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Israel's Left forgot what dissent really means

Dissent means going against the majority when you believe the majority is wrong — and not just to be contrary. That means being unpopular almost by definition; the majority will never send us flowers.

Israel police arrest a left-wing protester during a demonstration against settlement in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. (File photo by Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Israel police arrest a left-wing protester during a demonstration against settlement in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. (File photo by Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

My colleague Mairav Zonszein has written an eloquent piece in The New York Times decrying the state of dissent in Israel, lamenting the persecutions and constraints on those who criticized the latest Gaza war from the left. She points to a number of disgraceful examples.

The article has generated debate, as observed here. However, much of it breaks down along disappointingly predictable lines: those further to the right, such as Tablet Magazine, attack her observations; those on the far left, like Mondoweiss, defend her. The Right rolls out the knee-jerk defense of everything Israeli: lumping the falsehood of the accusation that Israel stifles dissent right along with the falsehood of any culpability for Israel in the conflict at all.

The Left jumps to affirm any critique of Israel, as packaging all criticism together will serve the mission of proving Israel’s culpability in the conflict.

But freedom of expression is a separate issue, and Israelis should analyze it substantively, not as an automatic extension of their “left” or “right”-ness.

Read Mairav’s response to the criticism

No, Israel is not China, not Iran, and not even Azerbaijan. But the Right should take no comfort in that; the Right must not use such unsavory comparisons to justify or trivialize those terrible things that did happen.

But I think some on the Left have mis-characterized these real issues in a distracting way. If Israel was a society that completely controlled or stifled expression, censoring or shutting down websites, closing newspapers or arresting journalists, it would crush both criticism of and information about the conflict. There might be no protest against Israeli policy at all. Although existing criticism has not ended the occupation so far – at least we know that there is a vocal, organized and articulate community of Israelis searching for ways to change course.

Thus a left winger like Noah Efron, looking at it from a very sober perspective, pointed out in Haaretz that Israel is clearly not smothering dissent in ways described above.

But then, that’s the point: I watched, heard and read all these things. The criticisms reached me. The criticisms of the criticisms reached me. Discussion of the criticism and of the criticisms of the criticisms reached me.

Jumping to the convenient accusation that Israel as a state conspires to silence dissent, Efron argues in a point I take to heart, ignores the fact that anger against the Left during the war came largely from regular people. It’s an easy deflection of self-criticism: maybe the Left should think about why it has failed to make its case more convincingly about what’s wrong with Israeli policy.

Here are a few more problems. Citing the incident of violence at a demonstration ignores numerous other examples that I believe were more common.  After that one demonstration, the next week police were out in force, in a tight ring around several dozen frenzied right-wing counter-protestors who were jumping and screaming awful things across the street from the larger anti-war group. The riot police gave no quarter: they stood inches away from the right wingers and when one broke ranks and tried to cross the street, I watched three of them unceremoniously muscle him back far behind the lines with an aggression that I did not enjoy witnessing; but as a dissenter, I certainly felt protected. I see little value in neglecting this side of the situation, which recurred at several other demos I attended and were more of the norm.

Left-wing activists take part in a protest against the war on Gaza, in central Tel Aviv, July 19, 2014. Right-wing activists tried to attack the leftists during the protest; police arrested at least five right-wing protesters. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Left-wing activists take part in a protest against the war on Gaza, in central Tel Aviv, July 19, 2014. Right-wing activists tried to attack the leftists during the protest; police arrested at least five right-wing protesters. (Photo by Activestills.org)

My memory goes back to the second Intifada, those horrible days of shaking from suicide bombings by day and dreaming at night about what Israeli forces might or might not be doing in Jenin – waking in sweat and panic and tears.

I sought out demonstrations then too. They were silent, sad and small. I remember a few dozen people, not thousands or even hundreds, as during the recent war. Right wingers apparently didn’t feel much of a need to hold counter-protests, so silent and ineffective, or self-censored, was the pro-peace voice back then.

