Jesus Saves. Moses Invests. Muffti eats Juevos Rancheros.Punitive demolitions is a classic case of threatening a population someone cares about in order to deter him from acting. Like all cases of deterrence, once the act is done, the punitive measures are useless and only undertaken to let others know that you are serious about the policy. An example was the Israeli policy of demolishing the houses of families of suicide bombers. Anyone who isn’t left with a bad taste in their mouths at the thought of threatening families for the activities of their adult relatives is, in the Muffti’s opinion, a moral dullard.

Of course, perhaps the ends justify the means. However, a commission headed by Maj. Gen. Udi Shani found that policy played nearly no effective role in deterrence. His commission recommended a cessation of the policy. Not only is it wrong, it’s ineffective. Furthermore, it doesn’t come as a deep surprise. An internal army study:

…published at the end of 2003 summing up the first 1,000 days of the conflict, said that “as of today, there is no proof of the deterrent influence of the house demolitions.” The number of attacks, said the report, even rose after the army began demolishing houses.

Big surprise: unfair policy leads to resentment. Apparently deterrence could be seen in a mere 20 cases where families turned in wanna-be attackers. The commission recommended the policy be terminated. Good riddance. Quotes from Haaretz

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  • Muffti wrote: Like all cases of deterrence, once the act is done, the punitive measures are useless and only undertaken to let others know that you are serious about the policy

    What are you talking about? Let me get this right: Once the act is done (suicide bombing) the punitive measures (home demolition) are useless and only undertaken to let others know that you are serious about the policy (demolishing homes of suicide bombers).

    The policy is aimed at deterring suicide bombers so that they know that should they undertake their mission, there will be real world consequences to their families. The policy is also aimed at families of suicide bombers who, if they know or suspect that one of their members is about to undertake a mission, can turn him or her in and thus prevent retribution.

    During the course of the intifada, 270 homes were demolished. You correctly note that 20 potential suicide bombers were turned in by their families. So we know that about 40-60 lives were saved just on that basis alone (not including the lives of the 20 suicide bombers). Also, the study does not take into account cases where suicide bombers were merely dissuaded from undertaking their missions by family members concerned with retributions.

    We also need to factor in the number of potential suicide bombers who declined to undertake missions, aborted them prior to their execution or even get involved because of the fear of retributions.

    From a moral perspective, given the traditional closeness of Palestinian families, the presumption of the policy was that it was unlikely that a suicide mission would be undertaken without family members knowing about it. To whatever extent they did know about it, don’t they share some of the moral culpability if they do not actively prevent or dissuade the attack?

    Anyhow, despite what I’ve just written, I have always been uncomfortable with home demolition. There is no indication that an investigation was undertaken to determine the family’s culpability. Of course it’s easy for me to be uncomfortable from the safety of my Canadian moral high ground.

    What is truly noteworthy about this story is the fact that the study was commissioned by the IDF and the results were not a rubber stamp approval and justification for a longstanding policy. I have yet to hear about similar investigations by the PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or even Syria and Iran. Kol hakavod to the IDF for refuting, once again, the notion that Israelis are amoral bloodthirsty killers desirous of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

  • Haven’t read the report, but saying that the house demolitions may have deterred some terrorists is useless when it was just as likely to xcause other terrorists to blow themselves up.

    Collective punishment is never very effective, esspcially not in this case. These terrorists believe they will be made Holy Men just for blowing up and killing some Yahud. Do you think real-world harshness can actually infulence such people?

  • Oh, and the fact that a commision recommends something doesn’t mean that any-one will actually heed it. In Israel, as far as I’ve seen, such commisions are set up to justify a policy. If they do, jolly good then. If they don’t – well, they don’t understand realpolitik anyway, those damn ivory tower pointy hats.

  • I should have said I was reffering to Muffti’s “good riddance”. Ain’t out of the woods just yet.

  • Roman Collective punishment is never very effective, esspcially not in this case.

    Okay, not very effective, just merely somewhat effective.

    I wonder if that mention that ‘violence’ picked up after house demolitions started was meant to imply that the house demolitions incited, or that when the house demolitions started there were other factors causing the Palestinians to go kill Jews?

  • Well, no one can say for sure if the demolitions were a direct cause. Even coming close to knowing such a thing will take much more work than a brief statistical survey of the information availble.

    As to things that are somewhat effective – cutting off some one’s arm because he shoplifted a candy bar will obviously lower the stealing of candy bars rate.

    Now, don’t anyone dare say I’m comparing mass murder to stealing candy. What I’m saying is that sometimes the deterrent causes more trouble than the thing it’s supposed to deter.

  • Twenty cases, huh? Times what, on average 5 innocent lives?
    That’s ONE HUNDRED lives saved.

    Sounds like an excellent policy to me.

  • Muffti agrees with ck that not all factors were taken into account. Of course, this is true of every and any study: there are too many possible confounding factors so you have to make reasonable assumptions. Muffti will give the probe the benefit of the doubt on this one. In any case, he is intrigued by your argument:

    From a moral perspective, given the traditional closeness of Palestinian families, the presumption of the policy was that it was unlikely that a suicide mission would be undertaken without family members knowing about it. To whatever extent they did know about it, don’t they share some of the moral culpability if they do not actively prevent or dissuade the attack?

    Well, Muffti supposes that this is a relevant factor, but it still seems immoral to carry out punitive measures on people for failing to be good samaritans. In particular, given the brutal treatment of collaborationists of any stripe, it seems that ones moral duty to tell can be mitigated by the desire to live, have one family live etc. Anyhow, the measures were carried out without investigation into the prior knowledge of the family because if the knowledge of the family was relevant, the would-be suicide bombers wouldn’t tell their families and thereby prevent the measures from occurring.

