Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

This is what it amounts to, every time Israel decides to send a message to the Palestinians (or whatever it is that the Israeli government is trying to do).  The barrel is Gaza:

The territory is 41 kilometers (25 mi) long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi).

The population density is about 13,000 per square mile; compare this to Chicago at about 12,000 per square mile.

Certainly, the government of Israel and the government of the United States would like you to believe that the residents of Gaza call hell down upon themselves.  Perhaps…all 2 million of them.

I just keep in mind who has the position of power in the relationship.  Israel has the military grade hardware; Israel controls the exits; the United States vetoes every resolution.

The residents of Gaza are fish in a barrel.  Good for being shot because they are easy to shoot; and, like fish in a barrel, unable to escape.


  1. My exact thoughts! Thanks for being brave enough to say these words as most "libertarians" seems to be susceptible to Israeli propaganda about mortal danger from Gaza and not knowing much about Israel's apartheid policies...

  2. The whole country has been deceived by Israeli propaganda. I love how Christians call for the genocide of the Palestinians. I'm sure it make the God of love proud.

  3. They're not Christians.

  4. Re the comment "they're not Christians"

    Lets remember Christians in Syria and Iraq are getting terrorised and killed by Islamic fanatics now.

    America wanted regime change in Syria and Iraq but the dictators in those countries mostly left the Christians alone. Americans don't even realise or care that there are millions of Christians in the middle east. Those Christians suffered terribly because of American policies

  5. technically i would suggest its not shooting fish in a barrel but scooping the fish out, letting them flop round on the ground for a while then hitting them with a stick when they are too exhausted to flop round any more.

  6. I haven't seen one comment on here about the thousands of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into civilian areas in Israel over the last nine years. Israel completely exited Gaza in 2005, leaving the Gazan population to forge their own destiny. Instead of choosing freedom and prosperity, those who seized power there chose to rain rockets and mortars down on civilians in Israel. Only once that started did Israel impose a blockade on Gaza to try to prevent entry of materials that could be used for further violence. The charter of Hamas (available online) sets out the violent principles by which those who seized power in Gaza propose to live. Even as libertarians we believe in the right to self-defense. One can be against a state and still be for a population (such as in Israel) defending itself against terror.

    1. One can pick any random point in time and scream "HE STARTED IT!" Children do this regularly. Such an approach is useless. For every starting point you can identify, a Palestinian can name another against Israel.

      The situation is clear: who has the power? Who has the control? Hence this post.

      The second issue is clear - you, as a self-described libertarian, should advocate punishment is directed only at the perpetrators.

      Killing thousands for the supposed criminal actions of a few is not libertarian in any meaningful definition of the term.

    2. I’m not sure why it was necessary to label my response as “childish”. First, I didn’t just choose any point in time, I chose the point when Israel removed every shred of its presence from Gaza and gave the Gazans presumably what any people would want, namely, complete liberty to determine their own future. What they did with this liberty is a matter of public record. Second, if you want to pick any other point in time in this conflict, the story is the same. As a subsequent poster commented, Hamas’s charter (available online) indicates that this is not a territorial conflict; it is an existential conflict. Similarly, the PLO was founded in 1964 to obliterate Israel, three years before Israel took control of the so-called “West Bank”, Gaza and Jerusalem. Third, if we’re talking about what is “childish”, surely not recognizing there are two sides to any conflict is just that.

      I disagree that the relevant question is: Who has the power? That is an argument the Progressives love to use: if someone is strong, they must have oppressed someone; if someone is weak, they must be oppressed. No other potential causes are admitted. To the contrary, one can be strong or weak because of the hand reality has dealt, or because of one’s own actions; it’s not always someone else’s fault. It is possible to be strong and just, and to be weak and unjust. No, the relevant question is: Who is acting justly?

      How Israel has waged this war is an interesting exercise to see if war can be waged according to libertarian principles. Israel sends texts to civilians and drops leaflets to warn them of where the next attack will be to give them the chance to leave and avoid injury; it also tries to use pinpoint attacks on known terrorists or launch bases. The Hamas perpetrators hide among civilians, prevent them from leaving an area to use them as shields, and launch rockets from civilian areas such as schools and hospitals. What could a libertarian protective agency do to improve on how Israel is seeking to defend itself from rocket attacks? That is what should be the subject of serious libertarian inquiry.

    3. Simon

      Where to begin…

      First, if you are going to quote something I wrote, I suggest next time you be precise. Don’t put quotes around words I did not write.

      Second, the Palestinians voted. Hamas offered several concessions along with some demands. These were rejected, as Israel certainly had a right to do. Then western aid was cut-off. So much for wanting to spread democracy and all that nonsense.

      Third, I am not the one just looking at one side of the story, and I will quote you precisely: “…if you want to pick any other point in time in this conflict, the story is the same.” So, Israel is always playing nice and it is the Palestinians that are the sole aggressors – at “any other point in time in this conflict.” I see your balance in this.

      Fourth, please don’t offer that Hamas is a threat in any meaningful way to Israel – you cite the other comment yet ignore the military and economic reality as explained in my reply.

      Fifth, just because I use an argument supposedly also used by progressives means what, exactly?

      Finally, why do you insist on trying to make Israel’s actions fit in a libertarian cube? It is impossible. Libertarian philosophy allows for aggression only in defense, and only against the aggressor. Even if one were to concede that Israel always and everywhere acted in self-defense (laughable, but I will go along), it is impossible to suggest that its actions were only against the aggressors.

