Archive for January, 2009

The era of tough love

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Israeli tanks leave Gaza

Israeli tanks leave Gaza after Cast Lead

The Gaza War, Operation Cast Lead, is history. Israel is rapidly pulling out its troops, saying that they will be out by the time Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the US.

Wait a minute. Reread the sentence above. Hold that thought.

Israel ended the operation early, while Hamas still had the ability to fire rockets (indeed, rockets were fired after the truce went into effect). Estimates vary, but a significant part of the Sinai Subway — Hamas’ smuggling route under the Egyptian border — is still operational. The IDF killed several hundred of Hamas’ estimated 20,000 soldiers and a few of its commanders, and destroyed large numbers of buildings and large amounts of weapons and supplies.

In a remarkably dubious statement, Israeli officials said that the operation “created ‘better conditions’ for negotiations over the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit”.

Better? Can you imagine that the Hamas which is claiming victory and accepting congratulations from its patron Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will demand a lower price now? Why should it? Israel’s done her worst and Hamas is still standing.

Gaza is a mess. Now it will be rebuilt, and of course so will Hamas’ capabilities. The vague Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni brought back from Washington is a joke, a piece of paper that is only as good the desire of US allies, including Egypt, which has already refused to allow foreign troops in her territory, to take concrete steps to stop weapons smuggling. Who will confront Hamas, any more than the UN confronted Hezbollah in Lebanon?

The question which I kept asking myself as this played out was why. Why did Israel bring an operation that was successfully progressing, with (despite the worldwide pro-Hamas propaganda campaign) a not-unreasonable number of IDF and civilian casualties, to a premature end? Why did Israel stop before Hamas headquarters was penetrated, before Schalit was rescued, before the tunnels were destroyed, even before the rockets stopped falling? What did Israel have to lose? No matter what she did, the media would continue to accuse her of the bloodiest campaign since Genghis Khan.

I believe that the answer lies in the first sentence of this post. I believe that when Livni went to Washington supposedly for that silly MOU she got something else as well: an ultimatum from the new administration that the IDF had better be out before the inauguration, or else.

Now the people who have all along been blaming ‘Israeli intransigence’ for the intractability of the conflict, like Gen. James Jones and Dan Kurtzer,  are getting their chance to make policy. After a while they will learn the real reason: the Arab-Persian refusal to countenance any Jewish state, regardless of borders, in the Middle East. Too bad their education will be paid for in Israeli blood.

Welcome to the Obama Administration, the era of ‘tough love’.

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‘Impartial’ UN transports terrorists in ambulances

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Next time you hear casualty figures, etc. from the supposedly impartial UN, remember this:

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Children of Hamas

Monday, January 19th, 2009

No comment needed.

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The next steps

Monday, January 19th, 2009

It seems to me that Israel brought the war to a conclusion prematurely. But here we are. So what are the next steps? 

Living next-door to a serial killer

By Barry Rubin

Israel has won a huge military victory in a defensive war against the radical Islamist Hamas group which rules the Gaza Strip.

So what does Israel want? Its first choice would be a moderate movement running the Gaza Strip which would negotiate a deal for a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel, resettling refugees there, and being a prosperous, stable state. All Israel desires is that such a country wouldn’t attack it with rockets, war, terrorism, or inciting such terrible hatred as to ensure future wars.

Hamas, however, is too extreme to make peace; its rival, the Palestinian Authority (PA) which rules the West Bank, is too weak and indecisive to do so.

Having Hamas as a neighbor is like living next door to a serial killer, who abuses his children and threatens to kill them if you go in after him. You can defend yourself but if the police won’t arrest him the only choices left are to build a wall around him, stop him from getting weapons, and sending in food.

This is Israel’s dilemma. The world demands peace but isn’t prepared to do too much to help. The West’s basic stand is to keep Hamas ruling Gaza, comparable to ensuring continued Taliban rule in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. Thanks to such international “support” Gaza’s people will be able to “enjoy” a dictatorial regime dedicated to spending the next century fighting — and losing — wars.

Remember, that the Hamas regime was not elected as such. Yes, it won an election but then seized total power by a bloody coup against the PA. Now, it imposes a radical Islamist regime on its unfortunate subjects. Hamas has no policy for creating jobs or raising living standards. Its educational system doesn’t teach useful skills or civic virtues but indoctrinates children with the ambition to become suicide bombers.

So the world should consider. Is this the kind of regime you want to save and succor? Do you want to keep Hamas in power when even most Arab states would like to see it fall? Why talk about a peace process while following a policy ensuring no peace process can succeed.

Understand that Hamas believes the deity insists on its victory. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how many die. Its educational policy isn’t aimed at training productive citizens but rather future suicide bombers,

Well, it looks like the West is going to make that mistake, the PA itself isn’t going to help provide an alternative government, and Israel can’t solve this problem by itself.

So the next best thing is a ceasefire that works for a while. What is the basis for such a plan, which recognizes the fact that Israel won the war and that Hamas wants to restart it again?

First, Hamas must perceive itself beaten no matter what it says publicly. This doesn’t mean it will give up but does mean it will be slower to launch attacks in future.

Second, Palestinians must perceive that Hamas was beaten so that they follow a more productive path of moderation and diplomacy.

Third, the Arabic-speaking world — or as much of it as possible — must perceive Hamas is beaten so that Arab states are encouraged in their battle against radical Islamism, Iran, and Syria, while the flow of recruits to extremist movements decline.

Fourth, Hamas must perceive itself as isolated. If it knows that cross-border terror attacks, firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and cynically using its own people as human shields brings international sympathy and political profits these tactics will be used again by them, and be imitated by others elsewhere.

