What's the Difference between Israel and the US?

I’m sorry if this topic has been done before, but I searched and couldn’t find it.

I know this can be a contentious topic, so I am going to preface that I don’t have extremely strong views on this topic, and am asking the question out of curiosity, not to prove a point.

On to the real topic:

What, exactly, is the difference between what the Israelis are doing in the West Bank and what the U.S. did in Afghanistan?

They were both responding to suicide attackers, going for a mixture of revenge and prevention.

They both killed a number of civilians in the process.

Why, then is the U.S. so stridently decrying Israel now? Is the difference really big enough? Why is the E.U. talking about imposing trade sanctions? Would they have done the same to the U.S. if everyone wasn’t so afraid of it and dependant on it?

There isn’t a damn bit of difference.

The US is decrying only because we want to erase Baghdad and not get in too much trouble for doing so.

As for the EU, I dunno, but their every action seems to be out of guilt for colonialism these days.


In Afganistan, a large percentage of the population welcomed the Americans as liberators. The Israelis are universally despised by the Palestinians. There is also ample evidence that the Israelis have gone out of their way to inflict extensive and random economic distruction on innocent targets. Also, I don’t believe that U.S. snipers shot any monks in Afganistan.

In Afganistan, the U.S. parachuted food supplies to civilians, and assisted international aid groups. The Israeli’s have blocked the efforts of many aid groups, and have been condemed for this by the U.N.

The Israeli’s are also keeping out journalists, even in areas where the hostilities have ended. There was speculation today that they didn’t want any witnesses in Jenin to report that they were indiscriminantly bulldozing civilian and fighter’s bodies into mass graves.

In Afganistan, the U.S. organized international aid to help rebuild the country at the end of the hostilities.

Except that:
We do not want to erase Baghdad. We want to erase Sadam Hussein because he is a murderous psychopath who started two wars of aggression, used chemical weapons on his own people and supports terrorists against the USA.

We also did not occupy Afghanistan until Al Quaida (supported by the Taliban) attacked us first.

Canada and Mexico do not want to drive us into the sea. I can’t say the same for Israels neighbors.

Israel is not supporting one Palastinian faction in overthrowing their radical fundamentalist rival.

Israels political situation is very diferent from the US’s.

The U.S. is (not unjustly) concerned that if Israel really cut loose it could easily spark a much larger war and reduce the Middle East to a glowing radioactive puddle. The March 31 issue of Time (the one with the Yassir Arafat cover) contains an article about such a war starting if the Israelis had Arafat killed, something which must be sooo tempting to the Knesset.

If Israel could conquer large amount of territory and set up sustainable and stable governments, the American stance might be different, but Israeli politics itself is highly contentious, with Prime Ministers changing almost biannually. An attempt to conquer and assimilate large Arab populations would lead to complete instability.

The U.S. itself has always acted with restraint since the end of WW2. Though full-scale all-out combat, up to and including nuclear force, must have been tempting in Korea and Vietnam (and Iraq and Afghanistan) they would ultimately do far more harm than good, because it would force massive retaliation from somebody, be it military or economic.

The modern Middle East is like the Cold War on speed. Large military forces meet for the occasional flare-up, but since neither side can conclusively defeat the other without resorting to weapons of mass destruction, the sitation remains a delicate staus quo until one side or the other undergoes major economic or social change. The Soviet Union couldn’t be defeated militarily (at least, not without killing everybody on Earth). It had to fall on its own. The Palestinians won’t be “conquered” unless they feel major social change that makes them individually wealthy and happy enough so that the destruction of Israel is no longer a priority. Alternatively, the Israelis won’t be “conquered” unless they’re decisively outbred by their Arab neighbors, or (incredibly unlikely) the U.S. withdraws aid and they suffer ecomonic collapse, and even then it’s hard to picture them being conquered and not torching the Middle East in the process. Certainly the U.S. will be disinclined to let Israel’s military and nuclear strength fall into the hands of Arab governments though a gradual assimilation of Israel.

