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Comment Re:Put things in perspective... (Score 1) 951

Hiya - I'm the guy who wrote the parent. Just did it anon...for some reason.

I'm a Muslim and my lunch break is almost over so I can't really write as long of a post as I wanted.

I agree that this war needs to stop, Palestinians and Israelies need to sit down and freaking figure out how to not kill 600+ people over a weekend.

The solutions presented by both sides so far are ridiculous:
a) Throw them in the sea (Palestinian solution)
b) Exterminate them (Israeli solution)

Both sides are idiots, hard headed and are in serious need for an adult conversation.

As a side note to the GP regarding extremist Muslims (or as I like to call them douche bags), if they read Quran they'll stop this my god is bigger than your god bull, here's a quote:

Al Baqara (002.136)

Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.

P.S.: It's refreshing to see a post like yours on Slashdot :)

Thanks! There are some truly beautiful and inspiring lines in the holy books of (almost) all religions. Its a shame they get lost among the drivel, misreading, and misunderstanding.

One niggling issue, though: I don't believe there's any mainstream support in Israel for extermination of the Palestinians. In fact, the reason I support Israel in this whole thing is precisely because they don't have such a position, while Hamas has stated time and again that they would like nothing more than to wipe every last one of us (Jews, that is) off the face of the Earth. In a way, you might even call my support of Israel self-preservation. :)

Comment Re:Put things in perspective... (Score 1) 951

I agree that this war needs to stop, Palestinians and Israelies need to sit down and freaking figure out how to not kill 600+ people over a weekend.

That's not the problem. The majorities on both sides are willing to negotiate. They are just not able to keep the lid on their respective radical factions.

We have ours in the USA as well. And we can't control them either.

As evidenced by the fact that they ran the place the last 8 years. :)

Comment Re:-1, flamebait (Score 1) 951

What you're missing is that the crime is all of Israel's, not just the IDF.

When you ask questions like "What should the IDF do?" You really should be asking, "What should Israel do?"

Once you start asking the right question, a number of things should become obvious, like giving Palestineans basic human rights.

I have no opposition to going this route with this conversation, but let's be very clear first: this is not the same discussion we were having. The topic was the ethics of Israel's bombing and invasion tactics in the current situation. This is background for all of that. Either way, it provides me with entertainment, and a stimulating partner. Thank you for that, by the way. You've been interesting and thought-provoking and I apologize if I get overly zealous sometimes. Condition of anonymity, you know.

Back on topic. I have had this talk with more than a few people. The reasonable thing to do at this juncture seems to me to be, first, to attain a ceasefire - something enforceable, perhaps with U.N. peacekeepers stationed on both sides. At the very least, something needs to be done to ensure weapons are not being carted into Gaza. Hamas then needs to acknowledge Israel's existence (and here we hit our first impossibility). Only then can Israel do what I believe would have incredible significance: help the average Palestinian. Build schools, build hospitals, send aid. Get some positive feelings going 'round Gaza (and elsewhere).

This will take a long, long time. Hamas will not be pleased. They are not interested in peace. They will break the ceasefire. They will kill Israeli civilians. They will kill Palestinians civilians and blame the IDF. It will be a clusterfuck of epic proportions. Israel must power through (and here we reach the second impossibility - what countries' populace has enough foresight to see something through which is so obviously harmful in the short-term? The essential weakness of democracy is its attention-deficit disorder with regard to long-term goals of any sort, not to mention ones with obvious immediate downsides.) Once Hamas' influence has been weakened enough, they can be removed or neutralized. This is essential - unless they undergo some drastic and essential change, Hamas is a fundamental problem in the region.

Now, a reformed Israel and Palestine can work together to form some sort of equal union or, at least, permanent ceasefire. I wish they could agree on a single-state solution and somehow find a way to mingle the two populations, but I find it hard to believe that ethnic tension would (or will) ever leave the area, especially with the malign influence of countries like Iran. A two-state solution, then, is probably best.

