In the post immediately below, I wrote about the fact that Obama in this past week seems to have abandoned reality regarding Ukraine and the Middle East and opted, instead, for a fact-free fantasy. This chart summarizes some of what he’s missing:
Reality, stripped of politically-correct pap — or, Hamas is even worse than the Nazis:
It’s been another family-maintenance day, which precludes not only blogging but, quite often, even thinking. Having a house full of children is revitalizing and exhausting all at once.
I also took my Mom clothes shopping, which makes her extraordinarily happy, but leaves me limp and floppy. I am every cheapskate’s dream, because I just hate to shop. When I was young and shopped only for clothes to hang on my lithesome frame, it was all fun. Now, though, shopping means shlepping out to get groceries, household supplies, supplies for my Mom, clothing for the children, etc. It’s drudgery not pleasure and, to add insult to injury, I’m not as lissome as I once was. Clothes shopping tends to demoralize rather than hearten me.
All of which is irrelevant to this post’s purpose, which is to pass on to you interesting articles I read this weekend. So without further ado, here are things that you might find as interesting as I did.
I begin with a whole series of articles relating to the fact that, after having rockets rained down upon her for years — and in exponential numbers since Obama’s reelection — Israel is finally pushing back. I’ll throw in here that, while Obama got encomiums from Israel’s supporters yesterday because he said that Israel has the right to defend herself, today he managed to un-deserve those same encomiums. Why? Because he added that this right to self-defense exists so long as Israel doesn’t actually do anything . . . you know, defensive:
Obama said that his message to Erdogan, as well as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, was that it would be “preferred” if Israel could deter missiles from landing in its territory without ramping up military activity in Gaza. “That’s not just preferable to the people of Gaza, that’s also preferable to Israelis,” he said.
In other words, Israel is once again going to be bullied into a ceasefire after universal obloquy from the usual suspects, but before she can achieve any of her national defense goals. Obama can’t seem to get it through his head that it takes two to tango — and two to make peace. Constantly forcing Israel to hold back, while doing nothing about the thousands of rockets from Hamas and others (well, not nothing, because Obama does send them lots of taxpayer dollars) is just another example of government picking winners and losers — and in this game, Israel always loses.
Yesterday I posted about how the educated elite is economically ignorant, so today it shouldn’t be surprising that we learn that the educated elite is also ignorant about realities in the Middle East. Obama is simply the most visible ignoramus on the subject. Barry Rubin focuses on the foolish mentality Obama displays: namely, that Israel is totally entitled to defend herself, provided that she doesn’t do anything . . . you know, defensive.
One of the things I love about my conservative friends is that, contrary to the stereotypes the Left likes to propagate, they truly respect Israel — and it’s not just because they want all the Jews packed back into that small nation in order to facilitate the Second Coming and subsequent destruction of the Jewish nation. This canard, incidentally, is one of liberal Jews’ deepest suspicions about philosemitic Christians. Instead, true conservatives are people who value individual liberty and economic freedom, and they recognize what the elites refuse to see; namely, that this beleaguered Middle Eastern nation is a bastion of humanism in a dark, cruel, Islamo/Marxist region.
Richard Baehr points out that one of Israel’s problems is that the media and the Left (to the extent there’s any difference) completely ignore the dark cruelties that are integral to Islamic nations today, ranging from starvation in Egypt to civil war in Syria to attacks on sovereign U.S. territory in Libya. Instead, the media focuses obsessively on the small number of civilian deaths Israel tries so desperately to avoid, against an enemy that deliberately places its most vulnerable citizens in the softest targets.
Jay Gaskill tries to give the media a reality check: the problem isn’t Israel, the problem is an aggressive Islamism that has been pushing against and probing at the non-Muslim world since Mohamed first ordered it to do so. Given that this last election proved that the media has deep, strong tentacles into the American psyche, as long as it cannot distinguish cause from effect and predator from prey, both America and Israel are in great danger.
Not everyone thinks that Israel’s imminent incursions into Gaza will be disastrous. Jonathan Spyer argues that the Islamists aren’t truly ready for the fight they picked. Instead, they’re acting from a burst of hubris brought about by Obama’s reelection. According to Spyer, Hamas acted too soon because the Arab Spring effectively bankrupted Egypt, which is now dependent on American and other Western dollars to keep its citizens from starving. As long as the West wants to avoid all-out war in the Middle East, it can put economic pressure on Egypt, which will then put pressure on Hamas.
Okay, I’m done with the Middle East, but no Bookworm Room political post would be complete without some Obama bad-mouthing. I don’t like the man. It’s not just his Leftist policies and ignorance. It’s him. I find his narcissism and egotism repellent and dangerous. So does Neo-Neocon.
And finally, on a lighter note, Joel Pollak has some advice for surviving the holidays if you find yourself with liberal relatives. I’m fortunate in that my relatives, like me, have also made the transition from unthinking Leftist Jews to thoughtful Jewish conservatives. For me, the Thanksgiving holidays mean a restful time in the company of intelligent, fun, like-minded people.
Yesterday, I wrote about those rare individuals who can rise above fear in a terrorist state to become part of the solution, rather than a mere victim of the problem. With perfect timing, a friend sent me an article from the Times of Israel, about Mosab Hasson Yousef, a young man of unusual moral clarity and admirable courage:
Mosab Hassan Yousef has a knack for controversy. The son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, he has already broken every taboo in the Palestinian book. He has worked for Israeli intelligence and converted to Christianity. Now he is developing a new film which is sure to be no less sensational: a biography of the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.
Yousef, 33, broke ranks with Hamas in 1997 and began working for the Israeli internal intelligence service Shin Bet. Ten years later, after helping Israel thwart dozens of terror attacks and arrest many members of his former movement, Yousef left for the United States where he sought political asylum and later converted to Christianity.
Today, he says, he is back in Israel for the first time on a personal visit “to inspire a new generation of Palestinians.”
“I love Israel because I love democracy,” he told journalists in Jerusalem Tuesday. “I am here to protest religion’s absolute control of people’s lives.”
Please read the whole article. It’s very inspiring.
