Sunday, August 17, 2014

 

Eyeless, Clueless and Senseless in Gaza

"I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us."--Eric Hoffer (May 1968 letter)

The Jewish people in general and Israel in particular are the canaries in the world coal mine. Most of the world found it easy to dismiss Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party during the 1930s when Hitler's rhetoric and actions focused on demonizing and dehumanizing Jews. By the time the world realized the full extent of Hitler's evil and the true nature of his goals, Hitler had plunged the world into war--a war that the Nazis nearly won.

Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is fighting for her very survival, battling against a well-trained and well-equipped Hamas terrorist organization that is funded and supported by Iran. Iran's cold-blooded attempt to destroy Israel foreshadows the fate in store for the United States and other Western democracies if those countries do not rally behind Israel. It is important to understand the historical dimensions and future implications of Israel's war against Hamas.

Forget the false message disseminated by perhaps the most successful propaganda campaign in world history; there is no such thing as a Palestinian Arab people and there has never been an Arab country named Palestine or indeed any independent Arab country where the State of Israel now exists. The Roman Empire, after subduing the Judean Revolt nearly 2000 years ago, renamed Judea "Syria Palestina" and renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina." The former term, shortened to "Palestine," refers to the geographical areas known in modern times as the State of Israel, Jordan, Gaza and Judea/Samaria. It cannot be emphasized enough that Palestine is a geographical term; it does not refer to a nation nor is there such a thing as a Palestinian language or a distinct Palestinian culture. After the Roman Conquest, various empires conquered Palestine but no one established an independent country there. Jews prayed for and dreamed about reestablishing a Jewish State in their ancestral homeland but this did not become a practical idea until the 1800s, after the birth of modern nationalist movements. The Jewish modern nationalist movement, Zionism, turned the ancient Jewish dream into a reality as Jewish people who lived in Palestine, plus Jews who returned home to Palestine after fleeing persecution in Europe, built up Palestine from a desolate and sparsely inhabited wasteland into a place where the desert bloomed. That in turn attracted Arab immigration to Palestine from throughout the region. During the early 20th century there were various nascent Arab nationalist movements but there was no such thing as a Palestinian national movement (other than the Jewish Palestinian national movement); indeed, before the founding of the modern State of Israel, the terms "Palestine" and "Palestinians" almost exclusively referred to Jewish organizations and Jews: the major Jewish newspaper in pre-state Israel was the Palestine Post (now known as the Jerusalem Post) and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was founded as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra.

The term Palestine was not understood to mean a separate Arab nation until an anti-Israel propaganda campaign transmogrified the meaning of that word after the founding of the modern State of Israel. Indeed, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964 in Cairo as an Egyptian puppet at a time when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria and Egypt controlled Gaza. The PLO, sponsored at that time by the Soviet Union and other totalitarian countries, was not trying to "liberate" land from Israel, because the land that the PLO was supposedly trying to "liberate" was at that time under Arab control; the PLO was founded to destabilize and destroy Israel as part of the Soviet Union's Mideast designs during the Cold War. The PLO never represented the interests of an underdog, oppressed people; the PLO has always been a well-funded tool of various totalitarian regimes and the PLO's goals have always focused on destroying Israel, not on "liberation."

During Israel's War of Independence, several hundred thousand Arabs fled from Israel, exhorted by Arab military leaders to temporarily evacuate in order to make way for the planned massacre of Israel's Jewish residents. These Arabs expected to triumphantly return to a land with no Jews but instead Israel defeated the combined armies of her Arab neighbors. In most wars, the losing side is responsible for resettling its refugees or else a de facto population exchange occurs (few people talk about the fact that, at the same time that hundreds of thousands of Arabs voluntarily left Israel, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Arab countries, with most of those Jews fleeing to Israel). Not only did the Arab countries refuse to resettle their Arab brethren who they had exhorted to leave Israel but the so-called Palestinian Arabs are the only group in the world that has an entire UN organization devoted exclusively to their particular concerns: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). All other refugee crises in the world are dealt with by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. At the end of 2012, the UNHCR listed listed 45.2 million displaced people worldwide, the largest such number since 1994. The biggest single displaced person crisis in the world is focused in Pakistan, a result of decades of war, tyranny and instability in that region. The disproportionate attention paid to a fictional Palestinian nation and a real--but eminently solvable--Arab refugee problem not only does injustice to both Israel and the refugees in question (who have been exploited as political pawns by Israel's enemies for decades) but it also hinders efforts to solve other more severe refugee crises.