That silence stretched from 2000 to 2009 – practically a lost decade. Then Cast Lead happened and something snapped. Suddenly people were finding each other – groups, not individuals, ideas, initiatives. We started +972 Magazine because numerous people wanted to speak out with greater force and passion and (god help us) for no pay. The alarmism in Israel this summer about silencing dissent shows short memory of a deeper kind of silence in the recent past. In some ways, the anger shows the Left is more active and energetic and vocal than back then.

What is very worrying are reports that Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel have had jobs or positions threatened or lost due to political positions they have expressed. Mairav’s piece doesn’t mention this part, but the problem actually belongs to a long history of systemic discrimination against Arabs, finding new manifestations. Neglecting this problem in favor of the distasteful pushback against Jewish dissenters actually minimizes the real problem of intolerable inequality between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Real, state-sponsored limits on freedom of expression in fact have started by targeting Arabs. I speak of legislation such as the Nakba law. Together with the boycott law and the NGO law, these are truly dangerous systems established through state authorities, quietly, through boring technicalities easily dismissed in the general public. Call them the banality of eroding freedoms and they are in my opinion far more dangerous than a few frenzied thugs, precisely because they are forgettable.

Lamenting extreme incidents of individuals diverts attention from the more dangerous, far more permanent mechanisms that have been under construction for two years already.

Those laws are a dangerous harbinger, but still they haven’t yet truly stopped most of us from expressing opinions freely.

Beyond the law, what about the generally hateful, hard-line social environment? Don’t these constrain the Left through subtle social pressure, arguments with family and friends, angry messages on social media, quiet rejection? Possibly.

But what is dissent? It is going against the majority when you believe the majority is wrong (not just to be contrary). That means being unpopular almost by definition; the majority will never send us flowers.

If that’s enough to intimidate and silence you, well, maybe you’re just not up to the task. If we really believe what we say, we need to face the fire. My heroes are those who fought for their beliefs even at great personal cost, and they weren’t silenced.

I’m no hero –I prefer to avoid jail, and I don’t even want to lose friends or family, in the worst way. I cried one week during the war when three different friends were angry at me for my political beliefs. But there’s value in that too: it forces me to check myself and say, I’m paying a painful price for these beliefs – do I still stand by them? Could I be wrong? Sometimes I wish I was with the majority; it would be easier.

But if we test those beliefs and emerge standing by them, by god I’m willing to sacrifice some peace of mind for a greater peace.

We make the majority angry because we insist on self-criticism as much as, or more than, criticizing the so-called enemy. Most people would rather be proud.

I’d rather be proud too. But until that day, I’ll content myself with being tough. Left wingers in Israel should maximize the legal space Israel does by and large (still) leave for dissent, and suffer the social stigma of opposing occupation – with pride.

Related:
Silencing dissent in Israel – continued
Israel’s other war: Silencing Palestinian citizens

‘Unprecedented’ violence stalks anti-war demos across Israel

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    COMMENTS

    1. Victor Arajs

      No, Israel is not China, not Iran, and not even Azerbaijan… it is far worse

      Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        To its own citizens (even if they’re Muslim Arabs), which is what this article is about?

        I think not.

        To Palestinians in the occupied territories? Maybe.

        Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “No, Israel is not China, not Iran, and not even Azerbaijan… it is far worse”

        You are not an authority to decide what we are Victor. You should be apologizing to us for your infamous relative’s sins against us in WW2. This was him. And you have the temerity to try and judge us, you shitty little man?

