelis that for political purposes prefer framing these issues in isolation on individual or humanitarian grounds while avoiding looking at wider consequences on government policy.
      .

      You have a logical fallacy by claiming that you are certain that the wasn’t a humanitarian gesture because as you argue Israel a priori isn’t capable of humanitarian gestures. I believe your fallacy is this one: http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/genetic

      Reply to Comment
    37. the other joe

      @Kolumn9, I have never said that violence is an acceptable response to anything, so I suggest you take that back. I have lived through the changes in Northern Ireland, clearly you have not.

      Reply to Comment
    38. RichardL

      Kolumn: you are long on denials and short on citations to back it up. In the IRA’s case action spoke a lot louder than words. Targeting civilians or reckless with civilian life, what’s the difference? In Enniskillen they were prepared to accept a few loyalist civilian deaths in order to kill members of the Ulster Defence Regiment on Remembrance Sunday. In the event they managed to kill eleven civilians and no soldiers. (Another bomb in Tullyhommon on the same day failed to go off.) No apology was given; instead the IRA to lie their way out, rather like the IDF with the use of white phosphorus in Gaza for example. I will leave you to analyse that. Amateur psychiatry is not a strong interest of mine. Brings back memories of a pompous Israeli soldier in Hebron asking me what colour my bedroom was. Half a day of lectures probably and he was ready to try out his new found expertise on me. Now here’s Kolumn trying to put me in another box. And your training in psychiatry is?
       
      Funny thing about this humanitarian theory on the prisoner release is that inconvenient facts keep getting in the way. Try this article in yesterday’s English edition of Haaretz for example. http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/israel-should-reduce-use-of-administrative-detentions-for-palestinians-top-official-says-1.428118 The Public Security Minister declares that use administrative detention should be reduced to a minimum. He has also held two sessions to discuss hunger strikes, the second with representatives from the Defence Ministry, the Justice Ministry, IDF, Shin Bet, and the prison service. Then the chief of the prison service holds a meeting with prisoners including Marwan Barghouti in which he discussed what demands would bring about an end to the strike. Meanwhile Dangot, the Coordinator of the Occupation in the West Bank objects to the lifting of the Shalit sanctions. So obviously this possibility has been discussed with him too. I presume you would have us believe that all this amounts to humanitarian concerns on the part of Israel. Of course it is pure coincidence that these initiatives are taking place when Foreign Ministry officials are concerned that several European states along with the UN envoy to the Middle East might start filing protests soon. And still you tell us there are no parallels with Bobby Sands.
       
      You say that “MOST of your anti-Israeli accusations are fiction that has no basis in reality” [my emphasis]. So which Israeli terrorist activities do you acknowledge to be true? And yes I would like to see some poll results. How about what percentage of Israelis wanted to sink the Mavi Marmara on the high seas for example? BTW do you happen to know how many Israelis used to go and watch (and cheer) the aerial bombardments that were part of Operation Cast Lead?

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