      Simon, there are wrongs on both sides. If you like, pile up the bodies to get some idea of relative magnitude. Multiply this by the economic oppression and you will have some idea of the daily struggle.

    4. I am happy to concede that you didn’t say “childish”, but rather that “Children do this regularly.” Is there a substantive difference, or were you just commenting on my attempt to summarize? It makes for a much longer reply if one has to keep quoting precise words instead of summarizing.

      You go on to say “Second, the Palestinians voted. Hamas offered several concessions along with some demands. These were rejected, as Israel certainly had a right to do. Then western aid was cut-off. So much for wanting to spread democracy and all that nonsense.” I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about. When did the Palestinians vote (note that “Palestinians” refers to those in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, so which Palestinians voted exactly?), why does voting matter, what concessions did Hamas offer, and to whom? When was western aid cut-off? Who wanted to spread democracy and why does this matter (to a libertarian, democracy is just mob rule)? What does any of this have to do with what we were discussing?

      Then you say “Third, I am not the one just looking at one side of the story, . . . I see your balance in this.” If you recall, my original post was an attempt to provide some balance, since your original blog piece made no reference to attacks on civilians in Israel from Gaza. But I am happy to debate the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict from and at any point in time so we can each provide balance for the other. Yet, despite any wrongs Israel may have committed up until it left Gaza, you still haven’t described why, once Israel left, what Hamas has done is just and how Israel’s reaction in self-defense was unjust. And to anticipate your next response, I recognize Israel’s actions in self-defense weren’t perfect, and that’s how I framed what might be an interesting discussion: how to act in perfect self-defense against an aggressor using Hamas’s tactics.

      You go on to say “Fourth, please don’t offer that Hamas is a threat in any meaningful way to Israel.” I would suggest you reserve comment until you have spent time in Israel, and particularly the south, where you have 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter when the sirens go off signaling another rocket attack from Gaza. Those living there might be able to describe to you the threat they have lived under for years amid thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza. The fact that Israel has expended resources to develop a defensive shield, while Hamas has chosen to expend resources to buy rockets and build tunnels to attack Israel, means the body count is not as high in Israel as it would otherwise be; for some reason you cite body count as a key metric in assessing threat and justness of action. If someone attacks me with a knife, and I use a chair to fend off his first attack and then use my own knife to injure or kill him before he strikes a second time, does my use of the chair negate my right to act in self-defense and render my actions unjust? In the end the body count will be lopsided – my attacker will be dead and I will be alive – but surely he assumed that risk when he attacked me?

      You further say “Fifth, just because I use an argument supposedly also used by progressives means what, exactly?” I went on to explain the actual folly in your argument but, rather than address that, you chose only to question why I cited that this is an argument Progressives use. I made that point because I was surprised to see you use this logic; in my experience it is rare to find libertarians agreeing with the logic of Progressives, which I never find compelling, even when libertarians might be arguing for the same outcome as Progressives in particular situations.

      As to the question in your penultimate paragraph, “Finally, why do you insist on trying to make Israel’s actions fit in a libertarian cube?”, I am decidedly not doing that, but rather, am trying to focus the discussion on something worthwhile by posing the question: “What could a libertarian protective agency do to improve on how Israel is seeking to defend itself from rocket attacks?”

    5. My original post was less than 200 words; I mean to say no more or less than this. The conversation is drifting far afield.

      If you have something substantive to say regarding my original post, please cite the specific section with which you wish to comment and make your point. I will respond accordingly.

  7. Before you comment on the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, you really have to read the charter upon which the terrorist group Hamas was founded.

    Hamas isn’t looking to negotiate a peace deal with Israel. It wants to destroy Israel. Quoting Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, the charter reads:

    “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”


    1. Talk is cheap; a tiny little ant, penned up in a cage, says it is going to devour a lion. Please put on your critical thinking cap, if only for a moment.

      Hamas annual budget: $70 MM

      Israel annual budget: $75,000 MM

      Hamas weaponry: The brigades have a substantial weapons inventory of light automatic weapons and grenades, improvised rockets, mortars, bombs, suicide belts and explosives. The Brigade also has a variety of Anti-tank Guided Missile, like Kornet missile, Konkurs missile, Bulsae-2 missile (North Korean version of Fagot), Sagger missile and MILAN missile, as well as possess anti-aircraft missiles MANPADS, such as the SA-7B missile and its believed that it received a number of SA-24 Igla-S from Libya.

      No ships, no aircraft, no mechanized army….

      Israeli weaponry: The military equipment of Israel includes a wide array of arms, armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, missiles, planes, helicopters, and warships. Many of these are purchased overseas and many are indigenous designs. Beyond this, much too exhaustive a list to detail. See here:

      And, of course, there is enough commentary about the possession of nuclear weapons:

    2. Those who claim that Hamas is only attacking Israel because of its blockade of Gaza never seem to be able to explain why Hamas is not also attacking Egypt, which is also blockading Gaza. Maybe Hamas's problem is not really with the blockade but with Israel's existence?

    3. Or maybe, just maybe, that Charter was written by ONE man and published without any Party oversight or approval...and MAYBE, just maybe, that's why no Hamas politician references it or uses it as justification for anything....OR MAYBE, just maybe, they changed it in 2006! Hmmmmmm......wouldn't want to confuse you with the facts though.