    Finally, Muffti isn’t sure what ck is objecting to vis a vis the point of deterrence. It’s a classic problem in game theory to try to figure out how deterrence works. Say Muffti’s family threatens to kill your family if you kill Muffti, in order to deter you. Say that Muffti’s family has no interest in killing your family. Then you kill the Muff. Well, the goal of deterrence is to keep you from doing the act. Once its done, the deterrence has failed and thus has outlived its point. So the only reason to carry out the threatened punishment (other than vengeance, which I think we can all agree is a bad reason) is to let others know that you are serious about the threat: you will carry it out even if it can’t help in the particular case. (i.e. imagine ever possible suicide bomber did his thing in one day so there were none left (and none more could ever come about). Would there be any point in demolishing all their families houses given that it could no longer act as a deterrent to anyone? No.)

  • Muffti agrees with moral dullard if you restrict yourself to those numbers. But the point of the commission was that you have to balance those numbers against other ones, like how many lives were lost as a result of the policy.

    Furthermore, we should note that not all suicide bombings are successful. We are assuming that the 20 or so turned in bombers would have succeeded. To really get a grip on the numbers, we would have to know the average rate of stopping the would-be bombers.

  • Twenty cases, huh? Times what, on average 5 innocent lives?
    That’s ONE HUNDRED lives saved.

    Sounds like an excellent policy to me.

    What Muffti said. Those ONE HUNDRED LIVES that were saved are all well and good, but who’s to say that it didn’t cause other people to blow themselves up – causing, say, a hundred Jewish casualties, and gods know how many Palestinian ones – keeping the ballance, except for those twenty demolished houses.

  • Muffti, with respect to #10, you seem to ignore the impact of the deterrent upon those who are, well, deterred.

    You still haven’t answered my question in #1. But I forgive you, it’s a tough one.

  • Just saw this: Defense Minister Mofaz adopts recommendation calling to halt demolition of homes belonging to terrorists` families (Haaretz)

  • Muffti appologizes to T_M. Muffti doesn’t know what an effective deterent is per se. Presumably it is one that prevents more damage than would have occurred otherwise (i.e. had the policy been in place) overall. The Nazi use of the gestapo seems to have been an effective use of deterrence against criticism (i.e. the fear of having your family shot). An even tougher question is whether or not there are any forms of deterrence that aren’t grossly immoral. Muffti isn’t sure. And Muffti totally agrees with Roman: one of the points of the study was precisely to suggest that the policy yielded a net loss.

  • Just saw this: Defense Minister Mofaz adopts recommendation calling to halt demolition of homes belonging to terrorists` families (Haaretz)

    Here’s the link. Wow, we make actually have a chance to make this country work.

    Of course, this is all part of the ongoing cease-fire thingy with the PLO.

    He said, however, that should circumstances change dramatically, it is possible that Israel would reconsider its policy on house demolitions.

    So what he’s actually saying is that as long as there no bombings, there’s no use demolitioning house of bombers, but if they start blowing up again, we’ll probably start bulldozing those nice little cottages.

    Of course, he may not actually mean what I just said, but it’s pretty clear that he’s leaving the IDF a loophole.

    So, legally, nothing is changed, but this is a refreshing change of attitude.

    And Middle, I believe Muffti’s point is that the deterrent may have side-effects which are worse that what it is trying to deter.

  • BTW, I hear there’s this new high-tech thingy called the preview button. Those damn kids.

  • Oh, I hear Muffti loud and clear about the problematic use of certain deterrents. But I wonder how this committee judged this particular one. As an example, other than the bombings that were prevented, one wonders whether house demolitions led to a greater sense of fatigue and war weariness among the Palestinians. Perhaps Abbas is taking certain unArafatish steps because of this fatigue?

    By the way, I’m not sure I agree with the issue of whether these demolitions are immoral. Any bomber knows in advance that this will be a penalty. Sure, he is dead, but his family will pay a price for his actions. As such, the immorality is not necessarily Israel’s since it had given fair warning to the perpetrator.

    I’d really like to read this entire report.

  • Muffti is finally convinced there is an issue on which he and TM disagree. If there has been any moral progress made over the last 2000 years it is presumably partly that we don’t hold groups responsible for the actions of some of it’s members. This follows directly if you think that you can only be (justly) punished for what you are responsible. You aren’t responsible for the suicide bomber, he is. Thus, you aren’t justly punished for his activities.

    The larger point is just announcing a consequence doesn’t make it just to follow through on that consequence. If Muffti told you that he would kill your children if you didn’t start believing in God, presumably if you didn’t you wouldn’t thereby attain moral responsibility for my killing your children. This reminds Muffti a lot of the anti-marijuana campaign in the states, where kids are told that weed is harmful to them since they can get arrested for it.

  • Roman, mufti
    so you’re saying that we should just roll over and die?

    The checkpoints are a great detterent, but by your logic they also cause incitement and who can ignore the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian pregnant women who had stillborns AND also died from not receiving proper medical attention because of those damn checkpoints.

    The ‘racial profiling’ at the airport, bus stations, supermarkets, movie theatres, and buses also might deter some terrorists, but hell, it probably also incites(d) many more to carry out vengeance attacks.

    To win a war/battle, you don’t have to annihilate the enemy, you merely have to make it believe that they can’t beat you so they give up. The Arabs have time and time again been shown that Israel refuses to win the war, and along with this dangerous retreat plan, and I’m sure everyone can do the math:

    They won the war.

    They sacrificed over two thousdands martyrs and ended up making us retreat from acres and acres of land AND are getting more and more ‘rehab’ money from ‘western’ donors.

    Let that sink in a bit: They won the war. It doesn’t matter that we gave up. They won, and we let them.

  • Muffti recognizes Josh’s point. You’re right. What we should really do is burn down the entire village any suicide bomber comes from. And anyone who runs out of the town, we should shoot on site. And we should probably institute torturing of anyone related to the suicide bomber no matter how remote. We wouldn’t want to roll over and die, after all! (to quote Homer, ‘if you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic!)