With a few stellar exceptions, the best way to tell a story is in chronological order. This is because, in the real world, cause and effect matter. I suspect that the AP knows this is true, which is why they had their latest report from the Middle East start with the effect (Israeli airstrikes) and the loop back, very reluctantly, to the cause (Hamas terror attacks on civilian centers):
Israel pounded Gaza for the second day in a row Saturday, trading airstrikes and rocket fire with Palestinian militants and killing 15 of them as the deadliest Gaza violence in over a year showed no signs of abating.
Despite Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire, Palestinians fired more than 100 rockets, some striking major cities in southern Israel and seriously wounding an Israeli civilian. The military responded with more than a dozen airstrikes and the targeted killings of Palestinian militants from various Gaza organizations.
Israel’s lauded Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted more than 25 projectiles. Still, residents were told to stay close to home and the cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon called off school for Sunday.
Tit-for-tat exchanges between Israel and Palestinians have been routine since the 2009 war, but a flare-up of this intensity is rare. The Arab League called the Israeli attacks a “massacre.” The United Nations and the State Department condemned the violence and called on both sides to exercise restraint.
Relativism and dishonesty are normative in the media.
Five years after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, a period during which he has been completely invisible and denied any access to humanitarian agencies, a small handful of American Muslims has finally decided to say something:
The Aug. 26 letter’s 11 signatories include the two Muslim members of Congress — Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) — as well as Muslim academics and communal figures.
“We believe Hamas’ harsh treatment and five-year detention of Shalit is wrong,” the Muslim leaders wrote in their letter, which was addressed to Khaled Mashal, the Syrian-based chairman of Hamas’ political bureau.
I admit that I’m a literalist when it comes to analyzing documents. Sometimes I get so tangled in specifics that I lose sight of the big picture. It’s a sad fact, too, that a lot of people are lousy writers.
All of which is to say that, when I read that excerpt, I understand it to mean, not that the letter’s authors believe kidnapping was wrong but, rather, that they are concerned that Hamas has taken it too far. Had Hamas treated Shalit a little less harshly (and since Shalit has been hidden, who really knows how he’s been treated?), and if Shalit had been held only, maybe, three or four years, instead of five . . . no problemo. As phrased, the excerpt indicates that as Ellison and Co. think that Hamas started off with a good idea, but that it’s handled the thing so maladroitly that it’s become embarrassing.
As I said, I’m a literalist, and most people are bad writers, but that’s what the letter, taken literally, says.
(Hat tip: Sadie)
- Are you aware that Iran was caught smuggling weapons into Gaza?
- Do you think Israelis have any legitimate reason to be concerned that Hamas may try to receive weapons via boat?
- Did you know that Hamas activists have shot about 4000 rockets into southern Israel since Israel withdrew form Gaza?
- Does that trouble you?
- Do you think it is possible that weapons might have been aboard your ship?
- Here are pictures of an Israeli soldiers being beaten with metal poles, another held behind a door by armed guards, and another lying in a pool of his own blood. How do you reconcile this with the concept of peace advocacy?
- There has been much news made of Helen Thomas’ statement essentially stating that she believes Israel should be ethnically cleansed of Jews. Do you share that sentiment?
- Do you think Israel has a legitimate right to exist? What about Australia? New Zealand? Canada? The United States? Jordan? Pakistan?
- Is there a reason you don’t object to living in the United States when you are not a Native American?
- If Israelis are killed by weapons brought into Gaza because you succeed in ending the blockade would you feel morally responsible?
- What is your opinion of suicide bombings?
- As a peace activist would you be willing to advocate for the release of Gilad Shalit who has been totally denied his human rights for the past 4 years, denied any contact with the Red
- Cross or anyone else, and held in unknown conditions by Hamas?
- Would you be willing to visit Israel and hear their side of the story?
- Are you aware that Hamas’ charter calls for the mass murder of Israelis and Jews?
- How do you explain your support of this murderous regime while still claiming to be for peace?
- If Israel were ethnically cleansed where do you propose the Israelis should go?
- Where do you suggest Jews with ancestry from Arab lands that do not accept Jewish residents should go?
- What about those Israelis whose families have lived in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the land of Israel for thousands of years?
- Do you like Jews?
(Bookworm here: What do you think the odds are that any news journal will ask the useful idiots these questions?)
Yesterday, White House officials were telling Jake Tapper that Obama would support Israel. Any minute moments of hope I cherished that the administration actually meant what it said were swiftly dashed. This is Obama’s version of support:
The Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area, senior American officials said Wednesday.
The officials say that Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza.
As is this:
President Barack Obama said Thursday that the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip was “tragic”, but he stopped short of condemning the actions of Israeli forces.
While Obama said the deaths of nine people were unnecessary, he said the U.S. wants to wait for “an investigation of international standards” to determine the facts. Israel, he said, should agree to such an investigation.
“They recognize that this can’t be good for Israel’s long-term security,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Larry King airing Thursday night.
Just so you know, even though the Obama administration seems to have misunderstood the facts on the ground, there is a good reason for the blockade:
Hezbollah in Lebanon, which shares a land border with Syria and is not under blockade, has a gigantic arsenal of rockets and missiles, more than most governments in the Middle East, and that arsenal includes missiles that can reach every single inch of Israeli territory, including Jerusalem, downtown Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion International Airport, and the Dimona nuclear power plant. The next war between Israel and Hezbollah will likely mean missiles, artillery shells, and payloads from air strikes will explode all over the Eastern Mediterranean, making last year’s small war in Gaza look even smaller.
Hamas has a relatively tiny arsenal of crude rockets, but if the Gaza Strip were not under military blockade, it could acquire whatever weapons Syria and Iran felt like sending by ship. Gaza could bristle with as many destructive projectiles as Hezbollah has. Food and medicines are allowed into the Strip already, so the most significant difference between Gaza now and a Gaza without a blockade will be the importation of weapons and war material.
More Israelis would be likely to die during the ensuing hostilities, and an even larger number of Palestinians would be likely to die when Israel fights back harder against a better armed and more dangerous adversary.
And again, let me remind everyone (although I know Obama isn’t listening to little ol’ me), the blockade blocks weapons, not anything else.
