TABLE OF CONTENTS
MIDDLE EAST REALITY
THE MACCABEAN ONLINE [ISSN
1087-9404] Edited by Bernard J. Shapiro
TO MAKE A TAX EXEMPT DONATION VISIT:
The Return of the Bad Old Middle East
By Steven Plaut
Jewish Press (NY)
Date: Wednesday, December 31 2008
For most of the past 16 years or so, a seemingly benign specter has been
haunting the world - namely, the notion that there exists a New Middle
East, one that plays by rules very different from those in the Bad Old
Beginning with the first of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, Israel
was launched by its own political leadership into a "peace process" whose
main axiom was that the Old Middle East was dead and gone.
Oslo was based on the assumption that what was needed to resolve the
conflict was a sincere willingness on Israel's part to reach an
accommodation with the Arab world through unilateral concessions and
especially through Israel's acknowledging the legitimacy of Palestinian
demands for statehood.
But as we enter the year 2009, the conclusion is unavoidable that there is
no such thing as a New Middle East. The Bad Old Middle East keeps
reasserting itself - with a vengeance.
It is crucial at this point in history for all to abandon the campaign of
peace through make-believe that has governed efforts at resolving the
conflict since late 1992. No progress can be made until the world renews
its acquaintance with Middle East reality and stares it straight in its
unpleasant face. Unhappy truths and principles must again be understood
and internalized. The most important ones follow.
I. Arab terrorism and military aggression are not caused by Israeli
occupation but rather by the removal of Israeli occupation.
Since Oslo, the working hypothesis of the Israeli government, endorsed by
nearly everyone on the planet, has been that the most urgent task at hand
was to end the Israeli "occupation" and remove Israel from its position of
control over the lives of Palestinian Arabs.
The Israeli Left and its amen chorus in the international media have been
repeating for so many years that the ultimate cause of Palestinian
terrorism and Arab grievances is the "occupation" of "Palestinian lands"
by Israel that few are capable any longer of thinking about that assertion
critically. It is wrong. The main cause of anti-Israel terrorism today is
the removal of Israeli occupation from Palestinian Arabs.
This is so obvious that it is a major intellectual challenge to explain
why so few people understand it. Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza
Strip in its entirety in 2004 and evicted all Jews who had been living
there. The result was the massive ongoing rocket assaults launched from
the Gaza Strip against Sderot, Ashkelon, and other towns in the south of
The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon was unilaterally ended in the
year 2000 by then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. The direct result of
that move was the launching of 4,000 Katyusha rockets from Lebanon against
northern Israel in the summer of 2006 and several times that number now
poised to strike Israel.
The worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by
the early Oslo withdrawals - before which there were no suicide bombings.
The only possible exception to the rule that removal of Israeli occupation
causes terrorism has been the Sinai Peninsula, which is largely empty. Yet
given the role of the Sinai and its Egyptian-sponsored smuggling networks
in providing a pipeline for rockets and explosives to Hamas in Gaza, it is
not even clear that Israel's withdrawal from Sinai is an exception to this
There can be no doubt that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West
Bank and a return to pre-1967 borders would trigger a massive rocket and
terror assault against the remaining rump areas of Israel, launched from
the "liberated" lands in the West Bank. The same thing would result from
relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria.
There are worse things in the world than occupation, and the experiences
of the past few years have demonstrated how much worse are the
consequences that follow the removal of Israeli occupation. The inevitable
consequence of a complete withdrawal by Israel to its 1967 borders would
be a replay of 1967, when the Arab world hoped to achieve the military
annihilation of Israel inside its Green Line borders. This time, though,
the Arabs would be using 21st century military technology.
Academics can debate about whether animosity to Israel was itself
initially stoked by the years of Palestinians living under occupation. But
in fact there was more than sufficient Palestinian animosity and terrorism
long before Israel occupied anything at all in the 1967 Six-Day War. Be
that as it may, progress today can occur only if the starting point is the
understanding that removal of Israeli occupation causes terror and
II. Israeli goodwill concessions do not trigger goodwill among Arabs, they
trigger Arab aggression and violence.
The Arabs interpret such goodwill measures as admission of weakness on
Israel's part and as demonstrations of Israeli vulnerability and
destructibility. More generally, the axiom that Israeli niceness toward
Arabs can generate Arab moderation, reasonableness, and friendliness is
also false. It cannot.
Attempts at buying Arab moderation through demonstrations of Jewish
self-restraint and niceness go back decades and predate Israel's
independence (back then it was termed havlaga). They have never worked.
Present-day attempts to win over Arabs with niceness and restraint range
from affirmative action programs that benefit Arabs, to turning a blind
eye toward massive lawbreaking by Arabs, particularly regarding
construction and squatting on public lands.
Niceness means never prosecuting Arab political leaders for treason and
espionage or for endorsing terror, no matter how openly they do so. It
means exempting Israeli Arabs from military conscription and even from
civilian national service. It has even meant that families of Arabs killed
while perpetrating terror atrocities against Jews were allowed to draw
"survivor benefits" from Israel's social security system (the National
Outside the Green Line, niceness often consists of endless offers of
cease-fires with the terrorists - cease-fires that consist of Palestinians
shooting and Israelis not shooting back. It means delivering funds and
sometimes weapons to the very groups engaged in terrorism, in an attempt
to maintain the fa.ade of an ongoing peace process.
None of these measures can assuage Arab bellicosity toward Israel and
Jews; actually, each contributes toward its escalation. Should Israel ever
nicely withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, the Arab world led by "Palestine"
will launch a war against the remaining territory of the Jewish state. It
is likely to do so in the name of the "oppressed" Arabs in the Negev and
the Galilee supposedly suffering from "discrimination" in the Israeli
III. The Arab-Israeli war is not about land, and it cannot be resolved by
Israel's relinquishing land.
The Arab world already controls territory nearly twice that of the United
States (including Alaska), whereas all of Israel cannot be seen on most
world maps. When Israel was occupying nothing outside of its pre-1967
borders, the Arab world refused to come to terms with its existence and is
no more willing to do so today, even if Israel were to return to those
The Arab-Israeli conflict is not about Israel refusing to share land and
resources with Palestinians but about the absolute refusal of the Arab
world to acquiesce in the existence of any Jewish-majority political
entity within any set of borders in the Middle East.
This misrepresentation of the conflict serves to prolong it, precisely
because it misleads. The Arab world insists that Israel trade land for
peace not because it is prepared to in turn offer Israel peace for the
land it vacates, but because a smaller Israel will be that much easier to
destroy. And even if Israel consisted of nothing more than downtown Tel
Aviv, the Arab world would consider it to be an imperialist affront
sitting on stolen Arab land - an illegal "settlement."
IV. Education and economic progress do not produce political moderation or
a desire for peace in the Arab world.
To the contrary, there is reason to believe that wealth and education are
negatively correlated with moderation, meaning that wealthier and
better-educated Arabs are more likely to support terrorism and extremist
political ideas. Arab students in European and American universities have
been regular recruits for terrorist groups, and most of the al Qaeda
terrorists who carried out the 9/11 atrocities had been students.
Suicide bombers in Israel often are university students or graduates of
Palestinian universities. Some have been highly educated professionals,
such as the lawyer who blew herself up in the Maxim restaurant in Haifa,
killing 21 people on the spot. Public opinion polls among Arabs often show
greater support for violence among the better educated.
More generally, in the Middle East poverty and political oppression do not
produce terrorism. Anti-Israel terrorism was sparked by the imposition of
an enlightened regime on Palestinians by Israel - a regime in which basic
freedoms, including freedom of speech and the right to vote in local
elections, were enjoyed.
Terrorism escalated with each concession by Israel, especially after it
agreed to allow Palestinians political autonomy and then statehood. It
escalated after Israel removed its administrative control of the Arab
population in most of the "Palestinian territories."
V. "Talks" cannot produce peace in the Middle East and in fact have
There is a Western obsession with the idea that all world problems can be
resolved through talking. But how many international conflicts can be said
to have been resolved strictly through talking? Especially in the Middle
East, there can be no doubt that talking does not resolve hostilities. It
makes them worse.
The Arab-Israeli war is not a marital spat where bringing together the
parties to sit around a table and socialize reduces anger,
misunderstanding and tension. The conflict is not about hurt feelings but
about the refusal of the Arab world to come to terms with Israel's
existence, period, in any set of borders and regardless of whether
Jerusalem remains under Israeli control.
VI. There is no "two-state solution" or "one-state solution" to the Arab
The latter solution is particularly popular on the left. Under that
scenario, Israel is enfolded into a larger "secular democratic Arab state"
with an Arab Muslim majority. It is in fact little more than a
prescription for a Rwanda-style genocide of Jews. This is little doubt
that a significant number of those proposing such a solution would really
like to see this happen.
More important, there is no "two-state solution" to the Middle East
conflict. Those speaking about a two-state solution really mean a 24-state
solution, meaning the Arabs retain the 22 states they already have, adding
a 23rd state of "Palestine" in parts of the West Bank and Gaza and
pre-1967 Israeli territories, with Israel remaining the Jewish state - the
24th state in the plan - for the moment.
That such a solution will not end the conflict but only signal the
commencement of its next stage has long been the quasi-official position
of virtually all Palestinian groups, which have long insisted that any
two-state solution is but a stage in a plan of stages, after which will
come additional steps ultimately ending Israel's existence as a Jewish
The original partition plan of the United Nations had proposed that an
Arab Palestinian state arise alongside Israel in 1948. The Arab world
rejected this plan altogether. It had no interest in adding one more Arab
Islamic state to its portfolio. It went to war to prevent the creation of
any Jewish state.
