Does America have a lack of understanding of radical Islam? Video. Sean Hannity and Ralph Peters. Hannity. Fox News, July 31, 2014.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
The Ugly Tide Washing Across Europe. By Bernard-Henri Lévy. Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2014.
The “Gaza generation” seems worried about Arab deaths only when Jews are involved.
About the crowds on Friday in Paris chanting “Palestine will overcome” and “Israel, assassin”: Where were they a few days earlier when news broke that over the previous weekend Syria’s civil war had produced 720 more dead, adding to the 150,000 others who have not had the honor of demonstrations in France?
Why did the protesters not pour into the streets when, a few days before that, the well-informed Syrian Network for Human Rights revealed that so far this year Damascus’s army, which was supposed to have destroyed its supply of chemical weapons, carried out at least 17 gas attacks around Kafrzyta, Talmanas, Atshan and elsewhere?
Will these people, “outraged” for a day, claim that they did not know, that they saw no images of the others who died, and that today only images have the power to stir them to action? That is not going to work. Because they had seen what was happening in Syria. As reporters later discovered, those same grisly images, or older versions of them, were appropriated, doctored and retweeted by organizers of the anti-Israel demonstrations under the dishonest hashtag GazaUnderAttack.
Will the protesters claim that they were rallying against French President François Hollande and a policy of unilateral support for Israel that they do not wish to see conducted “in their name?” Perhaps. But conducting outward politics for inner reasons—converting a large cause into a small instrument designed to salve one’s conscience at little cost—reflects little genuine concern for the fate of the victims. Even more pointedly, should not the same reasoning have filled the same streets 10 or 100 times to protest the same president's decision, likewise taken in their name, not to intervene in Syria?
Will they say that it is Israel’s disproportion in force that is shocking, the imbalance between an all-powerful army and defenseless civilians? That argument has some merit, but in the end it also doesn’t hold up. For if that were the reason for protests—if one were primarily concerned about the Palestinian children whose deaths are indeed an abomination—one would demand that Hamas operatives leave the hospital basements where they have buried their command centers, move the rocket launchers that they have installed in the doorways of United Nations schools, and stop threatening parents who wish to evacuate their homes when an Israeli leaflet informs them that a strike is imminent.
Moreover, if alarm about disproportion and asymmetry were the true wellspring of the protesters’ rage, would they not have had at least a passing thought for another disproportion that, not so far from Gaza, now afflicts the most wretched of the wretched, the most defenseless of all, the Christians of Mosul? Hamas’s “brothers” are offering these Iraqis the following ultimatum: Embrace Islam or die by the sword.
The truth is that these protesters—most of them young members of the self-proclaimed “Gaza generation,” for whom the latest in chic is to sport a kaffiyeh made in Palestine—assume it is normal for Arabs to kill other Arabs.
They are also unperturbed upon learning, from the very mouth of the Hamas leadership (Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 41, No. 4), that in 2012 alone the construction of the infamous Gaza tunnels cost the lives of 160 Palestinian children who were turned into little slaves and buried in the rubble.
The oldest of these protesters also missed the chance to mobilize in favor of the 300,000 Darfurians massacred by Sudan; the 200,000 Chechens whom Putin, in his own elegant phrase, “kicked into the crapper” not so long ago; and the Bosnians who were besieged and bombarded to general indifference for three years. The truth is that for these selectively conscientious objectors, indignation arrives only when one has the opportunity to condemn a military consisting mostly of Jews.
The double standard is odious. And it has become increasingly evident across Europe in the past month. Bluntly anti-Semitic slogans have marred most European demonstrations “in support of the people of Gaza.” Residents of Frankfurt and Dortmund were horrified in mid-July to see neo-Nazi groups join hands with left-wing Islamists in a grim chant: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The center of London was blocked on July 19 by thousands who gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington to shout their hatred for Jews.
Not to mention Amsterdam, the city of Spinoza, Europe’s capital of tolerance, where in certain neighborhoods it has become practically impossible to wear a yarmulke in public without running the risk of being insulted or assaulted.
For someone who has advocated, as I have, for nearly half a century the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a fully recognized Israel, this is truly discouraging. That there are sincere men and women among the demonstrators I do not doubt. But I would urge them to think twice before letting themselves be manipulated by those whose motive is not solidarity but hate, and whose true agenda is not peace in Palestine but death to Israel—and, as often as not, alas, death to Jews.
The Left Hate Israel Because It Is Everything They Despise: Capitalist, Conservative and Patriotic. By Russell Taylor. Breitbart, July 31, 2014.
Everyone from liberal journalists to a member of the English cricket team is gunning for Israel at the moment. The Independent describes it as “rogue state.” The Guardian considers the Israeli “occupation” of Gaza as a “shameful injustice.” Meanwhile, cricketer Moeen Ali has pledged his support for the Palestinians by sporting “Free Gaza” wristbands. Respectable opinion knows which side wears the black hats in this conflict.
What is it about Israel that arouses so much anger? Is it because it’s a theocratic state, committed to destroying its neighbour, which uses civilians as human shields, tortures and kills its political opponents, persecutes homosexuals, and holds freedom of speech and the rule of law in contempt?
No, hang on, that’s Hamas, and we all know they’re the good guys of the piece. No matter how appallingly they treat their own people and how many innocents they blow up, shoot or kidnap, nothing can blot their copybook.
Which isn’t to say that Israel could get away with the same behaviour, of course. It can’t even protect its own people without drawing criticism. Israel is like the older brother who is expected to know better. His younger siblings can run riot, because they’re held to different standards, but big bro should sit there quietly, no matter how many times he takes a kicking.
