Tag Archives: Hamas

Is the Prophet a Founding Father?

In America and in Egypt, should a majority religion inspire political life? How will Islam play a role in the struggles for democracy happening now in Egypt and other parts of the Muslim world?

All societies present an entangled mesh of values, with many contradictions that never get sorted out. In America, religion is a particularly tangled strand, and despite the Founding Fathers’ clear intention to provide freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, some Americans insist on re-arguing the point continuously. In their vehemence they contradict another typical value that they hold, an irrational worship of the Constitution. But that’s how society is meant to be when people elect to be free. 

The case of Egypt, as it convulses toward becoming a democracy, is similar and at the same time radically different. The sad truth is that a tiny sliver of the rich, privileged, and Westernized — the very people the West thinks are "just like us" — deserve to be overthrown. They took unconscionable advantage of their privileges, imposing repression on the bottom 90% of society. No one seems to dispute that it’s time for Egypt to play catch up with the rest of the world and its long trend toward democracy.

Yet this raises the bugaboo of the Islamist factions, the religious conservatives who see the U.S. as a sworn enemy of their faith. The West was burned by the Iranian revolution and its steady drive toward anti-Western belligerence, along with its support for terrorism and the chimera of a world where every country bows to the Prophet Muhammad. A leading expert of the Arab world, Bernard Lewis, years ago predicted that if popular uprisings succeeded in toppling the dictatorships that span from the top of Africa throughout the Middle East, the new governments would be dominated by religious fundamentalism. It was a dark prophecy, and it remains the most feared prospect as viewed by the U.S. We called for elections in Palestine, only to punish the Palestinians when they chose Hamas as their ruling party. We fled Lebanon in the midst of religious strife. We stood by helplessly as Iran moved in the wrong direction, and now many see the Shiite clerics gaining a strong hold in Iraq, hiding discreetly behind the scene.

This is a long preamble to saying that Muhammad cannot be kept out of Arab politics. The Westward-looking elites in the Arab world are secular — even Saddam was secular — but they hold power by brutal means. Ironically, it was the economic rise of Egypt and Tunisia in recent years that has largely fueled the discontent in the streets, for suddenly, as in India, the poorest people see a glimmer of hope for achieving dignity and economic progress. Even so, religion will be a big part of the mix. On one side, Egypt watchers tell us that the Muslim Brotherhood won’t take over the country; one is reminded of Iraq watchers who assured the neocons that invading Iraq wouldn’t lead to religious strife, given how secular that country was.

The root that runs deepest in every Arab country is Islam, and one of the ideals of the faith is that everything in life — art, politics, law, and daily habits — must revolve around God’s strict rules. Having written a book about the Prophet, my immersion into Islam showed me, with regret, that their is a fine line between what the religious conservatives want, which is religious totalism, and what the Taliban delivered in Afghanistan, which is religious totalitarianism. I have no predictions about Egypt, which was founded by Nasser as a modern secular state on the basis of Arab nationalism. We can only stand by and see how the entangled mesh of values in Egypt unravels. The worst of one system may give way to the worst of its opposite — let’s hope not.

Published in the Washington Post/On Faith

Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post – Ahmed Rehab: Miss USA scrutiny indicates weird obsession with Islam

 http://www.ahmedrehab.com/2010/05/miss-usa-scrutiny-indicates-weird-obsession-with-islam/

Why must a Muslim person’s faith come up the moment that person breaks through the mainstream in any conceivable way – regardless of relevance or context?

And why does it invariably end up linking that person through multiple degrees of separation to terrorism?

The fact that even a Miss USA could not be spared this exercise in futility puts away any remaining doubt that there is a segment of America that is suffering from a bizarre and unhealthy obsession with Islam.

