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By Besieging The Palestinians, Israel Has Besieged Itself

Palestinians are besieged by walls and hundreds of checkpoints. But Israelis are besieged by fictions (and myths that never stood for any relevant archaeology or supporting documents).

Another round of violence has engulfed Gaza. After a botched intelligence operation in which one Israeli officer was killed as well as seven Palestinian members of Hamas, Hamas responded to Israel’s incursion by firing rockets into Israel.

Israel immediately instrumentalized a story of defense.

The Israeli army reported that the operation which sparked this round of attacks was “not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security.”

And a bus that Hamas targeted was not full of soldiers but of “civilians.” Some Israeli agencies even tweeted a photo from 2015 which, conveniently, had some civilians standing nearby.

For us Palestinians, this portrayal by Israel is all too familiar. Whether it is Hamas or Palestinian children, the threat is always imminent and it’s always the fault of Palestinians.

But it’s not just Palestinians who are the victims of this messaging.

What’s interesting about this siege mentality is that through the messaging necessary to maintain the literal besieging of Palestinians, Israel has barricaded itself, and convinced its population that they are under a constant, relentless, existential threat.

We are besieged by walls. But Israelis are besieged by fictions — about us.

It’s true that rockets are being fired by Hamas towards Ashkelon. And yet, the Israeli narrative immediately divorced this reality from both Israel’s own botched military operation earlier this week, and the larger historical context of the onslaughts on Gaza.

This is by design.

It takes a lot of work for Israel to constantly portray itself as the victim. The IDF has a $17 billion budget, after all. Military prowess is one of Israel’s major exports, hitting a record $9 billion last year. (Israel weapon military complex is the nemesis for constant pre-emptive wars on States bordering Palestine).

Yet this erasure of Israel’s military strength relative to the Palestinians is part and parcel of a larger systematic denial — of the fact that Palestinians are living under siege.

The city of Gaza has been under a decade long siege that has turned it to an open air prison. The West Bank is increasingly asphyxiated through the acceleration of illegal Israeli settlements. (Why? can any settlement by apartheid occupiers be legal? The UN has said Not legal on many occasions)

And even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are criminalized by their Palestinian identity and treated as second and third class citizens.

As a Palestinian, I am all too familiar with the suffocating reality of living in Palestine.

One of the most striking and painful aspects of maneuvering the daily routines whilst under occupation is this feeling of being blocked and isolated.

I cannot travel half an hour in any direction without being met with an Israeli checkpoint and armed soldiers demanding identification, sometimes strip-searching Palestinians and in certain instances even lethally attacking us under the pretext of security defense.

It is also difficult to travel outside Palestine; Israel controls exit points and the issue of documentation and visas.

Then there’s the Wall of Shame, another example of Israel’s attempt to brand its aggression as defense. Objectively speaking, it is a wall that enforces an apartheid system between Israelis and Palestinians.

On the Palestinian side of the wall, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians — even those with Israeli citizenship — report to two separate legal systems, and are fundamentally unequal before the law.

This doesn’t stop the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs from calling it a “security fence.” In fact, the violence of the wall depends upon this fiction.

For the wall doesn’t just lock Palestinians in. It locks Israeli citizens out of the truth of what their government is doing.

It shields Israelis not just from Palestinians, but from the visuals of what the occupation looks like — even from the its very existence.

It’s a wall, but it’s also a mask.

The Israeli side of the apartheid wall is neatly tucked behind trees and colorful murals, serving as a cloak for Israel, a mental siege that ensures that Israelis as a population are Not confronted with the product of their oppression.

This curtain (of a wall) is strategically arranged to not only impede Palestinians, but to conceal from the Israeli populace what is happening to us Palestinians.

This is intentional and strategic, like the Big Red signs set up by the Israeli government which warn Israeli citizens against entering Palestinian areas, which pose a “danger to [their] lives.”

My friends and I, while driving through the West Bank, often laugh half-heatedly as we recognize how tragic these signs are. Not only do they dehumanize us and reduce us to monsters, but they contain no reference to the occupation.