Not that the media does much reporting on the kicking Israel receives. It would much rather lament the significantly higher Palestinian losses, as if they automatically put Israel in the wrong and let Hamas off the hook for striking the first blow. Israel, it seems, should show restraint that no one would realistically expect of Hamas if it possessed the same military might. The relativists who see no moral difference between a liberal democracy and a terrorist regime have no problem expecting the two sides to behave differently.
One thing’s for sure, if it was just another flyblown Islamic hellhole, Israel would get a much easier ride on the world stage. More blood is typically shed each year in Somalia, Pakistan and Nigeria than in Gaza, but outrage at those horrors pales beside the indignation Israel’s actions provoke. Heads are buried, standards doubled and blind eyes turned to provide an excuse for bashing the country everybody loves to hate.
So is this just about anti-Semitism? It is certainly rife in the Arab world, and long-standing critics of Israel probably pick up a little Jew-hatred along the way. But I don’t think it’s at the heart of Western, liberal antipathy. If anti-Semitism were to blame, it would be directed at Israel wherever it was in the world. Yet it’s hard to imagine it having as much trouble with its neighbours, or attracting as much hatred, if it were a European state. The chances are it would be another Switzerland, and would arouse the same amount of ill-feeling.
The fact is that when it comes to Israel, nobody seems to be interested in the truth. No one cares that it gave up the lands it seized during the Yom Kippur War, in the hope of securing peace. Nor that it gifted the Palestinians 3,000 greenhouses, opened border crossings and encouraged trade. Nor that the Gazans responded by destroying the greenhouses and electing a government committed to eradicating the Jews, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, and digs tunnels under Israeli territory from which to launch surprise attacks.
No one cares that Israel gives Gazans advance warning of raids, while Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians. Nor that Hamas places its weapons in schools, mosques, hospitals and private homes, to maximise the chance of civilian casualties. Nor that Israel arrested those guilty of murdering a Palestinian youth, and offered reparations to the victim’s family, while Hamas did nothing to capture or punish the killers of three Israeli teenagers. Nor that no Israeli soldiers are actually based in Gaza, despite talk of an “occupying force” by Hamas apologists
No one takes these facts into account because they are unhelpful to the narrative propagated by the pro-Palestinian Left – namely, that this is a battle between a strong, macho oppressor and a weak, downtrodden underdog, which leftists can feel virtuous about supporting.
Israel is a distillation of everything leftists hate about Western nations: capitalist, conservative and fiercely patriotic. It is a projection of their own prejudices about the supposed injustices of societies that cherish the “wrong” values and the “wrong” people. They don’t share the Palestinians’ spiritual beliefs, but they share a common enemy. Indeed, if Israel was removed from the equation, its critics would have little good to say about Gaza or Hamas. Theirs is a marriage of convenience.
The Left’s use of the Israeli-Arab situation as a platform for moral preening, and as a metaphor for its own hang-ups, blinds it to the evils of Hamas and the rest of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems oblivious to the ideological conflict between Islamic fundamentalists and Western progressives, because it persists in regarding the former as pet victims of the latter. It may discover the hard way that it is giving comfort to an enemy that makes no distinction between liberal hand-wringers and any other infidels.
The End of the Arab State. By Christopher L. Hill. Project Syndicate, July 29, 2014.
DENVER – In a region where crises seem to be the norm, the Middle East’s latest cycle of violence suggests that something bigger is afoot: the beginning of the dissolution of the Arab nation-state, reflected in the growing fragmentation of Sunni Arabia.
States in the Middle East are becoming weaker than ever, as traditional authorities, whether aging monarchs or secular authoritarians, seem increasingly incapable of taking care of their restive publics. As state authority weakens, tribal and sectarian allegiances strengthen.
What does it mean today to be Iraqi, Syrian, Yemeni, or Lebanese? Any meaningful identification seems to require a compound name – Sunni Iraqi, Alawite Syrian, and so forth. As such examples suggest, political identity has shifted to something less civil and more primordial.
With Iraq in flames, the United States-led invasion and occupation is widely blamed for unwittingly introducing a sectarian concept of identity in the country. In fact, sectarianism was always alive and well in Iraq, but it has now become the driving force and organizing principle of the country’s politics.
When sectarian or ethnic minorities have ruled countries – for example, the Sunnis of Iraq – they typically have a strong interest in downplaying sectarianism or ethnicity. They often become the chief proponents of a broader, civic concept of national belonging, in theory embracing all peoples. In Iraq, that concept was Ba’athism. And while it was more identified with the Sunni minority than with the Shia majority, it endured for decades as a vehicle for national unity, albeit a cruel and cynical one.
When the Ba’ath party – along with its civic ideology – was destroyed by the US occupation, no new civic concept replaced it. In the ensuing political vacuum, sectarianism was the only viable alternative principle of organization.
Sectarianism thus came to frame Iraqi politics, making it impossible to organize non-sectarian parties on the basis of, say, shared socioeconomic interests. In Iraqi politics today (leaving aside the Kurds), seldom does a Sunni Arab vote for a Shia Arab, or a Shia for a Sunni. There is competition among Shia parties and among Sunni parties; but few voters cross the sectarian line – a grim reality that is unlikely to change for years to come.
Pointing the finger at the US for the state of affairs in Iraq may have some validity (although the alternative of leaving in place a Ba’athist state under Saddam Hussein was not particularly appealing, either). The same could be said of Libya (though the US did not lead that intervention). But the US did not invade any of the other countries in the Middle East – for example, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen – where the state’s survival is also in doubt.
