Living in the Shadow of the Next War

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
William Tecumseh Sherman

The recent tension between the US and Iran is being watched very closely here in Israel, because it could well be the trigger for our next war.

I am convinced, to my very great sorrow, that this war is unavoidable. The 130,000 rockets and longer-range missiles under Iranian control in Lebanon will not be left to rust away, nor will those in Gaza. Our enemies – Iran and its proxies, as well as Hamas and the PLO – are not interested in peace.

Iran has spent billions and struggled for decades in its attempt to become a nuclear power, and to establish regional hegemony. We are not only a bone in the throat of their Islamic sensibility, we are physically in their way. They won’t give up without a fight, and they believe they can win.

US President Trump thinks he can break them with sanctions. But the Iranian regime doesn’t care what happens to its civilian population. If they are willing to shoot their people down in the streets (and they have demonstrated this), they will let them suffer. At some point they will be on the verge of going nuclear, and when that happens, someone will have to stop them. It is not a question of if there will be war. It is a question of when – and of precisely what will set it off. And once it starts, no matter who starts it, Israel will be in the thick of it.

It will almost certainly be a multi-front war. Iran has its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. The Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and Judea/Samaria have demonstrated, over and over, that they do not want a state of their own. They want our state, without us. No amount of money will persuade them to become other than who they are. By themselves they do not have the strength to challenge us, but in the context of a general conflagration, they will take the opportunity to cause as much damage as possible.

Numerous experts have predicted that this will be a terrible war, for our soldiers, for our home front, and for our enemies. Indeed, the home front has been mostly spared since our War of Independence in 1948. This time, our enemies – understanding our lack of strategic depth and believing that they can break both our spirit and the support system of the IDF – will concentrate on bringing the war to us, with rockets and ground invasions.

Hezbollah has the ability to launch thousands of rockets per day, far more than can be intercepted by Iron Dome or our other antimissile systems. In 2006, when they had far fewer and less sophisticated rockets, they threw the northern part of the country into a panic. Degrading their launch capability will take time, and in the meantime rockets will be exploding into our homes. Those who have safe rooms or access to nearby shelters are lucky, but many Israelis – like my daughter – live in older buildings which do not have such facilities. Large-payload missiles may bring down whole buildings, in which case safe rooms will be little help. Missiles that can hit densely populated urban areas will create mass casualties.

We know that both Hamas and Hezbollah plan cross-border incursions to kill and kidnap Israelis, maybe even to capture smaller communities. IDF ground forces will be spread thin, and they will have to worry about terrorist “operations” by Arabs from Judea and Samaria as well.

The sheer inevitability of this war weighs on us. We know it will happen; we are expecting it from week to week. Although people here don’t talk about it often, it’s never far from their consciousness. We know that some of our friends and neighbors, maybe even ourselves, will not survive. Others will lose their homes and all their possessions. We know too that numerous young soldiers and some older reservists will not come home alive to their families.

There will be funerals, and horrendous wounds. As is often said, in Israel all the soldiers are everyone’s children. It will tear us apart. It will make us angry. It won’t however, cause us to flee the country, as our enemies hope.

Will we prevail? We’d better. Otherwise Israel, and ultimately the Jewish people, will disappear. Losing the war would be a disaster on the scale of the one in the year 70 CE, and I doubt that the conditions exist for our people to survive another two-millennium diaspora.

I think the outcome will depend primarily on one thing: leadership. In 2006, we could not defeat Hezbollah, because the team of Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, Tzipi Livni, and Dan Halutz was incompetent from top to bottom. Do we have the leaders that we need today? Do we have a Churchill to stiffen the home front against a blitz, or officers who will take the initiative like Arik Sharon did when he crossed the Suez Canal in 1973? We’ll find out.

We have the desperation – and advantage – of having no place else to go. Our enemies cannot imagine how much firepower is available to the IDF, and if it is unleashed they will not be able to stand against us. In its recent operations, the IDF has gone out of its way to minimize enemy civilian casualties. This next war might begin that way, but at some point Hamas and Hezbollah’s use of civilian infrastructure as a shield will leave us no other option but to put that concern aside.