The two-state solution is no more realistic an option today than it was in
1948. It is ultimately as much of an existential threat to Jewish survival
in the Middle East as the one-state solution. Creation of a Palestinian
state alongside Israel would be a major step in the escalation of the Arab
war against Israel's existence, even if that war is delayed for a time
while the world celebrates the outbreak of peace in the Middle East thanks
to the end of Israeli "occupation."
VII. Israeli Arabs form a potential fifth column, displaying massive
animosity and disloyalty to the state in which they have lived for 60
years and openly identifying with the enemies of that state.
Sixty years of living under the only democratic government in the Middle
East has had surprisingly little impact on the feelings and loyalties of
Israeli Arabs, who are by and large hostile to the very existence of the
state. They are no more resigned to living as a minority within a
majority-Jewish state today than they were in 1948.
Their animosity toward Israel is apparent in their voting behavior: the
bulk of Israeli Arabs vote for pro-terror Arab nationalist parties with
strong fascist tendencies or for the Stalinist HADASH party.
When the opportunity presents itself - for example, during the riots in
the fall of 2000 or earlier this year on Yom Kippur in Acre - Israeli Arab
enmity toward Jews is candidly manifested, and not just in words.
Education and prosperity offer little hope of changing this reality. One
proof is the behavior of Arab college students in Israel. Despite being
beneficiaries of affirmative action preferences in college admissions and
access to scarce dormitory space, Arab students are almost uniformly
anti-Israel and pro-jihad.
Israeli Arabs have long played a Sudeten-like role in the conflict. In any
new outbreak of hostilities with neighboring Arab countries, there is a
clear and present danger that they will take to the streets in attempts to
cripple the country from within. The Arab lynch mobs of the Galilee that
operated in October 2000 may have been a small foretaste.
For too long the world, led by Israel's own deluded leaders, has been
attempting to create peace via the pretense that war is over,
misrepresenting the fa.ade of negotiations as actual resolution of
It has been a sham, of course, and any short-lived lulls in the fighting
have served only to weaken the resolve of Israelis, whose leaders have
repeatedly presented them with a Potemkin peace based on the substitution
of wish-making for statecraft.
THE COSMETIC NON-SOLUTION TO GAZA
by David Basch
Herb Keinon's RECENT Jerusalem Post article analyzing the leftist
Israeli government tactics in Gaza was not very assuring.
True, Keinon told of this government's desire to degrade, discredit,
and remove Hamas from power in Gaza. But what Keinon doesn't discuss
is what this government intends afterward. This leftist government
wants to eliminate Hamas so it can surrender the area to Abbas's Fatah
group and then proceed to surrender Israel's Eastern territories to
them for a Palestinian Arab state.
What this government wants is a cosmetic, inconclusive settlement that
superficially looks good so that it can pose as the savior of Israel
and win the next election. Many rightly suspect that there is a great
deal of collusion going on in the background with Israel, the
Arabs, and with the US to make this happen.
The leftist gang of three -- Olmert, Livni, and Barak -- do not regard
Fatah as the threat it is. Fatah is no less dedicated to Israel's
destruction than Hamas, if only a little more subtler in its tactics.
Imagine the day of Fatah power over Gaza and over the Eastern
territories. Then today's Gaza threat could emerge from all
geographical sectors at once, with Gaza having continued to be the
funnel for massive weaponry coming into the Arab areas. Thus the
ruining of southern Israel that has occurred under the threat of Gazan
bombs could be extended throughout all of Israel.
The same tunnel vision that was displayed by the leftists government
that returned exiled Arafat and his terrorist army and repeated that
disaster again in Gaza by expelling Gaza's Jews to surrender to
surrender the area to become a dangerous Arab military base is again
in danger of being repeated. This time not only happening in Gaza but
throughout Israel coming from ceded Eastern territories.
It is difficult for ordinary people to imagine that Israeli leftist
leaders could be so treasonous and so out of touch with reality to
allow this kind of thing to happen again and again. But this is easily
explained by the leftist, mad obsession with holding power in Israel.
To the leftists, holding power has a higher priority than safeguarding
Israel's security. To forever hold such power, the leftists wish to
destroy conservative Jewish political influence in Israel. Having had
the experience of losing control over Israel under Begin, Shamir,
Netanyahu, and almost under Sharon, the leftist will do anything to
discredit Judaism, including the surrendering Israel's Jewish
heartland and Jerusalem as a means of demoralizing and discrediting
Judaism in the country.
So fanatical is the leftist lust for political control that they
willingly blind themselves to the grave dangers they inflict on
Israel. They believe that the US -- with whom the leftists collude
with so that the US can appease its Arab allies -- will be ever ready
to rescue the country, fiscally and militarily. The leftists look
forward to huge US payoffs to them for playing ball and the leftists
see it in their self interest to risk Israel's security by
surrendering strategic territory.
But this US security blanket is a thin reed. The US failed to honor
its security agreement with Israel in 1967 to keep the Gulf of Aqaba
open against the Arab blockade and Israel had to fight that war alone.
Nor is the US's repeated support for Arafat and the Arab side over the
past 15 years reassuring. Nor is it reassuring that US eventually
reneged on its security agreement with S. Vietnam and allowed its
collapse. The danger of a weakened Israel without its strategic
territory is very great and could put Israel in a situation in which
it will find that US aid can only come too late with too little.
Clear signs of the leftist lack of due diligence for Israel's security
is the failure to demand and insure that the border with Egypt and
Gaza is safeguarded. Tipshi Livni wants to entrust this to
peacekeepers, the same that failed in Lebanon. This leftist government
fails to acknowledge Egypt's role in helping the supply of weaponry to
the terrorists of Gaza. The smuggling tunnels are blamed by Israeli
"defense officials" as though the tunnels and even the extensive
overland smuggling of weapons to Gaza could go on for a moment without
Egyptian government collusion.
But the leftist gang of three don't want to call attention to this
since it would draw attention that Israel will take no action to
permanently close the Gaza opening for weaponry, which will remain
open to supply Fatah if those terrorists gain power there.
That the leftists will settle for a cosmetic solution to the current
crisis that Herb Keinon points to, a truce that fails to prevent
future weapon deliveries through Gaza, shows how shallow the policy is
that Israel's leftist government is trying for. It happens to be a
necessary oversight since it can only be accomplished by taking
possession in depth of border area between Egypt and Gaza and these
leftists want to pose as saviors of Israel and not call attention to
their disastrous Gaza surrender of the area. Were Israel to take
military possession of a much widened Philadelphia route along Egypt,
it would kill the possibility of the cosmetic settlement that makes
the leftists look good to the perpetually unaware Israeli public.
The current government of Israel is treasonous and dangerous to the
survival of Israel and must be removed in the next election.
David Basch is an architect and city planner in New York as well as the Freeman Center's political philosopher. Basch is also an expert on Shakespeare and the author of the book, The Hidden Shakespeare, which proves through talmudic and other Jewish sources that Shakespeare was in fact Jewish.
NPR: NATIONAL "PALESTINE" RADIO
By Emanuel A. Winston
Freeman Center Middle East Analyst & Commentator
Suddenly, NPR, National Public Radio, is interested in the details of "fear from bombs". Through the years, when the Arab Muslim Palestinians were engaged in suicide bombing of Israeli marketplaces, restaurants, family celebrations, buses - wherever civilians gathered - NPR barely expressed interest in the Terror and feelings of Israeli victims. That's why they call NPR - National "Palestine" Radio.
When Hamas Palestinian Arab Muslims began its daily firing of Kassam Rockets, Katyusha Missiles and Mortars, including Grad missiles from Iran, an onslaught of Terror rained down on Southern Israel for 7 years. But, NPR showed only enough interest so it could tell Congress who funds them:
"See, we are reporting the news."
Only when Israel s absurd suicidal policy of restraint had ended, only then did NPR ramp up its reporting - BUT - from the Muslim Arab point of view. NPR just interviewed (January 4th) a Palestinian psychiatrist who ran out the Palestinian line that the "poor victims of the bombing had been terrified" - including himself.
He told how he was afraid to walk to his car, thinking he could be killed at any minute. I thought back to all those years where any Israeli, man, woman and child, getting on a bus, shopping in a market, going to a restaurant, eating lunch at University cafeteria......also thought that those maniacal suicide Muslim Arab bombers had planted a bomb to detonate remotely or by wearing a bomb vest to blow himself (or herself) up with as many Jews as he could.
Then I replayed the scenes in my memory of the 7 years that Jewish men, women and children ran for any cover when they heard the warning siren, giving them 10 to 15 seconds to find shelter before the incoming Rocket or Missile hit them. That, Mr. Dr. Palestinian psychiatrist is being terrified! That s what Terror is. When Israel decides - finally - to stop the Terror by striking back at the Terror organization, that is War, justifiable War, proportionate response - even if it is too late.
NPR wasn t the only anti-Israel, pro-Terrorist news outlet covering this war, Israel s 9th war (1) of self-defense against Arab Muslims prepared to "wipe Israel off the map" - as they declare.