        “Viktors Arājs (13 January 1910 – 13 January 1988) was a Latvian collaborator and Nazi SS officer, who took part in the Holocaust during the German occupation of Latvia and Belarus (then called White Russia or White Ruthenia) as the leader of the Arājs Kommando. The Arajs Kommando murdered about half of Latvia’s Jews.[1]”

        Reply to Comment
    2. Richard

      Odd piece from a writer who recently helped prop up BDS ideology and justified bizarre notions of collective Jewish guilt with an article titled “All Israelis are implicated in the occupation.” Its nice that someone here understands Mairav is wrong, but trying to boycott Israelis and deny them the opportunity to speak outside of their tiny country is, actually, censorship and suppression of dissent. It isn’t enough to recognize that the right isn’t muzzling you. Honesty requires acknowledging that muzzling is really the leftist strategy.

      Reply to Comment
      • Chaia B.

        Richard, please document. I find people confuse support of BDSers right to express themselves with support of BDS itself. Not the same thing.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard

          I only pointed out that BDS is trying to muzzle people. I didn’t argue they were succeeding. My point doesn’t requiring documenting anything.

          Reply to Comment
        • Chaia: “I find people confuse support of BDSers right to express themselves with support of BDS itself. Not the same thing.”

          Exactly right, I think.

          Reply to Comment
    3. bir

      As Richard points out, supporters of BDS who complain about stifling of dissent are purposely dissembling and deflecting attention.

      Anyway, being stubborn because you are in the minority is nice, but it doesn’t mean your views are right. It just means you have views. In your case and in the case of most 972 writers, your views are rejected even by most left-wing Israeli Jews.

      Instead of asking yourself how it came to pass that more and more people have been convinced by events to reject your views, you seem to prefer to cover your eyes, plug your nose, plug your ears and yell “I’m right, I’m right, I’m right.” Maybe you are but chances are you’re not. As of a couple of days ago, for example, any argument that there is somebody with whom to speak on the other side is gone thanks to Abbas’s UN performance. So what are you going to argue now? That Israel needs to unilaterally pull out and get a Gaza in a much bigger territory or give any descendants of Palestinians the right to live inside Israel and end up with another Arab country? Great plan.

      Reply to Comment
      • Anon

        Wait, so you believe that Israel wants nothing more than to make peace with the Palestinians, but the Palestinians just haven’t been viable “peace partners”? What a joke.

        You also seem to believe that if one does not hold mainstream views, “chances are” he/she is wrong. I’m not sure how you made that logical leap.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          “Wait, so you believe that Israel wants nothing more than to make peace with the Palestinians, but the Palestinians just haven’t been viable “peace partners”? What a joke.”

          A joke? Please explain what the joke is. I welcome the opportunity to educate you.

          “You also seem to believe that if one does not hold mainstream views, “chances are” he/she is wrong. I’m not sure how you made that logical leap.”

          Uh, no. That’s taking what I wrote out of context and giving it a new meaning. I’m specifically speaking about this conflict, as the paragraphs preceding the comment and the sentences following it demonstrate clearly. As Dahlia knows, since I’m speaking to her, what I’m referring to are the changes undergone by the Israeli public over the past 14 years in particular and probably even in the past 2-3 decades.

          Do me a favor, Anon. If you’re going to challenge me, try to do it with some sophistication. Thanks.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Oh, please, you’re not educating anyone. And you’re indoctrinating only the already fanatic. Get over yourself. You pose as if this is a true discussion. That’s the joke.

            Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Presumably that’s why you care enough to respond?

            Reply to Comment
    4. Philos

      Dahlia, you’re forgetting Anat Kamm, the persecution of Uri Blau and Eishton, and the way Channel 10 was unceremoniously blackmailed into obedience by the PMO. Throw into the mix the oligopolistic ownership structure of the media with the cultivated intolerance of dissent, and, quite frankly, the situation is dire

      Reply to Comment
    5. Gustav

      “The Right rolls out the knee-jerk defense of everything Israeli”

      Just the right? I don’t think Amos Oz can be described as a right winger, can he? Yet this is what he said in an interview:

      “Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusal way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

      Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

      Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

      Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

      With these two questions I pass the interview to you.”

