“Dear Palestinian Arab brethren…” (& “Israel refuses to win”)

January 26, 2009

* Top EU official today: Hamas is a terrorist movement and is fully responsible for the Gaza war

* Former New York Times reporter Youssef M. Ibrahim: “Dear Palestinian Arab brethren: The war with Israel is over. You have lost. Why not let a new future begin?”

* The Irish Independent: “Anyone who devotes only a cursory glance at the news, both print and television, would be forgiven for thinking that, out of spite, might and malice, Israel has decided to destroy the Palestinian people. The problem with that conclusion – and it’s not something you’re going to learn from the BBC and most other outlets – is that, contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint.”

* Benjamin Netanyahu: “The charge that Israel has used disproportionate force is baseless. Does proportionality demand that Israel fire 6,000 rockets indiscriminately back at Gaza? Does it demand an equal number of casualties on both sides? Using that logic, one would conclude that the United States employed disproportionate force against the Germans because 20 times as many Germans as Americans died in World War II.

“In that same war, Britain responded to the firing of thousands of rockets on its population with the wholesale bombing of German cities. Israel’s measured response to rocket fire on its cities has come in the form of surgical strikes. To further root out Hamas terrorists in a way that minimizes Palestinian civilian casualties, Israel’s army engaged in a ground operation that placed its soldiers in great peril. Carpet-bombing of Palestinian cities is not an option that any Israeli leader will entertain.”

 

CONTENTS

1. Top EU official: Hamas fully responsible for Gaza war
2. Yasser Abed Rabbo: Hamas is establishing an “emirate of darkness” in the Gaza Strip
3. “Dear Palestinian Arab brethren…”
4. “Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint”
5. The Gaza withdrawal was a “disaster” for Israel
6. “Imagine if Britain had deliberately refused to hit sites that housed top German commanders”
7. “The War with Israel is over – and they won” (By Youssef Ibrahim, Jan. 11, 2009)
8. “Why the Israeli people have finally had enough” (By Ian O’Doherty, Irish Independent, Jan. 5, 2009)
9. “Time for a Gaza Apology” (By Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2009)
10. “Refusing to win” (By Daniel Doron, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2009)

 

TOP EU OFFICIAL: HAMAS RESPONSIBLE FOR GAZA WAR

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach four further articles on this month’s “mini-war” between Israel and Hamas, with extracts first for those who don’t have time to read them in full.

The first part of this dispatch (“The moral chasm that separates Jews from their enemies”) can be read here.

Meanwhile, in unusually strong language for the European Union, a top EU official said today that Hamas bears “overwhelming responsibility for the war in Gaza.” He made the remarks as he toured the Gaza Strip, calling the group “a terrorist movement” who had “held Palestinians hostage as human shields.”

“I intentionally say this here – Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such,” EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said as he visited the town of Jabalya in northern Gaza.

“Public opinion is fed up to see that we are paying over and over again – be it the [European] commission, the member states or the major donors – for infrastructure that will be systematically destroyed,” he said.

“When you, Hamas, kill innocents, it is not resistance. It is terrorism.”

A Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, was quoted by Reuters as saying his group was “shocked” at Michel’s comments.

For years, this email list/website has urged the EU to make aid to Palestinians conditional on peaceful intentions and good governance.

 

YASSER ABED RABBO: HAMAS IS ESTABLISHING AN “EMIRATE OF DARKNESS” IN THE GAZA STRIP

While other backers of Hamas in the international community and international media are falsely suggesting that Israel’s Gaza operation was somehow uniquely bad, many experts believe Israel was in fact much too weak. (Which other army in history has called a three hour break every day in consideration of the other side’s population, allowing enemy fighters to regroup?)

Meanwhile, a leading aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said Israel made a “big mistake” by ending its Gaza operation “too early” without overthrowing the Hamas regime there. “The fact that Hamas is still in power is bad for everyone,” he said.

And, separately, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official closely associated with Abbas, on Thursday launched a scathing attack on Hamas, accusing it of seeking to establish an “emirate of darkness” in the Gaza Strip.

