Saturday, January 31, 2009

Israelis and Palestinians: Who's David, Who's Goliath?

 

by Larry Elder

Much of the world buys the line — peddled by the Palestinians and the Arab Muslim world and, indeed, many Western countries — that paints Israel as the bad "Goliath" that "stole" the land from the "Palestinians."

Israel gave Gaza self-rule in 1994, unilaterally withdrawing the last of its citizens and soldiers from Gaza in 2005. Hamas, voted into power via free elections in 2006, fought and defeated their political and military rival, Fatah, to seize de facto control of Gaza in 2007. In the past eight years, Hamas has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel — 7,000 of them after Israel's 2005 withdrawal. With improved technology — reportedly assisted by IranHamas' rockets can now fly 24 miles before impact and explosion, thereby threatening, injuring and killing more and more Israelis living in southern Israel.

But why the "disproportionate" response by Israel? Reportedly, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed, some civilians. Set aside for the moment that Hamas' charter specifically calls for the "obliteration" of the state of Israel. And set aside the fact that the Palestinian "militants" fight in heavily populated areas, assuring, indeed encouraging (for PR purposes) civilian casualties.


We turn our attention to the "stolen" allegation.

Israel lies in the ancient Fertile Crescent's southwest corner, with some of the oldest archeological evidence of primitive towns and agriculture. Historians and archeologists believe the Hebrews probably arrived in the area in the second millennium Before the Common Era. The nation itself was formed as the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus, believed to be in the late 13th century Before the Common Era


The 12 tribes of Israel united in about 1050 Before the Common Era, forming the Kingdom of Israel. David, the second king of Israel, established Jerusalem as Israel's national capital 3,000 years ago. Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for a millennium.


After conquests by Babylonians, Persians and Greeks, an independent Jewish kingdom was briefly revived but Rome took control in the next century, renaming the land of Judea "Palestine" after the Philistines, historical enemies of the Israelites'.


Invading Arabs conquered the land from the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines) and attracted Arab settlers. Within a few centuries, the Arab language and Islam prevailed, but a Jewish minority remained. After a brief period of prosperity, waves of invasions and changes of control followed, including rule by the non-Arab empires of the Seljuks, Mamelukes and European crusaders, before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 until 1918.


The crusaders massacred thousands of Jews, along with Muslims, in the 11th century. But soon thereafter, European Jews established centers of Jewish learning and commerce. By the time the Ottoman Turks occupied Palestine in the 16th century, according to British reports, as many as 15,000 Jews lived in Safed, which was a center of rabbinical learning. Many more Jews lived in Jerusalem, Hebron, Acre and other locations. By the middle of the 19th century, Jews constituted a significant presence — often a majority — in many towns.


Still, in the 19th century, the Holy Land looked mostly like a vast wasteland. When Jews began to return to their "promised land" early in the 20th century, the desert literally began to bloom under their industry. Arabs followed, coming in large numbers for the jobs and prosperity.


After four centuries of Ottoman rule, Britain took the land in 1917 and pledged in the Balfour Declaration to support a Jewish national homeland there. In 1920, the British Palestine Mandate was recognized. A declaration passed by the League of Nations in 1922 effectively divided the mandated territory into two parts. The eastern portion, called Transjordan, would later become the Arab Kingdom of Jordan in 1946. The other portion, comprising the territory west of the Jordan River, was administered as Palestine under provisions that called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland.


The United Nations, in 1947, partitioned the area into separate Jewish and Arab states along meandering and indefensible boundaries. The Arab world, insisting that any Jewish claim to Palestine was invalid, staunchly refused to compromise or even discuss the subject.


When Israel's independence was declared in 1948, Arab forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq combined to crush the 1-day-old country. They lost. Still, Egypt occupied most of the Gaza Strip, and Transjordan (calling itself "Jordan") held most of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem. Neither Arab country gave the "Palestinians" a state.


The word "Palestinian," as employed today, is a relatively recent term. Until the end of the British mandate over Palestine, in 1948, all inhabitants of the area west of the Jordan River were known as "Palestinians." A Jewish person living in what is now Israel was a "Palestinian Jew." An Arab living in the area was a "Palestinian Arab." Likewise, a Christian was known as a "Palestinian Christian."


Israel won more land after a series of wars, land since returned or offered for return in exchange for peace. The Jews "stole" nothing.

Larry Elder

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, January 30, 2009

When Children Are Targets of Rocket Attacks.

 

by Josh Hasten

Imagine what life would be like living in a U.S. border town such as San Diego or Detroit, and every single day terrorists from Mexico or Canada, respectively, would indiscriminately launch one, two, five, 10 or even 50 short-range rockets at your home, office or your children's school, causing death and destruction. Imagine having to wake up each day and waiting for your bus, not at a bus stop, but inside a bomb shelter. Imagine being afraid to take a shower, go for a walk or to play in the park with your children. Imagine if you sent your kids to school every day and weren't totally certain they would return home safe and sound. For the residents of Sderot, a town in southern Israel located just a mile away from the Gaza Strip, these scenarios are not an imagination, but a reality.

