When victims retaliate: A response to Bradley Burston

Israel/Palestine
on 64 Comments
Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

My answer to Bradley Burston, “To the leftist who has no problem with rocket fire on Israel.”

Hi Bradley, yes… I heard you. I’d like to begin my response with your finale:

“when a leftist terms attacks on civilian populations a matter of human nature”

I did not term “attacks” a matter of human nature, I termed the instinct to respond to violent provocations violently as human nature.

Individuals responding to violence is human nature. It is different when governments do it as a matter of policy, because governments (and corporations) do not have ‘human nature.’ Governments are not human, though they are made up of humans. Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy. My reference was to individuals acting out in response to horrific conditions– the natural response, the instinct. I believe this is the same point Larry Derfner was making when people went crazy over his blogpost and he was fired. Here’s Derfner:

“But if, on the other hand, we were to say very forthrightly what many of us believe and the rest of us suspect – that the Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified – what effect would that have? A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful. If those who oppose the occupation acknowledged publicly that it justifies Palestinian terrorism, then those who support the occupation would have to explain why it doesn’t. And that’s not easy for a nation that sanctifies the right to self-defense; a nation that elected Irgun leader Menachem Begin and Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister.

But while I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us, I don’t want them to use it, I don’t want to see Israelis killed, and as an Israeli, I would do whatever was necessary to stop a Palestinian, oppressed or not, from killing one of my countrymen. (I also think Palestinian terrorism backfires, it turns people away from them and generates sympathy for Israel and the occupation, so I’m against terrorism on a practical level, too, but that’s besides the point.) The possibility that Israel’s enemies could use my or anybody else’s justification of terror for their campaign is a daunting one; I wouldn’t like to see this column quoted on a pro-Hamas website, and I realize it could happen.

Still, I don’t think Hamas and their allies need any more encouragement, so whatever encouragement they might take from me or any other liberal Zionist is coals to Newcastle. What’s needed very badly, however, is for Israelis to realize that the occupation is hurting the Palestinians terribly, that it’s driving them to try to kill us, that we are compelling them to engage in terrorism, that the blood of Israeli victims is ultimately on our hands, and that it’s up to us to stop provoking our own people’s murder by ending the occupation. And so long as we who oppose the occupation keep pretending that the Palestinians don’t have the right to resist it, we tacitly encourage Israelis to go on blindly killing and dying in defense of an unholy cause.”

Derfner later apologized for this, and I can understand why. His intention was mistaken as approving of the terrorism against his own people.

But I will not be apologizing today because I meant what I wrote. My response very clearly addresses an instinct (human nature) to respond to violent provocations. It is neither an approval nor an encouragement, it is simply an observation of reality, and the government of Israel knows this all too well. In fact they depend on it. It is inconceivable that a trapped population of 1.5 million people (Gaza) would not produce even a fraction of people who would respond instinctively and violently to the provocations of Israeli government policies. This common sense requires no approval from me, you or anyone, it is simply an obvious matter of acknowledgement.

We are talking about millions of people here, millions– millions under a brutal, decades-long occupation. The chance not a one of them will act out, out of instinct, not one? Impossible. And I ask you: why shouldn’t they? If it was Jews under these conditions wouldn’t they act out and respond? Then you barricade the degree and temperature and appropriateness of that response and damn me for it? A boy of 16 who’s witnessed his father slaughtered– why shouldn’t he act out? Explain that to me. Better yet explain it to him. And he should be comprehending international law, when that law is not applicable to his much more powerful predator (who is protected by my government at the UN)? Targeted assassinations of people not engaged in combat are forbidden under international law. That law applies to the assassinations your government carried out recently:

Extrajudicial executions are gross violations of universally agreed human rights that enshrine the right to life in accordance with Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further cemented in Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

Extrajudicial executions are acts outside the realm of rule of law and hence deprive the targeted individual(s) of their right to life, as well as the right to defend themselves against charges against them.

According to provisions of IHL, people who live under foreign occupation enjoy special protection under Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions. The Article stipulates that:
“[t]he passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples” are prohibited at all times and in all circumstances. Civilians are moreover protected against acts that constitute collective punishment. Collective punishment, intentional attacks against civilians and extrajudicial executions constitute war crimes in IHL.
 

As I am sure you are aware, these assassinations and the ensuing deaths of 26 and injuries to nearly 89 other Palestinians were not responses to the actions of Hamas. I mention that because certain minions on this blog have been questioning me repeatedly about whether I do or do not support civilian deaths. This was one of my earlier  responses:

do you support the US funding hamas so they have the capability to reach legitimate targets within israel? how about we give them 3 billion a year and hamas militants become as accurate as the iof? would you support them taking out iof leaders in their sleep and all their family along with them, as legitimate collateral damage? what about israeli politicians. do you support hamas abducting israeli politicians and holding them indefinitely for years in hamas prisons and torturing them to acquire information for leads on specific names of iof soldiers who have carried out offensives against palestine for the purpose of targeting those individuals and their affiliates?

please give an example of legitimate israeli civilian collateral damage. do you recognize any right of resistance for gazans or palestinians and if so please explain how you recognize a right of both israelis and palestinians to use violent means to defend their security and list examples of israeli civilian death that meets that qualification.