***

I would like to remind readers that I don’t necessarily agree with all the points in the articles included in these dispatches. They are included to draw attention to information and arguments that don’t generally get a fair hearing in the mainstream international media.

-- Tom Gross


“DEAR PALESTINIAN ARAB BRETHREN…”

The first article below is by Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former New York Times Middle East correspondent and Wall Street Journal energy editor for 25 years. He is now a freelance writer based in New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

This article was originally written in 2006 for the (now defunct) New York Sun, but Ibrahim reissued the article again this month. (Needless to say The New York Times wouldn’t publish it.)

He writes:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren: The war with Israel is over. You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children. We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the “eternal struggle” with Israel. Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years.

Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness... You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation.

Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins. Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.

… Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you…

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

 

“ISRAEL IS ACTUALLY ACTING WITH A RIDICULOUS DEGREE OF RESTRAINT”

In the second article below, writing in The Irish Independent (not to be confused with the British paper of a similar name), Ian O’Doherty writes:

So, it’s genocide now, is it? Or is it actually another holocaust, something which one typically restrained Palestinian analyst described as “worse than Hitler’s war against the Jews”? Are we watching the ethnic cleansing of an entire people? Are we witnessing the deliberate eradication of a race?

Well, no actually, we’re not.

Yet the conventional dinner party wisdom which we’ve had to put up with in the media, both here in Ireland and generally across Britain, is that somehow Israel is the aggressor in the rapidly worsening situation in Gaza.

… Anyone who devotes only a cursory glance at the news, both print and television, would be forgiven for thinking that, out of spite, might and malice, Israel has decided to destroy the Palestinian people.

The problem with that conclusion – and it’s not something you’re going to learn from the BBC and most other outlets - is that, contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint.

Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough.

But behind that statistic there is a human dimension which tends to be rather ignored.

I know many people in the southern Israeli town of Sderot and what is remarkable about their stories is not the number or make of rockets which have fallen on them on a daily basis for years, but the psychological carnage this wreaked upon them.

One woman freely admitted to me that she hasn’t had a proper night’s sleep in more than two years as she and her family now basically live in their bomb shelter and it’s hard to tell who she hates more – the Muslim terrorists of Hamas or the Israeli government which she thinks has abandoned them.

It’s a common feeling amongst residents of southern Israeli towns who have been the silent -victims of a long campaign of violence, intimidation and murder carried out by Hamas. And now, finally, that the Israelis have said that enough is enough, they are somehow meant to be the aggressors? …

 

THE GAZA WITHDRAWAL WAS A “DISASTER” FOR ISRAEL

In the third article below, Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund argues that “for all the coverage of events in southern Israel, both the media and Israel’s leadership have meticulously avoided any mention of the August 2005 Gaza pullout, despite the fact that it gave rise to the current mess in which we find ourselves.”

“This is hardly surprising, because it would require them to admit they were wrong in backing that ill-fated move.”

“It is time for a Gaza apology,” he says, “and a national admission of guilt. All those who had a hand in the disengagement should apologize to the people of Israel, the residents of Sderot and the rest of the Negev and especially to those who lived in Gush Katif. Because through their folly, the supporters of withdrawal brought disaster upon this country.”

“To paraphrase Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, ‘It was the disengagement, stupid!’”

Michael Freund outlines some of the comments in support of the disengagement that Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres made at the time.

They dismissed warnings from those such as Col. (res.) Mordechai Yogev who said at the time that “the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip will bring numerous large population centers and communities within the range of Kassam rockets and mortar shells.”

 

“IMAGINE IF BRITAIN HAD DELIBERATELY REFUSED TO HIT SITES THAT HOUSED TOP GERMAN COMMANDERS”

In the fourth and final article below, Daniel Doron (who like Michael Freund is a subscriber to this email list) writes:

Imagine that at the outbreak of World War II RAF bombers had managed to bomb Berlin by surprise and inflict enormous material damage, but had deliberately refused to hit sites that housed top Nazi brass. Imagine that only after several days of bombing, the British finally attacked the German headquarters, after warning of the impending attack.

