‘There is a life behind every statistic’

Sara Roy

Gaza appears sporadically as front-page news in the context of violence and terrorism, as it has with the murder on Friday, 1 June, of Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a 21-year-old paramedic who was fatally shot by Israeli snipers as she was treating wounded protesters along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. After a day or two of attention, usually marked by the disproportionate deaths of Palestinians, Gaza recedes from view until the next assault. Israel is part of the story but all too often cast as responding to Hamas aggression, acting in self-defence. Without excusing Hamas for its misdeeds, Gaza's misery, isolation and hopelessness are primarily a product of Israeli policy. The form of occupation may have changed since Israel’s ‘disengagement’ in 2005, but the fact of occupation has not. One result is the dehumanisation of the men, women and children who live in Gaza, the denial of their innocence and the resultant loss of their rights.

I spoke to a friend in Gaza after Israel killed 60 Palestinians on 14 May. He was uncharacteristically subdued, almost inaudible. There were many silences, unusual for our conversations; some of them seemed interminable but I spoke only when spoken to. I had many questions and most remained unasked. The only time my friend became animate was when he told stories about some of the people who had been killed, people he either distantly knew or who were close friends. ‘There is a life behind every statistic,’ he said. He didn’t want to talk about politics; he only spoke about people.

One of the people killed on 14 May was the father of a boy whose birthday it was. Another was a 14-year-old boy, whose mother had long suffered with infertility and finally became pregnant with him after nine years of trying. The birth of their son seemed miraculous to his parents. My friend did not say so directly, and I did not ask, but he implied and I inferred that the boy was their only child. ‘He was shot in the head and died instantly. The father collapsed on him. Can you imagine these parents now, having lost their precious boy?’

I cannot imagine enduring the loss of a child, especially in such a monstrous way (because he wasn’t Jewish). But the story also speaks to my parent’s story. My mother had a miscarriage in the ghettos of Poland (because she was Jewish) and spent years after the Holocaust trying to get pregnant. My parents always told me that they survived in order to have me.

Yet for many Israelis there are ‘no innocents in Gaza’, as the defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in response to the Great March of Return. His colleague Eli Hazan, a spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that all 30,000 men, women and children who gathered at the Gaza border to protest (the overwhelming majority, non-violently) ‘are legitimate targets’. For too many Israelis and Jews, there are no fathers or mothers or children in Gaza; no homes or nursery schools or playgrounds; no hospitals, museums or parks; no restaurants or hotels. Rather, Gaza is where the grass grows wild and must be ‘mown’ from time to time, as some Israeli analysts have put it.

How is the rest of the world to think about Gaza, about Palestinians? I ask because the deliberate ruination of Palestine – seen most painfully in Gaza – has been well documented. Yet Israel’s actions have been met, more often than not, with serene indifference and lack of remorse, reflecting, in the historian Gabriel Kolko’s words, the ‘absence of a greater sense of abhorrence’ – or, I would say after 14 May, with little if any abhorrence at all. One need only look at the language used in the American media to describe Palestinians and their deaths. Israeli propaganda dehumanising Palestinians has been enormously successful.

Why are so many among us unmoved by the contamination of a water supply that will soon lead to life-threatening epidemics among a population of nearly two million people; by the shattering of a once functioning economy through closure and blockade, depriving at least 45 per cent of the labour force (and more than 60 per cent of young workers) of the right to work – forcing most of them into dependence on food handouts and desperate young women into prostitution? The deprivation is deliberate. What purpose does Gaza’s suffering serve?

The real threat to Israel lies not in acts of Palestinian violence, but in understanding that those acts are a response to occupation and oppression, to injustice and dehumanisation. As an Israeli friend of mine once said, the threat to Israel lies ‘in making Palestinians intimate, in seeing the world through their eyes’. Why are we so afraid of humanising Palestinians?

The decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, which was driven by Israel and its supporters, should be understood as an attempt to maintain and enforce what Israel sees as its historical right to deny rights to Palestinians. The right to demand rights, which is, fundamentally, what the Palestinians at the Gaza border were claiming, is more threatening than any particular right because it speaks to the agency that makes Palestinians present and irreducible, which Israel has worked so long to regulate and annul. It is the inability to unthink rightlessness among Palestinians that must be maintained as a form of control. The ascription of rightlessness to the other is – and must remain – uncontestable, a clearly established rule that is not restrained by justice. Declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital not only purges Palestinians from the political equation and disendows them of any claims based on justice, but also ensures their continued absence in Israeli eyes.