When relatively accurate rockets with large payloads start striking industrial targets and big cities, for example, the launchers in Lebanon will have to go – regardless of what they are built next to or inside of. It’s pretty certain that most of southern Lebanon will end up a slag heap, and parts of the Gaza strip will meet the same fate.

If thousands die in Israel, tens of thousands will lose their lives in Lebanon and Gaza, or anywhere else from which our enemies fight. If the Arabs of Judea and Samaria rise up, their communities, too, will be razed, and they’ll find themselves homeless, another nakba.

War, it’s well-known, is hell. This one will be, too. But we must ensure that it will be a bigger hell for our enemies than for us.

Sometimes it takes a war to change things that otherwise would be frozen forever. WWI changed the face of Europe and the Middle East, brought down the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Czarist empires, gave freedom to some peoples and a new kind of slavery to some others. WWII facilitated the destruction of Europe’s Jews, the creation and use of atomic weapons, and the establishment of a Soviet empire in Eastern Europe – but also ushered in the United Nations (not an unmixed blessing), the American civil rights movement, the end of the British Empire, and the creation of the State of Israel.

Maybe, in addition to a new regime in Iran, the next war will bring about the end of Hamas and the PLO, and even the creation of the long awaited Palestinian state – in Jordan, where it belongs.

Posted in Iran, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, War | 6 Comments

An Essential “Privilege”

Gideon Levy is an antisemitic misozionist* who is paid for his poison by an Israeli newspaper. He is a truly despicable human, but sometimes he’s useful as an exemplar of the extremist Israeli please-cut-my-throat Left.

Recently he wrote,

If Israel is a democracy, it’s a state of all its citizens. There is no democracy that isn’t a state of all its citizens. From America to Germany, all are states of all their citizens. If they weren’t, to whom would they belong? Only to their privileged citizens. There’s no such thing as a democracy that belongs only to the privileged of one nationality.  The state belongs to everyone. A regime that segregates and discriminates is called apartheid. There is no other name. … A state of all its citizens isn’t “the slogan of the enemy,” as the new foreign minister [Yisrael Katz] put it. It’s the heart and soul of democracy.

It’s a cold day in Hell when our dear Gideon doesn’t refer to Israel as an apartheid state, but usually he is referring to the fact that Palestinian Arabs living in Judea and Samaria cannot vote. This time he seems to be inspired by an even more fundamental fact, that Israel is defined – by its Declaration of Independence and now by its Nation-State Law – as a Jewish state. Since there are Arabs living here – even though these Arabs have the right to vote and hold office, as well as all the other usual civil rights – Israel cannot be a democracy.

The question wouldn’t even have come up if Israel had followed the example of every one of the Arab states, who expelled all of their Jews after 1948. But Ben-Gurion and the other founders thought a Jewish state could have Arab citizens. Perhaps that was a mistake, but unlike the Arabs, they weren’t racists.

What exactly is Levy’s “apartheid?” There aren’t Jewish and Arab beaches or drinking fountains (although there are Muslim-only water faucets on the Temple Mount), or laws against “race mixing” as there were in racist South Africa. There are separate school systems, but this is because the Arabs insist on it (there are also separate secular, national-religious, and Haredi school systems). As a result of affirmative action and other programs, the number of Arab students in Israeli universities has grown 78% in the last 7 years (under the “hardline” Likud government led by the “racist” Binyamin Netanyahu). In the fields of medicine and education, the number of Arab students is proportional to their representation in the overall population. Go to an Israeli hospital and you will probably be treated by Arab doctors or nurses. Go to the pharmacy and you will almost certainly deal with an Arab pharmacist.

So if they have civil rights and educational opportunities, what don’t they have?

In a word, ownership.

Zionism is Jewish nationalism, but it is more than that. It is based on the historical imperative that a Jewish state is essential to the self-defense of the Jewish people, and to their survival as a minority in a hostile world. This requires that certain rights be granted exclusively to the Jewish People, such as a right of return, and the right to determine the cultural character of the state, including national symbols, language, holidays, and so forth. This is precisely what is affirmed in Israel’s Nation-State law, which – I’m absolutely certain – Israel’s Supreme Court will challenge in the near future.

