If You Heard Palestinians Playing the Violin, You'd Understand

Via The Economist:

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(Source:  AP)

0 Responses to If You Heard Palestinians Playing the Violin, You'd Understand

  • It sure seems like the Israelis allow the basic life necessities to enter into the Gaza Strip.

    I don’t think that either a donkey or a violin is a necessity for living.

  • I imagine it is some Israeli Min of Finance bureaucrat’s idea of promoting self-reliance among the Gazans. Hay, fertiliser and animal feed for the local industry. Pepper, rice and chickpeas don’t grow well in the dry Mediterranean climate. No metals though for improvised weapons. Little here that an agrarian can find fault with.

  • Ivan

    What? They are not given the materials (like lumbar) nor the resources (like hatcheries) to actually be agrarian, to be self-reliant. Look what is forbidden. They are not being given what is needed to be anything but indebted to aid.

  • I don’t think that either a donkey or a violin is a necessity for living.

    Neither is prohibiting them necessary for Israel’s security.

  • Ah, but now the Gazans can import whatever they want from Egypt, until the Egyptians slam the border shut again which I predict they will do before the end of June. The Israelis are not the only state to have a great many problems with the Gazans and their Hamas government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%932010_blockade_of_the_Gaza_Strip

  • Donald,

    I keep hearing people make this point, but I’m not sure what to make of it. Is the idea that if Egypt does something it can’t be bad?

  • The idea BA is that Hamas is a noxious terrorist group that is abhorred by not only Israel, but Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. You can also toss into that mix Jordan. The main backer of Hamas is Iran with Damascus having an on again-off again relationship. The problem in this case isn’t Israel or the blockade, but that the people of Gaza chose to have their state led by a gang of terrorists. Political decisions have consequences and the people of Gaza are reaping what their ballots sowed.

  • Anyone who follows the Vatican knows the Pope’s stand here.

    He has been against the blockade: http://presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=94604

    http://sify.com/news/pope-condemns-israeli-raid-on-gaza-aid-ships-news-international-kgcvuffdeij.html his reaction has been that of those some people call “liberal.” Funny that.

  • The idea BA is that Hamas is a noxious terrorist group that is abhorred by not only Israel, but Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

    And by me. But what does that have to do with whether Israel allows fresh meat to be imported into the Gaza Strip?

  • Everything BA. Israel will maintain the blockade as will Egypt until Hamas is no longer in power. The Gazans have it within their power to correct this situation, a power I am certain they will not exercise. In regard to fresh meat as opposed to packaged meat, I assume the distinction has to do with the smuggling of arms and ammunition. When one state has chosen to be in a state of war with another state, a choice the Gazans manifestly made when they picked Hamas, they have to put up with a lot when they end up losing the war.

  • In regard to fresh meat as opposed to packaged meat, I assume the distinction has to do with the smuggling of arms and ammunition.

    Thanks, Donald, I needed a laugh.

  • So BA, you simply assume that the Israelis are being irrational and doing it for the hell of it? Smuggling arms and ammunition would be far easier in meat carcasses than in pre-packaged frozen meat. Thank you for the returned amusement. Libertarian ideals and the real world so often have such a poor fit, such as your obvious belief that the solution to the Gaza problem is trade.

  • Awe come on. You know how “creative” terrorists are these days. If a person can hide drugs within their own self, then terrorists could probably figure out a way to use an animal and sneak in a donkey bomber (sarcasm).

  • So BA, you simply assume that the Israelis are being irrational and doing it for the hell of it?

    The restrictions are irrational if the goal is to stop arms from coming into Gaza. They aren’t irrational if the goal is simply to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas (some of the restrictions also appear to be based on a protectionist motive). Since punishing Gaza residents is one of the explicit aims of the blockaid, trying to figure out how nutmug poses a security threat while cinnamon does not is a fool’s game.

  • Megan McArdle had a good post on this on Tuesday:

    “Many of my commenters seem to think that the point of the Gaza blockade is simply to keep war materiel from reaching insurgents in Gaza. That is not the reason for the Gaza blockade, though it may be one goal. But the strategy is much farther reaching than that: it is to topple Hamas by immiserating the people who elected them. [...]

    “I know that terrorists can be fiendishly clever, but there is no real evidence, only unconfirmed rumors among the intel community, that Hamas actually has the Coriander Bomb. Most experts put them at least 5-8 years away from developing that sort of destructive technology. [...]

