Archive for November, 2012

US doesn’t want to see Hamas crushed

Monday, November 19th, 2012
Chief of Staff Benny Gantz talks to troops waiting near Gaza border

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz talks to troops waiting near Gaza border

Until recently, Jewish communities in Christian or Muslim principalities existed on the sufferance of kings and princes. If the ruler was not theologically hostile to Jews and/or if he found their presence useful, then they were able to live relatively unmolested lives; although in most cases there were restrictions placed on them, ranging from the prohibition against a Jew riding a horse in Muslim lands, to the exclusion of Jews from various trades in Europe.

But if the prince had a problem with Judaism, or even owed big debts to local Jewish moneylenders, then things could turn ugly. Rulers could turn a blind eye to pogroms — or even incite them — and total expulsion of Jews from a nation was possible, as happened in England in 1290, France in 1306 and Spain in 1492.

Zionism was in part supposed to be a solution to Jewish powerlessness and dependency. In a sovereign Jewish state, it would no longer be necessary to cater to, bribe and flatter non-Jewish authorities in order to exist.

Well, the joke seems to be on us. Although there is a sovereign Jewish state, Israel, it is “the Jew among nations,” trying to stay in the favor of the powerful nobles of the world (including the most powerful, the President of the US).

Of course there is a difference: the Jews of the diaspora were physically powerless, while Israel has the IDF. But what good is an army if someone else has veto power over its use?

The present situation, in which savage antisemites have launched (as it were) a pogrom against the Jews of Israel, is precisely the right time to use the power of the Jewish state, to do what the Jews of Kishinev could not do in 1903: stop the pogrom and destroy the ability of the antisemites to hurt them in the future.

This can be done with Hamas and the other terrorist factions in Gaza, but it requires an incursion into the densely populated cores of the cities where Hamas’ command facilities are located. A partial military solution, such as was accomplished by operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, only provides time for the terrorists to rearm and prepare for the next round, incorporating lessons learned.

It cannot be accomplished by negotiations. Diplomacy succeeds when it can provide benefits for both sides, but when one side’s very reason for being is to destroy the other, there isn’t a mutually beneficial solution.

But Israel’s arm is restrained by the patron to which it is most beholden, the USA, as well as the lesser potentates of the EU and the UN. Israel’s PM seems to have agreed — or been forced to agree — to wait a few days to see if an acceptable Egypt-brokered agreement can come about. Meanwhile, tanks and reserve soldiers sit idle near the Gaza border.

The international princes are ostensibly horrified by the potential for harm to civilians (this from the folks that burned Dresden and Tokyo!), but it’s hard to credit this when 30,000 mostly-civilians have been killed in Syria’s civil war, not to mention the millions of black Africans who have died in that continent’s unending conflicts, with little or no response beyond talk.

Whatever the reason, they don’t want to see Hamas crushed.

Israel’s leaders know that there isn’t a diplomatic solution. But what can they do? Over the years, Israel has become so dependent on the US — for advanced weapons, spare parts, etc. — that it is almost impossible to say no to US demands. Possibly some of the attitudes that we developed in the Middle Ages remain with us, as well.

I don’t have a quick fix. Maybe a tiny nation like the Jewish people must always be dependent to some extent. But it should be a national goal to reduce this dependence as much as possible, to be able to survive even when the occupants of the royal palaces of the world are unfriendly.

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Gaza operation likely to continue for weeks, not days

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Morning brought news that the IDF hit numerous rocket launching sites overnight, particularly those for the long-range Iranian Fajr missiles. There were fewer reports of rockets landing in Israel, and in particular no further sirens in the Tel Aviv area. Could this be a trend?

IDF sources have indicated that the campaign will likely take weeks, not days. Its intention is to continue until the threat hanging over residents of southern Israel is ended, and indicated that a ground operation is not out of the question. The IDF is making concrete preparations for an invasion, although we have no way to know if a decision has been made to go ahead with it.

There is reason to think that both sides are interested in continuing the conflict at this point. Daniel Pipes lists several reasons why Hamas is prepared to fight, despite its comparative weakness:

  • Test the waters in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s reelection.
  • Rouse public opinion against Israel and make it pay a price internationally.
  • Refute accusations by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it has abandoned “resistance.”
  • Remind the Palestinian Authority, as it seeks statehood at the United Nations, who controls Gaza.
  • Rile up Israeli Arabs.
  • Pre-empt Egyptian plans to destroy Gaza tunnels, as Cairo cannot be seen helping Israel in a time of crisis.

Israel, on one level, cannot allow its population to continue to be threatened. With the acquisition of longer-range missiles, the number of Israelis in range of Gaza more than quadrupled (not that the increasing pressure on the south could be allowed to continue).

Other advanced weapons in the hands of Hamas — anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles from Libya, for example — pose new threats. It is essential to restore a posture of deterrence against Hamas and the other terrorist factions in Gaza.

