15 August, 2006

Joke of the Day

Bush declares Israel's victory and Hezbollah's defeat.

More here.


Anonymous said...

Here's Joke of the day # 2:
“We came out victorious in a war in which big Arab armies were defeated [before],” the cleric said in an address on Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV."
- Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah

Each side claiming victory is just for show, they both lost, the people of Israel and Lebanon lost.

Anonymous said...

I actually think that both Israel and Hezbollah won in the short term. Hezbollah has gained prestige and popular support that should translate in to more power. Israel is probably not going to be attacked by Hezbollah in the near future.

The better question is whether either will be happy with the longer term results, Israel with their further damaged international reputation, and Hezbollah which will have now be looked to by the Lebanese people to produce results in a country that has been shattered by war.

Anonymous said...

i agree of both of yr comments

John B. Chilton said...

You are all right in what you say.

Here are some of Bush's other points:

1. This was a war between freedom and terror.

2. Israel was defending herself.

3. Hezbollah provoked the war.

4. Part of the problem is that countries in the region do not control all of their territory.

Doesn't the conflict all come back to disagreement over whether Israel has a right to exist or not, whether you believe Israel must give up occupying land that was taken from others (effectively meaning an end to its existence)?

Israel and its political allies would like the facts on the ground to be accepted. It wants the status quo to be accepted. It seeks to change those facts whenever it finds that the status quo cannot be defended from attack by an opponent who uses force.

Israel's opponents have been very resilient over the decades in one respect - maintaining a core group outraged over the creation of Israel.

In most of the world the land one occupies was taken from someone at some time. Often the losers figure that it is in their best interest to give up on their claims and get on with life. When there is a reasonable chance of reclaiming your land it is worth fighting on.

Recent events have changed the chances. But they remain slim. Is it rational to continue to dispute Israel's existence?

Tim Newman said...

Is it rational to continue to dispute Israel's existence?

If it is somebody else who suffers as a result of a refusal to accept Israel's existence, why not?

After all, various Arab governments have used this to justify keeping Palestinians in refugee camps for 60 years at no cost to themselves.

I find it highly bizarre that a section of Middle East society think the Palestinian cause is better served by Hezbollah lobbing rockets into Israel than allowing Palestinians to work in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, or even - God forbid! - gain citzenship.

With friends like these, who needs enemies, eh?

bandicoot said...

John – It took me a while to realize that the rest of the comment after the numbered points was actually yours and not GWB’s! I’m serious.

”Is it rational to continue to dispute Israel's existence?” you ask. This would’ve been a good question 20 years ago or before that. You know full well that 2 Arab states have stable peace agreements and full diplomatic relations with Israel, that many other Arab states have public and hidden contacts and relations with Israel; that the PLO and a decisive portion of the Palestinian people have officially recognized Israel and signed on Oslo and calling incessantly for a continuation of the frozen (if not dead) peace process.

Yes you will come across parties and groups and all kinds of people who are still advocating the destruction of the state of Israel; why are surprised? Some of these could be the same people or the direct descendants of those who lost their houses and land in Haifa or Jaffa or Leda or in any of the 400+ villages erased and ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948; why should they just forget and forgive? How on earth you ask with good conscience and any sense of fairness people to just accept the destruction of heir homeland and their most painful dispossession and move on?

Tell me why do you think these people have no right to return to their ancestral homeland and any Jew any where in the world has a “right” by virtue of being Jewish to “return” to Palestine (now Israel)? Ok, never mind the sticky arguments about how this racism has become acceptable discourse; the point is, even with this grave injustice, Palestinians are willing to accept a solution that will not include the literal return of all 5 million Palestinian refugees to Israel, as long as some redress of their plight is forthcoming and a fair resolution is found.

Is this too much to ask for? Or are you saying that Israel has the right to bomb Palestinians to ashes until all of their refugees sign a document renouncing their right of return and perhaps also thanking Israel for usurping their land? This sounds like a completely unreasonable demand, to say the least!

The same logic applies to many other people, individuals and groups, who do not recognize Israel. You’re not going to get ever a complete consensus on Israel’s right to exist any time soon, precisely because that “right” has been very problematic and the disastrous aftermath of that bloody birth is still with us and is getting worse.

