Saturday, January 10, 2009

“What Would You Do if Mexico Was Shooting Rockets at Texas?” And Other Extraordinarily Dumb Questions

"If you are in your apartment and some emotionally disturbed person is banging on the door, screaming, 'I'm going to come through this door and kill you,' do you want us to respond with one police officer ... or with all the resources at our command?" said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

I guess it depends if I force that guy to live in my hallway and make him go through check points every time he has to take a dump.

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, January 8, 2009


Jon Stewart gets it. George Will, Michael Bloomberg, and a host of intellectually-challenged Israel advocates don't.

Lobbing rockets at civilians, even if the probability of their doing much damage is low, is a war crime and should be condemned. Not as much, of course, as accurately massacring, with the latest weapons, close to nine hundred people (as of today), a quarter of whom (at least) are civilians, including over two hundred and fifty children and babies.

But still, it merits condemnation.

But just condemnation, Jerry? What would you do if your civilians were being rocketed? I mean, would you just sprout the old anti-war drivel? Would you just talk about the causes of Palestinian resentment? Isn't it your duty to protect your own citizens?

The best response to these "klutz kashes" (dumb questions) appeared last week by veteran Israelן commentator, Haim Baram in the City Paper, Ha-Ir. I paraphrase his points:

We (the Left) are always asked for answers to situations that were deliberately brought about by the Establishment's policies that are diametrically opposed to our own. We cannot deny that the Kassams on the development towns and the areas near Gaza are an intolerable situation, nor that we emotionally identify with our citizens in the South. But we have always recommended a different policy, a policy that entailed a constant struggle with those elements in the country who prefer territorial expansion in the Occupied Territories, anti-Arab racism, mixed up with real and imagined security anxieties, to peace.

Baram says that what is needed is a strategic, and not just a tactical, structural change in Israel's thinking – but that there is no leader who is able or willing to lead such a change.

The steps that we should have taken in the past – and, in my opinion, we can still take are as follows. First, in the declarative sphere: Israel must recognize the results of the PA elections, and to declare its willingess to negotiate with any responsible element in Palestine which is prepared for dialogue. It must emphasize that in the middle and long run it has no intention to hold any territory whatsoever that it captured in the 67 War. In exchange for these declarations, Israel will demand of Hamas to cease immediately the rocket fire from the Gaza strip, and the terrorist activities with Israel. Both side will agree to station European forces on the border.

The Israeli government should involve the Europeans more in both the Palestinian and Syrian tracks, and ask the Obama administration to suggest new ways to break the impasse in negotiations and to support the Obama's policy of engagement with Iran. A negotiated peace with Syria, a durable cease-fire with Hizbollah, and a statement against the Islamaphobic "clash of civilizations" mentality, will help improve relations not only between israel and and Islamic countries, but between Jews and Muslims throughout the world

It is almost unnecessary to say that this change will lead to opening the Gaza border, supplies of food for its inhabitants, the renewal of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, and Israeli aid for development of health and educational institutions. All of these steps will improve Israel's image in the world, reduce the bloodshed, and will alleviate the burdens of the Israeli inhabitants in the South….

Those who read the above and dismiss it as hopelessly utopian have nothing to offer in its stead -- except further bombing, disastrous ground operations, the intensifying of hatred on both sides, and a complete end to the process of dialogue with the Palestinians and the Syrians. There is no serious element in the Chavinistic Center [Baram's favorite description of Likud, Kadima, Labor, and elements of Meretz -JH] that can offer any alternative plan, even to what I have advocated here…Since there is no chance that the Israeli voters will choose to talk with Hamas, and it is reasonable to assume that the political arena will move even further to the right in the coming months, we can do nothing but to grit our teeth and say the truth as we see it

Bravo, Haim. Nobody could have said it better.


Anonymous said...

Bravo Jerry for your aiding the enemy. Hamas will be defeated no thanks to Copperheads like you!

Anonymous said...

250+ children and babies of 900- are already 28% civilians, and we can safely assume that many of the adult victims were non-combatants, too. I don't know where the UN gets their figure, repeated for days, of 25%; do you?

Baram is of course right with his analysis, the refusal to provide grounds for another stab-in-the-back legend, and I'm afraid with his pessimism about the Israeli follow... I mean leadership. Unfortunately the Palestinians understand this as well. Given that in the past only escalating violence has led to negotiations, while periods of calm (Oslo) were little more than an opportunity for Israel to grab ever more of the future Palestinian state they were simultaneously paying lip service to, it's little wonder the notion has solidified that "Israel only understands force". Which is why the two parties will not be able to resolve this conflict without massive outside pressure.

Anonymous said...

The early 25 percent civilian figure might have been right, if one assumes that all the police cadets and others killed in the opening days were non-civilian, which of course is disputable. Since then, Israel has really branched out in its bombing.

What fascinates me in all this are one or two people I've seen online (who will go unnamed) who seem amazingly well-informed about facts that put Hamas in a bad light, even facts that they get from Amira Hass at Ha'aretz (a story about the killing of collaborators), but appear to know nothing about, for instance, the US role in stirring up the Palestinian civil war between Hamas and Fatah. It's almost like such people come online to spread a deliberately skewed view.

Baconeater said...

How come there was no Palestinian state made from 1948-1967? How come the 1967 borders weren't acceptable between that time?
Hamas has a charter to wipe out Israel. If Canada or Mexico elected a party that had a charter to wipe out the USA, I'd expect to be dead today as I live in Canada.
Mexico could easily try to make a case to get back Texas if they were into requests as stupid as the Palestinians are.
Hamas could stop this war if they cared as much as the Far Left does about their people.
Israel left Gaza and look how they were rewarded. Hamas was elected.
The restrictions didn't begin until it was found that Hamas was bringing in arms.
If I were Israel, I would do everything I could to prevent Hamas from arming themselves. But I know, you would just consider that dumb.

Marcel Dubois said...

This was a nice list of actions to take, and I suppose it matters for those who could be drawn in anti-semitism. I will say though that this is a very unlikely series of steps. By that, I mean it's not just the mindset that creates the situation on the ground; the situation itself has an influence, the balance of power between Israelis and Palestinians.

If you're as powerful as Israel, what internal incentives do you got, to reach out and make peace ? When you could muddle the waters and ruin the peace process in order to always get more territory.

Anonymous said...

Hamas has a charter to wipe out Israel. If Canada or Mexico elected a party that had a charter to wipe out the USA, I'd expect to be dead today as I live in Canada.

Get real, Baconeater! What actual chance does Hamas have to wipe out Israel?

Hamas' weapons are pretty ineffective, although they certainly can irritate the Israelis quite a bit. And of course, whether or not they are effective, Hamas has absolutely no business using them.

But to claim that Israelis are actually afraid of being wiped out is ridiculous. Hamas simply hasn't the capability to do that.

Baconeater said...

Littlehorn, your rhetoric goes south when you factor in the fact that Israel left Gaza.

Anon, Hamas is getting more and more sophisticated weaponry thanks to Iran. But it is still not the point.
No civilized country on this planet would take getting their citizens even threatened with missed bombs, especially when the region that is firing the bombs supports the firing of the bombs.

Israel has tried more proportional type of response, but it hasn't stopped the bombings.

This is now a war, where Israel has a goal to weaken Hamas enough so that peace can possibly be achieved.

Tikkunknitter said...

Thank you again, as always, for your lucid vision of the reality of Israel's abhorrent choices. In spite of it all, your voice continues to call me to Judaism.