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Thursday, November 22. 2012
There are apparently sharp differences among commentators on the Gaza ceasefire. Regardless, the Gaza thanksgiving lesson is that Israel and its supporters have far more to be thankful for, and hopeful for, than does Israel's enemies.
On the one hand are those who say that Israel accomplished its primary objectives: degrade Hamas’ rocket and terror capabilities, retain good will of the Western governments that are usually so offended by Israel’s defense measures, establish self-interested constructive relations with the Islamist rulers of Egypt and not undermine the frail not-attacking PA in the West Bank.
On the other hand are those who say that Israel should have launched the ground operation in to Gaza to further punish and eradicate the threats from there and further degrade Hamas’ capabilities, and that the ceasefire agreement is toothless at restraining future Hamas re-arming and attacks.
Emotionally and militarily I lean toward the second hand. As a practical matter I lean toward the first hand. Anyone who has participated in or observed house-to-house fighting knows its brutality and costs in lives, including our own. This time, I don’t think it was worth another Israeli soldier’s life, as little as I care for the surely much heavier Hamas toll or that on the Gazan civilians who back Hamas. Then, regardless of the public words of any ultimate ceasefire agreement, I don’t think that they would hold water unless Hamas were to actually commit to the actions, and non-actions, necessary to their fulfillment.
Meanwhile, we do not know whether Egypt has committed to or will increase its relatively minor blocking of tunnels into Gaza. We do know that President Obama has committed to increasing support to blocking arms imports to Gaza and to increase funding for more Iron Dome anti-rocket defenses. We do know that aside from bluster the Arab states and Turkey were inactive. They could really care less about Hamas, particularly as far as it is allied with Iran. Even Iran, aside from attempted new smuggled weapons, was inactive, as was its other cats paw in the area Hezbullah in Lebanon.
So, regardless of which side of the debate you take, or another, I think the lesson from Gaza is to give thanks for what we have accomplished.
Israel was not weakened but will continue on to successfully defend its right to exist. Since 1948, when Israel’s fate seemed more dire, to now, Israel has managed to survive and prosper. There’s little reason to believe that will change. The Arab states have not prospered nor advanced. As their oil wealth fades and is substituted from US, Israeli, alternative energy, and other sources, their influence or importance will fade. Hamas has created a stinkhole in Gaza, except for those at the top of the regime and its favors who live luxuriously and will pay the price eventually as impoverished Gazans take their measure.
As to those in the West, the decreasing number of dreamers, who propose trading land or rights for peace, their illusion is thinner than ever, at least until there is a miraculous transformation among Arabs. The necessity of strong security measures cannot be denied by any honest peace-hawks.
There’s much to give thanks for, far more than regrets, on this Thanksgiving.
Tracked: Nov 22, 13:52
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Agreed. I would add, and this is a point I would like to see discussed, that Israel could advance the cause for peace by supporting, under certain conditions, Abbas' quest for nonmember status at the UN.
Here's the argument: Abbas has authority only over the West Bank. The PA does not call for the destruction of Israel. If it is willing to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and restrains attempts to attack Israel from within its borders, then Israel should support its application.
The idea would be to close one door (Hamas' tactics) and open another (Abbas). By stating publicly one possible path to a two-nation region, Israel lends support to those who want to move forward, and leave behind those who marinate in their hate.
I doubt the tactic would work at first, but it would look more tempting as time goes on.
Abbas has already, repeatedly, pledged to use UN recognition as a platform to bring legal charges against israel. Although they may be baseless charges, they would be supported by the majority of the general Assembly who are on the Pals' side regardless of what they do. -- Further, Abbas et. al. are as corrupt as any, including Hamas, and will be replaced by the next wave of false reformers, pledging one thing but enriching themselves and cronies, while stirring up Palestinians with hate propaganda against Israel, as they have done since Oslo. -- Further, Hamas is gaining strength in the West Bank, so will be pandered to and may take power there, peacefully or violently as it did in Gaza. -- I could list many more reasons why not to help the PA increase its international recognition, but right now I've got other turkeys to fry (actually roast).
As much as I support any military action against Hamas, I think that a ground operation would have been the worst possible move.
First, due to external constraints, Israel would not be able to do what it really needs to do to eradicate the threat. That would require mass casualties and destruction. So they are in a position where the best that they can do is strategically pick off leadership and infrastructure, and that's what they did.
Second, no matter how bad Israel hurt Hamas, as long as Iran is run by those who run it now, Hamas would have been rearmed in short order, just as Hizb'allah was in Lebanon.
