Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Those Gazans, What's Their Story?

Those Gazans, What's Their Story?

Where are the Gazans who want to live a quet life?

Oded Revivi, Mayor of Efrat

We have no more tears to shed with regard to the state of the Palestinian Arabs in general and that of the people of Gaza in particular. The 100 years of the Arab-Israeli conflict are primarily 100 years of Arab hatred and violence that have only brought them misery and poverty. But even though the Palestinians are to blame for their own plight, the people of Gaza are among the most wretched of people. 

The curse "Go to Gaza" is an idiomatic phrase copied from Arabic and expresses accurately the contempt with which their Arab brothers regard them.

Gaza is the dilapidated backyard of the Palestinians. Nobody ever wanted Gaza or wants Gaza now and even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, when he wanted to make a political concession to the Arabs, preferred to give them Gaza.

Up until 1967 Gaza was under Egyptian rule and was treated like an unwanted stepchild. After the Six Day War, Israel gained control and in 1982 when Israel returned to Egypt, as part of the Camp David Accords, what it had captured from Egypt in 1967, the Egyptians preferred to leave Gaza under Israeli control.

They preferred not to take responsibility for Gaza and with all due respect to the importance of liberating "Arab Lands", the Egyptians had their red lines.

Since 2006, when Israel withdrew from Gaza, Gaza has remained stagnant. The option of independence granted by Israel has been funneled into fortifying its position as a terrorist entity.

The huge amounts of money that it has received from countries all around the world was invested in building tunnels, producing missiles and in training terrorists. Political control in Gaza passed from Fatah to even more radical Islamic organizations. Their energies are directed to smuggling weapons and munitions instead of building centers for industry and businesses. The beautiful Gaza coastline, which could have been turned into a tourist gem, has been turned into a smuggling area for ships carrying weapons. 

Even Egypt, which allowed Gazans throughout the years, to make use of their common boundary, are fed up with the Gazan treachery, and closed their borders. Gaza found itself politically isolated from the Palestinian Arab leadership in Judea and Samaria, cut off from the Egyptian border and seaway and unable to import raw materials for production and industry.

You look at the Gazans and ask yourself, what's their story? Why are they doing this to themselves? Why do they continue with aggressive provocations of war that they know from the outset will inflict upon themselves ongoing damage and destruction? Is it stupidity, cowardice of the local leadership or a primitive ideology that holds in contempt the disastrous consequences of their actions?

Is the idea of independence too much for them to handle? Are they afraid to take responsibility and instead flee to "holy wars"?

I have no doubt that there are Gazans who want to pass their days and nights in quiet and enjoy personal and economic security, but I wonder where they are. Why do they elect terrorist organizations that only cause them damage? Why don't they demand a leadership that will free them from their many years of misery? Why is there not a local Gaza movement to protest the leadership's endangering of their children's lives?

Why do they not make a desperate call for a normal life?


Hamas's Civilian Death Strategy

Hamas's Civilian Death Strategy

Gazans shelter terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside sofas and dirty diapers.


Let's state the obvious: No one likes to see dead children. Well, that's not completely true: Hamas does. They would prefer those children to be Jewish, but there is greater value to them if they are Palestinian. Outmatched by Israel's military, handicapped by rocket launchers with the steady hands of Barney Fife, Hamas is playing the long game of moral revulsion.

With this conflict about to enter its third week, winning the PR war is the best Hamas can hope to achieve. Their weapon of choice, however, seems to be the cannon fodder of their own people, performing double duty in also sounding the drumbeat of Israeli condemnation. If you can't beat Iron Dome, then deploy sacrificial children as human shields.

Civilian casualties will continue to mount. The evolving story will focus on the collateral damage of Palestinian lives. Israel's moral dilemma will receive little attention. Each time the ledgers of relative loss are reported, world public opinion will turn against the Jewish state and box Israel into an even tighter corner of the Middle East.