In the immediate aftermath of 14 May, with 117 dead (the number has since risen to 123) and more than 13,000 injured, my friend in Gaza told me that shopkeepers went online to invite people to take whatever goods they wanted for free. Banks announced that they would forgive certain loans.

Gaza will not disappear. It will not ‘sink into the sea’, as the late Yitzhak Rabin once wished it would. Gaza is a human rights catastrophe and an ecologic disaster. ‘In a few years,’ Thomas Friedman wrote recently in the New York Times, ‘the next protest from Gaza will not be organised by Hamas, but by mothers because typhoid and cholera will have spread through the fetid water and Gazans will all have had to stop drinking it.’

Will Gaza’s mothers then be shot dead for protesting, or will they simply be allowed to die, together with their children, from typhoid and cholera? Or will their protests be heard? The answer will determine our humanity, not theirs.


  • 4 June 2018 at 4:25pm
    Fred Skolnik says:
    I have the feeling that your writer would be no less capable of writing an impassioned piece of this kind about the 500,000 German civilians killed in World War II without mentioning the fact that it was the Nazis who initiated the war and turned Germany into a war zone. Hamas is a barbaric terrorist organization whose declared aim is the destruction of the State of Israel in the name of Allah (and not in the name of the Palestinian people) and whose mode of operations is to murder Israeli civilians. Its declared aim in the current riots was to overrun Israel's border with tens of thousands of Palestinians mostly coerced to come to the front and to kill and kidnap as many Israelis as possible on its way to Jerusalem to wreak further havoc. It was precisely this terrorism, including the importation of the materials used to build the rockets it fired into Israel, that led Israel to close the border. It is a mark of extreme dishonesty to represent the 60 Palestinians killed on 14 May as innocent civilians when Hamas itself claimed 53 of them as their own people and when it has been shown that their own people were armed with firearms, Molotov cocktails and explosives.

    • 5 June 2018 at 5:35pm
      Philly Spartan says: @ Fred Skolnik
      You are making her point. Ms. Roy is suggesting the world recognize the individual humanity of the Palestinians -- and your response is "they are Hamas."

    • 5 June 2018 at 6:02pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Philly Spartan
      No, that is not my response. My response is that Israel is at war with Hamas and the other terrorist organizations and no one else. To blame Israel for the suffering of the Palestinian people is no different from blaming the Allies for the suffering of the German people in World War II.

    • 6 June 2018 at 2:35am
      Philly Spartan says: @ Fred Skolnik
      In fact it was; you're apparently not reading or remembering your own post very well. You made a passing reference to the Allies and the Nazis, in what was merely an insult to the writer -- obnoxious but at least it stopped short of making the absurd comparison that you make in your reply. In any event, this was your closing line: "It is a mark of extreme dishonesty to represent the 60 Palestinians killed on 14 May as innocent civilians when Hamas itself claimed 53 of them as their own people and when it has been shown that their own people were armed with firearms, Molotov cocktails and explosives." In other words, ignore any individual distinctions among those persons or their motives -- forget that one may have been a 14-year-old boy, another a 21-year-old paramedic -- they are Hamas.

      To be clear, lest you level some unfounded accusation, I find Hamas's terrorism to be repugnant. I find your perspective also to be repugnant.

    • 6 June 2018 at 2:46am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Philly Spartan
      But that is precisely what I did - I made a distinction by noting that 53 of the 60 killed were "repugnant" Hamas militants and not innocent civilians.

    • 6 June 2018 at 12:31pm
      Philly Spartan says: @ Fred Skolnik
      In fact you did the very opposite of distinguishing between militants and innocent civilians. Let's go back to what you said: "It is a mark of extreme dishonesty to represent the 60 Palestinians killed on 14 May as innocent civilians when Hamas itself claimed 53 of them as their own people." In other words, for you, the 53 claims made by Hamas were sufficient to preclude the innocence of any of the 60 who were killed. Far from drawing a distinction between the 53 and the 7, as you now claim, you lumped them together, which is exactly what the writer of this piece is criticizing -- hence my observation, at the outset, that you are making her point.