Over the past seven years and counting, terrorists from Hamas-controlled Gaza have launched over 6,000 Qassam rockets at Sderot, killing 11 Israelis, wounding hundreds and sending thousands to the hospital to be treated for shock. While Israel has ordered its armed forced to carry out strikes against the Qassam-launching terror cells - pinpointed strikes nonetheless, to avoid civilian casualties - the rockets continue to fall almost unabated.

The goal of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations carrying out the attacks is clear - to rid Sderot of its Jewish population. While several thousand of Sderot's 24,000 residents have in fact packed up and left town for good, the majority of the residents are determined not to let Sderot become a ghost town. Some residents spend their days hunkered at home in claustrophobic bomb shelters, unwilling to risk their lives by moving around to other parts of the home, or even to set foot outdoors.

Unfortunately in Sderot, it is the children who are suffering the most, some living all of their young lives under the constant threat of the Qassams. In fact, children in Sderot who were born in or after 2001 have never experienced a normal life without having just 15 precious seconds to seek cover after hearing the "code red" siren, warning of an imminent attack. School teachers have the overwhelming responsibility of making sure all of their students are accounted for and in a safe place, every single time the siren goes off.

As a result of the attacks, according to the Israel Center for Victims of Terror and War, between 75 percent and 94 percent of Sderot children aged 4-18 exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Mental health experts in Sderot are reporting hundreds of cases of trauma-related symptoms including regression, which sometimes involves bed wedding by children years out of diapers. In addition, any loud sudden noise has the potential of sending a child into an uncontrollable panic.

The terrorists who carry out these attacks have taken pride in their efforts to harm and traumatize Israeli children. Israeli organizations that monitor terror group websites have indicated that the terrorists admit to deliberately increasing the number of rocket launches during school days and in the morning hours, when children are making their way to school. Parks in Sderot have become desolate and deserted, as parents are too afraid to send their children outside to play. The same holds true for the local pizza shop and mall. 

So how can this situation be resolved? There are many opinions in Israel's political establishment as to what more can be done to quell the rocket attacks. Many suggest a full army takeover of Gaza with the goal of weeding out Hamas and other terror cells, similar to Israel's successful Operation Defense Shield in Judea and Samaria in 2002, which greatly reduced the suicide bombings at the time. Whatever the government decides to do in the end, the most important matter at hand is protecting the residents of Sderot whose lives hang in the balance each and every day.

 

Josh Hasten
Copyright
- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Why Rafah tunnels are the key to defeating Hamas.

 

by Moshe Dann

Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip prompts two basic questions? How did Israel get into this mess? And how can Israel get out?

In focus now, finally, are the estimated hundreds of tunnels under the town of Rafah used to smuggle everything from sophisticated weapons, to drugs, prostitutes, food and gasoline. Allowing this little town and UNRWA-sponsored jihadist camps to operate as weapons suppliers and shelters for terrorist organizations has cost the lives hundreds, maimed thousands and jeopardized the entire region.

Rafah, a 4 km long Arab town that straddles the Egyptian-Gaza border, is the key to preventing Hamas from obtaining weapons and ending the conflict. Without the supply of ammunition and weapons, Hamas could not sustain a military confrontation, or fire rockets into Israeli cities. Why, then, has Israel, until recently allowed the tunnels to exist, why haven't they been destroyed completely, and when will it end?

Background:

In the wake of the Israeli-Arab war in 1948-9, Egypt created and occupied what came to be known as, "the Gaza Strip." Rafah was split along the international border established in 1906 between the Egypt and what was then called Palestine, dividing the town in two.

After conquering Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, Israelis built settlements in both areas; those in Sinai were destroyed when Israel returned the area to Egypt as part of peace agreements in 1979-80. Egypt, however, refused to accept responsibility for the Gaza Strip, or change the configuration of Rafah, leaving Israel holding this problematic bag.

The remaining 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip, with government backing, provided a strategic method for controlling the strip, and became an economic powerhouse, providing jobs and stability to local Arabs.

In the late 1980's, when the Arab "uprising" (intifada) against Israel began, terrorists in Gaza needed more weapons. Since Israel controlled the above-ground routes, tunnels were dug beneath the Egyptian border, their entrances hidden beneath buildings. Egypt did not restrict tunnel-building and smuggling; Israel was limited in its ability to detect the tunnels, reluctant to interfere with the clans that controlled the tunnel operation, since they provided money to PA officials and the local population.

Following the Oslo Accords (1994), Israel turned over control of Jericho and Gaza City to the PA as the first stage of a proposed withdrawal from all Arab-populated areas in the entire West Bank (Yehuda and Shomron), which was intended to comprise a Palestinian state.

From time to time, under Israeli control, the IDF tried to deal with the tunnel problem. Several solutions were proposed:

(1) Israel could have unilaterally turned its part of Rafah to Egypt, placing the entire town under Egyptian control. Proposed by then PM Menachem Begin to President Sadat, it was rejected by Egypt.

(2) a water-filled trench along the Egyptian-Gazan border (about 15 kms) through Rafah was rejected by Israeli "experts." This has not been explained publicly.