All the ordinary rules of warfare are upended in Gaza. Everything about this conflict is asymmetrical—Hamas wears no uniforms and they don't meet Israeli soldiers on battlefields. With the exception of kaffiyeh scarves, it isn't possible to distinguish a Hamas militant from a noncombatant pharmacist. In Vietnam, the U.S. military learned guerrilla warfare in jungles. In Gaza, the Jewish state has had to adapt to the altogether surreal terrain of apartment complexes and schoolhouses.

There are now reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves throughout Gaza in ambulances packed with children. Believe it or not, a donkey laden with explosives detonated just the other day.

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Rockets fired from the Gaza strip into Israel. AFP/Getty Images
The asymmetry is complicated even further by the status of these civilians. Under such maddening circumstances, are the adults, in a legal and moral sense, actual civilians? To qualify as a civilian one has to do more than simply look the part. How you came to find yourself in such a vulnerable state matters. After all, when everyone is wearing casual street clothing, civilian status is shared widely.

The people of Gaza overwhelmingly elected Hamas, a terrorist outfit dedicated to the destruction of Israel, as their designated representatives. Almost instantly Hamas began stockpiling weapons and using them against a more powerful foe with a solid track record of retaliation.

What did Gazans think was going to happen? Surely they must have understood on election night that their lives would now be suspended in a state of utter chaos. Life expectancy would be miserably low; children would be without a future. Staying alive would be a challenge, if staying alive even mattered anymore.

To make matters worse, Gazans sheltered terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside ottoman sofas and dirty diapers. When Israel warned them of impending attacks, the inhabitants defiantly refused to leave.

On some basic level, you forfeit your right to be called civilians when you freely elect members of a terrorist organization as statesmen, invite them to dinner with blood on their hands and allow them to set up shop in your living room as their base of operations. At that point you begin to look a lot more like conscripted soldiers than innocent civilians. And you have wittingly made yourself targets.

It also calls your parenting skills into serious question. In the U.S. if a parent is found to have locked his or her child in a parked car on a summer day with the windows closed, a social worker takes the children away from the demonstrably unfit parent. In Gaza, parents who place their children in the direct line of fire are rewarded with an interview on MSNBC where they can call Israel a genocidal murderer.

The absurdity of Israel's Gaza campaigns requires an entirely new terminology for the conduct of wars. "Enemy combatants," "theater of war," "innocent civilians," "casualties of war" all have ambiguous meaning in Gaza. There is nothing casual about why so many Gazans die; these deaths are tragically predictable and predetermined. Hamas builds tunnels for terrorists and their rockets; bomb shelters for the people of Gaza never entered the Hamas leaders' minds.

So much innocence is lost in this citizen army, which serves as the armor for demented leaders and their dwindling arsenal of rockets and martyrs. In Gaza the death toll of civilians is an endgame disguised as a tragedy. It is a sideshow—without death, Hamas has nothing to show for its efforts.

Surely there are civilians who have been killed in this conflict who have taken every step to distance themselves from this fast-moving war zone, and children whose parents are not card-carrying Hamas loyalists. These are the true innocents of Gaza. It is they for whom our sympathy should be reserved. The impossibility of identifying them, and saving them, is Israel's deepest moral dilemma..

Mr. Rosenbaum, a novelist, essayist and professor at the New York University School of Law, is the author, most recently, of "Payback: The Case for Revenge."


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Balfour Declaration: the Legal Right to a Jewish State

The Balfour Declaration: the Legal Right to a Jewish State

The Jews have biblical rights, historical rights and legal rights to the land of Israel.
Lenny Ben-David
The government of Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration 95 years ago.  The document in effect served as the birth certificate for a Jewish national home.
British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour's declaration was in the form of a letter to a leader of the British Jewish community.  It stated: 
His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. 

Balfour speaking at the founding of Hebrew University.Behind him sit Chaim Weizmann and Chief Rabbi Avraham Kook

The British Army had just captured Be’er Sheva  after months of trying to break through the Ottoman army’s Gaza-Be’er Sheva defense line. The British goal was to push north and capture Jerusalem by Christmas.  
In April 1925, Lord Balfour arrived in Palestine to lay the cornerstone for Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus.  He was received as a hero in Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion. 

