Why Israel

vimothy

yurp
Why Israel​


Since I am ruining HundredMillionLifeTimes’ cosy fun in the “Boycott Israeli Universities” thread, by asking why he focuses so heavily on Israel to the exclusion of all else (or so it seems), I thought I would take this question to a new thread to try to explore it in greater depth. It is important to recognise why, even if we think it deserved, Israel receives more criticism than any other state.

Wheninrome identifies three reasons explaining why the Israeli-Arab conflict seems to dominate policy, the news and people’s attention:

1. There isn’t a conflict on earth that has caused as much destabilisation or has been raging as long as the Israeli occupation.

2. With the possible exception of India/Pakistan, there isn’t a conflict on Earth with more potential for apocalyptic consequences than the Israeli occupation.

3. A basic principle of political activism is to focus on areas where you have the best opportunities to bring about change, and where your actions will have the most impact.​

So, we have three statements that take note of the conflict’s history, possible future and consider avenues for change or influence. I think, though, that there is a general lack of positive suggestions, a tendency to focus on what is at fault rather than what can be put right, something perhaps typical of the left’s more nihilistic, pessimistic tendencies (see various other threads, such as “If not Capitalism…”), but certainly less than helpful for policy makers and those working to bring conflict resolution. We know that the wall is unpopular, but not what a credible alternative that ensures Israeli security would be.

The first point doesn’t seem to justify or explain the phenomenon. All conflicts have roots in the past, and given that the Arab states have basically been opposed to the existence of Israel since its origin (based not on their regard for the Palestinians’ human rights – Arab dictators do not respect the human rights of their own subjects – but on their intolerance of a Jewish state), it is unfair to criticise the Israelis for something over which they have no control: the amount of hatred their enemies feel for them. The only salve for this historically would have been exactly what the Arab states were fighting for, the liquidation of Israel as a sovereign nation and its destruction as a physical entity. Negotiating itself out of existence is of course unthinkable to Israel, and so the alternative is to wait patiently for the Arab world to change and to no longer seek Israel’s demise. Of course, this is already happening, gradually, but it means that Israel has no real option other than waiting, allowing more time to pass until the rest of the Middle East comes to accept their presence.

The second point is interesting, as it is inextricably linked to the fact it seeks to justify. Part of the reason that the conflict offers such potential for escalation is the intense interest with which it is regarded and the intense interests at work. Obviously, if no one in the USA or Middle East cared about Israel’s fate, the possibility of escalation would be that much smaller, and, equally obviously, this is in turn affected heavily by the media and by the general opinion of people all around the world. In any case, even if we allow that Israeli-Arab conflict offers humanity’s greatest possibility of apocalypse, it does not follow that disproportionate criticism of Israel will make the conflict less, rather than more, volatile.

The third point is the real argument, and one that others have advanced on this board before. I think that it is quite a common view: there is little point criticising certain regimes, and so we should focus on those with whom we have the strongest connections. The reasons given for this are often similar to those given by Wheninrome, but I suspect that there is also a dislike for boorish pronouncements about the inferiority of third world regimes – people suspect a degree of jingoism to be behind condemnations of this nature. However, such speculation is of no great interest to me. I want to focus instead on some of the implications of this as a method of change and as moral judgement.

* * * * * * *​

We let dictatorships off, because they are dictatorships (and so do not give a fig for our opinions), but, of course, the “citizens” of those states let them off as well, for the very same reason – they are dictatorships and so do not give a fig for anyone’s opinions. So there is no criticism of dictatorships simply by virtue of the fact that their leaders are unelected. This is perfectly consistent with Moynihan’s Law, that the amount of criticism a state receives is inversely proportional to the amount it deserves. Truly atrocious states just do not allow it, and the liberal West doesn’t think there’s any point in making it. (Ok, so there is some criticism here and there – an occasional bit of hand wringing – but very little compared to criticism of western states). That is why, in Israel, there are more foreign correspondents than in the rest of the entire Middle East combined.