  • Muffti, to your second point, I reply that announcing the consequences and consistently following up does give fair warning.

    The issue of collective punishment is one where we agree. Where we might disagree is whether it applies here.

    What is one life worth? If by creating this rule – whereby the home of a suicide bomber, even if others are living in it and he then dies, is forfeit – you prevent a bombing that kills your civilians, is that collective punishment or a defensive act in a war? If people shoot at your soldiers or civilians from a home and you realize the only way to prevent future attacks is to remove that home – even if those who shot were merely visiting for the occasion but liable to return – is that collective punishment or a defensive act of war? If people are digging smuggling tunnels and are able to bring over arms that are used against civilians and soldiers in deadly attacks, is removing the homes in the vicinity of the tunnels in order to prevent this collective punishment or a defensive act in a war?

    I think the last example is the most difficult to answer, but the first two seem far more on target.

    I ask these questions not because I fully agree with home demolitions. In truth, I have grave doubts about targeted killings as well since innocent bystanders are injured and killed sometimes. However, I understand the rationale of both in a way that challenges the notion of collective punishment or revenge attacks. I simply don’t see this matter as one that is clear. It’s murky to me.

  • Things are just not as murky to me as they are to T_M. And I am not, as Muffti implies, a moral dullard either. Israel is in a fight for its life and continued viability. In that respect, the rules have not changed much since 1948.

    I hope the new accords in Sharm al Sheikh bear real fruit and we can move on and end the cycle of violence once and for all. But we’ve been down that road before – and Marwan Barghouthi believes the uprising will continue in the West Bank after the Gaza pullout (and why not? It works!). So I didn’t even blog about it. I’ll wait and see if Mahmoud Abbas lasts at all.

    The point is that one can’t make in vacuo moral judgements as Muffti seems wont to do. In my book, one has a moral obligation to save one’s own life in the face of another who wants to kill him. That’s Judaism’s rodeph thing: if someone comes to kill you, you must kill him first, even if such a thing is distasteful to you. Jews are not meant to be pacifists or Christians who turn the other cheek. We crave and idealize peace, but we’re not meant to be suicidal pushovers either.

    Our enemies pretty much set the rules from day one of the conflict. Any Jewish settlement that fell into Arab hands did not suffer from unfair treatment. Jewish settlements in Arab hands did not suffer from discriminatory policies or uneven application of International humanitarian law. Nope. Any Jewish settlement that fell into Arab hands was simply wiped off the face of the earth.

    These include Beit Ha’arava, on the shore of the Dead Sea and Atarot and Neve Ya’akov, north of Jerusalem; Kfar Darom, Yad Mordechai and Nitzanim, which were on the route of the invading Egyptian army; the four Etzion settlements south of Jerusalem (the residents of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion were massacred, the survivors of the other settlements were sent into captivity); the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem that surrendered to the besieging forces of the Trans-Jordanian Arab legion; Mishmar Hayarden, which was conquered by Syrian forces. Wherever an Arab army conquered a Jewish settlement, this settlement ceased to exist. The Arab ethnic cleansing was complete – not one Jewish settlement remained in Arab-controlled areas.

    Thems the rules of our engagement. In light of that, we’ve certainly acted with restraint. And now, after that study, the Minister of Defense has ordered an end to home demolitions. Cool. Let’s hope the Palestinians go with the momentum and get their economy and lives in order, while not doing anything that would imperil their homes. Because if the chooice is between 60 Israeli lives and 270 Palestinian homes, moral dullard that I am, I’ll take the lives.

    Hopefully we won’t have to go there again.

  • Saying that it’s okay to treat some of the other people badly because some of them treated some of our people badly is morally… problematic.

    And the thing is, ck, even if the lives > homes unequality was viable, you don’t know if it will actually help.

    Now let’s see, we can punish them by something which is morally disgusting, and it may help, may do nothing, or may make things worse.

    We can not punish them by such means and that may help, do nothing, or worsen things.

    Unless you are absolutely (or – at least – reasonably) sure that the punishment is effective in preventing further bad things, there’s isn’t a reason to commit to that punishment policy.

    We seem to agree that the demolitions may not be effective. What we don’t agree on is whether, knowing very little about the effects of what we are doing, we should continue.

  • Forgive me for any weird wording that may appear the above post. It is way past my bed-time.

  • Roman, ‘amen’. You and TM are some reasonable people in general. ck, you are a total fucking psycho moral dullard.

    Let’s see:

    In my book, one has a moral obligation to save one’s own life in the face of another who wants to kill him. That’s Judaism’s rodeph thing: if someone comes to kill you, you must kill him first, even if such a thing is distasteful to you. Jews are not meant to be pacifists or Christians who turn the other cheek.

    Sure. Muffti is all for killing terrorists before they manage to kill us. If someone comes strapped with a bomb and stopping him requires killing him, go for it. But what does that have to do with threatening his family? Collective punishment? Punishment of those who didn’t commit the crime? The extension is misleading at best.

    As for the rest, Roman said it better than I could. It’s just plain wrong to punish those not responsible for a crime, even if you announce you are going to do it in advance, pace TM. And all this talk about the end justifying the means is complete bullshit. We have a commission that says that it hasn’t provided deterence and you have, well, total speculations and hopeful wishes. If the ends justify the means, you may as well just go and shoot every arab who may be a terrorist and get it over with. At least that would be effective.

  • Roman, you live in New Zealand?

    *TM runs away from the hordes of murderous Jews, praying they won’t destroy his home with a D9*

  • Muffti, the commission may be right and may be wrong. Commissions have been wrong in the past and will be wrong in the future. It’s all in the details…I would love to see that report.

  • Grandmufti is wrong when he says it is not justified to punish someone for a crime if he or she is not responsible for that crime.

