Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Israel's 'self-defense' argument against Hamas holds no water


The Christian Science Monitor asked me to write an oped based on my recent International Security article on just war theory and the Israeli attacks on civilians.  It was published yesterday, under the title above:



Larry May said...

Professor Slater:
How do you reconcile your perception of Hamas' interest in peace talks with their public statements and written charter expressly stating the destruction of Israel as its primary goal? You wrote there is "substantial evidence" of Hamas' intentions of participating in a two-state solution. Where can I find this evidence? And how do you view Abbas' unilateral overtures at the U.N. and changing the name of his political party from the Palestinian Authority to the State of Palestine? Do those actions indicate a willingness to negotiate? Conversely, Netanyahu offers to negotiate many times without pre-conditons have been ignored and rebuffed.

Jerome Slater said...

I discuss the evidence for the gradual evolution of Hamas's operational--as distinct from its rhetorical or ideological--goals in my International Security article, the link for which is on this site.

Abbas is perfectly within his rights to make "unilateral" overtures to the UN, etc.
In light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, your apparent belief that unlike Netanyahu, Abbas is not interested in negotiations is, let us say, quaint, turning the obvious truth of the matter completely on its head.

It's become an enormous cliche, but still irresistible: everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

Evan Harper said...

Pace Larry May, I don't see why pro forma "offers to negotiate many times without pre-conditions" are to be automatically taken at face value when they come from Israelis -- even from an Israeli whose entire political life has been substantially dedicated to preventing any remotely acceptable offer being made to the Palestinians. Even if Abbas had the legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians -- which he clearly does not, and he and they know it -- for Abbas to enter negotiations with Netanyahu now, absent some kind of meaningful walk-back of his extreme rejectionist positions, would simply be to grant him the appearance of being a compromiser, thus taking a lot of international pressure off him, while getting nothing in return. It would be like a hostage agreeing to appear in public with the hostage-taker on apparently friendly terms -- no thanks, I'd rather people know that I'm a hostage in need of rescue.

Rafs said...

Starting negotiating "without pre-conditions", means, in this context, negotiating without preventing Israel from dispossessing Palestinians and building colonies on their lands. Israel has used negotiations to pretend that it supports a two-state solution while making everything -- including building colonies -- to see that such an outcome will never be reached. What a great commitment to peace. Why should Abbas volunteer to play the parts Israel has invented?

Bottomfish said...

A detailed refutation of statements in Slater's article can be found here:


Jerome Slater said...

Camera is the acronym for the laughably-named Committee for Accuracy in Reporting on the Middle East in America. It hopes to be seen as an impartial seeker of truth, but of course it is nothing more than a propaganda outlet, whose real mission is to defend Israel against any criticism.

Indeed, all you need to know about Camera is revealed in its opening paragraph: "Jerome Slater’s central thesis is that Israel has no right to defend its citizens from terrorist attacks because its very existence provokes these attacks." That is not only wrong, it can't even be seen as an honest error, for it is an outright lie. My "central thesis" was precisely the opposite, namely that it is NOT the case that most Palestinian terrorism is aimed at Israel's "very existence," but is rather the consequence of the Israeli occupation and repression.

That aside, in the full International Security article on which the oped is based, I have dealt with all the specific charges in the Camera attack, and provided detailed evidence for my arguments.