 

Diverse examples abound:

When Dubai Ports World won a contract to manage six US seaports in 2006, US Lawmakers rushed to invalidate the deal. Their objections essentially came down to the shocking discovery that Dubai was an “Islamic” country (even as they bore no qualms about billions of dollars in US business contracts going the other way). Of no weight was the more relevant fact that the Dubai Ports World is one of the most reputable operators in its industry.

And when Mazen Asbahi was appointed as the Obama campaigns liaison to the Muslim community in 2008, the Wall Street Journal riled up just enough “guilt by association” terrorism-related controversy against the clean-as-a-whistle Asbahi to force him to resign only a few days into his post.

Most recently, when Dr. Parvez Ahmed was nominated for Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission, the established humanitarian was smeared with “ties to terrorism.” He subsequently faced a torrent of abuse (including one commissioner’s request that he demonstrates to the commission how he prays to his God) before eventually being confirmed.

The fact that Muslims who aspire to prominence in business, political, and service circles routinely face special scrutiny as a result of their faith is alarming. The fact that Muslims involved in the banality of looking good would not be spared similar scrutiny is comical – in a sad sort of way of course.

And yet just one day after Rima Fakih, an Arab-American Lebanese Muslim from Michigan won the Miss USA pageant, her faith took center stage, and sure enough, some found a way to “link” her to terrorism.

AOL News, no less, led the foray with the provocative title, “Controversy Swirls Around Miss USA Winner.” They quote right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel who tells us that Miss USA has “many relatives” who are terrorists and that “a Hezbollah supporter helped bankroll her pageant run.”

“It’s a sad day in America but a very predictable one, given the politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate in which we’re mired,” she says.

As paranoid as Schlussel sounds, this was in fact a sanitized version of the original Islamophobic, foul-mouth tirade found on her blog under the flattering title, “Hezbollah’s American Sharmuta” (whore in Arabic).

Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson also blamed “political correctness” as the culprit in Fakih’s victory. “Did the Muslim-American win because of the whole PC society that we find ourselves in,” she wonders.

Another conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin lamented that “Fakih’s cheerleaders are too busy tooting the identity politics horn to care what comes out of her mouth,” while neo-conservative blogger, Daniel Pipes, argued that this and five other recent Muslim beauty pageant winners in the West indicate “an odd form of affirmative action.” Other articles questioned whether Muslims would celebrate or bemoan a Muslim Miss USA. The fact is, just like the 58 winners before her, Rima Fakih’s faith has absolutely nothing to do with her beauty.

Rima is just another American girl who pursued a personal dream. The fact that she happens to be Muslim is completely irrelevant to the story. She should neither be hailed as a Muslim hero, nor made into a punching bag for anti-Muslim haters. That her religion is even brought up is only indicative of how far our unhealthy obsession with this age-old global faith and its adherents has gone.

Future Muslim spelling bee champions, beware.

 

Ode to Gaza

Much of the killing in Gaza has stopped. All we have are remnant cries of mothers hunching at child limbs lost, of fathers sobbing at houses bashed, and tears of babes in tearless awe. The Muslim missiles across Jewish borders are nearly hushed. All we have are remembrances of cowered Jews bunkered underground, awaiting metal into waiting flesh, and blood-splattered men rushed to scalpels ready. All that’s left is a cratered faith in Abraham.

I once knelt beside Muslim hands that opened up to Allah and aimed terror’s praise at Hamas. I once sat beside Jewish fingers that pointed to God and piously dug into the ground of Islam’s envy. I witnessed covenants that were choosing rocks.

Religion is moving no mountains. We are wearing dynamite and driving the tank, sending the drone and hurling the knife. We are building homes and hating him who covets what we posses. We are insisting it is our own God who’ll win, while planting bombs to clear His way. We stack our walls and carve our tunnels, shouting our pieties and boastful creeds, hoping that they split the souls of those who don’t believe.

Once upon in Gaza, Samson fell, and in turn his vengeance upon the Philistine fell. Today in Gaza the Jewish hammer falls, and from there the falling Muslim rockets land. In Gaza we see the Old Testament tale, where murder is faith.