      I strongly suspect you'll reply to this; I also strongly suspect you'll have nothing substantive to add. So I think the record is clear -- if anybody else is still reading at this point. I'll take my leave.

    • 6 June 2018 at 12:48pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Philly Spartan
      You're splitting hairs to get out of the little hole you dug for yourself and save face. I said 60 were not white (innocent), as the author claimed: 53 were black (terrorists). It's simple math.

    • 6 June 2018 at 3:01pm
      paul laughlin says: @ Fred Skolnik
      If Hamas is a barbaric terrorist organisation which has coerced tens of thousands of Palestinians to come to the front and the IDF response is to indiscriminately kill them, then in what way are these organisations distinguishable by any moral criteria?

    • 6 June 2018 at 3:56pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ paul laughlin
      We've already established that the IDF is not indiscriminately killing "them." Hamas itself has confirmed who the victims are. If the army had been firing indiscriminately or had been out to kill innocent people, thousands would be dead, if not tens of thousands as in your bombing of Dresden.

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:06pm
      mototom says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Just out of interest, how many of the more than 13,000 injured were Hamas's own people?

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:23pm
      mototom says: @ Fred Skolnik
      You’re splitting hairs to get out of the little hole you dug for yourself and save face.

      That is ironic.

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:51pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ mototom
      I have no idea. The numbers come from Hamas and it isn't telling us. Maybe it's wised up. I'd guess that Hamas has around 15,000 to 20,000 fighters, probably all there. Aside from those injured from tear gas, I imagine that those wounded were advancing on the security fence and clearly threatening to overrun it, which would have meant the murder of anyone they got their hands on.

  • 4 June 2018 at 5:20pm
    steve kay says:
    Whenever I mention Fred Skolnik to any of my Jewish friends who skim or diligently read the LRB and the blogs, they come up with similar responses. They find it difficult to believe that Fred Skolnik-Russell could spare the time from editing encyclopaedias or writing novels to write the usual torrents of invective. There is a suspicion that this "Fred Skolnik" is a troll operation, and the advised response is just never to read anything with that name at the top.

    • 4 June 2018 at 5:35pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ steve kay
      Brilliantly argued! You are absolutely right. It is best for people like yourself not to read anything that challenges or contradicts the I Hate Israel line.

    • 4 June 2018 at 9:54pm
      CarpeDiem says: @ steve kay
      I have had the same theory for some time. Pity all blog posts which involve Israel almost invariably become Skolnik-vs-"Non Skolnik" matches. Which is possibly what this troll farm aims at.

      When I accessed the LRB Blog a few minutes back and found this post at the top, I thought to myself - Gee, what are the chances "Fred Skolnik" hasn't seen this post just yet ? Or hasn't responded to it, for once ? How utterly silly of me.

      Now I will sit back and wait for "Fred Skolnik"'s next invective to be hurled at me. I am sure "Fred" will not disappoint.

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:13pm
      mototom says: @ CarpeDiem
      When I accessed the LRB Blog a few minutes back and found this post at the top, I thought to myself – Gee, what are the chances “Fred Skolnik” hasn’t seen this post just yet ? Or hasn’t responded to it, for once ? How utterly silly of me.

      I have to admit that when I started reading Sara Roy's blog, I did find myself thinking, "I wonder what Fred will say"?

  • 4 June 2018 at 5:23pm
    PatrickWeir says:
    Hamas is despicable, but it's the best thing that ever happened to Likud.

    • 4 June 2018 at 5:37pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ PatrickWeir
      That is nonsensical. It is not the Likud but the army that fights terrorism and the army is fighting it in the same way it has fought it from the beginning.

    • 4 June 2018 at 5:54pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      I believe that Patrick means that Hamas is an incentive for Israelis to vote Likud at the polls and actually his comment is quite sensical.

    • 4 June 2018 at 6:03pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      But it isn't. The Likud received 30 seats in the Knesset in 2015 with less than a quarter of the vote and 43 seats in 1977 with a third of the vote and no Hamas. You really don't know the first thing about Israeli politics and voting patterns, do you? That's why nothing you say is ever sensical, sensible, informed, perceptive or relevant.