    “But whether or not you agree with the policy, this was not particularly about keeping Hamas or other groups from getting weapons–the “weapons cache” found aboard consisted of knives, slingshots, and wooden batons, which pose no threat to Israeli civilians even if they make it to Gaza. This was about control.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/06/what-is-israels-blockade-for/57574/

  • Considering how the number of terrorist incidents against Israel have plunged, I’d say that the blockade from an Israeli standpoint is quite rational and working swimmingly. The blockade is a problem for the Gazans and not for the Israelis, unless one takes seriously world public opinion which the Israelis are rational enough not to.

  • I can certainly imagine that one of the pleasant side-effects of having a complex and nonsensical list of banned items for the blockade is that enforcing those restrictions involves the Israeli’s inspecting enough of what goes in and out that they end up being pretty effective in blocking weapons as well. However, there are a couple obvious points here:

    1) If Israel enforced a blockade that really did ban only weapons, it would he harder for people to work up international sympathy about the cruelty of it all. There’s a certain amount of international opinion (out of Europe and some parts of the American left) which is always going to be dead-set against Israel, but they’ve also always recognized that a certain amount of international support is necessary to their survival in a region which would much rather see them exterminated.

    2) Enforcing a blockade (as opposed to an embargo, such as the US embargo of Cuba) means you have to be prepared to sink or board any ships which are attempting to run the blockade. Against the determined opponent, this will mean killing a lot of people. I think that raises a legitimate moral question as to whether it’s acceptable to kill a large number of people in support of crippling Gaza’s economy in order to put pressure on the Gazans to replace their government. Surely, having the Gazans replace their government would be a good thing. But killing a number of people in support of such an indirect means (We had to sink their ship to keep our coriander and musical instruments so they’d get rid of their government!) of achieving that objective seems morally problematic. If it’s really worth killing a number of people over, the traditional way of getting rid of a government is via invasion and occupation. (Though in this case, the Israeli’s have tried that as well and it didn’t work out well.)

    It would arguably be more moral and just as effective to embargo (rather than blockade) Gaza, clear a dimilitarized zone around it, point artillery at it, and be very clear that if they manage to kill Israelis with their cross border attacks, they’ll be hit back hard.

  • Considering how the number of terrorist incidents against Israel have plunged, I’d say that the blockade from an Israeli standpoint is quite rational and working swimmingly.

    Actually this plunge occurred before the blockaid, as can be seen by this data compiled by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • I think that raises a legitimate moral question as to whether it’s acceptable to kill a large number of people in support of crippling Gaza’s economy in order to put pressure on the Gazans to replace their government.

    There’s also the question of whether making Palestinians suffer is actually an effective means of making them turn against Hamas. From what I know of human nature, I would say not.

  • The Chart you reference BA includes the West Bank and the Second Intifada. Rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza plunged from 2,048 in 2008 to 566 in 2009, only 160 of which were fired after the Gaza War. The Gaza War caused Hamas to shoot off most of its rockets and the blockade have prevented them from doing much to replenish their supply.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel,_2009

  • But the blockade also includes things that have *nothing* to do with munitions, Donald.

    I can understand trying to keep explosives and their ingredients away from Hamas.

    I can’t understand trying to keep dried bananas and ginger away from the people in Gaza.

  • Rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza plunged from 2,048 in 2008 to 566 in 2009, only 160 of which were fired after the Gaza War.

    I don’t know why people keep citing statistics comparing 2008 to 2009 when the blockaid started in early 2007. The number of rocket attacks increased significantly after the blockaid was imposed, and the plunge of which you speak happened after the Gaza war. So clearly it was a blockaid and not the war that caused the decline.

  • “The number of rocket attacks increased significantly after the blockaid was imposed, and the plunge of which you speak happened after the Gaza war. So clearly it was a blockaid and not the war that caused the decline.”

    It is both the war BA and the blockaid that has caused the decline. In the war Hamas depleted their arsenal of missles and the blockaid has prevented Hamas from replenishing their missles to the same extent pre-blockaid. Without the blockaid rest assured that Hamas would be rapidly replenishing their missles for another round of lets-see-if-we-can-provoke-the-Israelis-into-flattening-us-again.