But they are there for a reason: They reinforce Israel’s narrative that its (Jewish) citizens are besieged by monsters, and they hide the fact of the occupation from anyone who might question it.

These are one and the same thing. For the violence perpetrated against us depends upon a narrative that denies it.

It’s in this way that our literal besiegement pushes Israeli society into its own metaphoric blockade.

What the Israeli government is doing is filtering access to reality, in a similar fashion to the authoritarian regimes of our time, re-shaping its own actions to fit an image of defense, safeguarding, national stability and security.

And like those other regimes, Israel does not only enact violence and violations on the Palestinians whom it oppresses. It also creates an entire society that besieges itself in a state of denial, fortified by a kaleidoscope of excuses that range from dehumanizing the other to drawing on historical traumas to isolating themselves and removing any prospects of self-reflection.

It becomes so routinized and the horrors so well concealed that new generations begin to simply act, without questions or memories of the bloody past, except through the lens of victorious battles and honorable soldiers.

What new generations of Israelis are left with are the Israeli flags that surround their homes — while Palestinian flags are often banned and criminalized — and an inherited imperative to “protect.”

There is no context to what they’re protecting from, only the anxiety from the monsters behind the wall. And when Palestinians rise up or protest, for Israelis, it’s a personal attack on them, not the occupation they sustain.

For the West Bank and Gaza, the siege is acutely visible and tangible. It’s meant to remind us that we are under Israeli control.

But on the Israeli end, it’s more subtle; it’s designed to make Israelis forget.

It is this concealment and forgetfulness that is the point of departure for Israeli policy, from the apartheid wall to the latest Nation State bill.

And the simple fact is that it’s not just hurting us. This isolation transcends Palestinians. You can see it clearly when Israel bans the entry of solidarity activists, even when they’re Jewish. Or when Israeli policy is exported abroad to silence activists from speaking out against the human rights violations enacted by Israel. You see it in the targeting of activists by sites such as Canary Mission that finds activists promoting “hatred.” These methods are exporting the siege mentality.

This, too, is not shocking. Authoritarianism is on the rise; what Israel is exporting is in high demand.

Israelis must be brave enough to challenge themselves and truly think about what it is they are preserving and fighting for. Many Israelis have gone beyond these justifications, taking on the responsibility of choosing not to remain in denial. Others can also join this process of un-learning and truly confront the reality they’ve constructed. Even if the last Palestinian is gone, Israel will still have lost.

It is of utmost importance for Israelis to challenge their own besiegement, not even for the sake of Palestinians, but for the sake of their own humanity.

No, You Can’t Be A Feminist And A Zionist

Palestinian Women Are Harassed And Humiliated At Checkpoints. Here Are A Few Of Their Stories.

Mariam Barghouti is a writer based in Ramallah.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/414142/by-besieging-the-palestinians-israel-has-besieged-itself/

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Written by a Gaza-based young Palestinian, to share with us what life in Gaza looks like from the eyes of a young person living this experience.

By Abdalrahim Mohammed Alfarra • Gaza • 19 April 2018

I was born in the occupied Gaza Strip in 1993. In the same year, my family moved to the United Arab Emirates where I completed all my school grades, from primary to secondary school.

In 2011, I went back to the Gaza Strip and got enrolled in a local university.

Since then, a new chapter of my life is opened to unprecedented limits of misery and tragedy. The least is witnessing death and fear on a daily basis.

I am writing today trying to tell the world how our life in Gaza can be seen in the eyes of a young person living this experience. It is worth mentioning here that this is my first attempt to write such an article.

The blockade of Gaza imposed by Israeli occupation authorities and the Egyptian regime is a suffocating siege that we, the youth of Gaza, have had nothing to do with.

For more than a decade, this blockade has been affecting all aspects of our life. It is an ongoing dilemma we face every day. It is getting worse and worse every day with no sign of hope. It creates hardships for every single resident, impacting every part of everyone’s life.

