Sunday, December 28, 2008

Going Blind In Gaza

I feel obliged to at least comment about Israel's military activity in Gaza. As a Jew, both Israel's existence as well as their national character matter to me. Hence, my outrage at Israel's immoral brutality and anger at their strategic stupidity. Israel never seems to learn that as the Prussian General Clausewitz once said,
"Politics is war by other means."
Invading Lebanon did not enhance their security in 1982. Instead, Israel only succeeded in radicalizing the Lebanese population against them as occupying the country became a strategic liability. Israel was also weakened by their disproportionate response to the kidnapping of their soldiers by Lebanon's Hezbollah in 2006.

With respect to what is happening in Gaza today, Israel is playing into Hamas's hands. The truce was for Hamas to exploit a strategic pause and mobilize against Israeli ground forces. They want this fight. Just as Hezbollah gained prestige in 2006, Hamas will also be strengthened politically as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza intensifies. Meanwhile, Abbas and his Fatah movement will be further weakened while Hamas presents itself as the Palestinians only legitimate government standing up to Israeli aggression. And the rockets being fired against Israel won't stop and will never stop until a peace settlement is reached. A just peace settlement is infinitely more difficult to achieve when much of the civilized world is opposed to your actions.

Hamas of course also merits condemnation as they prefer shedding blood over coexisting with a Jewish state. They would rather provoke a humanitarian crisis among their own people then acknowledge Israel's right to exist and negotiate a settlement. From Hamas's point of view the deaths of their own people represents acceptable collateral damage that will gain sympathy and enhance their prestige. These people are thugs and Israel took their bait.

As Booman writes at Booman Tribune,
"I doubt that Israel can stop the rocket attacks without further worsening their reputation in the world, which is now about as low as it has ever been. Israel outsmarted itself with its settler policy and they're never going to have security again, ever, until they concede that the settlers are the gravest danger to their Nation's security and do something about it.

You'd think a country that was defending itself from rocket attacks would get some leeway. You'd be wrong."
I agree with Booman's observation and would only add that the Israeli government is afraid taking on their settlers will result in a civil war. These fundamentalist nut jobs believe they answer to a higher authority then any civilian law and are more than willing to wage terrorism against their own government in opposition. The only hope Israel has is for their body politic to express itself and give new leadership a mandate to not back down against the settlers.

But Israel's body politic will never elect the right caliber of leadership until the the United States is perceived as an "honest broker." The nascent Obama Administration won't have the political cover to become an honest broker as long as The American Israel Public Affairs Committee ('AIPAC") is perceived as the most representative voice in Washington of American Jewish opinion. Israel's worst friend in America is AIPAC because they're encouraging behavior that is both immoral as well as self-destructive.

American Jewish opinion however is far from monolithic. And Jewish Americans like me need to mobilize and present a counterweight to voices such as AIPAC's. Israel's security as well America's are at stake as well as the lives of Israelis and Palestinians on both sides.

American liberal Jews like me often feel beleaguered. Many on the left truly are Anti-Semitic and regard the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a pretext to justify their hatred of Jewish people. I've seen it on the blogosphere where even liberal Jews opposed to the occupation are vilified and accused of being right wing apologists. To them the Palestinians bear no responsibility and any Israeli deaths are morally acceptable. Meanwhile, we have family and friends that believe Israel can do no wrong and we're selling them out. Yet express ourselves we must or the cycle will never end.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said,
"An eye for an eye, and soon the world is blind."
Sixty years after Israel was founded both sides of the conflict continue to go blind.

5 comments:

DB said...

This is pretty enlightening, thank you. It is sad that the citizens on both sides of this conflict will have to deal with the ineptitude of their leaders. I fear that this region will never know peace as long as pride keeps getting in the way.

christian_left said...

Thanks for your commentary. I wholeheartedly agree with you and wish that Americans of all religious backgrounds would unite in condemning this senseless violence. I am visiting my relatives in the Midwest and am copmletely appalled at how little (and misleading) media coverage the attacks on Gaza are getting around here. And Obama has been incredibly disappointing once again in his rejection of the change he was supposedly going to bring.

The Liberal Democratic party of the United States said...

When Hamas, who uses civilians as human shields, stops using rockets to assault Israelis, the attack on Gaza will stop. I hope both sides will stop. Yes, I'm Jewish and a liberal.

christian_left said...

On further re-reading of your post, while I remain in support of your overall commentary, I believe the statement I have quoted below is uncalled for. I realize that you may be trying to effect a rhetorical "even-handedness," but it is simply not true that "many" on the left are truly anti-Semitic. There are a very few out there, yes, but they are nowhere near the majority. I urge you to retract this statement:

"Many on the left truly are Anti-Semitic and regard the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a pretext to justify their hatred of Jewish people. I've seen it on the blogosphere where even liberal Jews opposed to the occupation are vilified and accused of being right wing apologists. To them the Palestinians bear no responsibility and any Israeli deaths are morally acceptable."

Robert Ellman said...

Respectfully, Christian Left I can't retract the statement because in my experience it's true. I saw it tear the community blog, My Left Wing apart in 2006 during the Israeli/Lebanon crisis. The reaction of many on the left is something I won't soon forget. You had Jewish bloggers who opposed Israeli policy nonetheless try to explain some of the nuances of Israeli politcs or remind people that more than Israel was to blame for bloodshed in the Mideast and they didn't want to hear it.

I've received hundreds of hate emails from people on the left accusing me of being an Israeli apologist. So I stand by what I wrote. Many on the left are Anti-Semitic. So are many on the right who pretend to be pro-Israel for that matter.

I oppose Israel's occupation and militarist policies. Many on the left are judicious about their critique of Israel. But many also would prefer that Israel simply disappear off the map and I won't put up with it.