Hamas’s assault on Israel took me and many other observers by surprise. I had expected something of the sort after Obama’s inauguration, as part of the testing that Joe Biden predicted. But undertaking the attack before the inauguration surprised me. From a variety of points of view, it doesn’t make much sense. Israel undoubtedly feels freer to respond now than they would after January 20. The press has been repeating Palestinian propaganda, but my sense is that it’s not working very well. No one can tolerate missiles falling on elementary schools without responding. Even our morally myopic elites are not so blind as to deny Israel’s right to respond.
That doesn’t mean some aren’t sniping at the level of Israel’s response, shifting the focus from jus ad bellum to jus in bello. Barry Rubin gives the right answer to their complaints:
Often, nowadays, it seems as if all history is being rewritten when it comes to Israel. In World War Two, allied air forces carpet-bombed cities even though there were no military bases in civilian areas. In France alone, tens of thousands of civilians were killed by allied bombs that fell on their intended targets.
Even the Nazis didn’t put ammunition dumps in houses and use human shields. And up until now the blame for doing so would fall on those who deliberately and cynically sought to create civilian casualties in order to gain support for themselves
Up until now, a country whose neighbor fired across the border at its people and even staged cross-border raids had the right of self-defense.
Up until now, there has been a capability of understanding which group is inciting hatred, trying to turn children into robotic terrorists, calling for the extermination of another people, and committing aggression.
Many people, many journalists, many governments, and even many intellectuals still understand the most basic principles of right and wrong as well as of the real world. Unfortunately, too many don’t or at least don’t when Israel is the target.
Finally, it is of the greatest importance to understand that this is not an issue of Gaza or of Israel alone. The great issue of our era, of our remaining lifetimes, is the battle between radical Islamism—whether using the tactic of terrorism or not—and the rest of the world. To isolate this question as merely something about Israel is to misunderstand everything important about the world today.
A friend contributes another important point:
Israel, by all objective standards, is completely justified in defending itself to achieve a security goal, that is, the cessation of terror attacks launched from Gaza. Israel is also going to pains to warn civilians of imminent attacks, with unmeasurable success. Unmeasurable because the line between militant and civilian is pretty much non-existent in a culture where small children are taught that martyrdom in the battle against the Zionist entity is the highest form of human achievement.
Josh Miller recalls a thought experiment, and makes a nice point:
In the first scenario, Palestine dumps all its weapons into the ocean. What happens? Peace! The wall (which so many people love to complain about) comes down. There is no retaliation for acts of terrorism on Israel’s side, because there’s no more terrorism. No more women and children die because there are no more rockets to both hide and fire amongst the civilian population. The “humanitarian disaster” ends in Gaza.
In the second scenario, Israel dumps all its weapons into the ocean…………
It’s a useful exercise in terms of recognizing who the troublemakers really are, who resists peace, and who keeps the cycle of hatred and violence spinning.
My pro-Israeli stance has nothing to do with religion (as is the case for some Christians) and everything to do with good ‘ole fashioned common sense, coupled with a sense of justice.
And for the life of me, at 1:30 AM, listening to all the people drone on about “proportionate force,” I can’t quite figure out if people are really this naive, or if they just want to see Israel destroyed.
To quote a blogging giant, “It’s not that they’re anti-war. It’s just that they’re on the other side.”
Caroline Glick, meanwhile, looks hungrily at her hat:
STILL, IN spite of the government’s continued diplomatic incompetence, there are reasons to think that Israel may emerge the perceived victor in the current campaign against Hamas (and I will be forced to eat my hat). The first is that Gaza is relatively easier to control as a battle space than Lebanon. Unlike the situation in Lebanon, IDF forces in Gaza have the ability to isolate Hamas from all outside assistance. The IDF’s current siege of Gaza City, its control over northern Gaza, its naval quarantine of the coast and its bombardment and isolation of the border zone with Egypt could cause Hamas to sue for a cease-fire on less than victorious terms.
Indeed, this may already be happening. Hamas’s leaders are reportedly hiding in hospitals – cynically using the sick as human shields. And on Monday morning, Hamas’s leadership in Damascus sent representatives to their new arch-enemy Egypt to begin discussing cease-fire terms. Taken together, these moves could indicate that Hamas is collapsing. But they could also indicate that Hamas is opting to fight another day while assuming that Israel will agree to let it do so.
THE SECOND reason that it is possible that Hamas may be defeated is because much to everyone’s surprise, Iran may have decided to let Hamas lose.
So why did Iran encourage Hamas to launch its rocket attacks?
On Sunday, Iranian analyst Amir Taheri reported the conclusions of a bipartisan French parliamentary report on the status of Iran’s nuclear program in Asharq Alawsat. The report which was submitted to French President Nicolas Sarkozy late last month concluded that unless something changes, Iran will have passed the nuclear threshold by the end of 2009 and will become a nuclear power no later than 2011. The report is notable because it is based entirely on open-sourced material whose accuracy has been acknowledged by the Iranian regime.
The report asserts that this year will be the world’s final opportunity to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And, as Taheri hints strongly, the only way of doing that effectively is by attacking Iran’s nuclear installations.
In light of this new report, which contradicts earlier US intelligence assessments that claimed it would be years before Iran is able to build nuclear weapons, it is possible that Iran ordered the current war in Gaza for the same reason it launched its war in 2006: to divert international attention away from its nuclear program.
It is possible that Iran prefers to run down US President George W. Bush’s last two weeks in office with the White House and the rest of the world focused on Gaza, than risk the chance that during these two weeks, the White House (or Israel) might read the French parliament’s report and decide to do something about it.
So too, its apparent decision not to have Hizbullah join in this round of fighting might have more to do with Iran’s desire to preserve its Lebanese delivery systems for any nuclear devices than its desire to save pennies in a tight economy.
And if this is the case, then even if Israel beats Hamas (and I eat my hat), we could still lose the larger war by again having allowed Iran to get us to take our eyes away from the prize.
I’m not sure why Iran would have thought that the Bush administration might attack in its last weeks. I had thought that until last summer, but the fecklessness emanating from Washington over the past few months has made me give up hope. Also, if it’s a distraction for Washington and Jerusalem, it would seem to be just as effective a distraction for Tehran and for that matter the rest of the world. It would also open up the argument that the attack on nuclear facilities was part of a response to a proxy war on Israel and thus a reactive rather than preemptive measure.
The demonstrations in favor of Hamas in Europe and here in the United States (in Fort Lauderdale, for example) have been illuminating. The explicit anti-Semitism has been shocking, leading to overt comparisons of Hamas to the Nazis, who were less forthright about their plans for exterminating the Jews, and leading many to ask what Islamic radicals who favor genocide are doing in the U.S. anyway. Why do we allow people who are so plainly on the other side of the global conflict in which we are engaged to enter the United States?