Having now gotten a glimpse at Obama’s “support,” I have to ask: What the Hell does life look like if you’re on Obama’s enemies list, rather than receiving his “support”? Does he come in the night and flay you alive while robotically reciting his boring, pompous meaningless speeches? I’m no longer pretending that Obama is inept, or misguided, or stupid, although I think he is all those things. I’m convinced he is evil, as only a true antisemite can be.
It’s a sad day when the only person in a presidential administration making any sense and showing any signs of human decency is Joe Biden, who really stepped up and said the right thing this time:
“I think Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest. I put all this back on two things: one, Hamas, and, two, Israel’s need to be more generous relative to the Palestinian people who are in trouble in Gaza,” Biden said, according to a transcript of the interview, in which he went on to discuss Hamas’s control of Gaza:
“[The Israelis have] said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship–if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping eight–3,000 rockets on my people,’ ” Biden said.
Kudos to Biden. He’s not right often, but when he’s right, he lands it square in the middle of the target.
To clear your brain from the miasma that is Obama-think, please read Michael Oren’s op-ed, which the New York Times at least had the decency to publish.
Israel stopped a contingent of Hamas supporters who tried to run a blockade bringing money and supplies into Gaza. Cynthia McKinney figures prominently in their number:
The Israeli navy intercepted a ship carrying foreign peace activists – including a San Rafael woman – trying to break a blockade of Gaza on Tuesday and forced it to sail to an Israeli port, the military said.
A statement said the Greek-registered freighter Arion ignored a radio message from the Israeli military saying it would not be allowed to enter Gaza waters and ordering it to turn back.
Also on board (in addition to a Marin County resident) is former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and other activists from Britain, Ireland, Bahrain and Jamaica.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel was planning to free the crew and passengers. “Nobody wants to keep them here,” he said. “They will be released as soon as they are checked.”
The Free Gaza Movement has organized five boat trips to Gaza since August 2008, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when the militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals in June 2007.
This blockade running is a stunt, of course. Unlike sieges of old, Israel is not imposing a blockade in order to cause the citizens of Gaza to experience famine and disease. The amount of government-sanctioned money flowing into Gaza from all points of the world is staggering. In 2009 alone, Saudi Arabia promised $58.9 million; President Obama (bless his little Leftist heart) promised a staggering $900 million; and, ‘tho I can’t find 2009 figures, as little as two years ago, Europe was giving annual aid at the 500 million Euro level. None of this, of course, is chump change. If the Palestinians had spent it wisely, they could have had a true Utopia. As it is, because they are a mix of corruption and murderous hatred, they’ve created a foul dystopia.
But I digress. Given the money that pours into Gaza, and given that Israel allows food, water and electricity to flow into that hate-filled territory, why the Israeli blockade? Only useful idiots would fail to see that the blockade is a desperate effort to prevent arms from flowing into Gaza. As it is, despite the blockade, Israel deals with thousands of rocket attacks annually. One only shudders to think what would happen without a blockade.
I’m willing to believe that the useful idiots on that ship have nothing to do with arms smuggling. Frankly, they’re too dumb to be trusted with what is, after all, a delicate task. They are cover, pure and simple. Hamas has discovered that there’s no better way simultaneously to hide and support their murderous agenda than to encourage the belief on the part of the credulous on the Left that Palestinians are victims of a genocidal Israel plot. One of the hallmarks of Leftists, both those who are informed and committed, and those who are merely stupid, is the inability to realize that not all Goliaths (that is, all big guys) are bad, and not all Davids (that would be the little guys) are good.
As I’ve said time and again in this blog, it’s not enough to be little. You have to stand for something good to be deserving of the David appellation and the world’s assistance. Right now, there are Davids in the world, but they are the Iranian citizens facing the guns and axes of their own government in an effort to bring some small measure of freedom to their totalitarian corner of the world.
Somehow, though, I don’t think I’ll see Cynthia McKinney and her fellow-travelers making a stand for Iranian citizens any time soon. She takes her cue from our President, who seemingly has never met a totalitarian government he hasn’t liked.
Using your own people as weapons is not a new tactic. During WWII, the Soviet Union was effective against the Germans, not because it had good weapons, but because it had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of cannon fodder. When the Germans advanced on Russia, the Soviets threw unarmed men in front of the Germans, causing the Germans to exhaust their missiles and bullets, even as the Soviets willingly threw more bodies in front of the guns.
What the Soviets did was just a numbers game — “our population is so big that, even semi-armed, it can absorb all your bullets and leave you dangling” — but what Hamas did in 2008 in the Gaza strip was little bit different. Hamas fighters made a calculated decision to use civilians as an integral part of Hamas’ own weapons infrastructure. This IDF, using data discovered during Operation Cast Lead, explains how Hamas operated:
These men aren’t dead yet, but they will be if they’re ever released back to Hamas’ TLC. The men of whom I speak are Gazans whom Israel captured during the recent Gaza incursion, and who have spilled the beans about Hamas’ myriad war crimes and financial defalcations — all of which consistently starve, murder, and make targets of the Palestinian people:
Nuaf Atar spoke about the use of Gazan schools to shoot rockets at Israel. Zabhi Atar revealed that Hamas used food coupons to entice Palestinians to join its ranks and Hamad Zalah said Hamas took control of UNRWA food supplies transferred to Gaza and refused to distribute them to people affiliated with Fatah.
These are three examples of testimony from Hamas and Islamic Jihad men who were captured by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. Details of their interrogations have been released for publication by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Nuaf Atar, 25, lives in Atatra, in the northwest Gaza Strip, and was captured by paratroopers on January 11. In his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Atar said Hamas government officials “took over” humanitarian aid Israel allowed in to the Strip and sold it, when it is supposed to be distributed for free.
Hamas set up rocket launchers and fired rockets into Israel from within school compounds since the operatives knew that the Israel Air Force would not bomb the schools, he said.
Palestinians who opposed Hamas’s use of their land and homes as launch pads were shot in the legs, Atar added.
Hamad Zalah, 29, is also a resident of Jabalya and was captured by the IDF on January 12. During his interrogation, he revealed that together with his brother, he was tortured by Hamas at a headquarters in Jabalya for his affiliation with Fatah and his intention to light a memorial candle for Yasser Arafat.
He said that he was whipped and beaten with electrical cords. In 2007, Hamas operatives shot and killed his brother, who was a security guard at the home of a Palestinian Authority official in Gaza.