      Reply to Comment
    6. Josh

      What Amos Oz and our rightwinger, who claims to be Israeli, but goes by the Grman name of “Gustav”, didn’t mention is that the neighbour on the balcony lived in your house, but you kicked him out deades ago andf treatd him like shit ever since. You brick up his doors, fence his balcony, sometimes shoot him if he stands there, don’t let him go out to work or shopping, deny him everything destroy his dignity, once in a while raid his flat and destroy his furniture, kill his other child while hoping he would disappear totally, so that you can have his flat too, cause some white-bearded freak in a burning bush once told you that only you has the right to live in these building. At least your favourite fiction comic says so.
      How dare of this neighbour you peaceful folk, who forget that you self were mobbed big time by a ugly retarded neighbour once.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Hey Josh

        Don’t take it so bad, calm down, I am just the messenger. Don’t fight this poor “German” boy (me?). Take up your fight with Amos Oz. He is a famous lefty, in fact world renown author of considerable prestige. Yet he agrees with the likes of me about Gaza. Go figure …

        Wanna take up your fight with him? I think he might inform you that the evil that was done didn’t just come from us, your Arab friends were not innocent babes in the wood. He might also remind you that well before this occupation and settlements BS, in fact even before Israel existed Arabs murdered Palestinian Jews whenever they could. But I guess you would not be interested in such minor details would you Josh?

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          Oops. But you edited out this from OZ (I guess you forgot):

          OZ: My suggestion is to approach Abu Mazen and to accept the terms – which the whole world knows – for a two-state-solution and coexistence between Israel and the West Bank: Two capitals in Jerusalem, a mutually agreed territorial modification, removal of most of the Jewish settlements from the West Bank.

          When Ramallah and Nablus on the West Bank live on in prosperity and freedom, I believe that the people in Gaza will sooner or later do to Hamas what the people of Romania did to Ceausescu. I do not know how long it will take, but it is destined to happen – simply because the people in Gaza will be very jealous of the freedom and prosperity enjoyed by their brothers and sisters on the West Bank in the state of Palestine. This in my view is the solution, although this solution cannot be implemented in 24 hours or 48 hours.

          DEUTSCHE WELLE: Can you imagine a Palestinian state that is not hostile toward Israel?

          OZ: Absolutely. I believe the majority of the Palestinians are not in love with Israel, but they do accept with clenched teeth that the Israeli Jews are not going anywhere, just like the majority of Israeli Jews – unhappily and with clenched teeth – accept that the Palestinians are here to stay. This is a basis not for a honeymoon, but perhaps for a fair divorce just like the case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

          Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        It is odd that you would think that Gustav is only a German name when its origins are probably from a Norse name. Sweden has only had 6 kings named Gustav. You will find Scandinavian, Dutch, English, Portuguese, French, Italian, Czech, Polish, Latvian, Irish, Scottish, and Hungarian Gustavs or variants thereof.

        You are also wrong about the Palestinian neighbor. In 1947 the Jewish neighbor who lived across the street from the Palestinian neighbor offered the Palestinian neighbor peace. The Jewish neighbor offered to live in peace with two states for two people. The Palestinian responded with deadly attacks against his neighbor the very day after the partition plan was approved by the United Nations. When the Jewish neighbor defended himself, the Palestinian neighbor ran away. Now Palestinians fight from behind their children and call their dead children martyrs.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Pedro X

      Oz in the interview with DW reflected the majority opinion, right and left, which is hardly a knee jerk reaction:

      DW: There seems to be a problem here. The tunnels are an elaborate system and difficult to find. The entries are hidden in public and private buildings, so you would have to do house-to-house searches – which implies a civilian toll. The same applies to destroying rocket launchers in civilian areas…

      OZ: Well, I am afraid that there can be no way in the world to avoid civilian casualties among the Palestinians as long as the neighbor puts his child on the lap while shooting into your nursery.

