Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disaster Money

As many of you know, a bomb went of in Jerusalem, killing one and injuring 30. The attack was harshly condemned by the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.

It's the first terrorist attack in Jerusalem in quite some time, but follows the brutal massacre of a Jewish family in the Itamar settlement and increasing tension in Gaza, where Palestinian militants have stepped up rocket fire and have been met with IDF reprisals. And I'm a little baffled as to the "why now" -- it seems as if this recent flare-up doesn't have any particular precipitation. Perhaps it doesn't need one -- when you're in a conflict, flare-up happens for many, little, or no reasons. That's the nature of being at war with someone. Still, it just strikes me as a bit odd. I haven't gotten my head around it.

Meanwhile, ThinkProgress chides AIPAC for dashing off a fundraising letter in response to the bombing. Apparently, it's gauche of them? I really don't understand the objection. If something bad happens to a group, institution, or entity you style yourself as defending, why wouldn't you try to muster up additional resources to assist in the reconstruction? Criticizing AIPAC for fundraising in the wake of the Jerusalem bombing is like criticizing the Red Cross for fundraising after Haiti. Rabbi Michael Lerner's home has been repeatedly attacked by right-wing thugs, and each time it happens I get a fundraising letter along with it.

One doesn't have to agree with AIPAC's policies to understand that its behavior is completely normal. As it happens, I don't donate either to Tikkun or to AIPAC, but that's because I find neither of them sufficiently attuned to my positions to justify supporting them financially. But I don't blame them for trying, and I particularly don't find it weird that they'd step up their efforts when a highly salient strike against what they claim to represent hits the news. If Israel is seen as under attack, groups which support Israel are going to try and muster resources dedicated to defending it. This pearl-clutching about how crass it all is -- ugh. It's just so nakedly opportunistic.


N. Friedman said...

Part I of II:

Actually, the bombing was condemned rather equivocally by the US, at least compared, this time, to the UN.

As for reasons... Consider: the border between Gaza and Egypt is no longer blocked. Hence, the capacity to make war has returned. Also, if Israel responds sufficiently to deter the new round of attacks, the response will (a) be condemned by the world (which does not want any more complications vis a vis the Arabs - oil being the only issue that really matters to European governments) and (b) could potentially place Egypt in a situation where it might be forced to take a stand, one way or the other, on the peace treaty.

There is also the obvious point that the world said little about the Itamar massacre, which was genocidal in character - slitting the throat of a baby and cutting the baby's head clean off. So, perhaps terror agents think now is a good time, with the world caring very little for the lives of Jews.

N. Friedman said...

Part II of II:

Lastly, there is the point which you reject. You know, the one mentioned by Thomas Friedman today, March 23, 2011, in the New York Times. You know, the one which we all need to see our personal cultural anthropologist to understand - NOT.

My view on this: we are dealing with a genocidal political movement, not a war in the sense you understand it. To those who participate in that movement, the aim is not practical but, rather, ideological, viz. to annihilate the enemy.

Why is this so hard for you to follow? This is a dispute without a settlement. It cannot be settled because the bridge between the sides is religious in nature. And, one side has declared it sinful to reach a settlement. See, however shameful you may find it, One State, Two States, by Benny Morris.

Anonymous said...

Comment section fail.

Anonymous said...

BTW is this pearl-clutching at the pearl-clutching? Where will it end?

It's obvious that ThinkProgress is really going after AIPAC for being wrong on the issues. If you're wrong on the issues then of course it follows that the concrete steps you take to further your goals are disgraceful.

Matt said...

In response to calls for unity coming from young Palestinians, Hamas feels the need to demonstrate what a Palestinianunity government can mean. Remember what happened last time there was the possibility of a unity government.

Rebecca said...

The border between Gaza and Egypt being open doesn't have a whole lot of effect on whether terrorists can get to Jerusalem, given the border fence around Gaza.

The terrorist who placed this bomb could have come from the West Bank (through an area where there's no separation fence), or could be a Jerusalem Palestinian resident who wouldn't need permission to enter the city. There have been other terrorist attacks in the city committed by east Jerusalem residents (for example, the bulldozer/large tractor attacks of a couple of years ago).

Several weeks ago an employee of the Jerusalem sanitation department was injured by a bomb that he picked up in a garbage bin - his hand was blown off. Perhaps this attack today was done by someone connected to the earlier bomb.

N. Friedman said...

Rebecca writes: "The border between Gaza and Egypt being open doesn't have a whole lot of effect on whether terrorists can get to Jerusalem."

It, however, does have an effect on whether the Palestinian side plans to open up a new offensive, aka intifadah. So, I think you missed my point.

Rebecca said...


Weren't we discussing the terrorist attack in Jerusalem? I was, at least. The post was in part about the Jerusalem attack. You brought in the point about Gaza, and I disagreed with you. Is that so hard to understand?

And the "Palestinian side" certainly isn't unified, so if someone Palestinian wants another intifada, it's unlikely to come from all the Palestinians. Do you mean that Hamas wants another intifada? I suggest reading the latest MESS report in Haaretz analyzing the current heating up in the south of Israel. They don't think that Hamas wants to start up the fighting with Israel on a large scale again.

N. Friedman said...


My earlier reply vaporized. I'll try again.

I was talking about Jerusalem as well. I think that the opening in Gaza creates a circumstance where it is more likely that attacks will occur; not because the attacks originate from Gaza but because the perception that the Israelis are more vulnerable.

I agree with you that there is not unanimity among Palestinian Arabs. I do not see your point. There was not complete unanimity during Intifadah II, yet it occurred.

Haaretz is not high on my list of sources that are good at predicting the future. They did not, after all, exactly predict the activities now occurring across the Arab regions. I do not think MESS did either. And, I think that the current behavior against Israelis is likely tied loosely to those events.