  • Some parts of the “concentration camp” are not doing so poorly though.

    http://www.bivouac-id.com/2009/12/06/attention-photos-insoutenables-gaza-affamee/

  • Thanks for that link, Phillip. Yeah, it looks just like Buchenwald there. I didn’t spot coriander amongst the foodstuffs piled high. That proves the Israelis are terrible, terrible oppressors.

    The list of “forbidden items” unwittingly shows how truly petty the complaints of the Israel-haters are. People who had the misfortune to live under Japanese or Nazi rule in 1943 would have been thrilled if the only thing they had to worry about was a ban on spices and violins.

    Why is it that when it comes to Israel, otherwise sensible people completely lose all sense of proportion? What is it about that potato-chip sized country that drives folks around the bend? They want so badly to believe that a tiny bunch of Jews who have faced an existential threat since the day their country was founded are heartless Jack-the-Rippers. Why, it seems like just yesterday I was reading breathless accounts of bodies piled to the sky in Jenin – a report that turned out to be utterly false. Now we’re supposed to feel indignant because Gaza residents can’t toss a bit of coriander in the tabbouli.

    As for violins, it seems to me what Mark Steyn calls the “world’s most comprehensively wrecked people” (wrecked not by Israelis, but by their own hatred, addiction to violence, and status as Left-wing victims par excellence) have been playing the world’s smallest one since 1948.

  • On the other hand, Donna, it seems that any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel means that the person making the critique has lost all sense of proportion and been driven around the bend.

    I’m fairly confident that BA supports the right of Israel to exist, and I know that I do. But that obviously doesn’t mean that their actions can’t be critiqued.

    In this case, the point is that this blockade is *not* simply about keeping explosives out of the hands of those who hate Israel, but rather is about squeezing the civilian population as an indirect attack on Hamas. Can we at least agree on that?

  • If we also agree Gaza isn’t a “Concentration Camp.”

  • Sure, but no one here has said that anyway, Phillip.

  • Chris, it’s true that some of the items on the list are puzzling. But in this world of manifest evils, I see the list as a mote in the eye, not a beam. I’m sorry – in a world in which news of female circumcisions, honor killings, beheadings, etc are met by our enlightened elites without a blink of an eye, while Israel gets pilloried for – coriander bans, well, all I can say is we are truly living in the Age of Stupid. If I seem knee-jerk to you, it’s because I’ve gotten awfully tired at hysterical Internet assertions (I am not saying BA is guilty of this) that the Israelis are committing “genocide” in Gaza and that they’re every bit as brutal as the Nazis. I’ve read enough about the extermination camps to know what an absurd and wicked comparison that is.

    You know, maybe I am a bit reluctant to come down hard on Israelis because I have no idea what it is like to live in a postage stamp of a country surrounded by millions of people who hate me and wish me dead and to have the question of whether my country has a right to even exist debated daily by the world and answered in the negative by most of the world. That’s quite apart from what Israelis do or don’t do. It’s not like they get any credit when they make concessions. I expect that after 60 years of constant attacks, Israelis (who are just human like the rest of us) sometimes make mistakes, just as Americans do. I’m sick of Israelis and Americans getting condemned because they don’t always live up to impossibly high standards, while our enemies are not expected to live up to any standards of humane behavior whatsoever.

  • Chris, here is another reason why I am unmoved by Gazans who have to endure life without coriander:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9331863/

    Israeli settlers in Gaza had created a booming greenhouse business, one that competed with the Dutch. And what did the Palestinians do when they took control of Gaza in 2005? Their first act was to strip and smash those greenhouses, to utterly destroy that thriving business. And now we’re supposed to feel pity because they don’t have spices? Well, gee, maybe if they hadn’t trashed the greenhouse business they wouldn’t have to worry about lack of nutmeg or coriander.

    That’s the thing that maddens me. The Palestinians destroy. They destroy innocent people at Seder dinners and on buses and discos, they destroy Israeli homes with bombs, they destroy infrastructure, even infrastructure that can be used to their advantage. That is all they do. That seems to be all they know how to do. And why should they create, when the more they destroy, the more the world sympathizes with their troubles and takes pity on them. The Israelis create and build, make the desert bloom,develop businesses and trades – and my, how the world hates them.

  • The defense of the list is “spices aren’t a big deal.” They ignore what is the big deal.. typical.