Balfour about to lay the Hebrew University cornerstone

The three British giants of Palestine attending the 1925 opening of Hebrew University, from left to right: Lord Allenby (commander of British forces in Palestine 1917), Lord Balfour, and Sir Herbert Samuel, first British High Commissioner of the Mandate

Balfour visiting "Jewish Colony" 1925

Balfour welcomed by the Rishon LeZion Jewish community and here
In the Arab community his visit was marked with black flags and a commercial strike.

Arab commercial strike in reaction to Balfour's visit (1925)

Black flags flying on Arab house

Would the State of Israel have come into being without the Balfour Declaration in 1917?  Perhaps. The Jews' return to Zion was well under way -- well before 1917 and certainly well before the Holocaust. The Jewish building of an infrastructure for a state had begun. 
But, the Balfour Declaration laid the legal and political foundation for the state's acceptance by the world community. The League of Nations, when it approved the Mandate for Palestine in 1922, re-ratified the Balfour Declaration:
"The Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." 

The Mandate also mentioned "the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine." It was ratified by 50 nations.
Note: Unfortunately, some of the pictures presented here were already in stages of disintegration when they were digitalized by the Library of Congress. They are presented without cropping the damaged sections.


Tunnels Matter More Than Rockets to Hamas

Tunnels Matter More Than Rockets to Hamas

The terror group wants to infiltrate Israel to grab hostages and stage attacks as in Mumbai in 2008.


Early in the current clash between Hamas and Israel, much of the drama was in the air. The Palestinian terrorist group launched hundreds of rockets at Israel, and Israel responded by knocking down rockets in the sky with its Iron Dome defense system and by bombing the rocket-launch sites in Gaza. But the real story has been underground. Hamas's tunnels into Israel are potentially much more dangerous than its random rocket barrages.

Israel started a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Thursday, intending to destroy Hamas's tunnel network. The challenge became obvious on Saturday when eight Palestinian fighters wearing Israeli military uniforms emerged from a tunnel 300 yards inside Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers in a firefight. One of the Palestinian fighters was killed before the others fled through the tunnel back to Gaza.

According to Yigal Carmon, who heads the Middle East Media Research Institute, his organization's monitoring of published material and discussions with Israeli officials indicate that Hamas's tunnels—and not the well-publicized episode of kidnapping and murder involving young Israelis and a Palestinian teenager—were the spark for the conflict.

Consider: On July 5 Israeli planes damaged a tunnel dug by Hamas that ran for several kilometers from inside the Gaza Strip. The tunnel emerged near an Israeli kibbutz named Kerem Shalom —vineyard of peace.

That Israeli strike presented Hamas with a dilemma, because the tunnel was one of scores that the group had dug at great cost. Were the Israelis specifically aware of the tunnel or had their strike been a random guess? Several members of the Hamas military leadership came to inspect the damage the following day, July 6. A later official Israeli report said that the Hamas inspectors were killed in a "work accident." But what if the Israelis had been waiting for the follow-up and struck again?

Hamas now saw its strategic plan unraveling. The tunnel network gave it the ability to launch a coordinated attack within Israel like the 2008 Islamist rampage in Mumbai that killed 164 people. Recall that in 2011 Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, more than 200 of whom were under a life sentence for planning and perpetrating terror attacks. They were exchanged for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been taken hostage in a cross-border raid by Hamas. Imagine the leverage that Hamas could have achieved by sneaking fighters through the tunnels and taking hostages throughout Israel; the terrorists intercepted Saturday night were carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs.

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An Israeli tank in the shadows of a 'wadi' or river bed with other tanks on the ridge behind as they maneuver inside southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip. European Pressphoto Agency
If the Israeli strike on the tunnel near the Kerem Shalom kibbutz presaged a drive to destroy the entire network—the jewel of Hamas's war-planning—the terrorist group must have been thrown into a panic. Because by this summer Hamas was already in desperate political straits.

For years Hamas was receiving weapons and funding from Shiite Iran and Syria, under the banner of militant resistance to Israel. But when Mohammed Morsi became president of Egypt in June 2012, Hamas abandoned its relationship with Iran and Syria and took up instead with Mr. Morsi and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas also took up with Turkey and Qatar, also Sunni states, describing them at one point as the saviors of Hamas. Former benefactors Syria and Iran then called Hamas traitorous for abandoning the resistance-to-Israel camp.

