Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Why Israel Is Right to Invade Gaza

Unlike any other nation in history, Israel was founded after millions of its brethren, Jews, were butchered in mass genocide by another nation. No people have suffered 2000+ years of brutal persecution--including Pogroms, the Crusades, the Holocaust and Arab terrorism--like the Jews. And no nation besides Israel has on or within its borders enemies who publicly avow its absolute and violent destruction.

The mantra "Never Again" is something Jewish people live with every minute of every day, especially those living in Israel. Jews of every age, even those born after WW II, are haunted by images of concentration camps, ovens and mass graves. They remember how the world stood idly by and watched as six-million were slaughtered like animals. "Never Again" means that Jews would no longer be a passive partner in their own death. The existence of Israel in particular would come to symbolize strength and survival, and ensure that the enemy of the Jewish people would be dealt swift and decisive blows. Which is why Israel's invasion of Gaza is completely understandable and justifiable. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni describes the conflict in the Gaza Strip as "the right of self-defense of a state."

The violence in Gaza is not borne out of a new found crisis. Rocket and missile attacks into Israeli border towns by Hamas, the terrorist group elected to power in Palestinian elections in January 2006, have been ongoing since 2001, increasing over 500% since that time. Hamas's mission is clear: its charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, to be replaced with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There's no gray area here. Destruction. How do you negotiate with an enemy who will only accept wiping you off the face of the Earth?

Criticism of Israel's strikes into Gaza centers on proportionality. The debate is over how much retaliation is necessary and/or justified. To quote a very smart and concerned young college student I had the pleasure of meeting this week, "when you get shot in the foot, do you shoot them back in the head?" Yes, that's exactly what you do when your enemies have been trying to literally annihilate you for centuries. How exactly should Israel proportionately address this non-stop barrage of rockets into its country from a terrorist group hellbent on its destruction? How should Israel attempt to protect its people, long-term, if it merely acts defensively in a tit-for-tat manner, minimally answering each rocket with another rocket of its own? That would be a horribly naive response given history.

Colin Powell, a decorated war hero, four-star Army general, and former Secretary of State has outlined in what has informally been recognized as "The Powell Doctrine," that when a nation is engaging in war, it should harness every resource and tool to wage decisive military action against its enemy so as to minimize U.S. casualties and achieve a quick resolution to the conflict by overpowering the the weaker force into capitulation. That's precisely what Israel is attempting to do now in Gaza. Strike quick, strike hard and eliminate the enemy threat in an effort to secure its homeland. It's terribly unfortunate that civilians are getting killed, but I suppose that's the collateral damage when a cowardly enemy uses it's citizens as human shields. Israel is striking at Hamas's base of operations. But if that stronghold is centered in densely populated civilian neighborhoods, only Hamas can be blamed for the resulting casualties.

Let's keep in mind history. It is not the Israelis who blow up buses full of innocent people, detonate suicide bombs at restaurants and nightclubs, kill school children or throw old people off of cruise ships. To the contrary, no nation has made more concessions over the years to its arch enemies than Israel. It's given the Sinai back to Egypt, and returned parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank to the Palestinians. It was also ready to make peace with Yassir Arafat and the PLO in a historic deal with then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton at Camp David in 2000, a deal which would have created a Palestinian homeland with its capital in Jerusalem. A deal which Arafat was widely criticized for rejecting. But in order to achieve real peace, Israel needs a rational, committed statesman-like partner in the process. That partner is not Hamas.

The situation in the Middle East, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been volcanic since the Jewish state was founded 60 years ago. There's been periods of relative calm, followed by frequent violent and deadly eruptions, including many multi-nation wars. The current escalation is no exception. It is just another example of the cyclical tumult that faces this region of the world. Let's hope President-elect Barack Obama can enjoin the parties in a substantive negotiation process that can ultimately, and finally, lead to a lasting peace...if that's truly possible given the centuries-old emotional and cultural schisms that have plagued these nations like a disease. The question is, what will Obama's position be towards Israel and its desire and need to defend itself, and will he support this new action in Gaza...and if so, for how long? And if not, can Israel go it alone without the U.S. behind it? Interesting times ahead....


Uzi Silber said...

Your article was a good read. I do feel compelled to point out that actually, it's a mistake to refer to a 'return' of Gaza and parts of the west bank. Its more appropriate to say that Israel relinquished parts of its patrimony, known for millenia as Judea and Samaria. But That's just an aside.
Unfortunately there really is no one to negotiate with. Hamas or Fatah. Hamas is at least honest in its intentions vis a vis israel. Fatah isnt, but agrees with Hamas on the ultimate aim of destroying the Jewish State. Whatever area Israel evacuates and allows Palestinian Arabs to control would turn into a staging ground for muslim arab terror. Terrorists both from hamas and Fatah would be able to routinely target planes landing and taking off at Be Gurion airport, or perhaps lob a missile into a Tel Aviv skyscraper. These are not reasonable Swedes or Canadians one can negotiate with in good faith. They see the Jews as usurpers and want them out of Dar Al Islam -- the House of Islam. And they see The Land of Israel as part of that House.
regards from Bill!
Uzi Silber

Anonymous said...

I sincerely wish that you had not imposed censorhip on your blog, Mr. Ostroy, so that we could all discuss this and air all the considerations of this horrific problem facing the world. The entire world is involved and endangered by this war. Today the terrorists have vowed to hit USA targets for its support of Israel. This is deadly serious and needs to be understood by all.

Anonymous said...

great article

but andy, how do you answer those who stubbornly insist that as a result of occupation, the palestinians are forced into terrorist attacks?