    • 4 June 2018 at 7:07pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      It is perfectly sensible to assert that the existence of an organisation whose "declared aim is the destruction of the State of Israel in the name of Allah" would encourage Israelis to vote for a party implacably opposed to them and advocating the strongest possible counter measures. As elections are decided on many issues and not just one, your selective voting figures prove nothing one way or the other. What doesn't make sense is trying to reconcile the assertion you have made here and elsewhere that the Israeli government doesn't set the rules of engagement for the IDF, with the assertion that you have made elsewhere that the IDF isn't given carte blanche.
      Incidentally of the 60 deaths mentioned, how many died on the Gaza side of the security fence and how many on the Israeli side ?

    • 4 June 2018 at 7:34pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      But the majority don't vote for the Likud and you don't have the slightest understanding of how Israelis vote. The Likud came to power in 1977 under Begin because the country was disillusioned with the old political guard after its failure in the 1973 war and its generally patronizing and elitist approach to government. The shift to the right over the years is a direct result of the unwillingness of the Palestinians to negotiate a settlement and the continuing acts of terrorism. Today the country may be said to be equally divided between left and right, but both sides lean toward the center. Netanyahu is an excellent politician and speaker and that is probably what gives him the few extra percentage points that enable him to form governments. It would be fair to say that about half the Likud MKs and all eight in Naftali Bennett's party are political extremists (wish to annex the entire West Bank). Shas and the haredim are sectoral parties primarily interested in securing government funding for their institutions. On the other hand, Israel is completely united, aside from the far left (about 5% of voters, constituting the readership of Haaretz), as well as the Arab parties, in its perception of the threat posed by the Muslim extremists and its understanding of their aims and intentions.

      I see that you also don't understand the interaction between a government and an army at the operational level. Rules of engagement are universal and very simple and not a subject of political debate. When there is a terrorist attack, the army responds in a prescribed way under the orders of its commanders. There is no such thing as carte blanche. When large-scale responses are called for General Headquarters presents an operational plan and the government will almost always approve it.

    • 5 June 2018 at 7:14pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Well in so far as you subscribe to the proposition that Palestinian extremism begets Israeli extremism, use of the word nonsensical with respect to Patrick's post is, to say the least, hyberbolic. Furthermore, any right wing voting encouraged by Hamas is a good thing for the Likud as the other right wing parties are natural coalition partners. In 2006, the year that Hamas won the Palestinian elections the Likud won 12 seats in the 17th Knesset. By 2009 they had 27 seats in the 18th Knesset. This proves nothing apart from illustrating that if you take the approach of "these are the conclusions on which my facts are based" then you can argue just about anything.
      At least we are agreed that the IDF is a law unto intself. The only outstanding item is how many of the 60 dead were killed on the Gaza side of the security fence and how many on the Israeli side?

    • 6 June 2018 at 2:59am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      Terrorist acts beget anti-terrorist measures. There is nothing extreme about Israel's response. Its aim is to stop and apprehend the terrorists. We are not in agreement that the IDF is a law unto itself so stop playing games. If you don't understand how an army operates, join one and then you'll understand that it isn't. There are no outstanding items because the terrorists themselves declared that 53 of the 60 dead were their own people. No one died on the Israeli side because the Israeli army prevented the rioters from overrunning the border and going on a rampage. That was why the army was there, to protect Israel's civilian population, and that is what it succeeded in doing by shooting the Hamas ringleaders and armed terrorists, which accounted for over 80% of the deaths.

    • 6 June 2018 at 5:23am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      And by the way, the Likud dropped to 12 seats in 2006 because Sharon broke away from the party and formed Kadima, which won 29 seats, taking away Likud votes and even supported on the left with his popularity soaring after the disengagement from Gaza. In 2013, with Kadima dissolved, the Likud was back to 31 seats, but down from 38 in 2003. As always, you don't have the slightest comprehension of what you are reading.

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:01pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      So ...
      Scenario 1
      The well regulated IDF goes to the Israeli government and says words to the effect that Hamas are going to hold a demo at the security fence and that this is a good opportunity to do some targeted assassinations so let's detail some snipers and the government approves. 53 activists are killed. No one talks about the 7 non activists who are killed, but hey, who cares ?