At the very first moment of my arrival in Gaza, the electricity cuts were the first shocking thing to witness.

I have nothing to do but to change my lifestyle. Spending my childhood in a place where the such power cuts is very rare, it was really pathetic to see myself doing my homework and projects under the lights of simple candles.

At some point, some neighbors would have considered me to be luck as because of the generator my family had. However, such a seem-to-be luxury soon becomes useless when there is no available fuel to buy, or when backup batteries are drained. Soon, darkness becomes another dictator to dominate our life — stop studying; stop everything.

Things bother me. My mother is depriving herself of sleep; racing against time to exploit the few hours of electricity to complete as much of the accumulated household chores as possible. She sometimes gets up at dawn to wash clothes and do all the other tasks that require a source of power. A refrigerator with food in it became a luxury of the past.

(Try to aid in maintaining the house: You’ll find joy in alleviating your mother’s chores)

We are now forced to buy our food on the spot! Something that is not easy in a place like Gaza.

The electricity crisis has other negative impacts on the youth.

Aside from hindering our studies, it also isolates us from the outside world and leaves us with deep feeling of boredom. This suffering is doubled when we must endure Israel’s attacks, because then, we might have to survive without electricity for two or three days, and sometimes for over a week!

It is difficult to convey exactly how the lack of electricity impacts our lives, so I ask you, the international community, this: “Can you imagine living your life with only four hours of electricity each day? Imagine yourself isolated from the rest of the world for over a week, terrified; expecting to die at any moment” — for this is how my life is. (20% of Lebanese still experience this lack of electricity)

The opportunity to pursue your study abroad and to benefit from scholarships become impossible under this siege and the travel forbade. A friend of mine who managed to have a scholarship in Germany, told me that she could not get the permits that she needs in order to travel.

She lost her dream opportunity! She is not alone: so many young students are banned from traveling abroad to pursue their education — there are tens of thousands of students wishing to study abroad.

Imagine this: My friend Jamal Jabir wishes to travel outside of Gaza just for simple things. “I really want to travel, not because the outside world is prettier than Gaza, but because I have exhausted the beauty here.” He went on: “I have never seen a lake or a river throughout my entire life.

I have never seen a Bughatti, Lamborghini, or Ferrari, and I have never been on a train.

I only see them in pictures on the internet. I really want to see what they look like in the real life.” Does this tell you anything? Just imagine that the ultimate dream of a teenager is not to own a Ferrari, but to see it wandering around!

One of my fellow students, Mustafa Abu Batnain, once asked: “Does this world understand that I cannot visit another city in the same country? How could this happen in today’s world?”

I have heard a lot about Europeans being able to move freely from one country to another without being stopped at any checkpoint! Could you imagine that … other countries!

Gaza is one of the most densely-populated regions on earth. It actually has a very small geographical area of just 17 square miles, which means there are 42,600 people squashed inside every square mile! Stuck!

Why Palestinians in Gaza are denied their basic human rights to live, move, and travel? Why can’t they move freely whenever and wherever they want to, just like all other people in the world?

One of my friends has relatives in the West Bank. He has never met with them. Like all Palestinians with families in other parts of the occupied territories, they are forbidden by Israeli occupation authorities to meet their own relatives.

Unemployment here is over 40 per cent. It has one of the highest rates in the world, while youth unemployment is over 60 per cent.

Every time we are reminded of this information, the nightmare mantra returns: there is no future in Gaza; no work; no life for its young people.

This suffocating siege dictates this day-to-day reality to us. We cannot plan for our lives. We only live a day at a time, with no plan for the future.

Nevertheless, my friend’s voice interrupts these bad and frustrating thoughts. He says: “Gaza is not just misery and suffering. It is also creativity and talent.” This is true.

I have encountered many talented youngsters from all over Gaza. Despite all the suffering and pain, hardships and troubles, obstacles and disappointments, they have never surrendered. Whatever hinders their way towards success and glory, they keep moving, motivated to reach their ultimate goals.