Bradley, I went to go hear you speak in Marin county before the last election. I sat up in the front row next to your good friends, a beautiful engaging couple and we chatted. I went to hear you speak because you have written many worthy columns advancing the discourse.

During the question and answer period I asked you about the violent settlers and how much of a problem you thought they were for Israel and Palestine. Specifically I asked you how many of the settlers there were the violent ones.

You evaded answering both of my questions but you did reference them as “pot smoking hilltop youth” and something about them being the children of the original settlers. Frankly, the ‘hilltop youth’ term has always sounded benign to me. I was disappointed you were unwilling to engage in a topic we both know is crucial to any resolution. I came away thinking your courage was somewhere between your brain and your keyboard and not something you could expose in front of an audience inside a synagogue. Needless to say, I was disappointed but nonetheless as you approached your friends at the end of your presentation and I was standing there we shook hands and I told you how encouraging your columns were for me.

Human nature is fighting back when someone is trying to kill you. That said, I support non violent resistance. I do not support killing civilians. But I am not dumb deaf and blind and I can see the trajectory of what is going on.

We all choose our own battles. I’ve got bigger fish to fry, and I would assume you do too. Unless you think people like me are really Israel’s biggest problem. And since you’re on the ‘inside’, could you please hammer home the message we’d like a change of policy instead of merely a change in framing?

Thanks, cheerio and see ya round the bend on the other side of this madness someday (hopefully).

64 Responses

  1. Pamela Olson
    March 15, 2012, 11:28 am

    Very well done, Annie. Would love to hear any response from him, but I think your points are too good — he’d probably rather just avoid them.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 15, 2012, 11:38 am

      thanks pamela. i am not expecting a response from him. we’ll have to wait and see. i’m hopefully tho.

    • American
      March 15, 2012, 5:48 pm

      I agree, very well done annie.

      • teta mother me
        March 16, 2012, 10:59 am

        I also agree, very well done annie.

        The underlying psychology was alluded to in the Yossi Gurvitz interview Phil posted the other day, and which Norman Mezvinsky and Gilad Atzmon discussed on Mar 14. (the latter comment is ‘awaiting moderation.’ Here’s its meat:

        WRMEA sponsored a conversation between Gilad Atzmon and Norman Mezvinsky in Washington yesterday (Helen Thomas was in the audience!! She was invited to ask the first question.) Mezvinsky and Atzmon paid close attention to the issue Yossi Gurvitz raised — that the rabbinic controls have come off and the “demon” of choseness in the Jewish* psyche is on a rampage with no prospects for containing it.

        * I’ll have to review notes to see if they referred to “Jewish” psyche or “Israeli Jewish” psyche or just how they defined it.

        The point as it pertains to Burston is that Israelis and many American Jews & non-Jews who support Israel’s actions believe ‘in their psyche’ that Israel has a right to do anything that it does, that Israeli Jews are a sui generis people to whom the normal rules do not apply. It follows that the “normal” human responses to Israeli predations would be considered the equivalent of an act against the authority of the gods — simply unthinkable. That is how Jennifer Mizrahi could say with a straight face that Israel had the right, and that it was moral, to assassinate Palestinian leaders the other day. Barghouti responded that such behavior — entitling oneself to act as judge, jury, and executioner, was “uncivilized.” (in the Chris Hayes discussion).

        Huntington may have been right after all; we are in a “clash of civilizations;” Barghouti and rule of law represent “civilization.” Mizrahi — and Burston– not so much.

  2. Dan Crowther
    March 15, 2012, 11:34 am

    Well said Annie.

    Burston’s attempt at moral righteousness was one of the more confusing and insulting articles I’ve read. Personally, I don’t think Derfner had anything to apologize for, but thats just me…..

  3. seafoid
    March 15, 2012, 11:42 am

    To the leftist who has no problem with rocket fire on Israel.”

    I’m not surprised it happens. I don’t think it’s particularly effective. It’s like a red rag to Israel.

    I think Burston is like Avnery and maybe Rosenberg and perhaps even Phil Weiss . They think Israel can be saved.

    I think it’s beyond conventional hope at this stage. The rabbis should have kept out of Zionism from the start. Now they are at the heart of it and the carcase is rotten .

    Israel needs radical hope

    link to hup.harvard.edu

    Shortly before he died, Plenty Coups, the last great Chief of the Crow Nation, told his story—up to a certain point. “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground,” he said, “and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.” It is precisely this point—that of a people faced with the end of their way of life—that prompts the philosophical and ethical inquiry pursued in Radical Hope. In Jonathan Lear’s view, Plenty Coups’ story raises a profound ethical question that transcends his time and challenges us all: how should one face the possibility that one’s culture might collapse?

    • optimax
      March 15, 2012, 4:36 pm

      We, the culture of cheap oil, in the US need to start planning for collapse.

      • seafoid
        March 15, 2012, 6:00 pm

        The US is going to be very badly hit by the end of oil
        but Israel will collapse before it gets really bad in the States.
        Israel is at the end of a very long imperial supply chain and it’s isolated.
        Snow melts fastest for isolated clumps of snow. Empires fade quicker for isolated clumps like Israel.