      Scenario 2

      The IDF turns up at the fence and takes it upon themselves to fire live amunition into the huge crowd 90% of whom, statistically speaking, turn out to be Hamas activists.
      Who knows where the truth lies.

      The thing is that you should not mistake this party as someone who sympathises with terrorism. Few on this side of the water shed a tear about the 3 IRA persons killed in Gibraltar or the hunger strikers for that matter. What has shocked people, though we have got used to it by now, is the level of collateral damage Israel is willing to inflict in its counter terror measures. In short your country is using collective punishment as a means of fighting terrorism. Your choice and I won't condemn you for it, but don't expect it to win you friends and admiration.

  • 4 June 2018 at 7:45pm
    stettiner says:
    Meanwhile in Helsingborg, Sweden, the local chapter of Sweden-Palestine society is under scrutiny for a series of demonstrations against Israel. According to its chairman, slogans like ”let’s put a bullet in those sons of pigs and apes” and ”every day, every night and every hour the Jews cheat and mistreat the people of the prophet” are non-violent and definitely not anti-Semitic. “This people are newcomers”, he says, “they just use the everyday language in the Middle East”…

    I’m sure the next entry by Sara Roy on this site will be on “De-humanisation of the Jew in the Arab society from Khaybar to Gaza”…

    On the other hand, maybe not.

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:20pm
      mototom says: @ stettiner
      I don't know Sara Roy, but from reading her blog I think your criticism of her is, blind and profoundly unfair.

      It is unambiguously clear what she feels about anti-Semitism and that is not diluted by her assertion that the Palestinians currently occupying Gaza have a right to rights.

  • 4 June 2018 at 8:51pm
    dmr says:
    To respond to "Fred Skolnik" is, sadly, to call down upon oneself a torrent of hear-no-evil, see-no-evil hasbara; not to respond is to leave him in full possession of the field. The last word is his, no matter what. In contention with Mr Skolnik, it seems, you can't win.

    It is however fortunate, and safe to say I think, that with single exception of the gentleman whose forbears hail from Stettin, no reader of this blog and of the LRB - to say nothing of thoughtful people in the world beyond the arted ghetto that is contemporary Israel - takes seriously anything he or his kind has to say nowadays.

    • 4 June 2018 at 9:10pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      Of course you don't take it seriously. If you did, you might have to rethink your biases. As long as people like you persist in their malicious and ignorant assertions, I will continue to expose you. But I appreciate your dilemma. When these assertions explode in your face, nothing is left but to scurry to your second line of defense and "explain" why it's useless to respond.

    • 4 June 2018 at 9:57pm
      judgefloyd says: @ dmr
      You put it very well, dmr! No point trying to change a mind so completely made up. Pointing out any inconsistencies or falsehoods just gets you a stream of more of the same. You can't win, as far as he's concerned. Thanks for introducing me to the word 'hasbara'!

    • 5 June 2018 at 1:31am
      iq2 says: @ judgefloyd
      Hasbara was covered very well by Yonatan Mendel in these pages a few years ago. Gabriel Ash, who also grew up in Israel, is also well versed in the folding out, as it were, of hasbara:

      Another word for the day worth exploring:

    • 5 June 2018 at 10:36am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ judgefloyd
      It's good to see that you've learned two words of Hebrew. Learn a few thousand more and you'll be able to get all your information at first hand. "Hasbara" is the third line of defense for people like yourself but parroting the word and hiding behind it isn't an argument. If you have something real to say about the conflict, I'll reply to you.

    • 5 June 2018 at 3:34pm
      hbr says: @ dmr
      As a diligent reader of this blog and the LRB I can assure dmr that stettiner is far from being alone in taking Mr Skolnik seriously. To see him consistently come back against the hatred of Israel (and that mysterious group you delicately refer to as "his kind") expressed in the blog and by its respondents is nothing short of inspiring. In the bloody, bare knuckled contest against the bien pensant LRB mob he remains cogent, focussed and invariably polite. Clearly no amount of truth, historical or political, will sway the entrenched thinking and prejudices of the typical LRB reader. But my thanks go to Mr Skolnik for his readiness to return time and time again to this fruitless battle. And no, I do not know the man and I am not a troll.

