Did Israel Employ “Disproportionate Force” in 2014 in Gaza?

Did Israel Employ “Disproportionate Force” in 2014 in Gaza?

Recently, in the wake of U. S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ insistence that Israel used “Disproportionate Force” against Gaza in 2014, the debate about whether or not Israel did, in fact, act “disproportionately” has resurged.

It is important to understand the background leading up to Israel’s 2014 incursion into Gaza. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other militant/terrorist groups in Gaza had been bombarding Southern Israel for years, with increasing frequency.

Israel had warned Hamas that it would be held responsible if the rockets did not stop. They didn’t, and Israel eventually mounted a large-scale attack on military targets in Gaza after a major escalation on Hamas’ part, which fired over 40 rockets into Israel on July 7, 2014. Israel’s operation (“Protective Edge”) began the next day, July 8..

Casualties in Gaza were estimated by the UN Human Rights Council, Hamas, and Israel, with the number of killed ranging between 2,125 to 2,310. Hamas and the UNHRC claimed that 1,617 (70%) and 1,462 (65%) respectively were civilians, while Israel claimed that 761 (36%) were civilians. There were 66 Israeli soldiers killed, along with 5 Israeli civilians and 1 Thai civilian.

Israel’s goal in the campaign, which lasted approximately seven weeks (July 8 to August 26), was to stop the rocket fire. An additional goal, which became more critical as the campaign unfolded, was to find and destroy as many Hamas tunnels as possible. These tunnels were constructed with the aim of infiltrating and attacking Israeli civilians inside Israel proper.

Much of the world has criticized Israel for what it calls “disproportionate force”, or, in other words, they claim that Israel responded with WAY more force than was necessary, resulting in an excessive number of civilians killed and wounded, and much more property damage than was necessary.

But, is that true?

The IDF stated that it attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza, including:

  • 1,814 rocket and mortar launch or otherwise related sites
  • 191 weapon factories and warehouses
  • 1,914 command and control centers
  • 237 government institutions supporting the militant activity
  • hundreds of military outposts inside buildings

In addition, Israel found and destroyed some 34 tunnels leading out of Gaza and into (or toward) Israel.

In Gaza, Hamas (and other “militant” groups) bases its facilities in predominantly residential areas, as well as inside mosques, schools, and hospitals. There are many first-hand accounts substantiating this. This makes it almost impossible to avoid civilian casualties, but, Israel went to unprecedented lengths to warn civilians of impending strikes, including telephone calls, emails, text messages, radio broadcasts, leaflets dropped from the air, and “roof knocking”, wherein objects are dropped on roofs to warn residents that they need to evacuate. Still, Israel aborted many attacks when they determined that civilians were present in the target areas.


The concept of “proportionality” in warfare is well-established, and is part of most national legal systems.

Generally, it states that nations must not deliberately attack civilians, but if civilians are killed or wounded in attacks on legitimate military targets, that is “proportional”. The caveat is that the incidental loss of civilian lives cannot be “excessive” in relation to the anticipated “concrete” results of the attack.

What that means, in essence, is that if an army is attacking a military force’s capabilities and forces, with the objective of denying the enemy the ability to wage war, or of “convincing” him that it is not in his interests to continue fighting, without the intention to harm civilians, those civilian deaths are “proportionate”. In World War II, the Allies bombed several German cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, with the aim of forcing the Axis forces to surrender. The Americans detonated two atomic bombs over Japan with the same aim, vastly increasing the number of enemy civilians killed while vastly reducing the number of Allied soldiers killed.

The principle of proportionality does not require that roughly equal numbers of combatants on both sides of a conflict will be killed. The principle refers strictly to the use of force necessary to defeat the enemy and render him unable to continue.

It would appear silly, in my opinion, to expect that wars would produce the same number of casualties on both sides. In order for a conflict to end, one side must be defeated, or, both sides must arrive at the realization that continuing would be so horrible as to be impossible.

In the case of Israel vs. Gaza/Hamas, the hostilities ended when Hamas decided it had had enough and agreed to a cease-fire. Had they not agreed, Israel would have continued their campaign.

One might argue that because Hamas did not surrender unconditionally (as did the Japanese and Germans in WWII), it is highly likely that this conflict will “flare up” in the future, especially given that Hamas is rebuilding its capabilities with the express objective of attacking Israel. But, for the most part, the rockets are not flying.

For a more detailed discussion of specific laws about proportionality, see http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/proportionality-principle-of/ or do a Google search. There is a plethora of material defining “proportionality”.

That brings us to a discussion of whether or not Israel employed “disproportionate force”.

Israel continued its bombardments and ground attacks until Hamas agreed to and abided by a cease-fire.