My religion looks back with pride and front with fear. Can we at last grab our patch of dirt and fruit, and in humble work feed our mouths? Bowing not to Heaven but to ourselves. I pray my faith may one day touch the lips of all lovers and babes, and damn the gods of Arabs and Jews, and believe in no one and in nothing but the kiss. So help me God.
 

Steve Posner is the author of "Israel Undercover: Secret Warfare and Hidden Diplomacy in the Middle East." His latest book is "Spiritual Delights and Delusions: How to Bridge the Gap between Spiritual Fulfillment and Emotional Realities." Visit his website at steveposner.com

Let the Truth be Heard

Freedom of Speech is part of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. But this is exactly what we have been hard pressed to find in mainstream American Media..
 
There is little doubt, and even less debate about the fact that our mainstream media has always maintained a polarized point of view. It shamelessly panders to lobbyists and to the Establishment’s war-mongering means. To that end, it does a fine job of highlighting the minor qualifications of the real aggressors, while creating an anathema out of  the less known ‘other’ point of view .
 
George Bush used the term Axis of Evil, repeatedly to justify his administrations shocking greed for amassing wealth . The denigration of the other side, as less deserving of dialogue, diplomacy and basic rights has been the modus operandi of our establishment thus far and the Media has done everything to abet that sentiment. This has left the American masses critically uninformed about the reality on a global and international level, as well as frustrate those of us seeking the other side of the story, in order to piece together a balanced reality. Well, we had no such luck living here in the Land of the Free, at least not until January 20th 2009.  
 
Change has definitely come to America. In the first week of his Presidency, Obama suspended trials at Guantanamo, expedited a US envoy to the Middle East, headed by George Mitchell and got the stimulus package approved for our depressed and repressed economy. And while he was at that, a wave of change has surreptitiously entered into the general Media milieu.
 
We are finally getting to feast our eyes and ears on what seem to be the first glimmers of Freedom of Speech. For those of us who saw Jimmy Carter on Charlie Rose on January 27, 2009 will gladly vouch that they have never heard of those ‘others’ be spoken of in such a refreshingly new way.
 
Some of what Carter came out with was the fact that Rockets were being fired into the small town of Sderot by Hamas, because of the Humanitarian crisis that Gaza has been constantly under. Turns out; Food, aid, health care equipment and medical supplies were all choked at the countless checks points that Israel has placed all around the West Bank and Gaza for countless years. The Bush Administration and the Israeli government jointly refused to acknowledge the legitimately elected government of the Palestinian people. The result of which left Hamas (the elected government) completely sealed off from the rest of the world, and could not allow the Palestinian areas to receive any aid from the outside. Having been deprived of even a voice, they started shooting lame rockets into Sderot, which is less than a mile from Gaza.
 
Thirteen residents of Sderot have been killed by the Rockets since the year 2000. To which Israel responded with an disproportionate attack on Gaza, killing 1400 civilians, in less than three weeks. When Jimmy Carter held a dialogue with the leaders of Hamas during his trip to the region, he asked the question most American’s have on their minds, which is why Hamas would keep firing rockets? They responded by saying, that these are pleas to awaken the world and bring attention to their humanitarian crises.
Apparently, Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire in June of 2008. And surprisingly, to our American ears, Hamas has always kept its side of the bargain when ceasefire agreements took place. While they did not completely stop the rockets, they had  substantially dwindled them down to one rocket a month. The Cease fire agreements were always on the basis that if Israel would allow food into Gaza then Hamas would have no reason to try and gain world attention, by sending the rockets. However, while Hamas observed the cease fire, Israel maintained its hard line and suffocated supply of food and electricity and gas to the region that is populated by over 1 million refugees, living in squalid conditions.
 