      Leftist OZ also recognizes the nature of Hamas:

      DW: You have been talking about a long-term solution. But what could a short-term agreement look like?

      Oz: The present hostilities will only stop, unfortunately, when one of the parties or both of them are exhausted. This morning I read very carefully the charter of Hamas. It says that the Prophet commands every Muslim to kill every Jew everywhere in the world. It quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion [anti-Semitic diatribe – the ed.] and says that the Jews controlled the world through the League of Nations and through the United Nations, that the Jews caused the two world wars and that the entire world is controlled by Jewish money. So I hardly see a prospect for a compromise between Israel and Hamas. I have been a man of compromise all my life. But even a man of compromise cannot approach Hamas and say: ‘Maybe we meet halfway and Israel only exists on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.’

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        The fact that he mentions Hamas’ charter makes me not take him seriously.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          Haha. You “don’t take him seriously.”

          Too funny.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            The only people in the world who take Hamas’ charter seriously are the Zionists. Why should we give his word any worth? What kind of leftist mouths the refuted talking points of the enemy?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            Emergency operator Ray ‘whatshisname’ answers a call:

            Ray: This is 911 whasup’? … hick …

            Panicky voice: Help my neighbor is at the front door and is trying to break down the door.

            Ray: What does he want?

            Panicky voice: He says he is gonna kill me.

            Ray: Why would he want to do that?

            Panicky voice: He says that my house is his and I just stole it from him.

            Ray: Well then, he has the right to claim his property.

            Panicky voice: But it isn’t his property he just says it is.

            Ray: But if he says it is, then it must be his.

            Panicky voice: Why? This house has been in my family for generations and I came back and restored it after it was deserted and neglected for many years.

            Ray: Not interested. It is his and that’s it … hick ..

            Panicky voice: Help he is breaking down the door.

            Ray: So what?

            Panicky voice: He is going to kill me.

            Ray: How do you know?

            Panicky voice: He yells it at the top of his voice and he nailed a written manifesto on his door declaring that he will do me in, the first chance he gets.

            Ray: There you are, he can’t really mean it. It must be a joke … hick ..

            Panicky voice: But he attacked me before and the only reason I am not dead was because I managed to defend myself.

            Ray: What did you do?

            Panicky voice: I shot and wounded him.

            Ray: [yelling beside himself] you shot him??! How dare you? That was a disproportional response.

            Panicky voice: [now angry] well then guess what, bud, I am going to shoot him again. I still have a gun.

            Ray: How dare you. You are the worst kind of criminal, you scum!!!

            Shot is heard. Then silence then the phone goes dead …

            Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Oops. But you edited out this from Oz (I guess you forgot) which cast things in very different light than the obsessive message you hammer and with which you want hypnotize people, like “Hamas = Isis, Hamas….”:

        OZ: My suggestion is to approach Abu Mazen and to accept the terms – which the whole world knows – for a two-state-solution and coexistence between Israel and the West Bank: Two capitals in Jerusalem, a mutually agreed territorial modification, removal of most of the Jewish settlements from the West Bank.

        When Ramallah and Nablus on the West Bank live on in prosperity and freedom, I believe that the people in Gaza will sooner or later do to Hamas what the people of Romania did to Ceausescu. I do not know how long it will take, but it is destined to happen – simply because the people in Gaza will be very jealous of the freedom and prosperity enjoyed by their brothers and sisters on the West Bank in the state of Palestine. This in my view is the solution, although this solution cannot be implemented in 24 hours or 48 hours.

        DEUTSCHE WELLE: Can you imagine a Palestinian state that is not hostile toward Israel?

        OZ: Absolutely. I believe the majority of the Palestinians are not in love with Israel, but they do accept with clenched teeth that the Israeli Jews are not going anywhere, just like the majority of Israeli Jews – unhappily and with clenched teeth – accept that the Palestinians are here to stay. This is a basis not for a honeymoon, but perhaps for a fair divorce just like the case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Gustav

      “The fact that he mentions Hamas’ charter makes me not take him seriously.”