The Hamas romance with Mr. Morsi was especially galling to Shiite-led Iran and Syria. The Shiites are only 10% of the world's Muslims, and neither Iran nor Syria welcomed the loss of a patron to Sunni Egypt. The coup that removed Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood regime in June 2013 brought a chill in Egypt's relationship with Hamas that has kept Egypt's border with Gaza closed, denying Hamas that route of supply.

But Iran and Syria did not rush to embrace their former beneficiary. When Hamas tried to re-ingratiate itself with Iran this May, its political bureau head, Khaled Mash'al, was denied an audience in Tehran and could only meet a minor diplomat in Qatar. On June 26 the Iranian website Tabnak posted an article titled, "Mr. Mash'al, Answer the Following Questions Before Asking for Help." The questions included: "How can Iran go back to trusting an organization that turned its back on the Syrian regime after it sat in Damascus for years and received all kinds of assistance?" and "How can we trust an organization that enjoyed Iranian support for years and then described Turkey and Qatar as its saviors?"

So on July 6, Hamas stood politically isolated and strategically vulnerable. It had lost the financial support of Egypt and could not get renewed support from Iran in the measure it needed. To some in the organization it appeared that Hamas had only one card to play—and on July 7 it played that card with rockets. As to the tunnels, last Thursday Israeli forces intercepted 13 armed terrorists as they emerged from a tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa in Israel.

There are other messages out there for the Palestinians instead of the violent one sent by Hamas. Writing in the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat on July 12, Saudi intellectual Abdallah Hamid al-Din, no friend of Israel, urged Palestinians to abandon as unrealistic demands for a right of return, and to forgo as hypocritical calls to boycott Israel:

"The only way to stop Israel is peace. . . . Israel does not want peace, because it does not need it. But the Palestinians do. Therefore it is necessary to persist with efforts to impose peace. No other option exists. True resistance is resistance to illusions and false hopes, and no longer leaning on the past in building the future. Real resistance is to silently endure the handshake of your enemy so as to enable your people to learn and to live."

Plenty of others are sending the same message today. Whether Palestinians will listen is another matter.

Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York (1988-2006).




The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism gets thinner every day.

