Sunday, June 6, 2010

Taking Goldberg Up on the Need for More Seichel: 3 Creative Approaches to Ending the Blockade: Plus,other Sane, Centrist POV's

Much has been written this week regarding the Gaza flotilla, including Jeffrey Goldberg's take on the need for the greater exercise of Jewish seichel. The general consensus, at least in Israel, is that the commando operation may have been ill-conceived and lacking in more imaginative tactics, but the essential morality of the mission is largely unquestioned.
To outsiders, Israel's siege of Gaza may seem cruel and capricious, but to Israelis familiar with Hamas' charter calling for Israel's destruction, the organization's virulent anti-Semitism, its history of murderous suicide bombings, and the launching of over 10,000 Qassam rockets into Israeli civilian population centers, the blockade is understood as a safeguarding of Israeli human rights, the primary one being the "right to life."
Contrary to much of the media hype decrying a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the truth is there is no starvation or even a lack of basic amenities in the Strip. Thousands of tons of food, medical supplies and other goods cross into Gaza from Israel every week, as photos and eyewitness reports attest to. What most of the media chooses to ignore is that the primary purpose of the blockade is preventing weapons smuggling from Iran, Syria and other nations hostile to Israel. The fear is that if weapons are freely transported into Gaza, the inevitable next round of fighting will see Israeli population centers all over the country in firing range of the longer range Scud and Grad missiles.
Ironically, the self-proclaimed "peace activists" on board the flotilla, align themselves with the misogynistic, repressive, anti-democratic, anti-nationalist, theocratic thugs of Hamas. Not a peep is heard about the human rights of Gilad Shalit, who has languished for four years now as Hamas' prisoner, with no contact permitted with the outside world, including the International Red Cross. So much for their stand on universal human rights.

--Below, three very interesting and creative suggestions on how to either end the siege of Gaza, or at least to shed some light (and quell the stench of mendacity, in the case of Liat Collins' aromatic approach) on the gross hypocrisy and double standards. And below that, excellent assessments by centrist voices like Yossi Klein Halevi, Daniel Gordis, Michael Oren, Gil Troy, Yaacov Lozowick, Liat Collins, and others
david brumer

Time to Leave Hamastan to Its Own Devices - Aluf Benn
Israel should inform the international community that it is abandoning all responsibility for Gaza residents and their welfare. The Israel-Gaza border would be completely sealed, and Gaza would have to obtain supplies and medical services via the Egyptian border, or by sea. A target date would be set for severing Gaza's water and electricity systems from those of Israel. The customs union with Israel would end, and the shekel would cease to be Gaza's legal tender. This isn't pleasant, but it is legal. A sovereign state has the right to close its borders, especially when its neighbors are hostile and hate-filled. Israel would also make it clear that it will exercise its right to self-defense by inspecting suspicious cargo on the high seas in order to thwart arms smuggling. That is also how the Western powers behave: They search cargo ships for nuclear weapons and missile components. And if we are shot at from Gaza, we will shoot back - with intent to cause harm. We have already proved that we can do so. This is Israel's opportunity. Instead of arguing with the international community, it should tell it: You want Gaza? Fine. Take it. (Ha'aretz)

It’s not Israel that is curtailing freedom in Gaza. Liat Collins
But not all real war is fought on the ground, at sea or in the skies any more. It’s waged in cyberspace and the world media.When I mentioned to friends and colleagues my “think roses not guns” idea regarding the ships, it raised a smile, but, with more vessels on the way, I still think it’s worth considering. I suggested Israel physically block the boats so that it would be the so-called peace seekers who’d have to ram Israeli ships rather than the Israelis “attacking” them. And then, instead of sending soldiers rappelling down onto the decks – where it was clear that they would not be met with hugs – I proposed that Israel bombard them with pamphlets informing them about Hamas-dominated life in Gaza, the missile attacks on Sderot and the South and the fate of Gilad Schalit. And I suggested we should drop quantities of roses on the participants. Bloodshed would be limited to the occasional prick (you can interpret that any way you like) while the cameras would have a decent image to spread around the world – not more warlike Israeli soldiers. Roses – the sweet smell of non-defeat.I doubt it would have persuaded many on the ships to change their opinions of Israelis, but it would have prevented the sickening waves of international condemnation screened on Israeli TV alongside the footage of soldiers being beaten, stabbed and in at least one case thrown from the deck of the Mavi Marmara by the ostensibly nonviolent protesters.