      Are you serious? Hamas clearly lay out their intentions in their charter. And you don’t take them at their own word?

      What would convince you then? God’s own voice in conjunction with thunder and lightning?

      Oops, I forgot, you are probably an atheist and you wouldn’t believe God himself even if he would speak to you directly.

      I mean, seriously, Ray. What do you think the purpose of Hamas’s charter is? Is it just a set of jokes which we should all ignore?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Brian

      From Haaretz (the indispensable, Israeli, Haaretz):

      One after the other, the masks are being torn off. Netanyahu is not (and apparently never was) aiming for a two-state solution; his actions prove it. And the world, including the United States, is losing patience in the face of Israel’s policy of deception and its failure to propose any alternative.

      Granted, America continues to support Israel automatically, both diplomatically and militarily, but the damage caused by Netanyahu’s policies keep growing and they will ultimately sabotage the practical aspects of Israel’s relationship with Washington as well. A government that is suspected by the UN secretary general of committing war crimes and whose policies are termed poisonous by the White House is a government that is doing enormous harm to Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Hanan Ashrawi gets it right: “Swedish recognition of the State of Palestine represents a principled position…the Swedish announcement is in fact a sign of a genuine commitment to justice and the requirements for peace, including the two-state solution on the 1967 boundaries,” said Ashrawi. “Those who claim to support the two-state solution must realize that in order to reach it, what’s missing is a sovereign Palestinian state.” Ashrawi rejected the idea of conditioning recognition of a Palestinian state on the outcome of negotiations with Israel because it would make the Palestinian right of self-determination an Israeli prerogative. “This fails to address the very basis of the values upon which the United Nations was founded, including its responsibility to protect and act accordingly.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Brian parroting Palestinian Arab position and is only emphasizing Amos Oz’s position which is critical of Netanyahu, while ignoring his emphatic criticizm of Hamas.

          Did I do the opposite? Of course I did. Because my point was that even a leftie like Amos Oz justified the recent war on Gaza. And no, I did not mention his criticizm of Netanyahu because all lefties are critical of Netanyahu. That’s a given, that’s their job …

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            This is revealing. You see, you did not “do the opposite.” You omitted, I included. I added to what you had clipped and pasted. To complete it. The logical fallacy you’re trafficking, nonstop, is that what Oz says about the army in Gaza (and in that too you selectively quote because he also said “to judge from some of the hits that the Israeli army caused in Gaza, I think at least in some points the military action is excessive – justified, but excessive”—but never mind) is not the OPPOSITE of Oz saying that his “suggestion is to approach Abu Mazen and to accept the terms….” The two truths fit together in a coherent world view that Amos Oz, Israeli patriot and intelligent and talented novelist, intelligently holds in his head. He intelligently holds both truths in his head at the same time. You don’t seem to be able or willing to do that. You want to push the incessant message that these are opposite and incompatible truths. Because you don’t ever want to get to his “suggestion is to approach Abu Mazen and to accept the terms….” Because that is anathema to you. So you, Pedro, Whip, Bor et al. incessantly polarize and indefatigably push the latest hasbara line that there is no approaching Abu Mazen because of “Gaza…Hamas….” Amos Oz is too intelligent to be fooled by this. Actually, Netanyahu is too intelligent to be fooled by this too, he just PRETENDS to believe it, though he actually knows, I think, that the opposition you pose is fallacious. He uses people like you who are either true believers or as dishonest as he is. You see, the theme keeps recurring: the dishonesty of the Right.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Clarification: the word “not” needs to be deleted from the foregoing, so as to read, instead:

            “The logical fallacy you’re trafficking, nonstop, is that what Oz says about the army in Gaza…is the OPPOSITE of Oz saying that his “suggestion is to approach Abu Mazen and to accept the terms….”

