Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Clearing out property in Gaza

See, here's why I can never get so all-fired excited about supporting Israel as a haven of freedom.

Yes, Israel is in many respects a beacon of freedom and individualism amidst a sea of tribal dictator-worship, but the Israeli state still has a tendency to view its own citizens much as a feudal lord once viewed his serfs.

In clearing people out of their own homes in Gaza at gunpoint Sharon's Government is just ignoring property rights and the title deeds of Israeli citizens, and frankly is just doing what Mugabe is doing several thousand miles further south. At least former PM Netanyahu resigned in protest at this blatant outrage, a heavy-handed treatment of individuals and their property that makes them nothing less than vassals of the Israeli state.

Cox and Forkum (whose cartoon that is above) have background here, and here.

What's forgotten in this talk of a Gaza Strip "occupied"by Israel is that the Strip was taken in a defensive war fought against Arab nations that continue to reject Israel's very existence, and kept as a defensive measure against further attacks by same. As a strategic move, I agree with Daniel Pipes that giving it away sucks:
Given that about 80% of Palestinian Arabs continue to reject Israel's very existence, signs of Israeli weakness, such as the forthcoming Gaza withdrawal, will instead inspire heightened Palestinian irredentism. Absorbing their new gift without gratitude, Palestinian Arabs will focus on those territories Israelis have not evacuated... The retreat will inspire not comity but a new rejectionist exhilaration, a greater frenzy of anti-Zionist anger, and a surge in anti-Israel violence.
Giving it away sucks. And bulldozing the property of Israel's citizens in order to make this strategic blunder sucks big time.


  1. How much of your justification for Israeli confiscation in Gaza is based on "defensive war"? All, or some?

  2. Are you talking about the present confiscations, Tim? I wasn't justifying that at all -- quite the reverse. Or are you asking about the acquisition of the Gaza Strip in the Six Day War, after which the Strip was retained as a buffer against further aggression by neighbours who were still indicating they wished to push Israel into the sea.

    Given both the bellicosity, the naked hatred and the previous attempted invasions by its neighbours, retention of the Gaza Strip and the Golan Height after the Six Day War were IMO eminently justified, at least as long as and to the extent that Israel maintained itself as a defender of freedom and property rights.

    That it is heading away from that is my worry.

  3. Defender of Jewish Israeli property rights and destroyer of Palestinian property rights and the exclusion of Palestinians from citizenship and residency. That is the purpose of the State of Israel, the Jewish state.

    "Retention" of someone else's land will cause more problems - this is acknowledged by the current pull-out (trying to un-do this process).

    I find your above defence of Israel to be inconsistent and an excuse of all manner of injustices.

    Why do they want to push Israel into the sea? It has nothing at all to do with Israel being free and democratic. It is free to threaten and invade it's neighbours (Nukes, Lebanon etc.)? Is it free to expel ethnic groups the Jewish minority doesn't like so that they can become the majority?

    Do you support the ghetto wall the Israelis have built into Palestine?

  4. Lebanon was and is a base for Islamic terrorists that like to fire free flight artillery rockets (katayusha) into Israel on a daily basis. If your neighbour was throwing molotov cocktails over your fence wouldn't you go over there to sort him out?

    Besides which, it's a toss up as to which occupation of Lebanon was more detested by the Lebanese, the Israeli one or the Syrian one.

    As for the Ghetto-wall: What's the essential difference between a concrete wall and the sandbang-, wire-, and mine-protected entrenchments that it replaces? Are you complaining about the esthetics of the thing?

    I'm not entirely sure that the Israeli settlers were entirely kosher in the way the acquired the land in Gaza. The whole issue of who owns what and where in Gaza and the West Bank is about as clear as mud - at least to me anyway.

    But speaking militarily (and this is a military campaign), the strategy of retiring to prepared defensive positions is not the worst one I've seen.

    The IDF is entirely too small to exert control over the 1 million inhabitants of Gaza and protect Israel's protracted borders simultaneously. All it was doing in Gaza was putting out brush fires. Given this it could be argued that seeing as the Settlers came to the nuisance of their own free will - they shouldn't automatically expect the complete protection of the IDF. Especially seeing as the ultra-religious settlers are legally exempt from the draft.