Since June 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza, the terror group, Zalah said, also took control of all humanitarian aid sent into the Strip and refused to distribute it to Palestinians affiliated with Fatah.
UPDATE: For those of you who arrived to late to see this video, the only possible violation could have been that it offended Muslim sensibilities. It should a Hamas man firing a mortar at 6 second intervals, with every firing preceded by an off-camera man crying “Allah Akbar.” At about the 7th round, something happened, and fireball fills the screen, at which point the video cuts off. No blood; just a martyr on his way to meet the virgins.
Here’s a sickening AP story blaming Israel for the “trauma” inflicted on Gazan children. The story’s only acknowledgment that Hamas itself placed the children in the line of fire is the following paragraph, one that is carefully crafted to make it seem as if it was Israel’s fault that the poor Hamas fighters had to crowd into those child-infested residential areas:
Facing the Israeli invasion, Hamas gunmen often operated from densely populated Gaza neighborhoods, drawing massive Israeli fire that killed and wounded large numbers of civilians, along with fighters. Tens of thousands fled their homes, seeking shelter in U.N. schools.
Even worse, the whole article fails even to mention that Hamas has been raining rockets on Israel for years, with schools as its favorite target, or that it is Hamas that has created a perpetual war culture that puts its children at risk.
The story is a gross piece of propaganda that is entirely consistent with AP’s manifest bias. And I say all this with due sympathy for the poor children who are victimized, not by Israel — a nation that called in its attacks in advance to give the children time to escape — but by their own countrymen, who gleefully use them as intentional targets precisely so that they can garner this kind of maudlin, dishonest (but sadly far-reaching) press coverage.
I’ve had some family management issues taking up my time today (all is good, but, boy, was the management time-consuming), but my faithful friends send me wonderful, thought-provoking things that I can pass along to you. Here’s a good video trying to help Americans understand what Israelis have suffered for the last ten years — without even touching upon the fact that, over ten years, Israelis have experienced an ever increasing barrage, with rockets of steadily greater range:
I can guarantee you that Mr. Jim Bramell, a Mill Valley resident spouting this kind of belly-gazing crap, was not on the streets protesting at any time during the last several years as Hamas fired thousands of missiles into Israel, destroying myriad little castles (for footage of some of those destroyed little Israeli castles, many of which were intentionally targeted schools, check out this post):
“Everybody has a right to a home,” Bramell said. “My home is my castle and the Palestinians’ home is their castle.”
These people turn my stomach, they really do. Their little brains are bounded by a willful lack of information, compounded by a complete absence either of morality or coherent thinking.
UPDATE: Typos fixed. Rage, phone calls, and laundry all put me into incoherent territory.
I’m sorry, but when a law professor writes this kind of prima facie garbage, you have to wonder about an administration that keeps him on board. Without even delving into actual facts, let me just fisk the relevant parts of Bisharat’s article regarding Israel and war crimes to reveal logical inconsistencies and outright gibberish:
Israel’s current assault on the Gaza Strip cannot be justified by self-defense. Rather, it involves serious violations of international law, including war crimes. Senior Israeli political and military leaders may bear personal liability for their offenses, and they could be prosecuted by an international tribunal, or by nations practicing universal jurisdiction over grave international crimes. Hamas fighters have also violated the laws of warfare, but their misdeeds do not justify Israel’s acts. [This is Bisharat's premise. Let's see if he can support it.]
The United Nations charter preserved the customary right of a state to retaliate against an “armed attack” from another state. The right has evolved to cover nonstate actors operating beyond the borders of the state claiming self-defense, and arguably would apply to Hamas. However, an armed attack involves serious violations of the peace. Minor border skirmishes are common, and if all were considered armed attacks, states could easily exploit them — as surrounding facts are often murky and unverifiable — to launch wars of aggression. [Classic lawyer's trick: use a wimpy term to define your own parameters. We're just looking at a "border skirmish here" -- which ignores the Hamas charter calling for Israel's total destruction. In other words, on Hamas' side at least, this is not a mere border skirmish over a few acres of land.] That is exactly what Israel seems to be currently attempting.
Israel had not suffered an “armed attack” immediately prior to its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. [Another lawyer's trick, akin to "it depends what is" means. What does he mean by immediately? Within the five minutes before Israel's attack perhaps. Can outside of that five minute margin and you discover that Hamas had unilaterally absolved itself of the ceasefire and increased the number of missiles going into Israel, this time adding in long-range missiles, probably from Iran.] Since firing the first Kassam rocket into Israel in 2002, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have loosed thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel, causing about two dozen Israeli deaths and widespread fear. As indiscriminate attacks on civilians, these were war crimes. During roughly the same period, Israeli forces killed about 2,700 Palestinians in Gaza by targeted killings, aerial bombings, in raids, etc., according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. [I think he's saying that it's unfair that Israel was a more effective fighter. Please note that even Bisharat doesn't have the chutzpah to pretend that Israel copied Hamas' tactic of indiscriminately targeting civilians.]
But on June 19, 2008, Hamas and Israel commenced a six-month truce. Neither side complied perfectly. Israel refused to substantially ease the suffocating siege of Gaza imposed in June 2007. Hamas permitted sporadic rocket fire — typically after Israel killed or seized Hamas members in the West Bank, where the truce did not apply. Either one or no Israelis were killed (reports differ) by rockets in the half year leading up to the current attack. [Did you catch all the double-talk? Behind the babble lies the fact that, while Israel never violated the truce, simply keeping her borders intact, and fired on territories in which there was no truce, Hamas used Israel's incursions into territory that had no truce to justify firing into Israel -- which, if you didn't catch it, broke the truce. In other words, behind all the double-talk in the paragraph, you discover that only Hamas broke the truce.]
Israel then broke the truce on Nov. 4, raiding the Gaza Strip and killing a Palestinian. Hamas retaliated with rocket fire; Israel then killed five more Palestinians. In the following days, Hamas continued rocket fire — yet still no Israelis died. Israel cannot claim self-defense against this escalation, because it was provoked by Israel’s own violation. [Now we're going to phase two of the double-talk. We've established that Israel never broke the truce. Hamas retaliated on behalf of attacks against people who were not parties to the truce, effectively breaking the truce. But in Bisharat's view, which Israel retaliated against Hamas, which had already broken the truce, it was Israel that broke the truce. Worse, Israel actually functioned efficiently, unlike Hamas which, despite firing thousands of missiles into Israel, aimed at schools and civilian communities, was unable to murder as many civilians as it intentionally targeted.]