The last cease fire agreement collapsed because Hamas asked Israel to allow at least 20% of food supply into Gaza. Food that was being supplied by international sources, not by Israel. Israel refused. Hunger and death led Hamas to fire their lame rockets at Sderot, in the hope that the world community would awaken from their greed and slumber and look at the continued humanitarian crises in Gaza. This act, as we recently witnessed was severely punished by Israel, reducing Gaza into rubble in a matter of days. Ruthlessly killing 1400 civilians, almost half of whom are said to be children.  
 
Now, I can’t remember the last time I heard such cold hard facts on American television. I can also imagine a large amount of people not terribly keen at this news. But the only news that’s worth digesting is what’s closes to the Truth, if not the truth itself.
 
Its not a surprise to many of us, who read foreign and even some courageous local portals that have stated in the past that over 1 million registered refugees in Gaza were living in the highest population density on the planet, in deplorable living standards. But to actually see Hamas being spoken of in a different light was quite another thing altogether.
 
Listening to Carter’s interview, the old maxim ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’, came to mind. And it was pleasing to know that finally the audience can be trusted enough show both sides of the struggle.
 
As the truth begins to unfold, I hope we make conscious and informed opinions for ourselves. As opposed to subconsciously consuming tailor-made, one-sided fodder by a handful of those who benefit from a myopic America.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How nice are Hamas to pelestinians …

It is not an exaggeration if I say that even educated Pelestinians have no choice but to succumb to Hamas because every voice raIsing objection is tortured ,killed and robbed of life.This story is of a ‘teacher’ who favoured Fata to Hamas and was severely tortured and killed by Hamas like many  rebel-of-Hamas pelestinians.Even today many Pelestinians stand arrested by Hamas for ‘suspicion’ of supporting Israel and Fata.An arabic news paper has confirmed the slaying of such pelestinians who were suspected to be involved to the slightest.

 

Have a look at story

http://uk.reuters.com/article/usTopNews/idUKTRE50S4M520090129?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

 

Israeli overkill and Hamas cruelty

Namaste,

Well other observer of genocides with inaction, and the pissing in the pockets of third world leaders has finally spoken or farted. The UN which is a complete farce and waste of time and money. The security council calls for a cease fire but they have no teeth….

Iran and Syria on one side and USA on the other…and that’s it.

I really feel for the Palestinians again, as Hamas sends them to paradise for political expediency—and Israel uses hammers to crack nuts….

 

Irvine

How to Defeat Hamas–Face Up to the Truth

An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question:

Hamas leaders claim that their understanding of Islam makes Israel’s survival a theological and moral impossibility. What’s your response to that? How should Israel respond? How should other Muslims respond?

 
To some extent we have all fallen prey to the overblown, semi-hysterical notion of a war on terror. As soon as ideology entered into the picture, truth suffered at the hands of the right-wing agenda. In the same vein, Hamas has become part of the competing agendas of Israel and the Arab world. The oil-producing countries could have alleviated the grinding poverty in Gaza and the West Bank using a fraction of their oil profits annually. Instead, the Palestinian conflict has been cynically used as a tool of anti-Semitism and a sop to the Arab street, which likes nothing better than an enemy to be inflamed against. For its part, Israel plays the card of being a beleaguered state threatened by remorseless enemies — many commentators notice how well timed Israel’s actions are with upcoming elections. A weak government in Tel Aviv likes nothing more than a show of force against the enemy to bring the nation to its side.
 
Several truths have been buried beneath these crisscrossing agendas.

1. Hamas has no power to destroy Israel.
2. Moderate Arabs and almost all Sunnis are opposed to Hamas’s politics.
3. The deeper issue is about Iran and its desire to become a dominant force in the Middle East by backing Shia extremists.
4. The Palestinian question will ultimately be solved through politics and economics, not war.
5. Tolerating the intolerant is a chronic problem in every society and every age. It must be managed as best as society can, the way it deals with crime and drugs, the other chronic ills.