Diplomatic Entebbe Yaacov Lozowick
Benjamin Netanyahu should make a phone call to Obama, and tell him that he's about to make the following short speech:
Israel recognizes that the blockade of Gaza is causing human suffering, and wishes to end it as soon as possible. Since there are no Israeli forces or citizens in Gaza, and the border between it and Israel is undisputed, all that remains for Israel to fully desist from any sort of intervention in the lives of the Gazans is that they not interfere in the lives of Israelis. This means they must return the single Israeli still in Gaza, Gilad Shalit; they must desist from any form of aggression against Israel; and they must pay the bill for whatever services they receive from Israel such as electricity or medical bills of Gazan citizens. Should these terms be met, the blockade will be lifted completely and immediately.
Israel now turns to the United States, to Turkey, and to the United Nations. We hereby announce that it is our urgent wish to lift the blockade from Gaza so as to enable the Gazans to live their lives independently of us. We will take this measure as soon as you can assure us of the following:
1. There will be no attacks from Gaza on Israel.
2. Imports of aggressive weapons into Gaza will not happen.
3. Gilad Shalit has returned to his family.
Israel has decided that Gaza is the test for the continuation of the peace process. Should the international community in collaboration with the Palestinians be able to deliver the three simple conditions described above, Israel will be eager to move forward in negotiations regarding the West Bank. If these three simple conditions cannot be met by the Palestinians, or cannot be guaranteed by the US, Turkey and the United Nations, how can Israel lower its defensive abilities on the West Bank?The onus is now on you: Gazans, the United States, Turkey, and the United Nations. Please hurry, since the populace of Gaza is suffering, and we wish to end our part of that suffering as soon as possible. As Prime Minister of Israel, it is my intention to repeat this short speech once a week, every Monday morning New York/Washington time, until we are able to lift the blockade.

Israelis Wonder: Has the World Lost Its Mind? - Yossi Klein Halevi (Wall Street Journal)
The U.N. Security Council urgently convenes to create yet another anti-Israel kangaroo court—even as the sanctions effort against Iran's nuclear program falters.

The assumption that Israel was right to stop the flotilla - and right to maintain its siege on Hamas-led Gaza - is largely a given in Israel. How, Israelis wonder, can pro-Hamas activists wielding knives be confused for peace activists?
What is pro-peace about strengthening Hamas' grip on Gaza and thereby reducing the likelihood of a two-state solution? For that matter, what is pro-Palestinian about condemning the people of Gaza to jihadist rule?
Most Israelis believe that their country, under Labor and Kadima governments, made repeated efforts to achieve a two-state solution, only to be rebuffed by Palestinian leaders.
Israelis watch with cynical astonishment as the UN Security Council urgently convenes to create a Commission of Inquiry - yet another anti-Israel kangaroo court - even as the sanctions effort against Iran's nuclear program falters. They contrast the banner headlines in the world's media over the flotilla with the barely noted news item of recent days that Tehran now has enough uranium for two nuclear bombs.
And as some self-described friends of Israel are publicly wondering whether the Jewish state needs to be "saved from itself," Israelis reciprocate the outrage and ask: Has the world lost its mind?

To The Free Gaza Movement
David Harris
According to your website, you describe yourselves as a "human rights movement."You proclaim: "We respect the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, tribe, religion, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship or language."And yet nowhere is there evidence of your respect for the human rights of Israelis, who've been the targets of massive human rights violations by Hamas and other terror groups operating freely in Gaza. Are human rights indivisible, or only permitted for the groups you preselect? Actually, you answer that question at a deeper level when you assert that: "We recognize the right of all Palestinian refugees and exiles and their heirs to return to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.... This is an individual and not a collective right, and cannot be negotiated except by the individual."In other words, not only do Israelis, who want nothing more than to live free of missile and mortar attacks from Gaza, have no such right, but the country in which they live has no right to exist. That's precisely what your formula means.