Youssef Al Krunz was a superb footballer. He participated in the recent peaceful protests of the Great Return March at the borders of Gaza and the occupied territories of 1948. His future dream and possible career vanished when an Israeli sniper shot him down in his foot which had to be amputated. Despite this, he shocked me by saying: “I will never lose hope!”

‘Gaza’ and ‘hope’ are two words that seem to be unlinked. However, the young people here who are trying to do what’s possible to make them go hand-in-hand. We, the youth of Gaza, are like all other people of the world. We have our own dreams and creative talents. We have the necessary skills to be good to our community and to the whole world.

I hear about people committing suicide around the world, but I am sure it rarely happens here. What is our secret? Is it hope? But what kind of hope do we have? Is it that kind which transforms into determination, and then, motivation, and then, resistance, and then, Great Return March, and then Freedom. Is it?

Youssef Al-Bahtini is one of them; he wants to leave Gaza so that he can enter the Guinness Book of World Records as a contortionist. Israel’s blockade prevents his attempt from taking place. He never loses hope but keeps trying to find a way to achieve his dreams.

I established a youth club in June 2016. It works to help the young people of Gaza to practice English in order to speak out and tell the world about our struggle, suffer, and our just Palestinian Cause.

Mahmoud Ghanem, a friend and a coworker of mine in this club, is a fitness and Parkour trainer. He has been playing Parkour since 2007 even though there are no facilities for such a sport.

For practice, he usually goes to the cemeteries or to sites of destroyed houses. “I have always had a dream of playing Parkour in a room like the ones I can see in YouTube videos,” he says. “I dream of being able to play against some well-known Parkour players of the outside world.” (What is Parkour again?)

Nowadays, I am working with a team of young people, preparing to speak on behalf of Gaza’s youth, conveying our message: We, the young people of Gaza, have been suffering since the very beginning of our lives under this occupation. We have never enjoyed freedom.

However, because we love to live, we will never give up. We will do whatever is possible to disclose the Israeli apartheid, crimes, and lies, and false propaganda against us. We will tell the world the truth about Gaza’s youth and our harsh and excruciating situation.

We shall become Youth-With-Absolute-Freedom — not just Youth-Under-Occupation.


#YouthUnderOccupation #GazaUnlocked #GazaToHeartland

 

This story is included with an NYT Opinion subscription.

JERUSALEM —

As Israel bombarded the people in Gaza with extensive airstrikes and followed up with a ground operation in the Gaza Strip and Hamas reacted by launching rockets at Israeli cities, the most immediate cause of this latest war has been ignored: Israel and much of the international community placed a prohibitive set of obstacles in the way of the Palestinian “national consensus” government that was formed in early June.

That government was created largely because of Hamas’s desperation and isolation. The group’s alliance with Syria and Iran was in shambles. Its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became a liability after a July 2013 coup replaced an ally, President Mohamed Morsi, with a bitter adversary, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Hamas’s coffers dried up as General Sisi closed the tunnels that had brought to Gaza the goods and tax revenues on which it depended.

He is a father, and he just lost his son.

Younes Arar's photo.
Younes Arar's photo.
Younes Arar's photo.
A few hours ago, the 4 Palestinian children of Baker family ((Ahed Atef Bakr (10 years), Zakareya  Bakr (10 years), Mohamad Ramez Bakr (11 years) and Esma’il Mohamad Bakr (9 years))
The four killed kids running before the second shell whipped them down 
‎أولادي الذين لم الدْهم. لو انني التقطتهم بيديّ قبل ان يسقطوا.‎

Seeing a region swept by popular protests against leaders who couldn’t provide for their citizens’ basic needs, Hamas opted to give up official control of Gaza rather than risk being overthrown.

