Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rockets and Occupation


Recently I received a reply to one of my posts on this blog stating in essence that rockets aimed at Israel from Gaza were a response to "occupation" and that if Israel wanted the rocket fire to end, it should end the "occupation." I did not bother to publish this response, which was posted anonymously. I thought instead that I would address the fuller argument.

The "It's the Occupation Stupid" explanation employed universally by many pro-Palestinian activists assumes multiple things which are either unfounded or poorly so. Let me list them with explanations as to why.

1. Palestinian violence against Israel/Jews began in 1967 with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, called "Occupied Territory" by most and "Disputed Territory" by others.

The latter term is employed by those who argue that since the WB was a part of Jordan and Gaza part of Egypt, both of which have subsequently made peace with Israel, that these territories are therefore no longer "occupied" in the sense that those governments which were recognized as the governing bodies of those territories no longer claim them. Palestinian activists claim, FALSELY, that these territories are and have been "Palestinian Territories" and therefore Israel is occupying Palestinian territory. Since there is not today and has never been a Palestinian state, this simply cannot be true legally despite claims made by those recognized as leaders of the Palestinian people today. A peace process that seeks a two state solution to the conflict seeks to CREATE a Palestinian state along side Israel, not to restore one. As for the beginnings of violence against Jews, see below.

2. Palestinian violence against Jews started in 1947-1948 while Arabs and Jews lived peacefully up until that point.

This is entirely false. Violence against Jews by Palestinians began as a response to Jewish immigration after World War I. Haj Amin Al-Husseini, recognized as the father of Palestinian nationalism, who became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and who later aided the NAZIs in their recruitment of Muslim soldiers in the Baltic region, led riots in which many Jews in British Mandate Palestine were killed. In 1929, the Jews of Hebron were massacred. These were all BEFORE the NAZIs even came to power, much less after World War II. The argument that Palestinian hostility against Jews resulted from the post-war creation of a Jewish state is therefore also FALSE, much less that such violence began post-1967.

3. Rocket fire is the result of occupation since 1967.

This is actually quite simple to prove false. The parties doing the rocket fire state both orally and in writing that their efforts are designed to end the occupation of Palestinian lands which they define as being all of BRITISH MANDATE PALESTINE, not just Gaza and the West Bank, but all of Israel as well. Hence, those firing rockets are not fighting Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, but truly fighting the war of 1948 and will not stop firing rockets until Israel ceases to exist. Therefore the idea that Israel can make any concessions that will stop the rocket fire is FALSE.

4. Rocket fire is the result of occupation of Gaza.

This is also FALSE. After Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, rocket fire intensified. Hence a different goal must be the aim of those rocketing. I already stated that goal in the above paragraph.

Stop the rocket fire? End the goal of destroying Israel.

It's NOT about the "Occupation" stupid, it's about HATRED OF THE JEWS.


Saving Lives in Israel

Shalom All,

Recently the Israeli Kenesset passed a law designed to encourage organ donation. Jewish law traditionally defines death as HEART DEATH. Heart death is simply defined as the when the heart stops beating. This is highly problematic for organ donation because when the heart stops beating damage is done to virtually all of the major organs, including the heart itself, which in essence prohibits their use in saving the lives of others.

On the other hand, a definition of death as BRAIN-RESPIRATORY DEATH radically changes the situation. Someone who is Brain Dead and cannot breath on their own may well be a prime candidate to save multiple lives through the donation of heart and lungs and kidneys and possibly other organs in the future.

The Kenesset passed a law which defines death as BRAIN-RESPIRATORY DEATH.

I appplaud these efforts by the Kenesset to save lives.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

The UN's Usual Response

Shalom All,

It has been reported that the President of the UN said the following to an emergency session of the security council:

"While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed an injured so many civilians, including children".
The head of the UN is either ignorant, naive, or both. Please explain to me how in any possible way continuous rocket fire coming from an enemy with which you are in a declared state of war and which is increasing in scope, range, and damage may be construed as anything but an escalation of the war by that enemy and when publicly supported by the governing body of said enemy be anything other that justification for full scale war against said enemy? That the enemy is weaker does not matter at all, except to the degree that there will be greatly more significant harm done once the provocation to and escalation of war are successful and the more powerful military entity responds.

What would constitute "proportionate" and "adequate" force in a case in which rocket fire has INCREASED since the conflict has been joined. Logically, one must conclude that not only have Israel's actions not been "disproportionate and excessive" but that they have been instead "too weak to be effective." Continuing to act as if Palestinian civilians will not and should not die while Hamas and its allies continue to fire rockets by the dozens at Israeli civilians from amid Palestinian civilian population areas is not only naive and ignorant, but well beyond that.

The correct military response to the current state of affairs would be to use any amount of force necessary to permanently end the rocket fire coming from Gaza regardless of the number or nature of casualties until the rocket fire ceases and those firing them surrender so that the rocket fire will not begin again as soon as hostilities are ended. The ONLY reason this is not happening currently is that it will result in many deaths and Israel is hoping to avoid that option, something which it cannot possibly do forever and cannot reasonably do for much longer.