  • You a quite correct, Chris. No one said it here. But it is a continuation of a conversation which you clearly did not read here:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/01/israel-vs-the-freedom-flotilla/#comments

    One even provided a link to the innane comments of the Cardinal that originated the quote.

    But its good that we can agree that such a comment is false and unconstructive in discussing the topic.

  • It’s true that a lot of criticism of Israel is overwrought. On the other hand, I think a lot of those supportive of Israel have fallen into the somewhat lazy habit of dismissing any criticism of Israel as based in Jew-hatred or as otherwise illegitimate. Israel has the complete right to defend itself, but a ban on musical instruments isn’t necessary to protect Israel’s security and in fact has the potential to seriously harm Israel’s security interests long-term.

  • It’s a hard balance to hit because of the way that we normally tend to think about contentious issues, in terms of faction. On the other side, we see this in some of the folks who come over here from other blogs and while insisting that they “abhore violence”, defend anything and everything that thugs like Hamas do because “it’s understandable given all they’ve suffered.”

    As someone who is pro-Israeli in outlook, I want to avoid making the same mistake. As such, I think it’s important to be able to criticize individual Israeli actions, without in the process being taken to support Hamas or those who tacitly support its violence.

  • Much of the world jumped to conclusions right off the bat and declared that Israel was in the wrong. I stated in my own post that I would need to wait and see as the facts unfolded and became clear, and then I would decide whether Israel was in the right or wrong in this matter. Maybe, the Israelis could have handled this situation better? But, it seems that Israel was in a no win situation here, where if the Israelis did something different and acted in a more peaceful manner there could have been many more dead, and with the situation that did occur Israelis were more prepared, and maybe they saved more lives from being killed because of taking more of a proactive role, but in the end many in the world condemned their actions.

    I think these no win situations also apply to the blockade and what items the Israelis allow to be brought into Israel. Should they allow public opinion to sway how they conduct their national security or should they do what they perceive to be best to save lives in Israel?

  • Blackadder:

    A ban on musical instruments is not going to harm Israel’s security in the short, medium, or long run.

    Darwin:

    I would agree with you with one caveat: few of us have granular knowledge of what the likely implications are of undertaking or failing to undertake certain sorts of action with regard to security. So, unless you are making a normative argument that such and such an action is inherently wrong, you generally have to be very alive to the possibility you misunderstand what is being done and why.

    Evaluating police shootings presents similar problems for the layman. There can also be key facts left out of common narratives. The arrest of Rodney King in 1992 would be relevant here. (King’s companions were unmolested by the police and a short segment of the film in question which showed King charging the officers was not broadcast).

    As for functional pacifists who busy themselves filing lawyers’ briefs for the gratuitously violent, you might consider the possibility that both poses could serve similar ends, with little to do with politics and war in the Near East. (See Political Pilgrims by Paul Hollander and Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell). The reluctance of some of these characters (any I have ever talked to) to delineate for you what is their idea is of an agreeable equilibrium in the Near East is instructive.

  • “As for functional pacifists who busy themselves filing lawyers’ briefs for the gratuitously violent,”

    Thank you Art! That goes right into my little black book of memorable quotes I have stolen.

  • As such, I think it’s important to be able to criticize individual Israeli actions, without in the process being taken to support Hamas or those who tacitly support its violence.

    Fair enough and I hope you realize I do not consider either you or Blackadder to be in the pro-Hamas club. No country is above criticism. At the same time, nobody can say Israel is in danger of being under-criticized.

  • At the same time, nobody can say Israel is in danger of being under-criticized.

    Ain’t that the truth…

  • At the same time, nobody can say Israel is in danger of being under-criticized.

    DarwinCatholic said “Ain’t that the truth…”

    I second that.

  • Teresa,

    Thanks for joining in the many conversations we have here.

    Want to add a pic to your icon?

    http://en.gravatar.com/

  • There ya go!

    Your husbands next.

  • Thank you very much, Tito.

    Yes. I’ll get him to add a pic also.

  • A ban on musical instruments is not going to harm Israel’s security in the short, medium, or long run.

    I would imagine that being known as a country which is willing to kill foreign nationals in order to enforce a ban on things like musical instruments and coriander would in fact be damaging to one’s security in some term or other.

  • Certainly Israel is in no danger of being under-criticized, although various individuals may be in danger of either under-criticizing or over-criticizing.

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