Anonymous said...

Wrong on so many levels.

Israel Has the right to defent itself. (agree)

Israel has the right to exist. (agree)

Is it doing so right now? Let me break it down. Until Israel started the attacks (by air & sea) no Israeli was killed, all the home made sorry-a**-so-called-rockets were flukes and only injured three people.

You may ask, even if, why did they break the ceasefire? I reply that they didn't. As a matter of fact, 4 months into the ceasefire Israel attacked Tunnels across Rafah and killed 6 palestinians, which broke the ceasefire.

Regardless what you say, killing 650 people, injuring 3000, with a thousand of them in serious condition IS NOT FAIR.

Bring any person with no bias, media brain wash, or AIPAC idea infusion..for example bring a Martian..he will tell you that this is utterly unfair.


Anonymous said...

Did you say: Why Germany was right to invade the Warsaw Ghetto?

Anonymous said...

Boy. Really sad and delusional, Dan. Israel's actions are unjustifiable. Period. Now that I know where you stand, I won't bother with this site anymore. I won't give any quarter to apologists for this terrorist regime.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't be more wrong.

I would add my comments here but this matter is far too complex to address in simple blog comments. If you wish, I invite you to read my own blog posting on this subject, entitled "Enough Already" at http://american-agenda.blogspot.com/.

Obviously, you and I disagree entirely on this matter. I suspect you have a personal agenda, one that I do not have, as I have no religious or cultural ties to either party in this conflict. And since there are numerous anti-Zionist Jewish groups, I know this is not simply a one-sided religious or cultural issue. Nevertheless, the fighting must stop, and the debate must begin about whether or not Israel does indeed have a continuing right to exist as an independent nation. I believe Israel has forfeited that right, and the sooner we can achieve a one-state solution for all Israelis and Palestinians, the better for the world.

Anonymous said...

this report could not be better said by anyone - it is so good, so perfect, so historically accurate & on the mark in its entirety, it should be on the front page of every newspaper, everywhere!!
However, unfortunately you can never reach the committed anti-semites.

Anonymous said...

1:27 AM

another bs argument about proportionality

and that tunnel...it was being built into israel...that was what broke the cease fire

if israel has a right to defend itself, then that was the defense

the idea that israel can only defend itself if its citizens are killed is absurd...the point of defense is to prevent killing

Anonymous said...

Israel better finish Hamas before Obama and the liberals take over America. Once Obama is in charge, terrorists and countries like Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba will have their way with the West.

mzmaj7 said...

I agree with most of this opinion. Hamas’s purpose is to threaten the existence of Israel, and their attacks must be stopped, one way or another. There are just four details I would like to clarify:

1. "How exactly should Israel proportionately address this non-stop barrage of rockets”

"Proportionality" is a legal term often misused. Check out:

Or Article 52.2 of Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol I:

It does not refer to the eye-for-an-eye punishment, but to a more nebulous test, to determine what is or is not sufficient to achieve one’s aims. It can get muddy when intent enters the picture. However, the proportional punishment that is referred to in this article is one centered on ethics and is not a legal issue. So when outraged diplomats, Arabs, and protestors talk about proportional attacks and condemn Israel for illegally attacking Gaza, you know they’re not fully aware of what they’re talking about, and they’re confusing law for emotion.

2. Israel has "returned parts of the Gaza Strip"

Israel had returned all of it.

3. "But if that [military] stronghold is centered in densely populated civilian neighborhoods, only Hamas can be blamed for the resulting casualties."

I do not apologize for Hamas and I feel strongly against them. However, if I were them, I would also hide my military equipment and personnel in the best of hiding places: urban locations. After all, Hamas is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization. They’re not supposed to have weapons; they’re not even supposed to be. Thus, hiding their military under the cover of civilians is an existential tactic.

4. “It was also ready to make peace with Yassir Arafat and the PLO in a historic deal with then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton at Camp David in 2000”

Israel, or Ehud Barak specifically, was about as ready as Arafat to sign any sort of deal at Camp David. Neither side would budge on Jerusalem, for example, because all of the proposed solutions would have been political suicide, as far as they saw it. I am under the impression that Arafat was slightly more obstinate, probably because his life would have been on the line as well if he had conceded anything (he was afraid of suffering Sadat’s fate), but that is just my opinion. Either way, it does not seem as though there is an international consensus for why Camp David II failed. One of many reasons is both sides" unequivocal refusals to concede, as the frustrated Bill Clinton was fully aware; he had his fare share of heart-to-hearts with and unpleasant comments and blowups for negotiators of both sides.

~Michael Z

Anonymous said...

Michael Z

were it just that arafat walked away from the negotiating table at camp david, that would be fine...but shortly thereafter, he started the second intifada.

why is jerusalem such a sticking point for the israelis? because it is a red herring used by the palestinians

they have no real ties to east jerusalem

sure, the dome on the rock is a holy place to them, but even there, they pray towards mecca

when jordan held all of jerusalem, the arabs turned the entire area of the western wall into a garbage dump. if the site is so holy and important to them, dont you think they wouldve seen that as an abomination?

still, we are talking one point...a point that couldve been left to continued negotiations, while the pa proved to the world that they could both form and run a state.

but arafat didnt want that

if the palestinians no longer can make the world perceive them as the oppressed peoples, they lose a giant bargaining chip....and that is why talks fell apart and the second intifada began

that and the main fact...the palestinians, no matter what they say, still believe that the state of israel sits on ground that they own...and nothing will change their minds

as that remains the case...there will never be a two state solution, and no matter what obama tries to do, he might as well be blowing in the wind.