    • 5 June 2018 at 4:42pm
      dmr says: @ hbr
      As it makes every effort to remain calm and to maintain a civilised tone, yours is a response that merits respect. Israel, to be sure, has its defenders, just as it has things to be said its favour (the picture is hardly all black or white), and some such voices – a very very few - are worth listening to.

      Mr Skolnik's, alas,is not such a voice, though here I see we must agree to differ. Bien pensant we may all well be, but those of us in the mob you speak of find him to be shrill, embittered and short-fused, much given to personal insult. A great patriot he is, no doubt, but he does himself no favours in assigning the motive of hatred to people outraged, with good reason, at Israel’s criminal behaviour and inhumane policies. This behaviour, and these policies, are there for all to see – only the blind fail to recognise them for what they are - and though he congratulates himself on his debating skill Mr Skolnik’s diligent efforts to extenuate them are ultimately a disservice to his adopted country.

    • 5 June 2018 at 5:32pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      We are not debating. You are making untenable assertions and then running away from whatever is unanswerable. What is there for all to see is only seen by people like yourself. It is neither criminal nor inhumane to defend yourself against terrorist attacks.

      I don't believe for a second that you are "outraged." By all means, with all your humanity and concern for victims, what other countries have you gone after on other people's blogs? None? Just Israel? Don't give a crap about the genocides and massacres and human rights abuses all over the world? Show us what you've had to say about Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Nigeria, China, Saddam's Iraq, Assad's Syria and all the others. And show us what you had to say when Israeli women and children were being blown to pieces in buses and restaurants by barbaric Arab terrorists. Nothing? Not outraged? Didn't feel compelled to open your mouth? Give us a few of your outraged quotes.

    • 5 June 2018 at 6:39pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      "Shrill, embittered" - and petulant. Unhinged, too: no matter what atrocity it commits or how shocked the reaction worldwide, he will be found intoning ad nauseam :Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorists..."

    • 5 June 2018 at 6:52pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      As if to bear me out. And here you are nonetheless, even when you have nothing to say. I'm still waiting to see some examples of your outrage. Nothing there?

  • 4 June 2018 at 9:07pm
    dmr says:
    recte: "armed," not "arted," ghetto...

  • 5 June 2018 at 7:53pm
    dmr says:
    To be allowed to express your indignation about Israel’s behaviour you must, on planet Fred, first demonstrate to the complete satisfaction of the country's champions that you have, at certain times in the past, criticised Darfur, Bosnia China et al. and that you have done so with equal vociferousness. This is a sine qua non. Further, your indignation must take the form of quotes, citations etc., for it is publication, and publication only, of your criticism of other places in other times that attests to your moral bona fides. Short of this you are not entitled to be outraged about Palestine.

    If such demonstration is not feasible (its absence by definition revealing you to be a liar and a hater), you are allowed, on planet Fred, to register your dismay at Israel’s conduct on condition that, simultaneously, that is to say in the same breath, and not one whit less passionately, you criticise Darfur, Bosnia, China et al. The list is long but you have yourself only to blame if you haven’t covered it first before speaking of Palestine, thereby proving your honesty and your eligibility to speak at all.

    Anything less or other than this, on planet Fred, and you’ve shown your true colours as a hypocrite. Anything less, or other, and you’re duty bound to remain silent about Israel’s actions. Anything less, or other, and your reservations about what it does are without merit.

    Just common sense, this. And perfectly rational….

    • 5 June 2018 at 8:54pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      You are becoming incoherent again. Of course an outraged humanist would be outraged by genocides, massacres and human rights abuses anywhere in the world and speak out if he was a blog crawler like you. You of course don't, not a peep, so I think you are a fake and don't have the slightest interest in the Palestinians as victims but only in Israel as the culprit. And that tells me who and what you are. And you of course don't like to be reminded "ad nauseam" that Arab terrorists are murdering Jews. It's just so boring, isn't it. We'll see what a hero you are when it's your family that is murdered.

    • 5 June 2018 at 11:06pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Thank you Mr Skolnik for making my point for me, and so effectively.

  • 6 June 2018 at 1:13pm
    XopherO says:
    Sara Roy's piece is heartbreaking. It was a brutal massacre, with snipers picking off women and children at will - what is that but terrorism - and one fears for the future mental health of the young conscripts who do it?