There are many reasons for the weakening of Arab nation-states, the most proximate of which is the legacy of the Arab Spring. At its outset in 2011, Arab publics took to the streets seeking to oust authoritarian or monarchical regimes widely perceived to have lost their energy and direction. But those initial demonstrations, often lacking identifiable leaders and programs, soon gave way to old habits.
Thus, for all of the initial promise of the political transition in Egypt that followed the demise of Hosni Mubarak’s military-backed regime, the result was the creation of a Muslim Brotherhood government whose exclusionary ideology made it an unlikely candidate for long-term success. From the start, most observers believed that its days were numbered.
When the military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power a year later, many of the Egyptians who had been inspired by the Arab Spring democracy movement approved. Egypt retains the strongest sense of nation-statehood in the region; nonetheless, it has become a shattered and divided society, and it will take many years to recover.
Other states are even less fortunate. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s evil buffoonery in Libya has given way to Bedouin tribalism that will be hard to meld into a functioning nation-state, if Libya ever was such an entity. Yemen, too, is beset by tribal feuding and a sectarian divide that pose challenges to statehood. And Syria, a fragile amalgam of Sunni, Alawite, Kurdish, Christian, and other sects, is unlikely ever to be reconstructed as the state it once was.
These processes demand a broader, far more comprehensive policy approach from Western countries. The approach must take into account the region’s synergies and not pretend that the changes that are weakening these states are somehow unrelated.
The US, in particular, should examine how it has handled the breakdown of Syria and Iraq, and stop treating each case as if there were no connection between them. America called for regime change in the former while seeking regime stabilization in the latter; instead, it got the Islamic State in both.
How Many Children Will Die in Gaza? By Kevin D. Williamson. National Review Online, July 31, 2014.
Israel’s critics hold it responsible for the fate of those whom Hamas is using as human shields.
There is not much that is simple about the Arab–Israeli conflict, but there is one thing that is certain: The question of how many Palestinian women and children are going to die in Gaza is not going to be decided by the Israelis — it is going to be decided by Hamas.
The Jews mean to live, Hamas means to exterminate them, and there will be war until Hamas and its allies either weary of it or win it and the last Israeli Jew is dead or exiled. It is Hamas, not the Israelis, that stashes rockets and soldiers in schools and hospitals, but it is the Israelis the world expects to take account of that situation. Every creature on this Earth, from ant to gazelle, is entitled to — expected to — defend its life to the last: The Israeli Jews, practically alone among the world’s living things, are expected to make allowances for the well-being of those who are trying to exterminate them. No one lectures the antelope on restraint when the jackals come, but the Jews in the Jewish state are in the world’s judgment not entitled to what is granted every fish and insect as a matter of course.
That is one bit of strangeness, but there are a great many strange little assumptions that worm their way into our language, and our thought, when it comes to the Arab–Israeli conflict. Once a week or so, somebody will publicize a chart purporting to show the shrinkage of “Arab land” in what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories — as though Arabs did not hail from Arabia, as though they popped up out of the ground around Jerusalem like crocus blossoms. As though those Arab lands hadn’t been Turkish lands, Roman lands, Macedonian lands, Jewish lands.
As though this situation just dropped out of the sky.
Israel, as a Jewish state, is a relatively new country, having been established in 1948. But the idea of Palestine as a particular polity, much less an Arab polity, is a relatively new one, too, only 28 years older. Until the day before yesterday, the word “Palestinian” referred to Jews living in their ancestral homeland. During Roman rule, Palestine was considered a part of Syria: The prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, was subordinate to the legate of Syria, Palestine being a not especially notable outpost. (It is perhaps for this reason that no physical evidence of Pilate’s existence was unearthed until 1961.) That situation obtained for centuries; as late as the 19th century, the idea of an Arab Palestine distinct from Syria was a novel one, and one expressed in Ottoman administrative practice rather than in anything resembling a state as the term is understood. The notion of a Palestinian Arab nation dates to only a few decades before the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
The notion dates to 1920; the Palestinian Arab state as a reality never existed. The incompatible concepts of statehood obtaining in the West and in the Arab world until quite recently are in some ways the root of the dispute, as indeed they were with the early Americans’ relationships with the Indian tribes and various colonial powers’ experience in Africa. But somehow, in the modern mind, the idea that Israel sits upon what is, was, and shall always be “Arab land” is fixed.
The story of humankind is that peoples move around and bump into each other, and the results are often unpleasant. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and, after some period of time, whatever temporary situation endures comes to be considered normal. No one complains that the Celts occupied Ireland and subsumed the identities preceding them. The British came to control Palestine through war, true — and Saladin, what was he? An olive trader?
Israel’s critics often charge its defenders with intentionally conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. One wonders, though, what kind of analysis holds that the Israelis are uniquely responsible for the fate of those whom Hamas is using as human shields, while Hamas cannot be held to the same standard. The answer is: an analysis predicated on the unspoken belief that the Jewish people in the Jewish state are under a unique obligation to lay down and die.
But they do not appear ready to lay down and die. And so one thing is certain: The question of how many Palestinian women and children are going to die in Gaza is not going to be decided by the Israelis — it is going to be decided by Hamas.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Lt. Col. Ralph Peters: “No Ceasefire! Wipe Hamas Out.” Video. Real Clear Politics, July 29, 2014.
Washington and both sides of the aisle to a degree will not face up to the fact that in Middle Eastern Islam there is a sickness right now that has perverted the religion grossly... And you have all these factions competing to see who can kill the most Christians, kill the most Jews. I mean, again, the Obama administration doesn’t care about dead Christians or Jews, but gosh they’re really worried, we want a ceasefire to rescue Hamas. No ceasefire, Sean. No ceasefire! Wipe Hamas out. Let me use one more Russian phrase because Russian is an expression language: [Wipe them out in Russian]. Wipe them out.
