Duss 1, Oren 0

Israel/Palestine
on 22 Comments

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times responding to the Time magazine article last week on whether Israelis care about peace with the Palestinians or not. He uses the occasion to pretty much just repeat every Israeli cliche on the peace process we’ve heard for the past several years:

Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.

Matt Duss responds in the Think Progress Wonk Room:

I understand that it’s Oren’s job as ambassador to offer the Israeli point of view, but framing the issue as “Israeli mothers want peace/Palestinian mothers want death for their children” is pretty disgusting. Is there a deeply objectionable culture of martyrdom rooted in Palestinian society? Yes, there is. It’s amazing what decades of being treated like cattle can do to a people. Oren asks us to sympathize with the Israeli experience of living under terrorist threat, and I completely agree that we should, but so should we try to understand the Palestinian experience of having their daily lives prescribed by a brutal and byzantine system of military law designed specifically to divest them of their land and prevent them securing their national rights.

As for the idea that Israel withdraw from Gaza “in order to generate peace,” this claim has been so conclusively discredited that I’m actually stunned that Oren thinks he can get away with it. Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza explicitly in order to forestall peace. Or, as his senior adviser Dov Weisglass put it to Haaretz, “The significance of the [Gaza] disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process”:

“And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” […]

“The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” he said. “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

So, either Weisglass was lying then, and the Gaza withdrawal was actually a clever triple-bank shot attempt by Ariel Sharon, a lifelong opponent of the peace process, to move the peace process forward. Or Oren isn’t being straight now.

 

22 Responses

  1. Sumud
    September 15, 2010, 3:17 pm

    Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers..

    Oren is now resorting to outright lies.

    Total fatalities (excluding the bombers, which I think is inappropriate: all suicides are a tragedy, even that of a suicide bomber) from 15 years of suicide bombing was 786:

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Not even close to “more than 1,000″. I’d also be surprised if all of those 768 killed were Israeli.

    But I *do* like his Fancy Maths, on how this was a heinous as killing 43,000 Americans. It’s scientific proof Palestinians are 14.3 times more evil than 9/11 and Al Qaeda (43,000 divided by the numbers of 911 victims @ ~3000 = 14.3). And in case anyone doubted it, 1 Israeli (jew) is worth 14.3 Americans. Get it, goyim?

    I’m inspired by Oren. I’ve discovered (through Fancy Maths) if the 15 year Palestinian militant’s suicide bombing campaign was as vicious as Israel’s 22 day assault on Gaza, it would have killed 195,606 Israelis – instead of 786. This is indisputable scientific proof that Palestinians are 249 times nicer, kindler, and gentler than Israelis.

    • David Samel
      September 16, 2010, 10:46 pm

      Your math is quite 20th century, Sumud. The suicide bombers tried to maximize casualties, and so the 786 Israeli victims represents 100% of the people they tried to kill. Israel on the other hand has nukes enough to incinerate the entire Gaza population, and must be thanked every day that they do not kill 1.5 million people. The 1500 or so people they have killed in Gaza over the past two years represents only .1% of the people they could have killed. Therefore, Israelis are 1000 times nicer (.1% versus 100%). Also, if you extrapolate the numbers of Israel victims to the population in China, it is the equivalent of 129,000 dead. 129,000! That’s 43 times the number killed on September 11. So Oren is a liar but you are worse: mathematically anti-Semitic.

  2. Keith
    September 15, 2010, 4:07 pm

    “As for the idea that Israel withdraw from Gaza “in order to generate peace,” this claim has been so conclusively discredited that I’m actually stunned that Oren thinks he can get away with it.”

    An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. A rebuttal in the Wonk Room. Of course Oren thinks he can get away with it.

    • Donald
      September 15, 2010, 7:25 pm

      You beat me to it. Oren can get away with “As for the idea that Israel withdraw from Gaza “in order to generate peace,” ” because it is a lie that has been repeated over and over and over again. Only people interested enough in the subject to read blogs like this would have any reason to doubt it. The “quality liberal press” like the NYT is not going to correct the record–if anything, their supposed Mideast expert Tom Friedman will just spread the lie. (I’m fairly sure he’s spread this one).

  3. Memphis
    September 15, 2010, 4:39 pm

    Despite the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel still maintained full control of Gaza’s land, sea, and air crossings. Hence, the occupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel was maintained. Under international law, maintaining control over a region or territory constitutes an occupation. All movement of goods and people between Gaza and the outside world is controlled by Israel, including the transportation of such necessities as food, medicine, and water.