But there is another issue. The Iranian nuclear program hasn’t taken a break. The ‘secret’ negotiations with the US can only reduce the pressure on Iran. An Israeli attack on Iran is likely at some point. Even if the US takes action itself — which I doubt — Israel will be a major target of Iranian retaliation. A castrated Hamas will be less able to open an additional front at that time.

This suggests that maybe Hizballah — Iran’s main proxy against Israel — will be next. We have to remember that despite the damage that Iran’s proxies can do, they are ultimately proxies in the real conflict, which is with the genocidally antisemitic Iranian regime. Pulling some of Iran’s teeth in advance is a good strategy.

Israel is definitely not out of the woods yet. I can’t see any way to complete the operation against Hamas without a ground invasion. There will be casualties on both sides, and there will be accusations of massacres, war crimes, murdering children, etc. We’ve already seen some of the propaganda with faked photos, even some showing wounded in Syria that they claim are from Gaza! Hamas may have had most of its long-range rockets destroyed, but it still has numerous smaller ones. It still has the ability to perpetrate terror attacks inside Israel by means of its cells in Judea/Samaria/Jerusalem.

May the soldiers of the IDF, who are fighting not only for the state of Israel, but for all the Jewish people, finish their job in safety and success!

Shabbat shalom.

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Don’t kick the can of violence down the road

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Just now I saw a BBC news report that former British PM and special Middle East envoy Tony Blair announced that “we must do everything possible to de-escalate the situation.”

My question is, “why?”

The ‘situation’ before the recent Hamas attack and Israeli response was not acceptable. What would Mr. Blair consider an acceptable level of rocket fire into London?

I keep hearing that “war never solves anything.” What nonsense! Some problems — like a persistent, genocidal neighbor motivated by a 7th century ideology who is obsessively trying to destroy your society — can only be solved by war.

Any ‘solution’ that leaves Hamas in power in Gaza isn’t a solution — it is kicking the can of violence down the road, to coin a phrase.

The long-term solution involves changing the cultures that today are obsessed with killing Jews and ending their state, so that they can focus on more constructive pursuits. I can’t imagine how this could be brought about from our side, although I do know that there are things we’ve done — like bringing the despicable Yasser Arafat back from exile — that made things worse.

The short-term solution is to render the barbarians as close to harmless as possible, and to teach them that there is nothing to gain by attacking us. This requires taking away their weapons and military infrastructure, and building deterrence by retaliating in a consistent and disproportionately damaging way. That can’t be achieved by peaceful means. Sorry, Mr. Blair.

A cease-fire or other end to the fighting before these objectives are attained doesn’t bring the short-term solution closer. It also doesn’t promote a long-term solution, because it encourages the enemy to believe that its goals are not impossible.

My recommendation to Tony Blair, Barack Obama, the UN, etc. is simple: leave it alone. The only thing that can prevent Israel from winning this mini-war and neutering Hamas is outside intervention. And the best way to bring about the peace that you desire is to let the war run its course.

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No time for talk therapy

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The rocket weather has improved, along with the meteorological kind. There has been much speculation about the cause of the recent escalation — you can even blame it on Obama’s reelection — but one answer is simple: Israel’s drones are limited when the visibility is poor, so the rocket scientists of Hamas can set up their launchers (in populated areas), set the timers and run.

Last night was quiet, but it will start again, perhaps with the onset of winter weather. A long term solution is needed.

Why are they doing this now, asked one commenter on a previous blog post? What’s their goal?

The answer to this is also simple: because they can, because their goal is to kill Jews and especially to terrorize them so they will leave the land that Hamas believes is an Islamic waqf. There is also a secondary purpose, which is to raise their own credit in the Arab world by humiliating the Jews, punishing them while denying their agency to do anything about it.

This implies that there is no diplomatic solution. As one blogger used to put on his masthead to the consternation of ‘reasonable’ people, “there is only a military solution.”

We are not going to get Hamas to stop wanting the Jews out of the land by talk therapy. There is nothing we can promise them, no economic incentives or development initiatives, because the only thing they want is for the Jews — they refer to all of them as ‘settlers’ — to leave or be dead.

This is not a mystery. They say it all the time. It is in their charter. There is no ‘moderate’ wing, there are only differing strategies.

I talked to a retired IDF officer the other day about his strategy to solve the problem. His idea is to build a temporary ‘safe zone’ for a million or so civilians just inside the border between Israel and Gaza, turn off the water and electricity, and go in to the cities with the full force of Israel’s firepower, destroy the strongholds under hospitals and schools, kill the leaders and fighters and destroy their weapons. He proposes simultaneously building a canal where the Philadelphi corridor is — the border between Gaza and Egypt — in such a way that it would be difficult or impossible to dig a tunnel that wouldn’t immediately be flooded.

Who would rule them afterwards, I asked. It doesn’t matter, he said. They wouldn’t have any weapons or any way to get them. We would continue allowing supplies to go through the crossings, but there would be strict controls on what got through.