    If *I* were an IDF conscript I'd be plenty pissed at having to repeatedly risk my neck to protect people with a liking for placing their heads in the lion's jaws.

    As to Gaza providing terrorist access to the Med: Terrorist sea expeditions must run the gauntlet of the Israeli navy - which is quite potent and politically very steathly. News reporters can't live on the ocean for long before they start to get soggy. Besides which the terrorists are already there and have access to the Med.

    I also can't see too much strategic importance in Gaza. Especially seeing as Israel is at peace with Egypt & gave up the Sinai as part of that deal. The Sinai was a far far better buffer than Gaza.

    Yes, Gaza will become a base for terrorists. But for them to do anything they have to leave the urban areas and travel across open ground - making them easier to identify and kill.

  5. I like how PC talks about tribalism but doesn't seem to recognise that Israel is essential tribal, being a Jewish state. With religious laws etc. As Robert has suggested, the settlements are there to piss Palestinians off and prevent a peace deal, and a place to get rid of the ultra-extremist Jewish nationalists, not for military purposes.

    Robert: If one's neighbours were throwing molotov cocktails over the offence I would want to know why. They would be from the neighbours that were kicked out of the house that they are attacking, yes? The ghetto wall and any "military" fortifications inside someone else's country is wrong isn't it? Doesn't that create the very problems it is supposed to be solving?

  6. Tim says, "I like how PC talks about tribalism but doesn't seem to recognise that Israel is essential tribal, being a Jewish state."

    Um, yes I do. That's why I was careful to qualify my support. You'll notice, Tim, I began by saying, "See, here's why I can never get so all-fired excited about supporting Israel as a haven of freedom"...

    But it's wrong to say that Israel is "essentially tribal" -- the many prosperous people of all nationalities who live there quite happily testify to that. But as you say there are may, many laws that give special racial favour, and deny true freedom of religion.

    But to accept these flaws without recognising the freedom and individualism that Israel (for the most part) possesses is to sacrifice the good to the imperfect.

    Do you accept Tim that Israel has any right to exist?

  7. Let me put this in local terms:

    If Maori want to move back to what they see as Hawaiki because they think God has given them that mission and go about colonising large parts of Tahiti aggressively and coercively to the point of forcing Tahitians off their land, confiscating it, throwing them out of their homes, invading neighbouring states, developing nuclear weapons with which to threaten everyone and building big walls and military outposts all over the Tahitian's islands totally to the detriment of the Tahitians and against the wish of all of their neighbours, who would you support?

    Do you support an Afrikaaner state that occupies half of South Africa with almost all Blacks permanently expelled and property confiscated except for a minority work force?

    Can one be a libertarian and a Zionist apologist?

  8. "Can one be a libertarian and a Zionist apologist?"

    Can you continue to miss the point? You're still thinking in tribal terms, Tim.

    No one has 'tribal rights' to anything, anywhere. Tribal savages themselves have no respect for property rights -- but anyone else who does is entitled to take the savages at their word.

    I say as much here.

    As I've already said above, the best of what Israel has brought to that hotbed of tribal savagery was a portion of respect for individualism, and a degree of respect for property rights. Respect for individualism is what can cure the tribal savagery, if anyone there cares to listen

    Both those principles however are undercut by the still-extant collectivism of the Israeli state, and not a little by the recent events, which was precisely the point of this post.

    Perhaps you should read it, Tim.

  9. My problem with your model of how/why Israel is holding Gaza is that it's not been treated like an expansion of the state Israel, it's been treated an occupied territory. You can't do that forever.

    The distinction is that people don't become citizens of Israel with a right to vote, etc, just becuase they live in the Golan Heights/Gaza Strip, etc.

    The Palestinians in Gaza aren't going to just Go Away. Egypt won't take them for the valid reason that they aren't Egyptians. So your long-term options are

    1) make them citizens of Israel with the full rights thereof

    2) give them the land back

    3) kill them all

    It's 40 years since the 6 day war. You're down as not keen on 2. So does that mean that you support 1? Or 3?