Prior to that point, Israel had proposed several cease-fires, but Hamas either breached them or rejected them, indicating that further attacks on their capabilities were necessary.

Once Hamas agreed to a cease-fire and honored it, Israel stopped firing.

It is important to note that following the final cease-fire, there have been almost no rockets fired from Gaza right up to present time, indicating that Israel’s application of force was both necessary and justified.

Israel’s elaborate and widespread efforts to avoid casualties have been widely acknowledged as going well beyond any measures taken by ANY army in ANY war to date, and in fact, the ratio of civilian casualties to “fighters” is the lowest of any major conflict in history.  This alone would indicate that Israel did not inflict “disproportionate” damage on Gaza.

The incidence of civilian casualties is tragic, but entirely expected, especially in an urban warfare environment in a densely populated area. It is impossible to avoid, particularly when, as was the case in Gaza, the ruling party (Hamas) forcibly prevented civilians from evacuating areas that were to be attacked. This, in itself, constitutes a war crime on Hamas’ part.

In summary, I have to disagree vehemently with candidate Sanders’ position that Israel employed disproportionate force. There simply is no evidence to support that contention, and there is ample evidence to suggest precisely the opposite – Israel employed the necessary amount of force to compel Hamas and its associated organizations to stop firing rockets at civilians inside Israel. That was the objective of the Israeli forces, and it was attained. That is, by any legal definition of the proportionality principle, “proportionate”.




How To Beat The BDS Movement

NOTE: This article was originally published in The Algemeiner.

In recent years, the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) movement has gained significant ground in their war against Israel.

They have a strong presence on many university campuses across the world, including in the United States. Many of the groups most actively involved in anti-Israel activities are offshoots of radical Muslim organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, and Hamas, and even though these groups are officially considered terrorist groups by the US government, they are allowed to function nonetheless.

These groups are typified by student organizations such as “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP), Muslim Student Associations on many campuses, and even “Jewish Voices for Peace” (JVP). They work hard to include more “leftist” Jewish students in hopes of appearing to be inclusive and to refute claims that they are, at heart, anti-semitic.

Their more well-known activities include “actions” such as placing fake eviction notices on and under student dormitory doors, holding annual “Israel Apartheid Week” activities complete with “die-in’s”, checkpoints, and propaganda walls, organizing very loud and vocal protests, working to pass divestment resolutions in student governments, pushing to exclude Jewish and pro-Israel students from any discussion, posting billboards and posters equating Israel with Nazi Germany or as an “Apartheid” nation, and preventing speakers trying to present objective or pro-Israel perspectives from speaking on campuses. This activity has spilled over to other “leftist” oriented groups such as “Black Lives Matter”, LGBT networks, and women’s rights groups, as well as the more “traditional” leftist groups and organizations such as the Communist party, Socialist groups, etc.

Their “claim to fame”, so to speak, is that they are loud, vocal, reject civil discourse with holders of any oppositional views, and work very hard to prevent presentation of any objective facts, since those conflict drastically with their own versions of “truth”, most of which are quite easily controverted, since objective history does not support their contentions in the least.

To date, opposition to these tactics has been scattered, disorganized, and largely ineffective, in spite of some successes such as the recent passage at University of California of a somewhat watered-down anti-semitism policy.

I believe that we, as a community that supports a strong, democratic, tolerant Israel, must do a much better job of combating the BDS movement.

The short version of what we need to do is:

  1. Promote the hell out of Israel through advertising campaigns, public relations, free trips to Israel, movies and television shows showing positive images of Israel. Show positive images of Israel at every opportunity. Put up billboards advertising travel to Israel, showing as often as possible the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic nature of Israel. Enlist prominent advertising and public relations firms to assist in any way possible. They are experts at this, let them help

  2. Organize strong and large rallies in every major city in support of Israel. Utilize existing organizations, recruit on campuses, bus in participants from other cities in order to make rallies LARGE, march on Washington DC in mass numbers, making sure to have great pro-Israel signs and slogans, based 100% on incontrovertible truth.

  3. Mount large and very vocal, well-organized counter-demonstrations to EVERY BDS-related event, whether on campus or anywhere else. When a BDS-related or anti-Israel event is announced, show up en masse outside with protest signs, loudspeakers, signs, banners, and provide the truth. Don’t let them get away with simply presenting their lies without opposition, which is largely what happens now. When they have prominent BDS and anti-Israel speakers, make sure to have large “anti” demonstrations with huge numbers of people. Always obey the law, don’t prevent the speaker from speaking, but ask pointed, probing questions during Q&A sessions, and, if possible, set up speakers directly opposite to present truths to counter their lies.