    In a recent interview in Telerama (French culture/media/listings weekly) with the former Jerusalem correspondent for the Le Monde group (1981-2015), Charles Enderlin, still resident in Jerusalem and obviously very au fait with all things Israeli, probably more so than Fred, states that the possibility of an independent Palestine state disappeared in 1996 when Netanyahu first came to power and relaunched colonisation which has continued ever since. European diplomats in post in Jerusalem know this very well. The Israeli government is about to put a budget of 2 billion shekels to 'Judae-ise' East Jerusalem! Netanyahu has the intention of transforming the state of Israel to make a 'Nation State of the Jewish people', meaning that the Arab minority will lose any collective rights (they already cannot live where they want, and that will be reduced further) moving even more towards apartheid (which already exists on the West Bank in essence). Netanyahu needs the appalling Hamas, which indirectly he helped to bring to power, to keep 70% of Israelis voting for him.

    Enderlin finishes by saying his children and grandchildren will have to decide whether to stay or leave as the political situation becomes even more oppressive. He comments that when the Dutch install solar panels so villagers in the West Bank can run fridges to keep the goats cheese cool, which they sell to make a meagre living, the Israeli army comes and seizes them.

    I feel sorry for the American diplomats moved to Jerusalem. There is really nothing joyful there. You can get a good lunchtime snack from one of the street traders in the Old City - that is about it, and the New City is sterile and dull - 'entertainment' is not in the vocab. You have to go to Tel Aviv, lively 24 hour city. I see a stream of taxis and diplomatic cars running down the mountain early evening and weekends to enjoy the bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas, theatres, opera - and of course the splendid beach and seafood restaurants in Jaffa. Think on any other country wanting to move up the mountain!

    • 6 June 2018 at 4:17pm
      dmr says: @ XopherO
      To all this - and how true and sad it is - our friend Fred, scourge of the Israel haters, staring at his screen in his apartment in Jerusalem and boiling with rage at what he takes to be lies and misrepresentations, his blood pressure rising the while, will be jumping out of his skin to reply and with characteristic verbosity.

      No surprises there for readers of the LRB blog.

    • 6 June 2018 at 5:02pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      I see that I've reduced you to blowing out hot air. I sympathize with you, Every time time you actually say something you make yourself look like a fool.

      Rage? Are you joking? You're the hater here, not me.

    • 6 June 2018 at 5:03pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ XopherO
      70% of Israelis don’t vote for Netanyahu; 25% do. No new settlements have been built since the early 1990s. Almost all expansion has been within existing boundaries. Encroachments have been negligible and are mostly on public land, or disputed land (regarding pre-1948 ownership). All rational people, including Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, understand the shape and parameters of a final settlement.

      Your understanding of the barriers to a settlement is distorted by your biases. The greatest barrier at present is simply the fact that Abu Mazen lacks the will and support to negotiate a settlement and Hamas doesn’t want to.

    • 7 June 2018 at 8:45am
      XopherO says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Not my understanding, Fred, you should read more carefully - you are always misunderstanding, perhaps deliberately when it doesn't suit your very fixed perspective. It is the understanding of the journalist Charles Enderlin who has lived in Jerusalem longer than you, and probably understands what is going on better than you.

    • 7 June 2018 at 9:21am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ XopherO
      Did he also tell you that 70% of Israelis vote for Netanyahu?

    • 7 June 2018 at 9:38am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Fred Skolnik
      And not that it matters but your determination of who has lived longer in Jerusalem is as inaccurate as everything else you write. What is worse than the silliness of using this as a criterion of knowledge is your dishonesty. You are not endorsing his views because they are true (you are totally unequipped to evaluate or verify anything he says) but because they give you what you want.

  • 6 June 2018 at 4:26pm
    Ted Eames says:
    Please can we all just ignore the "Skolnik" troll??
    I enjoy the LRB blog and value posts such as Sara Roy's. I can easily read the text of Netanyahu's speeches, or the statements of groups to the right of Likud, without seeing them reproduced verbatim by their champion here.

  • 6 June 2018 at 5:02pm
    Fred Skolnik says:
    Here are a few examples of how Israel views the riots, confirmed by Hamas itself:

    On Facebook: Gazan protestors ‘bring a knife, dagger, handgun,’ kidnap Israelis, murder soldiers

Read more