  10. PC: "Perhaps you should read it, Tim."

    Thank you for the invitation. I have read it again, and re-read it. Which is why I find your stance all the more disconcerting and totally at odds with your stated principles.

    "Can one be a libertarian and a Zionist apologist?"

    I ask the question because:

    1. You claim to be a libertarian.
    2. After reading the above post I note that your complete disregard for the security and property rights of one tribe is in stark contrast with a heart-felt empathy with the other tribe that currently has confiscated the property of the other tribe and subjected them to real, constant, state authorised insecurity.
    3. You state that this injustice is but a "strategic" consideration. Meaning you think you are more qualified to assess the military necessities of occupying confiscated lands than the state itself and indeed the person (Sharon, ex-housing minister) who set up a large number of the outposts. You are saying that one tribe's state can use force to subject another tribe on the basis of fear.
    4. You continue, with these comments and more posts since this one, to be clearly in favour of one tribe against another.
    5. The basis for this partiality seems to be that you think property rights and liberties in Israel are better than those of it's neighbours and that therefore the best way of ensuring that the neighbours adopt these superior policies it is best that Israel harass, steal from and threaten her neighbours.
    6. You compare what Mugabe is doing with the Gaza pull-out. Please!

    "No one has 'tribal rights' to anything, anywhere" -
    What does this mean? Can only individuals possess rights? And if they can, can they not aggregate the ones they share in common with that collective for their mutual benefit? esp. families or small, inter-linked groups. Or are tribes like states and therefore do not have any rights? What protects individual rights? A collection of individuals? That could be a "tribe".

    "the best of what Israel has brought to that hotbed of tribal savagery"-
    No, they caused the tribal savagery (and terrorism for that matter). Caused it. Apart from the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1990/91, name one post-1945 armed conflict in that region that was not caused by Israel or influences from outside the region. Indeed Egypt, Syria, Iraq etc. even briefly unified! I can only think of a well dispute between Oman and the UAE in 1954(?) and the Yemen civil war with the UK and then in about '94 after they unified - but that was over very quickly (and was to defend a pluralist-style state). I'm not counting the Iran-Iraq War as that was very much waged at the behest of outside influence.

    "... was a portion of respect for individualism, and a degree of respect for property rights." - No, Israel respects the rights of Jews, as Jews, to have all these rights. Even if we accept the proposition that the Israeli state affords more rights than their Arab counter-parts to their citizens it does not follow that Israel can therefore seek to limit the rights of others outside of Israel, let alone stop people who should be enjoying those rights as Israeli citizens from returning to Israel based on their ethnicity. By the same measure would you have supported Apartheid South Africa because it had lots of property rights for it's minority citizen base?

    "Respect for individualism is what can cure the tribal savagery" - Once again, if that is the point you are trying to make you are using precisely the wrong example.

  11. Tim, your claims about the history of Arab-Israeli wars are completely off the planet. If you seriously think that every post-1945 armed conflict in the Middle East was "caused by Israel" then you're deluded, and your opinions on the subject not worthy of serious consideration. Read some history man. As for who the "influences from outside the region" to whom you refer, I suppose this is a Jewish Banking conspiracy you've rooted out.

    This is idiocy. Utter and complete. Buy yourself some tinfoil and go hunt down a UFO.

    "Can only individuals possess rights?"

    That's right. When Middle Eastern countries begin protecting individuals qua individual, rather than qua collective, then peace might have a chance. Peace with freedom. As long as tribalism remains, so will conflict.

  12. PC: I named three instances (Iraq-Kuwait, Yemen civil war and UAE-Oman) of conflicts that I can think of that have occured that did not involve Israel or an "outside influence" (eg. Anglo-French invasion of Sinai, Iraq-Iran, super-power posturing etc.). I challenged you to name one other. Instead you prefer to make accusations of anti-semitic conspiracies etc.

    "Read some history"- If you have read some history you can surely answer such a simple question to put me right.