In the virtual world, too, the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has become blurrier during this latest Gaza conflict. When a Danish journalist published a photo of what he claimed to be a group of Israelis in Sderot eating popcorn while 
watching Israeli missiles rain on Gaza, it became a focal point of fury with Israelis – every newspaper published the pic and Amnesty tweeted about it – and it generated the expression of some foul views. Israelis (not Israel in this case) are ‘disgraceful’, ‘murderous, racist’, ‘inhuman scum’, ‘pigs’, etc, said angry tweeters. It wasn’t long before actual bona fide anti-Semites were getting in on this rage against Israeli people, with one racist magazine publishing the Sderot picture under the headline ‘Rat-Faced Israeli Jews Cheer and Applaud Airstrikes on Gaza Strip’. The speed with which what purported to be an anti-war sentiment aimed at Israel became a warped fury with Israeli people, and the ease with which demonstrations against Israeli militarism became slurs against or physical attacks on Jews, suggests there is something extremely unwieldy about fashionable anti-Israel sentiment, something that allows it to slip, sometimes quite thoughtlessly, from being a seemingly typical anti-war cry to being something much uglier, prejudiced and ancient in nature.hy are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It’s extraordinary. France can invade Mali and there won’t be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won’t give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won’t be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding ‘Hands off Pakistan’. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, the second Israeli politicians say they’re at war again with Hamas, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone ‘MURDERED BY ISRAEL’, and generally scream about Israeli ‘bloodletting’. (When the West bombs another country, it’s ‘war’; when Israel does it, it’s ‘bloodletting’.)
Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there’s such a double standard in relation to Israeli militarism, why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth. Parisians who have generally given a Gallic shrug as French troops have basically retaken Francophone Africa, stamping their boots everywhere from the Central African Republic to Mali to Cote d’Ivoire over the past two years, turned out in their thousands at the weekend to condemn Israeli imperialism and barbarism. Americans who didn’t create much fuss last month when the Obama administration announced the resumption of its drone attacks in Pakistan gathered at the Israeli Embassy in Washington to yell about Israeli murder. (Incredibly, they did this just a day after a US drone attack, the 375th such attack in 10 years, killed at least six people in Pakistan. But hey, Obama-led militarism isn’t as bad as Israeli militarism, and dead Pakistanis, unlike dead Palestinians, don’t deserve to have their photos, names and ages published by the concerned liberals of Twitter.) Meanwhile, hundreds of very angry Brits gathered at the Israeli Embassy in London, bringing traffic to a standstill, clambering on to buses, yelling about murder and savagery, in furious, colourful scenes that were notable by their absence three years ago when Britain sent planes to pummel Libya.
Such are the double standards over Israel, so casually entrenched is the idea that Israeli militarism is more bloody and insane than any other kind of militarism, that many Western liberals now call on their own rulers to condemn or even impose sanctions against Israel. That is, they want the invaders and destroyers of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere to rap Israel’s knuckles for bombing Gaza. It’s like asking a great white shark to tell off a seal for eating a fish. America must ‘rein in Israel’, we are told. ‘The international community should intervene to restrain Israel’s army’, says a columnist for the Guardian, and by ‘international community’ he means ‘a meeting of the UN Security Council’ – the Security Council whose permanent members are the US, UK and France, who have done so much to destabilise and devastate vast swathes of the Middle East and North Africa over the past decade; Russia, whose recent military interventions in Georgia and Chechnya suggest it is hardly a devotee of world peace; and China, which might not invade other countries but is pretty adept at brutally suppressing internal dissent. On what planet could nations whose warmongering makes the current assault on Gaza look like a tea party in comparison seriously be asked to ‘rein in’ Israel? On a planet on which Israel is seen as different, as worse than all others, as more criminal and rogue-like than any other state.
The double standards were perfectly summed up last week in the response to an Israeli writer who said in the UK Independent that Israel’s attack on Gaza and its ‘genocidal rhetoric’ made her want to burn her Israeli passport. She got a virtual pat on the back from virtually every British activist and commentator who thinks of him or herself as decent. She was hailed as brave. Her article was shared online thousands of times. This was ‘common sense from one Jew’, people tweeted. No one stopped to wonder if maybe they should have burned their British passports after Yugoslavia in 1999, or Afghanistan in 2001, or Iraq in 2003, where often more civilians were killed in one day than have been killed by Israel over the past week. Why should Israel’s bombing of Gaza induce such shame in Israeli citizens (or Jews, as some prefer) that burning their passports is seen as a perfectly sensible and even laudable course of action whereas it’s perfectly okay to continue bounding about the world on a British passport despite the mayhem unleashed by our military forces over the past decade? Because Israel is different; it’s worse; it’s more criminal.
Of course, Western double standards on Israel have been around for a while now. They can be seen not only in the fact that Israeli militarism makes people get out of bed and get angry in a way that no other form of militarism does, but also in the ugly boycotting of everything Israeli, whether it’s academics or apples, in a way that the people or products of other militaristic or authoritarian regimes are never treated. But during this latest Israeli assault on Gaza, we haven’t only seen these double standards come back into play – we have also witnessed anti-Israel sentiment becoming more visceral, more emotional, more unhinged and even more prejudiced than it has ever been, to such an extent that, sadly, it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.
So in the latest rage against Israel, it isn’t only the Israeli state or military that have come in for some loud flak from so-called radicals – so have the Israeli people, and even the Jews. In Paris on Sunday, what started as a protest against Israel ended with violent assaults on two synagogues. In one, worshippers had to barricade themselves inside as anti-Israel activists tried to break their way in using bats and planks of wood, some of them chanting ‘Death to Jews!’. Some have tried to depict such racist behaviour as a one-off, a case of immigrants in France losing control. But on that big demo at the Israeli Embassy in London last week some attendeesheld placards saying ‘Zionist Media Cover Up Palestinian Holocaust’, a clear reference to the familiar anti-Semitic trope about Jews controlling the media. On an anti-Israel protest in the Netherlands some Muslim participants waved the black ISIS flag and chanted: ‘Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning.’
Such is the visceral nature of current anti-Israel sentiment that not only is the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism becoming harder to see – so is the line between fact and fiction. As the BBC has reported, the wildly popular hashtag #GazaUnderAttack, which has been used nearly 500,000 times over the past eight days to share shocking photographs of the impact of Israel’s assault on Gaza, is extremely unreliable. Some of the photos being tweeted (and then retweeted by thousands of other people) are actually from Gaza in 2009. Others show dead bodies from conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Yet all are posted with comments such as, ‘Look at Israel’s inhumanity’. It seems the aim here is not to get to the truth of what is happening in Gaza but simply to rage, to yell, to scream, to weep about what Israel is doing (or not doing, as the case may be), and the more publicly you weep, the better, for it allows people to see how sensitive you are to Israeli barbarism. It’s about unleashing some visceral emotion, which means such petty things as accuracy and facts count for little: the expression of the emotion is all that matters, and any old photo of a dead child from somewhere in the Middle East – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – will suffice as a prop for one’s public emotionalism.
How has this happened? How has opposing Israeli militarism gone from being one facet of a broader anti-imperialist position, as it was in the 1980s, to being the main, and sometimes only, focus of those who claim to be anti-war? Why does being opposed to Israel so often and so casually tip over into expressions of disgust with the Israeli people and with the Jews more broadly? It’s because, today, rage with Israel is not actually a considered political position. It is not a thought-through take on a conflict zone in the Middle East and how that conflict zone might relate to realpolitik or global shifts in power. Rather, it has become an outlet for the expression of a general feeling of fury and exhaustion with everything - with Western society, modernity, nationalism, militarism, humanity. Israel has been turned into a conduit for the expression of Western self-loathing, Western colonial guilt, Western self-doubt. It has been elevated into the most explicit expression of what are now considered to be the outdated Western values of militaristic self-preservation and progressive nationhood, and it is railed against and beaten down for embodying those values. It is held responsible, not simply for repressing the Palestinian desire for statehood, but for continuing to pursue virtues that we sensible folk in the rest of the West have apparently outgrown and for consequently being the source of war and terrorism not only in the Middle East but pretty much everywhere. A poll of Europeans discovered that most now consider Israel to be the key source of global instability.
This is where we can see what the new anti-Zionism shares in common with the old anti-Semitism: both are about finding one thing in the world, whether it’s a wicked state or a warped people, against which the rest of us might rage and pin the blame for every political problem on Earth.
Brendan O’Neill is the editor of spiked.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gaza, A Tragedy of Errors