  4. Lawfare – sue them for slander, have them arrested for disturbing the peace when they invade and disrupt speakers at events, and pressure university administrations to shut them down when they violate campus policies on both anti-semitism and free speech. Enlist the help of “The Lawfare Project” (thelawfareproject.org) in understanding what is possible and how to start the process. If, as frequently occurs, BDS groups break campus rules or laws, use EVERY possible measure to go after them with campus authorities and have them prosecuted by local law enforcement. If they initiate physical contact (assault), file complaints with both campus and local police. Make sure to have video of EVERYTHING, and provide it as evidence as well as publicizing it on social media.

  5. Go after (legally) primary supporters of BDS. Find out who they are, expose them, and encourage supporters of Israel to avoid doing business with these people and their companies. Some of the supporters of BDS are very wealthy people with vast business interests. We need to learn about them and understand where their vulnerabilities lie, then exploit those vulnerabilities.

  6. Support organizations such as Amcha, Stand With Us, Canary Mission, Stop BDS on Campus, Fighting BDS, Stop BDS Now, and others, while at the same time pushing them to coordinate activities more effectively.

  7. Involve the Israeli government to a much larger extent in support of these activities. Utilize the resources of the Israeli Intelligence community to expose the backers of BDS. So far, Israel has not seemed to take BDS as seriously as it I think it should. While I’m sure there are “behind the scenes” activities going on, they are clearly not as effective as they need to be. Israel needs to be a key player in this fight.

The bottom line is that we need to shine a light on the lies promulgated by the BDS movement. Their entire movement is based on untruths, and the voices raised in opposition are, so far, largely ineffective.

While it is unlikely that we can win in organizations like the UN Human Rights Council, where Israel is excoriated on a daily basis, or in the UN General Assembly, the support of the masses, including politicians on the right AND on the left, is critical. The support of the major churches is critical, and the support of university faculties, especially in the Middle East Studies departments, many of which are now hotbeds of anti-Israel activity and anti-Israel “education” funded by Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations, is also critical.

The atmosphere on many campuses across America is toxic to Jewish students, many of whom cannot even identify themselves as Jewish without feeling threatened. This must stop, and the only way to do it is to be organized along the lines of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in the United States.

Pro-Israel groups should study the Civil Rights movement and work to promote an understanding that it is no more acceptable to discriminate against Jews than it is to discriminate against Blacks. The tactics of Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders have been largely effective, and we need to emulate them.

This is, effectively, a war. It is a war for the survival of Israel as an independent nation accepted by the majority of the nations of the world. Just like any war, we have to have an effective strategy to defeat the enemy. Our tactics need to line up with our strategy, and we need to fight to win. Winning is crucial in this war, and so far, our strategy and tactics are unclear and ineffective, as can be seen by the successes of the BDS movement.

The worst thing we can do is to underestimate the capabilities and resolve of our enemies, or believe that this will just “blow over”. It won’t. It’s time to fight strongly, smartly, and effectively, and to mobilize all the resources at our disposal.

Are Jewish Organizations Obligated To Host Jewish, Anti-Israel Groups?

NOTE: This article was originally published by The Algemeiner

Last month (March, 2016), the university campus organization, Hillel, was roundly criticized for its decision to host the group “Breaking the Silence” at Brown and Columbia universities.  Hillel’s defense of their decision to host the group was essentially that (a) Hillel’s Jewish students seek to invite these groups, not Hillel itself, and (b) by agreeing to host them, Hillel can try to provide clarifying context for the programs.

A recent article in The Algemeiner discusses Hillel’s decision to host this group despite its apparent conflict with Hillel’s “Standards of Partnership,” which call for Hillel to reject interactions with “organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy of practice: Delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel… or support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel.”.

To many of us, it is clear that “Breaking the Silence” is antagonistic to the State of Israel, regardless of their protestation that they are just trying to make Israel “better.” While the group claims not to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, they are currently under investigation for spying against the state by illegally obtaining military information, and their members routinely demonize the IDF by making unsubstantiated claims of brutality, torture, and murder. The group also refuses to share with the state any evidence of these allegations, making it impossible for the state to investigate them.

Israel, as a matter of course, takes very seriously allegations of misdeeds by soldiers, and frequently arrests and tries soldiers accused of such actions. But, when Breaking the Silence makes its accusations, there is no way for Israel to investigate or counter them, since there is no official record or complaint about whatever crimes were allegedly committed. Breaking the Silence categorically refuses to provide any information on the grounds that their members’ privacy and safety might be compromised. But, just as certainly, their actions place them squarely in the camp of those who are determined to smear Israel and damage it.

Anonymous, unsubstantiated accusations are the equivalent of an electronic lynch mob.