It is bad enough that there is an entire UN organization focusing on refugees of a fictional nation, people who share a common language, culture and religion with most of the other Arab countries in the Mideast and who should have been accepted by those countries decades ago, much like Israel welcomed Jewish refugees from Arab countries--but what really makes the UNRWA completely disgusting is that the UNRWA is complicit in war crimes committed against Israel. Three times in the past month, Hamas rockets have been found at UNRWA facilities. The first time that rockets were discovered in a UNRWA facility during the current conflict, the UNRWA handed over the rockets to Hamas, a flagrant violation of the UNRWA's purported neutrality. Michael Curtis makes a strong case that Hamas should be indicted for war crimes:

In its behavior towards Israel, Hamas is guilty of both crimes against humanity and war crimes according to Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute, which applies to murder and extermination. Hamas is guilty of a government policy in which those two crimes are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Its actions are more than isolated inhumane acts and constitute a consistent pattern of behavior. The stated aim of Hamas is not simply to harm Israeli civilians, but rather a policy of genocide, the killing of Jews, and the elimination of the State of Israel. Hamas has really only one grievance: the existence of Israel.

Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statute deals with the war crime of using protected persons as shields. Hamas has been guilty on numerous occasions of this crime--the intention to shield a military objective from attack or shield, favor, or impede military operations. The major war crime of Hamas is to use children for this purpose. Golda Meir, in her straightforward manner, once commented, "We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." In contrast, Hamas has stated that preserving the capacity to bomb civilians in Israel is more valued than the loss of Palestinian children.
 
Those children have been used not only as human shields to protect the terrorists. They have also been used for actions such as being messengers and couriers for the terrorists, for digging tunnels into Israel, and for smuggling. Hamas has used them for military activities, including throwing grenades and rocks, and even for suicide bomber missions. Schools and kindergartens have been used to store missiles and mortars and as launching sites, in the same way as hospitals, mosques, and public places have been used. The sad reality is that Gaza children do not dream of becoming rocket scientists; they dream of firing rockets and becoming holy martyrs.

There is ample evidence to present to the International Criminal Court, including the outspoken statement of the U.N. secretary-general, the discovery that tunnels used for aggression are located under hospitals and private property, and the videos of Hamas actions. One video clearly shows rockets being fired next to civilian buildings. Another shows a demonstration of human shields as civilians were forced to gather on top of the home of a known Hamas terrorist to prevent an attack by Israel. Ban Ki-moon has spoken of the need to address the "root causes" of instability in Gaza. A case brought against Hamas before the International Criminal Court would find that the basis of instability in Gaza is the crimes against humanity and the war crimes committed by Hamas.

In "Hamas has win-win tactic," UK colonel tells ‘Post,’ UK Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp tells Seth J. Frantzman, "I have thirty years of experience in exactly this type of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, where the tactics were similar. I find a great deal of media reporting outside of Israel is grossly distorted and doesn't comprehend the reality of what’s happening."

Frantzman adds:

Kemp argues that Israel has persevered very well despite being at a "natural disadvantage" in the media and international spotlight, saying that "Hamas used this tactic of human shields. It is win-win for them. The first win is if they can stop the IDF from attacking a target, whether it is a headquarters or ammunition point. Equally, if the IDF does attack the target and there are civilian casualties, they also win, because it means they scored a propaganda victory."

In meetings with pilots, soldiers and naval personnel, he related stories where they had frequently refrained from attacking targets where civilian casualties might have resulted.