The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, BBC, London Times, et al reported with a distinct bias. We might expect news outlets like Al Ahram of Egypt, Russia s Pravda, Al Jezzera to be provocateurs, urging the people to hate and kill Jews. But, when the western Media adopts the doctrine of the Middle Ages and provokes the killing of Jews and the elimination of Israel, then they have actively joined the ranks of today s Terrorists.
Clearly, they have chosen to drop their protective shield of the so-called "neutral and fair" Press and become combatants on the side of propaganda. Goebbels, it may be recalled, thought of the German Press and radio as vital to his Genocidal operations. Surely, today s Media can be no less.
Another example of excessive Leftist bias has been CNN, long considered a pro-Palestinian, Muslim, Arab voice and usually hostile to Israel. This was displayed in full force as Paula Hancocks of CNN was outside of Gaza, reporting on what she felt was happening in Gaza. Her demeanor was on the verge of hysteria, both in her voice and facial expressions. This was not a reporter speaking about the facts but an advocate for the Hamas Palestinian Muslim Arabs. I don t recall Hancocks getting so worked up over the "thousands" of Rockets being fired on Israeli civilians over 7 years, nor the fear and pain as Israelis in Southern Israel were constantly diving for cover, as the siren alerts came day and night.
FOX NEWS did a very straight-forward reporting job until one reporter came out-of-the-closet as a perfect match for Christiane Amanpour. It was Geraldo Rivera. He is very dramatic. Geraldo managed to get in every bit of slanted accusations, both through his own pronouncements and commentary, plus that of his guests like Hanan Ashrawi who was allowed to run wild and unchallenged with her usual pro-Palestinian line. Geraldo ran footage of Palestinians, Muslims and Leftists, marching in London, America and other capitals of the world, wherein he concluded the world was against Israel s invasion of "her" tormentors in Gaza.
Actually, the "world" favors Israel taking down the Hamas vicious Global Terror base. President Bush blames Hamas for the War - for Hamas 7 years of Rocket bombardment against Israel s civilians in the South.
When Geraldo interviewed Alon Pincus, Israel s Ambassador, he cut Pincus short and managed to interrupt with other interviewees, unlike the open-ended Ashrawi screed. Lo and Behold, Geraldo was a male version of Christiane Amanpour and others on CNN.
FOX should launch him over to CNN as "birds of a feather." Geraldo also managed to start the ball rolling about blaming Israel if American targets were hit by Muslims. But, Geraldo did many nations a favor by showing how many hostile Muslims were residing in the nations as they marched and shouted in rage. Geraldo, I am sure, didn t intend to show the anarchy of the Leftists and Muslims, but, he did!
FOX NEWS, I repeat, did an excellent job across the board - except for Geraldo. He was a real surprise. He reminded me of James Baker s Jews Boys, Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller, Dan Kurtzer and later, Martin Indyk who, as Jews, could find nothing Israel did to defend herself acceptable.
1. Israel s 9 Wars of Self-Defense: 1948: War of Independence; 1956: Suez Canal; 1967: Six Days War; 1970-71: War of Attrition; 1973: Yom Kippur War; 1982: Peace for Galilee against Arafat s PLO in Lebanon; 1991: Saddam Hussein s 39 SCUDs - Israelis in gas masks; 2006: 34 day War against Hezb Allah in Lebanon; 2009: Today s War against Hamas Terror Rockets, Missiles and Mortars.
THE JERUSALEM POST
Jan. 5, 2009
Our World: Iran's Gazan diversion?
By Caroline Glick
Since the IDF commenced its ground operations in Gaza on Saturday night, I have been hungrily eyeing my hat. On Friday I argued that the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is following the same defeatist strategy in Gaza today that the Olmert-Livni-Peretz government followed in Lebanon two and a half years ago. In 2006, the government supported a cease-fire that empowered outside actors - in that case the UN and Europe - to enforce an arms embargo against Hizbullah and to act as Israel's surrogate in preventing Hizbullah from reasserting control over South Lebanon.
In the event, as government critics like myself warned at the time, these outside actors have done nothing of the sort. The European commanded UNIFIL force in Lebanon has instead acted as a shield defending Hizbullah from Israel. Under UNIFIL's blind eye, Iran and Syria have tripled the size of Hizbullah's pre-war missile arsenal. And Hizbullah has taken full control over some 130 villages along the border.
In a similar fashion, today the government is insisting on the establishment of an international monitoring force, comprised perhaps of Egyptian, Israeli, Fatah-affiliated Palestinian, American and European officials that will monitor Gaza's border with Egypt and somehow prevent weapons smuggling. Like the cease-fire deal in Lebanon, this plan does not foresee the toppling of the Hamas regime in Gaza or the destruction of its military capacity. It ignores the fact that similar, already existing, theoretically friendly monitoring forces - like the US-commanded Multi-National Force Observers in the Sinai - have done nothing to prevent or even keep tabs on weapons transfers to Hamas.
STILL, IN spite of the government's continued diplomatic incompetence, there are reasons to think that Israel may emerge the perceived victor in the current campaign against Hamas (and I will be forced to eat my hat). The first is that Gaza is relatively easier to control as a battle space than Lebanon. Unlike the situation in Lebanon, IDF forces in Gaza have the ability to isolate Hamas from all outside assistance. The IDF's current siege of Gaza City, its control over northern Gaza, its naval quarantine of the coast and its bombardment and isolation of the border zone with Egypt could cause Hamas to sue for a cease-fire on less than victorious terms. Indeed, this may already be happening. Hamas's leaders are reportedly hiding in hospitals - cynically using the sick as human shields. And on Monday morning, Hamas's leadership in Damascus sent representatives to their new arch-enemy Egypt to begin discussing cease-fire terms. Taken together, these moves could indicate that Hamas is collapsing. But they could also indicate that Hamas is opting to fight another day while assuming that Israel will agree to let it do so.
THE SECOND reason that it is possible that Hamas may be defeated is because much to everyone's surprise, Iran may have decided to let Hamas lose. Here it is important to note that the war today, like the war in 2006, is a war between Israel and Iran. Like Hizbullah, Hamas is an Iranian proxy. And just as was the case in 2006, Iran was instrumental in inciting the current war.
Iran prepared Hamas for this war. It used Hamas's six-month cease-fire with Israel to double both the range and the size of Hamas's missile arsenal. It trained Hamas's 20,000-man army for this war. And as the six months drew to a close, Iran incited Hamas to attack.
So too, in 2006, Iran incited Hamas to attack Israel. That war, now known as the Second Lebanon War, was actually a two-front war that began in Gaza. Ordered by Iran, it was Hamas that started the war when its forces (together with allied forces in Fatah), attacked the IDF position at Kerem Shalom on June 25, 2006 and kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit. Israel fought a limited war against Iran's Palestinian proxies in Gaza for 17 days before the country's attention moved to the North after Hizbullah attacked an IDF position along the border and abducted Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.
Israel's leaders today warn against a possible Hizbullah attack. In the North, municipalities are readying bomb shelters and air raid sirens ahead of such a possibility. Most of the IDF reservists called up over the weekend are being sent to the North ahead of a possible Hizbullah attack. But in contrast to the situation in 2006, today Iran seems to have little interest in expanding the war and so saving Hamas from military defeat and humiliation. Speaking on Hizbullah's Al Manar television network on Sunday, Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran's National Security Council, its chief nuclear negotiator and a close advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, essentially told Hamas that it is on its own.
In his words, "We believe that the great popular solidarity with the Palestinian people as expressed all over the world should reflect on the will of the Arab and Islamic countries and other countries that have an independent will so that these will move in a concerted, cooperative, and cohesive manner to draft a collective initiative that can achieve two main things as an inevitable first step. These are putting an immediate end to aggression and second breaking the siege and quickly securing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza." In other words, Iran's response to its great enemy's the war against its proxy is to suggest forming a commission.
There are many possible explanations for Iran's actions. First there is the fact that war is an expensive proposition and Iran today is in trouble on that score. In the summer of 2006, oil cost nearly $80 a barrel. Today it is being traded at $46 a barrel. Iran revised its 2009 budget downward on Monday based on the assumption that oil will average $37 a barrel in 2009. Over the past several months, Iran has been begging OPEC to cut back supply quotas to jack up the price of oil. But, perhaps in the interest of weakening Iran, Saudi Arabia has consistently refused Iran's requests. To date, OPEC's cutbacks in supply have been far too small to offset the decrease in demand. And the loss of billions in oil revenues may simply have priced Iran out of running a two-front terror war.
Then too, Washington-based Iran expert Michael Ledeen from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued on Monday in his blog at Pajamas Media website that Iran's apparent decision to sit this war out may well be the result of the regime's weakness. Its recent crackdown on dissidents - with the execution of nine people on Christmas Day - and the unleashing of regime supporters in riots against the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Turkish and French embassies as well as the home of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi lends to the conclusion that the regime is worried about its own survival. As Ledeen notes Teheran may view another expensive terror war as a spark which could incite a popular revolution or simply destabilize the country ahead of June's scheduled presidential elections.
THERE IS also the possibility that Iran simply miscalculated. It believed that ahead of Israel's February 10 elections, the lame-duck Olmert-Livni-Barak government, which was already traumatized by the 2006 war, would opt not to fight. This would have been a reasonable assumption.
