Sunday, November 18, 2012

Losing by winning

A small instance of this principle is what happened this year in the 35th Congressional District.  California has an open primary, in which the two top finishers in the primary face each other in the general election, regardless of party.  So in the 35th, the incumbent Joe Baca faced State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod.

They fought each other hard for the Democratic Party endorsement, and Baca narrowly prevailed.  But this didn't turn out well for Baca.  McLeod was thereby made the Republican candidate.  A Republican super PAC in Arizona gave her a lot of money, the Republicans evidently went for her, and the Democrats split.  So having come in second in the primary and lost the Party endorsement, McLeod won where it counted, and she's off to Congress.  Baca lost by winning, which made me pay more attention to this principle in larger matters.

This week, Israel has been bombing and shelling Gaza again, having provoked this latest round by killing a Hamas commander who had just negotiated a long-term truce, and thereby ensuring that peace is avoided.  Peace wouldn't help Netanyahu in the upcoming elections in January.  No doubt Israel will win another glorious military victory, as it did 4 years ago.

But it will be another strategic defeat, by revealing the nature of the State of Israel more clearly to the world.  I remember how the Germans in August 1914 responded to a successful counter-attack by the Belgian army by sacking and burning Louvain.  Looking back, it is quite clear that that act ensured that the Germans would be seen as barbarians and that their enemies would fight them to the death - and this led to the eventual defeat of Germany and the overthrow of the monarchy.

45 years ago, Yehoshua Leibowitz warned that Israelis were turning into "Judeo-nazis," and people were not too pleased when he said that.  But it is becoming increasingly clear that he was absolutely right.  Gaza really is the Warsaw Ghetto, or would be apart from such international pressure as there is.  Or perhaps if the Nazis had been under the same pressure as Israel now is under, the Warsaw Ghetto would have looked more like Gaza today.

But the same genocidal impulse is there.  Yesterday Gilad Sharon wrote in the Jerusalem Post that Israel ought to "flatten" all of Gaza, as the Americans had flattened Hiroshima and followed up at Nagasaki because the Japanese weren't quick enough about surrendering.

He hasn't noticed that his father didn't do anything for Israel by equipping and encouraging the Phalangist militia to slaughter thousands of helpless people in Sabra and Shatila in 1982.  Cruel people win all the battles, but they eventually lose all the wars.           

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