The only way that Israel is going to pacify Hamas and Hizb'allah is for Iran to be taken out of the equation. I don't think that means a purely military operation, but that would be one part of it. I.e., a devastating strike that cripples Iran's military abilities followed by support for internal opposition groups that would move Iran from the radical theocracy that it is today to a more rational and secular nation.
Until that is done, anything Israel does in Gaza or Lebanon is nothing more than a band aid.
When Caroline Glick first inveighed against giving up Gaza, there were several including me that argued for going ahead but responding that much more strongly against any further attacks from the ceded territory.
She was right, and I was wrong, but I remain somewhat unconvinced that collective punishment is immoral in view of how the Gazan people have behaved. Whenever a rocket is fired from Gaza, I proposed that a retaliatory artillery round be fired back - much cheaper than the Iron Dome rockets. Realizing that casualties would be likely, the Gazan people would probably accuse Israel of retaliatory war crimes.
But if the Gazans fail to put a stop to the behavior of the terrorists among them, while Israel 'shows the world how moral they are', how is that working out for the Israelis? Evidently, the comfort of feeling good about themselves outweighs the continuing loss of life, as we witness yet more Kassams after a hudna is declared, with no real hope that the Gazans have learned repentence.
Is the continued acceptance of your own people's loss of life a more moral state policy than the vengeance which says, 'a (random) life for a (random) life'?
Egypt will now make noises that sound helpful in return for the billions we used to give them for being helpful. This is a racket but will continue as long as Obama is in office.
Israel has to deal with the world as it is rather than how it should be.
Some points to ponder:
1) Bibi and Barak pulled back despite overwhelming public support in Israel for re-occupation. Their political opponent Shaul Mofaz is now trying to capitalize on the public mood by saber-rattling, even though he is in the ineffective peacenik Kadima party.
So there has to be a reason for the pull-back.
2) I don't think Israel is expecting/relying on much American support for an attack on Iran. But I am sure knee-jerk leftie US pressure was part of the decision to stop the action.
3) During a radio interview, Avigdor Liberman pointed out that the government would have more authority to take decisive action after the election - which can be read backwards as well: no politician wants to risk defeat or substantial losses before an election.
4) Israel has neutralized the Gaza front for at least the next few months. And that's the time window for an attack on Iran.
I think this is a key point.
5) One important achievement has been to shift Israeli public discourse rightward. The majority of Israelis now know that that their countrymen share their deepest thoughts, even if the left-wing media declared those opinions verboten for years.
And many indifferent Israelis in the central region have tasted the look-over-your-shoulder fear personally, which has galvanized their sentiments.
At this point - Olmert has dropped out and Livni is a dead letter - both of them marked by their failure to "finish the job" during operation "Cast Lead". Mofaz has been forced to take a militant/nationalist stand - without really having a party behind those sentiments, since Kadimah marketed itself as "Likud plus peace process".
So the "center-right" field has simultaneously narrowed in favor of Netanyahu, while its security policies have become unimpeachably mainstream. (And as I predicted here years ago - Kadimah is revealed as a one-election trick pony that failed to stop the Likud).
Yehimovich of Labor has said nothing beyond standard "we support the govt and our troops" - the situation in Gaza has completely knocked her "social justice" ad campaign out of the public eye, and that campaign will be seen as petty, divisive, and clueless in an election under the long shadow of security issues...
... and unless Barack comes back in triumph to the Labor party (unlikely) we have now reached the point at which the Israeli center-left is left without a credible, patriotic general - just as the left-sponsored Piece Process falls apart. Yehimovich's election solidified Labor's shift from a true working-man's party to a party of the urban elite. This is the result of decades of self-hating hard-left policies that have shrunken the Labor party and emboldened our enemies. Nobody will vote for them to pick up the pieces.
Expect a blitzkrieg strike on Iran shortly after Israeli elections. This will probably elicit sympathy volleys from Hizbullah and Hamas, which can be used as pretexts to "finish the job".
Israel is the only nation on earth this is routinely condemned for defending itself from external rocket attacks. Any other nation on earth that was exposed to such rocket fire, would assault the area from which those weapons were being fired.
To wit: Turkey took 7 errant artillery rounds from Syria and was lauded for it's response...heavy shelling/counter battery fire on Syrian artillery units. Isreal has endured more than 10,000 suck rocket attacks in the past 5 years...yet when they launch a counter strike, the usual suspects rise up and denounce such "attorcities" (i.e. using guided missiles to hit launch sites deliberately placed next to mosques, hospitals and schools).
Doesn't anyone one else see the hypocrisy here? 2 years ago, at the annual Paris arms show, Isreal couldn't sell a single Iron Dome anti-missle system...when they asked their biggest buyers why...they were told, if anyone launched missles at I we'd destroy them...