Why Does Israel Blockade Gaza? - Akiva Tor
Why does Israel maintain a blockade on Gaza and subject itself to international outcry? Simply put, we don't have much choice. After Hamas evicted the Palestinian Authority from Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007, rocket fire escalated, depopulating Israel's southern towns and kibbutzim. This forced us to supervise goods entering Gaza to prevent the import of rocket and munitions components. Eventually, we had to launch Operation Cast Lead to stop rocket attacks on our population. We now maintain a naval blockade in the hope that we won't have to fight again. Israel could invade Gaza and unseat Hamas by force, causing large casualties and much destruction in the process. Or Israel can isolate Hamas through a blockade until it changes its policies or is replaced by the Palestinian Authority. If we allow unfettered access to Gaza, it will become an Iranian-armed missile base on our doorstep, much as Lebanon has become under Hizbullah. Egypt's position does not differ greatly from our own. This is why we maintain a blockade. Our naval team, armed with paintball guns, planned to encounter political opponents, not a lynch mob armed with sharpened rods, knives and firebombs. The video evidence is unambiguous: When the force commander understood it was dead soldiers or bad PR, he made the only correct choice and authorized live fire. How did our intelligence fail? Maybe we read too many e-mails from peace activists. The moral selectivism of the Free Gaza Movement is troublesome. Why are they embracing Hamas - a movement that hates Jews, Christians, secular Muslims and any semblance of liberal values - rather than acting to strengthen the moderate Palestinian leadership? Where will their moral outrage be when a Scud missile shipped into Gaza lands in the center of Tel Aviv? The writer is the Israel consul general in San Francisco. (San Francisco Chronicle)

An Assault, Cloaked in Peace - Michael B. Oren
PEACE activists are people who demonstrate nonviolently for peaceful co-existence and human rights. The mob that assaulted Israeli special forces on the deck of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on Monday was not motivated by peace. On the contrary, the religious extremists embedded among those on board were paid and equipped to attack Israelis — both by their own hands as well as by aiding Hamas — and to destroy any hope of peace.
There are several curious aspects Israeli authorities are now investigating. About 100 of those detained were carrying immense sums in their pockets - nearly a million euros in total. Israel discovered spent bullet cartridges on the Mavi Marmara of a caliber not used by the Israeli commandos, some of whom suffered gunshot wounds. Also found on the boat were propaganda clips showing passengers "injured" by Israeli forces; these videos, however, were filmed during daylight, hours before the nighttime operation occurred. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (New York Times)

A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo - Daniel Gordis
In the last few days, Jerusalem has been blanketed by an unusual combination of humiliation and steely determination.
Yet, despite widespread criticism at the way the raid was conducted, few here doubted that stopping the flotilla was the right thing to do. Life in Gaza is unquestionably oppressive; no one in his right mind would choose to live there. But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; if anyone goes without food, shelter or medicine, that is by the choice of the Hamas government, which puts garnering international sympathy above taking care of its citizens. Israel has readily agreed to send into Gaza all the food and humanitarian supplies on the boats after they had been inspected for weapons.
Israelis are resigned to the fact that reason will not shake the world's blatant double standard. Our blockade of Gaza is "criminal"; yet nobody mentions that Egypt has had a blockade of Gaza in place since 2007, and has never hesitated to use lethal force against those trying to break it. Israel's geographic vulnerability means that we do not have the luxury of caving in to the world's condemnation. We will have to gird ourselves for the long, dangerous and lonely road ahead, buoyed by hope that what ultimately prevails will be not what is momentarily popular, but rather what is just. The writer is a vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New York Times)