      • teta mother me
        March 16, 2012, 11:03 am

        It’s about oil but far more than oil.

        Instead of “planning for collapse,” we should closely examine the blueprint of our foundation: the US is NOT based on the code of the Hebrew scriptures.

  4. Winnica
    March 15, 2012, 12:14 pm

    Is it really human nature? If you read lots of history you’ll find that there’s no correlation between the level of persecution, even of suffering, and the level of violent response. The slaves in America suffered more and longer than the Palestinians, but rarely responded with violence. The long-suffering populace of North Korea likewise. South African blacks under Apartheid. The downtrodden 99.9% of the European population most of the Middle Ages. The Jews between 137 BCE and the early 20th century. And the list could go on and on.

    Violent responses to suffering are generally a sign of a degree of freedom of movement, thought, and organization, among other causations.

    • Woody Tanaka
      March 15, 2012, 12:30 pm

      “Violent responses to suffering are generally a sign of a degree of freedom of movement, thought, and organization, among other causations.”

      How would this, in any way, rebut Annie’s observation that the instinct to respond to violence with violence is human nature?

      Of course it is human nature. That it does not happen in every situation should be expected because it is an option, but one which must be weighed against possible consequences, possible costs, etc.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 1:18 pm

        woody, thank you. it doesn’t rebut it in the least! it is absolutely human nature. there are traumatic psychological circumstances people can endure to internalize that reaction (like for example months living in the hull of a ship in chains with people dying all around you or living in a dungeon for years being whipped or something, a person can be whipped into submisson obviously) or one can mature and choose a tactic of non resistance or something. but it is definitely human nature (instinct) to respond violently to violence.
        An End to War Vs. the Animal Instinct to Survive .

        Large scale violence happens for the same reason that most violence does. When we are threatened, we often protect ourselves with physical force. And it’s not something we even think about. It’s instinctive. Whether threatened as individuals on the playground and the streets, or as tribes across larger territories, turning the other cheek is not how we are wired to react to threats. Deep in our neural architecture and chemistry, probably in our very genes, we have a powerful set of instinctive subconscious systems that help us detect and respond to danger, whether it’s a direct physical threat, a threat to our resources, or even a challenge to our basic ideas about social structure. These precognitive systems have evolved to help us survive. They fire up before thinking and reason even have a chance to contribute to our response to risk. And as the threat continues, between cognition and instinctive emotion, the edge definitely goes to the latter.

        In nearly every animal known, including the human animal, the first hint of danger triggers the Fight or Flight or Freeze response. (More commonly known as the Fight or Flight response, animals that perceive a threat also instinctively freeze, so I’ve taken the liberty of renaming the phenomenon.) Before thinking even has a chance to get going, we respond to danger by instantly rearranging our bodily systems and metabolism to either fight, flee, or freeze.

        One of the things those initial changes do is magnify the power of instinct over reason as our response to the risk continues. We not only use instincts first and thinking second, but in an ongoing risk response, we use emotions and instinct more than reason. Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, who helped pioneer the research that identified the amygdala as the part of the brain where fear begins, says of the neural systems that control our response to risk, “While conscious control over emotions is weak, emotions can flood consciousness. This is so because the wiring of the brain at this point in our evolutionary history is such that connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems are stronger than the connections from the cognitive systems to the emotional systems.” p. 19, the Emotional Brain, link to tiny.cc

        so, a violent response is an initial response (along with flight or freeze). not responding is learned:

        link to ahalmaas.com

        Survival Instinct

        So the instinct for survival, which translates into fear of annihilation and death, is the energy behind adaptation and hence, conditioning. The child finds himself in the situation of having to be what his environment (parents) dictates in order for him to survive. So we can say that it is due to the instinct for self-preservation that acquiescence to the coercive forces in the environment occurs. The child, then, adopts his parents’ values and attitudes or rebels against them. In either case, he is conditioned to be and to act in certain ways, which, through the passage of time, become so ingrained that he takes them to be his identity. Slowly he forgets his true identity and becomes what he is being conditioned to be and to believe.

      • Winnica
        March 15, 2012, 3:01 pm

        I’m not following your logc, Annie. Clearly not all violence can be written off as the result of prior injustice, since that would mean all violence must be regretted but none of it can be condemned. If it’s an instinctive natural response, there’s no moral problem, no matter who commits the violence. Even Israelis.

        Furthermore, you accept that not all injustice generates violent responses.

        So the connection between injustice and violence is not particularly strong, and there is an element of choice involved. Violence which can be controlled, where its agent determines when to commit it and when not to, is clearly influenced by choice.

        Choice being the fundament of morality, of course. Which brings us back to Burston. His thesis was that people who support the (im)moral choice intentionally to perpetuate violence on civilians are themselves immoral.

      • Terryscott
        March 15, 2012, 3:19 pm

        This is an excellent point, and I don’t suspect Annie will go near it. Her only interest is Jewish malfeasance, but for anyone who can see beyond that it’s a huge question. Anyone concerned about morality and historical behavior has to confront the relative passivity with which most people react to oppression, and how rare violent reactions are. Violent riots engulfed London last year–was it because they were more oppressed than people in other cities?