That being the case, I don’t see that there is any pressure on Middle Eastern states to reform. For instance, if you look at the Arab-Israeli conflict, in popular discourse the role of other Arab governments is ignored, as is the role of the USSR. We talk about America and Israel plenty, but we don’t talk much about any other states. The Palestinians are there, of course, as victims, of course, and so to be bankrolled and appeased at every turn (even as they cheered the planes on September 11th). But Middle Eastern states are strangely invisible. We know that the Israelis are at fault for much of the conflict (and if you believe that this conflict is the cause of wider unrest in the region, for many other conflicts as well). Arab states are not called into account. We talk about the right of return for Palestinians, but never for Middle Eastern Jews who were forced to flee their homes.

What I am driving at here is that part of the reason, it seems to me, that people have a disproportionate view of Israel is that they hear about its faults a lot. “Yeah,” you might say (have said, in fact), “but that’s because no one on the other side will listen”. Fair enough, but the circularity is obvious. In a survey Pipes linked to, more responders thought that Israel was a threat to world peace than any other country on earth today. I suspect that Wheninrome feels the same way. One explanation for that high number is that we only hear criticism of one side of the conflict, so only one side seems important, so we only criticise them, and in any case we’re only interested in criticising democratic states who might listen, so we won’t have heard about anything worth criticising anywhere else (draws breath). At every stage, the logic is self-reinforcing.

If Israel were an illiberal dictatorship like Syria, faced with the same problem, they would have done exactly what Syria did do, and massacred the whole population, Islamists and all. If Israel were an illiberal dictatorship like Jordan, they would have done exactly what Jordan did: massacred Palestinians and displaced the survivors. And if they were an illiberal dictatorship like Kuwait, they would have done exactly what Kuwait did: ethnically cleansed the Palestinians. That’s how other countries in the region solve their problems. They kill everybody and just do laps. Egypt will not be as kind to the Gaza Strip as Israel has been. We know how it treated its own Islamists. Hamas will not be as kind to the Gaza Strip as Israel has been. We know how they treat their own people. They throw them off buildings. Israel is different. That’s why we criticise them more, because they are different. It’s only because the Israelis are essentially decent people with good governments that they are even in this situation in the first place. The proper response of a tyrant to dissent is Roman, i.e. annihilating. A truly atrocious regime would have long since murdered everyone and taken the international community’s stern words and ineffective, incoherent sanctions on the chin. And no would have said shit – because there isn’t any point!

Brilliant …

[continued --]
 
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vimothy

yurp
Lack of criticism of any actors other than the Israelis actually emboldens anti-Israeli sentiment in the Middle East and encourages the view that lays all the ills of the Middle East at Israel’s door. Perhaps many in the region do feel that responsibility for all their ills truly should be laid Israel’s door. In the "Boycott Israeli Universities" thread, the head of Al Jazeera is quoted saying that the defeat of Israel is necessary; that its existence is a cancer that gnaws away at the Arab psyche. Such a position cannot be helpful; the last thing the Middle East needs is another disastrous war with Israel. The last thing it needs is to fritter away its energy in more pointless confrontations: it needs to reform governments and grow economies. It is the height of irresponsibility not to consider this. Perhaps the governments of the Middle East will not listen to our arguments (though they might, eventually – the Soviets gave up in the end not only because success was impossible – it was always impossible – but because they no longer believed that they deserved to win), but their people will, when they get the chance to hear it or read it. Muslims in the West will hear it, rather than one-sided condemnations of Israel from everyone, from mainstream publications like the BBC and the Guardian to extremist groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir and al Jazeera. The apocalyptic consequences Wheninrome describes are present in part precisely because so many in the region hold to the hallucinatory belief that destruction of Israel will solve their problems, and in that erroneous belief they are supported not only by the self-serving propaganda of their unelected and oil rich dictators, but also by the free presses of the free world. Again there is circularity: we focus so heavily on it because of its tension, but it is tense in part because all sides feed (for different reasons, both good and bad) the idea that Israel is the problem.

If you still think I’m full of crap, consider this: I see pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli (shades of both normally) demonstrations all the time. I have never, ever seen a protest in support of the North Korean people, or one attacking their murderous overlords. Never, ever, not once, not even on TV. And the North Korean government’s crimes exceed Israel’s by an order of magnitude. Why is that? Because, as Wheninrome says, no one in the North Korean government cares. And if Israel were like the North Korean government, if they expelled foreign media, if they built huge slave labour camps (real ones), started performing human experiments on prisoners and killing scores of them in gas chambers (you know, like the North Koreans do, like the actual Nazis did), criticism would dry up for the same reason. I think that’s pathetic.

