The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Category: Middle East Page 1 of 17

What Is Israel’s Goal In the Gaza War?

I think it’s worth emphasizing that based on actions—priority targeting of hospitals, health workers, journalists and civilians;  and cutting off food and water while not accepting ceasefires agreements which would have returned the hostages, that the Israel’s goal is genocide.

There are no significant signs that they are defeating Hamas, and their actions, as opposed to their words, don’t indicate that was ever the intention. Certainly rescuing the hostages isn’t an important goal.

I think Israel would accept ethnic cleansing if they could find someone to take the Palestinians, but since they can’t, mass murder is the goal.

This is consistent with Israel’s history: it’s a colonial settler project where the goals has always been to remove Palestinians and occupy their land and, if not ruined, even their homes.

The WHO estimated that up to a million Gazans were at risk of death due to famine by next month. The longer the war and the blockade goes on, the more will die.

Back in 2006 I wrote that Israel only had two options for its future:

  1. Accept Palestinians as citizens and create a single, secular, state; or,
  2. Genocide or ethnic cleanse the Palestinians.

And so it has come to be.

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The Real Test Of The Gaza War Will Be The Israeli Invasion Of Southern Lebanon

Israel’s been talking smack about invading Lebanon to occupy southern Lebanon up to the Litani River for some time. (The southern-most river on the map.)

Lebanon has been wrecking havoc in Northern Israel with missiles and drones and Israel has been able to do very little to stop them. Although Hezbollah usually hits military targets recently an attack caused a wildfire and the attacks, even before the wildfire, had caused most of the settlers in the northern region to flee, for example:

Settlers residing in Kiryat Shmona are now at 3k, down from 24k before Hezbollah started operations WSJ cites the settlement’s mayor: 40% don’t intend to return & they are among the settlement’s richest.

(Ian – AKA: those with other options aren’t returning.)

General consensus seems to be the attack is most likely in August or September.

Israel has completely lost deterrence against Hezbollah. Their air strikes don’t make Hezbollah stop and if they go to full air war, Hezbollah will go to full missile war. The only way to reduce the strikes is to control enough of Lebanon so that the shorter range weapons can’t reach Israel.

It’s unclear if Israel will actually invade, but there’s a strong argument they have no choice.

According to an analyst who’s been fairly good thru the war, it seems likely the total number combat soldiers will be about eighteen thousand, twice as much as the 2006 invasion.

About half of them will be reserve soldiers.

In 2006, the last time Israel invaded Lebanon, Hezbollah won. If I were a betting man I’d give 3:1 that Hezbollah wins. The Israeli army has not covered itself in glory in Gaza and Hezbollah’s troops are battle-hardened veterans of the long Syrian civil war, plus are heavily dug in with tunnel networks and bunkers.

No doubt America will provide some assistance, but unlike a Hezbollah ground invasion scenario, it’s unlikely the US will commit troops on the ground or serious air-power to an Israeli invasion. On top of that it’s clear that Biden’s beginning to realize that the Israeli war is costing him electorally, and he’s unlikely to want to get drawn in further.

If Israel actually invades it is a truth moment: until they do, they can bluster and act tough, but if they invade and lose everyone will know how weak they’ve become. At that point truly all they will have left is their nuclear deterrent: the Israeli military, once considered the finest in the world, will be derided as a joke. If Israel doesn’t invade, this will be why: they’re avoiding losing what’s left of the reputation of their military.

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The Revival Of Anti-Semitism By Israel And Its Defenders

Anti-semitism has been over-stated and used as a political weapon for generations now. It became beyond the pale after World War II and has stayed that way in the West and America. This isn’t to say there weren’t anti-semites, but they were powerless and damn near meaningless.

But that is changing, and it is going to keep changing. The problem is the constant use of the charge of anti-semitism itself to ward of criticisms of mass-murder, child killing, and other crimes by Israel in Palestine.

Israel wraps itself in the cloak of “we are Jews” to justify its crimes.

The distinction between Israeli, Zionist and Jewish isn’t being blurred most dangerously by Israel’s enemies, but by Israel itself.

And the intellectual propaganda is making it worse.

Take this article from “Tablet Magizine”, which according to their “About US” is a “Jewish Magazine about the world.”

It’s a long screed saying that the Talmud has a different conception of morality than Christian morality. “So far, so good”, you might think if you weren’t aware of Israel’s recent actions.

