Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michael Oren’s Purim Torah in June

If you need to have a good laugh before Shabbat, read Michael Oren's take on the Israel-Hamas truce/cease-fire agreement in the Wall Street Journal here

I have no problem with the title, "Israel's Truce with Hamas is a Victory for Iran." I am sure that Oren would have liked Israel to repeat America's success in Iraq with a "rolling, multi-month operation."

No, what amuses me so much is Oren's narrative of the "tragedy". Here is what he writes:

"The roots of this tragedy go back to the summer of 2005 and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The evacuation, intended to free Israel of Gaza's political and strategic burden, was hailed as a victory by Palestinian terrorist groups, above all Hamas.

"Hamas proceeded to fire some 1,000 rocket and mortar shells into Israel. Six months later Hamas gunmen, taking advantage of an earlier cease-fire, infiltrated into Israel, killed two soldiers, and captured Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

"Hamas's audacity spurred Hezbollah to mount a similar ambush against Israelis patrolling the Lebanese border, triggering a war in which Israel was once again humbled. Hamas now felt sufficiently emboldened to overthrow Gaza's Fatah-led government, and to declare itself regnant in the Strip. Subsequently, Hamas launched thousands more rocket and mortar salvos against Israel, rendering parts of the country nearly uninhabitable.

"In response, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) air strikes and limited ground incursions killed hundreds of armed Palestinians in Gaza, and Israel earned international censure for collateral civilian deaths and "disproportionate" tactics. Israel also imposed a land and sea blockade of Gaza, strictly controlling its supply of vital commodities such as a gasoline. But the policy enabled Hamas to hoard the fuel and declare a humanitarian crisis."

Like most Israeli apologists, Oren denies the Jews effective agency in their encounter with the Palestinians. Jews almost never take the initiative; they only respond. Hence it is wrong to look for the roots of the tragedy in the Israeli support of Hamas during the eighties by the Israelis, or the war against Hamas during the nineties, or the response of the Israelis to the Second Intifada, which crippled Fatah, or the sanctions against Hamas after they won democratic elections promoted by the US and Israel. These points are unimportant because the Palestinian actions and attitudes toward Israel are independent of anything Israel may do to them; they are born of MUSLIM ANTISEMITISM AND FUNDAMENTALISM that needs no external impetus. From Oren's account, it would seem that Israel never fought against Hamas before 2007, or even pressured them. Only after Hamas took over the Gaza strip – "emboldened by Israel's failure in Lebanon" (apparently, Hamas has no internal-Palestinian agenda, either)-- did Israel launch air strikes.

Oren doesn't talk about targeted assassinations, or sanctions, or shelling, or incursions, or about Israel's virtually complete control over the economic life of the Gaza strip. He doesn't talk about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza from 2000 on. He doesn't talk about Israel's kidnapping soldiers (or violating Lebanese sovereignty with fly overs.)

The Gaza evacuation is the exception that proves the rule -- because that was a deliberately unilateral move that excluded the Palestinians. Oren can make a silly statement about Hamas leaders being able to walk freely in Gaza while children in Sderot cower in bomb shelters. If there are Hamas leaders like that, it is only because the four previous generations of Hamas leaders were blown apart by Israeli shells.

I know enough not to listen to Oren's new and revisionist history. I read the papers when the events happened. But some Israelis actually believe this junk.

I am going to keep Oren's article for when Obama pulls out of Iraq. Now, that will be a victory for al-Qaeda, right?


Nizo said...

But some Israelis actually believe this crap.

You're right. Some do.

And I keep telling them that Hamas doesn't have that many cards in its deck besides Shalit.

Take it from this Palestinian, Israel is respected (alongside being disdained - both sentiments are hardly mutually exclusive) by Arabs for valuing the human life of its soldiers and citizens in general. No other country in the Middle East fashions its military response to bombardment of its cities around the captivity of a single soldier.

In any case, the fear of Hamas' rearmament is exaggerated, just like Hamas' own rhetoric is exaggerated. Every time a Hamas leader is assassinated you hear talk about the earth shaking below the Zionists. Little of which has happened.


On a Hamas related note, Mahmoud Al Zahar appeared recently on a BBC show called Hardtalk. I was (pleasantly) surprised when several Palestinians in the audience grilled him on the bombing of Sderot and the killing of civilians in general. I wouldn't go as far to say that there's been a monumental shift in Palestinian attitudes, but all such little signs are encouraging and welcome in our region.



Anonymous said...

The 9/11 PTSD'niks in Israel and more importantly in the US will continue their delusion that Iraq and Iran being invaded will cure their recurrent 9/11 nightmares until they seek help or slit Israel's wrists.
Dealing with a mentally ill person is hard enough dealing with a mentally ill nation is an incredible challenge. Let us hope for the best but I expect the worst--compared with what we have in Washington and Jrusalem, CE 65 looks like a hopeful period. I just hope there are rabbis and teachers who will know how to reinvent a viable Judaism after things go badly.

15th Adar? its more and more like the 17th Tammuz!

Ben Bayit said...

The way you put you might actually convince me that Michael Oren is really a neo-conservative and that the Shalem Center hasn't been hijacked by Mapainiks..........

Jerry Haber said...

As if there is much of a difference between the Mapainiks and the Neocons....