Headline: Iran Lashes Out at Mujahedin-e Khalq Fighters. Hundreds of Civilians Dead.

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that
After suffering through bombardment of 6,464 rockets launched at Tehran from Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) bases southeast of the capital city over the past years, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei and the Guardian Council recently determined to go on the offensive to terminate the MEK attacks. Iranian Revolutionary Guards in recent days launched a heavy air campaign against MEK strongholds. MEK spokespersons claim that over 400 followers have been killed in the air strikes, and at least 100 of them are civilians.

After warning civilians in the area of MEK bases to leave their homes, Iran has now launched a follow-up ground attack. MEK freedom fighters are protesting the attacks as disproportionate. Protests of support for the MEK fighters have sprung up across Europe, the United States, and elsewhere around the world.
The story continues:
Thousands of Iranian troops backed by columns of tanks and helicopter gunships launched a ground offensive against MEK bases Saturday night with officials saying they expected a lengthy fight in the densely populated territory after eight days of punishing airstrikes failed to halt militant rocket attacks on Tehran.
Woops! I guess I got my facts twisted just a little bit. I guess it was really Israel that decided to go on the offensive after having suffered through the attack of 6,464 rockets in the past three years. Instead of

Great "collateral value" exists to Hamas for each bit of "collateral damage" committed by Israel. Hamas is doing whatever it can to encourage and compel the civilians to stay put.

MEK being the rocketeers, Hamas is. I'm just guessing, though, that that makes a huge difference in your mind.

Why should it? An attack is an attack. Self-defense is self-defense.

The truth? As of yesterday 6,464 rockets had been fired into Israel by Hamas. Among more than 400 dead are about 100 civilians in Gaza. While in the fake story, Iran warned civilians to vacate after the aerial campaign, in the real story, Israel asked them to leave before any attacks had begun. World-wide protests in support of MEK freedom fighters?--that would have never happened.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a rocket attack? I have. What doesn't cause death or injury defintely causes panic.

After reading the above fictional account, think to yourself carefully: "Who would I more likely have given a pass to if it had been true?" Unfortunately, most people would say Iran.

Can you imagine what Iran would have done if MEK really had bombed its major cities with rockets nearly incessantly for three years?
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger.
While Israel hopes its warnings have been heeded, and that they encounter no civilians during their ground offensive to seize caches of Hamas rockets and other weapons, Hamas is doing whatever it can to encourage and compel the civilians to stay put. Great "collateral value" exists to Hamas for each bit of "collateral damage" committed by Israel. Unfortunately, most of us in the West feed Hamas's flame of hatred by not being honest about its incessant provocations of Israel.

In addition to the citation immediately above, Charles Krauthammer puts it this way:
For Hamas the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza--peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible--also on both sides.
If you guessed that the combatant who is committed to saving lives is Israel, go to the head of the class. If you guessed that Hamas is Gaza's knight in shining armor, please see a psychiatrist.

What happened to the gigantic, vibrant greenhouses that Jews left behind when they vacated the Gaza in 2005? They have been abandoned. Hamas has spent most of its time not feeding and protecting its people (although they do just enough of that to convince dupes that they really care). Rather, it has been building up terrorist bases and huge arsenals.

It can't be that Hamas is angry at the Israelis (which include Palestinians) because Israel occupies Gaza. That stopped almost four years ago. There must be some other reason. Could it be...I'm just brainstorming here...that Hamas subscribes to Mahmoud Ahamadinejad's penchant for wiping Israel off the map?

Ask the Palestinians in Gaza what they think about Israel, and they will likely tell you that Israel is the enemy. In most cases, however, the Gaza civilians know that not to be true, but they are afraid to say the truth--because the enemy is among them.

Israel doesn't want to kill people. They just want to be left alone. Disproportion has nothing to do with it. All Israel wants is for the indiscriminate bombings of its homeland to stop. They have bent over backwards to give Hamas its own territory. Hamas gives Israel a slap in the face in return.