Before anyone jumps on me, I’m not trying to make any suggestions for action, just observations of outcome. And considering everything that has been said about Iraq, about the negative results (state failure) of moral intentions (removing a monster) given a self-obsessed lack of reflection and an echo-chamber press, I don’t consider saying “but what are we supposed to do, NOT criticise Israel? This argument is wrong on so many levels, etc…” to be an adequate response.
 
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gek-opel

entered apprentice
Vim, many points to address here. But is there not a case for holding the actions of ostensibly functioning democracies to a higher level of criticism than those of dictatorships? Putting this in context: America's use of torture, whilst lesser than that in other states has been rightly held up to extreme international criticism, and not entirely due to the anti-Americanism of much of the world, but rather because of the horror which is felt when a democracy engages in such practices-- a horror which is greater than that when a repressive dictatorship does so. This criticism is not so much attached to the bare act itself (in the case of America torture/rendition, with Israel their repression of the Palestinians) but to the act in the context of the perpetrator. In this sense such criticism is indicative of an implicit level of respect for such governments, that structures such as these ought not to engage in such practices as it corrupts their legitimacy itself. This is the "nice" way of looking at things.
 

vimothy

yurp
Vim, many points to address here. But is there not a case for holding the actions of ostensibly functioning democracies to a higher level of criticism than those of dictatorships? Putting this in context: America's use of torture, whilst lesser than that in other states has been rightly held up to extreme international criticism, and not entirely due to the anti-Americanism of much of the world, but rather because of the horror which is felt when a democracy engages in such practices-- a horror which is greater than that when a repressive dictatorship does so. This criticism is not so much attached to the bare act itself (in the case of America torture/rendition, with Israel their repression of the Palestinians) but to the act in the context of the perpetrator. In this sense such criticism is indicative of an implicit level of respect for such governments, that structures such as these ought not to engage in such practices as it corrupts their legitimacy itself. This is the "nice" way of looking at things.

Of course, a greater degree of self-criticism is part of what makes democracies democracies, and of course we should subject our own governments to scrutiny.

A question: do you, then, agree with Moynihan's Law? It seems as though you do. Israel deserve maximal criticism not because they are excessively wanton, but because they are not excessivley wanton, because they are liberal and so listen to criticism. That's what I was trying to say in my initial post.

A second question: do you think that this criticism of Israel (though the same question can easily be applied to America) has negative implications (such as those that I discussed - like the abandonment of people suffering under regimes with zero interest in, or commitment to, human rights; like the feeding of Arab irrationality regarding Israel; like the feeding of Palestinian hate towards Israel)?
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Of course, a greater degree of self-criticism is part of what makes democracies democracies, and of course we should subject our own governments to scrutiny.

A question: do you, then, agree with Moynihan's Law? It seems as though you do. Israel deserve maximal criticism not because they are excessively wanton, but because they are not excessivley wanton, because they are liberal and so listen to criticism. That's what I was trying to say in my initial post.

A second question: do you think that this criticism of Israel (though the same question can easily be applied to America) has negative implications (such as those that I discussed - like the abandonment of people suffering under regimes with zero interest in, or commitment to, human rights; like the feeding of Arab irrationality regarding Israel; like the feeding of Palestinian hate towards Israel)?

Vim I suspect you overestimate considerably the role, if any, that Western criticism of Israel has in giving succour to Arab/Palestinian hatred. This is because you clearly underestimate both the strength of feeling somewhat, and hold it to be "irrational". Whilst it may not ultimately (and in non-ideal political reality) as you argue serve the best interests of either the Palestinians themselves or the Arab states to continue to hold on to this hatred, I think it has arisen for very clearly explicable reasons. To disavow this is possibly a key part of your argument, as it serves to "draw a line" under history, to render all that has gone on before null and void, and leaving those involved to "get on with it"- but what is the reality of this "call to amnesia"? Understandably to move forwards, but by alienating the present from the narratives which have created it it gives no clues as to the complexities of the situation, especially at the "psychic" level. There is also clearly an asymmetry here- as Israel's very claims (moral, emotional, political historical) to the legitimacy of their state rest on just such narratives. You would be the first to call out anyone repressing the history of the Jewish people. Similarly we cannot disentangle the current situation from the preceding events which have constituted it.