But again that shouldn’t be a precondition for peace, otherwise you’ll never have peace. Yes there will always be a core group among the opponents of Israel, as you say, that is outraged about its right to exist; why? because Israel’s existence (at least from the perspective of this core group) was an outrageous act. There is much truth to that I should say. Otherwise how would you describe the rape of your homeland and the forcible and complete dispossession of your people? An act of mercy?

The question is, do you wait for the core group to disappear or do you seize the chance for peace and work diligently and honestly to make peace with the many more people and leaderships who are willing to move forward on the basis of a fair and tenable peace.

”In most of the world the land one occupies was taken from someone at some time. Often the losers figure that it is in their best interest to give up on their claims and get on with life”.

Thank you John for the advice; but the answer is no. Yes, you may be able to move on after you’re exterminated or devastated as a race or a nation; the Native Americans is one example, but in this case extermination was followed by some sort on integration and equality in a modern nation where all faiths and ethnicities and races are equal citizens. OK, Israel can do the same and I assure you that no Palestinian would refuse such an offer; to be a free and equal citizen of the state of Israel or Palestine or Isratine; and that should bring the conflict to such a beautiful and civilized ending.

Ok, not possible? Why? Because the Jewishness of the state of Israel overrides every other moral imperative and democratic political value? Fine; then what about the West bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, all of them occupied areas? Do you expect the Palestinians to give up their right to the last pieces of their homeland where they could have a state of their own? Is this also occupied land that Palestinians should just forget and move on with their lives, either living somewhere else or living happily under Israeli military occupation in dozens of miserable ghettos surrounded by Jewish colonies and controlled down to the last detail of their freaking lives by Israeli soldiers?

No, it doesn’t boil down to Israel’s right to exist; not any more. It’s really about the Palestinians right to exist; about whether Israel is willing to pay the price for a real and lasting peace; whether it is able to come to term with the fact that Palestinians are an equal and dignified partner and not a bunch of beggars that should lick their boots for any handout they throw to them any time they like; it’s about whether you want to get out of your siege mentality and the folly of absolute power and toughness and extend your hand for peace in good faith.

The Arab states have offered in the Beirut Summit of 2002 an initiative that is truly historic in that it envisions a comprehensive peace where Israelis are not only recognized by ALL Arab states, but would also benefit from full normalization with these countries. Sharon has shunned the plan and no Israeli leader since seems to be interested.
In the minds of may Arabs and Muslims this reaction plus daily Israeli actions in the West bank and Gaza and Jerusalem, and most recently the war in Lebanon, are very tangible reasons for more mistrust of Israel (and its allies), more radicalism, more terrorism, and eventually more violence and bloodshed. Israel seems to be ready for war all the time, but its readiness for peace is at best questionable; and, again, no, its not about its right to exist anymore.

Anonymous said...


I bow to your argument. Very well put. I have always been an advocate of Israel's right to exist on the premise that it is stronger and more capable of putting a country together (surviver of the fittest). However, it is certainly not in a position to live peacefully if it is not willing to make sacrifices as the ones you have outlined.

Thank you!

John B. Chilton said...


I'm glad you could distinguish between the points Bush made, and the thoughts I had on the calculus of the conflict. I can see how it could be read that way. I encourage readers, though, to go back to my comment to see if I suggested some of things you see in my comment.

I am not suggesting who has rights to exist, or who I think has rights to exist.

I take your point that the conflict may no longer be about existence of the state of Israel, and that the conflict may be persisting because Israel is being irrational in its stance towards negotiating a settlement with the Palestinians. (But Hezbollah and Iran, and - to me - Hamas are major players and are not a mere minority seeking the destruction of Israel. And they receive a lot of sympathy of public opinion.)

It seems that there is a suicide bombing on a crowded Israel street every time (yes, every time) there is some progress on a peace settlement that grant the terms you list. Is it a minority that prevents a majority of Palestians from having their rights addressed in a settlement with Israel?

What would Israel do if the violence stopped? Take more? Or give back more land and relax travel restrictions?

What would happen if Israel took down the wall or stopped answering forceful incursions with force? Would it be attacked? Would neighboring states have the means or the will to prevent those attacks?

I return to the closing point of my previous comment: The dispute persists because of the hope that Israel will leave. Is that hope well founded? Conflicts persist when hopes are not well founded. (Which is why opinion on who won the latest conflict is central today. It matters tremendously to the future outcome, so all sides spin the facts so vigorously.) When opponents share a common opinion about who would win a fight, there is negotiation.