Let’s read a large chunk to get a feel for the argument.

Speaking in terms of religious archetypes, a Jew and a Christian can come to vastly different conclusions about what the right thing to do is in a given situation, particularly where something as ugly as war is involved. What would Jesus do if a Hamas fighter held a Gazan Arab child up as a shield while firing? Hard to say for sure, but anyone who argues that a properly humane response is to die rather than to try to shoot around the child has ample basis in Christianity. The image of the Crucifixion may mean many things, but part of what it means is that accepting corporeal defeat in this world can be a path to God-like virtue and spiritual victory in the world of tomorrow. You will not hear Jesus mentioned when Western leaders speak on how important it is that Israel adhere to international laws of war, but the concept of the innocent civilian enshrined in these laws grew practically out of wars fought within Christendom during the last several hundred years.

More importantly, the very idea of the innocent civilian makes sense in an explicitly Christian context: “Render unto Caesar” plus the idea of a universal community of faith that transcends nationality means the conscience of the individual is paramount, and a person cannot so easily be classed as a targetable enemy “just because” of his membership in some nation waging war.

There is no propaganda from Israel’s enemies that is as dangerous to Jews as this is. If you read carefully, it basically says that there are only innocent civilians, even innocent children, if they are of the same faith as the nation fighting the war, especially if Jews feel that their existence as a people is threatened. (Leave aside, of course, that committing mass murder of women and children is likely to make Jews less safe, not more.)

I mean, this is Nazi anti-semitic level propaganda. There is nothing the Nazis said about Judaism that was worse than what this idiot has just said. “It’s OK to kill non-Jewish innocents, en-masse, if we think it protects Jews.”

And further on he spends time saying it’s what Yahweh wants. (Admitted, the God of the old Testament is often a bastard, but do you want to lean in to, embrace and announce to the world that this is what Judaism is?)

There is no world in which there is not going to be a massive upsurge in anti-semitism, because there is no world in which Israel is not using Jewish identity and religion to justify mass murder of children and women.

Further, the US empire is collapsing. It’s clear to everyone that it’s weak. It’s being kicked out of Africa. It can’t keep the sea lanes open against a bunch of Yemenis. The BRICS are creating a new trade currency, countries are using local currency for trade and China is dumping dollars by the container-ship load. Meanwhile NATO proxy forces in Ukraine are being whipped, the Israelis can’t conquer a small city and Europe is losing its industrial base.

Coming down off the high of being the hegemonic power is going to hurt like a multi-decade hangover, and Israel has been flaunting its control of American government (no, don’t waste my time or yours denying it.)

The only people who have done more damage to Jews than Israel and its defenders are the Nazis.

And that’s before we get to to the fact that they’re losing this war.

Like anyone sane, with the least pretense of morality, I abhor real anti-semitism, as opposed to the fake shit used as a political weapon.

But this is being done to Jews, by the country which wraps itself in its Judaism. It’s not Nazis leading charge to ramp up anti-semitism, it’s Jews who support Israel.

And, speaking personally, after the use of anti-semitism charges to take out Jeremy Corbyn and to whitewash a genocide, well, even I will have to assume that any charge of anti-semitism against anyone is prima-facie fake and just a political weapon.

That isn’t on me, it’s on those who have used charges of anti-semitism as a political weapon to justify mass murder and avoid humane welfare policies.

Again, Jews have no greater enemy in the world than Israel.

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UN Can’t Feed Rafah Anymore

And soon, maybe not any part of Gaza. (Bear in mind that what they were feeding before was averaging something north of 200 calories a day according to some estimates I’ve seen.)

The United Nations suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Tuesday due to a lack of supplies and an untenable security situation caused by Israel’s expanding military operation. The U.N. warned that humanitarian operations across the territory were nearing collapse…

The U.N.’s World Food Program said it was running out of food for central Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people are now living.

“Humanitarian operations in Gaza are near collapse,” said Abeer Etefa, a WFP spokesperson. If food and other supplies don’t resume entering Gaza “in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread,” she said…

…The U.N says some 1.1 million people in Gaza — nearly half the population — face

This is, of course, deliberate Israeli policy, abetted by the US. The Rafah crossing was closed during the latest invasion and such trucks as do attempt to provide aid from other directions such as Jordan are often stopped by protesters.

