After reading about the attempts of American President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry’s to impose a stunningly lopsided ceasefire on Israel and Hamas, my initial reaction was “Are you kidding me?”
Essentially, the details of the ceasefire dictated that Hamas would remain in power, armed, and would win significant concessions from both Israel and Egypt, in the form of relaxed blockade conditions, open borders, and all the things Hamas has been complaining about for years.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a day when there is no blockade, Gaza is a thriving place with strong businesses and strong ties to both Egypt and Israel.
But, I believe that there are only a couple of ways to get there.
1. Hamas can either realize, or the people of Gaza can “realize” for Hamas, that they are not going to destroy Israel and that their lives are going to remain miserable as long as they continue waging war on Israel; Or:
2. Israel can continue to pound Hamas and Gaza until number 1, above, happens.
Either way, Israel cannot, should not, and hopefully will not capitulate and allow the USA to dictate acquiescence to Hamas’ demands.
The ONLY way to peace is if both sides want it. Israel wants peace, Hamas does not. In spite of the many demonstrations around the world, I think that is clear. Some will certainly disagree with me, but they will be, as always, wrong.
Peace can be negotiated now, today, or it can be negotiated after further, significant pain on both sides.
Eventually, if Hamas does not understand and accept this, Israel will pound it into dust.
We used to have a saying about learning things the easy way, or the hard way. Hamas is choosing the path of learning things the hard way.
So, why must I be a terrible person?
I’m a terrible person because, right now, my fervent desire is for Israel to punish Hamas sufficiently so that Hamas and its proxies are permanently eliminated as a threat, until the people of Gaza throw them out and tell Israel that they want peace.
I do not believe it will happen any other way.
If wanting Israel to continue pounding Gaza and being against any ceasefire agreement that prevents that from happening makes me a terrible person, then I suppose it must be true.
In many interviews, both print and TV, I keep seeing world leaders, talking heads, and others gravely nod their heads and intone solemnly that “well, yes, Israel has a right to respond to rocket fire, but they really need to do more to prevent civilian casualties.”.
Here are a few truths that are relatively objectively accepted.
1. Hamas “embeds” their rocket launchers, weapons caches, fighters, and command centers in residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and homes. Their tunnels frequently have entrances in these venues. There is ample video evidence of this online.
2. Hamas exhorts its citizens to NOT evacuate when Israel warns them of impending attacks on specific areas. They claim, proudly (on TV) that their people are happy to be used as human shields in this manner. Again, the evidence of this is ample, including in video interviews with Hamas leaders.
3. Israel warns civilians (and Hamas fighters) by dropping leaflets, texting and phoning individuals,, and finally “roof knocking” with inert or very low power ordnance, prior to attacks on buildings that would otherwise be considered civilian buildings. This is easily verifiable, and has, in fact, been admitted by Hamas and the UN.
4. Israel, in its warnings to evacuate, specifies safe routes, safe destinations, and time windows during which it is safe to move. This is also readily verifiable.
5. Israel, when targeting buildings and installations from the air, has aborted many missions because there are civilians readily apparent in the targeted area. Again, there are lots of videos of this online. It is easy to verify.
6. Israel has delayed responses to heavy fire when there are readily identifiable civilians present. The Wafa hospital engagement is a clear example of this. For days, Israel took fire from the hospital, yet waited until they had phone confirmation that there were no patients or doctors left in the hospital before firing on fighters launching RPG’s and other fire on Israeli forces. This, too, is easily verifiable.
It is quite clear that Hamas very cynically and deliberately places its civilians in harm’s way in order to boost the media coverage and propaganda value of dead civilians.
No matter what or how much Israel does to try to minimize civilian casualties, there will always be civilian casualties in an urban war zone.
So, to Mr. Kerry, Navi Pillay and all those who continually demand that Israel do “more” to protect civilians, I would ask, simply, “what, SPECIFICALLY should Israel do to reduce civilian casualties further?”
And, I would challenge them to use examples from other conflicts around the world in which other armies have successfully used such methods. Perhaps we can use examples from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, where I am sure there are no civilian casualties….
While I wait for an answer to those questions, perhaps I’ll go back to school, earn a few more degrees, and grow old.