    I would like someone to point out to Oren what the death toll of Palestinians is proportionally equivalent to of the U.S.

  4. Citizen
    September 15, 2010, 5:05 pm

    Gee, what a surprise. Oren was born and raised in the USA as Michael Bornstein; then he joined the IDF. Here he is, “telling it like it is” as usual, in this case apropos the murder of the 9 humanitarians, including one Turkish American lad, on the GAZA aid flotilla boat: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/312100/june-09-2010/formidable-opponent—michael-oren

    • RoHa
      September 16, 2010, 7:09 am

      “Oren was born and raised in the USA as Michael Bornstein; then he joined the IDF.”

      “One of the oldest Antisemitic staples is that Jews are not sufficiently loyal to the countries where they reside and instead are more loyal to Israel”

      link to antisemitism.org.il

  5. radii
    September 15, 2010, 5:25 pm

    worth repeating: Stephen Colbert to Oren after the Gaza flotilla massacre on the Colbert Report

    Colbert
    maybe the solution is to send them [Palestinians] back to where they came from

  6. ahmed
    September 15, 2010, 7:42 pm

    Winds of change? Nicholas Kristof speaks to Rabbis for Human Rights in a video on nytimes.com.
    Front page blurb is “Nicholas Kristof talks with rabbis who are protecting Palestinian farmers from hostile Jewish settlers in the West Bank.”

  7. piotr
    September 15, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Why Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza is a subject of speculation rather than factual statement.

    At the time Sharon had very acute need to divert attention from pretty big corruption allegation (millions of dollars from a sugar daddy in South Africa given to his sons). But to be sure, Sharon was a man of vision and a strategist, so this diversion also had to fit in a major plan. And the lines used by Oren are part of that plan too.

    If someome would offer me this line of about Arab ingratitude, I would expand it “yes, in spite of Israeli withdrawals and assassinations, no shred of positive response”. Or “Barak was generous for a day and half, and Olmert for a few hours, but did Palestinians catch the chance when it was presented?”

    • Avi
      September 16, 2010, 5:37 am

      In addition, Sharon’s euphemistically-labeled disengagement plan was in essence a slight of hand — akin to that of a magician’s.

      Under pressure from the European and international community, due to ‘deadlocked’ negotiations with the Palestinians, and in his never ending desire to Judaize Israel from the river to the sea, Sharon believed that if he pulled the settlers from the Gaza Strip, he could use it as a sign of good faith — i.e. a public relations stunt — all the while pretending as though he was working toward a just agreement with the Palestinians.

      But, since actions are stronger than words, Sharon’s actions quickly proved his and Israel’s ulterior motives.

      In the months following the so-called Gaza evacuation, the Israeli government expanded settlements in the Occupied West Bank and settled far more Jewish settlers/colonists in those illegal settlements than it did in the years prior. It had certainly moved more colonists to live in those West Bank settlements than the number of those colonists it pulled out of the Gaza Strip just months earlier.

      Worse yet, Sharon went on to renew his plan for Yehud Ha-Galil (The blatantly and bluntly called “Judaization of the Galilee”) within Israel proper. This was an extension of a decades-long Israeli strategy of building Mitzpim (plural) or Mitzpeh (singular) to break up the territorial contiguity of ‘Arab’ towns — the Palestinian citizens of Israel — in the Galilee. Needless to say, that plan, too, resulted in many non-Jews losing thousands of acres of land to Jewish-only regional councils (A Regional Council is the equivalent of a County in the US).

      So, for illustration purposes, if town A, B and C each had 13 acres of land, for a total of 39 acres, a Jewish Regional Council would appropriate 32 of those acres, leaving each town with a little over 2 acres for public or private use. All the while, though, that Regional Jewish Council has only 4 residents, all of whom are Jewish, while each of the Arab towns has 10 residents.

      That, in a nutshell, is how ghettos — or enclaves — are implemented by the Israeli government. It is also how Israel goes about Judaizing the land. It strips the native Palestinians of their financial capital (land) and pushes them, geographically, into the periphery.

      The result is economic disparity, economic dependency, blatant civil inequality and an ever-marginalized minority within Israel. And that’s how a two-tiered system, one for Jews — those who enjoy 1st class citizenship — and one for non-Jews — those who ‘enjoy’ 2nd class citizenship — becomes the norm. But, I digress.