Gaza, A Tragedy of Errors

Many of us simply do not understand how Hamas works.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Every organization, like every group, has goals and objectives, and every group organizes its objectives according to its own priorities, with these objectives and their order of importance serving to reflect the group's culture. Different groups have different objectives and different priorities, and it is the interaction between groups that exposes the objectives of each of them as well as their individual priorities and cultures.

Disputes between groups occur when their goals are diametrically opposed.

For example, the Jewish people living in Israel see the Land of Israel as their land and their primary goal is to survive there forever, while the so-called (Pan) Arab Nation has chosen destroying Israel as one of its goals, but not as the chief one. The reason that Israel still survives in the Middle East is that its destruction –for the time being – is not the main thrust of the Arab Nation, which has not united in an attempt to destroy her. 

Peace between parties in conflict arrives when one of them, or both, changes its opposing goals or priorities.

When Egypt and Jordan defined themselves as  independent from the Arab Nation (supposing there really is a united Arab entity) and its primary goals, and when the rulers of these countries understood that the meta-goal of eliminating Israel is not achievable, they further changed their order of priorities, placing economic issues in higher priority - and making peace with Israel.

Did the change filter down to the general population? – That is a different question, which has no clearcut answer.

Sometimes one group temporarily changes its priorities for a short period due to other concerns. A humanitarian catastrophe such as tidal waves and heavy rains that cause flooding can cause the group to cease its jihad against Israel for a while so as to rescue women and children from homes that have been flooded.