Although the perception is that the IDF is harming civilians, he argues that many armies actually look to Israel to learn how the country minimizes casualties while fighting in an urban environment.


"I don't know of any method used in this kind of scenario to [further] reduce civilian casualties. When [US President Barack] Obama and [British Prime Minister David] Cameron say that [there is], then they should [say] how to," he said.

He sees international criticism of Israel's actions as encouraging terrorists to copy the Hamas strategy of using human shields and undermining Israel's ability to defeat the group.

It is not difficult to ascertain both the historical truth about Israel and the truth about Israel's current war with Hamas, but that does not stop the mainstream media from covering these issues mendaciously. In Why Do People Hate Israel?, Dennis Prager declares that there are only two possible reasons that this is the only time in history that "in a war between a free state and a police state, the free state was deemed the aggressor. That’s because it never happened before Israel and its enemies." Prager explains the reasons for this "moral anomaly":

One is the nearly worldwide embrace of leftist thought and values. According to this way of thinking, Westerners are almost always wrong when they fight Third World countries or groups; and the weaker party, especially if non-Western, is almost always deemed the victim when fighting a stronger, especially Western, group or country. Leftism has replaced “good and evil” with “rich and poor,” “strong and weak,” and “Western (or white) and non-Western (or non-white).” Israel is rich, strong and Western; the Palestinians are poor, weak and non-Western.

The only other possible explanation is that Israel is Jewish.

There is no other rational explanation because the fixation with, and the hatred of, Israel are not rational. Israel is a particularly decent country. It is tiny--about the size of New Jersey and smaller than El Salvador; and while there are more than 50 Muslim countries, there is only one Jewish one. She should be admired and supported, not hated to the extent that there are dozens of countries whose populations would like to see Israel annihilated--again, a unique phenomenon. No other country in the world is targeted for extermination.

As hard as it is for modern, rational and irreligious people to accept, Israel’s Jewishness is a primary reason for the hatred of it.

Isi Liebler spoke truth to power in Candidly Speaking: Obama is abandoning Israel:

The Western media’s sympathy for Hamas, inciting hatred against Israel by its excessive display of gruesome images of dead children, was completely out of context. That Israel possesses the firepower to level Gaza, if it intended to do so, was ignored. Rarely did it acknowledge that Israel had accepted cease-fires which Hamas had rejected. Or that Israel maintained a flow of humanitarian aid, electricity and water to Gaza and that terrorist casualties were treated in Israeli hospitals. In fact, Israel even established a field hospital for the sole purpose of treating Gazan civilians.

The media behaved unconscionably in failing to highlight the fact that most of the civilian casualties in Gaza were incurred because Hamas had ordered women and children to ignore Israeli early warnings to evacuate, obliging them to act as human shields at rocket launching sites and command posts. Schools, hospitals, mosques, and UNRWA headquarters were used to stockpile armaments and launch missiles. By this behavior, Hamas is responsible for every civilian casualty, and is unquestionably guilty of war crimes.

As (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu stated, "Israel employs missile defense to protect its citizens; Hamas uses its civilians to protect missiles."

Whereas no army in history has ever gone to the extremes of the IDF to minimize civilian casualties, the obscene UN Human Rights Commission, dominated by dictatorships and rogue states, has launched an investigation of what it has already defined as "Israeli war crimes." In what is clearly intended to be a repeat of the notorious Goldstone Commission, there is not even the pretense of objectivity and no call to investigate Hamas.


Caroline Glick bluntly explained why Hamas violated the August 1 ceasefire:

Hamas acted as it did, because it thinks it can get away with it. And Hamas thinks that it can get away with it because Hamas is convinced that it will win this war.

And as long as Hamas is convinced that it will win this war, it will continue to attack, no matter what its situation is on the ground in Gaza. It will continue to attack Israel no matter what Israel does.

As a consequence, there is no way for Israel to disengage. There can never be a ceasefire with Hamas for as long as Hamas is convinced that it will win this war.