The following rambles quite a bit, for which I apologize, but, it captures much of what has been on my mind these last days.
As I sit glued to my chair, reading and watching reports of what is going on in Gaza and Israel, and worrying about friends and family in Israel, I am struck by a number of random thoughts.
In this conflict, there are certainly “innocents” who would like nothing better than to be able to get on with their lives, raise their children, work, play, and simply enjoy their lives as they should.
This is true on both sides, or should I say, all three sides, of the conflict – in Israel, Gaza, and among the Arabs of the West Bank (AKA Judea and Samaria).
Unfortunately, there are those who simply couldn’t care less, or those who are convinced that every person on “the other side” is an evil monster.
To be sure, there ARE evil monsters in this world, and many of them can be found in the Middle East, with a fairly large concentration of them in Gaza (i.e. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.), and their religion is hatred.
There are those who continually and relentlessly castigate and flay Israel over its supposedly immoral conduct, while excusing the Gazans for thousands of rockets and mortars along with many suicide and other bombs and attacks on Israeli civilians, with the rationale that “well, what else can they do?”.
I simply do not accept this rationale.
In life, we have choices. We make them every single day.
Today, I’ll have spaghetti for dinner. Tonight, I’ll fire a rocket at an Israeli city. Tomorrow, I’ll go to the beach. Next month, I’ll start school. Next year, I’ll make peace with my neighbor.
Israel, in a de-facto withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, gave Hamas and the Gazans a choice. They could take what Israel left behind, continue to work in Israel, build up Gaza with international aid money, or, they could make the choice to wage war on Israel. They made the choice to wage war, and what is happening now is a direct result of that decision.
Gaza, instead of accepting the friendship and eventual open borders with Israel, declared to the world that they only exist to exterminate Israel and every Jew in the world. That was a choice on their part.
To their dishonor, they chose to pursue that choice, relentlessly, ever more efficiently, with more and more and better and better weapons systems, spending their aid money on weapons, tunnels, education of the population that Jews are sons of pigs and dogs and subhuman, and throwing themselves into the task of ridding the world of “The Jews”.
Of course, Israel does not agree with this goal, and manifests their disagreement by building bomb shelters, warning systems, the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, and sometimes striking back at the rocket launchers and their owners. Occasionally, as in 2009 and 2012, and now, Israel strikes back hard, only to listen to the world cry for the Gazans, while ignoring the hard fact that Gaza has choices other than being destroyed, and condemns Israel for doing what any other country on Earth would do to protect its citizens.
In fact, actually, Israel is NOT doing what most countries would do.
Israel is painstakingly, methodically, working to eliminate very specific targets that have been identified as leaders of Hamas, command centers, weapons caches, weapons manufacturing facilities, and launching sites. They warn civilians (and Hamas) by radio, with leaflets, phone calls, and “roof knocking” to ensure that civilians have the ability to flee before the building is bombed.
That is NOT what most countries, or any countries do. Normally, in a situation like this, the country under attack, if it has the means, responds with massive force. There are no leaflets, no phone calls, no “roof knocking”, no warnings. Just massive force. If civilians are caught in the middle, so be it.
We have seen this in history, time over time. The carpet bombing of Dresden, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, is an example.
“But”, you say, “we’re more civilized now. We don’t do that anymore.”
Of course we do. How much warning do we provide in Pakistan before drone attacks on villages? How much warning did we give Iraqis before attacks? Afghanis? Did the British warn people in the Falklands (now there’s a “moral” war) before attacking specific targets?
Most countries don’t warn people in target areas, because the intent is to kill those people. To destroy the target, the infrastructure, and to remove the enemy’s capability to wage war.
War IS ugly, and horrible, but it usually has a purpose.
In the case of Israel vs. Gaza, the purpose is to stop the rockets, and the auxiliary goal, discovered later when the extent of the terror tunnels became known, is to destroy the tunnels. As part of that, Israel SHOULD be working to destroy Hamas’ overall ability to wage war to the point where they understand that waging war on Israel is not advisable and will not get them what they want.
But, here’s the rub. What they want is something that Israel can never give up in negotiations, because it is quite simply the destruction of Israel.