How would the British public have reacted?

How would it have reacted if its government willfully missed the chance to kill many Nazi leaders? Would it have accepted the explanation that every leader can be replaced, that one must warn enemy leaders of a planned attack to prevent hitting innocent neighbors? Wouldn’t the killing of many Nazi leaders shorten the war, it would probably ask. Is it not moral to save hundreds of thousands of lives and prevent the terrible suffering of a prolonged war even if this requires hurting some innocent civilians?

Such questions were not raised in Israel. Only after three days of bombing did the IAF finally bomb Hamas headquarters, and it took 16 days before it bombed the residence of Hamas’s top commander (and even then it gave him a warning so his wives and children could first leave the house).

… Against all historical evidence, and against common sense, most leaders, egged on by the media, have sold themselves on the conception that “there are no wars in existence anymore that can be won like the wars of yore” (as stated by a headline to a special Ma’ariv supplement “Not By Force” preaching against seeking victory); in other words that “terror cannot be vanquished by force.”

This is nonsense, of course. Almost every terrorist movement was vanquished by force, from the 11th century Assassins to the 1936 Arab Revolt, from the post World War II communist insurrections in Greece or Malaya to terrors groups in Italy, Germany, Japan, etc…


FULL ARTICLES

THE WAR WITH ISRAEL IS OVER – AND THEY WON

The War with Israel is over – and they won
By Youssef Ibrahim
January 11, 2009

[An original version of this article appeared in The New York Sun in 2006]

To my Arab brothers:

Now let’s finally move forward with Israel entering its third week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few years ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren: The war with Israel is over. You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children. We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the “eternal struggle” with Israel. Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years.

Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness. At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn’t going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa , Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation.

Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins. Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.

In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day. What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world’s have-nots? We, your Arab brothers, have moved on.

Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine , even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab. Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods – more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives - while your children played in the sewers of Gaza .

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

 

WHY THE ISRAELI PEOPLE HAVE FINALLY HAD ENOUGH

Why the Israeli people have finally had enough
The Irish Independent
By Ian O’Doherty
January 5, 2009

www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/ian-odoherty/why-the-israeli-people-have-finally-had-enough-1592022.html

So, it’s genocide now, is it? Or is it actually another holocaust, something which one typically restrained Palestinian analyst described as “worse than Hitler’s war against the Jews”? Are we watching the ethnic cleansing of an entire people? Are we witnessing the deliberate eradication of a race?

Well, no actually, we’re not.

Yet the conventional dinner party wisdom which we’ve had to put up with in the media, both here in Ireland and generally across Britain, is that somehow Israel is the aggressor in the rapidly worsening situation in Gaza.

Footage of air strikes with the ensuing photogenic explosions and dramatic plumes of smoke, quickly followed by clips of collapsed buildings and enraged mourners, makes far better copy than actually looking at the reasons why Israel has done what it’s done.

Anyone who devotes only a cursory glance at the news, both print and television, would be forgiven for thinking that, out of spite, might and malice, Israel has decided to destroy the Palestinian people.

The problem with that conclusion – and it’s not something you’re going to learn from the BBC and most other outlets – is that, contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint.

Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough.

But behind that statistic there is a human dimension which tends to be rather ignored.

I know many people in the southern Israeli town of Sderot and what is remarkable about their stories is not the number or make of rockets which have fallen on them on a daily basis for years, but the psychological carnage this wreaked upon them.

One woman freely admitted to me that she hasn’t had a proper night’s sleep in more than two years as she and her family now basically live in their bomb shelter and it’s hard to tell who she hates more – the Muslim terrorists of Hamas or the Israeli government which she thinks has abandoned them.

It’s a common feeling amongst residents of southern Israeli towns who have been the silent victims of a long campaign of violence, intimidation and murder carried out by Hamas. And now, finally, that the Israelis have said that enough is enough, they are somehow meant to be the aggressors?