The arguments you apply are always trying to have it both ways, Palestine is supposed to be its own country and police itself. But how's that going to happen when Israel is bombing police stations?

If Israel is going to systematically dismantle the Palestinean gov't, they should be allowing the Palestinieans into their society as equals.

I'm all for allowing Palestinians in as equals, but their government needs to be dismantled. Hamas is a cancer. I don't care if it was voted in, it stands for and actively encourages the murder of a group of people wholesale. In some ways, Hamas is as bad as the Nazis. Luckily, they are not nearly as powerful.

Since they aren't doing this, nor even treating their lives as if they have value a Palestinean is left with two choices:

  1. Sit home and hope that international pressure will stop the slaughter before they're all dead
  2. Take up arms

I am tempted, first of all, to link you to a biography of Gandhi. Grabbing your guns isn't always the only solution. ;)

In lieu of the non-violent approach, however, I am all for the Palestinians taking up arms - against military targets. There are rules of war for a reason: they keep clusterfucks like this from happening. If Palestine (and Iran) wants to declare war, put their soldiers in uniform, and fight away from civilians, they can be my guest. But that won't happen. Hamas realizes the only way they can hope to win is by sacrificing the people they are supposed to be protecting to the gods of international sympathy.

It's really sad. Israel didn't even have the deceny to let the people who wanted out, get out before the started blowing up schools.

To be fair, Hamas isn't letting people out either.

At least I can understand Israel's reluctance to let possible weapons smugglers leave - but not letting your own wounded out? Perhaps they have something to say which Hamas would rather have kept under wraps, or perhaps this is just another play for photo opportunities and more world sympathy.

However, saying I can understand Israel's reluctance to let people leave isn't the same as agreeing with it. Optimally, there would be some method of ensuring that those who leave do not return for the entirety of the invasion, but I can't see how such a thing would be possible. Can they leave through Egypt?

Nazis did all of this on purpose, whereas the civilian deaths the IDF causes are a result of collateral damage from legitimate military targets operating from highly populated areas. This is a crucial difference.

Israel is not accidentally dropping large bombs in the middle of populated areas. The claim that all their targets are "military" is pretty weak. If that was really the case, don't you think they would allow members of the press to be present and document this? What definition of "miliary target" includes schools, police stations, universities, mosques, houses, apartment buildings and medical facilities? Does one person with an small weapon make an entire school a "military target"? Try to consider that such a defintion would make essentially all of Israel a "military target."

The press should be there. I agree. Full disclosure is always best. Secrecy, though it forces suspicion, is not an automatic guarantee of wrongdoing. Israel may simply understand that allowing men with cameras and opinions into an area which they are being forced to bomb and invade is a potentially very dangerous situation. Worse still is the possibility of accidentally killing pressmen. The risk may simply be too high for them.

Control of the flow of information has been a crucial part of warfare, since at least Vietnam, when pictures and stories brought back without "proper" controls changed the tide of public opinion for the entire country. Pictures are powerful, and with the internet making it possible for any photographer to get photos of the region out to any place on the planet, including back to Israel itself, it may simply be that the Israeli government wants to keep their citizen's minds off the horrors of war (for both sides) - and keep public opinion of the invasion and bombing high - long enough to fulfill its goals in Gaza. Lord knows planning a war is hard enough on its own; trying to do it under pressure to avoid hurting the other side because of public opinion at home must be a nightmare. In fact, such a thing might lead to the struggle getting drawn out, and even more people dying.

Regardless, I find it very, very hard to believe that the IDF is just dropping bombs on schoolchildren for the hell of it. What would they stand to gain? Such action certainly has no benefit for the IDF in terms of world or Palestinian opinion of them. You suggest later that the purpose might be population control. To be blunt, this is preposterous. The Palestinian population is estimated at around 10.5 million people. The Palestinian death toll for the Gaza offensive yesterday rose to 876 after 15 days of fighting. 365 days a year / 15 = 24 and 1/3. 24.333 * 876 = 21,316. So even on the off-chance that this sort of offensive (in which the death toll is usually higher at the onset than later on in the campaign) continued for a whole year, we are only talking 2 tenths of a percent of the Palestinian population. Considering they have a growth rate of 3.422%, Israel would need to kill roughly 1700 times as many Palestinians per day as it has been in order to make your idea possible.