After all, in spite of Israel's sure knowledge last summer that Hamas and Iran would use a cease-fire with Israel to increase the size of Hamas's missile arsenal and expand the range of its projectiles while building up its forces, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government agreed to the cease-fire. And then, when Hamas announced that it would not extend the cease-fire past its December 19 deadline, Defense Minister Ehud Barak sent emissaries to Egypt to conduct "indirect" negotiations with Hamas in which Israel essentially begged the terror group to reconsider.
But then Israel responded with great force and Iran was left to make a decision. And for the moment at least, it appears that Iran has decided to let Hamas go down. As far as Iran is concerned, even a Hamas defeat is not a terrible option. This view is likely encouraged by Israel's current suggested cease-fire. After all, international monitors stationed along Gaza's borders will not serve as an impediment to future Iranian moves to rebuild Hamas.
ALAS, THERE is another possible explanation for Iran's apparent decision to abandon a vassal it incited to open a war. On Sunday, Iranian analyst Amir Taheri reported the conclusions of a bipartisan French parliamentary report on the status of Iran's nuclear program in Asharq Alawsat. The report which was submitted to French President Nicolas Sarkozy late last month concluded that unless something changes, Iran will have passed the nuclear threshold by the end of 2009 and will become a nuclear power no later than 2011.
The report is notable because it is based entirely on open-sourced material whose accuracy has been acknowledged by the Iranian regime.
The report asserts that this year will be the world's final opportunity to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And, as Taheri hints strongly, the only way of doing that effectively is by attacking Iran's nuclear installations.
In light of this new report, which contradicts earlier US intelligence assessments that claimed it would be years before Iran is able to build nuclear weapons, it is possible that Iran ordered the current war in Gaza for the same reason it launched its war in 2006: to divert international attention away from its nuclear program.
It is possible that Iran prefers to run down US President George W. Bush's last two weeks in office with the White House and the rest of the world focused on Gaza, than risk the chance that during these two weeks, the White House (or Israel) might read the French parliament's report and decide to do something about it.
So too, its apparent decision not to have Hizbullah join in this round of fighting might have more to do with Iran's desire to preserve its Lebanese delivery systems for any nuclear devices than its desire to save pennies in a tight economy.
And if this is the case, then even if Israel beats Hamas (and I eat my hat), we could still lose the larger war by again having allowed Iran to get us to take our eyes away from the prize.
This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231167266396&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
Monday, January 5, 2009
CAROLINE GLICK INTERVIEWED IN NATIONAL REVIEW
A Mideast Glick Check
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
Monday, January 05, 2009
A Cartoon Caroline Glick Might Endorse [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A Mideast Glick Check [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Caroline Glick is no stranger to the Corner crowd. She’s senior contributing editor of the Jerusalem Post and the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy. She’s also author of Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad.
I asked Caroline a few questions this morning about the current Mideast violence. Here’s the conversation.
Q: What exactly started this latest flare-up?
A: The fighting in Gaza today started about three weeks ago when Hamas renewed its rocket, mortar, and missile assault against Israel. Last June, Israel foolishly agreed to a six-month ceasefire with Hamas. Hamas used the time to have Iran double the size of its missile arsenal and double the range of its missiles, and to build up its Iranian-trained, armed, and financed Hezbollah-style army of 20,000 men. Hamas called its renewed offensive “Operation Oil Stain.” On December 17, Hamas attacked Israel with more than 80 missiles, rockets and mortars.
It took Israel ten days to finally respond to Hamas’s assault, which for the first time put Israeli major cities like Ashdod, Yavne, Beersheva, and Gedera under assault.
What is interesting about this latest round of fighting is that the world paid little attention to what was going on when it was only Hamas attacking Israel. People only started paying attention when Israel’s government said enough is enough and started defending its territory and citizens.
Q: Is the media here in the U.S. or internationally remotely fair?
A: When the media are only interested in what is going on when Israel defends itself, the answer is no, they aren’t fair. They don’t pay any attention when hundreds of thousands of Israelis are relegated to bomb shelters for weeks and months on end. They don’t care that Israeli children can’t go to school or day care because Hamas is targeting schools and day-care centers. They only cover the story when Israel finally decides to put an end to this crazy situation where our children are growing up underground. And this is appalling.
From CNN’s coverage of events here, for instance, you could easily come away from the news thinking that Israel is attacking Gaza for no reason. The European media, and much of the U.S. media dismiss the significance of Hamas’s missile, rocket, and mortar campaign against Israel by noting that these projectiles are relatively primitive and have no guidance systems. But this misses and indeed distorts the entire point. Hamas doesn’t need advanced weapons. Its goal is not to attack specific military targets. Its goal is to attack Israeli society as a whole and terrorize our citizens. That’s what makes it such an outlaw.
In fact, this random bombing of civilian targets is the very definition of war crimes. Due to their random nature, every projectile launched against Israel by Hamas is a separate war crime. And that’s the real story. But again, outside of publications like National Review and the like, the Western media have ignored this basic truth and worse, they have turned the criminal nature of Hamas’s campaign into a justification for it.
Q: What does the fighting mean for the future of Hamas-led Gaza?
#more#A: There are four possible outcomes for Israel’s current campaign -- two would be positive and two would be negative. The best outcome would be for Israel to overthrow Hamas’s regime and destroy its capacity to wage war against Israel or threaten Israel in any significant way. To achieve this goal, Israel would have to reassert control over Gaza. Since the Israeli government has already stated that Israel will not reassert control over Gaza, and since reasserting control would be extremely embarrassing for the current leadership, which led Israel out of Gaza with promises of peace three and a half years ago, it is fairly clear that this outcome will not be forthcoming.
The next best outcome would be something analogous to the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Although the U.S. left Saddam Hussein in power after that war, it asserted control over the no-fly zones and set up a clear sanctions regime that by and large prevented Iraq from rearming and apparently prevented Iraq from reconstituting its weapons of mass destruction programs.
Here too, chances that this outcome will prevail are not great because the Israeli government has already stated that it is unwilling to reassert control over Gaza’s border with Egypt which is where most of Hamas’s weapons are imported from.
The third possible outcome, which is already not a good one, would be for Israel to end its current campaign and just walk away with Hamas still in charge. In due course, Hamas would reconstitute its military forces and missile arsenals and reinstate its campaign against Israel. The positive aspect of such a future is simply that, subject to domestic political constraints, Israel would be able to go in and bomb Hamas anytime it felt that threatened. Israel would be under no international obligation to avoid defending itself, beyond the regular anti-Israel pressure.
The fourth, and worst possible outcome is that Israel reaches some sort of internationally sponsored ceasefire agreement whereby foreign powers the EU, the U.S., Egypt, Turkey, or whomever agree to form some sort of international monitoring mechanism to oversee Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt. The reason this would be the worst outcome is that Israel’s experience with such forces in Lebanon and in Gaza itself has been wholly negative. These international forces will never fight Israel’s battles for it. Instead they inevitably shield terrorists from Israeli attack while ignoring the terrorists’ moves to rearm, reassert political control over their populations and reinstate their assaults against Israel. Moreover, because these international forces fear the terrorists they shield, they tend to side with them against Israel and blame Israel for any violence that takes place.
Unfortunately, this is the outcome that the Israeli government is now pushing for in its diplomatic contacts relating to the war in Gaza.
Q: A lot of critics say that Israel is just going too far in its attacks. What do you make of the charge?
A: The interesting aspect of this claim is what it tells us about the success of anti-Israel propaganda. For instance, Richard Falk, the Jewish anti-Semite who the U.N.’s Human Rights Council appointed to act as its rapporteur against Israel began accusing Israel of committing war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza the moment Israel began its campaign. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch systematically fabricate international “law” backed by “eyewitness” reports from Hamas supporters in order to accuse Israel of breaking it every single time it takes any steps to defend itself, no matter how restrained.
Israel has done nothing in its campaign against Hamas that could be considered going “too far.” It has done nothing in its campaign that could be considered “disproportionate.” It has targeted military targets and terror operatives.
The fact of the matter is that Israel is held to standards that are discriminatory while its enemy -- an illegal, openly genocidal terrorist organization -- is defended and shielded from attack by the media, by self-proclaimed human-rights activists and by hostile foreign leaders like British Foreign Minister David Miliband and Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan. Luckily, with some one million Israelis now under assault, Israel has decided that we just aren’t going to pay attention to their obscene attacks on our right to self-defense this time around.
Q: Would you caution Israel at all?
A: Absolutely. I think it would be a grave error for the government to agree to any sort of international monitoring mechanism of Hamas. If the government doesn’t want to see this war through to a complete rout of Hamas, and doesn’t want to retake Gaza’s border with Egypt, then it would be best for us to just weaken the group as much as possible while we have troops on the ground and then walk away to fight another day. We cannot trust the kindness of foreigners to do for us what we will not do for ourselves.
Q: What does the future hold for the Palestinians in Gaza?
A: Their future right now doesn’t look too attractive. These are people who overwhelmingly supported Hamas in the 2006 elections. They supported Hamas when it expelled Fatah from Gaza in 2007. And they supported Hamas when it began shelling Israel’s main port city Ashdod and big cities like Beersheva with missiles. By throwing their lot in with a genocidal terrorist group, Gazans, and indeed Palestinians as a whole, have made clear that they prefer the ravages of war to the blessings of peace. Until they change their minds, it is hard to see how they can expect to prosper morally, politically or economically.
Q: What does the fight in Gaza tell us about the prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?