An armed attack that is not justified by self-defense is a war of aggression. [So, the fact that Gaza broke the truce, and fired rockets at civilians nevertheless does not trigger Israel's war of self-defense. That's true, only in Bisharat's skewed view where, factually, Israel does nothing to break the truce while Hamas does everything to break the truce, but theoretically, Hamas is morally incapable of breaking the truce, whereas anything Israel does breaks the truth.] Under the Nuremberg Principles affirmed by U.N. Resolution 95, aggression is a crime against peace.
Israel has also failed to adequately discriminate between military and nonmilitary targets. Israel’s American-made F-16s and Apache helicopters have destroyed mosques, the education and justice ministries, a university, prisons, courts and police stations. [Bisharat lives in an alternate universe where there isn't video footage confirming, over and over again, that Hamas has been using its mosques, ministries, schools, prisons, etc., to house weapons and fighters, to cover up weapons smuggling tunnels, and to serve as launching pads for morters and rockets. In other words, these aren't mosques, ministries, schools, prisons, etc., at all, they're fortresses and, as such, legitimate targets. They're the building equivalents of spies, and deserve to be shot on sight for being out of uniform] These institutions were part of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. And when nonmilitary institutions are targeted, civilians die. Many killed in the last week were young police recruits with no military roles. Civilian employees in the Hamas-led government deserve the protections of international law like all others. Hamas’s ideology — which employees may or may not share — is abhorrent, but civilized nations do not kill people merely for what they think. [No, they kill them for what they do. And Hamas bends all its efforts to killing Israeli civilians and then using its own civilians, especially its children, as a defensive barrier. It's worth pointing out here that Bisharat makes no mention of the fact that Israel provides three hours of warning in advance of any attacks structures that might house civilians. In other words, it's not attacking civilians, but Hamas is making sure to place its own citizens in buildings it knows will be targets.]
From this point own, everything Bisharat says is legal garbage, because it’s premised on a skewed factual view that excuses Hamas from thousands of missile strikes and that criminalizes Israel for firing on civilians that Hamas intentionally put into harm’s way.
Incidentally, would it surprise you to learn that Bisharat is not only a shoddy thinker, but also one of the myriad UC professors who is radically anti-Israel? It should disturb you, as it disturbs me, that he has a law school full of students into whom he can pour this illogical, unfair, self-serving, double standard crap.
UPDATED: An intelligent counterpoint.
Hamas has been making much of its dead children. It had a field day with photos of those children who died when the IDF shot shells into a “UN school.” Most of the world (including, of course, a credulous and/or complicit media) managed to ignore the fact that it’s bizarre that, in the midst of war, people would congregate their children in one place; to ignore the fact that shots were fired from the school grounds; and to ignore the fact that the place was booby trapped internally so that it blew up, killing the occupants. For all of them, in their wrath, it is enough that the Palestinian children are dead.
Likewise, Hamas has had a field day with the mysterious CNN footage of a child dying in a hospital. Again, the usual crowd has ignored the fact that this footage shows, in the role of doctor, a rabid Marxist known for loathing Israel; to ignore the fact that the child was manifestly the victim of on-camera malpractice; and, of course, to ignore the fact that the camera-man is a well known computer guru for Hamas. That’s all irrelevant. What’s relevant is that it is, yes, another dead Palestinian child.
To all those who are so upset, I say to you: You’ve got it wrong. Rather than castigating the Israelis and demanding their deaths, you should be celebrating and thanking them. Why? Because the Israelis have enabled these children to achieve their cultural destinies. From the time of their birth (indeed, for generations before their birth), these little Arab children have been taught that their highest purpose is to die for Palestine. (Don’t believe me? Check out this and this and this and this and . . . you get the picture.)
If Israel hadn’t gone into Gaza as it did, and targeted the myriad Hamas armaments around which the children were clustered; fired missiles into booby trapped schools; or warned Palestinians in advance about which buildings were targets, so Hamas could hustle the children into the building, those children would have been denied the fulfillment of their dreams.
If you’re confused about how meritorious Israel has been in ensuring that Palestinian children achieve the career success for which they’ve been groomed, think of it this way: We all know that Prince Charles of England has been raised for one job and one job alone: to be King. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate tragedy if something interceded to destroy the one job he’s fitted for, making the whole of his life effectively useless and irrelevant? So too have the children of Hamas been raised to die for Hamas. How banal their existence would be if the Israelis foolishly sat back and let Israeli children steal that Palestinian destiny by dying in their stead, the victims of repeated Hamas attacks, instead of the other (and appropriate) way around.
So to all you silly people around the world decrying the fact that Palestinian children are dying (and, funnily enough, I don’t remember hearing a peep out of any of you when Israeli children were the target of 6,000 or so missile strikes), give it up. You’ve got it wrong. You should be celebrating the fact that, thanks to yet another act of Israeli benevolence (with other examples being Israel’s decision to ship food and health supplies into Gaza, even as Egypt and Jordan refuse to do so), Palestinian children are finally getting the chance to achieve career goal and are enjoying the martrydom they crave.
For those of you who wonder whether I serious when I wrote the above little essay, I admit to being quite serious — up to a point. Certainly a six year old has no idea what being killed really means (although many of these children have seen death up close). Sadly, though, children don’t choose the society into which they are born, and these poor souls had the profound misfortune to be born into a society that sees them, not as the future, but as the weapons as the present. Even more sadly, their society recognizes that they are useful weapons whether dead or alive. In that paradigm, the international community doesn’t help the situation at all by allowing this same sick society to perpetuate itself generation after generation. Instead, in the face of this type of evil, the kind thing is to reduce break that society entirely, allowing room for a new culture to grow in its place.