Does that mean that the flooding has erased the jihad from its place at the top of the list of priorities? Most definitely not.

Unemployment and famine can also temporarily change the order of priorities, explaining the desire of Gazans to work in Israel. At the moment, they need to make a living and are willing to come to work in Israel, letting the jihad wait for a more opportune time.

Mistakes happen when one group thinks that the rival group has permanently changed its priorities, when it is actually only pretending to do so, or has done so temporarily.  This is the major error of those who pushed for the Oslo process, among them Israelis, Europeans and Americans. Someone bamboozled them into thinking that the artificial new group, self-defined as "Palestinians", had left the Arab Nation and adopted objectives and priorities that differ from those of the Arab Nation.

Because the Israeli Arabs worked in Israel from 1967, some, both in and out of Israel, believed that they had separated themselves from the Arab Nation and erased the destruction of Israel from their culture and objectives.

This is also the reason that the tired souls among us - and in the world - make sure to call them "Palestinians" and not "Arabs" – not only because they want to create a new nation, but in order to allow for a new culture that does not include the meta-objective of the Arab and Islamic Nation, destroying Israel.

The concept of a New Middle East that spawned the Oslo Accords was based on the premise that the Arab Nation changed its priorities, erased destroying Israel from the top of its list of priorities, and has replaced it with welfare, development, education and health. The Palestinians, according to this concept, have changed their priorities, erased the destruction of Israel and replaced it with the state, economy and welfare.

Reality was more complex: Hamas appeared on the stage in 1987 and did not hide its goals and priorities.In addition, there was Yasser Arafat searching for a way to bring a Trojan horse, that is Arab military forces, into the land of Israel, with some naïve Israelis believing that the PLO would "take care of Hamas without a Bagatz or Betselem (without having to obey the courts and face hostile NGO's) ".

They thought that Arafat was telling the truth and fell right into his trap, despite it being obvious that he had no intention of changing his objectives and priorities. He only changed his way of speaking, in order to be able to continue with his nefarious plans.

In 2004, the blood-soaked Second Intifada was beginning to recede. Israelis were weary and exhausted from the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PLO terror attacks and the more than 1000 victims killed in them. Many Israelis searched for a solution and buliding on the foundation of this national depression, then PM Ariel Sharon decided to leave Gaza unilaterally.

The decision was greeted with approval not only by the left, but also in the political center and even to its right. Many people felt that the expulsion of residents from the Katif Bloc was a fair price for disengaging from Gaza. Many Israelis expected the PLO to establish normal life in Gaza and that it would control Hamas and other terror groups because of its interest in establishing a strong entity that could eventually become a state. This opinion ruled in Sharon's government and he was party to it. On June 6, 2004, the government met to discuss the plans for the "Disengagement" and in Decision no. 1996 of that date, wrote:

"…The goal of the plan (the Disengagement, M,.K.) is to bring about an improved political, secure, economic and demographic situation. In any future permanent agreement, there will be no Israeli settlements in Gaza. The state of Israel supports the efforts of the United States, in conjunction with the 
This [Oslo] agreement is a clear expression of the self-delusion that Israel convinced itself was true...
international community, to advance the progress of reforms, establishment of institutions and economic improvement for the welfare of he Palestinian civilians, so that a new Palestinian leadership will arise and prove itself able to fulfill its commitments as expressed in the Roadmap.

"Leaving Gaza should serve to minimize friction with the Palestinian population.  Bringing the plan to fruition will nullify the claim that Israel is responsible for the Palestinians in Gaza… Israel will supervise the encircling border of the land in Gaza, it will have sole control of the air space over the area and will maintain a naval presence in the sea bordering Gaza.

"Gaza will be demilitarized except for those weapons permitted in the agreements reached by both sides. The state of Israel retains the right to self defense, including preventive measures as well as responding with the use of force against threats that may develop from Gaza…"

This agreement is a clear expression of the self-delusion that Israel convinced itself was true: a demilitarized Gaza, new leadership, new priorities (establishment of institutions and improvement of the economy and citizen's welfare), and the PLO's ability to control Gaza in the long term. 