    He is wrong because homicide bombing is not a crime, it is an act of war. People err gravely in thinking that the actions of Arab terrorists are “crimes” that can be dealt with by a police force which must obey all of the civilized rules of Western democracies. These are not crimes; they are military attacks. It does not matter that the palestinians do not have tanks, planes or missiles. Anyone with eyes to see can tell that all of palestinian society is mobilized for genocide against the Jews. As such, the entire society is complicit and laible to punishment. It does not matter that Abbas or anyone else says that he is dedicated to a peaceful solution. It is obvious to everyone except the wllfully blind that he is lying through his teeth.

    Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept that the PA is actually dedicated to a peaceful solution, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizb’allah et al have said just as plainly that they are not. Thet are, therefore, fair game.

    By taking the wanton murder of Jews lying down, Israel proves to the Arabs that Jews can be murdered with impunity. This invites continuing attacks.

    I do not think that blowing up the hoses of terrorists is the right approach. Instead, I support what I call R&D: Re-Occupation and De-Nazificaton. Israel should immediately invade the PA controlled areas, engage the terrorists in battle, kill as many of them as possible, drive out the rest, and totally destroy the PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. root and branch. Let us cal it Black September Redux, in honor of the successful Jordanian campaign against the PLO in 1970. In response to PLO provocations, King Hussein launced an all-out attack on the PLO, killed about 3,000 of their fighters, and drove the rest of them out. If Hussein can do it, so can Israel.

  • Oy Ephraim, you have some errors in there. Hussein killed more than 3000, for example.

    More important, you are wrong to say that their entire society is mobilized for war.

  • Well, if Hussein killed more than 3,000, then so much the better. Have you noticed that since he did so, PLO terrorists have not bothered Jordan? They know that they will be killed mercilessly if they do, and so, like sensible people, they do not risk it. The palestinians attack Israel because they know that the Jews will stupidly argue about the right and wrongs of destroying the house of a terrorist instead of avenging the murder of their citizens.

    In what way is palestinian society not mobilized for war?

  • Well, Ephraim, we’re not King Hussein. We have this morality thing we have to deal with that seems to be more important to us than it is to the Hashemite family.

    The points that are germane that muffti has yet to address are aS follows:

    We are in state of quasi-warfare. It’s the sort of conflict that does not lend itself to police actions. For instance, if the enemy has a base from which it launches attacks, we do not hesitate to bomb the base because we may hurt the otherwise innocent cleaning staff. Of course one may argue that homes do not correspond to the example I cited and yes, individual homes do not indeed fit in this. However, the institution of one’s home does apply.

    Palestinian society and Palestinian families, that harbour and actively encourage suicide bombers ARE MORALLY CULPABLE IN THE CRIMES COMMITTED BY THOSE SUICIDE BOMBERS. Consequently they are subject to reasonable punishment.

    We are all of course duly horrified by the notion of collective punishment. How many times have we read stories about partisans attacking Nazis and Nazis then simply going to the village from which the partisans may or may not have originated or operated from and simply executing 20 villagers for every German killed.

    The case here is totally not the same. Palestinian media, including media aimed at small children, extoll the virtues of suicide bombing. Posters depicting suicide bombers as heroes hang everywhere, indoors and outdoors. The families of suicide bombers are hailed and honored for their sacrifice. All this happens openly and is not some new revelation. The few individuals who have criticized suicide bombing demonstrate that it is in fact possible to resist the encouragement of suicide bombing as a legitimate weapon in the struggle against the Israelis, and still live.

  • Also if we are at war with Palestinians, then their prisoners ought to be treated like POWs and even the ones with “blood on their hands” ought ot be released at the cessation of hostilities. Didja think about that Ephraim?

  • ck, you are as mixed up as one could be on this issue. And it’s not like I think you are mixed up on much, so it’s downright surprising. The institutions of one’s home does not apply because, well, once you are dead it is no longer your home. Because you are dead. And importing assumptions about what the family knew about in advance of the bombing is just that, importing assumptions. The policy wasn’t to have an investigation as to whether or not the family was complicit in the bombing; the policy was to threaten a family so as to provide a reason not to carry out terrorist attacks. Muffti addressed this a few times so he doesn’t see why you keep bringing it up. In any case, if you think that people are complicit in a crime, try them in court just like you would try anyone else who aids and abets, or harbour, criminals. That’s not what is being done in these cases: there is no criminal justice being carried out. It is straightforward retribution and it’s wrong.

  • Muffti, it is not straightforward. It is complex. It is a function of war and it is a function of saving lives. The question is whether it’s moral or not and I’m afraid it’s not clear.

  • I think the house demolition policy was a response to the payments given to suicide bombers’ families. If the families are going to accept $25000 (or whatever money they are receiving now from various “charities”) for their kids blowing themselves up in attacking Israel, they are very much morally complicit in the attacks.

    The biggest problem you face in dealing with suicide bombers, is that traditional deterents just don’t work. If you commit a crime, you go to jail (or worse). Even M.A.D. worked in the cold war because neither side wanted to annihilate the other. But when you’re dealing with someone who is ready and willing to blow themselves up (and considers it a good thing), all of that goes out the window. There has to be consequences for their actions, and you can’t punish the individual because they’re already dead.

    With the house demolitions, Israel sent a very clear message to the terrorists and their families: If you bomb us, we will destroy your family’s house. Or, more to the point: “if you bomb us, you are in effect destroying your family’s house.”

    Oh, and I don’t have a problem with collective punishment when the society brainwashes kids from birth, glorifies bombers as “martyrs”, builds children’s museums glorifying bombings, demonizing Jews, etc. As long as the society as a whole isn’t willing to solve their problems, they’re opening themselves to be collectively punished. If there were no bombings, no attacks… if they really wanted peace and made real efforts to achieve that peace, there would be no need for (and would be no) collective punishment.

  • Ah, good morning.