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 15, 2012, 3:30 pm

        “If it’s an instinctive natural response, there’s no moral problem, no matter who commits the violence.”

        This is why your logic falls apart. Simply because something is an instinctive natural response does not mean that no moral problem would follow. Most moral problems human face are done in light of the fact we morally condemn acts that are instinctive natural responses. (As one simple example among millions: any healthy, normal, heterosexual human male who is invited to engage in intimate activities with an attractive female will be subject to instinctive natural responses which his wife (and others) would no doubt find morally questionable.)

        Further, your logic falls apart because this statement — “So the connection between injustice and violence is not particularly strong” — is not proved and has a faulty unstated premise. The question isn’t “connection” but “causation.” The fact that injustice can, but doesn’t always, cause violence does not, by the fact that it does not always cause violence, disprove the circumstances when it does.

        “His thesis was that people who support the (im)moral choice intentionally to perpetuate violence on civilians are themselves immoral.”

        If that is, indeed, his thesis, then it is a tautology, because the only manner in which “moral” or “immoral” can apply to people is through actions. So to say that someone is “themselves immoral” means nothing more or less than that they have taken an immoral act (here, that act being “support.”)

        It is also misguided as applied because it describes the supposed immorality in a way to make a rhetorical point, but no where supports that supposition. (i.e., the inclusion of “intentionality” in the thesis reduces the matter, given Israeli rhetoric, to “those who support these Palestinians are immoral,” a matter which cannot be established simply by asserting a moral-value judgment to their acts absent establishing a generally applicable metric.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 15, 2012, 3:35 pm

        “Anyone concerned about morality and historical behavior has to confront the relative passivity with which most people react to oppression, and how rare violent reactions are.”

        There is no sense in which morality is contingent upon rarity. Most people, when faced with a bully or evildoer who is stronger then themselves, back down. They do not stand up for themselves. Many would call such cowardice immoral. One can argue against that conclusion, but not, I would argue, on the basis that such cowardice is the primary natural response. To do so would be to eviscerate the meaning of “moral” and reduce it to a mere normative or descriptive thing.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 5:41 pm

        If it’s an instinctive natural response, there’s no moral problem, no matter who commits the violence. Even Israelis.

        really? go back and read the article for a couple reasons. re israelis, read the part about governments. acting in the iof is following orders, not to be confused with human nature. government policy is not human nature. re morality read the part about ‘observation of reality’.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 5:45 pm

        what exactly is this excellent point terry? there are several pts he’s making. i go near any point if it’s made well. his is a jumble of unsupported theories imho. be specific.

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 5:57 pm

        ” If it’s an instinctive natural response, there’s no moral problem, no matter who commits the violence. Even Israelis.”

        Of course there is a moral difference . How dumb.
        Break in my house armed, to rob me and watch me blow your head off and be absolved under the law by my right to defend myself and my property.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 5:59 pm

        His thesis was that people who support the (im)moral choice intentionally to perpetuate violence on civilians are themselves immoral.

        he can make the thesis all he wants, but that has nothing to do with me because my statement did not suggest or imply i supported attacking civilian populations. it was merely an acknowledgement of reality, about human nature.

        i was asked if the rockets were relevant, i answered yes, and then ask why they shouldn’t do it as it was part of human nature to respond to violence, which it is. note i was not referencing hamas, or a government policy of a palestinian government.

        keep in mind there is no compelling evidence presented the victims were associated to this attack in the south, in fact there is evidence to the contrary. so who are these people assassinated by the goi? why wouldn’t there be a violent response?

        this is being treated like experiment inside of israel. very much so. gaza is their little killing lab, and then we hear squeaks about the retributions. the goi is using their own population in the experiment. link to mondoweiss.net

        that is how it appears to me.

        link to mondoweiss.net

      • seafoid
        March 15, 2012, 6:04 pm

        Winnica

        I get the feeling you don’t know your history particularly well.
        Slavery was an oasis of zen calm, was it?
        South African blacks were non violent were they?
        And Umkhonto We Sizwe ?

        “So the connection between injustice and violence is not particularly strong”

        You don’t know.

        Take Philly today. How many people are murdered in Philly/Camden in an average year?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 6:12 pm

        and another thing, the ‘no problem’ headline? how would he know what or if i have a problem with something. i was asked if something was relevant and i answered. and as i said at the beginning, i didn’t ‘term’ the attack, i ‘termed’ the instinct to respond.

      • Winnica
        March 15, 2012, 7:07 pm

        OK, I admit: I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

      • Winnica
        March 16, 2012, 4:06 am

        Annie – Have you ever seen a Grad rocket? It can’t be acquired nor operated by an angry frustrated individual. An angry frustarted indivudual can stab someone, or throw rocks at cars. In order to launch Grad rockets, not to mention barrages of them, one needs all the trappings of an international corporation. Which is what the Palestinian organizations are of coure – and they’re proud of it. Go visit their websites and see how the present themselves.