Making Hamas into a unique demon is pure propaganda. They owe their slim power to two things: the untold misery of life in the Palestinian territories, which fans rebellion at its most extreme, and the sufferance of Israel and the Arab world, together who could bypass Hamas and reach meaningful accords without them. If both parties, with the help of the U.S., went on with the business of peace, Hamas would prove manageable in the short run and would disappear in the long run.

But no form of Islamic extremism will end until moderate Muslims stand up for their religion. The rich Arab countries feel that they can afford to bribe the terrorists to leave them alone, or to suppress them with secret police and the army should they get out of hand. Poor Muslim countries have little ability to cure the endemic poverty and ignorance that is the seedbed of terrorism. The only solution is long-term and self-generated. No one can extirpate extremism from without. The U.S. and its global allies can only police the problem for the foreseeable future.

It’s a sobering development in our own society that the religious right was able for almost thirty years to leverage its intolerance into power — and a deep shame that so-called moderate Republicans enabled them. So we cannot afford to be self-righteous in this matter. The burden of a civilized society is to tolerate the intolerant. There are limits, of course, and Hamas pushes against those limits outrageously. The undeniable fact is that Israel is seen by the entire Arab world as an extension of European imperialism. The West created Israel by fiat in 1948 without consulting the Arabs. That insult fuels long-held resentments about their own colonial past in many countries. For this there is no outside cure, either. Islam is being used to justify eternal grudges, and not just by the extremists.

In the end, every religion must tend to its own beliefs. Thirty years ago the West was caught off guard when the Shah of Iran, a symbol of modernized, Western-facing progress, was overwhelmed by the tide of anti-modernist, Western-hating reactionaries. We have never recovered from that shock, nor have we remotely solved the problem. The West marches on. India and China join in. But Islam massively holds out for an anti-future, and it can back up its medieval delusions with oil riches and suicide martyrs. This is the prevailing situation that’s being handled globally while we wait for Muslims to find their own tipping point in favor of a realistic tomorrow instead of fatal nostalgia for the past.

Washington Post

Gotham Chopra: Arab-Israeli rage – again

Somewhere in Tel Aviv right now there are a couple of dozen Israelis excitedly preparing for a New Years’ bash that sadly will be their last. Likewise in Gaza or the West Bank there are a couple hundred Palestinians that are huddling with their families, dodging Israeli missile attacks, but only temporarily because they are inevitable statistics destined to die.

How do I know?

Not because I am privy to any inside information or intelligence, but because I am simply a student of history and sadly confident that the failed leadership on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will do what they always do.

Let me guess: Hamas will react to Israel’s vicious missile attacks that have already killed hundreds by ordering a string of suicide attacks that will rip apart dozens of Israeli families. In turn, Israel will respond with even more massive aerial attacks that we are seeing now, leveling entire sections of the occupied territories, further insuring that we are looking at at least another decade with no basic infrastructure in the Palestinian homeland. We know what that means – low employment, fertile recruiting grounds for Islamic militants, and a glorious shithole for the Arab world to point toward as they galvanize another generation of angry impressionable youth to terrorize the West.

Here’s my take for what it’s worth. Will President Obama radically shift US foreign policy toward Israel, threaten to hold back aid, and force Israel to soften its militancy? Don’t count on it.

Should Israel be blamed for these attacks when they forewarned the Palestinians that they would come if Hamas did not cease the rocket attacks they have been launching (to no meaningful affect) for the last few weeks? Yes, they should. Not a single Israeli was seriously hurt by the irritating rocket attacks. Murdering a few hundred Arabs does not seem to be an equitable response. Just because you can does not mean you should. It is not okay to kill children that have no dog in this fight and then just shrug your collective shoulders and say it was not intended. It’s disgusting. Alas, since when has the state of Israel really cared about garnering criticism from the rest of the world?