Peace may come eventually, but it won’t be at the hands of any American president. It will require a collapse of one side or the gradual softening of both. Since Israel is more eager to embrace technology and educate its population, I’m betting the collapse won’t be theirs, but predictions are easy. Solutions are hard.

There are many differences between the U.S. and Israel, but the factors they have in common are crucial. Each of them contain educated populations, disproportionate military power, a strong spirit of national unity when attacked, a solid work ethic among its citizenry, and a recognition (though only in the last few decaces, and shaky at times) of women’s rights. This last one is very important for economic strength because it means half your population won’t be restricted in how productive they can be.

Meantime, I’m considering hybrid-electric for my next car.

Uh, cite?

You know, when you say that evidence exists, it’s generally assumed that you will provide evidence to back up your assertion.

Nice essay, Bryan.

I was just thinking along these lines yesterday. For a democracy, Israel is odd - it has a stupendous amount of parties in its little parliment and tends to sway in the direction of the wind.

I have to admit it would be nice if Israel stopped treating the West Bank as a permanent ghetto and actually invested money and effort into constructing a homeland for the Palestinians, complete with democracy… but Israel is consistently incapable of any concentrated effort beyond strident self-defense and fortress-building. The U.S. acts in much the same way; though there are signs of this changing since the Balkans.

That seems like a pretty odd request. I mean, I can see why it would be benificial, but why would Israel build a homeland for the Palestinians when they won’t build it themselves? Would the Palestinians even accept it on the terms Israel would give it?

Well, why did Israel start moving settlements into the West Bank?

Didn’t that violate one of their treaties?

The ultimate problem isn’t the Palestinians, though. The ultimate problem is Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and to a lesser extent Egypt.

Look, Israel didn’t WANT the occupied territories. They took them over as a result of what they perceived to be a threat to their existence that was presented by the aforementioned Arab states. Had THAT conflict not existed, the West Bank might never have been occupied by Israel. (Of course, there still wouldn’t be a Palestine; its previous occupier, Jordan, was even less interested in its independence than Israel is.) There are now, of course, some Israelis, radicals, who do want that land, which severely hampers Israel’s ability to broker a fair deal. But in the end that’s a moot point because the other side doesn’t want a deal anyway. Those territories are occupied as a result of Israel’s fear of its neighbours. The Palestinians are getting screwed because of that conflict.

What has completely gone under the radar is the fact that Israel is being regularly attacked by Syria (through their bobos, the Hezbollah) out of Lebanon. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 for the express purpose of stopping Hezbollah attacks. Under international pressure, they eventually withdrew with teh understanding that the attacks would cease in return for them leaving. Israel left, and the attacks continue; the whole deal was a sham. This has nothing to do with Palestine, it’s just Islamist terrorists happily blasting away at Israeli civilians, with Syrian support, and the international community doesn’t do a damned thing about it. Thier message to Israel has been; “You can’t do anything about it, but we won’t stop them, either. You just have to let your people get murdered. Too bad.”

So now put yourself in Israel’s place. They were attacked by Syrian-backed murderers out of Lebanon. They invaded, everyone flipped, and they said “Well, okay, we’ll leave if the attacks stop.” That agreement was made, and they completely left. And the attacks just started up again. The fact of the matter is, very obviously, that if Israel completely pulls out of the West Bank and Gaza, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. The terrorists will just keep right on attacking, because they don’t just want Israel to pull out of Palestine, they want Israel to pull out of Israel. They want it destroyed.

Well, as my mother always says; lock three Israelis in a room and you’ll get four new political parties.

I’d also like to see infrastructure and education spread across the West Bank, but I don’t agree that it’s Israel’s responsibiity to do so. It might be in their best long-term interest, but a sign of good faith by the Palestinians (for example, a cessation of all anti-Israeli propaganda) should certainly precede any financial investment by Israel. Israel’s own “strident self-defense and fortress-building” is understandable, given that they get attacked at least once a decade.