      • piotr
        March 16, 2012, 4:17 am

        Winnica is correct, but the point is ridiculous.

        Victims of extreme oppression do not have capacity to rebel.

        Israel is skating on the edge of Western tolerance to deliver maximum oppression that she can get away with it, but it is still inadequate for the goal of absolute control. As someone wrote, cry me the river.

        It is highly possible that two years from now radicals in Gaza will get normal supplies of missiles like Hezbollah got. Drones and helicopters will be shot down. Then what? Perhaps patrol boats blockading the Gaza fishing will be next.

      • Shingo
        March 16, 2012, 8:30 am

        Clearly not all violence can be written off as the result of prior injustice

        That is not the point Annie is making.

        You falsely claimed that violent response was rarely linked to oppression, and Anni debunked your theis comprehensively.

        If it’s an instinctive natural response, there’s no moral problem, no matter who commits the violence. Even Israelis.

        Incredible stupidity once again. One could argue that it is an instinctive natural response for a man to have sex with a woman he sees on the street and is attracted to. To do so without her conset however if clearly a moral problem.

        Of course, it’s no surprising that you would think otherwise. Most Zionists seem to exhibit sociopathic tendencies.

        Furthermore, you accept that not all injustice generates violent responses.

        So what? That does not prove the opposite ie. That injustice does not lead to violent responses. in fact, the connection between injustice and violence is absolute. Americas prisons are filled with perpetrators of crimes who’s persional histories are filled with injustice, which explains why the majority of prisoners are African Americans.

        One need only take a piece of propagdna out of the Hasbra playbook. Doesn’t the motto of Never Again implicitly mean that that the injustices of the past mean that a repeat of those injustices will be met with resistance, including violence?

        Violence which can be controlled, where its agent determines when to commit it and when not to, is clearly influenced by choice.

        No one is arguing that. Israel could chose not to defend itself, but it’s defenders would argue that this choice would be unacceptable.

        Choice being the fundament of morality, of course.

        So you agree that self defense and self preservation is also a choice right?

        His thesis was that people who support the (im)moral choice intentionally to perpetuate violence on civilians are themselves immoral.

        By that standard, every Israeli leaders since (and including Ben Gurion) immoral.

      • Shingo
        March 16, 2012, 8:35 am

        Her only interest is Jewish malfeasance, but for anyone who can see beyond that it’s a huge question.

        it’s actually not huge at all, but very simple.

        Violent riots engulfed London last year–was it because they were more oppressed than people in other cities?

        The London riots began when a police officer shot an unarmed man you dufus. And there have neen riots in many British cities.

        Look up the Historyfo British rioting. It’s practically a British pastime.

        You hasbrats are simply unbelivable. Your arfument sound like they were constructed by 5 year olds.

      • Shingo
        March 16, 2012, 8:44 am

        Have you ever seen a Grad rocket?

        No, nor have most of us seen Hellfire missiles.

        It can’t be acquired nor operated by an angry frustrated individual.

        Nor can F16’s, Apache Helicopters and nukes. Are you arguing that this makes ISrael immoral?

        An angry frustarted indivudual can stab someone, or throw rocks at cars.

        An angry frustarted Israeli Prime ministers can order the bombing of Gaza for no reason.

        In order to launch Grad rockets, not to mention barrages of them, one needs all the trappings of an international corporation.

        In order to launch F16 sortie, not to mention doing so for decades, one needs more than the trappings of an international corporation.

        Which is what the Israel government of coure – and they’re proud of it.

        Go loomk at the tshirts they wear and see how the present themselves.

        link to google.com.au

      • Shingo
        March 16, 2012, 8:53 am

        Here are a few prominent Israelis who disgree with Winneca’s thesis.

        “If I were a Palestinian of the right age, I would join, at some point, one of the terrorist groups.”
        Ehud Barak
        link to haaretz.com

        “In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously, because they deserved it…the importance of Gur’s remarks is the admission that the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously…the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…[but] purposely attacked civilian targets even when Israeli settlements had not been struck.”
        — Israeli military analyst, Ze’ev Schiff (Haaretz, May 15, 1978).

        “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
        David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff.
        From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978:

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 16, 2012, 9:45 am

        Have you ever seen a Grad rocket? It can’t be acquired nor operated by an angry frustrated individual. An angry frustarted indivudual can stab someone, or throw rocks at cars. In order to launch Grad rockets, not to mention barrages of them, one needs all the trappings of an international corporation.

        Your thinking is all muddled here. What, exactly, do you think the connection is between “an angry frustrated individual” and sophisticated weaponry.

        Nowhere is Anne making a “crime of passion” argument. Nothing in the thesis — that “the instinct to respond to violent provocations violently [is] human nature” — requires that the response be immediate, unthinking or knee-jerk. Taking a long time to plan a response does not make the drive to enact the response any less insticntual.

      • teta mother me
        March 16, 2012, 11:12 am

        I think I’ve said earlier that I have enormous respect for the Palestinian liberation, but my focus is on getting zionist influence out of US government, and also on advocating for Iran.