Does this make Jews “privileged citizens” in Levy’s words? Perhaps, but it is a necessary response to the “privileged” condition of the Jewish people for the last several millennia, which included demonization, persecution, expulsion, degradation, and industrial-scale murder. It is a necessary response, even in countries where Jews are well-treated, to the forces of assimilation. The elimination of this “privilege,” which in practice is essential to survival, is indeed the objective of our enemies, and “a state of its citizens” their slogan.

* A person infected by an extreme, irrational hatred of the Jewish state (pronounced mis-OZ-yuh-nist). See also misoziony (mis-OZ-yuh-nee), the disease itself.

Posted in Israeli Arabs, The Jewish people, Zionism | 1 Comment

The Department of Anti-Israel Studies

I met Prof. Cary Nelson on Monday. Nelson, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Illinois, is former president of the American Association of University Professors, and the author of many books and articles on diverse subjects.

Nelson showed us his new book, Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, & the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State. I only looked at it for a few minutes, but Elder of Ziyon has a complete review here. I want to write a little about the academic world that makes such a book necessary.

It’s an attempt to push back against the remarkably ubiquitous participation of Western humanities and social-sciences university faculty in the process of demonization of Israel. It’s axiomatic that today’s college students are tomorrow’s political and business leaders, and the fact that most Western universities are monolithic anti-Israel environments today is not encouraging for the future.

The most important part of the book is a detailed refutation of claims made by Judith Butler, Steven Salaita, Saree Makdisi, and Jasbir Puar, against Israel. With the exception of Salaita, whose work is so substandard and his public invective so vulgar that he has been unable to find and keep an academic position, they hold highly prestigious jobs and have no difficulty publishing whatever they write in the best venues. Butler and Puar, in fact, are professorial rock stars, with numerous awards and accolades to their credit.

Nelson, who is old enough to have grown up in an era in which standards of scholarship were adhered to – facts were checked before being cited, articles were carefully vetted before being published, candidates for academic positions were evaluated on scholarly rather than political criteria, and there was an implied commitment to seek objective truth – found himself shocked by the total collapse of academic standards in the humanities and social sciences. This was particularly evident in connection with the Israeli-Muslim conflict.*

Jasbir Puar, for example, has recently published a book called The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (2017), in which she accuses Israel of deliberately and sadistically starving, maiming, and stunting the Palestinian population in order to achieve its “biopolitical goal” of breaking the bodies and spirit of the Palestinians to end their “resistance.” One reviewer called the book a modern “blood libel,” similar to the medieval accusations that Jews murdered Christian children in order to use their blood to make matzot.

Puar gave a lecture at Vassar College in 2016 in which she claimed that Israel poisons Palestinians with lead, uranium and phosphorus, and that the IDF shoots Palestinians in order to harvest their organs – (something which, Nelson pointed out, is medically impossible). She threatened to sue anyone who released an audio recording of that speech.

Nelson explained that Puar’s factual assertions about stunting and starvation can be debunked quickly enough by a high school student armed only with access to Google. It’s possible to show that the nutrition of the Palestinian Arabs is among the best in the Arab world, and has greatly improved since 1967 (only to decrease somewhat in areas under Hamas control since 2007). Her claim that the IDF aims at the legs of rioters or terrorists is true – but only insofar as these are cases in which the alternative would be to shoot to kill. For most of her accusations, there is simply no evidence of any kind. Puar simply makes up the facts she needs, and then “explains” them with a vicious fantasy of Jews as Nazis.

Puar is published by the respected Duke University Press. Nelson wondered why their editors were unable to check any of her factual assertions. He wondered why her similarly defective papers passed the peer review required by scholarly journals, and why she has been granted honors, academic tenure, grants, fellowships, and other prestigious and remunerative perquisites despite her penchant for inventing facts and using them to support a superstructure of demonization of a nation and its people.

I do not wonder.

Some years ago, the late Barry Rubin told me about the collapse of any semblance of scholarly integrity in his field of Middle East Studies. He noted that when he was a student, he could expect his teachers, some of whom had political views diametrically opposed to his own, to evaluate his work on its merits. But then – due to endowments and donations from the Arab nations – the complexion of the departments changed, with candidates being selected primarily because of their political views. The brilliant Rubin, author of countless books and articles, had difficulty finding a university position.