Equally any understanding of the situation as it stands must be given in the geo-political-historical context also- the role of nations and agencies external to the Middle East over many years.

Vis-a-vis Moynihan's law- it is not that Israel are "liberal" (whatever we are taking that to mean) but rather they are enmeshed in a series of international relationships... which give the potential for leverage over their actions via critique through their international partners themselves.
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
A question: do you, then, agree with Moynihan's Law? It seems as though you do. Israel deserve maximal criticism not because they are excessively wanton, but because they are not excessivley wanton, because they are liberal and so listen to criticism. That's what I was trying to say in my initial post.

HA. The more Israel obeys the superego injunction to behave, the more it is guilty.

Sorry couldn't resist.
 

vimothy

yurp
Vim I suspect you overestimate considerably the role, if any, that Western criticism of Israel has in giving succour to Arab/Palestinian hatred.

Perhaps - but I refer you again to the intereview with the head of al Jazeera:

In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed together in a single classroom. How can a teacher do his job in such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the situation is for us in the Middle East.

Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.​

Who is holding the Islamic elite to scrutiny? Who is telling them that this belief is incoherent? (If you believe that it is coherent, as you half suggest above, well... there's probably not a lot that can be said). Not the West, for the reasons you have given, and not the East because consent is manufactured and dissent is suppressed. There is simply no debate - you don't want one and they're not allowed one.

Whilst it may not ultimately (and in non-ideal political reality) as you argue serve the best interests of either the Palestinians themselves or the Arab states to continue to hold on to this hatred, I think it has arisen for very clearly explicable reasons.

Yes - because people are bloodthirsty savages, and have been throughout the whole of history. If Arab dictators had the best interests of the Palestinians at heart, if they honestly strove for Palestinian self-determination, they would extend the same courtesy to their own subjects. But they don't. If the "Arab street" or Arab radicals honestly felt that the Palestinians deserved self-determination, they would campaign for self-determination for all the other disenfranchised Muslims or Arabs in the Middle East as well. There would be no movements seeking to enslave the Islamic World in a Talibanised 7th C nightmare. Hell, they might even extend their desires for "social justice" beyond these limited categories and start campaigning for things like the rights of Palestinian Christians, Egyptian Copts, or even (no chance of this) Israeli civilians.

And it has nothing to do with wanting to forget what has happened in the past. (Interesting point considering what was said about Pipes' article). Bad things have happened everywhere. We know that. What we don'ty know is why, given that other states have treated Muslims and/or Arabs much worse, Israel recieves the majority of their ire. Why do Muslims only care for the rights of Palestinians? Why do they not speak out when Palestinians mistreat other Palestinians? Can you explain that without trying to turn my question into an argument for "Neo-Lib disavowel of Neo-Con crime" or some such?

In any case, only by ignoring the past can you come the conclusion that Israel deserves to be excoriated - and you have already admitted that it is their democratic status that singles them out for more criticism for the role in the conflict than Arab states.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Just because the head of al Jazeera has some rather fanciful ideas about what can be blamed on Israel, that does not mean Israel can't be reasonably blamed for anything.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Bad things have happened everywhere. We know that. What we don'ty know is why, given that other states have treated Muslims and/or Arabs much worse, Israel recieves the majority of their ire. Why do Muslims only care for the rights of Palestinians? Why do they not speak out when Palestinians mistreat other Palestinians? Can you explain that without trying to turn my question into an argument for "Neo-Lib disavowel of Neo-Con crime" or some such?
To restate my question from the other thread, is there actually a strong strand of political activism in the muslim world that criticizes Islamic states and pretty much ignores atrocities committed by the US / UK / Israel in the name of 'criticizing most that which you are most able to change'?
 

vimothy

yurp
Just because the head of al Jazeera has some rather fanciful ideas about what can be blamed on Israel, that does not mean Israel can't be reasonably blamed for anything.