A: It tells us that such a process is both irrelevant and counter-productive. It is irrelevant because even in the event that there is a faction in Palestinian society that is willing to make peace with Israel, that faction will never bring about a broader rapprochement or even remain in power for long. What Hamas’s current war against Israel, its alliance with Iran and its popularity in Palestinian society tell us is that as a society, the Palestinians are not interested in peaceful coexistence with Israel regardless of what Israel’s borders are. They prefer to remain at war with Israel and to be led by terrorists. So even if the current Fatah leadership is really ready to finally lay down its arms, prosecute terrorists and reconcile to Israel, it cannot lead Palestinian society or the larger Arab world to the same conclusion.
Gaza also shows us that pushing a peace process is counter-productive. In the context of such a process, Israel is expected to hand over land to Fatah. In the history of Israeli land giveaways to Fatah since 1994, there has never been a case where these transfers led to a moderation of Palestinian behavior or feelings towards Israel. To the contrary, such Israeli moves have only radicalized Palestinian society that has come to see every Israeli concession as proof that Israel is collapsing.
Three and a half years ago, Israel gave its greatest concession to date when it removed all its military personnel and forcibly expelled ten thousand of its citizens from their homes and farms in Gaza and transferred the area to Fatah. Rather than moderate the Palestinians, this massive Israeli concession was seen as proof that Israel would soon disappear. Convinced that Israel’s destruction was at hand, the Palestinians elected Hamas the group most identified with the cause of Israel’s destruction to lead them.
So even though Israel may make concessions to people who claim to be “moderate,” the fact is those concessions only strengthen “extremists” and so weaken Israel while strengthening jihadist groups dedicated to its destruction. Obviously, this is not something that engenders peace and stability. Rather, such “peace processes” engender only war and instability.
Q: What should the U.S. response to the fighting be?
A: Just as the U.S. supports all its allies from Pakistan to India to Britain to the Philippines in their fights against terrorist groups, so the U.S. should be supporting Israel without qualification in its fight against its terrorist foes. And indeed, just as the U.S. tells its allies not to go wobbly in their fights against terrorists, so the U.S. should be encouraging Israel to stay firm and not try to cut a deal with its terrorist foes.
Q: Any advice to Obama?
A: The thing that concerns me about President-elect Obama’s views of Israel and the Middle East is that they are heavily influenced by his advisers, many of whom are Clinton-administration veterans. And these advisers -- people like Richard Haass, Aaron Miller, Dan Kurtzer, and Martin Indyk, to name just a few -- have built their careers championing the failed and dangerous peace process.
If Obama fails to recognize the folly of these advisers and replace them with men and women who use reality as their guide for policymaking, not only will he strengthen terrorist enemies of the U.S. like Hamas and Iran, he will weaken and endanger U.S. allies like Israel. So my advice to the incoming president would be to dump his Middle East team and replace it with advisers who have a clue.
To paraphrase someone you might have heard of once or twice, I’d rather have U.S. policy on the Middle East determined by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by this team whose policies have brought about the death of thousands in their pursuit of a fantasy of peace.
Killing Their Own
By Jacob Laksin
The cost in Palestinian lives was high. By June 2007, an estimated 616 Palestinians had been killed in the factional battles, prompting PA president Mahmoud Abbas to lament that the threat that Palestinians posed to themselves exceeded the "danger of occupation" by Israel . That reality, however, was of little interest to most media, which chose instead to dwell on those subjects – such as the impact of Israel ’s economic blockade on Gaza ’s “strawberry farmers” – that accorded with their conception of the Jewish state as the true aggressor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
HaEtzni: Smash Hamas, But Not Totally
By Hillel Fendel
By Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) Former MK Elyakim HaEtzni writes that the international community’s desire to see Hamas destroyed is suspicious – and means that it is hoping that a Fatah–run state will be established on the Hamas ruins.
Writing in the weekly B’Sheva this week, the outspoken lawyer – a former Knesset Member from the pro-Land of Israel Techiyah (Revival) party – decries the fact that the current war is being presented as a war against fanatic terrorists, and not as part of the comprehensive war on behalf of the Land of Israel.
“The official propaganda machine wants us to believe,” HaEtzni writes, “that Fatah, which is an older and more murderous terrorist organization than Hamas, has undergone a gender-change operation to become a peace-loving, secular peace partner.”
In fact, though, HaEtzni explains that both Hamas and Fatah have the same goal – the destruction of Israel: “They are different only in their tactics. Fatah believes in our liquidation via peaceful means, and is therefore considered ‘moderate,’ while Hamas likes its liquidations dripping with blood, and so is considered ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist.’
Though Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, President Shimon Peres, U.S. President George W. Bush and others would have us believe that the goal is to eradicate the terror threat emanating from Hamas, the real goal is very different, HaEtzni explains:
"The Road Map and the Annapolis Summit force Israel to agree to carve out a piece of its historic homeland for a state for ‘moderate’ Palestinians. But as long as Gaza is controlled by ‘extremists,’ such a state cannot be established. This is why Olmert, Livni and the others want to destroy Hamas – even though they deny it.
“Olmert, Livni, Egypt’s half-hearted condemnations of Israel, Peres’s objections to a ceasefire, Europe’s stance – all of these show that they wish to destroy Hamas simply so that control of the area should pass on to Fatah. The Quartet will then declare that ‘extremist terrorism has been liquidated,’ and the State of Palestine will be declared with great fanfare, in accordance with the Road Map. It will thus turn out that Israel will have bled and its soldiers will have died on behalf of the establishment of an enemy state in its own territory.
“The conclusion therefore is,” HaEtzni writes, “to smash Hamas, and to neutralize its motivation to fire rockets at us – but not to liquidate them completely; Hamas should rather remain, together with Fatah, as two Palestinian terrorist gangs that will prevent each other from becoming a state!”
“The fact is that Hamas won democratic elections, became the majority in the legislature, and formed a government. But the hypocritical West, including Israel, recognizes democratic rules only when the victors are ‘one of us’…”
© Copyright IsraelNationalNews.com
Column One: The Netzarim-Tel Aviv Express
By Caroline Glick
THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 9, 2009
Today's war between Israel and Hamas is a remarkable case study in how leaders in democracies learn. In a nutshell, it shows that leaders only learn when we, the people, force them.
As Israel battles Hamas in Gaza, all Israelis - and first and foremost our leaders - are thinking about the war with Hizbullah in the summer of 2006. That war, which was widely recognized as a military failure, forced then-IDF chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz and then-defense minister Amir Peretz from office.
The public's refusal to forgive the IDF's operational failures in Lebanon also forced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to finally resign from office last summer. While it is true that the proximate cause of Olmert's resignation were the criminal probes being conducted against him, had Olmert not lost the public's support and trust after the 2006 war, gifted politician that he is, he probably would have weathered the corruption scandals.
With the ghost of Second Lebanon War hanging over them, both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi know full well that if they fail now, their heads will roll like their predecessors' did. And with this sure knowledge guiding them, they prepared meticulously for this campaign.
From intelligence, to media relations, from logistics, to command and control, operational readiness, reserve forces mobilization and doctrinal clarity, they have clearly departed from the 2006 model of incompetence and arrogance. For the past two weeks, Barak and Ashkenazi have led the IDF on a course that - while more conservative and slow than most would like - is clearly better considered than the war that Halutz, Peretz and Olmert commanded two and a half years ago. And for this the country should respect them.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE public is not as well served by its government when it comes to the diplomatic endgame for this war. And here, too, the war in Lebanon explains the difference. The IDF's failure to defeat Hizbullah was self-evident. Hizbullah, after all, continued to shoot rockets at Israel until the moment the cease-fire went into force. The public could see for itself that those responsible for the IDF's failure had to go.
But while the public could see that the IDF had failed it, they were easily misled about the government's diplomatic performance. With the help of the media, which opposed early elections that would unseat the Left, the government presented UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the conditions of the cease-fire with Hizbullah, as a diplomatic triumph. Resolution 1701's architect, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, was celebrated as a genius who brought Israel its only real success in the war. Unfortunately, this characterization of 1701 was completely false. It was a massive failure for Israel. And it wasn't a case of Israel being railroaded by the Security Council into accepting a resolution against its will. Livni initiated and pushed for the adoption of 1701.
The resolution favors Hizbullah over Israel. The expanded UNIFIL force, which Israel insisted be deployed along the border, has shielded Hizbullah from Israel for the past two and a half years. Under the watchful eye of UNIFIL's European commanders, Hizbullah has tripled its missile arsenal, reasserted control over south Lebanon and taken over the Lebanese government.
UNIFIL's boundless willingness to shield Hizbullah was exposed most recently on Thursday morning. After Hizbullah's Palestinian underlings attacked northern Israel with Katyusha rockets, UNIFIL commanders called for all sides to exercise "maximum restraint." The absurdity of the directive, after one side launched an unprovoked attack on the other, showed how horrible Resolution 1701 truly is for Israel. By advocating and then applauding this resolution, Israel authorized UNIFIL to act as the arbiter of its own right to defend itself.
The public developed an inkling of the dimensions of Israel's diplomatic failure in the Second Lebanon War last summer. After Olmert formally resigned, Barak realized that Livni was his chief political rival in their quests to lead the Left. To weaken her, Barak began explaining why 1701 is a total bust. Whereas the media had ignored similar charges from the Right for two years, Barak couldn't be ignored.