  13. Tim, you did not asks for conflicts that "did not involve" Israel, you talked of of armed conflicts "caused by Israel or influences from outside the region."

    "Caused" you said. Not "involved" or "not involved" -- "caused," you said, as if Israel and those nefarious 'outside influences' have "caused" people to attack them and try to drive them into the sea. Read your own nonsense, if you can.

    Israel "caused" the tribal savagery you said. Each time it has been attacked and defended itself or its citizens it has, according to you, 'caused' that attack. That is a view that is far from sensible, and one you have put with less than coherence.

    The word "idiot" is beginning to spring to mind.

    "Can one be a libertarian and a Zionist apologist?"

    I defend, support and advocate precisely what I say I defend, support and advocate. Not an inch more. A better question would be this: can one be an idiot and a supporter of Zionist conspiracy theories? Answer: Apparently.

  14. Israel was founded through violence and not on the consent of those in the area. Every reaction to that is caused by Israel being there in the first place. I note you still can't find one example outside of mine to justify the "hotbed of tribal savagery" comment.

    Let's put "cause" this way: If I steal your car and each time you or your mates tried to take it back- who is causing your attempted violent repatriation to happen? I say you are the cause of the conflict because "it should be mine." And you say I am causing the conflict because "It was actually mine and still should be". Who is right? The legitimacy of origins, the provenance - and purpose even - of the state of Israel is crucial to this question. If it lacks the necessary legitimacy, or has only achieved it internally through repression and coercion etc., or has as its purpose the taking away of legitimate rights of others - what legitimacy to the outside world, let alone the people directly subjected, does it have?

  15. Tim, several points.

    1) Jews were banned from the eastern Palestinian Mandate (present-day Jordan) and persecuted by arabs in the western Palestinian Mandate. The Brits turned a blind eye to these goings on.

    2) After WW2 and the Holocaust, the UN agreed to set aside a small portion of the western 1/4 of the Mandate for a Jewish State. New Zealand was one of the countries which supported this idea. Civilians outside the area set aside for the new Israel (decided by demographic criteria) were invited to create their own separate state. But when the Jewish groups actually formed Israel, their neighbours including Egypt, Syria and the rest of the eastern Palestinian Mandate (that's the West Bank, Jordan, and a few other areas) launched an invasion. The arab countries lost the war, and the new Israeli state decided to keep some of the land they won. Tough for the Palestinian arabs. Don't start wars you can't win.

    3) There's been many problems since of course, including another attempted invasion of Israel in '67 by Syria, Egypt, Jordan and a few other countries helping out. After Israel again won despite being massively outnumbered and outequipped, for strategic reasons they occupied certain other parts of Palestine near their enemies borders. These included 'wedge' settlements in the Gaza Strip, the occupation of the West Bank (thats the west bank of the Jordan River, on the border with Jordan), and the Golan Heights (border with Syria). Israel has been at peace with Egypt for ~ 30 years, which is probably why Sharon considers the Gaza Strip settlements of little strategic benefit to Israel now.

  16. AL:
    1. I'm guessing the Jews in the Mandate territoy were persecuted for the same reasons that they were persecuted in Arab countries after Israel was formed. Maybe they were against Jewish colonisation?

    2. Yes the UN and NZ suppoorted Israel's foundation as a Jewish State. Shame on us. It is ironic that one of the first acts of the organisation set up to end colonialism and promote international security was to authorise a colonial project that creates a destabalising and perpetual security nightmare. Did they do it just to keep themselves in business? It also raises uncomfortable issues vis a vis provenance and legitimacy: If the UN general assembly created the entity is it not inherently authorised by that fact to disestablish that entity? And the neighbouring states did not want Israel in the first place that's why they invaded.

    "Tough for the Palestinian arabs. Don't start wars you can't win." - How moral. They didn't start it, as I've explained above, and as for thinking that because of a war lost years ago people should remain in subjugation (as I think you are implying) then I guess if you support an Iraqi invasion you'll expect us to legitimise any Iraqi who manages to capture your property off you!


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