        Given the “natural instinct” to fight back that Annie rightly described, and given that what a state offers and owes its citizens first and foremost is the defense of its people against the harmful intrusions of others, we should be in awe that the Iranian government and the Iranian people have not arisen in righteous outrage against 30+ years of American, Western, and Israeli oppression against Iran.
        Iranians answer to a higher code than does the US. If the US — and Israel– conceive of themselves as “a shining city on a hill” and “a light unto the nations,” they both should realize that Iran was on that hill first and invented that light. Esther killed 75,000 Persians, the people who, before she wrote herself into the script, had devised the Cyrus Cylinder, the first code of international human rights.

      • MHughes976
        March 16, 2012, 5:37 pm

        I’ve heard of perpetrating violence but not often of perpetuating it, ie making sure it never stops. I doubt if anyone in the ME conflict would admit to ‘intentional perpetuation’. Some people think that they have a right to perpetrate it even if there is a very strong likelihood that the victims will be unarmed.
        Is it not plain enough that both flight and fight are natural reactions to violence among most animals, depending on a mixture of instinct and situation – how could it not be?
        In the light of this, I think annie’s point is that you can’t indefinitely and on a daily basis perpetrate violence (and inflict humiliation, I would add) without raising to very high levels the probability of violent reaction at least sometimes, even beyond moral limits. This wouldn’t be a situation of no problem: it would be full of problems, both in respect of prediction of events ‘spinning out of control’ and in respect of morality. I think, for a start, that the daily perpetrator of violence in this kind of situation is bound to be acting unjustly, though I do not think that this proves that violent reactions against this person are permitted.

    • stevieb
      March 15, 2012, 2:17 pm

      So what’s different about the Palestinains? Are they really that different from everybody else? How would you know?

      Of course to have a violent response you cant’ be tied up or incapacitated. So there should be no freedom for the Palestinians as long as Jews are occupying their homes and land, is that what you’re saying? OK. Interesting ideas. Get out much?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 2:24 pm

        Violent responses to suffering are generally a sign of a degree of freedom of movement, thought, and organization, among other causations.

        yeah, note how a person wrapped in duct tape experiences less opportunity for violent response. sometimes it can be detected in the eyes tho, if a persons mouth is also taped. or perhaps a flaring of the nostrils.

        he’s right tho, violent responses is a sign of a degree of freedom. what would we do without this kind of intellect here? swim in a sea of confusion no doubt.

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 15, 2012, 2:29 pm

        “So there should be no freedom for the Palestinians as long as Jews are occupying their homes and land, is that what you’re saying?”

        This reminded me of the fact that one of the most racist presumptions at work here is the one that says that granting rights to Palestinians is one that can or should only be done after the Jews are secure in their rights. Awful bigoted stuff, but it drives this entire debate.

    • Shingo
      March 16, 2012, 8:19 am

      Is it really human nature?

      Ever heard of the Waraw uprising?

      If you read lots of history you’ll find that there’s no correlation between the level of persecution, even of suffering, and the level of violent response.

      On the contrary, persecution and violent response and instrincally connected. You obviuosly don’t read much history.

      The slaves in America suffered more and longer than the Palestinians, but rarely responded with violence.

      How many of them were bombed and massacred by the hundreds at a time?

      he long-suffering populace of North Korea likewise.

      The he long-suffering populace of North Korea are all North Korean citizens who have chosen their political system.

      South African blacks under Apartheid.

      Ever heard of the ANC, which was considerd a terrorsit organization by the Reagan administration?

      Violent responses to suffering are generally a sign of a degree of freedom of movement, thought, and organization, among other causations.

      Just like the Warsaw Ghetto huh?

      You haven’t read any history at all have you?

      Tell me Winnica, Do you hasbrats take epective classes is stupidity?

  5. Woody Tanaka
    March 15, 2012, 12:18 pm

    If Burston is unwilling to deem the Israeli approach to the Palestinians since 1947 a war crime and a crime against humanity — and follow that to its logical conclusion, including calls for prosecution of Israeli leaders, reparation, removal of Israeli military forces and civilians from beyond the 1967 line, etc. — then his opinions are worthless and, essentially, an attempt to wrangle the ideals of the left and make those ideals weapons in the ongoing Nakba.

    Leftist, liberal, progressive thought are not ends in themselves. We do not follow them for themselves, but because they advance the maximum amount of human happiness and the least amount of human suffering. If a democracy has become so powerful that it can vote to oppress other people, then those voters have lost the right to object to their victims attacking them, simply on the grounds that those voters are “civilians.”

    • andrew r
      March 15, 2012, 1:20 pm

      Burston says a whole lot of nothing so it seems like he’s critical of Israel though not really. Look at this navel gazing trash.

      link to haaretz.com

      “”God protect you from us, and from your own people. You will be scoffed at even as you are shot at. There are people on both sides for whom non-violence causes a sense of unease, a sense of being, forgive me, emasculated.

      Teach us to grow up.

      Teach us what we have lost. Our sense of shame.”