But even as Barak's criticisms began chipping away at Livni's reputation as Mrs. Competent, they never were enough to force her to either acknowledge or pay a price for her incompetence. Indeed, in spite of her unmasking, the media firmly supported Livni in her bid to win the Kadima leadership primary in September and continues to support her in her bid to succeed Olmert as prime minister.
In this context, it is not at all surprising that while the government and the IDF go to great lengths to distinguish the military campaign in Gaza from the campaign in Lebanon, until a few days ago, the government's clearly stated diplomatic aim was to achieve the same sort of cease-fire with Hamas - replete with a Gaza-based international peacekeeping force - that it achieved in Lebanon with Hizbullah.
Interestingly, today it is not personal experience but rather political rivalry that is opening up the possibility that Israel won't reenact Lebanon's diplomatic failure in Gaza. Today, Livni and Barak both see their conduct of this war as a means of shoring up their political standing against one another ahead of the February 10 elections. Their rivalry has led them to advocate contradictory goals for the diplomatic campaign.
After spending the last two and a half years presenting 1701 as a triumph, Livni has suddenly disavowed its central pillars. Today she opposes "reaching an agreement with a terrorist organization." Similarly, she argues that the deployment of international forces along the border is antithetical to the national interest. Barak has conducted a similar about-face. After castigating 1701 as a "failure," Barak now seeks to reenact it in Gaza. He supports international monitors along the border with Egypt. And he has no problem reaching an accord with Hamas.
The media have made much of the disparity between the disciplined military campaign and the confused diplomatic campaign. But they have not mentioned the cause of this disparity. Again, the IDF is performing competently today because its commanders remember what happened to their predecessors. The government is incompetently handling the cease-fire negotiations because its members are certain that there will be no political price to pay for their failure.
ONE OF the troubling aspects shared by both the IDF campaign and the diplomatic offensive is that both ignore the principal cause of the war. As a consequence, Israel has ruled out the possibility of actually winning a true victory in its current fight with Hamas. Here, too, our leaders ignore the true cause of the war because they know that they will pay no price for doing so. Israel is not fighting Hamas today because it agreed to a six-month cease-fire with the terrorist regime in Gaza last June. And it is not fighting today because Hamas decided that it wants control over Gaza's international borders.
Israel is fighting a war with Hamas today because Israel withdrew from Gaza three and a half years ago. If Israel had not withdrawn its military forces from Gaza and forcibly expelled 8,000 Israeli citizens from their homes and farms in September 2005, it would not be fighting this war today. If Israel had not withdrawn, if it had retained its forces in Gaza and retained its communities - on whose ruins the IDF now fights - in Gaza, Hamas would probably never have taken over. And even if Hamas had taken over, it would never have been able to threaten a million Israelis with missiles and rockets and mortars.
When then-prime minister Ariel Sharon and his lackeys Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni began advocating the withdrawal plan in 2003, they promised that by expelling Gaza's Jews and leaving their ruined villages to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, Israel would advance the cause of peace. They promised that no one would hold us responsible for the welfare of Gaza's population anymore. We could simply disengage. And if we were ever attacked from Gaza after we left, the entire world would rally to our side. No one would oppose our right to defend ourselves after we rendered Gaza Judenrein. The many who opposed this withdrawal scheme warned that leaving Gaza would accomplish nothing that Sharon, Olmert and Livni promised. The Palestinians would become more radical, not more moderate, after seeing Israel destroy its own towns and farms. They warned that Hamas would take over, since by expelling the Jews and leaving, Israel would show that it was collapsing. And why bother negotiating with a nation that was disintegrating?
Not only would the world continue to hold us responsible for supplying Gaza with food, electricity, medical care and employment opportunities, opponents of withdrawal warned that the international community would also oppose all future steps Israel took to defend itself against Gazan aggression even more strenuously. After all, by vacating Gaza, Israel was telling the world that as far as we were concerned, we had no right to be there.
And in the time that has passed since Israel "disengaged" from Gaza, the withdrawal's opponents have been proven right, and its supporters have been proven wrong on every single issue. And yet, unlike the public's outcry after the Second Lebanon War, there has been no public call for an accounting by Olmert, Livni or any of the withdrawal's supporters.
No one has paid a political price for getting this wrong. With the IDF now forced to reconquer the ruins of Netzarim to defend Gedera, Ashdod and Beersheba, there has been no public demand for a commission of inquiry into the decision-making processes that led the Sharon-Olmert-Livni government to withdraw from Gaza. Indeed, Olmert, Livni and their colleagues have been promoted for their championing of Israel's single greatest strategic error since 1993.
TODAY THE IDF owes its operational competence to the public's humiliation and sacking of Halutz, Peretz and Olmert. On the other hand, Israel's diplomatic incompetence, and our leadership's continued refusal to accept that Sharon was right when he said, "As goes Netzarim so goes Tel Aviv," is rendering a true victory over Hamas impossible.
If we are ever to get on the right path in Gaza, as well as in Judea and Samaria and beyond, our first order of business as the public must be to force the politicians who brought us to this point to pay a price at the ballot box for their blind and dangerous incompetence. It is only by humiliating them in elections that we can be sure that their successors will be too frightened to repeat their mistakes.
This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1231424897290&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
THE GAZA STRIP-TEASE
By Irwin N. Graulich
Let's strip this fight down to the actual bare facts. You elect a Nazi-like terrorist government, (and I use the comparison precisely), whose primary goal and charter is the destruction of the state of Israel.
They create schools where textbooks expound on the concept of Jews and Christians being monkeys and enemies of Islam who must be destroyed. They establish summer camps that teach 7 year olds the virtues of becoming suicide bombers, actually constructing a sample vest model complete with dynamite sticks, in arts & crafts. They continue to publicly describe Jews on radio, tv and newspapers as something lower than vermin, all of whom must be exterminated.
They spend all their time building tunnels and smuggling weapons to kill innocent civilians in Israel, instead of building businesses and a better life. They fire rockets regularly into Israeli towns and cities to goad Israel into a short-lived response that ultimately becomes a pr coup. They have weekly parades attended by upwards of 100,000 people screaming, "We will destroy the Zionist criminal pigs," and much worse.
Then, when this moral democracy legitimately and legally responds to the thousands of rocket attacks on its cities through a serious military action, you cry like babies. Please--I need an air sickness bag. Those brave (sic) Hamas leaders run underground like sewer rats, leaving their supportive, so called "innocent civilians" to die for them.
And much of the world continues to repeat the same mistakes of history. In fact, Europe learned absolutely nothing from WWII. Instead of learning that decent, moral nations must "fight evil," the Europeans learned that "fighting is evil."
Europeans have decided to befriend evil, let them move into their cities with their own corrupt value system, and now Parisians, Britons, the Dutch and others are just too afraid to confront this new hate-infested, violent phenomenon. It is the French embracing the Nazis once again--kiss kiss. And please do not forget--it always begins with the Jews, but it never ends with the Jews.
Next, we have the UN--that infamous massage parlor located on First Avenue in New York City. Several NYC politicians have suggested turning it into a homeless shelter, which would certainly do a great deal more good for society. Evil does not disturb the UN. Israel disturbs the UN!
Unfortunately, democracies have a disastrous achilles heel in our modern, hi tech world. It is called visual media--which includes a camera, television and the Internet, devices that allow anyone to show video totally out of context. Dead Palestinian babies, wounded women and children are 24/7 on al Jazeera, in one continuous loop. Joseph Goebbels would be proud!
Hamas and Hezbollah have discovered this new weapon which is more deadly than any missile or grenade launcher--the tv camera. 21st century technology has given rise to visual terrorism where one shows dead families in a UNRWA school without the context of Hamas terrorists shooting grenade launchers from windows. CNN leads this new propaganda group with names like Christian Amanpour, Ben Wedeman, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Rick Sanchez and Don Lemon---all of whom have shown a particular bias against Israel for defending itself from terrorism.
Had these so called reporters been covering Dresden during WWII, the Allies would have been forced to stop their attacks and Americans today would be speaking German or would be lampshades. Of course, we would hear the American point of view and the Nazi point of view, a sign of media fairness. And good ol' Larry King would be interviewing Herr Hitler with all of the necessary respect he deserved.
Truth be told, what did you expect would emerge from the sick soul of Ted Turner, one of the most twisted minds in America today. His "baby" is a despicable network made up of predominantly amoral fools.
Has there ever been a war where the opposing army actually called civilians on the telephone, dropped leaflets, sent emails or text messages in order to warn them to get out of harms way? It sounds like something out of The Twilight Zone--yet no one focuses on this incredible moral action by Israel. I mean rubber bullets--the Israeli army invented them out of a deep sense of compassion and morality.
Sorry, Americans and moral people everywhere are much smarter than that--after all, have you seen the deformed, incinerated and horrific baby pictures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, any decent human being knows it was the Atom Bomb that ended WWII, saving many more lives in the long run. That is the sad reality of war. Who told you there is no military solution to some things?
And why the uproar in the Arab and Muslim world today? Because "honor" is the most important value in their lives--and those pathetic weak Jews just keep wiping the floor with them at every turn. Israel continuously shames every Arab and Muslim country by defeating them in battle or defeating them in progress. It is obvious today that 1.5 billion Muslims in 48 countries with their big mouths and big threats about the "Poor Palestinians in Gaza" are simply afraid to intervene or militarily confront that ridiculously small Jewish state of 6 million. All those big macho armies talking tough, yet acting like frightened little girls.