  1. You leave out some very crucial points, which Rabbi Michael Lerner pointed out in a recent essay, such as the fact that Israel was the first to break the cease-fire in their assassination raids against Hamas and other Palestinian leaders in Gaza, or Israel has not "bent over backwards to give Hamas its own territory. Their nominal end of occupation was really just an effort to turn Gaza into a virtual prison camp. We can't gloss over the butchery by Israel by claiming "self defense is self defense." And let's be honest; you can't really claim that Israel just wants to left alone. What they want is sole title to land and government authority to which other people have a very legitimate claim.

    Hamas may be disgusting thugs, but Israel is hardly the noble protagonist martyr you seem to suggest.

  2. Frank, in order to judge the issue you have to have some account of the history of the region. You are not ready to make any judgments here.

  3. Gnostic,

    I would offer congratulations, but there has been one other person who has already thrown at me the epithet of Israel-history doofus. I'd appreciate it more, however, if you would attempt to educate me, as Derek has done.


    Thank you for the Rabbi Lerner link. I like what Lerner suggests Israel accomplish: (1) A massive Marshall plan, (2) Accept 30,000 refugees each year, (3) Recognize a Palestinian state within already defined borders.

    I also like that he points out that "Israelis have bought into a worldview about security that predominates in much of the world and is the central principle of American foreign policy:" overwhelming domination, which is a huge mistake. I don't, however, think that's what's happening in this particular situation, with the exception that I'd like to understand the motives of the Israeli's supposedly withholding food from Gaza. I suspect that it is more likely Hamas that is doing this (feel free, Gnostic, to take another potshot!!)

    I also like the following statement in Lerner's article (which go a ways toward supporting my position):

    "On the other hand, any understanding of the situation must also include acknowledgment of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder faced by Israelis living under the constant threat of terrorism, to which the katyushka bombings, however ineffective militarily, contribute massively. Living under constant threat of attack, plus hearing the leader of Iran talk about wiping Israel off the map, is a background condition that shapes Israelis ability to be so insensitive"

    "This position [of never acknowledging Israel's right to exist] is unnecessarily provocative, and represents deep self-destructiveness on the part of Palestinians who believe that this failure to acknowledge Israel’s rights is the only symbolic weapon they have left."

    He also wrote

    “We’ll wait till we have adequate military power, and then we’ll break any de facto truce and ceasefire and use that power to wipe out Israel, so just give us time.” Some Hamas people have actually said that publicly.

    Helaman 5:51 in the Book of Mormon tells us that "as many as were convinced [of the truth] did lay down their weapons of war." You and Rabbi Lerner are correct that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Won't it be nice when Jews and Arabs can figure out that truth together.

  4. Israel obviously has the right of self-defense like any other nation. OTOH from a military standpoint this attack is just as boneheaded as the 2006 Lebanon offensive. Hamas is going to come out of this stronger than ever, having faced Israeli tanks and forced them to retreat.

    The only explanation I can believe is that the current Israeli government is trying to win an election next month, against super-hawk Benjamin Netanyahu. They can't think any farther ahead than that.

  5. Glenn Greenwald has another good post about this today:

    So many of these conflicts -- one might say almost all of them -- end up shaped by the same virtually universal deficiency: excessive tribalistic identification (i.e.: the group with which I was trained to identify is right and good and just and my group's enemy is bad and wrong and violent), which causes people to view the world only from the perspective of their side...

  6. It must be contagious, because they got it from the United States. The US has what I call the "little brown people" syndrome. If we really thought of everyone else as people rather than objects of derision, the world would be a much better place--socially, economically, politically, and security/safety wise.

  7. Frank, I think that Lerner’s suggested goals would be enormous steps in the right direction.

    I do believe that the current conflict is indeed an extension of the Israeli security worldview. Lerner’s point about Israeli PTSD does not justify their perpetual lockdown of Gaza or their harsh retaliation any more than PTSD justifies atrocities by our troops.