Again, policy, announced immediately after Oct 7.

Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said it would impose a “complete siege” on the territory.

“No electricity, no food, no water, no gas – it’s all closed,” he said, adding that “we are fighting animals and are acting accordingly.”

This is genocide. It is intentional genocide. There is no way the casualty figures are as low as the Hamas health ministry has suggested: they can’t count all the deaths and they have reason to minimize them. At the end of this we are going to find a death toll in the low hundreds of thousands, minimum. The longer this goes on and the more effective the blockade, well, Israel could get damn near its full genocide.

Once more, I will be clear. The only solution to this is a single secular state where everyone has a vote and equal rights. De-Zionization will be necessary, when 98% of the population thinks the level of force used in this war is appropriate and when civilians are stopping food trucks, the entire society is rotten to core. No “truth and reconciliation” bullshit. People going to prison for life, or hung from the neck, starting with the entire war cabinet.

“Never again” was supposed to mean “never again for anyone”, not “people claiming to be Jewish can genocide and Europeans will support them out of guilt.”

Oh, and so far, as best I can find, no food from the pier has made it to a Palestinian.

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Israel’s Ground Forces Are Even Worse Than I Believed

Long time readers will know I’ve considered the Israeli army to be garbage, in terms of quality, for a long time—certainly since their last invasion of Lebanon, where Hezbollah cleaned their clock for them.

But this last invasion of Gaza has been absolutely humiliating. Hamas has forced Israel to retreat after losing at least one straight up battle. We’re not taking “guerilla hit and run” we’re talking losing a battle when you have air and artillery supremacy.

Generally speaking, they’re getting themselves ripped up: they can’t take and hold ground. They can’t clear out Hamas. Every time Hamas forces them to retreat, Hamas takes over administration again.

Meanwhile Iran and Hezbollah have proved that their anti-missile defenses are insufficient. The entire north has been denuded of civilians, and everyone knows that threats to invade Lebanon are baseless and delusional: they can’t even beat Hamas, and Hezbollah is far stronger. If they invade, they’ll be crushed.

It isn’t just that no one thinks that Israel has the best army in the world any more, no one with sense believes their army is even competent. It’s garbage. They can’t take losses, they don’t even infantry screen tanks properly (or, often, at all), they’re scared of clearing Hamas tunnels because of the casualties. It’s so pathetic it’d almost be sad, if they weren’t the ground troops for a genocidal power whose evil is so comic-book level it rivals the Star Wars empire.

Now Hamas obviously isn’t as strong as it would like to be: it can’t reopen Rafah, for example. But that’s the point, Hamas is a militia. Many of their weapons are literally home-made, where the Israelis are using the best American equipment and the Israelis still can’t win.

That’s one reason why Israel has to commit a genocide—they can’t win on the field, so all they can do is try to make sure as many people die of hunger, thirst and bombs as possible. Ethnic cleansing is off the table. Egypt isn’t scared of them any more, so they aren’t going to allow Israel to to push Palestinians into Egypt. They were considering it before, but not any more.

We’re in a race between Israel’s genocide and the Resistance’s pressure on Israel—Hezbollah’s clearing of the north. Yemen’s naval blockade and Hamas’s bloody war against Israeli ground forces. Israel’s losing the military part of this and being absolutely hammered economically, with a huge internal refugee problem, but as long as they can keep food and water out of Gaza, they stand a chance of completing their genocide.

America, if it’s serious about bringing in aid through the northern pier they’ve built, might, ironically, seal Israel’s defeat. (Update: yeah, maybe not. Turns out Israel inspects the aid and decides if it is to continue on.)

No matter what happens, however, Israel is screwed beyond belief. The only thing they have left that anyone in the region is seriously scared of is their nukes. Israeli regional military dominance is SHATTERED.

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What Happens To Israel If They Accomplish Their Genocide

So, all aid except some totally inadequate air-dropped supplies have now been cut off from Gaza and Rafah, the last refuge is being bombed and invaded.

As I pointed out October 8th, the real danger isn’t the bombs and drones and so on—it’s famine and plague and lack of water. The official numbers of dead in Gaza are hardly going up, because State capacity (the numbers come from Gaza’s government) is trashed. The numbers were always massive understatements, because many bodies are buried in the ruins, but now they’re vastly too low.