There are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, but one of the main problems in this debate lies in the cowardly tendency of the Western media to apply equivalence to both sides.

Thus, Hamas is seen to be as legitimate a government as the Israelis, and its rocket attacks across the border from Gaza are seen as being part of a yet another, intractable, interminable Middle Eastern dispute.

There’s just one problem with that approach – it’s completely wrong.

Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic organisation intent on the eradication of the state of Israel and all its citizens; a violent fascist regime that allows honour killings and the execution of homosexuals to continue in its sphere of influence. Bankrolled by Iran, it manages to make even Hezbollah look like a moderate organisation.

But Hamas is clever.

As a friend of mine from Sderot pointed out, one of its favourite tactics is to launch Qassams from Palestinian schoolyards – while the schools are still in session.

Hamas does this, you see, knowing that the IDF can’t immediately strike back (they can vector a rocket launch site within 90 seconds) because the last thing the Israelis need is footage of a devastated Palestinian school with dead kids.

And, over the last week, we have seen carefully manipulated footage of dead civilians, with the fact that they were effectively used as human shields conveniently ignored. When Israel pulled out of Gaza – ironically, the last battalion of IDF troops to leave Gaza contained some people from Sderot – they were acceding to international and internal pressure. The doves on the Left said it was to prove to Palestinians that they wanted to give Palestinians independence, the hawks on the Right – and there are some truly scary right-wingers in Israel, even as ardent a supporter of the country as I am will freely admit that – prophesied that it would lead to carnage.

And, lo and behold, virtually as soon as the last jeep left Gaza the rockets started. And then the blockade began, and the whole damn mess started all over again.

But there’s a bigger picture here, something which Israelis have been trying to broadcast to the world, but which, thanks to their spectacular inability to accurately and sympathetically portray their point of view, has not been properly transmitted. It’s this – Israel is the front line of the war between democracy and Islamic fascism.

Would you rather live in a society with a free press, equal rights for women – and anyone who knows an Israeli woman will know that they’re not easily suppressed, anyway – equal rights for gay people and a proud and stubborn belief in the right of the individual to lead their life in the way that they see fit or would you rather exist in a society where women who dare to speak their mind are executed, where gay people are not just shunned but murdered and where having a dissenting thought marks you out for death?

The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be mourned, and anyone who says otherwise is reprehensible. But in a sick and twisted irony, they are mourned more by Israelis than by Hamas, who know that every dead Palestinian kid is worth another piece of propaganda.

Here in the West, where we share the same values as Israel, we need to start standing shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery.

To do otherwise is moral cowardice of the most repugnant kind.

 

TIME FOR A GAZA APOLOGY

Time for a Gaza Apology
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
January 21, 2009

For all its extensive, wall-to-wall coverage of the situation in the South over the past month, there is one key issue that the country’s leadership and media have studiously and carefully avoided mentioning of late.

Despite finding time to examine a wide range of subjects, from the intricacies of intra-Hamas politics to the technical differences between Kassam and Grad rockets, pundits and politicians alike have proven incapable of acknowledging the underlying cause behind the present disarray.

Indeed, if you listened carefully, and followed the news in recent weeks, you may have noticed that hardly anything was said about the colossal strategic blunder which enabled Hamas to strike terror in the streets of Ashkelon and Beersheba.

Yes, you guessed correctly. To paraphrase Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, “It was the disengagement, stupid!”

Of course, this hardly comes as a surprise. After all, it would require something of our politicians and their guard dogs in the press which they seem constitutionally incapable of doing: admitting they were wrong.

Yet that is precisely what they were when they supported the Sharon government’s misguided August 2005 retreat: dead wrong, and profoundly so.

It was their blunder, their bluster and their blindness, which got us into this mess, and which brought the country an unprecedented wave of airborne Palestinian projectiles and terror. All those who backed the pullout then, and adamantly defended it to the public, clearly now owe the rest of us a whopper of an apology.

Which is exactly why they are so manifestly silent on the subject.