All of these are realizable goals. The West can help by giving Hamas no recognition, no support, and no help. A terrorist, genocidal movement which oppresses its own people and uses them as human shields should not be rewarded. That should be obvious.

What about the actual terms? Among the key provisions are these:

  • A seriously effective regime of inspection and blocking smuggling must be put into place on the Egypt-Gaza border. This means Egyptian forces helped by a force which will really act to block tunnels and stop arms from coming in, not just sit and watch the contraband go by. If more weapons get in, that will bring another war.
  • Israel has the right to maintain sanctions, which means that while humanitarian and necessary goods for Gaza’s society it can keep out items that have military applications.
  • Aid money to rebuild in Gaza and sustain Palestinian society must be kept out of Hamas’s hands. Not only would Hamas use such funds for military purposes, it would also steal them from being used for real relief. For example, Hamas cries there is not enough fuel but that is because it diverts gasoline from civilian purposes for its own use.
  • Gilad Shalit, a hostage seized by Hamas in a cross-border raid into Israel, should be released unconditionally. It is bad enough to reward terrorists for their crimes; it is ridiculous to do so after they have been thoroughly defeated after launching an aggressive war.

Finally, we should remember the aims of the two sides. Israel’s goal is very modest: security for its citizens, no cross-border attacks. Hamas’s goal is the destruction of Israel, wiping out its citizens, revolution throughout the Middle East, treating women as chattel, and the creation of what it considers to be Allah’s government on earth.

Knowing that, you can decide which side to support.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA and other GLORIA Center publications or to order books, visit http://www.gloriacenter.org.

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British academics in another world

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

The latest action by the cabal of British anti-Zionist academics almost strikes me dumb. It’s impossible to find words that adequately express my disgust at the expression of support for the completely barbarous Hamas from intellectuals in a supposedly civilized country (although history shows that ‘civilization’ can be a thin veneer indeed).

They wrote, in part,

The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources…

Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

I am not sure how they plan to take sides with ‘the people of Gaza and the West Bank’, given the nasty Fatah/Hamas split, but I presume that they would be happy with any solution that could be characterized as an Israeli defeat.

Although it’s a dreadful place, we should try to understand where they’re coming from.

Their argument rests on their acceptance of the Palestinian story in which Palestinians are only victims, acted upon first by the dastardly colonialists (including especially the British authorities of the early 20th century) and then by the Jews. But this story leaves a great deal out.

The nakba [‘catastrophe’ of 1948] is everything in this story, but according to it there is no Palestinian responsibility. The fact that the Palestinian Arabs attacked Jews all through the 1930’s and ’40’s, that the Mufti supported Hitler and tried to bring the Holocaust to the Middle East, that the Palestinians rejected partition in 1947 and fought alongside five invading Arab nations in 1948, in a war which they lost — all these facts are not part of the Palestinian story.

It is correct that a war has been waged for 60 years, but it has been the Arabs — Palestinians and others — both on their own initiative and as proxies, first of the Soviet Union and today of Iran — who have waged the war on Israel.

Not only do the Palestinians and the Arab nations bear the primary responsibility for the nakba, but they bear the primary responsibility for the condition of the refugees and the lack of a Palestinian state today. The Arab nations never permitted any solution to the refugee problem other than ‘return’ of an absurd number of hostile Arabs claiming refugee status to Israel, and UNRWA kept them fed and subsidized their reproduction so that today there are almost 5 million ‘refugees’.

The choice of Yasser Arafat as a leader and terrorism as a tactic put great obstacles in the way of statehood. Arafat dealt dishonestly with the Oslo process, funding and encouraging terrorism, all the while inciting Jew-hatred in all Palestinian Authority institutions. Then he rejected the Clinton-Barak offer in 2000, lied about what had actually been offered, and began the murderous enterprise of the second Intifada.

And of course those who voted for Hamas in 2006 knew what the Hamas program was. Unfortunately the ‘educational’ system and media set up by the Original Terrorist seems to have guaranteed that the faction perceived to be most capable of kicking the Jews out will always be the one that wins.

The British intellectuals see none of this. They simply take Palestinian claims at face value. Everything is Israel’s fault, especially the present war. The believe all atrocity stories about the IDF, no matter how far-fetched or how biased the source. They apparently miss the fact that Hamas is is a movement that deliberately sites itself in civilian populations, cripples or murders members of its its political opposition, is explicitly racist, antisemitic, anti-Christian and genocidal in intent. They ignore the fact that Hamas is doing Iran’s work: Ahmadinejad himself has said that Israel will be destroyed by Palestinians, and has supplied Hamas with an ever-growing variety of weapons to fight Israel with.

They are so consumed with hatred for Israel that they don’t seem to realize that by supporting Hamas, they are supporting a return to a society based on 7th century principles for Palestinians, as well. But of course this never was about Palestinians.

The academics would probably say that they are not opposed to the existence of Israel (or maybe by now they wouldn’t say this) but only to the ‘occupation’. Gaza, according to them, is occupied even when there are no Israelis in it because Israel must take security measures to protect herself from the wave of terrorism that would otherwise emanate from there.

“Ending the occupation” for them means facilitating Hamas states in Gaza and the West Bank with no restrictions on what comes in or goes out. Look what Hezbollah has accomplished under similar circumstances in Lebanon — tens of thousands of missiles capable of striking anywhere in Israel. Indeed, look what Hamas ‘accomplished’ in Gaza alone, and they had to depend on tunnels to get their explosives.

The tone of the message is that the British intellectuals — some of whom are Jewish or even Israeli, like renegade Israeli academic Ilan Pappé — are sick and tired of Israel. They have come to the end of their patience.

The feeling is mutual.

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