I'm not saying that it can't reasonably be blamed for anything. I'm saying that, generally, it is not reasonably blamed for anything.

It seems that we have two sides to an argument, here, that pull apart. On the one side, we have the notion that as a liberal democracy Israel should be held to a higher standard than Arab states. On the other side, we hold that the (totally disproportionate, IMO) hatred of Israel by the rest of the Middle East is "very clearly explicable". If the rest of the Middle East followed our logic, they would be more interested in their own government's actions than Israel's. But they don't. And there's plenty that doesn't make sense according to this model.

Criticism is totally dependent on the identity of the oppressors. When its Hamas or Fatah killing Palestinians (in the later case, because they had beards!), the liberal West doesn't condem them. It understands them, or tries to. When the Palestinians dance with joy over the deaths of Israeli children, the media is silent. Can you imagine that it would be the same if the identities were reversed?

What Arab Muslim country has ever liberated even its own people, let alone those of another state? Never - so how can you believe them when they say that they seek justice for Palestine? They aren't interested in justice, but in hallucinatory notions of a wholly Sunni Muslim, Arab Middle East. Israel is a dhimmi state. That's the problem, not the oppression of Palestinians.

EDIT (disclaimer): Just so you know, I'm am not saying that Israel shouldn't be criticised.
 

vimothy

yurp
To restate my question from the other thread, is there actually a strong strand of political activism in the muslim world that criticizes Islamic states and pretty much ignores atrocities committed by the US / UK / Israel in the name of 'criticizing most that which you are most able to change'?

No, of course there isn't. Despite all the nonsense written about democracies here, clearly in this they are superior. The Middle East is not free. You can find pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel groups in Israel. You will not find pro-Israeli or anti-Palestinian groups anywhere else in the Middle East.
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
(disclaimer): Just so you know, I'm am not saying that Israel shouldn't be criticised.

Perhaps not, but it seems every time someone does you want to undercut that criticism by pointing out how much worse Israel's neighbours are, effectively rendering it null and void.

I'm under no illusions about the authoritarian nature of Arab states and - unlike some here - I don't scorn the superiority of democracy. But there are facts of Israel, past and present (the ethnic cleansing that gave birth to the country, the ongoing occupation of Gaza and West bank) that cannot be offset by highlighting Islamism or Arab dictatorships.
 

vimothy

yurp
Perhaps not, but it seems every time someone does you want to undercut that criticism by pointing out how much worse Israel's neighbours are, effectively rendering it null and void.

Given the level of anti-Israeli sentiment on this board, why should I not ask why that is? And I have been told why that is, not because Israel are much worse than other states in the region, but because they are much better.

And the amount of criticism is surely a measure of how bad Israel is - but it does not only reflect Israel's actions, but also Israel's identity as a liberal democracy. I'm not saying that Israel should be exempt from criticism, I'm saying that criticism of Israel should be put in perspective. Other states should be included as well.

For instance, Gek said that most of the problems in the Mid East were the fault of American involvement and / or incompetence. Did you challenge him then? His proposition is surely "dangerously one-sided" because he takes into account no activities by other Mid Eastern states or even (more ridiculously if you are a supposed "anti-imperialist") the USSR. I don't want to stop criticism of Israel (and in any case, what I want is clearly not going to affect anything very much on this board), I want it to be realistic, consistent and honest. I want to explore the reasons why it is not. I want the same level of scrutiny to be extended to North Korea, to Saudi Arabia, to Venezuela ...

And I would like Dissensus to consider how we would deal, in our own countries, with a problem like the occupied territories. There are no easy solutions. Especially when you consider the level of anti-Semitism in Palestine (and consider it historically). We should stand side-by-side with Israel.

I'm under no illusions about the authoritarian nature of Arab states and - unlike some here - I don't scorn the superiority of democracy. But there are facts of Israel, past and present (the ethnic cleansing that gave birth to the country, the ongoing occupation of Gaza and West bank) that cannot be offset by highlighting Islamism or Arab dictatorships.

Yes, and I respect you for your commitment to democracy. I think that you form part of a genuinely liberal strand to Dissensus.