This is now the case in many departments of humanities and social sciences, although not necessarily because of Arab money. It is particularly bad in departments of Women’s or Gender Studies (Jasbir Puar is a professor in such a department at Rutgers University), Ethnic Studies, and so on, but it is not limited to them. The explanation is threefold.

First, the postmodern understanding of the nature of reality that has become common outside of the hard sciences (where you might blow up the lab if you make up your own facts), allows the subordination of reality to narrative. Every identity group – especially oppressed minorities – sees the world differently, and no window on the world is more true than any other. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and one man’s truth is another’s lie. What is real is the narrative, and it is acceptable to create “facts” as long as they support it.

Second, the introduction of the (somewhat corrupted) concept of intersectionality, in which every member of an oppressed group must support the struggle of every other such group, seems to encourage every “victimized” person to speak out on behalf of other victims, regardless of their expertise. For example, Jasbir Puar, as a “queer” “woman of color,” apparently has the right to speak – even to write books – in support of the Palestinians, even if there is no reason to believe that she actually knows anything about them.

Third, and most important: while the postmodern destruction of the scholarly enterprise has affected other subjects of study, nothing else has been the focus of so much concentrated negative energy as the alleged ill-treatment of the Palestinians by Israel. No other stateless people has so many (or indeed, any) cheerleaders in Western academe as the Palestinian Arabs, and no state besides Israel – not even North Korea – has been so vilified by so many faculty members so much of the time. There is something very familiar about this. It’s always about the Jews, isn’t it?

For whatever reason, the viral memes of misoziony (extreme, irrational hatred of Israel, pronounced mis-OZ-yuh-nee) and bad old antisemitism have a solid foothold in Western universities, where ground zero is the identity studies departments.

Cary Nelson’s careful exposure of the lies upon which some of the more vicious attacks rest is a necessary corrective. But it’s only a starting point, and I’m not optimistic. One answer to Nelson’s question about why nobody at the Duke University Press fact-checked Jasbir Puar’s manuscript could be that where Israel and the Palestinians are concerned, the facts don’t matter. Why bother checking them when everyone knows that Israel is a sadistic oppressor of Palestinians, even if some of the details are wrong?

* The usual expressions, “Arab-Israeli conflict” or “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” are too narrow and do not capture what I see as its true nature: the religion-based rejection of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the Middle East by almost the entire Islamic world, including the Arabs but also the Islamist regimes in Turkey and Iran.

Posted in Academia, Jew Hatred | 1 Comment

Tikkunism Begets Misoziony

לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם

To be a free nation in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem
Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel

This is not a book review. The book that I won’t review (because there are some books that even I, who read Mein Kampf through to the end, won’t read) is a collection of essays edited by Carolyn L. Karcher called Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation. Those whose transformations are described in the book include some of the best-known contemporary Jewish misozionists (extreme Israel-haters, pronounced mis-OZ-yuh-nists), like Rebecca Vilkomerson and Cecilie Surasky of “A Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP), the communist Joel Beinin, JVP Rabbis Alissa Wise and Brant Rosen (see his nakba day prayer here), Ariel Gold of Code Pink, historian Hasia R. Diner, and 33 other Jews who hate the Jewish state.

If I’m not going to even read the book, why mention it? Because the author provides a perfect example of how some progressive Jews have combined a new religion – they insist that it is Judaism, but I think it is sufficiently different to deserve a new name, Tikkunism – with some historical distortions, in order to claim that Judaism and Zionism are incompatible.

Here is how Karcher presents the argument in a recent interview:

As I see it, ethical precepts lie at the heart of Judaism: pursue justice, love the stranger, love your neighbor and repair the world. Obviously, all of these ethical precepts are violated by Zionist policy toward Palestinians. And so, what happens when Judaism is married to (or hijacked by) Zionism is that the protection of the Jewish people, the physical survival of the Jewish people, takes precedence over the religion’s ethical teachings.