Despite having won the last elections in 2006, Hamas decided to transfer formal authority to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

That decision led to a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, on terms set almost entirely by the P.L.O. chairman and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel immediately sought to undermine the reconciliation agreement by preventing Hamas leaders and Gaza residents from obtaining the two most essential benefits of the deal:

1. the payment of salaries to 43,000 civil servants who worked for the Hamas government and continue to administer Gaza under the new one, and

2. the easing of the suffocating border closures imposed by Israel and Egypt that bar most Gazans’ passage to the outside world.

Yet, in many ways, the reconciliation government could have served Israel’s interests:

1. It offered Hamas’s political adversaries a foothold in Gaza;

2. it was formed without a single Hamas member;

3. it retained the same Ramallah-based prime minister, deputy prime ministers, finance minister and foreign minister; and, most important,

4. it pledged to comply with the 3 conditions for (Western colonial powers) aid long demanded by America and its European allies: nonviolence, adherence to past agreements and recognition of Israel.

Israel strongly opposed American recognition of the new government and sought to isolate it internationally, seeing any small step toward Palestinian unity as a threat.

Israel’s security establishment objects to the strengthening of West Bank-Gaza ties, lest Hamas raise its head in the West Bank. And Israelis who oppose a two-state solution understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace.

Still, despite its opposition to the reconciliation agreement, Israel continued to transfer the tax revenues it collects on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf, and to work closely with the new government, especially on security cooperation. (Not a correct statement)

But the key issues of paying Gaza’s civil servants and opening the border with Egypt were left to fester.

The new government’s ostensible supporters, especially the United States and Europe, could have pushed Egypt to ease border restrictions, thereby demonstrating to Gazans that Hamas rule had been the cause of their isolation and impoverishment. But they did not.

Instead, after Hamas transferred authority to a government of pro-Western technocrats, life in Gaza became worse.

Gaza is a concentration camp.

Gaza is a concentration camp.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), have some scathing, painful things to say about what Israel is doing to Gazans:

[A senior official with the] humanitarian charity has described his organisation’s work among the 1.8 million besieged Palestinian refugees as akin to being “in an open-air prison to patch up prisoners in between their torture sessions”.

Jonathan Whittall, head of humanitarian analysis at MSF, who worked in Libya during the 2011 war, in Bahrain during the uprising of the same year, in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Sudan and Darfur, has bluntly asked his colleagues:

At what point does MSF’s repeated medical action in an unacceptable situation [like Gaza] become complicity with aggression and oppression?”

“An entire population is trapped in what is essentially an open-air prison,” Mr Whittall writes. “They can’t leave and only the most limited supplies – essential for basic survival – are allowed to enter. The population of the prison have elected representatives and organised social services.

“Some of the prisoners have organised into armed groups and resist their indefinite detention by firing rockets over the prison wall. However, the prison guards are the ones who have the capacity to launch large-scale and highly destructive attacks on the open-air prison.”

The current escalation in Gaza is a direct result of the choice by Israel and the West to obstruct the implementation of the April 2014 Palestinian reconciliation agreement. The road out of the crisis is a reversal of that policy.

Is there such a thing as an “Average War”?

The law of average is confusing, and basically the mean of a distribution has no concrete meaning to explain. Unlike the median which represents the cut-off point between the 50% lowest and 50% highest points in any data.

Actually, the Mean is basically used as a mean for further mathematical transformations of other statistical information such as standard deviations and other values.

Nassim Taleb warns: “Don’t cross a river if it is on average 4 feet deep. The river might transform into a raging torrent a few feet away from the middle…”

For example, receiving an average ultra violet rays one day may not be harmful. Getting this average doze several days per week and you have got a problem.

This article wants to focus on  whether any one can dare put forth what can be considered an average war.

Consider all the wars waged during the last 3 centuries, as cannon improved in mass killing and greater distance.

Mind you that a war is a series of field military battles, siege of cities and economic sanctions and blockades.

War can be a civil war, a colonial expansion adventure or between contiguous countries or alliance of nations, genocides, displacement of people, massive refugees exodus

Mind you also that sieges and economic blockades harvest more casualties than field battles: Due to famine, malnutrition, dissemination of diseases, lack of medicine, high infantile mortality, polluted and infected water supply… and the casualties are essentially non-combatant people.