The modern Palestinians have been around as long as the modern Israelis (i.e. since 1948), and they’ve certainly had enough time to build up some sort of industry. Leon Uris’s novel The Haj is the story of a postwar Arabic family, and included some very interesting sections on their encounter with early Israelis. The Israelis were held in contempt for trying to carve prosperity from the desert, but they went ahead and planted Australian trees and they pulled it off. It’s fiction, I know, but it always made me wonder why Palestinians didn’t try to make deals with Israelis and copy their successes, rather than try to kill them.

Personally, I’d like to see a Jewish empire centered in Tel Aviv slowly grow through conquest, diplomacy and assimilation. It’s one of those interesting little thought experiments I kick around now and then.

Small nitpick here RickJay.

No, the Hezbollah barely existed at that point ( in fact it is likely the Israeli invasion that started propelling them towards prominence in the Lebanese Shi’ite community ). The main Shi’ite militia in 1982 was still the more or less secular Amal. At any rate the Israelis didn’t invade over either of them. Instead they were looking to crush the PLO, which was firmly entrenched in Lebanon and had been ever since their expulsion from Jordan in 1971. It was primarily the PLO ( who frequently clashed with the Syrians, as I recall ) who launched the cross-border attacks that helped trigger the Israeli attack.

  • Tamerlane

I bet Israel would be more than happy to invest more in the PLA areas if the PLO would cease and desist the efforts to have Israel destroyed.

You are right, of course. Brain sprain on my part; I guess I get 2002 and 1982 confused or something late at night.

It should also be noted that the 1982 invasion also included very substantial combat between Israeli and Syrian forces. The Syrian Air Force and First Armored Division took heavy losses in combat against the Israelis until a truce was signed on June 11, 1982.

I have seen that point alleged and I have also seen it denied.

Any experts here have the straight dope on whether the settlements did or did not violate a treaty?

In fact, it’s doing quite the reverse. The European Union claims Israel has deliberately destroyed development projects that it has set up in Palestine:

And there are - officially denied by Israel - reports that Israel has deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure:

The difference between Israel and the US is that although civilian infrastructure doubtless got damaged in the Afghanistan campaign:

(a) much of it was destroyed - or already destroyed - by the Taleban

(b) the US/allies were continually working in league with a large proportion of the Afghan people

© from the very start, the US/allies were looking forward, planning future government and aid and development projects for Afghanistan

(d) the US/allies did not ban journalists and aid workers (they may have been strongly advised to leave for their own safety, but they were not banned or arrested)

(e) the US/allies recognised that the only way forward for Afghanistan - to help it become a more peaceable and “good neighbour” nation - was to help it develop and progress - to build infrastructure. Sharon - and note I say Sharon NOT Israel, because there are many enlightened and forward-thinking Israelis who do not support his actions - to his cost, and to the cost of his people, does not recognise this.

Add to istara’s links above Israeli Army Accused of Atrocities from the Los Angeles Times.

The Times article also charges that the Israeli army used human shields, something I never saw the U.S. accused of in Afganistan.

Also add Palestinian society lies in ruins

50 years of final exams distroyed. Yep that’s fighting suicide bombers alright :rolleyes:

Also as to why they should stop.

Jenin’s trapped people and Jenin after the batttle

I think the biggest difference is that the US had the Northern Alliance as allies in Afghanistan. Since Israel has no allies in the Palestinian’s area there is no one for them to replace the PA with. The US was able to help rebuild Afghanistan after a friendly regime was put in place. In Palestine there is no prospect of a friendly regime to replace the PA so the best Israel can hope for is one that hates Israel but is too scared to do anythign about it. The difference in strategy thus leads to a difference in tactics.

Off course things like the beaking news : Explosion rocks central Jerusalem doesn’t help anybody.

:mad: :confused: :frowning: