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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Israel: Right or Wrong?

I received an e-mail forward/forward/forward from someone who wanted to share thoughts about responding to critics of Israel. I am interested in reading the comments of the readers of Roland Hansen Commentary in response to it. Therefore, I am copying and pasting that forwarded e-mail piece in its entirety below. What say you?

Answering Israel's critics
Six cliches you are likely to hear constantly in the coming days, and why they're false - Yigal Walt

1) "Israel's response in Gaza is disproportionate"

Since when is war a mathematical equation? The basic objective of any warring party is to inflict maximal damage on the enemy while minimizing its own casualties. Was there anything proportional about the US war in Iraq? Or about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait for that matter? Or about Russia's recent war against Georgia? Israel is doing exactly what any other country has done in the past. This is how war works.

Would a British citizen complain that "too few" British soldiers are being killed in Iraq? Probably not.

And on a more elementary note: Palestinian military inferiority is not an indication of moral superiority. Palestinian insistence on resorting to violence despite this military weakness is an indication of poor judgment perhaps - yet it is by no means an indication of moral virtue. Being militarily weak does not make the Palestinians right.

2) "But Qassams don't kill"

Actually, Qassams do kill. Not too often, perhaps, but dozens of Israelis were killed and wounded by rocket fire in recent years. Moreover, at this time the Palestinians are firing long-range Grad rockets with even greater explosive power. Such rockets killed 2 Israelis Monday.

Yet beyond the casualty figures, the psychological damage caused as result of living under an ongoing rocket threat is immeasurable. Would anyone in the West agree to have their family live under constant rocket attacks and be regularly woken up by sirens in the middle of the night? Would anyone living under such conditions appreciate being told that "these rockets don't kill?" Probably not.

3) "It's all because of Israel's siege. Israel should allow aid into Gaza."

Israel has allowed goods into Gaza regularly throughout the "siege". Palestinians have been able to complement these deliveries with supplies smuggled through hundreds of tunnels (of course, they would likely be able to bring in even more food had they not used the tunnels to smuggle in missiles.).

The day before operation "Cast Lead" got underway, Israel allowed dozens of trucks carrying aid to enter the Strip. On Tuesday, another 100 trucks - double the normal number -are expected to enter Gaza after Defense Minister Barak approved the move.

In short, Israel is allowing aid into the Strip (but guess who has kept Gaza crossings mostly closed thus far? That's right, Egypt.)

4) "Why didn't Israel just agree to renew the Gaza truce?"

First, what truce? Terror groups continued to fire rockets throughout the lull, even if somewhat infrequently, and even if the world didn't seem to care too much. Nonetheless, Israel clearly declared that it is interested in extending the truce. Our top officials made it clear time and again.

Yet Hamas leaders clearly declared that the truce has ended on December 19th, and proceeded to bombard southern Israeli communities with dozens of rockets daily. In short, it is no wonder that even the Egyptians are blaming Hamas this time.

5) "But Hamas was elected democratically - why can't Israel accept it?"

Although Hamas won the Palestinian elections, it took Gaza by force, in the process hurling rival Fatah members down to their death from high-rises and shooting others in the knees with the declared aim of maiming them. Some democracy.

In any case, Israel in fact "recognizes," de facto, Hamas' rule in Gaza, which is precisely why it is justified in attacking the Hamas-ruled Strip, recognizing that it is indeed being governed by a terror entity. Israel did not launch the operation because Hamas is in power there - rather, it did so because Hamas is a terrorist organization that has deliberately targeted civilians with thousands of rockets over the past 8 years.

6) "Israel is targeting civilians"

You mean to say that "one of the most powerful armies in the world" has been bombing Gaza for days, deploying massive air power, dropping hundreds of bombs, and ultimately killing a grand total of 50 civilians or so in the "most crowded place on earth?"

There are two options here: A) The Israeli army is not targeting civilians, or B) Israeli pilots suck. We tend to go with option A.

Indeed, Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, by deploying precise ammunition and specialized techniques. In fact, nobody in the world does this better than the Jewish State.


Hooda Thunkit said...

All points were well stated and accurate.

That said, the sympathy almost always tends to lie with the best showmen.

The battles are what they are; the war is often a won (in the short term at least) by the more effective actors.

(BTW, I agree with your assessment.)

Jill said...

Roland I have seen this too. Also, there is one that goes in the opposite direction - I saw it a couple of days ago but forget where - I'm whipping around the Internet reading so many sources - I need to stop.

Anyway - thanks for keeping the debate alive. As I say with my kids when they're arguing at intolerable levels, they're not accessible - so they hear nothing I saw and that's when they get time outs - or I give myself a time out. Neither Hamas nor Israel can hear us right now - and I continue to be desperately angry and disappointed in the Arab nations - I honestly do not understand why they're allowed to abdicate concern for their brethren, as much as they or we tolerate literal brotherhoods fighting each other in the Israelis and Palestinians.

Ben said...

I like how the media is saying Obama is inheriting a middle east mess. They all do. And they all will.

Judy said...

"The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won," by an American University professor.

J. Rowsey said...

I believe Israel has a right to defend itself. There has not been a truce as people like to say. When a group is sending rockets across the border, no matter how dangerous they might be, you are being attacked.