    The only reason it may be “unclear”, is because what we have here is a failure to communicate.

    No, seriously. Israeli is a mostly western society fighting a mostly arab/muslim/asian society. You can’t really apply the same laws of convential warfare because the enemy (the palestinians/PLO) doesn’t regard the as laws (at most, as a pirate might say, as general guidelines).

    This conflict is similar to that of the Americans in Vietnam in that the Israeli way of fighting cannot possibly bring victory. If you’ve read John Keegan’s “A History of Warfare” (wanted to link .com, but it seems to be down… odd), you know what I’m talking about.

    The palestinians aren’t all mobilized for war. They aren’t the fucking Huns or Mongols. But they do view this war differently than the Jewish people of Israel. It is, in a sense, a fighting society, and Israel really isn’t. Already a lot of people are more and more reluctant to serve in combatant units of the IDF. Israel cannot win the war because it isn’t fighting another state. The only real way to “win” would be to kill all the palestinians, or transport them away. No Ephraim, that isn’t going to happen. And yes, that’s a good thing.

    And Middle. Yes, it is complex. It is in fact so complex that Israel has no way of gauging the real effectivness of the demolition policy. Therefore, my last arguement (see no. 26) still stands. Unless of course by “complex” you mean: “these aren’t westerners, and the are annoying, and they did do pretty horrible things. Maybe that nice and pretty thing we call morality doesn’t apply here, because, well, I don’t feel like acting upon it”. Then we don’t really have any reason to speak of this issue anymore. I’m not a rhetoric genius, and neither are you.

    And for gods’ sake, will someone please get a preview button in here?

  • *Sees davidw’s post*

    Bangs own head against keyboard, realizes it isn’t painful enough, goes to find a wall*

  • I mean that you, nor I, can’t convince someone of something as deepseated as moral applicability over a blog’s comment parchment.

    And no, that’s not what I meant by “complex.”

    That’s good then. We may continue.

  • *Only* twenty bombers turned in? As a person who was seriously injured in a suicide bombing…twenty fewer bombings means that hundreds of people won’t have their lives ripped to shreds because of a madman. There were six people killed in the bombing I was injured in…”just” one bomber was involved. If someone had turned her in, six families would not be living in daily grief and scores of people living with permanent injuries (loss of limbs etc) would be healthy and happy today.

    Would you be so cavalier if it were your daughter or your wife who lost a leg?

  • *cries out in pain*

    What’s the use? No really, why talk if no one gives a flying fuck? Esspecially when I should be studying for my General Chemistry final.

    Full disclosure: You may remember that guy who, the morning after the assasination of Sheikh Yassin, went into Tel Aviv and started swinging an axe. My brother in law got a swing in the head. Left a nice scar. That was about, oh, a month after he married my sister.

    If getting hit by a bomber makes you want to demolish houses… well, let us just say you’re not being very smart.

    “Oh shit, got hit by bomber! The bastard! Let’s punish his family unfairly, so that other bombers will feel sympathy towards us and like us”.

  • Roman, you are not differentiating between revenge and deterrence.

    The point is that if you have even one father who turns his son in before a bombing takes place because this policy of family home destruction exists, then your position could be argued as moral because you’ve saved lives and many critical injuries.

    So then the question becomes, to put it crudely, at which point do those lives given up in that one bombing that is prevented become less important than the policy of house destruction? If you save 5 lives, is that worth 5 houses? 50 houses? 500 houses? How many destroyed houses generate a new bomber who kills more than would have been killed without the house destruction? 1 house? 5 houses? 100 houses? Is the trade-off worth it?

    PS drop this and go study!

  • Okay, I’ll say it one last time.

    There isn’t any evidence of direct correlation between demolitioning houses and preventing terrorism.

    How hard is that to understand?

    That fact that it stopped one bomber doesn’t mean it didn’t cause two others to go a blow themselves up.

    I’m not talking about the value of house vs. the value of lives. Fuck houses. I’m saying there isn’t any proof of demolitions actually improving the situation. None.

    How hard can that be to understand?

  • That fact that it stopped one bomber doesn’t mean it didn’t cause two others to go a blow themselves up.

    Precisely. We agree.

    Reread what I wrote. Carefully.

  • PS drop this and go study!

    I would. But it’s so boring I’d rather beat my head against the wall with people who don’t seem to hear me than actually study.

    Gotta pry myself away from this damned weblog.


    Nope. Doesn’t work.

  • I think I see our disagreement now.

    You seem to be interested in exploring the question of the balance of demolitions to bombings. You care only about the lives being saved, and wish to maximize that number.

    I believe that such study is impossible, and so the entire policy should be dropped – because you don’t know how many lives you save. You can’t.

    From a completely factual point of view, for all we know demolitions might be causing more harm than benefit. Than what’s the point of continuing such a policy, even if it was morally spotless, which – I believe you’ll agree – it is far from being.

  • The policy of house demolition, questionable from a western moral perspective, at least presented a quid pro quo. All those contemplating and/or engaging in suicide bombing, or aiding and abetting in a suicide bombing knew that there would be a response from the authorities. Now Israel no longer has house demolition as an option. I suspect that has more to do with the PA’s decision to, at least for the moment, forego suicide bombing as an acceptable tactic, as well as the increased difficulty of successfully carrying out such a mission thanks to the security barrier and increased Israeli vigilance.

    Muffti’s criticism is unusually not well thought out. When a suicide bomber completes his mission, the crime committed is not a police matter, best dealt with all the attendant legal niceties. Its an act of terrorism and war. Whenever one state, in war time, bombs another state, they do not launch legal proceedings to determine the guilt of all the potential victims. Granted, that’s kinda arbitrary and icky, but dude. It’s a war. You cannot conduct an effective war under the standards that you describe. Your rebuttal was refreshingly naive, if not outright guffaw inducing. You can do better muffti.