To understand why Hamas is convinced that it will win, it is necessary to understand first why Hamas is fighting in the first place.

Hamas went to war with one goal, to reopen Gaza to the world.

Hamas is fighting to open Gaza’s border with Egypt, to end Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza coast, and to reinstate its lines of finance.

Today Hamas’s leadership, snug in their multi-million dollar villas in Qatar and well-equipped bunkers under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City are that they will achieve their goal. They will win.


Glick notes that the UNRWA is at best powerless and ineffectual and at worst actively collaborating with Hamas, who she rightly calls "a genocidal terrorist organization dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish people and our state as a first step towards Islamic world domination":

During this war--and in previous Hamas campaigns against Israel--we have seen Hamas use UNWRA schools as missile storage sites and missile launching pads. This week three soldiers were killed trying to seal a tunnel whose entry shaft was located in an UNWRA clinic booby trapped with over a ton of explosives built into one of the walls.

At a minimum, this tells us that UNWRA is subservient to Hamas. All UNWRA installations and personnel are controlled by Hamas. As a result, UNWRA is a subsidiary--willing or unwilling--of Hamas and all funds to UNWRA must be suspended until Hamas is no longer in control of Gaza.

Again, the central point is that for as long as Hamas exercises control over Gaza, everyone in Gaza and every entity operating in Gaza is controlled by Hamas. All assistance to Gaza assists Hamas and communicates the message that Hamas will win the war.


Israel's enemies often cite the casualty disparity in the current war, noting that Israel has suffered far fewer deaths and injuries than her enemies--but, as indicated by the Golda Meir quote cited above, the reason for this is that Israel's enemies hate the Jews more than they value their own lives. Furthermore, Israel's effectiveness at minimizing her own casualties should not be held against her. The important point to remember is that Hamas is a state-sponsored terrorist organization whose sworn goal is to destroy Israel, a peaceful and democratic country. According to a July 25, 2014 article published by YNetnews, if Israel had not dealt with Hamas' underground network of tunnels now then the Jewish State would soon have been confronted with a massacre on the scale of the 9/11 attacks:

Hamas had been preparing a murderous massive assault on Israeli civilian targets during the upcoming Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashanah--this according to anonymous sources in the Israeli security services cited by the Israeli daily Maariv.

Hamas had been planning a surprise attack where 200 fighters would have been dispatched through the dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel. The terror organization aimed to seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.

In total, thousands of Hamas terrorists would have been swarming across Israel, wearing IDF uniforms, which would have further complicated an Israeli response. Reports further indicate that Hezbollah may have planned to join the attack as well, opening another front in the north.

The source stressed that the current unplanned war with Hamas inadvertently thwarted a catastrophic event on an apocalyptic magnitude such as the Yom Kippur War, which would have ‘brought the State of Israel to its knees.’ The destruction of these tunnels takes away from Hamas a strategic weapon it has been working on and investing in heavily for years according to the source.

Each tunnel has arteries, veins, offshoots as well as offshoots of offshoots designed in intricate and complex arrangements. As one Israeli spokesman said, "There are two Gazas, one above ground and one below ground: an underground terrorist city."

The materials used by Hamas to manufacture these tunnels of death were ostensibly imported for civilian construction and could have been used to build hospitals, schools and homes. Keep that in mind the next time you hear anti-Israel commentators spewing nonsense about Israel's responsibility for Arab living conditions in Gaza.

Despite the vicious attacks launched against Israel--both physical and psychological--Zionism is a great success story, as noted in Michael Oren's In Defense of Zionism:

Elsewhere in the world, indigenous languages are dying out, forests are being decimated, and the populations of industrialized nations are plummeting. Yet Zionism revived the Hebrew language, which is now more widely spoken than Danish and Finnish and will soon surpass Swedish. Zionist organizations planted hundreds of forests, enabling the land of Israel to enter the 21st century with more trees than it had at the end of the 19th. And the family values that Zionism fostered have produced the fastest natural growth rate in the modernized world and history's largest Jewish community. The average secular couple in Israel has at least three children, each a reaffirmation of confidence in Zionism's future.