The best way to kill people, absent nukes, is pretty much always hunger. Deaths are going to SOAR in Gaza and once it really gets rolling, it’s entirely feasible for Israel to kill a million+ people.

This has always clearly been the Israeli goal: wipe the Palestinians in Gaza out.

But what happens to Israel if it happens? They may think it makes them safer, but does it?

A lot of people make horrific predictions of what will happen if Israel ever stops being an ethnostate, but it doesn’t have to be horrific: there were no mass deaths in South Africa after apartheid, for example.

But if Israel completes its genocide and is eventually conquered, well, Israelis are going to be at great risk of retaliation. Even if it’s not official policy, a lot of troops are going to take revenge. And a completed genocide will make Israel a pariah for a couple generations: even Muslim leaders with no morals (most of them) won’t be able to be on good terms with Israel—their people will rise up if they do.

Israel’s being foolish. It’s always been foolish: a modern day crusader state. That didn’t end well last time, and it’s not likely to end will this time, but Israel keeps making themselves completely abominable, even as their patron, the US, goes into steep imperial decline. Ten years from now, the US isn’t going to be able to protect Israel even as much as it did this time.

“Not just evil, but a mistake”, as the saying goes.

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Israel Is Killing A Lot Of Civilians, But Is It Winning The War?

I’m going to quote retired Israeli general Yitzhak Brick at length:

Netanyahu knows that continuing this process will lead to the collapse of the State of Israel militarily, economically, politically and socially. Even if Hamas and Hezbollah continue to fight as they do today, without military surprises, the “state of Israel” will collapse .

Netanyahu knows full well that we have been in a military stalemate for the last twenty years . The chiefs of staff divided the army into six divisions based on their global vision that the major wars were over. They built a small ground army that could barely fight in one sector; in a regional war we would have to fight in six sectors at once.

Netanyahu also knows that this situation has led to dire consequences in the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas returned to areas where the army had entered and left in the Gaza Strip . The army’s intention to continue the war of attrition against Hamas through raids does not bring any benefit, because these attacks are just a drop in the bucket that weakens Hamas.

Netanyahu is well aware that as long as the war of attrition against Hamas continues, Hezbollah will also continue to deplete our forces on the northern border , and this has very dangerous consequences. Netanyahu also understands that entering Rafah will not bring any results, but on the contrary, since it will worsen the problem tenfold. Our entry into Rafah will completely destroy our relations with the countries of the world and with the Arab countries with which we have peace.

This will have very dire consequences, first of all, the isolation of the “State of Israel” in the political and economic spheres and the arms embargo, which has already begun.

Hamas was already well prepared to enter the battle and prepared a strategic ambush for us with traps and explosives in the streets, squares and in the houses themselves. It will be months before reserve soldiers disobey orders to enlist, as has become the case in the paratroopers, where dozens of them refuse to re-enlist.

America can’t beat Yemen, and has offered them everything — an end to sanctions, release of all funds, international recognition and dissolving the internationally recognized government plus a ton of aid. Yemen, a bunch of tribesmen, have laughed in America’s face.

Israel invaded Gaza, pulled out almost entirely and is now going in again. Their casualty claims for Hamas killed are the same as the number of civilian males killed, and are thus laughable. They can’t beat Hamas, who won’t fight them straight up but relies on endless guerilla action and the civilian casualties are a near exact mirror of the Palestinian population in terms of percentages of men, women and children killed.

In other words, they’re just blowing shit up without any emphasis on destroying Hamas.

Meanwhile the northern settlements are depopulated, with Israeli settlers fleeing the constant missile and drone attacks from Hezbollah. Israel impotently suggests they will occupy southern Lebanon, but they don’t have the manpower and their army quality is crap (this is not the 68/73 Israeli army) while Hezbollah has some of the best infantry in the world, full of combat veterans and filled with zeal. Hezbollah, like Iran, attacks almost nothing but military targets, not civilians, and their military has not been weakened by being a brutal and sadistic occupation army. (Occupation armies, used to fighting the weak, always become weak themselves.)

The Israeli deficit has swelled, their incoming and outgoing trade is under attack, and Yemen has said they will start attacking targets in the Mediterranean (though I don’t think these attacks will be very effective, it doesn’t take much to make merchant marines and their insurers scared.)

