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"You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means."

It seems that almost every time I read a story about the Gaza Strip, the word "besieged" comes up. And it's starting to bug me.

Maybe it's my passing interest in medieval warfare, or occasional flirtation with fantasy novels (much like science fiction, the problem is finding the worthwhile stuff -- the vast majority is junk), or my general guy-based fascination with warfare, but to me, "besieged" has a very specific meaning.

The word brings to mind a city surrounded by enemies, seeking to breach the walls, then loot and pillage from the conquered occupants.

But let's go right to the heart of the matter, and see what the dictionary says:

1. To surround with hostile forces. 2. To crowd around; hem in. 3. To harass or importune, as with requests: Reporters besieged the winner for interviews. 4. To cause to feel distressed or worried: She was besieged by problems.

We'll dump the last two; they're obviously hyperbole, a word being watered down to overdramatize events. Let's see how it fits in this usage:

Israeli troops killed two Palestinians militants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a day after rejecting an unofficial truce offer from the besieged Hamas rulers of the coastal territory.

Is Hamas surrounded by enemies? Well, they declare Israel their enemies, and Israel makes up a good chunk of their border. But they also have a border with Egypt, who's turned a blind eye (or actively helped) to Hamas bringing in all sorts of weapons and other war materiel.

Does that enemy seek to conquer Gaza? Hardly. Israel HAD it, and gave it back. They've made it abundantly clear they don't want to own or control the Gaza Strip.

Is the Gaza Strip under constant attack? Again, no. The only "attacks" have been retaliatory or preventive strikes.

So I really don't think that "besieged" fits Hamas and the Gaza Strip.

Actually, if truth be told (and that's a very dangerous thing), the term far better fits Israel.

Is Israel surrounded by enemies? Every single one of its neighbors has attacked it in the past. Gaza and the West Bank are still attacking, they recently fought a war in southern Lebanon, and Syria is still technically at war with Israel -- and wants its seized territory on the Golan Heights back.

Do Israel's enemies want to conquer and occupy Israel? Absolutely. Every single war and other aggressive act against Israel is with the goal of "driving the Zionists into the sea" and "restoring Palestine" (which would be quite a trick -- there NEVER was a nation called "Palestine" as they wish to restore it).

Is Israel under constant attack? Indisputably. Every day more rockets fall on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, aimed at nothing in particular but fired in the hopes of killing civilians and causing chaos.

There is a long history among the Palestinians (and Muslims in general) to take away Israel's history and claim it as their own. They pretty much fabricated Islamic history in Jerusalem, claimed Judaism's holiest site as their own, and are busily destroying all archaeological evidence of a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount while fabricating their own. They refer to the experience of the Palestinians after the establishment of Israel as a "Holocaust," comparing the displacement (often voluntary) of 850,000 Palestinians to the wholesale extermination of over six million Jews in Europe. And they seldom mention the OTHER 850,000 refugees from the same period -- the Jews kicked out of Muslim and Arab nations. Those ones chose to not spend the next 60 years as perpetual victims, but instead started afresh and made something of themselves. As I've said before, they were handed lemons and turned them into a multi-national lemonade conglomerate.

One of New Hampshire's most famous sons, Daniel Webster, famously said "there is nothing more powerful than truth." That seems to have gone out of fashion, these days it seems there is nothing more powerful than victimhood. If you can claim to be a victim of someone or something, it seems, you have absolute moral authority to do whatever you wish in the name of your victimization.

It's a lesson that we need to unlearn, and unlearn soon.


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Comments (8)

Truth has been turned into ... (Below threshold)

Truth has been turned into a variable - whoever proclaims most loudly what the truth is gets to define it for the current situation.

The Palestinians grabbed the definition early on, and haven't let it go. Israel gave back the Gaza strip? All the more reason to hate them, the bastards, BECAUSE they gave it back. And Hamas and all the Palestinian factions are nothing without their hate.

Without their hate - they'll have to face the fact that pretty much everything they don't like about their situation, they've done to themselves.

It's intolerable, therefore - it must be the fault of the Jews. Despite the fact that every... single... time... that ISRAEL has tried to help them out of the swamp, they've dived back into it and swum for the bottom, insisting that the only thing Israel could do for them is commit suicide and then clean up afterwards leaving a fully functional area - and by the way, leave the banks full of cash with the combinations readily accessible - 'k?

Well, sucks to be them. Wall them off, and be done with them. After watching them for 20+ years personally, I've gone from sympathetic, to puzzled at their actions, to disgusted and appalled. I thought once Arafat was nappin' with the worms things would improve - but he really started them off the cliff and they've yet to hit bottom. And if they could - they'd drag Israel to the big splat with them. They're a suicidal society, and they've got no desire to get better.

So... forgive me if I don't care to listen to their screaming all the way down. They've done it to themselves and it'll be a big damn mess cleaning up the remains in another decade or so. And even then - they'll blame Israel.

Being a victim to your past is easy. Being responsible for your future is hard - and the Palestinians don't want any of it.

Does that enemy se... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
Does that enemy seek to conquer Gaza? Hardly. Israel HAD it, and gave it back. They've made it abundantly clear they don't want to own or control the Gaza Strip.

I have to disagree with you here. Israel continues to control Gaza's borders and airspace. When you control what can move in and out of a territory and even what can fly within the territory, that is a significant degree of control.

"When you control what ... (Below threshold)

"When you control what can move in and out of a territory and even what can fly within the territory,..."

Life truly is a bitch isn't it?

If only those pesky Jooooos would allow us free borders (that has been attempted) and air space we could send even more suicide bombers.

Inconceivable!... (Below threshold)


"Israel continues to con... (Below threshold)

"Israel continues to control Gaza's borders and airspace."

Familiar scenario, isn't it? Few had a problem with the US patrolling Iraq's borders and airspace to contain an aggressor. As a matter of fact, many anti-war people would have been happy to let it go on indefinitely.

I'm not saying that you're implying it's wrong for Israel to do so, because you're unclear on that. But for some, it's wrong for them to do it - even though it's for the same reason and clearly out of self-preservation.

Slightly O/T, Jay, but Merr... (Below threshold)

Slightly O/T, Jay, but Merry Christmas! Hoping and praying for eventual peace in the Mid-East and Israel.

Latching onto your throw aw... (Below threshold)

Latching onto your throw away comment here...

An excellent fantasy series to throw yourself into is George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series.

Fantasy elements but inspired by the War of the Roses. Lots of politics and the characters are (shock!) actually developed.

Oddly enough, Clive, I am r... (Below threshold)

Oddly enough, Clive, I am re-reading that series right now. (I'm about halfway through book 2.) My biggest problem is that while Martin's great at developing characters, he's also great at killing them -- often just as I'm deciding that they're the "hero" of the piece. As good as the writing is, the (realistic) body count gets exasperating...







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