Indeed, by just about any international criteria, Israel is not only successful but flourishing. The population is annually rated among the happiest, healthiest and most educated in the world. Life expectancy in Israel, reflecting its superb universal health-care system, significantly exceeds America's and that of most European countries. Unemployment is low, the economy robust. A global leader in innovation, Israel is home to R&D centers of some 300 high-tech companies, including Apple, Intel and Motorola. The beaches are teeming, the rock music is awesome, and the food is off the Zagat charts.

The democratic ideals integral to Zionist thought have withstood pressures that have precipitated coups and revolutions in numerous other nations. Today, Israel is one of the few states—along with Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.—that has never known a second of nondemocratic governance.

These accomplishments would be sufficiently astonishing if attained in North America or Northern Europe. But Zionism has prospered in the supremely inhospitable—indeed, lethal—environment of the Middle East. Two hours' drive east of the bustling nightclubs of Tel Aviv—less than the distance between New York and Philadelphia—is Jordan, home to more than a half million refugees from Syria's civil war. Traveling north from Tel Aviv for four hours would bring that driver to war-ravaged Damascus or, heading east, to the carnage in western Iraq. Turning south, in the time it takes to reach San Francisco from Los Angeles, the traveler would find himself in Cairo's Tahrir Square. 

In a region reeling with ethnic strife and religious bloodshed, Zionism has engendered a multiethnic, multiracial and religiously diverse society. Arabs serve in the Israel Defense Forces, in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court. While Christian communities of the Middle East are steadily eradicated, Israel's continues to grow. Israeli Arab Christians are, in fact, on average better educated and more affluent than Israeli Jews. 

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Postscript:

Eyeless in Gaza, Clueless in India: Why We Shouldn't Care refutes the idea that India (and other non-Western countries) should reflexively vote against Israel in international forums like the UN:

At its root, the problem is the Arab refusal to grant Israel the very right to exist, and their insistence that Israel and Jews must vacate the land. This stand does not allow for any compromise, and causes all the bloodshed and violence. Clearly, Israel is the aggrieved party on this front.

It is also easy to forget what caused the current round of bloodletting. It was the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by the militant Palestinian group Hamas. They could have anticipated that this would lead to harsh Israeli reprisals (that is Israel’s habit); and, in fact, they probably did. They wanted large civilian casualties in Gaza as a stick to beat Israel with, and presumably a means to generate more jihadis against Israel.

Moreover, it is evident that Hamas intended to cause as many civilian casualties as possible. To this end, they hid rocket batteries in civilian areas, using civilians as a human shield and daring the Israelis to shoot back; which the Israelis did, in the interest of protecting Israeli civilians.

That article's author, Rajeev Srinivasan, is not impressed by the anti-Israel, pro-Arab propaganda that is so popular in the West. Although he does not acknowledge that a distinct Palestinian nationality is a myth, he recognizes that the refugees who are called "Palestinians" could have and should have been resettled by their Arab brethren a long time ago:

The entire issue of Palestinian victimhood is a travesty in that Palestinians, traditionally the best-educated of the Arabs, could easily have been absorbed into the empty and rich oil kingdoms of West Asia without much trouble. Indeed, much of the original Palestine is now in the kingdom of Jordan (which admittedly doesn’t have any oil, but is fairly peaceful, as the Alawite monarchs keep a leash on Palestinians). If the Saudis, Qataris, Kuwaitis, et al had wanted to emancipate the Palestinians, they could have resettled them in their own countries and helped them to prosper.

Incidentally, that is exactly what has been expected of Kashmiri Pandits ethnically cleansed from Jammu and Kashmir. It is assumed that over time they will get absorbed into Indian territory where they are living in refugee camps--despite noises being made about sending them back, Muslim militants and even the government of J&K suggest that it may be difficult for the Pandits to return. So why is there some sacrosanct right to return only for Palestinians?

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