It is appalling to me that the UN continues to do anything but demand the immediate surrender of Hamas, the immediate cessation of rocket fire, or support Israel's efforts to make it cease. Should ANY other Western nation be facing rocket fire upon civilian populations from a declared enemy, there is little doubt that the UN would raise an army to come to its aid and much of that army would come from the EU.

If qassams rained down on France tomorrow, France would be at war and the UN with it. If qassams rained down on Germany, Italy, Greece, the UK there would be war and the UN would support it. Yet qassams raining down upon Israel for months is justification for condemnation of any response by Israel other than a declaration of "Come on, stop it and we'll give up." It's just pathetic.

The UN is either irrelevant to the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or, and this is what I believe, a primary reason that it continues without a resolution resulting in a peaceful settlement between the peoples as it continues to defend the side initiating and prolonging a state of war and condemns the side trying to bring it to an end. There is no possibly peace in which Hamas is able to declare victory. As soon as the UN realizes this, perhaps peace may be achieved.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Can Invasion Stop the Rockets?

Shalom All,

It is clear that the shelling of Sderot and now Ashkelon cannot be allowed to go on. There are very few alternatives and as far as I can see none are good for the Palestinians. Let me explain.

Israel's response to continued and even increased shelling cannot be allowed to be good for the Palestinians. There can be no IMPROVED situation. Israel cannot allow there to be a benefit for shelling, otherwise the shelling will certainly resume rapidly with new demands. Ceasing the rocketing must be a pre-requisite to discussing possible means of improving life for Palestinians. Firing rockets must be seen as necessitating a forceful and damaging response from Israel.

Hence if there is a "Cycle of Violence" it is the following:

Palestinians use violence against Israeli civilians in order to harm Israel. Those using the violence are not the same as those who wish to seek peaceful coexistence with Israel, but those who wish to prevent any permanent peace agreements between Palestinians and Israel. They want to destroy Israel. Their goal is not to seek concessions from Israel to improve Palestinian lives alongside Israel in 2008, but to eventually eliminate Israel altogether. Should Palestinian lives worsen in 2008, it is largely irrelevant to the longer term goal. Even a few hundred or even thousands dead are not unreasonable losses.

Those wishing to coexist alongside Israel act as if those conducting the attacks are "freedom fighters" rather than "warriors to eliminate Israel." There are those who would call the latter "Jihadis" or give them some other religious motivation, but I am not among them. From what I can see, religion is secondary to the political/nationalist goal. Those in rocket squads are not the same as those strapping explosives to their bodies. The men launching rockets have no death wish. They are fighting a war. The war being fought is regularly misconstrued to be the remnant of that of 1967, but is in fact the continuation of the war of 1948.

Those seeking coexistence wish to portray these warriors as acting out of immediate suffering and not out of long term nationalist hopes. Why? Because that suffering can be blamed upon Israel. "Look at the roadblocks and checkpoints! Look at the wall! Look at the targeted attacks! How could anyone live this way!" That certainly makes it appear to be reasonable violence, namely that of an oppressed people fighting their oppressor. The problem is that the context is wrong and therefore the analysis of the situation is wrong.

Are there roadblocks and checkpoints simply to oppress Palestinians? Has the separation barrier, some of which is indeed a wall, but most of which is a fence, been construction solely to take over Palestinian lands and to make the lives of Palestinians miserable? Have targeted attacks been aimed at people publically professing and honestly striving to coexist? The answer to all of these questions is NO. In fact, the answer to all of these questions is not only NO, but that EVERY ONE of these has been done to attempt to reduce violence against Israeli civilians by Palestinian militants with nationalist aspirations including ALL of what is Israel today.

In other words, what is really going on is a cycle in which militants wishing to destroy Israel attack it, Israel responds by attacking the militants or their organizations, the Palestinian leadership that seeks a state alongside Israel then pretends that these fighters are NOT opposed to the existence of Israel, but are only fighting for freedom from the suffering imposed by Israel, the media buys the explanation, the UN condemns Israel's response AND the militant attacks as if the two were equal in justification (a falsehood) and then the militants, now justified, attack again.

As I see it, the only possible long term resolutions of the Gaza conflict are as follows:

1. Israel gives up trying to stop the militants and lives with shelling that will regularly kill, maim, or injure its citizens, knowing that the range of the rockets will continue to increase and therefore that more and more of its citizenry will become at risk.

2. Militants stop on their own from firing rockets into Israel.

3. Militants are prevented from firing rockets into Israel by Palestinian authorities.

4. Israel kills anyone wishing to fight to the death and everyone who gets in the way.

Diplomacy attempted to reach options 2 and 3 has failed miserably. Israel is now faced with options 1 and 4. In my mind and in the minds of most of the Israeli public, option 1 is not tolerable for long and the urgency to choose option 4 is gaining in support. Clearly being the only real option for Israel to pursue itself with the failure of the Palestinians to give it another option, it is only because of concern for the lives of those who would be killed, many on both sides, that has brought pause.

Egypt could offer another solution, namely to open its border and to bring Gaza under its wing permanently. But Egypt would rather make Gaza Israel's problem and the world is all to quick to agree, forcing the Israelis and Palestinians toward a devastating lose-lose situation, war.

We shall see how things playout in the days ahead. It will not be pretty to watch.