And if you doubt me, try to imagine whether Naziism would have gone away if the Allies had not so decisively defeated it. If the Allies had kept backing off when the fighting got just too icky for them to feel comfortable, they would have done nothing more than prune the Nazi leadership, always leaving room for new, and stronger, shoots to grow in place of the dead. That’s what Israel has done to the Palestinians. Rather than destroying a poisonous plant, Israel has repeatedly allowed the roots to survive, enabling the plant to sprout again and destroy yet another generation.
The tremendous evil that is Palestinian culture — a culture that values its children more dead than alive – will not stop until the roots are dead. In the case of the Palestinians, “dead roots” will be the moment when the citizens of that benighted land realize that a culture that trains its children to embrace death, and that has a leadership that intentionally kills its children as part of its weaponry, is a dead end and MUST STOP.
All of which means that, while I recognize the tragedy that is a child’s death (how could I not, with children of my own?), I also realize that this Palestinian cultural madness has to be stopped, definitively, or many more children will die in the ensuing years.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
Not a conversation in which I was involved (nor was it politic or appropriate to become involved), but I heard someone this morning praising Carter’s execrable editorial (and I’m not going to dignify that with a link) castigating Israel for defending itself.
The liberal praising the article, when asked about the rocket attacks, said “Well, it’s just one town in Israel. They should leave. That’s the smart thing to do. It’s better than killing Palestinian children” It did not seem to occur to this guy that Israel had already pulled out of Gaza and that he’s essentially advocating an incremental approach to Hamas’ ultimate goal: namely, driving Jews out of every town on the land and pushing them into the sea. Nor did it seem to occur to him that, by the same analysis, the Palestinians should just retreat, because that’s better than killing Jewish children.
Living in Marin is an alternative universe, since one is surrounded with ostensibly smart people who have stupid ideas and are completely amoral.
Hamas’ tried and true tactic worked again — it put children in the line of fire and Israel, rather than moving forward to protect her own children, is caving:
Israel has shown the first signs of bowing to the international outcry over its 11-day onslaught of Gaza after some 40 Palestinians sheltering in a United Nations school were killed.
Many children were among the dead in what Gordon Brown called the ‘darkest moment yet’ in the Gaza crisis.
The horrific attack prompted renewed attempts to broker a ceasefire with Britain and France backing a new initiative by Egypt to bring about an immediate halt in hostilities.
Last night came the first sign that Israel was listening to the growing international anger over its offensive as prime minister Ehud Olmert agreed to set up a “humanitarian corridor” to allow in aid to the devastated Palestinian territory.
Under the plan, Israel would suspend attacks in specified areas of Gaza to allow the people to get supplies of food, medicine and fuel. The goal was to ‘prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip’.
Israel has clearly lost the stomach to survive.
I remember back in 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon, an Israeli soldier said (rightly) that sometimes you have to cut out healthy flesh to remove a cancer, but it’s still better than leaving the cancer there and letting the patient die. Israel is dying and, if we’re all correct that this is a proxy war with Iran, we’re going down too. I’m just sickened.
It’s been an incoherent day, one that never gave me the opportunity for contemplation and writing. Instead, I’ve been bopping here and there, and dealing with one thing and another. Nevertheless, I have been tracking the news, so I thought I’d just write up a mish-mash of thoughts about current issues and events.
The top issue/event, obviously, is Gaza. By now you’ve all seen the hysterical headline about Israel having blown up a UN school, killing scores of civilians. At the exact second I read the words “UN school,” I knew it wasn’t a school at all but was, instead, a weapons storage facility and a headquarters for fighters. Why did I know this? Because the UN in Gaza is completely complicit with Hamas. In that part of the world, the two are one and the same entity. I also knew that the school wasn’t really a school because Gaza intentionally places fighters and weapons around children precisely so that it garner this type of scare headline. Michelle Malkin has a fact-filled post detailing all the many ways in which my instincts on this one were dead on the money.
Speaking of Hamas setting its children up as targets so that it can further vilify Israel in the eyes of the world, you really must read Ron Rosenbaum’s article explaining why, to the extent there are differences between Hamas and the Nazis, Hamas is infinitely worse. As part of that line of thinking, it’s worth noting that even the Nazis weren’t willing to sacrifice their own children merely to score propaganda points.
As is always the case, everyone in the world outside of America is urging Israel to back down. (In America, while Obama is ominously quiet, even Dirty Harry Reid has acknowledged Israel’s right to defend against the non-stop rocket attacks that have poured death and destruction on the land for years now.) In the past, Israel has listened. This time, I’m hoping against hope that she gives the world the middle finger and does what she has to do to defend herself. I’ve never understood why Israel, rather like the pathetic nerdy kid in high school, keeps twisting herself into damaging contortions to satisfy people who will despise her regardless. Eventually, the nerd just has to go it alone and the hell with the critics.
Incidentally, although the world doesn’t deserve good fortune, if Israel is wise enough to give it the finger, it may just get good fortune anyway — the good fortune in this case being that an Israeli victory against Hamas in Gaza is also an Israeli victory against the mad Mullahs in Iran. As has been the case for decades now, Israel is our proxy, and we should be grateful that she’s putting her bodies on the line so we don’t have to.
And one last word on the subject: Reader Lulu send me an email pointing out something interesting, which is that Hezbollah is doing nothing right now. You’d think that this would be a perfect time for Hezbollah to force a two-front war on Israel. That it’s not doing so might be a good indication that, all propaganda to the contrary, Israel may have inflicted serious damage on it back in 2006. Iran can replace the arms, but maybe she can’t replace the men.
In England, the atheists have launched an ad campaign encouraging people to abandon religion so that they can be happy. One of the brains behind this initiative is Ariane Sherine. She decided to launch the ad campaign because “she became angry after noticing a set of Christian advertisements carrying a website address which warned that people who reject God are condemned to spend all eternity to ‘torment in Hell.’”
I’m perfectly willing to admit that trying to scare people into religion may not be the smartest way to go about things. I do find the ad campaign peculiar, though, because I was under the impression that polls show religious people are more happy, not less happy, than the average atheist (putting aside the fact that the average vocal atheist always seem to be a pretty darn angry person).
As you all know, I’m a big believer in the many virtues of religion, although not particularly religious myself. Aside from liking the core moral aspects religion brings, I’ve also always appreciated (and envied) the way religion brings meaning to life.