For example, think of the blockade against Iraq for an entire decade (1993-2003) and the million of kids who died from lack of milk and basic medicines.

Think of the blockade of Iran since 1983.

Think of the blockade and sanctions against the Syrian people since 2011.

Think of the recent blockade of the Western African countries suffering from the Ebola epidemic: No border crossing, no meaningful trades with these poor countries…

Think of the siege of Homs, Aleppo, the Yarmouk Palestinian camp near Damascus, and the latest of Kobani (Ain Arab city)

Think of the conditions and the 3 consecutive preemptive wars on Gaza, this enclave constituting a big concentration camp

Now plot in a timeline fashion all the kinds of casualties (killed, injured, handicapped…) for each field battle, siege and blockade of entire region during the war until a treaty of stopping military confrontation takes hold.

How would you analyze the distribution graphs of all these wars, and how would you categorize the seriousness and level of danger of each war?

Frankly, the average of any distribution where any one of the tails over-dominate the set of data is practically worthless.

For example, studying the distribution of wealth when billionaires are included in the set.

Or studying the average population size in cities when we include cities like Tokyo (35 million) the 11 cities with size between 20 and 30 million, the 15 cities with size over 10 million and the 48 cities between 5 and 10 million….

There is no average wars simply because the distribution of wars follow the power law: How can we study a distribution of casualties when we add the WWI ad WWII wars or the genocides committed during Stalin, Cambodia, Rwanda., and the enduring civil wars in the Congo for the last 3 decades and yet not terminated, the situation in Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan..?

What recent statesmen and politicians had to say on the Gaza status

Into the fray: Why Gaza must go

Is the durable solution requires dismantling Gaza, humanitarian relocation of the non-belligerent Arab population, and extension of Israeli sovereignty over the region?

MARTIN SHERMAN published this July 24, 2014
At the time of writing this column, ground operations in Gaza were still going on and reports of increasing casualties were coming in with depressing frequency.
This should, therefore, be a time for national cohesion and solidarity, with unity and support for the war effort, and criticism of the government suspended
Sadly, however, the government has given the public little coherent indication of its aims, or of the realities it is striving to create.
 

 . Gaza

Givati brigade in Gaza Photo: IDF SPOKESMAN’S OFFICE
Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind…. You ask, what is our policy?
I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny… That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
(That was the policy of Gaza Palestinian resistance forces: refusing this big concentration camp imposed on them by Israel)
 
– Albert Einstein 
We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.
(Israel has been waging the same kinds of preemptive wars on its neighboring States, a war meant to be quick, savaged and merciless)
Ill-defined and inadequate objectives

Worse, not only is there no clear indication of where the country is going, there seems to be little willingness to recognize how we got here.

In the third week of Operation Protective Edge, the government is still waffling on its objectives.

These keep morphing from one vague, vacuous formulation to another, as developments on the battlefield make each succeeding definition of the operation’s goals appear abysmally inadequate and ineffectual.

Initially, the government declared that all it aspired to was to “restore calm” – i.e.

to reinstate the status quo – and if Hamas would cease fire, so would Israel.

Just how myopic that would have been is starkly underscored by what has become chillingly apparent during the operation – the devastating potential of an elaborate tunnel system developed by the terror organizations in Gaza.

Had a cease-fire been implemented in such circumstances, Hamas would have been free to continue developing its deadly subterranean potential, which it could activate at a moment of its choosing.

This appalling prospect makes deeply disturbing questions, regarding the competence and/or judgment of the nation’s leadership, unavoidable, even as the battles rage on.

Unless the reasons for the current predicament are understood, no effective remedy can be found.

Deeply disturbing questions

We must weigh the only two possibilities before us:

(a) either the Israeli government was aware of the deadly menace posed by the network of tunnels; or

(b) it wasn’t.

If it was, then willingness to agree to a cease-fire before the danger was eliminated reflects a disturbing readiness to reconcile itself to the dangers and expose the country’s civilian population to murderous consequences in the future.