In this case, Hillel apparently believes that it is acting as an “educational organization,” and as such, allowing Breaking the Silence to present its perspective is a good thing.

To some degree, this is, of course true. We should always look at conflicts and events from multiple perspectives.

However, letting Breaking the Silence present its perspective without providing solid, clear, counter-arguments and context at exactly the same time does not serve any educational agenda, it is simply providing Breaking the Silence with a platform. It’s not much different than if Hillel were to provide a platform for explicitly pro-BDS groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) or Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which are virulently anti-Israel and frequently veer into antisemitism. These organizations themselves are not interested in “hearing the other side,” as both are known for disrupting pro-Israel speakers and preventing them from speaking. They are both also diametrically opposed to “dialogue” in any form with supporters of Israel.

One should no more give Breaking the Silence a free platform at Hillel than one would SJP or JVP, or Electronic Intifada, for that matter.

Considering that Hillel’s vision is “to inspire Jewish students to build an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” it is clearly counter-productive to bring groups like Breaking the Silence to Hillel or to support, in any way, this type of group.

I believe that Hillel has an obligation to first and foremost present the best of Israel. Build up the knowledge of Jewish students about what is good and beautiful about Israel. Make sure students have a connection to Israel before exposing them to less beautiful aspects of Israel.

By all means, present information about ALL aspects of Israel. Discuss the pros and cons of settlements, legal issues related to territories conquered in 1948 and 1967, discrimination against non-Ashkenazi immigrants and Arab citizens, but always with the aim to promote a love for Israel. Israel DOES work very hard to eliminate these issues, and that should always be clear.

Sometimes, we worry too much about the perceived “underdog” at the expense of our love for Israel. It is when we bend over backward to give a platform to those who are willing to lie that we surrender ourselves to the passivity for which Jews were characterized for centuries, and which led, in no small measure, to our march into the concentration camps. “Don’t rock the boat. Maybe there’s some truth in what they say. We should listen.” No, we should NOT listen. We should present the truth, always, and reject the lies. We should demand protection under the law, and we should expose exactly HOW our enemies lie about us.

Breaking the Silence has proven that they do not have the best interests of Israel at heart. They should not be given a platform by any Jewish organization, nor should Jewish organizations like Hillel give space to any anti-Israel organization.


Response to “Israel turns off power to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the dead of winter” by Annie Robbins of Mondoweiss

I ran across this article this morning, and after reading it, thought it needed comment. While there are many similar articles out there, this one has any number of falsehoods, inaccuracies, and lies and caught my eye. Maybe it was the pretty picture at the top of the article…

The article can be found here:  http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/hundreds-thousands-palestinians/

Go ahead, read it, I’ll wait.

OK. Got it?

Let’s go point by point. This may take a while.

  1. Re-read the first paragraph. That’s quite a first paragraph. Israel has withheld $240 Million in tax revenues to the PA as punishment for joining the ICC. I wonder if the fact that the PA owes the Israeli electric company (IEC) over $500 million and refuses to pay for their electricity has anything to do with it?

    The electricity was turned off for a whopping 45 minutes. Wow! That’s a serious hardship for the people essentially stealing electricity, especially as Robbins has highlighted that “BLIZZARDS SWEEP ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST”. “Blizzards”?  I had to laugh. They got a little bit of snow, but “blizzard”?  Not so much. But, ok, let Robbins have her hyperbole, it makes for better copy.  Here’s a link describing winter weather in Ramallah:  http://www.whatstheweatherlike.org/palestinian-territories/ramallah.htm  As you can see, they sometimes get a little snow, but it’s usually gone with 24 hours, just like Jerusalem. “Blizzards”, LMAO.

    Bottom line, though, is the IEC cut off the juice for 45 minutes to two cities as a warning that they need to get paid.

  2. I REALLY liked Robbins’ comment that “The irony here, of withholding the months of  tax revenue while demanding payment of a debt, on top of occupation policy preventing Palestinians from being self sufficient, is not lost on anyone.”
  3. Clearly, Robbins believes that the IEC has no right to expect payment for services contracted by and rendered to the PA, for which the PA has promised payment. She makes it seem as if it’s SO unfair to expect the PA to live up to a contract they signed, because the “occupation” prevents them from being self-sufficient. This, in spite of the many billions of dollars the PA gets in aid money and their “self-sufficience” in Area A of the West Bank where 90% or so of Palestinians live and are governed 100% by the PA.

    As I understand what she’s saying, she fully believes it’s Israel’s obligation to pay the PA’s electric bill. Really?

  4. Further in the article, Robbins repeats the same, tired lie that “Israel opened dams near the border of Gaza”, causing massive flooding in the Gaza strip. And, she calls this a “punitive measure”.