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            And you stubbornly miss my point Brian.

            As a rightist, of course I don’t agree with everything that Amos Oz promotes.

            So of course I highlight the opinion of Amos Oz, the intelligent leftist, as you describe him. Yes I highlight the fact that even he agrees with Netanyahu about Gaza. But you don’t Brian. So what does that make YOU? A non intelligent one eyed leftist? Of course it does.

            And you know what, Brian? Even though I don’t agree with everything that Amos Oz says, I respect him because he is honest. YOU on the other hand I cannot respect because you are robotic in your attempt to discredit us. And to do so you resort to half truths, distortions, ommissions and lies. I cannot respect someone like that I can only call him what he is: a PROPAGANDIST!

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “I think at least in some points the military action is excessive – justified, but excessive”

            Give it a break Brian. Justified but excessive? You cannot even make up your mind.

            If it is justified, then it cannot be excessive because war is not something you can mete out in measured doses. Particularly war against the likes of Hamas which refuses to obey any accepted norms of the rules of war.

            Amos Oz sums it up well. Here, I will quote him again, just for you Brian:

            “Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusal way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

            Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

            Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

            Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

            With these two questions I pass the interview to you.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Wow, “as a Rightist,” you spectacularly miss the point all over again. I give up. Talking to a brick wall. And no, I did not say ““I think at least in some points the military action is excessive – justified, but excessive.” Amos Oz did. I was quoting him. Why don’t you call him up and berate him? But remember, be careful, he CAN hold two complex ideas in his head at one time.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Wow, “as a Rightist,” you spectacularly miss my point all over again. I give up. Talking to a brick wall. And I did not say “I think at least in some points the military action is excessive – justified, but excessive.” Amos Oz did. I was quoting him. Why don’t you call him up and berate him? But remember, be careful, he CAN hold two complex ideas in his head at the same time.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Wow, “as a Rightist,” you spectacularly miss my point all over again. I give up”

            You give up? Good! You should never have started.

            “This is revealing. You see, you did not “do the opposite.” You omitted, I included. I added to what you had clipped and pasted.”

            Again, as a rightist, I don’t agree with everything that Amos Oz the leftist says. So I certainly won’t quote him to reinforce your silly arguments because I disagree with both of you. Got it? No? Pity because it is a simple concept.

            However, I will quote him when EVEN he disagrees with you and agrees with what I say. You still don’t get it? Never mind … there is no cure for obtuseness.

            ” And I did not say “I think at least in some points the military action is excessive – justified, but excessive.” Amos Oz did. I was quoting him.”

            So you disagree with him? That’s why you quoted him? Ah … ok …. I can only shake my head in disbelief.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Oz does not substantially disagree with me as far as I can tell, on Gaza or on approaching Abu Mazen. I would be very happy to see Amos Oz replace Netanyahu as Israel’s elected PM, and admiring of the electorate that caused that to happen. OK, what part of this don’t you understand?:

            The two truths fit together in a coherent world view…Amos Oz…intelligently holds both truths in his head at the same time. You don’t seem to be able or willing to do that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Oz does not substantially disagree with me as far as I can tell, on Gaza”

            Ok then, I take it you agree with Amos Oz about this?

            “Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusal way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

            Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

            Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

            Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

            With these two questions I pass the interview to you.”

            A simple yes or no will do, Brian. Stop beating around the bush and obfuscating. In his above statement, Amos Oz clearly agrees with how Netanyahu describes Hamas. And he clearly indicts the dirty way which they fight by using human shields and shooting at Israeli civilians and by plotting attacks through the tunnels on Israeli civilians.

            Yes or no Brian?!