We must defeat Hamas – next time. By Benny Morris. Haaretz, July 30, 2014.
The Israeli government must prepare both the Israeli people and its allies for the next round against Hamas, and be prepared to deliver the killer blow.
It seems like the current war is already lost. It will end in another few days, or perhaps a week or two, with a whimper – yet another cease-fire that leaves Hamas in place, just as happened after previous rounds. Moreover, it seems this war will even increase Hamas’ political and military power, as it has managed to portray itself both as a victim deserving of the world’s compassion and as a hero of the resistance against the Zionist entity. (All the talk of “disarming” the Gaza Strip and stationing Palestinian Authority policemen at the border crossings is so much hot air. As long as Hamas remains standing, it will not lay down its arms and will not let anyone else restrict its sovereignty over its territory.)
Gaza’s status as the victim will win it large helpings of cash from the Arab oil kingdoms and European states. This money will fund the reconstruction of its civilian infrastructure and destroyed houses. Of course, just as happened with the cement that entered the Strip in previous years, some of this money – if not the majority of it – will be diverted by Gaza’s rulers into rebuilding the tunnels and factories that make the rockets. In a few months, the tunnels leading into Israeli territory will resume operation and the missile stockpiles will be replenished, perhaps with new and improved homemade models (or even smuggled ones).
Therefore, the next war will surely come. It will come in another year or two, or perhaps even sooner, because Hamas wants to eradicate the State of Israel (if not to eradicate all Jews, at least in the Middle East), and also because Palestinians in general, as a nation, want the State of Israel to disappear. It’s not pleasant to say this, because many people prefer not to hear it. But even a brief glance at the Hamas charter (1988), the Fatah charter (1964) and the Palestinian National Covenant (1964) – which was never replaced by an enlightened, conciliatory covenant, as Yasser Arafat promised – proves it.
After 1948, 1967, 1973 and 2000-2005, the Palestinians understood that the Arabs aren’t capable of destroying Israel in one blow. Perhaps an Iranian bomb will succeed in doing so in the future, but they can’t count on it. Thus, they adopted a tactic of taking partial but frequent bites that, over time, will gradually weaken the Jewish state.
Our talented young people will move to Berlin or California, tourists and foreign investors will stay away, and potential immigrants will stay where they are, or head for more attractive shores. Who would want to raise his children in a country under constant missile fire, even if, for the moment, very few rockets actually hit their targets? And who would want to tour or invest in a country battered by terrorism?
Just as the Muslims gradually wore down the Crusaders and finally defeated them, so too the Palestinians will wear down and defeat the Jews and, in the end, they’ll return to their places in the Diaspora.
The Israeli government was dragged into the current war against its will. It didn’t prepare for it, but it received a golden opportunity – with comfortable political, international and regional circumstances (Hamas “started it”; they rejected a cease-fire; Egypt is with us; Europe is busy with Ukraine) – in which to destroy Hamas and clean out Gaza.
But the government preferred to take the easier route and exit with “quiet in exchange for quiet,” i.e., a tie, which means continued bouts of violence with Hamas. In recent decades, Israeli governments and the Israeli people have turned into carbon copies of the West: All they want is peace and to hide their heads in the sand; there’s no willingness to sacrifice soldiers (and no willingness to exact a heavy price in blood from the enemy’s civilians), even if it’s clear that the price today – in terms of both our soldiers and their civilians – would be lower than it will be in the future.
That’s what happened in recent years over the issue of Hamas’ attack tunnels. Successive governments knew about them, but opted not to take action against them – perhaps they’ll disappear on their own; let the next government deal with them, and so forth. The same thing happened to us over Iran’s nuclear project, and Judgment Day is approaching.
This is a large part of the explanation for Israel’s weakness in the various Gaza operations that have brought us to this point – the same weakness that guarantees the next round will happen very soon. This weakness is very similar to America’s policy of appeasement under President Barack Obama’s governments, which wound up weakening the status of the United States, and the West as a whole, throughout the world.
What should we do next time? The answer is clear and well known. All that’s needed is the courage to start down this path and the determination to finish the job. It won’t be either easy or quick. We’re talking about reoccupying the entire Gaza Strip and destroying Hamas as a military organization, and perhaps also as a political one (it’s reasonable to think that destroying Hamas’ army will badly weaken Hamas as a political movement).
This will require months of combat, during which the Strip will be cleansed, neighborhood by neighborhood, of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives and armaments. It will exact a serious price in lives from both Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Palestinian civilians. But that’s the price required of a nation like ours, which wants to live on its own land in a neighborhood like ours. After gaining control of Gaza, it must be hoped that some moderate Arab power, perhaps the Palestinian Authority, will take over the reins of government.
There are good reasons to destroy Hamas. It seeks to kill us. Every day it fires rockets at our cities. And it kidnaps and murders whenever it has the chance. Destroying Hamas will strengthen the moderate Palestinian forces and might even advance the possibility of peace. Destroying Hamas will make it easier for Israel when the moment comes to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. It might even deter Hezbollah from embarking on a war against Israel. But at the very least – if and when war breaks out – the IDF will face one less front. Ultimately, destroying Hamas would probably also reduce the desire to confront us in the West Bank and Israeli Arab towns.
The Israeli government must prepare both the Israeli people and its allies for the next round. Western leaders understand the nature of the Islamic enemy – from the Philippines through India and Pakistan, Somalia and Nigeria, Dagestan and Iraq, and all the way to Paris, Madrid and London – very well, even if they generally prefer to bury their heads in the sand and avoid using the word “Islam” explicitly.