    There’s only one problem – there ARE NO DAMS. NONE.  If Robbins ever reads this, I would challenge her to name the dams that were opened. Show us where they are on a map. Show a picture of them. Of course, she can’t, since they don’t exist, as has been proven over and over and over again last year when this stupid claim was floated.

    Gaza is flooding because they have inadequate drainage systems, exacerbated by war damage. It has nothing to do with dams.

  5. Then, the kicker. Her very last line is “Remember last year when Israel caged Palestinian children in outdoor holding pens during freezing winter storms? ” She provides a link to another of her “articles” claiming this, with statements that it’s “widely known” that Israel tortures children.

    Sigh. What a load of horse manure.

    Yet another possibly well-meaning person sucked into believing everything bad about Israel and nothing bad about the PA, who thinks it’s her duty to inform the world that Israel is the most evil empire the world has ever seen.

    She claims to be a “human rights activist”, but frankly, I don’t think she would know a human right if it bit her…..

    Bottom line – this article is full of outright inaccuracies (I’m being kind) and worse. Robbins should get out of her ceramics studio and go see for herself. While I understand the use of hyperbole, her exaggerations are unconscionable, as words create images, and her images are pure, unadulterated crap.

Commentary on “The Political Nature of Today’s Middle East Studies” by Andrew C. McCarthy

A friend sent me an article by Andrew McCarthy. I found it quite interesting and, to me, relevant.
For those who may not know, my first bachelor’s degree (I have two, plus two master’s degrees) was in Near Eastern Studies, and was earned at the University of Michigan. The NE Studies department at UM was, at the time (I really have no idea about today) quite prestigious, respected, and well-known.
As part of the degree program, I learned Hebrew, Arabic, and studied Islamic history, Islamic/Arab and Israeli literature, and much more. My major concentration was in Hebrew, and my minor in Arabic.
I had professors from all over the world – British, American, Arab, Israeli, and others. Some clearly had their own biases, but generally, the curriculum was focused on a relatively even-handed, objective view of history, even when taught by those who exhibited bias outside of class. It was important to deal in actual FACT. The interpretation of the impact of those facts and events might change, depending on who the professor was, and what his views were, but the facts didn’t change.
We studied actual documents of the Near (Middle) East, and in fact, I still have some of the books we used. They document very clearly the treaties, wars, aggressions, coups, controls of territories, etc. up through about 1976 (I graduated in 1977, so my school texts stopped then).
What bothers me immensely today is that many universities have abandoned an objective teaching of history, and have greatly politicized it. Much of this is due, I believe, to both the immense “donations” to Middle East Studies departments by rich Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia, who have caused these departments to develop quite obvious “slants” or biases in favor of the views of their benefactors, and, the gradual “infiltration” of extremely partisan faculty sponsored by these donors.
It was a very slick way to guarantee that only one side of things would be presented. In some ways, it’s very similar to how things are done in politics, Hillary Clinton’s and Jimmy Carter’s protestations that they owe nothing to people who gave them millions of dollars notwithstanding.
When I see or hear what passes today for “history”, it makes me sick to my stomach, as much of it is diametrically opposed to actual facts that are readily available and accessible in any good university library. The deliberate distortion of history is astonishing and horrendous, as it presents current events in the Middle East as occurring in a vacuum, or worse, denies absolutely provable historical facts with “garbage” evidence – usually nothing substantive at all. This should be unacceptable to ANY scholar or historian, but instead, we have students eagerly absorbing absolute falsehood presented as absolute truth by professors with tremendous, partisan agendas in place.
While one can certainly argue causation of events, including the impacts of various historical events, what we see today is distortion of the actual facts. This is unforgivable.
Some of what I see presented as “fact” is, to me, the equivalent of professors teaching that the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor didn’t really happen – it was an imperialist plot hatched up by the Russians and Germans to blame the Japanese and drag the USA into the war. Really, it was just mines and IED’s placed onto ships. Never mind the newsreel footage, eyewitness accounts, and vast body of evidence, just believe me because I’m the professor (nod nod, wink wink).
Based on what I’ve seen and read in recent years, I have to concur wholeheartedly with Andrew McCarthy’s article (reproduced below).
John Poris
The text of the original article, with attribution, is below:
Campus Watch Research