Karcher admits that she was brought up in a “completely secular [family],” but she is not wrong that Jews are told to “love the stranger [ger] for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19), and to “pursue justice” (Deut. 16:20). These commandments mean more or less what the Tikkunists say they mean, although probably “ger” does not include people living outside of the land of Israel, or those who have demonstrated violent enmity to the people of Israel. We are not required to love Amalek or the Philistines or Hamas.

“Repairing the world” (tikkun olam), on the other hand, is not found anywhere in the Bible, and in traditional Judaism is associated with an arcane Kabbalistic concept that has nothing to do with social action. Modern liberal Judaism has taken the words and created a new meaning for them: working to create a more just society, where “just” is always defined in liberal or progressive terms. So, for example, it would be tikkun olam to participate in a demonstration to make it easier for people to vote, but it would not be tikkun olam to try to tighten safeguards against voter fraud.

Tikkunism is a faith that imbues the ethical commandments of the Torah and the admonitions of the prophets with a political slant, adds a wholly invented idea of tikkun olam, ignores the “ritual” commandments like Shabbat and kashrut, and – most important in this context – ignores the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

Karcher mentions “the heart of Judaism.” Most traditional Jews would say that is the Torah. The Torah is many things: it is the source of all the commandments, including the ones that the Tikkunists observe and the many that they don’t. But above all it is a narrative about a relationship, a triangular one between Hashem, the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel. This relationship is even logically prior to the commandments, because they constitute the conditions for maintaining it. Every traditional Jew understands and feels this.* The Land of Israel is truly at the heart of Judaism, from which Karcher and the Tikkunists would remove it.

Tikkunists don’t feel a special connection to the Jewish people, either. They tend to see all humanity as one people, and to believe that improved communication would solve all political problems. They dislike most nationalism, and make no exception for Jewish nationalism (although for some reason they seem to approve of Palestinian nationalism). I am not sure that Tikkunism is as much a religion as a political movement, but I will give them that. I think, though, that calling it “Judaism” is a stretch too far, even though many of those who profess it are Jewish.

Karcher’s version of Tikkunism also seems to include the strange idea that a people should commit national suicide in defense of its Tikkunist “ethical precepts.” This idea isn’t found in traditional Judaism, where the preservation of life overrides all other commandments, except in a few very special circumstances. Yes, in my opinion, the physical survival of the Jewish people is more important than loving the Palestinians.

In any case, the historical analysis presented by Karcher is wrong. “Zionist policy” according to Karcher is “settler colonialism,” in which European Jewish colonialists, with the assistance of arch-colonialist Britain, dispossessed an “indigenous people” and took their land. The truth is that the actual aborigines of the land of Israel, the oldest indigenous culture who have been present here since biblical times, are the Jewish people. Rather than facilitating the dispossession of the Arabs, the British helped the Arabs try to dispossess the Jews. All this is supported by archaeological and historical evidence.

The claim of the Palestinian Arabs that their ancestors have lived here for thousands of years is false. Most are relatively recent immigrants to the land (19th and 20th centuries). There was no historic Palestinian polity for Jewish sovereignty to displace – the last indigenous polity in the land was the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty in the second century BCE. The flight of the Arab refugees from the new state of Israel was a direct result of the attempt of the Arab nations and the Palestinian Arabs to commit another genocide against the Jewish people. Their nakba was of their own doing. Today’s “plight of the Palestinians” is the fault of their leadership and the “friendly” leaders of the Arab states, not the Jews.

The State of Israel is far more than an expedient to ensure the “physical safety of the Jewish people,” as Karcher says, although it is that in part. It is the legitimate expression of Jewish self-determination in our historical homeland. It does not violate the ethical principles of Judaism; indeed, it represents the highest aspirations of traditional (not Tikkunist) Judaism, as expressed in the Torah.

Not all Tikkunists are misozionists. But Tikkunism enables Jewish misoziony. It makes it possible for Jews who claim to be motivated by religious considerations to treat Israel as “just another foreign country,” to support BDS, knowing that its objective is the destruction of the Jewish state, and even to identify with Palestinian groups that are engaged in terrorism against Israel.