By showing them the Hamas charter and Hamas spokesmen and Hamas actions, it’s possible to convince many people that Israel is facing a branch of this same all-out enemy of the West and Western culture – the enemy whose branches include Boko Haram, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) – and that defeating it serves both Israel’s interests and those of the entire West.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Hamas from the Gaza Strip: Our Doctrine Entails Exterminating the Jews. Video. MEMRI TV. Clip No. 4376, July 25, 2014. Transcript. YouTube. Also at Atlas Shrugs, IDF Twitter.
Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas TV channel, aired on Friday, July 25, 2014 a sermon from a Deir Al-Balah Mosque, in which an unnamed imam called for the extermination of the Jews. “We will not leave a single one of you alive,” declared the imam.
Our doctrine in fighting you (the Jews) is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries. You are the mercenaries of all times. Research the history, my brothers. Wherever the Jews lived, they spread corruption. Oh Muslims, didn't you notice that Allah said: “They spread in THE land...” The definite article in “THE land” means the entire land. “They spread in the land corruption, and Allah loves not the corrupters.”
Israel Is Losing the Long Game. By George Friedman. Real Clear World, July 29, 2014.
We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas’ rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis.
War Without a Military Outcome
The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently found it necessary, despite knowing it would have no definitive military outcome. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers followed by the incineration of a Palestinian boy triggered this conflict. An argument of infinite regression always rages as to the original sin: Who committed the first crime?
For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from that state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 war, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous “three nos” at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace. That locked the Israelis into an increasingly rigid stance. Attempts at negotiations have followed the Khartoum declaration, all of which failed, and the “no recognition” and “no peace” agreement is largely intact. Cease-fires are the best that anyone can hope for.
For Hamas, at least – and I suspect for many Palestinians in the West Bank – the only solution is Israel’s elimination. For many Israelis, the only solution is to continue to occupy all captured territories until the Palestinians commit to peace and recognition. Since the same Israelis do not believe that day will ever come, the occupation would become permanent.
Under these circumstances, the Gaza war is in some sense a matter of housekeeping. For Hamas, the point of the operation is demonstrating it can fire rockets at Israel. These rockets are inaccurate, but the important thing is that they were smuggled into Gaza at all, since this suggests more dangerous weapons eventually will be smuggled in to the Palestinian territory. At the same time, Hamas is demonstrating that it remains able to incur casualties while continuing to fight.
For the Israelis, the point of the operation is that they are willing to carry it out at all. The Israelis undoubtedly intend to punish Gaza, but they do not believe they can impose their will on Gaza and compel the Palestinians to reach a political accommodation with Israel. War’s purpose is to impose your political will on your enemy. But unless the Israelis surprise us immensely, nothing decisive will come out of this conflict. Even if Israel somehow destroyed Hamas, another organization would emerge to fill its space in the Palestinian ecosystem. Israel can’t go far enough to break the Palestinian will to resist; it is dependent on a major third-party state to help meet Israeli security needs. This creates an inherent contradiction whereby Israel receives enough American support to guarantee its existence but because of humanitarian concerns is not allowed to take the kind of decisive action that might solve its security problem.
We thus see periodic violence of various types, none of which will be intended or expected to achieve any significant political outcome. Wars here have become a series of bloodstained gestures. There are some limited ends to achieve, such as closing Palestinian tunnels and demonstrating Palestinian capabilities that force Israel into an expensive defensive posture. But Hamas will not be defeated, and Israel will make no concessions.
Sovereignty and Viability Problems
The question therefore is not what the point of all this is – although that is a fascinating subject – but where all this ends. All things human end. Previous longstanding conflicts, such as those between France and England, ended or at least changed shape. Israel and Palestine accordingly will resolve their conflict in due course.
Many believe the creation of a Palestinian state will be the solution, and those who believe this often have trouble understanding why this self-evidently sensible solution has not been implemented. The reason is the proposed solution is not nearly as sensible as it might appear to some.
Issues of viability and sovereignty surround any discussion of a Palestinian state. Geography raises questions about the viability of any Palestinian polity. Palestine has two population centers, Gaza and the West Bank, which are detached from one another. One population center, Gaza, is an enormously crowded, narrow salient. Its ability to develop a sustainable economy is limited. The West Bank has more possibilities, but even it would be subordinate to a dynamic Israel. If the Palestinian workforce is drawn into the Israeli economy, both territories will become adjuncts to Israel. Within its current borders, a viable Palestine is impossible to imagine.
From the Israeli point of view, creating a Palestine along something resembling the 1967 lines (leaving aside the question of Jerusalem) would give the Palestinians superb targets, namely, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Given its history, Israel is unlikely to take that risk unless it had the right to oversee security in the West Bank in some way. That in turn would undermine Palestinian sovereignty.
As you play out the possibilities in any two-state solution, you run into the problem that any solution one side demanded would be unbearable to the other. Geography simply won’t permit two sovereign states. In this sense, the extremists on both sides are more realistic than the moderates. But that reality encounters other problems.
Israel’s High-Water Mark
Currently, Israel is as secure as it is ever likely to be unless Hamas disappears, never to be replaced, and the West Bank becomes even more accommodating to Israel. Neither of these prospects is likely. Israel’s economy towers over its neighbors. The Palestinians are weak and divided. None of Israel's neighbors pose any threat of invasion, a situation in place since the 1977 neutralization of Egypt. Jordan is locked into a close relation with Israel, Egypt has its peace treaty and Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria. Apart from Gaza, which is a relatively minor threat, Israel’s position is difficult to improve.