There were voices that warned against a Hamas takeover after the "Disengagement". As the date for leaving Gaza approached, the Institute for National Security held several sessions on possible scenarios. In the discussion that took place on July 5, 2005, over a month before the retreat from the Katif bloc and the expulsion of its residents, one of the participants brought up the possibility that Hamas would take over Gaza.

One of the experts present, a man with a doctorate who published a book on the Palestinians, claimed that "Gaza is the diamond in the crown of the PLO" and therefore "the PLO will fight Hamas until the last drop of its blood.",

The facts turned out to be quite different.

After the expulsion from the Katif Bloc and as a resul tof it, Hamas gained a majority in the Legislative Council in the January 2006 elections, and succeeded in a violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007. At that point in time, there were still those in Israel who believed that Hamas is a "rational player" whose goal is the establishment of a state, institutions, a viable economy and the "good life". This assumption was based on the premise that our goals and objectives are the same as those of the PLO  - a state, a working economy, the "good life" – and that their order of priorities match ours.

The mistake those believers made stemmed from the fact that the Hamas goals and priorities stayed the same as they had been. At the top of their list they had destroying Israel and the jihad against her, with all the other objectives occupying lower spots. This egregious error is what caused Israel not to act with the required forcefulness immediately against the smuggling tunnels from Sinai to Gaza which were used to transfer rockets from the Sinai to Gaza, turning it into the second largest rocket stockpile in the area, second only to that of the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Another problem that makes a credible ceasefire difficult to achieve is the fact that Hamas is not one unified, cohesive group, so that even if what is termed the "political echelons" want to reach a ceasefire in order to take a breather and prepare for the next round, those who launch the rockets do not necessarily heed the "political echelons" and continue launching missiles and rockets towards civilian communities in Israel. These rocket launchers refuse to change their priorities, even temporarily.

The dead and wounded, the suffering of the population and destruction of infrastructure are very low on the priorities list of the Jihadists and they are not willing to change that order despite the people's suffering. They even take advantage of that suffering to fight a political, legal and media war with Israel.

The Gazan tragedy is first and foremost the result of its transformation into a base for jihad against Israel, but also a result of Israeli mistakes – and those of Europe and the United States, who assumed that their goals and priorities are those of the PLO members, Hamasniks  and Jihadists.

It is crucial that the present reality serve to open everyone's eyes to the truth, that it is understood that the Middle East has its own priorities and objectives – quite unlike those of the West – and that in this part of the world the only survivors are those who cannot be defeated.

Proper government, a viable economy, health, education and welfare are far less important than the main objective – destroying Israel.

Although hard to achieve, I would like to believe that the day will come when the Israelis and their friends in the world will actually understand the bitter reality of the Middle East and Israel's resulting challenge - survival in this part of the world, whose culture posits that human life, welfare, economics, health, development and education occupy a different and much  lower place than they do in the West. Here, near us, there are several meta-objectives that are much higher up on the list than we and the West suppose, and at their head stand the elimination of Israel and the hegemony of Islam.


My Outline for a Solution for Gaza

My Outline for a Solution for Gaza

By Moshe Feiglin

  1. Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.
  2. Attack – Attack of the entire ‘target bank’ throughout the Gaza Strip with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.
  3. Siege – Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the Strip. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).
  4. Defense – Any place from which Israel or Israel’s forces were attacked will be immediately attacked with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.
  5. Conquer – After the IDF will complete the softening of the targets with its aerial and long distance fire-power, it will send in infantry to conquer the entire Gaza Strip, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.
  6. Elimination- The GSS and IDF will thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.
  7. Sovereignty – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land       forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel. The coastal train line will be extended, as soon as possible, to reach the length of the Gaza Strip. According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package. Those who choose to remain will receive permanent resident status. After a number of years of living in Israel and becoming accustomed to it, contingent on appropriate legislation in the Knesset and the authorization of the Minister of Interior on a case by case basis, those who personally accept upon themselves Israel’s rule, substance and way of life of the Jewish State in its Land, will be offered Israeli citizenship.