One of the goals of the psychological warfare campaign that is being waged against Israel is to flood the media with accusations of vicious mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs, so as to demonize her and reduce external support for her when she is attacked. Without a connection to Israel, Tikkunists are especially susceptible to this, and find it natural to criticize Israel for her supposed moral failure, and claim a religious motivation for doing it.

Jewish misoziony is dangerous, because the Jewishness of the speakers grants them authority that a non-Jew would not have when speaking about the Israel-Islamic conflict. Organizations like “A Jewish Voice for Peace,” to which Karcher and several of her essayists belong, specialize in exploiting their members’ Jewishness as a weapon against the Jewish state. JVP supports BDS, a Palestinian “right to return,” has defended convicted terrorists, and in an arguably antisemitic campaign, has promoted the idea that Israel is to blame for American police officers shooting unarmed blacks.

Judaism doesn’t need to be “reclaimed” from Zionism, and certainly not by inventing an attenuated pseudo-Judaism. The natural condition of the Jewish people, the condition that Jews aspired to for thousands of years of painful, unnatural, diaspora, is to be a free people in in their own land – as is written in the national anthem of the Jewish state, Hatikvah.

* Satmar Hasidim and other anti-Zionist Haredim don’t deny the relationship. They just think that a legitimate Jewish state in the Land of Israel could only be established by the still-to-come mashiach, or that the secular aspects of the state are sinful, etc.

Posted in The Jewish people, Zionism | 2 Comments

What it Would Take to Really Solve the Gaza Problem

A Hamas-related “military unit” called “Sons of al-Zawari” has been responsible for launching countless incendiary and explosive kites and balloons across the border into Israel for more than a year. Recently they even threatened to fill the condoms they use for balloons (apparently they are made of strong latex, so they are less likely to break prematurely) with a payload of some kind of poisonous or carcinogenic material.

Mohammed al-Zawari, in case you are interested, was a Tunisian engineer who developed drones for Hamas; he was assassinated in 2016, probably by the Mossad.

Although it is not so newsworthy outside of Israel, Arabs from Gaza continue to start fires and try to kill people in southern Israel with these devices. Israel responds in various ways, like reducing the size of the area in the Mediterranean in which Gazans are allowed to fish (really). They have also “attacked” the groups launching the devices with drones – but news reports never say that any of their members are killed, so I presume they fire low-yield weapons near, but not directly at, the terrorists.

The “disturbances” at the border fence wax and wane, but they never stop. Every once in a while someone is shot trying to harm Israeli soldiers on the other side, or planting explosives to create a breach in the fence that would allow a large number of terrorists to cross over and attack local civilians. Israel is building a massive barrier, both above and below the ground, to protect local communities against attacks via tunnels dug under the fence, and from shooting – in a recent case, a man was killed when his car was hit by an anti-tank rocket fired from Gaza. This barrier will cost billions, but will not stop the balloons or kites, nor will it prevent rocket attacks as we experienced this May. Recently, Israeli officials said that Hamas has already replenished its stock of rockets after the recent violence.

In a sense, Hamas is already engaged in chemical and biological warfare against Israel. The border demonstrations often involve burning tires, with the smoke darkening the skies over Israeli communities, some of which are only a few hundred meters from the fence. Even more seriously, for years, raw sewage from Gaza has been dumped in the sea and into streams that flow in southern Israel.  Garbage is dumped and burned near the border. The Hamas government has received much assistance from international donors to solve its pollution problems, including the World Bank financing a large treatment plant in northern Gaza, which, due to a lack of electricity and other problems,  never became operational.

Of course the population of Gaza suffers far more than that of Israel from the air and water pollution. But Hamas has always allocated available resources primarily to its war effort, following the First Principle of Palestinism,™ which is that it’s always preferable to hurt Jews than to help Arabs (although, to be fair, they have built luxurious residences for their leaders).

The Israeli government has come up with various reasons (perhaps ‘excuses’ is better) for why the mighty Jewish state can’t stop the torture of the residents of the southern part of the country: Israel does not want to occupy and become responsible for Gaza; there is a more serious threat from Hezbollah and Iran in the North; among the balloon launchers and fence busters are “children;” and, an attempt to overthrow Hamas would result in numerous civilian casualties in Gaza – something that the “international community” would not permit.