Israel can’t radically shift its demography. But several evolutions in the region could move against Israel. Egypt could change governments, renounce its treaty, rearm and re-enter the Sinai Peninsula. Hezbollah could use its experience in Syria to open a front in Lebanon. Syria could get an Islamic State-led government and threaten the Golan Heights. Islamists could overthrow Jordan's Hashemite monarchy and pose a threat to the east. Turkey could evolve into a radical Islamic government and send forces to challenge Israel. A cultural revolution could take place in the Arab world that would challenge Israel's economic superiority, and therefore its ability to wage war. Iran could smuggle missiles into Gaza, and so on.
There is accordingly an asymmetry of possibilities. It is difficult to imagine any evolution, technical, political or economic, that would materially improve Israel’s already dominant position, but there are many things that could weaken Israel – some substantially. Each may appear far-fetched at the moment, but everything in the future seems far-fetched. None is inconceivable.
It is a rule of politics and business to bargain from strength. Israel is now as strong as it is going to be. But Israel does not think that it can reach an accommodation with the Palestinians that would guarantee Israeli national security, a view based on a realistic reading of geography. Therefore, Israel sees little purpose in making concessions to the Palestinians despite its relative position of strength.
In these circumstances, the Israeli strategy is to maintain its power at a maximum level and use what influence it has to prevent the emergence of new threats. From this perspective, the Israeli strategy on settlements makes sense. If there will be no talks, and Israel must maintain its overwhelming advantage, creating strategic depth in the West Bank is sensible; it would be less sensible if there were a possibility of a peace treaty. Israel must also inflict a temporary defeat on any actively hostile Palestinian force from time to time to set them back several years and to demonstrate Israeli capabilities for psychological purposes.
The Palestinian position meanwhile must be to maintain its political cohesion and wait, using its position to try to drive wedges between Israel and its foreign patrons, particularly the United States, but understanding that the only change in the status quo will come from changes outside the Israeli-Palestinian complex. The primary Palestinian problem will be to maintain itself as a distinct entity with sufficient power to resist an Israeli assault for some time. Any peace treaty would weaken the Palestinians by pulling them into the Israeli orbit and splitting them up. By refusing a peace treaty, they remain distinct, if divided. That guarantees they will be there when circumstances change.
Fifty Years Out
Israel’s major problem is that circumstances always change. Predicting the military capabilities of the Arab and Islamic worlds in 50 years is difficult. Most likely, they will not be weaker than they are today, and a strong argument can be made that at least several of their constituents will be stronger. If in 50 years some or all assume a hostile posture against Israel, Israel will be in trouble.
Time is not on Israel’s side. At some point, something will likely happen to weaken its position, while it is unlikely that anything will happen to strengthen its position. That normally would be an argument for entering negotiations, but the Palestinians will not negotiate a deal that would leave them weak and divided, and any deal that Israel could live with would do just that.
What we are seeing in Gaza is merely housekeeping, that is, each side trying to maintain its position. The Palestinians need to maintain solidarity for the long haul. The Israelis need to hold their strategic superiority as long as they can. But nothing lasts forever, and over time, the relative strength of Israel will decline. Meanwhile, the relative strength of the Palestinians may increase, though this isn’t certain.
Looking at the relative risks, making a high-risk deal with the Palestinians would seem prudent in the long run. But nations do not make decisions on such abstract calculations. Israel will bet on its ability to stay strong. From a political standpoint, it has no choice. The Palestinians will bet on the long game. They have no choice. And in the meantime, blood will periodically flow.
There is No Diplomatic Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. By Rush Limbaugh. RushLimbaugh.com, July 29, 2014.
Poor John Kerry, He’s Trying So Hard! By Rush Limbaugh. RushLimbaugh.com, July 29, 2014.
Geraldo Shocks Outnumbered Hosts: A Wife’s Greatest Asset Is Her “Youth.” By Matt Wilstein. Mediaite, July 28, 2014. Video also at YouTube.
Geraldo Rivera’s Extremely Sexist and Weird Rant About Marriage. By Catherine Taibi and Jack Mirkinson. The Huffington Post, July 28, 2014.
Geraldo Rivera: Youth Is the Best Thing Women Can Bring to Marriage. By Kate Dries. Jezebel, July 28, 2014.
Geraldo Rivera Can Suck My 41-Year-Old Dick. By Rebecca Schoenkopf. Wonkette, July 29, 2014.
Geraldo Rivera: Youth Is the Best Thing Women Can Bring to Marriage. By Kate Dries. Jezebel, July 28, 2014.
Geraldo Rivera Can Suck My 41-Year-Old Dick. By Rebecca Schoenkopf. Wonkette, July 29, 2014.
The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach “I Do.” By Jessica Bennett. Time, July 25, 2014.
Millennial Trend Forecasting: Beta Testing Marriages. By Kara Brown. Jezebel, July 25, 2014.
Why we should definitely beta-test marriages. By Jenny Kutner. Salon, July 25, 2014.
Hot Topic: Beta Marriages. Video. The View. ABC, July 28, 2014. YouTube.
Millennial Trend Forecasting: Beta Testing Marriages. By Kara Brown. Jezebel, July 25, 2014.
Why we should definitely beta-test marriages. By Jenny Kutner. Salon, July 25, 2014.
Hot Topic: Beta Marriages. Video. The View. ABC, July 28, 2014. YouTube.