    But before you go off and put together an indignant response, I am nonetheless pleased to see the end of this policy. It never sat well with me and the end of house demolitions is indicative to me of an improvement in the prospects for peace. I think house demolition served a purpose at one time and my most fervent hope is that it is no longer useful. What bothered me about it was that in the war/bombing scenario, detailed or even rudimentary investigations of guilt are impossible. In Israel’s situation such is not the case and yet home demolitions took place without even some form of rudimentary investigation. That never sat well with me.

    By the way, just so you all know, punitive demolition of homes was not an invention of Israel’s. Punitive house demolitions are rooted in British military practices dating to the early twentieth century. During the British mandate period, house demolitions were introduced into the legal structure of Palestine in response to increasing resistance to British rule. Regulation 119 of the Defense Emergency Regulations of 1945 stated:

    A Military Commander may, by order, direct the forfeiture to the government of Palestine of any house, structure or land from which he has reason to suspect that any firearm has been illegally discharged, or any bomb, grenade or explosive or incendiary article illegally thrown, or any house, structure or land situated in any area, town, village, quarter or street the inhabitants or some of the inhabitants of which he is satisfied have committed, or attempted to commit, or abetted the commission of, or been accessories after the fact to the commission of, any offense against these regulations involving violence or intimidation or any military court offenses; and when any house, structure or land is forfeited as aforesaid, the military commander may destroy the house or the structure or anything in or on the house, the structure or the land.

    Just sayin’ is all. Anyhow, Good riddance DER 119.

  • This may be war, but not in the regular western way we know. There is no state to fight against.

    It can be equated with policing because Israel controls the territory where these people live. These houses aren’t demolished by bombing from the air. The army brings bulldozers.

  • Good Shabbos everyone.

    I’m staying out of this one for now.

    Oh f-ck, just one comment…

    I still think you’re deluded.

    Sitting in my tank near Nahal Oz, two figures show up on the thermal-imager near the fence just before sunrise when the best attacks are done and you know know what? We choked, but more unfortunately, I choked. Instead of firing first and asking questions later, we hesitated too long. All that shit about hurting civilians makes you second guess the elementary soldier instincts, the military doctrine and the essential order to defend the border and other Jews. We fired, but too late, and no assholes were killed on my watch. BUT, since I probably pissed these guys off, there was another attempted attack at the same point only ten days later.

    AND not any less important,

    I agree that with Jewlicious winning all these prestigious awards lately, they should return the favour to the people who supported them and at least add a preview button. Would asking for an automatic ‘href’ inserter be pushing it to far?

  • Whatever. Muffti is sick of arguing about this. We all know that comparing this to a normal war is just nonsense. Kudos to Roman for pointing that out first. ck’s criticism was (as usual) not so well thought out 🙂

    Anyhow, Muffti doesn’t think that he or Roman ever meant to say that hurting civilians was never justified. Of course it is sometimes. What Muffti and Roman are objecting to, and have been all along, was the notion that its morally ok to punish people who are only related to the criminal by family. If there was proof that they aided and abetted, it might be a different story. But it’s just wrong to blindly punish people whether or not they did anything wrong. If you wanna throw around half baked hebrew phrases, I think midah k’negged midah is the appropriate one.

    Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any principled reason to pick house demolitions. Say we knew, without a doubt, that suicide bombing would drop 10% if we destroyed all the houses in the village the bomber came from, thereby leaving everyone homeless. Or if we simply imprisoned random people. Do you really think that would be justified? Are you really convinced that collective guilt works this way? And ck, do you really think we should congratulate ourselves for not engaging in massacres?

    Anyhow, the larger point of the study was that the policy wasn’t achieving its desired ends. You can go ahead and be skeptical if you like. Hell, go do your own study and disprove it. But it seems clear to the IDF that the policy wasn’t effective. So at best we don’t really know if the policy is effective. Are you really willing to pursue a policy of blaming and punishing people who aren’t responsible just on the hope that it will deter?

  • Muffti, Muffti, Muffti. Whatever shall I do with you.

    Suicide bombing was effective in part because at the end of a successful mission, there was no one to interrogate and no one to punish. After a successful suicide bombing, the family of the bomber usually threw a party, in anticipation of the fat cheque they were going to receive. Suicide bombers are revered as heroes and martyrs. Posters extolling their bravery are hung everywhere. Palestinian media and the leadership that controls them glorified the suicide bomber ad nauseum. If ever there was a case for a society’s moral culpability for the act of an individual, suicide bombing by Palestinians is it.

    And Palestinian society has suffered greatly for its intransigence. The moral issues you bring up are interesting of course, but nothing is as cut and dried as you present it. Hey… do you like the pic I added?

  • TM, why does muffti have to tell you what would be an effective deterrent in order to say that we should stop using what looks like an ineffective deterrent?

  • Muffti likes the pic, though he would have preferred the one of him with the Jack Daniels drinking jesus. That guy was cool!

    Say your dad kiilled someone that no one liked and in the process killed himself to. And say everyone was happy that the guy was dead. And say that you got a big cheque for having lost your dad from an organization that always wanted that guy dead.

    Would that make it ok to demolish your house? Especially if the only thing you did to participate in the guy’s death was be your father’s son? In any case, the points you bring up make it seem rather arbitrary to demolish a house. Why not arrest a journalist every time it happens for writing a glorifying story? Why not destroy printing houses? Why not tax the entire community?

    The obvious reason is because they didn’t commit the crime.

  • I am somewhat at a loss here. If I understand him correctly, Roman says that Israel cannot win this war because it is a Western country bound by Western values, whereas the enemy is Arab/Muslim/Asian, and therefore does not care about such Western things as morality and the rules of war. Do I understand you correctly? Just out of curiosity, is this some version of the “Yellow Peril” argument? If so, let me offer a toast: Long Live the Enlightened West, Damnation and Confusion to the Dark Barbarian Hordes of Asia! Hear, hear!