In a religious world, man is not just a random collection of atoms, molecules, cells and organs, put on earth to procreate and scrabble for food until he dies. Instead, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition with which I’m familiar, man’s life has meaning and purpose. Whether God used evolution as his tool or instant creation, man exists in God’s image. His corporeal body may not necessarily be the mirror image of God’s being, but he is in God’s image to the extent that his mind and spirit are attuned to justice and a higher purpose. We’re not just meaningless bugs. We are something special and our time on earth has meaning, whether we emphasize that in our own lives or not.
All of which is to say that it strikes me as mighty darn peculiar to advertise an absence of religion as the answer to the search for happiness. You might as well say, “You’re a meaningless bug. Get used to it.”
While the first wave of hysteria following the passage in California of Prop. 8 has finally died down, hard feelings continue. A Catholic Church in San Francisco was covered with offensive graffiti, likening the church and its parishioners to Nazis. The beautiful irony of this story is that this particular church, located near the Castro district, has always been a welcoming place to gays.
Aside from the fact that vandals, by their very nature, can’t be expected to be intelligent (I guess), I find it strange that we live in a world in which hewing to unexceptional traditional values that span all cultures and all times is an invitation to vandalism. As you know, I’d be perfectly happy to see the state get out of the marriage business, leaving that to religion, and instead get into the domestic partnership business, with an emphasis on encouraging stable behaviors that strengthen society. Pending that unlikely situation, however, I can’t help but wonder if the gay marriage advocates realize that offending ordinary people who support ordinary values is not likely to advance their cause.
Vacation is over and I’m back to my work schedule, which means no more morning blogging (not that I was very inspired in the morning during vacation). Still, I had to share this gem with you.
I spoke with a liberal friend yesterday, who is lukewarm about Israel, and he told me that Israel absolutely cannot fight this war because it’s killing children and that’s unacceptable. This dialogue ensued:
Me: Did you know that before any strike on a building, Israel gives a warning to the residents to evacuate?
LF: No. If that were true, it would be headlined in the news.
Me: It is true. It’s just buried in the stories. What’s also buried is that the Gazans use those warnings to hustle children back into the buildings.
LF: No. That’s not true. If it were true, it would be headlined in the news.
(This went a few rounds and then stopped.)
Me: You do know that Gaza has fired over 5,000 rockets into Israel, right?
LF: Yeah, but they didn’t do any harm.
Me: You do know that the last few, supplied by Iran, fell within about 13 miles of Tel Aviv? (Note: I think I got those mileage stats correct.)
LF: Well, I guess they have to defend themselves.
Me: How would you have them defend themselves?
LF: They should have announced to the world that, if Gaza didn’t stop firing rockets by January 2, then they’d attack Gaza.
Me: They did announce to the world that they were going to attack Gaza.
LF: No. that’s not true. If it were true, it would be headlined in the news.
At this point, we glared at each other in frustration, and the conversation ended.
UPDATE: I wonder if this kind of editorial, in a reputable liberal paper (the LA Times), would change my friend’s mind. It spells out carefully the real issues involved in the current war (Iranian hegemony in the Middle East, the fact that Israel is not the only nation out there that fears Iran, and the way in which Hamas manipulates the media precisely in order to fool credulous liberals).
Alan Dershowitz gives us some insights into the evil that is Hamas (and I use the word evil deliberately and without any artistic hyperbole), and then explains how, under international law, the concept of “proportionality” properly works in the face of that kind of evil. Incidentally, it’s not far from my post from a couple of days ago about a party’s intentions governing the appropriate response:
In a recent incident related to me by the former head of the Israeli air force, Israeli intelligence learned that a family’s house in Gaza was being used to manufacture rockets. The Israeli military gave the residents 30 minutes to leave. Instead, the owner called Hamas, which sent mothers carrying babies to the house.
Hamas knew that Israel would never fire at a home with civilians in it. They also knew that if Israeli authorities did not learn there were civilians in the house and fired on it, Hamas would win a public relations victory by displaying the dead. Israel held its fire. The Hamas rockets that were protected by the human shields were then used against Israeli civilians.
[P]roportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday, when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children’s lives.
While Israel installs warning systems and builds shelters, Hamas refuses to do so, precisely because it wants to maximize the number of Palestinian civilians inadvertently killed by Israel’s military actions. Hamas knows from experience that even a small number of innocent Palestinian civilians killed inadvertently will result in bitter condemnation of Israel by many in the international community.
Read the rest here and wonder, as I do, why Dershowitz still aligns himself with the Democratic party. (This would be the same Democratic party whose members think Israel should still be talking and negotiating as the rockets rain down upon her.) He’s taking an unusually long time to cross that Rubicon.
And while we’re on the subject of the moral clarity that should be attending this war (but is not), you should also read Charles Krauthammer’s article about the way good and evil play out in that benighted strip of land attached to Israel. Krauthammer opens his piece with a snippet buried deep within an AP article:
Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.
It is with this factoid, widely ignored by a world bound and determined to point the finger of blame at Israel that Krauthammer, a la Dershowitz (and Bookworm), explains that the differing intent guiding Israel and Hamas must be taken into consideration to understand the evil that is Hamas and the righteousness of Israel’s actions:
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis — 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years — deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.
For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous.
At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible — also on both sides.
That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza — peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005.
There’s only one grievance [that guides Hamas' militant actions since Israel handed over Gaza in 2005] and Hamas is open about it. Israel’s very existence.
Since its raison d’etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.
As you can see from the snips, I’ve left a lot out, all of it worth reading. These two articles are perfect bookend to the way in which all thinking people should analyze Israel’s war against the sovereign terrorist state of Gaza.
I have an embarrassing confession to make: When I was young, one of my favorite shows was Hogan’s Heroes. I found it a weekly marvel to see the dashing, clever Colonel Hogan run rings around the Germans. Nor was I at all perturbed by the asymmetry of it all, with the Germans portrayed as bumbling nincompoops, as compared to the ridiculously accomplished POWs. To me, it seemed eminently logical that the good guys would be smart and competent, while the bad guys would be yahoos — evil, but still yahoos.
As I child, good and competent versus evil and incompetent seemed like a fair fight. And I still think that way.