The lives of average citizens in most Arab and Muslim countries are horrendous. Dictators from Syria to Lebanon to Iran to Gaza need to blame their horrible living conditions on someone--and naturally it cannot be the dictators they worship and fear. Instead, who better to fault for their miserable lives than the Jews aka Israel?
We don't have a flush toilet because of the Jews. We do not have freedom of the press because of those Jews--of course. And the crop this year was bad...all because of Israel. It's the Jews aka Zionists fault again and again. Yet that tiny thriving democracy of Jews continues to make medical discoveries and invent high tech products every day. How dare those despicable, arrogant Jews achieve so much in our midst, and make us look bad.
Israel left Gaza completely in 2005. Checkpoints located on Israeli territory and the sea remained, with the only things not permitted into Gaza being weaponry. Everything else was welcomed--and nothing, nothing was ever built in any part of The Gaza Strip except things related to murder and destruction. I mean, a refugee camp for 60 years? The Jews have continually humiliated Hamas, the Palestinians and the entire Arab/Muslim world because of their successes--militarily and societally. And they will never be forgiven for it. It is actually an affront to Islam as well.
Hamas took a page right out of the Nazi playbook by creating a party that has a terror arm and a social arm. The Nazis built roads and hospitals...and gas chambers. And the Jews learned a lesson that they needed to return to their own historical homeland and build it back up. It did not take very long, much to the chagrin of its neighbors.
So my dear Hamas lowlives--you dare "tease" that hardworking, moral democracy with terrorism and rockets. What the hell did you expect?
Irwin N. Graulich is a well known motivational speaker and author on morality, ethics, religion and politics. He is also President and CEO of a leading marketing, branding and communications company in New York City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerusalem Issue Brief
Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
Vol. 8, No. 17
11 January 2009
What's Behind Western Condemnation of Israel 's War Against Hamas?
By Efraim Karsh
With a unanimity that has become all too familiar, politicians, the media, NGOs, and church leaders across the globe took their cue to denounce Israel 's legitimate act of self-defense against one of the world's most extreme terror organizations. This chorus of disapproval is in stark contrast to the utter indifference to far bloodier conflicts that have been going on around the world.
Why do citizens in democracies enthusiastically embrace a radical Islamist group that not only seeks the destruction of a fellow democracy but is overtly committed to the substitution of a world-wide Islamic caliphate for the existing international order?
Decades of mistreatment of the Palestinians by the Arab states have gone virtually unnoticed. Only when they interact with Israel do the Palestinians win the world's attention.
The fact that international coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict has invariably reflected a degree of intensity and emotional involvement well beyond the normal level to be expected of impartial observers would seem to suggest that it is a manifestation of longstanding prejudice that has been brought out into the open by the conflict.
The Palestinians are but the latest lightning rod unleashed against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the millenarian demonization of the Jews in general, and the medieval blood libel - that Jews delight in the blood of others.
A Tidal Wave of International Indignation
No sooner had Israel opted to stop Hamas' attacks on its civilian population, after years of self-imposed restraint, than it was confronted with a tidal wave of international indignation. With a unanimity that has become all too familiar when it comes to the world's pronouncements on Israel, politicians, the media, NGOs, and church leaders across the globe took their cue to denounce this legitimate act of self-defense by a sovereign democracy against one of the world's most extreme terror organizations, overtly committed to its destruction, which for years had been raining down thousands of rockets and mortar shells on civilian communities (not to mention the long string of suicide bombings).
Echoed by the international media's blanket coverage of Israel's response in Gaza, but not Hamas' murderous ideology and actions, this chorus of disapproval over the Jewish state's "disproportionate" use of force is in stark contrast to the utter indifference to far bloodier conflicts that have been going on around the world, from the long-running genocide in Darfur, with its estimated 400,000 dead and at least 2.5 million refugees, to war in the Congo, with over 4 million dead or driven from their homes, to Chechnya, where an estimated 150,000-200,000 have died and up to a third of the population has been displaced at the hands of the Russian military. None of these tragedies saw protesters flock into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Oslo, Dublin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Washington, and Fort Lauderdale (to give a brief list), as has been the case during the Gaza crisis.
Arab Mistreatment of the Palestinians Went Unnoticed
How can this be? Why do citizens in democracies enthusiastically embrace a radical Islamist group that not only seeks the destruction of a fellow democracy but is overtly committed to the substitution of a world-wide Islamic caliphate (or umma) for the existing international order based on territorial nation states? Not because of compassion for the Palestinians, whose plight has never attracted genuine international interest, especially by the Arab states (and for that matter, the Palestinian leadership), whose decades of mistreatment of the Palestinians have gone virtually unnoticed.
Between 1949 and 1967, Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively. Not only did they fail to put these populations on the road to statehood, but they showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving the quality of their life - which is one of the reasons that 120,000 West Bankers moved across to the East Bank of the Jordan and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad between 1949 and 1967.
Nobody in the international community paid any more attention to this than they have more recently to the ongoing abuse of Palestinians across the Arab world from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, a country which was condemned in a June 2006 Amnesty International report for its "long-standing discrimination and abuses of fundamental economic and social rights of Palestinian refugees."
Nor has there been any international outcry when Arab countries have massacred Palestinians on a grand scale. In 1970 King Hussein of Jordan ordered the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian refugee camps in the course of putting down the Palestinian uprising during "Black September." This left between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinian refugees dead. But the fact that Hussein killed more Palestinians in the course of a single month than Israel managed to do in decades was never held against him or dented the widely held perception of him as a man of peace. As the supposedly pro-Palestinian journalist Robert Fisk put it in his recent memoirs, King Hussein was "often difficult to fault."
Again, more than two decades ago Abu Iyad, the number two man in the PLO, publicly stated that the crimes of the Syrian government against the Palestinian people "surpassed those of the Israeli enemy." While in the wake of the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Kuwaitis not only set about punishing the PLO for support of Saddam Hussein's brutal occupation by cutting off their financial support for Yasir Arafat's overblown and corrupt organization, but there was also a widespread slaughter of Palestinians living in Kuwait .
This revenge against innocent Palestinian workers in the emirate was so severe that Arafat himself acknowledged: "What Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories." Yet there was no media coverage or specially convened UN meetings because it is only when they interact with Israel that the Palestinians win the world's attention.
Only Palestinian Interaction with Israel Wins World Attention
In other words, the extraordinary international preoccupation with the Palestinians is a corollary of their interaction with Israel , the only Jewish state to exist since biblical times, a reflected glow of the millenarian obsession with the Jews in the Christian and the Muslim worlds. Had their dispute been with an Arab, Muslim, or any other adversary, it would have attracted a fraction of the interest that it presently does.
On occasion, notably among devout and/or born again Evangelical Christians, this obsession has manifested itself in admiration and support for the national Jewish resurrection in the Holy Land. In most instances, however, anti-Jewish prejudice and animosity, or anti-Semitism as it is commonly known, has served rather to exacerbate distrust and hatred of Israel. Indeed, the fact that the international coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the libels against Zionism and Israel, such as the despicable comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, have invariably reflected a degree of intensity and emotional involvement well beyond the normal level to be expected of impartial observers would seem to suggest that, rather than being a response to concrete Israeli activities, it is a manifestation of longstanding prejudice that has been brought out into the open by the vicissitudes of the conflict.
There is another side to the ledger. For millennia Jewish blood has been cheap, if not costless, throughout the Christian and Muslim worlds, where the Jew became the epitome of powerlessness, a perpetual punching bag and a scapegoat for whatever ills befell society. There is no reason, therefore, why Israel shouldn't follow in the footsteps of these past generations, avoid antagonizing its Arab neighbors and exercise restraint whenever attacked. But no, instead of knowing its place, the insolent Jewish state has forfeited this historic role by exacting a price for Jewish blood and beating the bullies who had hitherto been able to torment the Jews with impunity. This dramatic reversal of history cannot but be immoral and unacceptable. Hence the global community outrage and hence the world's media provision of unlimited resources to cover every minute of Israel's "disproportionate" response, but none of the devastation and dislocation caused to Israeli cities and their residents.
Put differently, the Palestinians are but the latest lightning rod unleashed against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the millenarian demonization of the Jews in general, and the medieval blood libel - that Jews delight in the blood of others - in particular. In the words of David Mamet, "The world was told Jews used this blood in the performance of religious ceremonies. Now, it seems, Jews do not require the blood for baking purposes, they merely delight to spill it on the ground."
Zionism Failed to Solve the "Jewish Problem"
To make such an argument will no doubt be dismissed as "Zionist propaganda" by many opponents of Israel. But in fact this not only runs counter to the prevailing wisdom among Israeli academics and intellectuals, for whom such arguments are anathema, but it also challenges one of the most fundamental tenets of Zionism - that the creation of a Jewish state, where the Jewish diasporas would congregate and become normalized, would solve the "Jewish problem" and ameliorate, if not eliminate altogether, the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.
What this line of thinking by the founding fathers of Zionism failed to consider, however, is that the prejudice and obsession that had hitherto been reserved for Jewish individuals and communities would be transferred to the Jewish state. As the poet Heinrich Heine, himself a convert from Judaism, once wrote, Judaism is "the family curse that lasts a thousand years" and no matter how much it has tried, Israel has never been able to escape this disturbing reality.