National Review Online
August 10, 2015
[NRO title: “Modern Middle East Studies vs. Scholarship”]
Andrew McCarthy
It would be a mistake to say Middle East Studies have been corrupted. For the program’s very purpose has been to serve as a corrupting agent. Specifically, it puts the essence of study — the objective pursuit of knowledge — in disrepute.
Here, of course, I am referring to the modern incarnation of Middle East Studies: an amalgam of leftist and Islamist political dogma that masquerades as an academic discipline. By contrast, the actual study of Middle Eastern history, like the intimately related study of Islamic civilization, is a venerable and vital pursuit — and is still pursued as such by, to take the best example, ASMEA, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. Alas, in our hyper-politicized society, the traditional notion of study seems quaint: a vestige of a bygone time when the designations “Orientalist” and “Islamist” referred to subject-matter expertise, not political activism, much less radicalism.
Yet, for Edward Said, the seminal figure in modern Middle East Studies, the object of the game was to slander knowledge itself. Joshua Muravchik nailed it in a 2013 profile of the renowned academic. Said’s animating theory held that “knowledge” was the key that enabled the West to dominate Orientals: The point of pursuing knowledge about “the languages, culture, history, and sociology of societies of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent,” Said elaborated, was to gain more control over the “subject races” by making “their management easy and profitable.” With real study caricatured as the engine of colonial exploitation, the way was paved for a competing construction of “study” — political agitation to empower the have-nots in the struggle against the haves.
Said was a fitting pioneer for such a fraud. To begin with, he was a professor not of Middle East Studies but of comparative literature. Moreover, the personal history he touted to paper over his want of credentials was sheer fiction: Far from what he purported to be (a Palestinian victim exiled by Jews from his Jerusalem home at age twelve), Said was actually a child of privilege, raised in Cairo and educated in top British and American schools. His Palestinian tie of note was membership in the PLO’s governing council. Like Rashid Khalidi — his protégé, who was later awarded the chair in Modern Arab Studies that Columbia University named in Said’s honor — Said was a reliable apologist of Yassir Arafat, the indefatigable terrorist who infused Palestinian identity with a Soviet-backed Arab nationalism.
To thrive in an Islamic culture, it was not only useful but necessary for Palestinian militancy to accommodate the Islamist sense of divine injunction to wage jihad. From its roots, then, modern Middle East Studies is a political movement aligning leftism and Islamism under the guise of an academic discipline. It is not an objective quest for learning guided by a rich corpus of history and culture; it is a project to impose its pieties as incontestable truth — and to discredit dispassionate analysis in order to achieve that end.
The embrace of Islamism usefully advances this project because Islamist ideology similarly stigmatizes the pursuit of knowledge. Where the leftist frames the West’s reverence for reason as imperialism, the Islamist attacks it on theological grounds.
Sharia, they maintain, is the complete and perfect societal framework and legal code, the path to human life lived in conformity with Allah’s design. Thus, what the West calls “reason” or “the objective pursuit of knowledge” is merely a rationalization for supplanting Allah’s design with the corrupting preferences of Western civilization.
We see how this teaching plays out in practice. Muslim countries that supplement sharia with other legislation add the caveat that no man-made law may contradict Islamic principles. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a group of Islamic governments that form a large bloc in the United Nations — even found it necessary in 1990 to promulgate a Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, because Islamists could not accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spearheaded by non-Muslim governments after World War II.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization, refers to this enterprise as “the Islamicization of knowledge,” the weaving of historical events and cultural developments into Islamist narratives that confirm sharia-supremacist tenets. The “Islamicization of knowledge” is the express and unapologetic mandate of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Virginia-based think tank established by the Brotherhood in 1981.
There are two pertinent observations to be made about the IIIT. First, it has provided an enthusiastic endorsement of Reliance of the Traveller, the English translation of Umdat al-Salik, a classic Arabic sharia manual. The publisher found this seal of approval sufficiently significant to be included in the manual’s preface, along with an endorsement from scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Cairo.
The manual is an eye-opener. In addition to detailing sharia’s gruesome hudud penalties (e.g., scourging and death for such offenses as extramarital or homosexual relations), it provides instruction on Islam’s brutally enforced proscriptions against blasphemy and apostasy. These are salient to our consideration: They include prohibitions not only against renunciation and ridicule of Islam but even against objectively true statements that contradict sharia, promote other belief systems, or might otherwise sow discord in the Islamic community.
Obviously, the animating purpose of these principles is to discourage severely the robust exchange of ideas, and even more the scholarly examination of Islamic doctrine and culture. The Islamicization of knowledge is possible only if the objective pursuit of knowledge is not permitted to compete.
That brings us to the second noteworthy observation about the IIIT: It has longstanding ties to the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Several of these were traced by Cinnamon Stillwell in a 2014 American Thinker essay.
This alliance, the sponsorship by the IIIT of Middle East Studies programs throughout North America, the collaborations between the IIIT and MESA scholars — these are easy to understand. Modern Middle East Studies is a counter-scholarship enterprise that subverts truth to the ends of leftist and Islamist politics. To be clear, it is not an alternative interpretation of reality competing in the marketplace of ideas; it is an anti-Western program that is oblivious to reality and seeks to shut down the marketplace.
We do ourselves and the search for truth great harm by indulging the fiction that anti-American power politics is credible American scholarship.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, thanks the Middle East Forum for its sponsorship of this column.