I know this may provoke a Stephen Smith-like reaction, but I think essentially – although there’s an increase in two income marriages – generally speaking, the man is the breadwinner, more often than not, though now increasingly women do work. But what I think a woman brings to a marriage more than anything else, to a relationship, is her youth. Her youth is a fragile and diminishing resource. So if a woman were to invest two years in one of these marriages and then to be rejected by the man, I think that she has given up a valuable asset that is unequal. In other words, the man gets everything and the woman gets nothing from this arrangement.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Richard Kemp: A Pro-Israel British Colonel Predicts Endless Costly Military Operations. By David Horovitz.
A supportive British colonel, and a bleak vision of endless costly military operations. By David Horovitz. The Times of Israel, July 25, 2014.
I asked Richard Kemp how Israel might achieve a demilitarized Gaza. He shook his head at the improbability of it. “Some kind of peacekeeping force would be essential, but who’d do that? Not the US, not the UK, nobody.”
Col. Richard Kemp CBE, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, is notorious among Israel-bashers for his robust defense of the morality of Israel’s army and his empathy for the challenges Israel faces from Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups seeking its destruction.
Kemp is in Israel at the moment and gave a lecture on Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem, arranged by the NGO Monitor organization. I spoke to him beforehand in the faint hope that this 30-year British army combat veteran, who served 14 operational tours of duty worldwide and who subsequently worked in the British Cabinet office on defense and intelligence issues, could offer clear-cut guidance on how Israel might decisively, and with a minimum of loss of life, prevail over Hamas in the current offensive. As we talked in the cafe of Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Kemp was astute and informed and wise. Unsurprisingly, unhappily, however, he echoed the words from the Prime Minister’s Office these past two weeks — you need to use a mixture of military and diplomatic strategies, but there are no 100 percent solutions. Actually, it was bleaker than that. Read on, but don’t expect to be uplifted.
I asked Kemp first, simply and unfairly, how Israel could win out over Hamas in the military, diplomatic and public opinion arenas, and left it for him to choose where to start. He began with the military aspects. “It’s possible to use different military operations to defeat Hamas as a viable military entity,” he opened, promisingly enough. “It can’t be done from the air. It can be done from the ground. At the moment you’re attacking the tunnels. You could move further into Gaza, to the rocket launchers and the infrastructure and the underground tunnels there.”
And here’s where things started to go downhill. “But that means a protracted operation, which is likely to be costly,” he warned. “There’s already been significant cost to Israel in the ground operation. There’d be more clashes with those the Israeli troops are assaulting. As with British forces in Afghanistan, you’re facing suicide attacks, roadside bombs, IEDs, booby traps, snipers. Except Hamas has had a lot more time to prepare than the Taliban had in any particular area of Afghanistan. You’re also operating in very heavily populated areas. This all means major advantages to the defenders. Tanks, artillery and aircraft are of more limited use. You’re fighting hand-to-hand.”
And that’s not all, said Kemp. The heavy civilian casualties among Gazans would raise world opprobrium. And the heavy casualties among Israeli troops would cause support to falter in Israel. Therefore, you need to bring in diplomatic resolution “at some stage along that path.”
Okay, but at which point along that path, I asked him.
“Military pressure at some point could cause Hamas to want a ceasefire, he said. “That’s more than possible at some point before its defeat. Or,” he went on, “diplomatic pressure [earlier on] could achieve the same effect.” But he cautioned, “it’s preferable to end with a diplomatic solution only if and when the IDF believes there has been sufficient damage to Hamas and/or you are confident that Hamas is so restricted as to significantly reduce the threat it poses.”
But, I responded, as he sipped his soda water, it’s hard to imagine Hamas seeking a ceasefire. Indeed, he agreed, and Israel has sustained so many casualties that it will not want a ceasefire without concrete assurances of long-term calm. At the same time, he said, “there’s media pressure” — reports of dead babies, dead boys on the Gaza beach, the UNHRC ordering a probe — “accumulating on the government to agree to a ceasefire short of what it really wants.”
If that all sounds unsatisfactory, Kemp readily acknowledged it. These are hard questions, he said.
I asked him how Israel might realistically achieve the demilitarized Gaza that it and the EU are calling for. He shook his head at the improbability of it all. “Some kind of peacekeeping force would be essential, but who’d do that? Not the US, not the UK, nobody.”
So what, I asked him, at the risk of going round in circles, was a realistic exit? “Pillar of Defense-style assurances from Hamas that they won’t carry out attacks,” he suggested, “and assurances from Egypt that they’ll do what they can to prevent Hamas’s rearming.”
But the Pillar of Defense calm held for only 20 months, and Hamas was unlikely at present to offer any assurances, I noted. “I don’t have the solution,” said Kemp. “The fact that there’s a problem doesn’t mean there’s a solution.”
So what is Israel to do? Kemp was curt. “Recognize that it has a festering sore blistered onto the side of it.”
He did recommend something Israel could do to boost its security — encroaching deeper into Gaza to carve out “a more substantial buffer zone that would provide some defense against the cross border tunnels.” But he also then immediately acknowledged that there would be heavy international criticism for the removal of Gaza’s civilian population that this would entail.
It all sounds impossible, I suggested bleakly. He sighed and said that Western forces in Afghanistan and Iraq had found it very difficult to grapple with the tactics and strategies used by Islamic extremist forces. “Years ago it was possible for Western forces to use extreme violence,” he said. “The language of extreme violence has more leverage here [in this region]. But that’s not on the table in the 21st century… That’s not feasible or desirable.” And, therefore, he concluded, “You’re in an enduring situation.”
Worse than that of Western forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, I said, because we can’t withdraw back to distant Britain and the United States. We’re stuck here in this neighborhood. Said Kemp: “It’s a matter of containment, rather than resolution.”