A saddening thought indeed. But is there any other explanation as to why, sixty years after its establishment by an internationally recognized act of self-determination, Israel remains the only state in the world that is subjected to a constant outpouring of the most outlandish conspiracy theories and blood libels; whose policies and actions are obsessively condemned by the international community; and whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged not only by its Arab enemies but by segments of advanced opinion in the West?
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Professor Efraim Karsh is Head of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies at King's College, University of London , and a member of the Board of International Experts of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. His recent books include Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale University Press, 2007).
This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at: http://www.jcpa.org
THE SICK OBJECTIVE OF THE OLMERT GOVERNMENT
By David Basch
The prime objective of the Olmert government is to deliver an election
victory to Kadima, which had been passive for years against Arab
attacks from Gaza. It was goaded to action because Israelis were
beginning to see that this government is more involved in destroying
the conservative Israeli political challenge to its rule.
What the Olmert government and the leftists wish to do is to discredit
the conservative Jewish opposition by creating a new Arab state on
Israel's territories as a fait accompli, forever proving that God's
promises to Israel in the Bible will never, ever come true. Olmert
and the leftists believe that the resulting demoralization of the religious
conservative sector, will leave the secular leftists as the only credible
leadership of the country.
This leftist goal -- being their highest priority -- has resulted in
the motivated blindness of the leftists to the reality of an Arab
enemy that does not ever wish to make peace with a viable Israel and
will use every advantage gained by acquiring strategic Israeli
territory to destroy Israel. The left cannot accept this reality since
it exposes itself as incompetent to defend long term Israeli survival.
Its incompetence is proven by its having brought back Arafat and his
terrorist army as part of the disastrous Oslo process and in surrendering
In the current action in Gaza, this government wants to
create the image that it is truly involved in a competent way in
protecting the country and thereby negate the image of its gross
incompetence in having surrendered vital, strategic, Gaza territory,
which situation has now come back to haunt the country. What the leftist
leadership really wishes to do is to is drive Hamas from Arab
leadership so that Gaza can be taken over by Fatah and then the
leftists can proceed to surrender all the Israeli territories to Arabs whose
only desire for a new state is to use it as a tool to replace all of Israel.
Israel's people must be mindful of what this blind, obsessive, leftist
government has been about and bring in a truly pro-Israel government
that is capable of resisting the onslaughts of the Arabs and their
allies in the West, including the appeasing US government that is willing
to sacrifice Israeli security to win Arab hearts to Western interests
-- a fool's errand as shown by the past record.
And Israelis should not believe the dubious rumor that the leftist,
surrender-artists of Israel were going to act against Iran's nuclear
facilities but were prevented from doing so by the US. This is another
ploy to fool Israelis about the wimpish nature of their government.
I pray Israel's people will not fall for it.
The only forward policy for Israel at the moment is, yes, to degrade
the capabilities of Hamas but also to create a permanent, very wide,
corridor that separates Gaza from its supply of weaponry from Egypt.
That will make the many supply tunnels ineffective.
Doing so is the only policy that will help Israel regain control over
her southern border. It will reveal to the Arabs that Israel has no
intention of destroying herself in favor of the illusion that a new
Arab state that will not be anything more than a terrorist state on the
model of what Gaza is today and what the Eastern territories were
under Arafat and still are under Abbas.
Any Israeli who thinks such an inevitably enemy Arab government
set up side by side with Israel will bring peace is cutting his own throat
and that of the future of Israel.
Column One: History's tragic farce
Our World: 'Pictures of Victory'
Our World: 'Pictures of Victory'
On Sunday, Israelis were witness to a cavalcade of European leaders marching to Jerusalem to have their pictures taken with outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to Jerusalem from Sharm e-Sheikh, where they had their pictures taken with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In both cities, they expressed their support for Israel's decision to stop fighting the Iranian-armed, financed and trained Hamas terror regime in Gaza.
Olmert greeted the Europeans leaders as great friends of Israel and claimed that their presence demonstrated that Israel's operation against Hamas enjoyed massive international support. Unfortunately, Olmert's statements were wrong on both counts. The leaders who came to Jerusalem are not friends of Israel and their presence in our capital did not demonstrate that Operation Cast Lead enjoyed international backing.
While sufficing with paying the most minimal lip service to Israel's inherent right to defend itself, the leaders who came to Jerusalem have been outspoken in their criticism of Israel's actual efforts to defend its citizens from Hamas aggression. None have publicly recognized that Israel has a duty to its citizens to defeat Hamas. To the contrary, all have claimed that there "is no military solution" to Israel's military conflict with Hamas.
And while these leaders have repeated vacuous bromides about the "tragedy of both sides," their voters have been much less circumspect in telling the Jews what think of us. Over the past three weeks, all of their countries, and indeed, all the countries in Western Europe have hosted large-scale, violent, anti-Semitic demonstrations and riots. And rather than condemn the anti-Jewish violence and incitement at these events, the Europeans leaders who came to Jerusalem have either sought to appease the anti-Semites or ignore them. German authorities for instance permitted Hamas supporters to wave Hamas flags at their hateful "peace demonstrations" while barring Israel supporters from holding Israeli flags or even displaying them in their windows.
In France, Sarkozy has equated his victimized Jewish community with the French Muslims who have been attacking them by claiming that his government "will not tolerate international tensions mutating into intercommunity violence." Given their refusal to support Israel in its fight against Hamas and their publics' growing hatred of Israel and the Jews, what made these Europeans leaders come to Jerusalem? As Gordon Brown and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner made clear in their remarks in Jerusalem, they came here to advance a hostile agenda. They want Israel to acquiesce to Hamas's demand to open its borders with Gaza and to support the opening of Egypt's border crossing with Gaza. They also intend to start giving Hamas hundreds of millions of dollars in "humanitarian aid" to rebuild Gaza.
If Europe gets its way, any gains that Israel made in Operation Cast Lead will quickly be erased. So the question then arises, why did Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak agree to have them come to Jerusalem? The short answer to this question is that Olmert, Livni and Barak view the European leaders as stage props. As they explained repeatedly since the outset of Operation Cast Lead, Israel's leaders sought to end the campaign with a "picture of victory." A group photo with Olmert, Sarkozy, Brown, Merkel, Zapatero and Berlusconi was the picture that they felt they needed. The fact that the picture came with demands that Israel cannot agree to without squandering its hard-earned gains in Gaza, is beside the point.
The other operational goal that Livni, Olmert and Barak set for the campaign was to restore Israel's deterrence and so convince Hamas to stop firing its missiles on southern Israel. But, as Hamas's continued firing of missiles at southern Israel after Olmert declared the cease-fire on Saturday night showed, Israel failed to deter Hamas.
But while they failed to accomplish either of Operation Cast Lead's operational goals, they did accomplish - at least for now - their main strategic goal. They succeeded in not losing.
THE MAIN difference between how Operation Cast Lead has ended and how the Second Lebanon War ended has little to do with how the IDF performed. The most important difference is Israel has not agreed to have an international force stationed in Gaza as it accepted (and in Livni's case, championed) the deployment of UNIFIL forced in South Lebanon. Since Hizbullah has used UNIFIL as a screen behind which it has rearmed and reasserted its military control over South Lebanon, the absence of such a force in Gaza is a net gain for Israel.
But again, if Israel permits Europe and the UN to flood Gaza with aid money - which will all go directly to Hamas - it will be enabling a new mechanism to be formed that will shield Hamas from the IDF and enable it to rebuild its arsenals and strengthen its control over Gaza.
This prospect is made all the more dangerous by the fact that Israel ended the campaign without taking control over the Gaza-Egypt border. By leaving the border zone under Hamas control, Israel left the path clear for Iran to resupply Hizbullah's armed forces with missiles and rockets. As Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin explained on Sunday, under the present circumstances, Hamas can be expected to rebuild its arsenals in as little as three months.
THE THIRD political aim that Olmert, Livni and Barak sought to achieve in waging Operation Cast Lead was to convince the Israeli public that their worldview is correct. That worldview asserts that the world is divided between the extremist Islamic fundamentalists and the moderates. They claim that the latter group includes Arab dictatorships like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and democracies like Turkey, the EU, and Israel. The Kadima-Labor worldview also asserts that by surrendering territory to the Arabs, Israel will receive international legitimacy for any acts of self-defense it is forced to take in the event it is attacked from the territories it vacated.
Although the local media, with their sycophantic celebration of Mubarak and support for Israeli withdrawals have supported this view, it is far from clear that the public has been convinced of its wisdom. Between Turkey's open support for Hamas and vilification of Israel, Egypt's abject refusal to take any concrete action to end weapons smuggling to Gaza, and Fatah's fecklessness and hostility, Israelis have been given ample proof this month that the moderate camp is a fiction.
Moreover, the massive anti-Semitic riots in Europe and the US, and last week's anti-Israeli UN Security Council Resolution 1860 which the US refused to veto have made quite clear that Israel's withdrawals have brought it no sympathy whatsoever from the "moderate" camp.
IN SPITE of its obvious limitations, Israelis can be pleased with the results of Operation Cast Lead on two counts. Although Hamas was not defeated, remains in full control of Gaza and has the ability to rebuild its forces, it was harmed. The IDF's operation did knock out its central installations, reduce its capacity to fight and killed some of its key leaders.
The second reason that Israelis can be pleased with the outcome is that it could have been much worse. The fact of the matter is that Operation Cast Lead was the most successful operation that Kadima and Labor are capable of leading.
Our World: Defending freedom's defenders
Honest Obama and Iran