    I would also suggest that Israel would not be in a position to be suffering PTSD had the Zionists of the early 20th century, aided by the arrogant Western powers, had not been determined to set up an explicitly ethnic/religious state in a land already inhabited by an entirely different ethnicity/culture without any regard for or consent of those prior inhabitants. It in no way justifies the brutal villainy of Hamas and other Palestinian/Muslim extremists. But, like the US with 9/11, you reap what you sow. And I don't think that some of the deep wounds can heal until the state of Israel is willing to address that point.

    Similarly, Warnick is right. Like every other single military engagement in which Israel has engaged, this is self-defeating. They are only seeding the soil with more hate and violence for the future.

    While Israel is the lesser evil, since they do not deliberately target civilians, I hold them more accountable. After all, a greater percentage of their population has been raised in the Western tradition, understanding and largely accepting the principles which have developed since the Enlightenment. In other words, they should know better. Secondly, they are the far stronger power, as evidenced by the death toll on both sides. And lastly, we (the US) are responsible for them. They could not exist, let alone, pursue their foreign policy objectives without our aid.

    If the truth does lie in the middle, is it helpful to write a piece empathizing exclusively with one side, and the side which already gets enormous amounts of PR at that?

    Warnick, Greenwald is dead on. Tribalism and the related Boogieman syndrome are the cause of the vast majority of the world’s violent conflicts.

  8. Derek,

    The two points for writing the article were (1) to get some information by way of comments to fill my personal blind spots (which I have--thank you, and also Richard) and (2) to compare/contrast what people would think if Iran had done something like this. Your statement that...

    While Israel is the lesser evil, since they do not deliberately target civilians, I hold them more accountable.

    ...is to me a bit disappointing to me in regard to #2. We should expect the same of both.

    This matches with my presumption that people would expect less of Iran as well. I don't think this is fair.

    I think it's like two brothers fighting (an imperfect example, I know). If one side could avoid giving offense, it might stop the vicious cycle. I think that Israel is much more likely to take such a step. Please inform me more about the lockdown of Gaza, but otherwise, I think Israel would be fine to live peacefully with their Gaza neighbors, but I can't imagine that Hamas EVER would.

  9. Where more is given, more is expected, is it not?

    When the first offense was made by one party (land being taken from its inhabitants by Israel; regional democracy/autonomy being crushed by the US), they should be held more accountable than the other party.

    Which isn't to say that the other party should not be accountable. They control how they respond.

    But those who are associated with us, with whom we have the relationship and responsibility, such as Israel (via their dependence on us) and the US, we should take particular pains to hold to certain standards.

  10. I completely agree with you that we should expect (much) more out of ourselves (the United States). Our foreign policy for the last several decades has been miserable.

    Another thought that just occurred to me: I wonder how many Mormons (and other Christians, for that matter) support Israel--and give them a bit of a pass--primarily because they think that the nation of Israel is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. For the record, I don't.

  11. I am absolutely certain that the primary reasons which the LDS and the Evangelical communities support Israel spawns from their innate millennarianist theologies, along with the related fact that they believe the Jews have a prior claim to Palestine (to which I typically respond by asking to which Native American tribe that person is giving the deed to their property). The last big reason is sympathy regarding the Holocaust.

  12. It is interesting how often states — and individuals — allow their enemies to define their identity.

  13. I doubt if many Israelis are genuinely thrilled with the support of Christian millenarians. After all, at least some of them are rejoicing in what they believe will be the imminent destruction of Israel.

  14. The Israelis may not care for the millennarians, but I think they're perfectly happy to take their help as long as they keep money flowing to Israel, public opinion in favor of the Israel, and pressure on the US government to aid Israel.

  15. By the way, regarding aid to Israel, I wonder if anyone who doesn't read the blogs knows that the U.S. shipped a load of brand-new bunker-busting GBU-39 bombs to Israel just in time for dropping them on Gaza.