Hamas magnanimously says, from time to time, that they are willing to have Jews live among them, as long as they are Dhimmi’s, and pay protection money to stay alive. They must recognize the superiority of the Muslims who would be their masters. Israel, surprisingly (?) says “no, thank you”.
Then, of course, we have the reaction of huge swaths of people around the world. These are supposedly well-meaning people, claiming to be motivated by their love for humanity and their strong antipathy for human rights abuses. They claim to love the Palestinian people, and in protests, can be seen shouting “We are Hamas”, as if that’s a good or desirable thing.
Hamas, which treats women as 5th class citizens, executes political rivals and homosexuals, does not tolerate music or dancing, beats its subjects into submission, tortures its prisoners on a regular basis, and cries to the world about Israel and how Gaza is “occupied”, while their leaders get rich, and while their aid money goes to weapons and tunnels, while concrete allowed in for building projects is diverted for tunnels instead. Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and dreams and plans for a global Caliphate ruled by Sharia Law and a return to the Middle Ages.
That is the Hamas that these lovers of the Palestinian people claim to be, while in another breath, they claim to be liberal, supporters of equal rights, rights for women, rights for gays, and freedom.
They claim to be horrified by the death toll in Gaza, and in a show of solidarity, trash, loot and burn neighborhoods across Europe, yelling “Kill the Jews”. “Itbakh Al Yahud”. “Jews to the ovens”. “Hitler didn’t finish the job”. They lob Molotov cocktails into synagogues, burn down Jewish businesses, and terrorize Jews in the street. All in the name of “Human Rights”.
You’ll pardon me if I’m confused by this. I thought “Human Rights” were relatively universal and applied to all people.
Friends tell me “well, it’s legitimate to criticize the policies of Israel”.
Yes, of course it is. If it’s part of a rational discussion that includes some perspective and relativity, comparing Israel to other countries. It is NOT legitimate when Israel is the ONLY country under discussion, and when human rights abuses on scales several orders of magnitude more horrific are systematically ignored and condoned.
What is it about Israel that is different from other countries, that brings people to the point that they hate it so much?
Is it love of the Palestinians? I don’t think so. If that were the case, there were be no refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon. Those people would have long ago been assimilated.
Is it that Israel is truly an evil empire, oppressing the poor Palestinians, preventing them from working, starting businesses, starving them to death? I don’t think so. Israel has built significant infrastructure in the West Bank, improved health care, hospitals, educational institutions, roads, water access, electricity, and many other aspects. They opened their borders to workers from the West Bank for many years, until security issues made that impossible.
They treat Palestinians, including Gazans, in their own hospitals, enact laws against discrimination, and, while imperfect, work to improve the lives of the 20% or so of Israelis who are Arabs.
One can only conclude that the problems Israel faces are due to the fact that Israel is the Jewish nation-state.
People complain, or are horrified at what that might mean for minorities, as if there are no other countries in the world with an “official” religion. Even the Palestinian Authority has declared, formally and officially, that the religion of the new state of Palestine is Islam. There are roughly 22 Islamic countries in the world today, so the fact that Israel is a Jewish country should not be an issue. After all, there is only one Israel, and 22 Arab/Muslim states.
So, why should Jews not be tolerated, why should they be hated all over the world? Simply because they are Jews? Had Israel come into being in 1948 as a Muslim or Arab country, would there be a conflict, even if that state was killing its citizens and waging war on its neighbors indiscriminately?
Clearly, the answer to that is “NO”.
We know this because there ARE Arab states making war on their own citizens and their neighbors, and the world doesn’t give a damn.
While there have been 600 killed in Gaza, many of them combatants, in two weeks of fighting, there were 700 killed in Syria in TWO DAYS last week. No one paid this the slightest bit of attention.
Where are the BDS movements and protests against Syria, Iraq, ISIS, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Rwanda, North Korea, and all the other major human rights abusers in the world? Why is the focus ONLY on Israel, in a manner that is so out of proportion as to render the word “disproportionate” irrelevantly insignificant and meaningless.
The screaming, rioting supporters of Hamas in the streets are, in reality, not so much supporters of Hamas and the Palestinians as they are haters of Israel.
There really is only one explanation for that.