Complicating that point is that the sides themselves are not unified, and that lack of disunity works to the advantage of radicals on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Joke 3 of day 2:

Hassan Nasrallah has the best interests of the Lebanese people and nation foremost in his mind.

bandicoot said...

John – I agree with you that radicals and extremists are not marginal groups in this conflict; but I see them on both sides, unless you really believe that Sharon or Olmert are men of peace and moderation! These two were strong opponents of Oslo and any real historic compromise; the “solution” they’re enforcing now with walls and bulldozers and bullets is unilateral and thus it’s bound to fail or bring more disasters. These leaders have no vision for peace (except in the mind of GWB) and their actions speak louder. And I hope nobody is going to say that Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was a sign of his love for peace or a step in the implementation of the Road Map (another dead plan). These leaders had a chance since 2000 (at least till Hamas came to power early this year) to engage in full and serious negotiations with the PA; but they haven’t; they always had some convenient excuse and/or a set of impossible preconditions. They marginalized and weakened and isolated the PA, claiming simultaneously that they have no peace partner. Some would say, that even now there is a chance. Mr. Abbas, the PA President, has called repeatedly for a resumption of peace talks with him (if not with Hamas); OK, why doesn’t Olmert give it a serious try? It’s a gamble, but why not give it a chance? The PA has become a meaningless body; with little control over the ground (not tomention that many of its Hamas cabinet members and MPs are kidnapped and detained by Israel), it’s approaching near collapse; there are even discussions among Palestinian parties of dissolving the PA. You know there were times of relative peace and quiet in the nineties during Oslo and unfortunately both sides failed to make the best out of it and serious mistakes were made by both. However there were two issues where Israel’s failure to show good faith had serious consequences, probably contributing to the failure of Camp David and the eruption of the intifada; and I mean here the settlements policy and the daily control of people’s lives. Israel never stopped building and expanding settlements during Oslo and never gave Palestinians a real break of the daily control it exercised over their lives. Now who do you blame for this? And how could you build bridges and trust and prepare for a final and complete peace when you’re not willing to stop settlement activities and refuse to relinquish the vestiges of humiliating control over the lives of people? Basically, no respect for the land or the people who own the land. There are many evils that one can point to in this bloody conflict, some are more spectacular than other (e.g. suicide bombings); and some have been defended as necessary and defensive (e.g. the wall); but is it just a question of defending your people against suicide bombers? Is this what the conflict is all about? It’s not that hard to come up with a list of 10 Israeli actions against Palestinians that would qualify as war crimes or cruel violations of humanitarian and international conventions for every Palestinian suicide bombing. Many items on this list (demolition of houses, assassinations, legalized torture, indefinite detention without charges, etc.) have been in practice by the Israeli authorities for a long time, before Hamas existed, and before suicide bombings and before any violent intifadas. And as for the wall, let’s suppose it’s relay necessary; then why doesn’t Israel build it on its side of or right on the Green Line? You only need to have a look at a map pf the designated route and pictures of the areas where this wall was built to see the true meaning of it; to dismember Palestinian land in the West Bank and turn these areas into disjointed ghettos with no viable political or economic future, keeping at the same time most of the Jewish colonies as part of a new and expanded border of Israel. If you really care about peace, you wouldn’t build a wall like this. Finally, while I know we agree on the need for and urgency of peace and perhaps even on its requirements, I again take issue with your statement that “the dispute persists because of the hope that Israel will leave.” AS I said before, most relevant people (I’d say including many extremists) know that Israel is not going anywhere and that in the end some sort of peaceful coexistence between two equal and secure states of Israel and Palestine is the only way out. However, day after day people see that their land, dignity, security, and hope are slipping away from them. These are the only real things that are “leaving”. Soon there will be no more room for this kind of solution any more, and many would be forced to start thinking again of a solution based on one binational state in all of historic Palestine where all people, Jews and Arabs, would be equal citizens in a new democracy (i.e. the end of Israel as an exclusive Jewish state). Israel is not going anywhere, but the Palestinians are not going anywhere either (well, short of mass expulsion or mass extermination).

i, Bobo said...

Off topic, for a moment..

THIS is the discussion that should have been conducted on the other thread -- a civil and informed dicussion, an actual debate without all the agro posturing.


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