Rather, I think Israel has just been put in a very difficult situation. They have bad people shooting at them and storing their weapons in and around population centers. Your solution to this difficult situation follows:

Do you have evidence that another possible tactic could yield better results?

Sure. If your goal is simply to mimimize Israeli civilian, Israeli military and Palestinean civilian casualties, in that order, the simplest option is to simply yield the field.

Now if your goal is to keep your borders intact and do the above, a simple option is to create a civilian-free zone in between the two countries. Shoulder-fired rockets have a pretty limited range and even mortars can't make it 10 miles. So if you clear out a 10 mile wide swath of land, your enemy will need large, non-man portable, easy to spot weapons. They also cost more, and are harder to get.

I'll admit, the idea seems appealing at first. However, its simply a solution to the immediate problem. I can just as easily see Hamas finding a way, in a few weeks' or months' time, of setting up larger launchers as far back as need be - still in population centers and now, perhaps, more accurate and with larger payloads. There won't be as many, sure, and they may take longer to fire (perhaps even long enough to be destroyed by Israeli airstrikes), but the primary purpose of Hamas' terror attacks never was to kill massive numbers of Israeli civilians. It was and has always been to provoke a military response and milk it for world sympathy.

In a situation like the one you described, I wouldn't be surprised if we started seeing dummy launchers - things that looked just like actual rockets - being set up in populated areas simply to provoke the same response. The reason such a thing hasn't been used yet is that the rockets being used are still incredibly cheap to manufacture and fire.

But here's the big problem, if your goal is to gradually kill off the population of and annex the land of Palestine, then you would employ exactly the strategy Isreal is using. I'm not saying that is their adgenda, but their actions are indistinuishable from the case where it is.

Every N years, you find an excuse to invade and do one of the following:

  • Kill some people
  • Destroy some property
  • Annex some land

After enough years Palestine is gone. If you did it all at once then you might piss off another country enough to send troops, but if you eliminate 10% of the country every year, in 30 years 4.2% is all thats left.

I've been over the idea of population control, so I ask you this: why does Israel keep offering the Palestinians land (and giving them it) if they mean to take it away? Are you suggesting this is some elaborate PR game? If Israel has the kind of PR machine that can do that, then why don't they look better all around...

In any case, what Israel seems to be doing is trying to push Hamas back into the only Arab country which recognizes it: Egypt. Perhaps they think that the modicum of civility Egypt has displayed will translate into some sort of help. Maybe Israel believes Egypt will act out of self-interest; they must be as tired of this bullshit as everyone else. Who can say?

Suppose, though, that it were possible that you're right. In anything but the very, very long run, I can't see how Gaza is worth the trouble of taking 10.5 million angry people into your country.

If Israel would start treating all Palestineans with respect and dignity, they would make recruiting much harder for Hamas. You know, basic deceny like not blocking medical supppies to a country you are dropping bombs into.

Agreed, as per my first point. Accidentally blowing up a Red Cross truck would be the coup de grace for Hamas PR. And when you have the possibility of Hamas using UN ambulances as troop transports - and I say "possibility" because I can't vouch for the truth of that video, despite what it appears to be - the situation becomes all the more dangerous.

What I would like to see is a fully Israeli-enacted airdrop aid system. They control what goes in and how much. There can be no possibility of smuggling or of Hamas misuse of material or vehicles. It may simply be, however, that funding such a program (which would no doubt be very, very expensive) may be out of the reach of Israel while it is engaging in bombing and a ground war. I cannot say.