You can figure it out…..
I have a theory about why governments around the world feel so free to condemn Israel and tell it what it should and shouldn’t do, while they essentially ignore places like Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, etc.
They do it because they know that Israel gives a damn. They actually care about how the world perceives them, and care about things like human rights. They agonize over how to end the conflict between themselves and the Arab/Muslim world, and how to bring peace and prosperity to the region.
The world knows that, and takes advantage of it. They stick their nose in because they feel that “The Jews” will listen.
I would love to see the world sticking its nose into all the other hot spots around the world to the same degree, see the same “crocodile tears” shed for the 250,000 dead in Syria, and the millions more around the world about whom no one seems to give a damn.
The truth is that Israel is a good place. It’s not perfect. There are plenty of things I’d change about Israel if I could wave my magic wand.
But, Israel DOES try. It works at integrating minorities into society, taking care of those who are less fortunate, and making compromises for peace with its neighbors.
Can the same be said for ANY of its neighbors?
SInce 2007, Hamas and its proxies have fired over 12,000 (now more than 13,000) rockets and mortars into Israel. Israel carried out precision bombing and shelling of command centers, weapons caches, weapons manufacturing sites, and other targets, and now, has inserted ground troops into Gaza to root out tunnels used for smuggling and terror attacks on Israeli civilians.
There is a lot of attention in the media and around the world to the lopsided “body count”, although that is easily understood, considering Israel’s investment in civilian defenses, including shelters, warning systems, Iron Dome, etc.
I’m frequently astounded at the number of people who protest, holding signs saying things like “We are Hamas”, “Zionism is Nazism”, etc.
So, let’s recap a little, shall we? If you’re rooting for Hamas, here’s what you’re rooting for
1. Israel does selective targeting, warns inhabitants by phone, leaflet, and roof knockin:g. Hamas fires rockets and mortars indiscriminately at civilians, aiming for the most populated civilian areas in Israel. They do this from among the civilian population of Gaza, including in and by schools, mosques, homes, hospitals, etc., thereby committing a double war crime (which even the EU, miraculously, has commented on).
2. Israel, while having the capability to flatten Gaza, has chosen to go house to house, street by street, incurring many more dead and wounded than “carpet bombing” would cause them, in order to avoid civilian casualties. You can argue that it’s because they’re going after the tunnels, but realistically, Israel has the capability to bomb large areas with delayed fuses and crush tunnels all day long. Hamas, on the other hand, puts its civilians on the roofs to try to avoid airstrikes, and forces their civilians NOT to evacuate when Israel warns them ahead of time. War crime, again – Hamas.
3. Hamas has dug a multitude of tunnels, first for smuggling, later for terror attacks against, you guessed it, Israeli civilians. Tunnels that go under dining halls, peoples’ homes, etc. so they can pop out, kill and kidnap people, and run home. They also popped out of a tunnel, dressed as Israeli soldiers (also illegal, no?), to attack Israeli soldiers. Another war crime? Yup. Maybe more than one.
4. Israel has basic laws protecting ALL citizens (including the Arab minority that is now violently supporting Hamas), protecting those of different religions, ethnicities, colors, sexual orientation, etc. Hamas, on the other hand, kills Gays, kills anyone remotely suspected of being an “informer” for Israel (and sometimes drags their bodies around the streets behind motorbikes), suppresses public displays of song and dance, forces women to wear the Hijab (and beats those who don’t), and generally has removed all vestiges of human and civil rights in Gaza.
5. Israel has a robust, albeit fractured political system, with open and honest elections (that happen all too often due to coalition failures). It includes political parties representing both Jews and non-Jews (witness the Balad party of Zahalka and Zoabi – rabid supporters of Hamas). There is an orderly transition of government when it changes over. Hamas, on the other side, won an election in 2006, then, in 2007, proceeded to throw their Fatah rivals off roofs, “kneecap” them, kill them, imprison and torture them, and expel those lucky enough to be expelled. There have been no more elections since then, and there will not be in the foreseeable future.
The bottom line is that Hamas is a criminal, terrorist organization, dedicated to the spread of virulent Islamism and the destruction of Israel. They do not want, nor are they willing to accept a Palestinian state next to an Israeli state, no matter what the borders are.