I was skeptical of Israel’s ability to build and maintain a refugee camp this massive, to feed and provide medical care for more than a million people, to secure it, etc. even for the few weeks that it would take to excise the cancer of Hamas. I imagined the Security Council resolutions, perhaps sanctions, that would follow. I imagined the accusations of genocide in the media, the ‘need’ to ‘protect’ the ‘innocent Palestinians’.

But what’s the alternative? Doing what we have been doing is not working. The Egyptian border is porous and getting more so. Targeted killings of Hamas leaders will perhaps produce a temporary solution, but as long as they can import grad rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, explosives, etc., they will continue to use them.

There is no solution except an incursion, sooner or later. In today’s climate, where Jewish civilians are required to hold still while their enemies kill them bit by bit, while the IDF is held to impossible standards for near-zero collateral damage, where any action unleashes a flood of false accusations that are taken seriously everywhere, the difficulty of starting and finishing an effective operation is enormous.

In my opinion, there are two dimensions of the operation that have to be minimized. One, obviously, is collateral damage. But as we saw in Cast Lead, even if the IDF’s performance in this regard is the best in military history — as British Col. Richard Kemp said — it will still be impossible to sustain an offensive of more than a few weeks in the face of international pressure. So the other dimension that has to be minimized is time.

I’m not a general or a Minister of Defense. I am prepared to leave the detailed planning to them. But there’s no question in my mind that this is a job for the fighters, not the talkers.

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Bad ideas with legs

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Here’s a notable difference between American and Israeli Jews:

…it is true that more funds are being raised today than ever before [by J Street] from donors who depict Israel as the obstacle to peace and favor U.S. pressure to force Israeli concessions. The campaign contributions put muscle behind a flood of articles and speeches that portray Israel as a strategic liability rather than an asset — a trigger-happy country that exaggerates the Iranian threat and is plotting the annexation of the West Bank at the expense of the Palestinians.

Spokesmen for this view, like author Peter Beinart and J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, are taking ideas from the far left of the Israeli political spectrum and transforming them into mainstream beliefs of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, however, their counterparts in Israel have shrunk to insignificance: Meretz, the party of Peace Now and Yossi Beilin, has contracted from 14 seats in the Knesset to a mere three. Shelly Yachimovich, the new head of the Labor Party and informal leader of the Israeli opposition, has resisted fierce pressure to embrace the Beilinist agenda. The vast majority of the Israeli public has spoken, and it has rejected the ideology these critics are bringing to the United States.

But in America, these voices have found fertile ground. The American Jewish community is on average more liberal and more dovish on the Middle East than the Jewish majority in Israel. Reform temples and college campuses are particularly receptive to Beinart and Ben-Ami’s message. — Steven J. Rosen, Is J Street Winning?

Could it be that the Israelis, who so emphatically rejected their left-wing parties, are on to something?

American Jews, who have not had to deal with the horrors of the terrorist intifada and rocket barrages, find it comfortable to accept the simplistic conception that there is a two-state solution out there — and that if it hasn’t happened yet, it is because Israel hasn’t tried hard enough. It is much harder to face the reality — as most Israelis have — that there is no solution in the near term because there is no partner for peace on the Arab side.

The Israeli Left, having lost local support, nevertheless has retained the ability to project its opinions outward. Supported to a great extent by money from European governments, international anti-Zionists like George Soros, and American liberals, Israel’s post-Zionist media, academics and NGOs articulate their positions in international forums and media in English.

They paint the centrist Netanyahu government — which has been anything but ‘hardline’ where concessions to the Palestinians are concerned — as reactionary, anti-democratic, racist and theocratic. Israelis, used to the hyperbole of their politics, know nonsense when they see it, and pay no attention.

But in America, there are powerful forces — including the State Department, the White House and he CIA — for whom it is a priority to see Israel forced to give up the territories and eastern Jerusalem, and who would love to see a more pliable regime in Israel.

They have found it effective to present the Israeli Left as the authentic voice of Israel. Through their compliant media (e.g., the NY Times and NPR), personalities like Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart, and tools like J Street (whose leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami, once called his group “President Obama’s blocking back”), these positions are expressed as consonant with the liberal values that many American Jews hold.

Since they are not as well-informed about the realities of the Middle East as the Israelis that live in it, many American Jews are fooled, accepting J Street’s claim to be “pro-Israel” despite the consistently anti-Israel positions — even opposing sanctions on Iran — that it has taken. Even if they don’t follow groups like J Street, they accept what is now becoming the regular ‘line’ of the Democratic party, as Rosen explained.

One of the major obstacles to those elements that desire to meddle with Israel has, in the past, been the strong support for the policies of Israeli governments by American Jews, as expressed by the traditional Zionist organizations like AIPAC, etc.

Little by little, left-indoctrinated Jews are moving into American Jewish institutions like the Federations, Hillel and even AIPAC, and their influence dilutes the formerly strong support provided by these organizations. One has to appreciate the strategic ability of Israel’s enemies.

It’s ironic that an ideology that failed the test of reality in Israel has found a new home here — as a political fantasy among American Jews. But after all, we are the folks that gave the world Hollywood.

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