      There’s two ways to read that. He either knows the IDF can kill civilians deliberately, as in, not collateral damage, or he thinks there’s no real danger for non-violent resisters, so he’s making fun of them. This guy exists only to give Israeli media a sense of soul-searching. His kind think it’s really cute to act like they’re in and out of rehab only instead of drinking they shoot civilians. Engaging with him is a complete waste of time because he’s the kind of bullshit artist as only Zionism with a liberal face can bring you. If he’s reading this, what can I say? Yeridah for Israel, Bradley.

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 15, 2012, 2:06 pm

        I agree, Andrew. No one who is unwilling to criticize Israel and call their actions war crimes and their society Apartheid is simply delusional and not really worth considering.

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 6:06 pm

        I read the Burston article…..same old, same old typical whining hypocritical fop, as are all of his kind. Throw in some leftism, throw in some war crimes, mix and stir and you have the same old serving of bull s***.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 6:40 pm

        i found it a little confusing why he was choosing now to write this article. gaza has just been pulverized, many deaths, and he’s taking a stab at the left. based on extracting some meaning from a comment on a thread. perhaps positioning israeli victim status based on the (extremely predictable) rockets attacks.

        on the upside reut must be thrilled.
        link to reut-institute.org

        The logic was that the most effective voices against delegitimization often come from the ‘left’, as well as from non-establishment ‘fringe’ groups, particularly because of their ideological proximity to the (false) pretention of delegitimizers to serve peace, human rights and international law. The tension here stems from the fact that the credibility of such voices often stem from their criticism of Israel’s policies or of mainstream Jewish organizations. Hence, we needed to increase the band-width of tolerance for criticism of Israel’s policies in order to win the fight against the delegitimizers by adding instruments to our orchestra, so to speak.

        Yet, the broad tent approach must be compounded by complementary principles such as:

        Narrowing the definition of ‘delegitimization’ (Reut suggested delegitimization to mean the rejection of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination or of the State of Israel to exist), and then aggressively outing, naming and shaming delegitimizers;

        probably just a coincidence.

      • Robert
        March 16, 2012, 3:09 am

        Reut suggested delegitimization to mean the rejection of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination or of the State of Israel to exist.

        MK Haneen Zoabi shares with the Reut Institute the right of the Jewish people to self-determination:

        link to israeli-occupation.org

        “The framework is to challenge Zionism. And only then, I would define the right of the Jews here. And the right of the Jews is not for a state of their own. **It is a right for self-determination here – not as a state, but rather within a state for all its citizens.** And then this state gives Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs collective rights. Or, it can be a bi-national state.

  6. HarryLaw
    March 15, 2012, 1:26 pm

    An analogy could be if two boxers step into a ring, the contest is under the Marquis of Queensbury rules, Immediately one of them [his names Israel] kicks his opponent in the stomach and then proceeds to stomp on his neck until he is near death, that person has the right to lash out to try and stop that persons unlawful aggression. In a conflict situation it is called belligerent reprisal and is a limited breach of International Law [ if civilians are targeted] its aim is to punish or stop another sovereign state that has already broken them, of course we know Israel never breaches International Law. In my opinion it is both natural and legitimate to answer Israeli crimes in this way.

  7. piotr
    March 15, 2012, 1:58 pm

    The logic that Burston wants to impose goes something like that:

    The attacks at armed people are moral and attacks at not armed people are not.

    People who are armed with crappy weapons and are attacked with superior weapons from safe distance, and who have no range to reach the armed attackers have no moral means of retaliation.

    In short: the weak are immoral, the strong are moral.

    Conclusion: nuclear arms confer supreme morality. The epicenter should be some military location, and civilians in the area should be duly warned, and supremely moral attack can commence.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 15, 2012, 2:17 pm

      i am not sure if that is his intention. but i found it odd he took my words out of context to construe his allegation. i didn’t ‘term attacks on civilian populations’. if he wanted to make a point about leftists, he could have found something with more meat in it that he didn’t have to contort to make his point.

      that’s ok tho, it provided me an opportunity to say the obvious.

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 6:17 pm

        Should know by now lying is the only tool these kind of people have.
        Or maybe they don’t know their lying and really are that mentally deficient. Probably both more likely.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    March 15, 2012, 3:39 pm

    RE: “I did not term ‘attacks’ a matter of human nature, I
    termed the instinct to respond to violent provocations violently as human nature.” ~ Annie Robbins

    ALSO SEE: Way to go, IDF! ~ By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 3/11/12
    The cyclical ritual of bloodletting between Israel and Gaza always prompts two questions: ‘Who started it?’ and ‘Whose is bigger?’

    (excerpt)…And imagine if, God forbid, there were 15 Israelis killed over the weekend? Cast Lead 2 and regional war, with a politically different Egypt as a backdrop. But the killing of 15 Palestinians is allowed, eliciting just a yawn. In another day or two, we should hope that calm will again prevail. And actually, the commentators have been saying that “neither side is interested in a confrontation.” A nameless mediator will handle the negotiations and the weapons will again be locked up.
    Until the next round. At that point, the juvenile questions will be asked all over again. Again, Israel will not restrain itself from carrying out additional targeted killings. Again, the Palestinians will not restrain themselves from avenging the killings, both sides locked in their stupidity. Because that’s the routine in this insane asylum.
    For those on the inside, everything appears normal and routine – as is always the case among such psychotic patients. So Iran is compared to Auschwitz and, in a blind reflex, a target killing is carried out in Gaza in the middle of a period of calm that had benefited everyone…

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to haaretz.com

  9. Justice Please
    March 15, 2012, 3:41 pm

    Hey Bradley, I have news for you: The right of a people to resist occupation and fight for their self-determination is inaliable.