Treating Enemies as Something Other than Enemies – Insane….

From Webster’s Dictionary:

noun en·e·my \ˈe-nə-mē\
: someone who hates another : someone who attacks or tries to harm another
: something that harms or threatens someone or something
: a group of people (such as a nation) against whom another group is fighting a war

Full Definition of ENEMY

: one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent
: something harmful or deadly <alcohol was his greatest enemy>
a : a military adversary
b : a hostile unit or force
Sometimes, when I talk or chat with friends, they say things like “we need to make peace with the Palestinians”, or “they hate us because we’re mean to them”, or any number of similar sentiments. These friends either say or imply that Israel should simply give in to the demands of the PA to stop building in “settlements”, or withdraw to some arbitrary “borders” (in reality, armistice lines), and then, the Palestinians will be our friends, they’ll leave us alone, the Arab and Muslim world (and their supporters) will stop being anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Look at the definition of “enemy” above. I copied and pasted it from Webster’s dictionary.

What it DOESN’T say in the definition is how does one deal with enemies. History tells us that.

While negotiation and compromise is always an ideal (or at least, idealized) solution, it is frequently insufficient, especially when one “enemy” believes it has leverage over the other, or has the capability to destroy the other.

What we are seeing now in the “Arab-Israeli Conflict” (NOT the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, since it has been going on since long before the 1960’s, when we first heard of Arab Palestinians, and long before 1948, when Israel was founded), is a form of warfare against Israel BY ITS ENEMIES.

History has taught us that when attacked, we only have a few choices. This holds true for schoolkids attacked by bullies, as well as for nations.

We can:

1. Surrender;
2. Try to negotiate a settlement (or “peace”);
3. Appeal to a “higher authority” (e.g. the teacher, or the UN);
4. Fight back.

Generally, numbers 1-3 don’t work out very well, unless of course you surrender to the USA, who then rebuilds your country (e.g. Germany and Japan after WWII).

In the case of Israel vs. the Arabs, who gradually are winning the hearts and minds of much of the world, Israel has fought back in cases of extreme need, such as the 1948 War of Independence, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and the more recent incursions into Gaza, but generally, has held back from decisively defeating their enemies to the point where their enemies can no longer wage war against them. Tactically, Israel hasn’t had much choice, since the US and the rest of the world have effectively stopped them from doing so.

Strategically, this is probably a grave mistake, as each time, Israel’s political position worsens, while the positions of their enemies is strengthened. Since most of the countries Israel has fought (including Gaza) couldn’t care less about a few Muslim lives lost if it weakens Israel, this process could eventually defeat Israel.

Now, the EU is talking about severe sanctions on Israel if Israel doesn’t surrender to the PA and Hamas. Of course, they phrase it a little differently – they say “Israel needs to ‘do more’ to advance ‘the peace process’ ” as if Israel can unilaterally negotiate both sides of discussions in which the PA steadfastly refuses to participate. It is, of course, a classic “Catch-22”, where, no matter what Israel does, it cannot win.

So, what are Israel’s options?

They can surrender to the demands of the PA’s “preconditions” – stop building in settlements, agree a priori to withdraw to the “1967 Borders” (i.e the 1948 armistice lines), and agree to let the “refugees” “return” to Israel. But, as any rational person understands, doing so means the end of Israel as a Jewish state, which is, of course, the end goal of the Arabs (unless you consider what happens to the Jews in Israel once they’re a minority to be the end goal).

They can continue as they have been, appealing to logic, history, fairness, and the goodness of the hearts of the USA, the UN, the EU, etc., although it is unlikely that the anti-semites driving the anti-Zionism and anti-Israel movements are likely to change. It is more likely that their efforts will intensify, especially as the numbers of Muslims in Europe multiply, European politicians give in to their “electorate”, and the UN becomes even more of an automatic majority against Israel.

They can fight. Fighting, in this case, means politically, in the various world forums, and militarily. Once upon a time, it was well-known that if one Israeli died, the enemy would suffer many multiples in retaliation. In other words, Israel made the price of waging war too high for its enemies. Israel, unfortunately has very little choice when faced with enemies who will never give up UNLESS THEY HAVE A MOTIVATION TO DO SO.

Motivation to give up fighting generally comes about through being utterly defeated and being unable to continue the fight.