If it was oblivious to these dangers, this reflects a grave ignorance of deadly threats facing the country, a sign of just how out of touch the leadership of the nation has been with the ominous reality we inhabit.

Although I rarely find occasion to quote Haaretz as a corroborating source, my eye could not help catching the pungent title of a piece written by veteran defense correspondent Amos Harel: “Hamas’ terror tunnels – a national strategic failure for Israel”.

Harel points out: “A week ago, Israel announced its willingness to accept a cease-fire in Gaza… This means one of two things. Either the ministers and generals were willing last week to let these tunnels, every one a ticking bomb, tick softly under kibbutz dining rooms until the next escalation, or they weren’t aware of the seriousness of the risk.”

He continues: “So either they were taking a calculated risk of unusual [read “gigantic” – M.S.] dimensions, or they didn’t have enough intelligence [information] before the operation (which doesn’t quite square with a senior officer’s claim…

that ‘never before has the army had such quality intelligence before an operation’).”

Prescient prediction

It is difficult to accept that the government was totally unaware of Hamas’s tunneling endeavor. As early as 2006, Hamas used a tunnel to abduct Gilad Schalit and kill two of his comrades near Kerem Shalom, eventually attaining the liberation of 1,027 convicted terrorists. Last October, the discovery of an almost 2-km.-long tunnel near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha was widely reported, and according to several sources, its objective was a kindergarten, located close to its exit point, 300 meters inside Israel.

The threat imminent in Hamas’s burrowing enterprise, and the conditions under which it might be employed, were presciently predicted 10 months ago by Harel. In an article, carrying the ominous headline: “Hamas’ strategic tunnels: Millions of dollars to spirit kidnapped Israelis into Gaza” (October 13, 2013), he warned of the likely reaction of Hamas should it feel weakened, precisely what Israeli politicians were crowing about just prior to the current round of violence. He cautioned: “… if Hamas decides to try to overcome its present distress by reigniting the front against Israel, using the tunnels to launch an attack could be one of its main options.”

His prediction proved chillingly precise.

Figuring the flaccidity factor: Impotence not ignorance

Given that it is highly implausible that the government was unaware of the danger looming under its very nose (or rather, feet), how are we to account for the flaccidity of its response – which, but for good fortune, could have precipitated outcomes of unthinkable tragedy.

Former Jerusalem Post Editor in Chief Bret Stephens, in a recent Wall Street Journal piece (July 14), provides a partial explanation for the phenomenon, suggesting that Israel’s “real weakness is a certain kind of vanity that confuses stainlessness with virtue, favors moral self-regard over normal self-interest, and believes in politics as an exercise not in power but in self-examination.”

For all its admirable eloquence, Stephens’s diagnosis relates more to the symptoms of the malaise, rather than its causes.

In numerous columns, I have been at pains to explain the roots of this enervating phenomenon (which I have designated “The Limousine Theory of Israeli politics”) and warned of the ruinous results it will inevitably wreak upon us.

The underlying reason for the inadequate responses to clearly apparent dangers is that Israel’s leaders have been cowered into this moralistic masochism by an aggressive and intolerant triad of left-wing civil society elites (in the legal establishment, the mainstream media and academe), who, through their unelected position of privilege and power, have taken control of the political discourse in the country.

The political discourse determines the elected political leadership’s perception of policy constraints and policy possibilities.

Through dominance of the discourse, these elites can control the parameters of Israeli policy-making and impose their worldview of political appeasement and territorial concessions on it.

Sacrificing lives for a ‘two-state deity’

These elites have, to a large degree, mortgaged their personal prestige and professional positions, and much of their livelihood, to the two-state concept and the land-for-peace doctrine on which it rests.

Were this doctrine to be discredited, all these benefits – material and otherwise – would be jeopardized. They, therefore, have a vested interest in preserving a perception that it is valid – no matter how incongruent with reality and rationality it proves – and must endeavor to prevent the adoption of any policy measures that put paid to the two-state formula.