When you attack Israel one-sidedly, and in a vacuum, you ARE supporting Hamas. When you support Hamas, think about what you are supporting. Is that what you want to be associated with?
I agree with the writer (Justin Hayet).
Not too long ago, I had a dialogue with some of the people in the Israeli Consulate in Chicago about BDS, its supporters, what Israel is doing about it, and what we, and Jews living in the USA (or elsewhere in the diaspora) can do to help.
I was puzzled at how little information I was able to obtain, and what I did get required a number of emails. They were not trying to be uncooperative, it simply was not, in any way, a priority for them.
I proposed figuring out who the financial supporters of BDS are and making the names of those individuals and companies well-known, but essentially was told that they really didn’t have much information.
As the writer, Justin Hayet, remarks, this SHOULD be a priority. Just as Jews in America extend themselves to support Israel in the face of rapidly escalating and increasing anti-Semitism, outright hostility, and truly outrageous behavior, Israel needs to step up to the plate and help combat the forces arrayed against Jews, especially on college campuses where Arab money is spread around liberally and faculties are more and more biased against Israel.
I sincerely hope that the government of Israel will step up. There are many of us who are ready and eager to help, but need some direction and support. Some of us (anyone who knows me knows that I write a LOT about this) already do what we can, but we are unorganized and, in my opinion, not as effective as we could be.
Mr. Liberman? The ball is in your court….
I saw the following article posted on the Jerusalem Post website, and felt compelled to respond to it. My remarks follow the link to the article.
I think that Kerry has a few misconceptions and has made some bad assumptions.
1. His definitions of “engaged” and “committed” are a bit different than mine. While he is spending a huge amount of time and effort on the Israel-Palestinian “peace” process, Syria is going down in flames with hundreds of thousands dead, tortured, etc. In what way is Kerry “engaged” there, or “committed” in any meaningful way to ending the violence? It’s nice that he says that Assad is finished, done, kaput, but in real terms, what does that even mean?
2. He says that at the end of the day, it is up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach an agreement on how to end conflict. Yet, his actions say otherwise. His attempts to force a very poor settlement (no pun intended) on Israel is dangerous to Israel’s security and puts Israel in an impossible negotiating position. Considering that, supposedly, he and his boss are “friends” of Israel, with friends like that, who needs enemies? Israel already has the EU to fill the role of meddlesome, irritating, has-been, pumped up egotists.
3. He said in his speech that “if the peace talks fail, the Palestinians risk losing their last chance for an independent state. He said for Israel failure would mean that demographics would not not allow Israel to remain a democratic and Jewish states.”
There are a couple of issues with this statement.
A) Who says it’s their last chance for an independent state? That train keeps circling back to the station. As long as much of the world continues to keep their heads firmly planted up the asses of the PA, to appease their quickly growing Muslim populations, that “last chance” will continue to show up on the radar.
B) His comment about “demographics not allowing Israel to remain democratic and Jewish assumes that Israel annexes or otherwise makes all of the West Bank (and Gaza?) part of Israel. That is a very bad assumption. Israel has other options, as unpalatable and unfeasible as they might be in today’s political climate.
Israel could simply annex all major Jewish settlement blocks in the West Bank, since the assumption of most of the world is that they will remain part of Israel anyway. They could tell the PA “We are cutting off all ties, aid, financial cooperation, trade, etc. until such time as we have a peace agreement. Until then, we will treat you as hostile neighbors (which they most certainly are).” They could, conceivably, adopt Lieberman’s plan to give up highly populated Arab areas in Israel and tell the PA that those areas are now part of whatever Palestinian state the PA wants to have.
I am not saying that these are good, optimal, or even workable solutions, but they ARE other options that I have no doubt have been discussed in great detail by the Israeli powers that be. They are valid contingencies to the failure of talks that almost no one believes will succeed.
My personal opinion is that Kerry is a dangerous ass, with little understanding of the Middle East or the players there. He is trying to superimpose his very Western values on people who don’t play by the same rules, or even own the same rulebook. Not very smart….
Sometimes, I think he got elected to office because of his wife’s money, his war record, and his great hair. It can’t be because of his intellect….