    So, Roman, if Israel cannot win this war since it is bound by Western (or, should I say, “White European,” since the enemy is “Asian”) values and the enemy is not, what do you propose Israel should do? This is a rhetorical question, of course; it is clear that if you hold that Israel cannot win this war, her inevitable destruction, G-d forbid, is a foregone conclusion. Or do you believe that a wholesale retreat to the 1948 armistice lines and Israel’s acceptance of the palestinian “right” of return” will bring “peace”? You know, of course, that this will mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Also, are you saying, as you seem to be, that your relative would not have been attacked if Israel had not blown up a terrorist’s house? I am very sorry that your relative was attacked, and I thank G-d that he was not killed. But your position sounds disturbingly like a version of the “be quiet, don’t make trouble” argument. I hope that I misunderstand you.

    Also, ck, you seem to agree with me that palestinian society is mobilized for war at least in the sense that homicide bombing is supported, encouraged, aided and abetted by all sectors of society. Yet, if understand you correctly, you object to the idea of Israel unapologetically pursuing a military solution to this problem, as would any other nation with even a lick of sense. The US went halfway around the world and destroyed a terrorist regime to avenge a single attack that, statistically, was much less serious than the cumulative attacks that Israel has borne since the beginning of the Oslo Terror War. Yet you seem to object to the idea that Israel should do the exact same thing to the terror regime that sits right on its very borders. Why is that? Is it because you believe that there is no military solution or that the cost would be too high, either in terms of dead palestinians or a loss of Jewish “morality”?

    I think it is the latter, and in this I think you are takng an actively immoral position. How is it moral for Jews, and most especially a Jewish government of a Jewish state, to refrain from defending themselves, when they know this inacton will certainly lead to the death of their fellow Jews? Because it is somehow “immoral” to defend yourself from one who is sworn to your destruction? This makes no sense to me at all.

    To achieve peace in Europe, the Allies pursued total war against the Nazis and in the process not only destroyed their army, they killed millions of civilians in bombing raids, punsihing Germany so severely that it surrendered unconditionally. They then occupied them until Nazism was so dead that it could never rise again. Yet no one accused the Allies of of forfeiting their morality. What ws the result? Germany is now one of the most peaceful and respected natons in the world. This status may be fraying a bit at the edges now, but 60 years of Germans NOT murdering Jews is nothing to be sneezed at.

    Israel needs to pursue a similar policy against the palestinians: beat ther “dream” of a Judenrein “Palestine” out of them until they are ready for peace. Refraining from defending istelf from terrorist attack with all of the means at its disposal is not the moral thing for Israel to do. This weakness will only encourage the palestinians to be more violent and intransigent than they are now.

    And, yes, a Review button would be nice.

  • Muffti – the entire community does indeed suffer. Granted, those directly involved suffer more directly by having their houses blown up, but every member of Palestinian society suffers as a result of this idiotic and totally avoidable conflict. Every single one.

    But according to your logic, check points would be wrong too. There’s no proof that checkpoints act as an effective bullwark against suicicide bombings. In fact the advent of check points also saw an increase in suicide bombings. Furthermore, the wasted time and humiliation waged upon Palestinians trying to cross through checkpoints probably adds to the resentment that fuels the desire of individuals to become suicide bombers. The same can be said about preventing Palestinians in the territories from working in Israel. I mean surely, not every single person crossing a checkpoint or trying to work in Israel is a terrorist! Thus that’s all collective punishment and morally repugnant! We should immediately knock down the walls and open up all the borders.

    Yes that means that more Israelis will be killed by terrorist acts, but at least we won’t be violating any abstract notions of morality. I mean what are 1000s of lives and continued national viability when compared to pure, perfect and beautiful notions of morality!

    Geez Muffti.

  • Well said, Ephraim.

    ck, to respond to #36:

    Also if we are at war with Palestinians, then their prisoners ought to be treated like POWs and even the ones with “blood on their hands” ought ot be released at the cessation of hostilities. Didja think about that Ephraim?

    Palestinian prisonerrs are not POWs even though they were captured during wartime (even an undeclared one). From the conventions, they are awarded protection if they fulfil these conditions:

    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) That of carrying arms openly;

    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    By hiding among the civilian population, not wearing a distinct uniform, concealing explosives, and indiscriminately attacking civilians, they have forfeited their POW protection.

  • Let me try that again reformatted…

    Well said, Ephraim.

    ck, to respond to #36:

    Also if we are at war with Palestinians, then their prisoners ought to be treated like POWs and even the ones with “blood on their hands” ought ot be released at the cessation of hostilities. Didja think about that Ephraim?

    Palestinian prisonerrs are not POWs even though they were captured during wartime (even an undeclared one). From the conventions, they are awarded protection if they fulfil these conditions:

    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) That of carrying arms openly;

    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    By hiding among the civilian population, not wearing a distinct uniform, concealing explosives, and indiscriminately attacking civilians, they have forfeited their POW protection.

  • Muffti tries to get out but they just drag him back in…

    CK, comparing check points to house demolitions is entirely misleading. And you know it. Check points aren’t punitive: they are a way to increase security. House demolitions are punitive: they are designed to casue direct harm in retaliation. Read the above…the whole point is to punish the would-be bomber by punishing his family, so he knows that he’s causally responsible for the house being demolished.

    Geez, ck, what is Muffti going to do with you? As for everyone suffering on account of the conflict, we can all agree to that. But not everyone has suffered as the result of punitive measures. And we both know there is a difference.

  • I’ve heard many pro-Palestinian activists use the checkpoints and their impact as an excuse to justify Palestinian violence.

    More about that when I do my review of the movie…Checkpoint.

  • Skipped everything after I started reading Ephraim’s post, so forgive me if this was discussed by someone else.