However, that still doesn't make one-sided criticism of Israel any more fair. I don't see any positive solutions on offer, just negativity. And I don't see any pressure on any other side in the conflict. I don't even see any admission that there is another side to the conflict. It's just Israel oppressing the Palestinians, and Palestinian actions are always written off as being ultimately the fault of the Israelis in the first place, where they aren't feted as Marxist revolutionaries.

And these are hardly views of no importance. Listen to Tom Paulin, a "writer with a conscience":

So how does the suicide bomber fit within this balance of power?

"I can understand how suicide bombers feel," he answers. "It is an expression of deep injustice and tragedy. I think -- though -- that it is better to resort to conventional guerrilla warfare. I think attacks on civilians in fact boost morale. Hitler bombed London into submission but in fact it created a sense of national solidarity."

If there is one thing Paulin clearly abhors about Israel, it is the Brooklyn--born Jewish settlers.

"They should be shot dead," he says forcefully. "I think they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them."​

Let's stop treading on egg-shells. If you can condem those states and movements that deserve it least, you should be able to do the same to those that deserve it most. And that includes the Palestinians. They have done terrible things as well. Otherwise, the implication is clear: if Israel wanted to escape international criticism, it should treat the Palestinians much, much worse.
 

vimothy

yurp
'm under no illusions about the authoritarian nature of Arab states and - unlike some here - I don't scorn the superiority of democracy. But there are facts of Israel, past and present (the ethnic cleansing that gave birth to the country, the ongoing occupation of Gaza and West bank) that cannot be offset by highlighting Islamism or Arab dictatorships.

Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005. I don't expect it to bring peace, however - Hamas do not want peace.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
but also Israel's identity as a liberal democracy.

Israel is NOT a democracy (at least if you take democracy to be that form of government, which allows people to govern themselves (directly or via elected representatives)) because the palestinians living in gaza and the westbank have no right to elect what is when we ignore all bullshit their government, namely the israeli government. It is quite simple.

The true reason that Israel gets more criticism than other oppressive forms of government is that
  1. No other conflict in the world has so much media presence as that one. And humans care more about things they see all the time than those they don't, just consider the divergence in emotional response between Diana's death and that of others. We see the suffering of Palestinians on TV everyday. We don't see that of North Koreans very often. It's a normal emotional response to be more concerned about those who are (assumed to be) closer to us.
  2. Nobody offends people's intelligence as much as israel apologists: Everybody knows that israel is an oppressive apartheit regime, not a democracy, and that the Palesinians are the victims. Everybody, including yourself. Condi Rice know, Blair know, you know it, everyone. Humans have no problem ignoring the suffering of others, but as a group, we don't like to be considered fools.
  3. Humans by and large like to sympathise with the underdogs (as long as they are not part of the conflict themselves, if they are, humans prefer to side with the powerful). Secretly we rejoice when the big bad bully gets a kick against the shins.

Here endeth today's lesson on pop-psycho-politics.
 

vimothy

yurp
Here endeth today's lesson on pop-psycho-politics.

Interesting (well, maybe - is this a joke?), and since borderpolice's statements flatly contradict what has been said so far (including on the "Boycott..." thread), I will leave it to others to disagree with him / them.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Humans by and large like to sympathise with the underdogs (as long as they are not part of the conflict themselves, if they are, humans prefer to side with the powerful). Secretly we rejoice when the big bad bully gets a kick against the shins.

Yes, I think this has a lot to do with it: the huge amount of financial and military aid bestowed on Israel by the USA just makes the conflict seem so monstrously unfair: tanks, jets and helicopter gunships vs. kids with stones, and all that. I mean, what's the ratio of Palestinian to [EDIT: duh, I mean Israeli, obviously!] casualties even since the second Intifada - 5:1? 10:1?
 
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vimothy

yurp
Yes, I think this has a lot to do with it: the huge amount of financial and military aid bestowed on Israel by the USA just makes the conflict seem so monstrously unfair: tanks, jets and helicopter gunships vs. kids with stones, and all that. I mean, what's the ratio of Palestinian to Arab casualties even since the second Intifada - 5:1? 10:1?

That's a fair question. It's also fair to ask, how many civilians have both sides killed?
 
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