Meanwhile there is Hamas, who knew exactly what Israel’s response would be to their quarrelsome rocket attacks and yet continued to goad Israel with them. In other words, Hamas – which continues to have unprecedented support amongst the Palestinian people – has no problems sacrificing those same innocent children they claim to be protecting. It’s even more disgusting than the Israelis gutless attacks.

So while Israel and the Palestinians continue to indulge in the same violence and viciousness that they have aimed at each other for the last few decades, the rest of us will have to pay. Why? Because so much of the Arab world has become so skilled at exploiting the Palestinians and using their struggle against Israel to justify their disgusting and callous terrorist attacks around the world. Think of the unfathomable wealth in places like Saudi and the Emirates and Dubai. Been to any of the above recently? Seen the new nulti-billion dollar resorts that are creeping up and crowding the skylines in their respective cities? These same places where today so many are enraged by the murder and mayhem in Gaza, how come they have not pumped some of those billions into construction and economic growth in Gaza or the West Bank? The only real long-term solution to this conflict is a sustainable economy and self-sufficiency within the Palestinian lands such that there is an alternative to just joining the hate-fest against Israel. And that can only come about with investment in infrastructure and education. Of course, that would mean the Palestinians may actually improve their condition and in doing so not make for the perfect straw man they have come to represent for the militant Islamic world. Even more disgusting.

More than anything, it seems that the Arab world needs to produce it’s version of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi that can smartly and gracefully lead their people to a dignified future. They can’t and shouldn’t rely on Israel to back off, let alone concede. Alternatively if that means more Arafats and Osamas, more Hizbollas and Hamas, expect an endless war in pursuit of an elusive peace.

Two Perspectives on Gaza

The NSP joins with the Committee to End House Demolitions in calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza and a return to negotiations with Palestinians, this time including Hamas, toward the goal of ending the Occupation. There is much truth in both Gideon Levy’s article attacking Israel’s actions in Gaza and in Bradley Burston’s critique of the critics of that attack. We at Tikkun have responded to our readers request to not deluge them with daily reports on the daily assaults by Israel on Palestinians suspected of being "militants" or Hamas activists that have been going on all through the past years, or on the cutting off of food and supplies to Gazans that has led to starvation for some, malnutrition for most-and all this while Israeli proclaims how it "left Gaza" (instead of acknowledging that it turned Gaza into a large prison camp). But because we didn’t give you that daily information, it can now seem as if the refusal of Hamas to return to a cease-fire, and its charges that Israel consistently broke the cease fire, seem extreme, and its return to minor shelling in the past few days (killing no one-because its rocket supplies are pathetic and incapable to reaching most Israeli cities, thank God!) seems to supply Israel with its justification for a renewed war (in which it killed over 250 men, women and children in one day of indiscriminate bombing raids of Gazan civilians). Yet the fundamental context of Occupation and massive Israeli power lends plausibility to Gideon Levy’s account of Israel as "the Neighborhood Bully." Yet on the other hand, Hamas’ reliance on violence, not only against Israel but against the more peace-seeking Palestinian Authority associated Palesitnians, must also be unequivocally condemned, even while saying, as Burston does, that it does n ot follow from such a condemnation that a new war is the appropriate response. Indeed, this is another voluntary war by Israel, and seems to be motivated more by dishonored Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak’s desire to not leave office without somehow erasing the memory of their failed Lebanon invasion two years ago-and since Gazans have none of the military capacities of Hezbollah, the Israeli politicians who chose to do this war two months before the election are likely to get higher esteem in Israel for this shooting fish in a barrel type war than they did when they faced enemies who had some way of defending themselves. From the standpoint of Tikkun, war is the wrong response. If Israel wants peace with Palestinians, it can achieve it by negotiations based on the Saudi peace initiative; it cannot achieve it by killing more Palestinian civilians or even by wiping out the current generation of Hamas activists. There is no path to peace-peace is the path. Ånd if Israel wants to destroy Hamas, it has one clear way: rebuild Gaza and the West Bank with a massive Marshall Plan type enterprise-adopt our Strategy of Generosity and renounce the strategy of domination. Trust in God,, trust in love, trust in kindness, trust in generosity-and give those strategies a ten year chance to work and Israel will get far more security than it will achieve by this latest violation of international law, Torah ethics, and common sense. I invite our readers to respond to this and to the statements below. I’m particularly interested in inviting the Reform, Conservative, Reconstrucitonist and Renewal rabbis on this list to see how many believe that trusting in God is a ridiculous strategy, that loving the stranger or the Other is irrelevant, and that all those good Torah values really have no relevance to "the real world." It remains the case that we who trust in the power of love and generosity, and hence in the message of Torah and the tradition of the Jewish people that "not by might, and not by power, but by my spirit , says the Lord of poiwer the Lord of hosts" are largely vilified by many of those who claim to be the current representatives of the Jewish tradition. And our response: stop being "realistic," because the realism of military force and power has not brought you peace-so how about trying a different strategy, a strategy of love and generosity and caring for others, and start by applying that to the Palestinian people.

-Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun.org

 

The neighborhood bully strikes again
By Gideon Levy

Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: "Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!"

Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation "Cast Lead" is only in its infancy.

Once again, Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality and international law.

What began yesterday in Gaza is a war crime and the foolishness of a country. History’s bitter irony: A government that went to a futile war two months after its establishment – today nearly everyone acknowledges as much – embarks on another doomed war two months before the end of its term.

In the interim, the loftiness of peace was on the tip of the tongue of Ehud Olmert, a man who uttered some of the most courageous words ever said by a prime minister. The loftiness of peace on the tip of his tongue, and two fruitless wars in his sheath. Joining him is his defense minister, Ehud Barak, the leader of the so-called left-wing party, who plays the role of senior accomplice to the crime.

Israel did not exhaust the diplomatic processes before embarking yesterday on another dreadful campaign of killing and ruin. The Qassams that rained down on the communities near Gaza turned intolerable, even though they did not sow death. But the response to them needs to be fundamentally different: diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire – the same one that was initially breached, one should remember, by Israel when it unnecessarily bombed a tunnel – and then, if those efforts fail, a measured, gradual military response.

But no. It’s all or nothing. The IDF launched a war yesterday whose end, as usual, is hoping someone watches over us.

Blood will now flow like water. Besieged and impoverished Gaza, the city of refugees, will pay the main price. But blood will also be unnecessarily spilled on our side. In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel’s overreaction.

The history of the Middle East is repeating itself with despairing precision. Just the frequency is increasing. If we enjoyed nine years of quiet between the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War, now we launch wars every two years. As such, Israel proves that there is no connection between its public relations talking points that speak of peace, and its belligerent conduct.

Israel also proves that it has not internalized the lessons of the previous war. Once again, this war was preceded by a frighteningly uniform public dialogue in which only one voice was heard – that which called for striking, destroying, starving and killing, that which incited and prodded for the commission of war crimes.

Once again the commentators sat in television studios yesterday and hailed the combat jets that bombed police stations, where officers responsible for maintaining order on the streets work. Once again, they urged against letting up and in favor of continuing the assault. Once again, the journalists described the pictures of the damaged house in Netivot as "a difficult scene." Once again, we had the nerve to complain about how the world was transmitting images from Gaza. And once again we need to wait a few more days until an alternative voice finally rises from the darkness, the voice of wisdom and morality.

In another week or two, those same pundits who called for blows and more blows will compete among themselves in leveling criticism at this war. And once again this will be gravely late.

The pictures that flooded television screens around the world yesterday showed a parade of corpses and wounded being loaded into and unloaded from the trunks of private cars that transported them to the only hospital in Gaza worthy of being called a hospital. Perhaps we once again need to remember that we are dealing with a wretched, battered strip of land, most of whose population consists of the children of refugees who have endured inhumane tribulations.

