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July 24, 2006



It's an even older tactic than that, Jamie.

This is classic siege warfare stuff - drive the peasants off their land using the good old scorched-earth policy and into the town/castle you're planning to attack, in the expectation that you'll shorten the siege by overloading the defending army with refugees.

Sadly, the downside to that strategy appears to have been forgotten - when it didn't screw over the supplies of the defending army, it tended to build up a nice amount of fresh, clear hatred amongst the displaced population, especially when coupled with that medieval 'foible', looting, raping and pillaging; all of which tended to make refugees the ideal shock troops/cannon fodder for any commander trying to break out of a siege situation.

Charlie Whitaker

From the US Army Law of Land Warfare:

... there is no rule of law which compels the commander of an investing force to permit noncombatants to leave a besieged locality. It is within the discretion of the besieging commander whether he will permit noncombatants to leave and under what conditions. Thus, if a commander of a besieged place expels the noncombatants in order to lessen the logistical burden he has to bear, it is lawful, though an extreme measure, to drive them back, so as to hasten the surrender. Persons who attempt to leave or enter a besieged place without obtaining the necessary permission are liable to be fired upon, sent back, or detained.

Has a charm all its own.

Denis Drew

Could forgetting Israel's guilty origins -- not remembering the holocaust be what drives Israel to pummel little punching-bag countries to admit its right to exist? Is Israel's only road map to physical -- and psychic -- security forcing the Arab world to accept its guilty rationalizations? Nice deal if you can get it.

Meanwhile back at the settlements: if you successfully rationalize settling your citizens in captured territory to be no different morally from picking up land in Arizona, then, the emotional concomitant is to expect that, sooner or later, "unjust" opposition must call it quits.

This social instinct one-two may be called the "territorial imperative".

OTOH, frankly admitting that usurping another's turf makes you the bad guy, "instinctively" warns you that attempting to squeeze even below 10% of your population -- limited benefit -- among millions of angry original occupants -- guarantees permanent warfare for 100% of your people: thus spake Richard Nixon and Moshe Dayan.

Israel's latest war for forgetfulness?: treating a couple of minor infantry skirmishes as -- a couple of minor infantry skirmishes -- might be too close a "social instinct" match for Israeli soldiers as illegal occupiers who should expect their fair share of resistance -- which is where we came into this movie.

Should Israel ever give up moral rationalizing and proceed rationally to renounce its role as the most dangerous nation in the Middle East (armed with 100 nuclear weapons!), quite rational people (a Nixon?; a Dayan?) confidently predict that the "silent Arab majority" is willing to live with (even if that means "put up with") the fact of Israel's creation (but never with Arab prisons named "creating facts"!).

Let's make a deal: after Israel withdraws 400,000 settlers from the West Bank, the USA and others may be able to send millions more Jews to Israel to stave off its worrisome Arab population time bomb. Five of the world's thirteen million Jews already live in the Jewish state despite WW 33 1/3 always going on. Israel should confidently expect additional millions to make Aliyah if geopolitical sense ever rules.

And there's more: many Europeans live out their retirement in North African locations like Algeria in order to stretch their pensions. An Israel at permanent peace with its neighbors could make an attractive retirement destination (sunny Algeria? -- but Israel will have to keep prices down). Retirees would more Europeanize Israel without lessening its Jewishness because they would not become citizens -- as well as give Europe a personal interest in Israel's safety.

Personal PS: I never get depressed; I feel good when I should feel bad; but daily TV viewing Israel chew up its cowering neighbors' vital infrastructure for -- no discernable benefit beyond -- extended target practice discourages me more than anything since America trade skyscrapers for settlements on 9/11/01.

Denis Drew
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Denis Drew

If Israel as a whole were a mirror image of the West Bank....
....the view would contain five million Jews embedded among twenty-five million Palestinians -- the Islamic majority corralled into 60% of the terrain (separate and not equal), not even permitted to drill new wells on their own aquifer, daily travel an obstacle course nightmare through sometimes open/sometimes closed checkpoints; a couple of hundred thousand family homes (paralleling twenty thousand in the territories) bulldozed for newcomer security, typically on five minutes notice.

Why would anybody expect twenty-five million -- or a few million -- dispossessed Muslims and their billion plus co-religionists to live in peace with an occupation that subjugates their choice for the "people of God" to literal imitation of the degradation portrayed in "Schindler's List":

An Israeli officer cold bloodedly shoots a 13 year old girl for wandering into a security zone (did not "pardon" her) -- is acquitted of minor charges -- and is awarded fourteen thousand dollars to compensate his court trouble. A assault rifle armed Israeli shoots up Palestinian bus riders -- is killed by a rescuing mob -- seven of whom are charged with "cold-blooded" murder for not detaining the shooter alive ("Goetz" is not an Arab name).

The occupied territories are not just back water counties; nor are their original residents some scatterable desert bands. Their population is the size of Lebanon's, but more ethnically cohesive and more rebelliously unified.

Israelis should admit to themselves -- at least for a start -- that, if uninhabitable mountains existed where the occupied territories lie now, Israel would be permanently secure (Israel's friends would be too!). Afraid they cannot let go of what they started? -- they should at least wish they could let go: the beginning of reason.

The rationale for Israel's territorial metamorphosis is best summed up in Matthew Yglesias' American Prospect article "Friendly Advice":
"Were Israel's conflict with the Palestinians resolved, other challenges like Hezbollah would soon melt away. The idea of firing rockets into Israeli towns would appear absurd. Iran and Syria would have nothing to gain from supporting groups that behaved in that manner. Arab public opinion would no longer applaud the firing of rockets at random into Israeli cities."

All of which explains why Israel with five million Jews and one million Muslim Arabs worked out in four years while the "new neighborhoods" haven't worked in forty.

Denis Drew
[email protected]

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