I mention this all because of the usual cries of outrage about the asymmetry in Israel’s attack on Gaza. The thinking on the Left (and you can see it in a thousand op-ed and news stories from America and the rest of the world) is that Israel, because she is vastly more efficient and effective when it comes to warfare, should not fight back. “It’s not fair!” is the cry that is raised when Israel, having suffered through thousands of rocket attacks, finally says “Enough” and goes in with surgical precision to remove the rocket launchers and the men who fire them. The usual suspects, even those who concede that Hamas is an exceptionally malevolent organization, just can’t stomach the sight of bad men — men whose entire life purpose is the slaughter of innocents — themselves getting killed.
I see things entirely differently. In the case of Hamas, evil is measured by intent and acts. Members of Hamas have as their stated goal the desire to kill as many Israelis (especially vulnerable civilians) as possible. Their acts are entirely consistent with those goals. For months now, they have fired as many missiles as they possibly could into Israel. The know that what they lack in ability will eventually be made up for by sheer volume and dumb luck. (As an aside, keep in mind that a large part of the Soviet strategy against the Germans was to force the Germans to use up time and munitions against the millions of bodies, so many tragically unarmed and untrained, that the Soviets kept throwing in their path.) The evil that is Hamas is made even more manifest by the fact that, to offset their incompetency, the Hamas soldiers hide amongst the women and children. If you can’t be efficient, be diligent and surround yourself by soft camouflage, right?
Because Hamas is devoted to evil acts, it should not be rewarded for its ineptitude. It is entirely appropriate that it be defeated. It’s ludicrous, therefore, for the world to argue that the only appropriate way to defeat Hamas is to approach it with an equal degree of primitive weaponry and inefficient tactics. That way lies madness.
Sadly, though, Israel itself buys into this madness. A moral country, she is horrified by the depravity into which Hamas (or Hezbollah) pulls her and, every time, when she is on the cusp of a determinative outcome, she pulls back to save the innocents. One has to ask, though, how many innocents (by which I mean children, who have no control over the situation in which they find themselves) are ultimately saved if Israel repeatedly leaves enough of Hamas standing so that it can regroup and continue its self-imposed apocalyptic battle? Sometimes, total conquest is the most merciful end to a battle.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m reading Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible. He recounts God’s mandate when the Jews left the desert and entered Canaan: kill all the Canaanites. To modern sensibilities, this is a horrific directive, and one with which modern Jews and Christians have struggled mightily. Yes, it was the normative approach to conquest three thousand years ago and, yes, God mandated it, but those two explanations don’t assauge our distress at the death of the innocents. I do think, though, that there is a certain pure logic in it, a logic that arises once one decides, for whatever reason, to conquer a land.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking border or territory skirmishes when I say this. Instead, we’re talking about conquest. The Jews conquered Canaan because it was their God promised land. The Allies conquered Germany and Japan because those two nations, having started the war, made it apparent that only complete conquest would end it. And Israel, clinging to her 300 x 150 mile patch of land, considers herself already the conqueror having won the land through purchase, League of Nations Directives, UN mandates, and the spoils of previous defensive wars.
The fact is, you cannot be said to have conquered a land — you cannot remake it in your own image — if there remains a critical mass of hostile indigenous people. The Bible shows that, despite God’s mandate, the Jews did not kill all the Baal worshipping Canaanites, and these people proved to be a practical, military and moral thorn in Israel’s flesh for centuries to come. Conversely, the Allies did defeat a critical mass of the indigenous people in Germany and Japan and were able to rebuild both countries as strong Democratic entitities. And modern Israel, repeating the errors or her Biblical forbearers, has “conquered” a land without ever having taken it over. Her morals are exemplary; her tactics, less so.
My thinking is now, as it was when I watched Hogan’s heroes: that evil is incompetent is a blessing and should not be treated as a curse. It also doesn’t give evil a pass. If you have visited your moral compass, if you truly believe that the opposing party is not merely misguided but genuinely evil and determined on your destruction, and if you decide that the only way to deal with that opposing party is warfare — YOU MUST WIN THAT WAR. There is no middle ground of compromise. There is only victory. As the Allies showed after WWII, victory can be incredibly magnanimous, must you must have victory before you have magnanimity. Do it backwards, and your ass is cooked.
Israel finally said “enough is enough” and counterattacked Gaza. I think John Podhoretz nails everything that needs to be said on the subject in the short-term, and I’m impressed enough with his depth and brevity to reproduce his entire paragraph right here:
Israel launched a massive air campaign against the infrastructure of Hamas terror in Gaza — which is what it actually means when you read in the media that Israel’s strike was on “Palestinian security forces.” It will be a day or two until it becomes clear what happened and how successful the mission was. But there are three things to say about it immediately. First, when you hear people call on Israel to show “restraint,” remember that “restraint” is precisely what Israel has been showing for the past three and a half years as Hamas has launched thousands of Kassam rockets at Sderot and other locations inside Israel. Second, this was not an attack but a counter-attack, almost purely an act of self-defense that featured extensive warnings in the days before it was launched in an effort to minimize civilian casualties. Third, the Hamas terror bases were evidently located in civilian neighborhoods. According to international law, the responsibility for any civilian casualties in such a situation rests entirely with those who a) failed to wear uniforms and b) interwove themselves with non-combatants. The fault is Hamas’s, not Israel’s.
I’ve been reading two things that seem to twine together. The first is the ongoing news out of Gaza, about Hamas continuously firing missiles into Israel (as well as into their own population). Noah Pollak wrote a very good commentary in response to a question about why Hamas, through its outpost in Gaza, keeps fighting and fighting and fighting. The answer, of course, is that Hamas fights because that is its nature. Fighting is its raison d’etre. Without fighting, there is nothing.
The second thing I’ve been reading, which at first glance seems unrelated, is Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible — a very informative and enjoyable retelling of the Old Testament, along with Rabbinical commentary.
The story of Abraham and Sarah, of course, brings up the history of Hagar and Ishmael. Telushkin reminds us of two things about Ishmael. First, he repeats the prophecy that God’s angel made about Ishmael: “He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Genesis, 16:12.) The second is the fact that the Muslim Arabs claim descent from this same Ishmael.
I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
[Link fixed. Thanks, Gringo.]