Gaza Flotilla in Context
The end of the story is that the attempt to divert a Turkish ship from breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza was a fiasco. Israel churned out video and testimony showing that the boarding force thought it was facing a ship full of naive Western Hamas supporters intent on grandstanding, while in reality it was a ship of Turkish and Arab thugs eager to participate in the war against the Jewish State, as if this would somehow win us the case. It won't. It will of course be important widely to disseminate these videos and reports, so as to bolster the base (in which spirit, I'm linking to Solomonia who seems to have the single best one-post roundup, while Elder of Ziyon has a raft of interesting posts reflecting his trawling of Arab sources. Many others also did fine work). Yet let us not delude ourselves: the operation was a failure. It caused a tidal wave of condemnation of Israel; it may yet lead to harmful diplomatic fallout; and while it achieved the narrow goal of upholding the blockade, it strengthened the resolve of our enemies, and enhanced the distaste many observers feel towards us. It may have been justified, but it wasn't wise. Most people will ask what Israeli troops were doing on the ship in the first place, thus canceling the impact of all those videos, and they'll ask why there's a blockade on Gaza that anyone needs to break, thus accepting the basic premise of the flotilla's organizers. We need to step back and remind ourselves of the broad picture of the concentric circles at whose center we live.

Armed Pacifists Vs. Paintball Commandos Gil Troy
The strange and sobering world of the Middle East conflict has now introduced a new phenomenon, the armed “peace activist,” seething with hate, professing pacifism, masquerading as an humanitarian, pounding away at another human being with a metal pole. The American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Amid all the indignant denunciations of Israel, with the Jewish state’s flag being burned the world over, it is nevertheless possible to hold two, seemingly opposing, groups of ideas at once. First: Israel’s commando raid was ill-conceived and poorly executed. The tragic human casualties and Israel’s diplomatic catastrophe should have been avoided. And the party with the greater firepower holds the greater responsibility, especially when it is a democracy. But at the same time, these alleged “peace activists” pulling weapons rather than pulling a Gandhi should give us pause. This was not a humanitarian operation but a power play. And the violence that began – on one boat – was clearly planned and intentional.

Israel’s Strategic Failure
Walter Russell Meade
Outrage reigns as Israel writhes, impaled on the horns of the same old dilemma once again.
It is an old and familiar story. Pursuing its security in a hostile environment, Israel takes a risky and perhaps a radical step. Something goes awry and people are killed. Waves of international outrage flood the globe. In the Arab countries, the Islamic world generally and increasingly in Europe, there are demonstrations, denunciations and protests. The United Nations debates condemnations of Israel. The United States, almost alone, stands aside, negotiating to soften any Security Council resolutions and expressing sympathy if not always full support of Israeli actions.

It’s not Israel that is curtailing freedom in Gaza. Liat Collins
I have decided to join the Free Gaza movement. My first goal is to make sure that every last Israeli soldier leaves Gaza. Well, admittedly there is only one IDF soldier there, but it has been proving very hard to get Gilad Schalit out. If we can persuade Hamas to release Schalit four years after it abducted him, Gaza will be free of an Israeli military presence. This won’t be easy, especially because even the human rights activists willing to risk their lives to reach Gaza weren’t prepared to ask that Schalit be allowed to meet with Red Cross officials or receive a care package from his family.Next, I want the women of Gaza to feel free. I’m not known for either my feminism or my dress sense but I can see that a state in which Hamas heavies are forcing schoolgirls to cover up cannot be healthy. Again, I might be fighting a losing battle: Almost lost among the media coverage of the May 31 flotilla affair – with its nine fatalities – was an item on the five brave women journalists who quit Al Jazeera rather than give in to the Qatar-based network’s demands that they wear head scarves and forgo makeup
.Also, it is clear to me (although not apparently to the flotilla’s participants) that parents should be free to choose which summer camp their kids attend. Last month, masked gunmen torched the premises of a UN-run summer camp in Gaza and left behind three bullets and a note threatening to kill top UN aid officials unless they cancel activities for some 250,000 Gaza children. Hamas runs its own summer camps, which seem to stress militancy for boys and modesty for girls but are a little lacking in the arts and crafts department.
The writer is the editor of The International Jerusalem Post.


George Jochnowitz said...

The world has indeed gone crazy. Nobody ever mentions the Hamas Charter. Nobody refers to the eliminationist rhetoric of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. Nobody notices that the world's nuttiest country, North Korea, has joined in an alliance with Iran and Venezuela to fight Israel and freedom.

I am reminded of the years before and during World War II, when the New York Times was very careful to avoid the subject of what was happening to the Jews--despite the fact that Hitler was our enemy. Here's a review of mine:

Uzi Silber said...

and mainstream europeans have become so convinced that israel is a criminal state, they would be happy to see it dissappear.