    And if you are so concerned about bottle rockets that seldomly hit anything, why don’t you advise the Israeli government and public to give up control over Palestinian territory? Huh?

    • Winnica
      March 15, 2012, 7:14 pm

      Funny bottle rockets which are produced in China or Iran, have a range of 25 miles, can be aimed precisely, and carry a payload of 100-200 lbs.
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 11:45 pm

        can be aimed precisely

        well if that is the case the likelihood they were targeting civilians is practically nil. it sounds like they are targeting open space and there’s a small fraction of collateral damage.

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 16, 2012, 11:08 am

        Winnica, that is false. Even if they were using a Grad system (which they’re not — they fire 122 mm rockets, the same type as used in the Grad, but they do not use Grad launchers.) the Grad system can not be “aimed precisely.”

  10. seafoid
    March 15, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Apparently Bradley Burston lives in the Jewish settlement of Gilo whose land belongs to Beit Jala.

  11. Rusty Pipes
    March 15, 2012, 7:01 pm

    Frankly, Annie, you graciously give Burston too much leeway. He mentions Abunimah’s (brilliant) commentary in passing, picking up on a sub-theme and amplifying it as a problem of the left. He even trolled for comments on leftist sites to provide fodder for his diversion — and he found and distorted yours. The diversion of course was from Abunimah’s point, part of his title: “mowing the lawn” — seeding Gaza with attacks (which are not covered in the MSM) until it finally manages to get a violent response of any kind, which it can then use as a pretext for escalation of attack on Gaza. Here’s Abunimah:

    Beyond the propaganda, informed Israeli commentators, even those supporting the action, acknowledge that Israel chose to initiate the current escalation of violence:

    In the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz wrote:

    When the IDF decided on Friday afternoon to assassinate the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip, it knew what it was getting itself into.

    Assessments ahead of the decision to bomb the car carrying Zuhair Qaisi predicted that around 100 rockets could be fired into Israel during each day of the round of violence expected to erupt. This was a price the government felt it was capable of paying.

    In other words, Israel was prepared to carry out an extrajudicial execution, a war crime, knowing that there would be retaliation. Israel’s routine policy of executing Palestinians in occupied territories without charge or trial, based on flimsy allegations made by the killers themselves, is a major violation of international humanitarian law and makes a mockery of Israel’s claim to be a “democracy” by any possible measure.

  12. Bruce
    March 16, 2012, 12:45 am

    Excellent, Annie.

    Bradley owes you a response.

  13. Taxi
    March 16, 2012, 1:34 am

    Even by name, Bradly Burston don’t sound like he’s a mid east native. It’s a waste of time to have given this ‘genteel’ occupier/colonialist more a a line or two of response, annie.

  14. pabelmont
    March 16, 2012, 7:45 am

    “A boy of 16 who’s witnessed his father slaughtered– why shouldn’t he act out? Explain that to me. Better yet explain it to him. And he should be comprehending international law, when that law is not applicable to his much more powerful predator (who is protected by my government at the UN)? Targeted assassinations of people not engaged in combat are forbidden under international law. That law applies to the assassinations your government carried out recently”

    Perfect. If there IS NO I/L, then what the Gazan rocketeers do is not illegal (even if foolish, useless, maybe or maybe not immoral, etc.). If, OTOH, there *IS* I/L, then Israel should be held to it (and so should USA). The USA and Israel have done so much to make I/L (or the part of it relating to H/R under occupation and laws of war) vanish like the “dew in the morn” that it ill becomes Bradley Burston or anyone else to point a finger at the SMALL VIOLATIONS by Gazans when he knows about the MAJOR VIOLATIONS by Israel and USA.

    But we know the real problem, don’t we? Gaza has never claimed to be “a light unto the nations” and thus failed to acquire the “right” to ignore the rights of others.

  15. Shingo
    March 16, 2012, 8:56 am

    Outstanding rebuttal Annie,

    Burston is simply responding to bluster and obfuscation, because he ultimately knows he can debate you. Israel was founded on violence and terrorism. As Derfner pointed out, it elected terorist leaders to the highest office in the land. Burston’s blinkeredness, hypocrisy adn double standards are so extreme, they defy description.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 16, 2012, 9:29 pm

      thank you shingo

      he could probably debate me on certain matters but this is not one of them.

  16. Mayhem
    March 19, 2012, 12:50 am

    Instinctual behavior may be understandable but is not condoned in civilized societies today. A court of law will never accept it as an excuse.

    • Shingo
      March 19, 2012, 3:31 am

      Instinctual behavior may be understandable but is not condoned in civilized societies today.

      Nor is ethnic cleansing, mass murder, land theft, violation of the Geneva Conventions on human rights.

      A court of law will never accept it as an excuse.

      You mean like the ICJ?

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