For two and a half years, they have been caged and ostracized by the whole world. The line of thinking that states that through war we will gain new allies in the Strip; that abusing the population and killing its sons will sear this into their consciousness; and that a military operation would suffice in toppling an entrenched regime and thus replace it with another one friendlier to us is no more than lunacy.

Hezbollah was not weakened as a result of the Second Lebanon War; to the contrary. Hamas will not be weakened due to the Gaza war; to the contrary. In a short time, after the parade of corpses and wounded ends, we will arrive at a fresh cease-fire, as occurred after Lebanon, exactly like the one that could have been forged without this superfluous war.

In the meantime, let us now let the IDF win, as they say. A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air yesterday, and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully’s strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him.


Falacies of their Left

by Bradley Burston

The first five are arguments of the anti-Israel left, claims which are, curiously, as tired as they are unflagging.

Leftist 1: Israel’s true motive in bombing Gaza, is genocide against the Palestinian people and extermination of their right to statehood.
Israel’s genuine interest in this campaign is strikingly similar to Hamas’ interest in firing scores of rockets into Israeli population centers:

Forcing a cease-fire on better terms than the one just ended.

For Hamas, this largely means easing Israeli economic sanctions against Gazans. For Israel, this centers on ending shelling by Qassam and Grad missiles and mortar shells. For both sides, this means a prisoner exchange, centering on Gilad Shalit and hundreds of jailed Hamas members.

Leftist 2: The Palestinians have no recourse but to defend themselves, and the makeshift rockets they fire are nothing compared to the world’s most advanced warplanes and munitions, which the IDF is using against them.

The Human Rights Watch organization has been unequivocal in condemning the use of Qassam rockets as a direct violation of international humanitarian law and the laws of war. The firing of Qassams and mortars against civilian populations also
constitutes collective punishment against hundreds of thousands of innocent Israeli men, women and children.

Moreover, the firing of Qassams began not as a response to the siege against Gaza, but as a marathon celebration by armed Islamic fundamentalist groups following Israel’s withdrawal of its troops and settlers from the Strip. To purposely add insult to injury, Islamic Jihad and other organizations used the ruins of settlements as launch platforms.

Leftist 3: All that Hamas is asking, is recognition as the democratically elected government of Gaza, and an end to the Israeli economic embargo. Were they to attain these goals, there would be calm on both sides of the border.

It is both unrealistic and dangerous to believe that Hamas has abandoned its clearly stated and often reiterated goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in all of the Holy Land, including all land claimed, annexed by, or in any way occupied by Israel.

Beyond that, Hamas has strong alliances with the Egyptian opposition Muslim brotherhood, as well as working partnerships with the Iran-dominated Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

Israeli restraint, when practiced, has been met with contempt and additional Hamas and Hamas-tolerated strikes against civilian populations.

Leftist 4: The Israeli blockade against Hamas is state terrorism and any means to fight it are legitimate.

There is every reason to believe that Israel’s economic siege against Gaza is misguided, but not for an essential cruelty, rather because Hamas taxes collected on the influx of goods imported through tunnels from Egyptian territory have subsidized and cemented Hamas rule.

Leftist 5: The world overwhelmingly sympathizes with the Palestinians against Israel, and unreservedly backs their struggle for independence.

In an era of global revulsion against radical Islamic terror, Hamas’ protracted program of suicide bombings, drive-by murders and shelling of civilian populations, coupled with its refusal to renounce violence, recognize Israel, or accept past peace agreements, coupled with its ideology of militant jihad, have drained the Palestinians of international sympathy and have, in fact, legitimized Israeli arguments of military self-defense.

Nothing has been more instrumental in harming the cause of Palestinian independence than Hamas, with its brutal take-over of Gaza in a war with brother Palestinians, and its frank efforts to build a large-scale regular army force in the Strip.

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