    No, Ephraim, I’m not an agressive person. But put words in my mouth isn’t nice. Putting words in my mouth that are obviously not what I meant is fucking disgusting.

    Israel can’t win not because the Palestinians are immoral. They have their own set of beliefs. Israel can’t win because it is impossible to destroy the wants of an entire people. Whether it is encouraged by corrupt strongmen or not, suicide bombing is done by palestinian civilians. They aren’t soldiers. They don’t need training. They just need some explosive and the will to die for a cause.

    Israel doesn’t have that kind of people. Well, they do kinda, but unless you wan’t to hand over defense to the settler mothers who use their own babies as shields when they are demonstrating, I’d prefer the IDF.

    Moreover, the only way to stop the entire people, short of satisfying its needs, is complete destruction. That isn’t going to happen either.

    The palestinian belief system is very different from that of the West. I said that. But I’m not saying that they are inferior.

    Raping the Palestinian people, as you seem to propose, will only make the matter worse. You can’t equate them with the Nazis – and I’m not even talking about ideoligy. The Nazi regime controlled the most populated state in Europe, that only two decades eariler was the most powerful industrial entity in the world. It had vast natural resources. Destroying those resources was among the things that stopped the war.

    The Palestinians don’t have resources that we can take away. In fact, if we don’t help feed them and provide them with water and electricity, they might just starve. They don’t need a vast industrial machine supporting their cause. They aren’t looking to destroy Israel’s strategic assets. They are fighting in a manner that would seem alien to Nazi Germany.

    They are already incredibly poor and suffer much. Making it worse won’t help.


    Suicide bombers are revered as heroes and martyrs. Posters extolling their bravery are hung everywhere. Palestinian media and the leadership that controls them glorified the suicide bomber ad nauseum. If ever there was a case for a society’s moral culpability for the act of an individual, suicide bombing by Palestinians is it.

    Okay, how does destroying their house help. Saying that the deserve it isn’t quiet enough. Why should Zahal waste it’s resources bulldozing houses?

    T_M, what the pro-palestinian activists think has nothing to do with the discussion. Stay on topic. Or don’t actually, seeing as even ck seems oddly eh… un-understanding.

    And I’m not even talking aboust Josh that seems to think it dangerous to consider Palestinians as human.

    Now, Josh, it’s like this. If you see Palestinians where you know very well that they shouldn’t be, shoot them. That’s why you are there, to guard whatever it is you’re guarding. If you see house and you know that the guy you killed came from it, how would destroying it reverse any damage the dead guy might have done?

  • Muffti used to think there was no God. He still thinks that, but if there is one, it’s Roman Levin.

  • Muffti: Of course there is no G*d> As your t-shirt attests, you KILLED HIM!


    Oops. Are my Mormon roots showing?


  • Um Roman, I’m responding to Muffti on my pro-Palestinians remark. The point being that some people, including Palestinians and their supporters, justify violence on the basis of checkpoints.

  • I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, Roman, I’m trying to understand what it is you are saying.

    You appear to believe that the homicide bombers are desperate civilians who do what they do because they have nothing to lose. I think you are entirely mistaken in that. Homicide bombing requires a vast network of 1) propaganda to brainwash people into blowing themselves up, 2) material and expertise to construct the bombs, and 3) a network of people to get the bomber to his target. A lone individual cannot just put one of those things together in his basement without anybody knowing about it.

    Anyway, a homicide bomber is not a civilian. He or she is a soldier in a war.

    I most definitely do not advocate “raping” the palestinians, whatever that means. Talk about putting words in someone’s mouth. I advocate engaging the palestinians in the war they started and pursuing it until they surrender and lay down their arms. By that I mean killing their soldiers and commanders, both military and political, up to and including Abu Mazen if necessary. The palestinian “security forces” are all terrorists anyway, and they are armed and in uniform, so Israel should start with them. I most certainly do not advocate the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians.

    My point about what the Allies did to Germany is quite simple: when free people are forced to fight a despotic and fanatic foe which sees the wanton murder of innocent civilians as a perfectly acceptable method of conducting warfare, they must either respond as the situation demands or be eventually defeated. And the palestinians are most definitely attacking Israeli strategic assets: it’s children and it’s spirit. Are you actually saying that simply because the terrorists are cowards and murder children in their cradles instead of attacking an army base or a refinery they are somehow immune since they are not acting like regular soldiers? What are you, crazy?

    You protest that all you mean is that palestinian morality is not inferior to ours, it is just different. I don’t believe that you are serious about that, but if you are, you need to get your head examined. Deliberately blowing up women and children is not immoral? I guess the palestinians are just “differently moralled” and we must respect and cherish all different moralities, since one morality is no better than another.

    You’re kidding, right?

    You seem to believe that the Nazis were stopped because the Allies destroyed their war-making capacity but that this won’t work with the palestinians since they have no strategic assets to destroy. The only possible conclusion to be drawn from this is that the palestinians are, if anything, even more fanatical than the Nazis.

    You say that the only way to stop the palestinians is to either destroy them completely or satisfy their needs. What do you believe they want? If all they wanted was a state, Arafat would have taken the deal that Barak offered him. It is obvious to everyone except the wilfully blnd that they still want to destroy all of Israel. I assume that you don’t believe that, because if you did there is no way you could, in good conscience, play the advocate for them as you do. What do YOU propose as a solution?

    It is obvious that the Israeli policy of pre-emptive assassination of leading terrorists has been extremely effective. Since Rantisi and Yassin were dispatched to consort with their virgins, Hamas has been very quiet. Why? It’s because they know that if they show themselves they are dead men. Israel should expand and continue with this policy relentlessly.

    As for cutting off their water and their electricity, sounds like a good idea. Let the Arabs worry about them.

  • Dammit, I said “it’s” when I meant “its”. I hate it when I do that.

    Cne you please put in a Review function and a spell checker?