I tried a different course. Perhaps a political solution? “Yes, of course,” replied Kemp. But it quickly became clear he was speaking theoretically. “But as the Gaza lessons show, how could Israel possibly come to any agreement with the Palestinian Authority which would allow them full sovereignty in the West Bank? Maybe in 20, 50 years. But in the world today, it’s not possible for Israel, with its security needs, to withdraw its forces significantly from the West Bank.”
Except that’s precisely what the international community, led by the United States, has been urging Israel to do. Kemp was withering. “The Allen Plan” — a proposal drawn up by General John Allen for Secretary of State John Kerry to provide security for Israel after a gradual West Bank withdrawal — “is a complete nonstarter and was from the very beginning,” he said. “The idea that you could expect technology to secure the area, to expect Israel to rely on monitoring perhaps by American forces, and thus to withdraw Israeli forces from the interior of the West Bank, and gradually from the border, [in a world] with the Islamic State (terror group), Gaza, the downing of the Ukrainian airliner…” Kemp tailed off.
“Even if your prime minister, any Israeli prime minister, wants to enable the PA to have a state without an internal Israeli military presence, they can’t. And will the PA accept an agreement on sovereignty with an Israeli military presence? Of course not.” So unless there’s a tectonic shift in the region, a political solution is “impossible.”
What he seemed to be saying, I summed up, is that Israel is, at best, doomed to have to continue intermittently conducting very costly military operations. The colonel agreed. “In the world today, and as it appears it will be, Israel is, if not fighting for its survival, certainly fighting people who will continue to attack it.”
Doesn’t the international failure to understand this constitute an existential danger, given the criticism and potential constraints on Israel’s room for maneuver when it resorts to these very costly military operations? Kemp said there was a strategic danger if international criticism became a profound economic problem for Israel. But he also thought the BDS campaign and some efforts by the EU to disrupt the economy had been “feeble” to date.
How did Kemp explain the international failure to understand what Israel is up against, I wondered. I cited British Labor opposition leader Ed Miliband’s harsh criticisms of Israel in recent days and President Barack Obama’s less than unconditional support as examples, while crediting British Prime Minister David Cameron for taking a more supportive position. But Kemp wasn’t even completely happy with Cameron. “Cameron said some good things, to an extent, but he also said that Israel needs to do more to reduce civilian casualties. Assuming he’s aware of how things are unfolding, that’s not a reasonable comment of an ally of Israel. The same goes for Obama (who expressed concern at the deaths of civilians), and for [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon’s use of the word ‘atrocious.’ All of that validates Hamas’s tactics and encourages Hamas to continue what it is doing,” he fumed. “It shows other jihadists that these tactics work — especially the use of human shields. If Miliband says ‘I can’t defend Israel,’ well, how would he fight terrorism? Our country Britain has been very lucky not to face the same thing. But these international jihadists learn from each other.”
The international response to Operation Protective Edge could have been worse, Kemp allowed. But Israel deserves full support for what is a “legal, lawful operation, [a case of] Israel defending itself,” he said. When that full support is not forthcoming, that encourages the extremists.
Lack of empathy for Israel in some quarters, certainly in Britain, Kemp posited, stems partly from a desire to avoid internalizing what is really going on. People are “self-indoctrinated with their own thinking” — their own inclinations to “compromise, reason and logic. They just can’t see how the situation really plays out,” he said.
In the UK, he added, there is also still a belief in high circles that Israel is at the root of all of the Middle East’s problems, even if that belief has been somewhat dented by reality. Also, he said, “people like Miliband see that supporting Israel, when most parts of the Muslim world oppose it, is going to be unpopular given the UK’s increasingly influential Muslim community. And there’s an element of appeasement: [Islamic extremists] have carried out attacks,” a reference to the July 7, 2005, London bombings — “and we’ve thwarted more. So [the thinking is], if we’re nice to Israel, [the extremists] will be nasty to us.” Kemp also cited electoral considerations — with British constituencies where Muslim voters can prove decisive — and the small matter of oil.
But what of Obama, president of Israel’s key ally? Kemp began apologetically: “It’s not an original thought, but obviously he wants to be a peacemaker, to lower the Middle East profile, to be a friend of the Arab world. Being seen to be too close to Israel undermines that.”
Increasingly depressed by this point, I said one of my concerns was that Israel, when facing amoral enemies, might have an increasingly hard time surviving without resorting to more brutal actions. He was adamant that Israel, in his judgment, is simply not prepared to act immorally. He spoke of Israeli pilots telling him that they’d aborted bombing runs time after time because of the danger of civilian casualties. That must be frustrating, he’d ventured. Quite the reverse, they told him. I’d rather do that time and again, one pilot had said, than have the opposite on my hands.
Kemp said he didn’t understand why the Western media doesn’t recognize this morality. “They go to Afghanistan and see the troops and feel respect, but they seem to believe Israeli soldiers are different. In my experience, Israeli soldiers, with their different accents and uniform, are very similar to the British soldiers in terms of their mentality, ethos and morality,” Kemp said. “In some cases, the individual morality of the Israeli soldiers is greater than the British.”
Maybe all our woes stem from the settlements, I suggested, playing devil’s advocate as our conversation came to its bitter end. “Some say that’s central. I say it’s marginal,” Kemp said. “The same people who are attacking Israel now were attacking Israel before there were any settlements. If the settlements were withdrawn, it would not markedly affect the problem. The only thing that would markedly affect the problem is if Israel — I should say the Jewish state — were to withdraw from the Middle East. Because that’s what Hamas wants. And in my view, that’s what Fatah wants as well.”
Bleak indeed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But utterly supportive. At least someone gets it.