There is now a worldwide student protest movement, and while they’ve been crushed by violent force, polling shows opinion moving steadily against Israel. Turkey, rather to my surprise, has finally cut off all trade with Israel, and Turkey is a big deal.

The fact is that if Iran, Hezbollah and Yemen all went all out against Israel, I’m quite sure Israel would lose the conventional war unless the US went to full war to help them: it’s Israeli nukes that keep them alive. The Resistance is aware of this, and their strategy is to wear Israel down, to impose costs over and over again, and to make Israel and America look weak.

So we have the incursion into Rafah, where the majority of Palestinian civilians have been herded by Israel. The intent here is to kill as many civilians possible, and it backed by even more efforts to stop all food, water and medicine from entering Gaza. Israel’s strategy, such as it is, is to “drain the swamp.” Kill most of the civilians, and Hamas is finished. Israel’s killed a lot more people than the official stasticis: the Gaza Department of Health is no longer capable of counting even obvious deaths, and massive numbers of corpses haven’t been counted because they’re buried under rubble. There’s so much rubble that I’ve seen it estimated that it will take over twenty years to clear.

So there’s a race: can Israel finish its genocide, or will they be forced to stop due to military and economic exhaustion?

My bet is against Israel, but only at about 2:1 odds.

As for Israel itself, it needs to cease to exist. The atrocities are off the scale: multiple hospitals were invaded, patients, doctors and nurses killed and buried, often after torture. The bombing is completely indiscrimate and makes Putin and Bush Jr. look like humanitarians in comparison. Something like 98% of Israelis think that the amount of force used is either appropriate or too little. The society itself is sick from top to bottom, “good” Israelis, like “good” Germans are vanishing minority, though they do exist.

The end state needs to be a single Palestinian state and there needs to be no “truth and reconciliation” nonsense, but full war crimes trials.

Whatever the case, like the Crusader States, Israel is doomed. It may end soon, it may take a decade or two, but it will fall. America is in decline, Israel’s military is crap and the American century is at its end.

Let it be the last settler ethnostate.

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How To Deal With Student Protest Camps (FDR Edition)

Students in America and increasingly across the world are demonstrating against the Gaza genocide. They’re right to do so, opposing a genocide is never the wrong thing to do.

The reaction of campus and civil authorities has been predictable. Send in the cops, who violently disperse the camps, similar to how they have decided homeless people aren’t allowed to live anywhere. This video, of a professor who is the wife of the Dean of admissions (and who was not part of the protest) makes the point.

Police, of course, are police because they like hurting people, with vanishingly few exceptions. Any excuse is enough of an excuse for most of them. The Professor found out how much her “privilege” really matters.

What’s interesting about all of this is how stupid it is. Attacking the protestors is, as those of us who’ve been around for many protest cycles know, not going to stop them. It’s the beginning of the cycle of protest, not the end, and it drives news. In some ways it’s a victory for the protestors’ cause.

In 1932 a large group of Great War veterans went to Washington D.C and set up a camp. They wanted their bonuses for WWI paid early, because it was the Great Depression and they needed them. Hoover, still President, sent in the Army, lead by Douglas MacArthur (and opposed by Eisenhower) and burn the camp. FDR, who actually opposed paying the bonus because he felt it helped one group without helping all, said that the scenes of brutality had just elected him.

Burning Down The Bonus Army

The Bonus Army didn’t give up, and when Roosevelt took power, he took a very different tack: he sent his main political advisor, Louis Howe, and his wife. Instead of attacking the encampment, they arranged for them to have three meals a day and a clean encampment, and FDR arranged for younger veterans to receive jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corp.

Four years later, over FDR’s veto, Congress gave the Bonus army their bonus.

The point here is that FDR essentially de-fanged people he opposed by treating them kindly. Violence produces opposition and even if it “works” it makes people hate you and harden their positions.

The protestors are right about Gaza, of course, and right that the US shouldn’t be helping commit a genocide. But even if you oppose them, the correct thing to do is to treat them kindly unless they truly become violent or massively disruptive (and even then, give them rope.)

The response of university administrators is clearly emotionally driven: they believe in Israel’s genocide and want it to continue and are offended and ashamed by students who point out the evil of what they are doing. If they weren’t emotionally compromised by their commitment to genocide, they’d be a lot more sensible, even if they disagree with the protestors.

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