Comment Re:-1, flamebait (Score 1) 951

Both sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict have done deplorable things. Where they really differ in my mind is in tactics and intent. Israel intends to hit military targets in order to protect its civilians. Unfortunately, they often miss. This is not surprising, since Hamas launches military action from highly populated areas. One might argue that both sides break the laws of war in this: Israel, in causing unnecessary destruction, and Hamas, in using nonuniform militants, hiding amongst their own civilians, and targeting Israeli civilians.

In order to assign the greater blame, a series of questions must then be asked: which of these violations is worse? Which would be easier avoided? It seems very obvious to me that Hamas's actions, being intentional and without any legitimate target, not to mention geared towards ethnic cleansing (and I'll get to your misreading of my analogy in a minute), are a far more blatant violation then the IDF's.

Now. Back to my analogy. I live in Southern California. I have many, many Mexican friends. In no way was I "suggesting that ethnic differences should be used to place a lower value on the lives of certain memebers of society." What I was suggesting is that a member of the armed forces of one country should place the protection of civilians from his country above the protection of civilians from another - so much so, that he should be willing to see many more of the other country's civilians die than those of his own.

Interesting minor point, actually: I've noticed that use of the word "Mexicans" has taken on almost a discriminatory tone in general. I suppose that's why Hispanic is used as a more "politically-correct" alternative. Imagine I had set my little tale on the Canadian border, and its still the same story: American lives are worth more to the American military then Canadian (or other) lives. Period. Likewise, if the situation were reversed, I would suggest that Canada take the same action. This has nothing to do with any perceived racism you may think I am applying to the situation.

Similarly, I do not blame Ariel Sharon's lawyers for trying to get him off, just as I would not blame the public defender assigned to an obviously guilty child molesting murderer for trying to get him off. In fact, if that public defender refused, I would condemn him. People have their duties: they are often unpleasant, but they signed up to do them. If they are not prepared to do these duties, they should not sign up; the IDF differs from the situation of the public defender in that it is compulsory. Because of this, Israeli civilians have only a few options: either refuse to serve and face the consequences (see Shministim, among others.), try to change the law, or leave. Or a combination of those. Simple as that. Any one of them a noble choice.

Can we assume for the sake of argument that each (or at least the vast majority) of the members of the IDF has made the choice to serve? Doing anything else derails this conversation into a discussion of individual ethics rather than the wider issues of IDF and Hamas policy.

The Guardian. The guardian is a very, very liberal paper - in fact, search for "the guardian" on google. It says it right there: "the world's leading liberal voice." They make no bones about being bias. It's part of their shtick. I happen to like my news objective, however.

Believe it or not, I consider myself a liberal. Very, very liberal in most things, in fact. You might even call me a socialist.I differ from the liberal mainstream in a few crucial areas, though: I think gun control has gone too far (I own no guns, by the way), and I support Israel. The Guardian is the liberal mainstream. The problem, to my mind, lies in when they present themselves as a legitimate and objective news source in one part of their paper and as a biased "liberal voice" in another. I think when trying to present facts, sources generally known to be objective should be used.

It doesn't matter what oathes you take, what contacts you sign, your values are ALWAYS RELEVANT. YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. You may face imprisonment, or even death, but you can always refuse to do what someone else tells you to.

No one suggested otherwise. This is self-evident - those who feel like what they are doing is so wrong that they can't go through with it will not do it. It's just a matter of whether or not, in their minds, their moral convictions outweigh their punishment and, in the IDF's case, the knowledge that your failure to act may cause the death of your countrymen. See my above link to wikipedia's "refusal to serve in the Israeli military" article.