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            I agree with Oz, that is, I agree with what he actually said here, not your paraphrase and interpretation:

            http://www.dw.de/oz-lose-lose-situation-for-israel/a-17822511

            And I also agree (as Oz implicitly does) with the interviewer who asks:

            “Is the analogy of the child on the lap really appropriate? Gaza is densely populated and Hamas positions are inevitably in civilian areas…”

            I am very glad you have dwelt on this excellent interview as I wish everyone to read it, every word, and ponder its true implications.

            However, you seem intent on grasping only a very partial and slanted message from it, instead of the fuller truth Oz conveys very well. It’s so hard for you to even touch that fuller truth. When Oz says, “approach Abu Mazen…accept the terms…” you break out in hives don’t you?

            Reply to Comment
    10. Gustav

      Ok, let’s have it your way then. Let’s dwell further into the interview. This it how it goes:

      Deutsche:”There seems to be a problem here. The tunnels are an elaborate system and difficult to find. The entries are hidden in public and private buildings, so you would have to do house-to-house searches – which implies a civilian toll. The same applies to destroying rocket launchers in civilian areas…”

      Amos OZ: “Well, I am afraid that there can be no way in the world to avoid civilian casualties among the Palestinians as long as the neighbor puts his child on the lap while shooting into your nursery.”

      Deutsche:”Is the analogy of the child on the lap really appropriate? Gaza is densely populated and Hamas positions are inevitably in civilian areas…”

      Amos Oz:”Yes – and this is Hamas’ strategy. This is why for Israel it is a lose-lose-situation. The more Israeli casualties, the better it is for Hamas. The more Palestinian civilian casualties, the better it is for Hamas.”

      This is exactly how Netanyahu described Hamas’s tactics (except the bit about to “lose lose”) and this is what I said too. Which bit of that don’t you understand Brian?

      Amos then says other things in that interview. And as much as I respect the man, I disagree with those views because I consider them to be wishful thinking and naive. But that is another discussion. The bottom line is that on one level Amos Oz’s views are no different than the views of 92% of other Israelis, including us right wingers. No matter how much you would like to pretend otherwise, Brian.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        “This is exactly how Netanyahu described Hamas’s tactics (except the bit about to “lose lose”)”

        There are worlds contained in that “bit about lose-lose.”

        “on one level Amos Oz’s views are no different than the views of 92% of other Israelis, including us right wingers”

        Preposterous. It is only rendered non-preposterous by your sticking your head in the sand about that “bit about lose-lose” and employing the sleight of hand of “on one level”

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Gustav:“This is exactly how Netanyahu described Hamas’s tactics (except the bit about to “lose lose”)”

          Brian:”There are worlds contained in that “bit about lose-lose.”

          Yes! An indictment of Hamas. It shows how Hamas is willing to sacrifice the lives of Gaza’s citizens in order to temporarily gain public support.

          Gustav:“on one level Amos Oz’s views are no different than the views of 92% of other Israelis, including us right wingers”

          Brian:”Preposterous. It is only rendered non-preposterous by your sticking your head in the sand about that “bit about lose-lose” and employing the sleight of hand of “on one level”

          Care to explain? What is preposterous about it?

          92% of Israelis agreed with the recent war against Hamas. So did Amos Oz.

          92% of Israelis blamed Hamas for the casualties. So did Amos Oz.

          Reply to Comment
    11. Gustav

      “There are worlds contained in that “bit about lose-lose.”

      Then let’s examine that, shall we? This is what Amos Oz said again:

      “The more Israeli casualties, the better it is for Hamas.”

      I agree with that one. Why wouldn’t I? It is a given.

      “The more Palestinian civilian casualties, the better it is for Hamas.”

      Now that one just indicts Hamas, even thought that wasn’t the intent behind Amos Oz’s statement.

      It indicts Hamas because they put their own political gain ahead of the well being of the people of Gaza. They provoked a war purely to improve their political stocks and they refused to end the war for the same reason even though Israel accepted the cease fire proposal by Egypt. So what happened? More Gazans died and suffered.

      Anything you want to add, Brian?

      Reply to Comment
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