BUT THE facts are too compelling to ignore, and they readily speak for themselves. Let’s do a quick rewind and you’ll see why.

Prior to the ignominious retreat more than three years ago, there were warnings aplenty that it would endanger the South and place hundreds of thousands of people within range of jihadist rockets in Gaza.

Here is just one of many examples. On January 11, 2005, seven months before the pullout, Col. Uzi Buchbinder, head of civil defense in the IDF’s Home Front Command, told the Knesset Interior Committee that the disengagement plan, if implemented, would expose 46 towns and cities in the Negev to Kassam rocket fire.

At the same hearing, Col. (res.) Mordechai Yogev presented a report to our parliamentarians, cautioning that “the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria will bring numerous large population centers and communities within the range of Kassam rockets and mortar shells.” (Ha’aretz, January 12, 2005)

And that, of course, is precisely what occurred.

But no one wanted to listen, no one wished to hear, even as politicians and protesters on the Right railed against the disengagement, accurately predicting the disaster that would ensue.

Instead, the leaders of the country mocked the plan’s opponents and hurled invective and abuse their way.

After more than 100,000 people rallied outside the Knesset on January 29, 2005 against the government’s plan, vice prime minister Shimon Peres ridiculed the gathering, labeling it a “rally of shlemazels.” (Jerusalem Post, February 1, 2005)

As it turns out, of course, the real shlemazels are not those who warned about the dangers of retreat, but those who stubbornly ignored them.

IN THIS context it is worth recalling that one of those who led the charge in favor of the expulsion of Gaza’s Jews was none other than our very own Ehud Olmert, who at the time served as Ariel Sharon’s vice premier.

On June 9, 2005, Olmert insisted in remarks to an American Jewish audience that the disengagement “will bring more security, greater safety, much more prosperity and a lot of joy for all the people that live in the Middle East.” Continuing with his flight of fantasy, Olmert went on to say that “we are confident that this disengagement will be successful, and that it will then lead to the beginning of a new pattern of relations between us and the Palestinian Authority.”

Well, it certainly has lead to a “new pattern of relations,” as the Palestinian leadership was forced to flee to Ramallah after Hamas quickly seized control over Gaza. But that, of course, is not quite what Olmert and his colleagues had in mind.

On August 15, 2005, the day of the pullout itself, Sharon addressed the nation and assured us that “this plan is good for Israel in any future scenario.” Needless to say, that has proven to be patently untrue. And while Sharon is no longer in any condition to be offering regrets, there are plenty of people out there in positions of power who darn well should.

It is time for a Gaza apology and a national admission of guilt. All those who had a hand in the disengagement should apologize to the people of Israel, the residents of Sderot and the rest of the Negev and especially to those who lived in Gush Katif.

Through their folly, the supporters of withdrawal brought disaster upon this country. They destroyed the lives of thousands of Gaza’s Jews, and put nearly a million Israelis within the cross-hairs of Hamas.

Unless Israel and its leaders have the courage to come to terms with their error, the danger of making additional such blunders will continue to accompany us well into the future.

Mistakes, wrote the author James Joyce, are portals of discovery. They allow us to gain a better glimpse of reality and to move forward. But that can only happen if in fact one is capable of embracing his own failings.

The disengagement, as its name implied, was supposed to disengage Israel from the Palestinians and their violence. But instead, as we have seen, it did just the opposite.

It is about time that its proponents publicly acknowledged as much.

 

ISRAEL REFUSES TO WIN

Refusing to win
By Daniel Doron
The Jerusalem Post
January 14, 2009

Imagine that at the outbreak of World War II RAF bombers had managed to bomb Berlin by surprise and inflict enormous material damage, but had deliberately refused to hit sites that housed top Nazi brass. Imagine that only after several days of bombing, the British finally attacked the German headquarters, after warning of the impending attack.

How would the British public have reacted?

