We decided last week to discuss the current war between Israel and Hamas on Monday. I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about, but I thought it might be useful to provide links to various views about the origins of the current conflict, US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, some information about the recent history of relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and the relevant international law that, in theory if not often in practice, governs the conduct of war, including the current one.
- What the laws of war say about forced displacement and “human shields”, NYTimes, 19 October (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/19/world/europe/interpreter-laws-human-shields-forced-displacement.html?smid=em-share)
- Overview of the history of the establishment of the State of Israel, the conflicts surrounding its establishment, and attempts to end those conflicts. Beinin and Hajjar, “Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.” (Washington, DC: Middle East Research and Information Project, 2014) (https://merip.org/palestine-israel-primer/). This is a fairly long piece, but might be useful background. Much of the discussion I’ve heard recently, in the media and elsewhere, about the current war is based on nearly complete (sometimes willful) ignorance of this history.
- Postwar planning for Gaza. Thomas Warrick, “I Saw What Happened to America’s Postwar Plans for Iraq. Here’s How Israel Should Plan for Gaza”, NYTimes, 16 October (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/16/opinion/israel-gaza-iraq-iran.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article)
- An 18 October panel discussion on al-Jazeera about why the US supports Israel, posted the day after the rocket attack that destroyed al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. I think it’s fair to say that the panelists’ opinions are not often heard on mainstream media in the US. (https://www.aljazeera.com/program/inside-story/2023/10/18/why-has-the-us-consistently-backed-israel)
- An essay from the Council on Foreign Relations on US policy on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, posted on 12 July and therefore now possibly out-of-date. I think this represents the views of the US foreign policy establishment. (https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-us-policy-israeli-palestinian-conflict?utm_medium=social_share&utm_source=emailfwd)
- Another take on the background of the current war, from Prager University Foundation (https://www.tiktok.com/@stormbreakerak7/video/7289020777712602399?_r=1&_t=8ghOwRBV70w) which, according to its website, “offers a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.” However, its presenters include some of the most notorious far right-wing commentators in the US (see https://www.prageru.com/presenters). The commentator on this particular video is David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force. According to its website:
“The Maccabee Task Force was created in 2015 to combat the disturbing spread of Antisemitism on college campuses. We believe the BDS movement is at the forefront of this troubling trend. We maintain that BDS is an Antisemitic movement that crosses the line from legitimate criticism of Israel into the dangerous demonization of Israel and its supporters. We are determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel. These attacks on Israel and its supporters won’t be going away any time soon. Neither will we.”