The “solution” from our “hardline, right-wing” government – just ask the NY Times how “hardline” it is – is to find technological answers to all the threats: we’ll shoot down the rockets with Iron Dome or similar systems, we’ll finish the expensive over- and underground barrier, and we’ll put out the fires started by the incendiary balloons before they get too big. Then, when the Gazans understand that we won’t allow them to hurt us, someone (preferably not us) will provide the cash to solve their economic and ecological problems, and we can live peacefully side by side.

This is a recipe for failure, and it is already failing. With every Iron Dome launch costing the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars, and with Hamas and Islamic Jihad improving both the number of rockets they can fire in a short period of time and their accuracy, the task of intercepting them all becomes more challenging and more expensive. During the last exchanges of fire in May, several rockets did get through and resulted in a number of deaths. The trend is against us: it is easier and cheaper for them to improve their offensive systems than for us to strengthen our defensive ones.

Although various high-tech solutions to the low-tech balloons have been proposed, they are still setting damaging fires on a daily basis. While attempts to bribe the Hamas regime have from time to time reduced the number of balloons launched or the number of demonstrators at the fence, extortion has a way of becoming more expensive and less effective as time goes by. And we have no solution to the ecological crisis that Hamas is creating for its own population and for our common neighborhood as long as Hamas remains in power.

One goal of Hamas is to cause Israeli residents of the area to abandon it. So far, because of economic incentives to live there, the high cost of housing in other places, and apparently a strong feeling of community, this has not happened. But don’t kid yourself – if there is a successful penetration of the border in which there are significant casualties among Israelis, or if there are extended periods during which people must stay in shelters, there may be a point at which many of them ask themselves whether the disadvantages of living there don’t outweigh the advantages.

What we are doing is a combination of holding the line and kicking the can down the road, to violently mix metaphors. These are by definition temporary solutions. What is a permanent solution?

We could win a war with Gaza, and probably suffer relatively few casualties of our own, as long as we actually apply the “principle of proportionality” in the Law of War as it is intended. If the enemy is using otherwise protected targets like mosques, hospitals, schools, and civilian structures for military purposes, then we are permitted to attack as long as the collateral damage is proportional to the military advantage of doing so. In other words, if Hamas has located its main command and control center in the basement of a hospital in Gaza City, then we can bomb it, if doing so is an important enough military objective – which it certainly would be. We are permitted to fight against child soldiers, and human shields that are injured or killed are the responsibility of Hamas.

Part of winning such a war would include targeted killings of the upper echelons of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership. They are war criminals, responsible for the deaths of numerous Israelis, and they maintain a dictatorial and oppressive regime over their own population. They are our deadly enemies and even if their military capabilities were destroyed, would manage an insurgency against us. Killing them would send a message to their successors that they are personally responsible for events.

At this point, the hard part begins. We have eliminated the regime – who will be the new regime? Probably the civilian infrastructure will have collapsed. It is already collapsing economically and ecologically, public health is a disaster, and drug abuse is rampant. The educational system is a training camp for jihadists.

Should we dump it in the lap of the UN? If they agreed, they would be ineffective at best. At worst, they would invite operatives from hostile countries who would establish a beachhead. I am sure Erdoğan would love to help!

I think there is only one acceptable long-term solution: to depopulate Gaza. That is, to provide an exit for most of the Gazan population to emigrate to various parts of the world, including but not limited to Arab countries, Europe, Australia, and North and South America. Emigration would be financed by the UN with funds normally provided to Gaza by UNRWA. If cooperation of host nations could be arranged, this would probably cost less in the long run than continuing the international support for Gaza as at present. There would probably have to be a temporary Israeli administration set up to assure security during the process. At some point, Israel would officially annex the territory, and the remaining population – who would be vetted to ensure that they didn’t present a risk of terrorism – would be offered Israeli citizenship in a way similar to what was done in Jerusalem.

It’s doubtful that there would be many votes for this idea in the UN, if it were put to a vote. But there are probably two groups of people that would love it: Israelis, especially those that live in the southern part of the country – and Gazans.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, War | 1 Comment