How would it have reacted if its government willfully missed the chance to kill many Nazi leaders? Would it have accepted the explanation that every leader can be replaced, that one must warn enemy leaders of a planned attack to prevent hitting innocent neighbors? Wouldn’t the killing of many Nazi leaders shorten the war, it would probably ask. Is it not moral to save hundreds of thousands of lives and prevent the terrible suffering of a prolonged war even if this requires hurting some innocent civilians?

Such questions were not raised in Israel. Only after three days of bombing did the IAF finally bomb Hamas headquarters, and it took 16 days before it bombed the residence of Hamas’s top commander. This country did not exploit the surprise it achieved to kill as many top Hamas commanders as possible (just as in the past it has neglected to do so) – even though this would have most likely led to the collapse of its war machine and shortened the war.

Exploiting the surprise of the attack to the fullest would have also made unnecessary the land incursion and the many casualties it involves. Hamas could be destroyed as an effective war machine by simply killing or chasing away, in short order, many of those who operate its war machine. When we forgo such effective action, we are forced to take other, less effective actions, such as massive closures and bombardments and prolonged land incursions. These cause much greater humanitarian damage without securing victory.

SO WHY is our government so reluctant to win? Some claim that politicians become more risk averse on the eve of elections. Others blame sharp internal divisions, confusion and lack of determination that inflict the unholy trinity governing the country. Still others claim that leaders who believe that “peace must be made with enemies” make sure they survive so as to have “partners” for a deal after “teaching them a lesson.” Finally there are those who claim that a crushing victory will be a great embarrassment to our leaders. “If victory was possible,” the public will say, “why did you wait almost eight years before liberating us from Hamas’s terror?”

There is a kernel of truth in these explanations. But every terrible mess in Israel originates in “a conception.” Against all historical evidence, and against common sense, most leaders, egged on by the media, have sold themselves on the conception that “there are no wars in existence anymore that can be won like the wars of yore” (as stated by a headline to a special Ma’ariv supplement “Not By Force” preaching against seeking victory); in other words that “terror cannot be vanquished by force.”

This is nonsense, of course. Almost every terrorist movement was vanquished by force, from the 11th century Assassins to the 1936 Arab Revolt, from the post World War II communist insurrections in Greece or Malaya to terrors groups in Italy, Germany, Japan, etc.

It is also absurd to claim that the IDF, which is supposed to fight several Arab armies simultaneously, cannot vanquish a ragtag guerrilla force of 20,000 fighters lacking armor or airpower. The IDF cannot win only if – like in Lebanon – it fights without a clear plan for victory and under a leadership that does not enable it to win.

The goal of the “plan” annunciated by the Olmert-Barak-Livni government is “to stop the firing of Kassams from Gaza and to stop the smuggling of war materiel into it” (not, God forbid, to win a decisive victory over Hamas). It is based on relying on the Egyptians to stop the huge volume of arms smuggled from the Sinai into Gaza.

IT SEEMS likely that Egypt does not want an Iranian-controlled Hamas, and that it therefore welcomed Israel’s beating Hamas enough to make it seek Egyptian protection again. But Egypt will do all it can to prevent us from finally vanquishing Hamas. Since Egypt has realized that its chances of beating us by direct military confrontation are not great, it has used Hamas for a proxy war of attrition, as the Syrians do with Hizbullah. Egypt hopes to gradually bleed us to death and then get rid of us when an opportunity arises.

This is why Egypt resisted all efforts to make it stop the massive arming of Hamas (does anyone still believe that moving thousands of tons of war material and digging hundreds of smuggling tunnels could take place without Egyptian cooperation?) and this is why it will rehabilitate Hamas once Israel accepts a truce, so that Hamas will be able to resume bleeding us, albeit more cautiously.

Since our war against Hamas – an Iranian proxy – is part of the worldwide war against terror, our failure to vanquish Hamas will also have grave repercussions for the stability of Egypt and Jordan, besides negatively affecting our deterrent capacity and international standing.

The upshot is that if you do not seek victory in war you become the loser, even if the spin doctors convince you, like they did during the Lebanon war, that defeat is actually victory.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.