In the case of the Palestinians and Hamas (et al), they are encouraged by the reaction of the world. Israel actually pays them, props them up, provides goods and services to their really nasty enemies in Gaza, gives them water, lives up (for the most part) to their obligations under the Oslo agreements, and gets very little in return. They get some security cooperation in the West Bank, but are continually kicked in the teeth at every opportunity. They get intifadas, rocks, riots, and murder whenever someone feels they can do it.

I believe that, in the end, the ultimate decisions will be made militarily. Israel will concede a bit too much, or will be pushed a little too far, and will have no choice but to lash out and thoroughly destroy Hamas, then unilaterally determine borders along the West Bank. The world will fume, and there will be sanctions against Israel, but irrespective of what Israel does or doesn’t do, those same sanctions will eventually be applied. We see it now in the actions of the EU, calling for boycotts, sanctions, and all sorts of actions against Israel, including funding numerous anti-Israel NGO’s working inside Israel.

This scenario is not comforting, and it will certainly raise the ire of my more “liberal” friends, who believe that peace and love will always triumph, since all humans desire peace and harmony.

The problem with that perspective is a little-known secret – not everyone shares the same values.

While in the West, we tend toward Judeo-Christian values – turn the other cheek, the Golden Rule, be good to your neighbors, lend a helping hand, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, democracy, etc., there are any number of places in the world, many of them Israel’s neighbors, who believe in NONE of those things. They believe that might makes right, that Jews are scum, that Christians and Jews should be Dhimmi’s and slaves, and the idea of Jews and Christians having their own countries makes them insane.

Make no mistake. The war being waged against Israel is NOT one of land. It is absolutely, 100% a religious war.

Ask yourself – “If Israel were named Palestine, and it was a majority Muslim country, would there be ANY problem with it, other than tribal conflict, Sunni vs. Shiite vs. Alawite vs. Ahmadiyya vs. Wahabi etc.?” You already know the answer. There wouldn’t be. It would be just another shitty little Arab country with some form of dictatorship, with minorities squelched and suppressed, with emigration of those minorities (who would be plucked of everything they own prior to leaving, if they were allowed to leave).

So, what do YOU think Israel should do?

Iran, Netanyahu, Obama, and Negotiations

As I keep reading all the myriad responses to Netanyahu’s speech, from one side or the other, a few things keep poking me in my mind.

1. I don’t care who invited him, when, or who was notified. I think the whole “I’m offended” thing is ridiculous. Boehner says he notified the White House. I have no idea if he really did or not, but Obama’s reaction blew a tiny molehill into a huge mountain, for no good reason.

2. Whether you think Netanyahu is an asshole, a blowhard, or a visionary, I can’t think of anything he said that is untrue. Iran IS pursuing nuclear weapons, I don’t think anyone disagrees with that statement. Iran IS threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Iran IS the premier supporter of terror activities around the world, both financially, ideologically, and constitutes a serious threat to most of the countries in the Middle East.

3. In support of #2 above, consider that Iran now essentially has control, through it’s proxies, of Lebanon (Hezbollah), Syria (Assad), Yemen (Houthis), Gaza (Hamas/Islamic Jihad), and parts of Iraq through various militias. They certainly have strong ties to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and are active in Libya, as well. In short, their expansionist aims are staggeringly ambitious, and they are achieving them.

4. The details of the deal that have emerged, to date, indicate that at most, Iran would be limited to a ten year window before being “allowed” to do whatever they want with nuclear development. Ten years is certainly a long enough period for Obama, since he’ll be out of office in two. But ten years is NOTHING in the greater scheme of Islamic hegemony and Iran’s plans. They are definitely planning “long term”. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons now, a year from now, five years from now, or ten years from now, functionally, there isn’t a whole lot of difference. Of course, Israel might have much better defenses against ICBM’s and other missiles coming from Iran by then, but essentially, Obama is saying “It’s ok if Iran gets nuclear weapons within ten years”. Is that acceptable? I don’t think so.

5. Obama and Pelosi et al have said that Netanyahu didn’t propose any concrete alternatives to the “bad deal” in progress with Iran, but clearly, he did. He suggested that if a “good deal” can’t be reached, with proper supervision, oversight, and guarantees, then “no deal”, meaning strong sanctions, threats of military action, etc. would have to be used as a “stick”.

In any negotiation, you bargain based on your leverage. The only leverage Obama has, really, is economic or military. If he is unable or unwilling to use these as leverage, there really is no reason for Iran to do anything but flout his demands and tell him to fuck off, which is basically what they have been doing for several years now. Obama’s desperation to have a deal, any deal, in order to solidify his partisan claims to have “done something”, shines through clearly, and the Middle East is no place to be bargaining out of desperation. They are VERY good at bargaining. Clearly, Obama isn’t, and they are eating his lunch….