Let me talk again about intent and tactics, because this seems to be where I'm not getting across. The Nazis intentionally targeted civilians. They killed them in the most horrifying ways imaginable. They killed them because of their ethnicity. There was no possible military gain, and those deaths cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be thought of as collateral damage. They were not protecting their country from constant rocket attacks. The Jews they murdered were not strapping bombs to their chests and wandering into crowded German train stations. If you want to think of these two situations as analogous, you must acknowledge the major split: the Nazis did all of this on purpose, whereas the civilian deaths the IDF causes are a result of collateral damage from legitimate military targets operating from highly populated areas. This is a crucial difference. It affects - no, completely reverses - the outcome of such a comparison, and yet you propose to suggest that said outcome should be the same? Logical fallacy achieved, kind sir.

Indiscriminate killing of civilians to hit any of these supposed "military" targets destroys any moral high ground they had.

Ah, but here's the crux of your argument - that because of the tactics the IDF uses, they have broken a moral code. Please, suggest to me a better way of dealing with rocket attacks from populated areas full of very angry people.

I tried to write a lengthy review of various tactical possibilities, but I realized that I don't actually have enough knowledge about them to justify an opinion on what should be used - neither, I suspect, do you. What I do have, however, is trust that one of the most advanced and highly trained military forces in the world, the IDF, used the option which guarantees the least loss of life among Israeli citizens, IDF soldiers, and Palestinian civilians (in that order), and the most destruction to Hamas ranks and their equipment. You do not share my faith in the IDF's judgment, obviously. So I must ask, why? Do you have evidence that another possible tactic could yield better results? Perhaps you advocate small strike teams - to which I respond with a quote from a recent New York Times article:

Israel had estimated up to 200 rockets a day from Gaza once the operation started, but that the numbers fired now were in the 20s.

200 strike teams a day seems to me to be an impossible feat, and 20 is still pushing any military, least of which one as small as the IDF. But again, I don't know. If you have high-level military command expertise, please, share it. Tell me how this can be accomplished.

Perhaps Israel should just wait it out? Allow these rockets to hit time and time again until Hamas, realizing there are no reprisals for fear of civilian casualties, starts hauling out the Katyushas and long-range missiles Iran would no doubt be happy to supply. Once Hamas flattens an Israeli town or two, would you change your mind? They certainly have the will - its only a matter of time before they gain the tech. To my mind, Israel's bombing campaign is, in some ways, keeping the situation from escalating.

In the end, though, those numbers - 20 rockets attacks down from 200 - show that Israel is doing its' job and doing it well. In just a few short weeks they've completed 90% of one of their objectives - stop rocket attacks. What other army can claim such high efficiency?

Comment Re:Jews Are Evil, Land & Water Theives (Score 1) 951

Any rigorous argument against the existence of God would run stuck.

Really now. I suggest you take a modern philosophy of religion class. Natural and moral evil, the multiplicity of gods of different religions, Occam's Razor, and a variety of others point towards the nonexistence of God.

Note that I personally am a semi-ambivalent Jew. The Kierkegaard argument, that belief in God is justified because it allows a leap of faith and, therefore, a strengthening of spirit, holds quite a lot of water to me - nonetheless, it still doesn't provide any proof of the existence of God, merely that such a belief is a useful thing to have.

Additionally you could reject all contemporary claims and only accept that a lot of books, and of course a very old, very well preserved book, describes God, lots of old structures were made for God. And of course there is ample evidence that God-assisted events like the Exodus did indeed happen.

If you further continue your rejection, one could say "but old, well-preserved books are the only reason we have to postulate that the Roman Empire ever existed". I fail to see what answer an honest man would have to this argument.

So in positive science you're stuck. In historical argument you're stuck. In mathematical logic, you're especially stuck. Exactly what sort of reasoning are you going to use to justify your "God does not exist" claim ? "Lately (and we mean in the last 100 or-so years) there's been a lot of philosophical and political figures claiming this is true" ?

Even if these structures and books provided enough evidence for the existence of God at some point (and there are a number of problems with such a claim, not the least of which that there are few if any corroborating accounts of many of the same events, and that these "old books" from different religions either differ or flat-out contradict each other in several respects) They still do not provide evidence for His continued existence.

Consider, my friend, the words of Nietzsche's madman:

God is dead.

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