      • hophmi
        September 16, 2010, 9:17 am

        “Under pressure from the European and international community, due to ‘deadlocked’ negotiations with the Palestinians, and in his never ending desire to Judaize Israel from the river to the sea, Sharon believed that if he pulled the settlers from the Gaza Strip, he could use it as a sign of good faith — i.e. a public relations stunt — all the while pretending as though he was working toward a just agreement with the Palestinians. ”

        Or, as he and other supporters of Disengagement stated repeatedly, he thought Gaza was not worth defending and an albatross around the army’s neck, so he withdrew, abandoning his political party and upsetting half his country. Let’s see, has a Palestinian leader ever taken such a courageous step? NO.

      • Avi
        September 16, 2010, 3:43 pm

        Yeah, that’s the same Sharon of Sabra & Shatila and the same Sharon who called for the ‘Transfer’ of ‘Arabs’ time and again. What a brave man he was.

      • eljay
        September 16, 2010, 4:37 pm

        >> Or … [Sharon] … thought Gaza was not worth defending and an albatross around the army’s neck, so he withdrew … Let’s see, has a Palestinian leader ever taken such a courageous step?

        So, a leader of an aggressor nation decides that a large swath of the land his country is occupying is “not worth defending” against the rebellion of the oppressed population, so he withdraws his occupation forces. And then imposes collective punishment by fencing in the land, militarizing the perimeter and restricting all access into and out of that land.

        This is what you call “courage”?

        Maybe some day, when Palestinians are in the same position as Israel is, a Palestinian “Sharon” will be similarly *ahem* “courageous”.

  8. hophmi
    September 15, 2010, 11:35 pm

    Oh please. This is not what Oren said. He is talking about the mothers of suicide bombers, not all Palestinian mothers.

    • sherbrsi
      September 16, 2010, 7:30 am

      Just like Helen Thomas comment was about the settlers, and not all Israelis?

      • hophmi
        September 16, 2010, 9:13 am

        Um, no. Thomas’s remark was not about just settlers. She said Jews should return to Poland and Germany in response to a general question about Israel, not the settlements. That’s a reference to all Israelis. Oren’s reference is clearly referring to the mothers of suicide bombers.

      • sherbrsi
        September 16, 2010, 11:48 am

        That’s a reference to all Israelis.

        Just like Oren’s reference is to all “Palestinian mothers,” not just “Palestinian mothers of suicide bombers,” as you claim.

  9. Richard Witty
    September 16, 2010, 8:01 am

    Israel left Gaza to not be compelled to rule it from the ground, to not be responsible to micro-manage its occupation, especially without any help from any authority, even to maintain order.

    Hamas and others wanted Israel to leave, wanted the settlement that was there to leave.

    They did.

    The points about not giving up some control over the strip are accurate, but also the points about Israel leaving Gaza to their own self-governance.

    With that self-governance, the increased degree that they had, they chose to shell Israeli civilians, not to develop law or trade and other relations with its few neighbors.

    Its false to say that Israel gave Gaza self-determination, and its false to say that Israel retained its occupation.

    Hamas maintains a state of war with Israel, and so long as that is its status, then the blockade is not in direct violation of international law.

    • sherbrsi
      September 16, 2010, 8:12 am

      The points about not giving up some control over the strip are accurate, but also the points about Israel leaving Gaza to their own self-governance.

      The same self-governance where Israel is in control of Gazan land, sea and air?

      Hamas maintains a state of war with Israel, and so long as that is its status, then the blockade is not in direct violation of international law.

      The blockade is an act of war, per Israel’s own historical definition of waging war on the perception of a blockade (not the reality of it, as in the case of the siege on Gaza).

      There is no term in international law where a blockade is condoned in a state of war, or otherwise.

    • Sumud
      September 16, 2010, 11:07 am

      Did jews in the Warsaw Ghetto have “self-governance”?

      The French during nazi occupation? Was the Vichy government a shining example French “self-determination”?

      Do Iraqis have “self-governance” with 100,000+ American troops and contractors on the ground in Iraq?

  10. yourstruly
    September 16, 2010, 9:05 am

    It’s surprising that the settler-entity’s ambassador didn’t use the one about a land without a people for a people without a land.

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