Since the attainment of strategic victory in Gaza calls for measures that preclude any agreement on a Palestinian state, the policy-relevant discourse, which these elites mold, has been devoted to ridiculing such measures as impractical or infeasible, and to promoting measures that can only bring about a temporary respite to the fighting. These respites have always been exploited by the enemy to enhance its capabilities for the inevitable next round – and the next inevitable batch of casualties.

Oblivious to facts, and impervious to reason, in a desperate attempt to sustain an unworkable paradigm, Israeli left-wing elites perpetuate bout after escalating bout of violence, callously sacrificing ever more lives on the altar of the false deity of two-states- for-two-peoples.

‘Mowing the lawn’ won’t cut it

The reluctance to face unpalatable realities has spawned new terminology to paper over intellectual surrender, and mask unwillingness to accept the need for regrettably harsh but essential policies.

First, we were told that since there was “no solution” to the Israel-Arab conflict, we should adopt an approach of “conflict management” rather than “conflict resolution.”

Now we have a new term in the professional jargon to convey a similar perspective: “mowing the grass.” This is the name for an approach that entails a new round of fighting every time the Palestinian violence reaches levels Israel finds unacceptable.

Its “rationale” – for want of a better term – was recently articulated by Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, as: “The use of force, not intended to attain impossible political goals, but rather [as a] long-term strategy of attrition designed primarily to debilitate the enemy capabilities.”

Sadly, what we have seen is that far from “debilitating the enemy capabilities,” because said enemy keeps reappearing, spoiling for a fight, ever bolder with ever-greater capabilities.

It is an open question just how many more rounds of “mowing” the residents of southern Israel will endure before losing confidence that the government will provide adequate protection and choose to evacuate the area.

No, periodically mowing the lawn is not a policy that can endure for long – it simply will not cut it. The grass needs to be uprooted – once and for all.

Gaza: What would Einstein say? 

Albert Einstein famously said that one could not solve a problem with the level of thinking that created it.

Clearly, the problem of Gaza was created by the belief that land could be transferred to the Palestinian Arabs to provide them a viable opportunity for self-governance.

Equally clearly, then, the problem of Gaza cannot be solved by persisting with ideas that created it – i.e. persisting with a plan for Israel to provide the Palestinian Arabs with land for self-governance.

The problem can only be solved by entirely abandoning the concept that Gaza should be governed by Palestinian Arabs. Any effective solution must follow this new line of reasoning.

Any other outcome will merely prolong the problem. If Hamas comes out stronger from this round of fighting, it will be only a matter of time before the next, probably more deadly, round breaks out.

If Hamas comes out weaker from this round of fighting, it is only a matter of time before it will be replaced by an even more violent extremist-successor – and thus, once more, only a matter of time until the next, probably more deadly, round breaks out.

The only durable solution requires dismantling Gaza, humanitarian relocation of the non-belligerent Arab population, and extension of Israeli sovereignty over the region.

That is the only approach that can solve the problem of Gaza.

That is the only approach that will eliminate the threat to Israel continually issuing from Gaza.

That is the only approach that will extricate the non-belligerent Palestinians from the clutches of the cruel, corrupt cliques who led them astray for decades.

That is the only approach that will preclude a need for Israel to “rule over another people.”

Gaza: What would Herbert Hoover say?

Former US President Herbert Hoover, dubbed the “Great Humanitarian” for his efforts to relieve famine in Europe after WWI, wrote in The Problems of Lasting Peace: “Consideration should be given even to the heroic remedy of transfer of populations…the hardship of moving is great, but it is [still] less than the constant suffering of minorities and the constant recurrence of war.”

(Was Hoover meaning the transfer of the Jews to Israel or anyplace else?)

How could anyone, with any degree of compassion and humanity, disagree? (Disagree on what Sherman the repeated Transfer of Palestinians or retransfer of the Jews to Europe and the USA?

Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.www.martinsherman.net


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2019
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