  16. Frank,
    You expected me to educate you about the history of the region? It actually did not cross my mind that you were so uninformed. Why? At Derek's blog site you had left a comment under his second extensive article about the region. You had apparently read the article. I assumed you had also read his first article about the conflict. I had left a couple of comments there, one of which right under your comment. In your comment you were surprised to know about Naturei Karta, particularly that according to God's instruction to Israelites through Moses they, the Israelites were not supposed to conquer any portion of land, not speaking of massacring all the inhabitants of Jericho. Actually,the concept is evident, at leas possible to detect from the Old Testament texts. So the Mormons' and all other Christians' view that the modern day Israel is the fulfillment of the Bible prophecy is erroneous.

    Anyway, you knew a lot about the region before putting together your article, which I found extremely biased. I therefore thought that you intentionally ignore all the information you had learned at Derek's site. You actually were supposed to do an extensive research before writing an article about the region, a research you always do before writhing an article. Your every article is as,a rule, full of relevant references.

    Once again, I thought that you were intentionally ignoring certain facts. Actually your invented analogy was loudly speaking of your bias. Additionally it did not reflect the situation at all.

    If you still want to be educated in the matter visit wikipedia.com, at least, before writing something to provoke others to educate you.

  17. Interesting discussion, thanks. With regard to the comment about LDS unwaivering support for the state of Israel due to biblical prophesy, I really liked this:

    It was perhaps inevitable that the gathering of the Jews and the creation of their modern nation would lead to a clash between political zionism and Arab nationalism. Few members of the Church fully appreciate the dimensions of this confrontation. In what has become a classic address, President Howard W. Hunter observed:

    “Our Father loves all of his children. He desires all of them to embrace the gospel and come unto him. Only those are favored who obey him and keep his commandments.

    “As members of the Lord’s church, we need to lift our vision beyond personal prejudices. We need to discover the supreme truth that indeed our Father is no respecter of persons. Sometimes we unduly offend brothers and sisters of other nations by assigning exclusiveness to one nationality of people over another.

    “Let me cite, as an example of exclusiveness, the present problem in the Middle East—the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews. We do not need to apologize nor mitigate any of the prophecies concerning the Holy Land. We believe them and declare them to be true. But this does not give us justification to dogmatically pronounce that others of our Father’s children are not children of promise. … Both the Jews and the Arabs are children of our Father. They are both children of promise, and as a church we do not take sides. We have love for and an interest in each. The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring about love, unity, and brotherhood of the highest order.”

    Some of our Arab/Palestinian friends express concern about Elder Hyde’s prayer because they feel anything that favors the Jews must oppose them. On the other hand, some of our Jewish friends have a tendency to interpret the prayer as conferring political support for their cause. Even members of the Church are sometimes confused as to how the prayer is to be understood.

    The scriptures and the modern prophets clearly teach that all father Abraham’s children have a place in the Lord’s plan, and our Arab/Palestinian friends are a part of this group. Latter-day Saints need to be more sensitive to the hurt, disappointment, and even anger created among our Arab/Palestinian friends when we blindly attribute divine approbation to all that takes place in that part of the world we call the Holy Land.

    David B. Galbraith, “Orson Hyde’s 1841 Mission to the Holy Land,” Ensign, Oct 1991, 16

  18. Carissa,

    Excellent, excellent point. I read this anecdote (I think) in Truman G. Madsen's "Presidents of the Church" in the chapter about President Hunter.

    To change the subject a bit, now that I am hearing from Richard Warnick at OneUtah that the Israelis are using White Phosphorus and Cluster bombs in their Gaza ground offensive, I'm changing my opinion on the current situation. They have a right to stop the rockets coming in, but not by violating Geneva convention and potentially laying cluster bomb land mines (I'm not clear if that's the kind of cluster bombs they're shooting.

  19. Frank, is your repentance "I'm changing my opinion on the current situation" applicable to the current bombings or to the whole conflict? Is it to be understood that you are going to write another article with an accurate account of the succession of events? Like who first occupied whose territory, who started the ethnic cleansing, who is really engaged in self defense, etc.

    Superficial evaluations, moreover repentance may bring to worse errors. paraphrasing John Taylor's famous phrase "Either all truth, or nothing."


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