(3) removing Arab homes on the Israeli/Palestinian side, relocating its residents and arresting the clans that run the tunnels was also rejected.

According to an informed source, when Israel decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, in the summer of 2005, Gen. Amos Gilad was sent to negotiate with the Egyptians. He focused narrowly, according to the source, only on the number and deployment of Egyptian troops that would be placed on the border ostensibly to prevent smuggling, rather than structural changes, such as widening the corridor to make it more difficult to build the tunnels and relocating the population of Rafah.

Negotiations with Egypt, however, ended abruptly when then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Israel's decision to leave the Gaza Strip and the Philadelphia Corridor unilaterally, without pre-conditions. The reason for this fatal mistake has never been explained. Even those who supported withdrawal questioned the rush. Was it because of American/EU pressure? Israeli incompetence? Corruption?

A recent interview in Haaretz with head of MI suggests that reports were submitted to fit political, rather than security considerations.

The tunnels are big business, costing $100,000 to build -- the investment is recovered in a few weeks, or less. Directly supported and financed by the PA according to documents found by the IDF, the tunnels are controlled by criminal gangs with close ties to the PA, and provide a major source of illegal funding to PA officials and local residents.

To support the PA, the Israeli government often ignored the tunnel business, except for limited IDF action in 2004, which was a prelude to PM Sharon's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2006 ("disengagement").

In May, 2007, the Israeli Comptroller reported that the IDF failed to procure and develop technology to locate and destroy the tunnels. Only at the end of 2004, when terrorists mounted deadly attacks against IDF positions in the Gaza Strip was the issue taken seriously.

Although warned by military and security experts not to abandon the critical border area with Egypt, Sharon ignored the advice.

According to Israeli military sources, nearly all the tunnels are located in Rafah. A look at the map explains why: Rafah is the only town on the southern border, and therefore is the only place that can provide cover for the tunnels which stretch only a few hundred meters between the Egyptian and Gazan sides of the town.

The tunnels cannot extend beyond Rafah because the distance to the nearest town, Khan Yunis, is too far and the area is uninhabited. Without Rafah's cover, therefore, tunnel smuggling will end. And without the ability to resupply its weaponry, Hamas will either be forced to focus on economic and social betterment, or implode.

The problem of these tunnels can be resolved simply, cheaply, quickly and without violence: Egypt can remove the homes and build a security perimeter on its side of Rafah. A "closed military zone," with an entrance carefully watched would end tunnel smuggling.

Egypt has been playing a deadly cynical game -- allowing weapons to reach Hamas at Israel's expense. It's now up to Egypt to act responsibly.

Moshe Dann, a former assistant professor of History (CUNY) is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

Fatah vs Hamas: Be my brother or I'll kill you.

 

by Barry Rubin

There was an election on Hamas's mind when it cancelled the ceasefire with Israel, leading to the Gaza war. But it wasn't the February Israeli election but rather the January Palestinian non-election.


Four years ago, Mahmoud Abbas was elected leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for a two-year term. Two years ago, Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliamentary election. Hamas then made a coalition agreement with its rival Fatah, which previously controlled the PA. Shortly thereafter, Hamas staged a bloody coup and threw Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. But Fatah, and Abbas, still controls the internationally recognized PA and the West Bank.


While Hamas and Israel went to war, Israel and the PA remained at peace. The war had nothing to do with Israel-Palestinian relations as such but as a response to Hamas's extremism, rejecting not only any comprehensive peace agreement with Israel but even a real truce. How, then, does this triangular relationship figure in Palestinian politics?


Analysts have generally ignored the proximity of Hamas's decision for war to its impending January 2009 showdown with Abbas, Fatah, and the PA. It was widely predicted that Abbas was going to announce that, given the impossibility of holding new elections, he would simply extend his term for another year.


The event was expected to mark a major widening of the rift between the two groups. Hamas, it was thought, would declare Abbas a usurper, name its own candidate for "president," and the establishment of two rival Palestinian governments would be complete.


Even before that date, the PA had apparently enjoyed some real success — with Israeli help — in reducing Hamas's organization on the West Bank, ensuring any takeover bid there would be impossible, and making progress toward restoring order and even improving the economy.


Hamas no doubt saw choosing war as a way of upstaging Abbas, showing that it was the real fighter for Palestinian rights (principally the right to wipe Israel off the map), and even attracting support from some Fatah men who concluded that Hamas was macho and their own organization was too meek. In effect, it was a reiteration of traditional Palestinian politics in which those who take the most extreme action, evidence the greatest intransigence, and kill the most Israelis prove their credentials for leadership.


In practice, though, Hamas played into Abbas's hands. Now he has the perfect rationale to insist that elections cannot be held — which is, of course quite true--and he must remain as leader for the indefinite future.


Despite this, the relationship between Hamas and Fatah remain quite complex. It seems bizarre that Hamas set off a civil war, murdered Fatah men in cold blood, and kicked the group out of Gaza yet still most of Fatah is ready to forgive it. There is a strong likelihood that if given the choice, Fatah leaders — though not necessarily Abbas himself — would prefer conciliation with Hamas, which would make any peace with Israel impossible — to making a diplomatic deal with Israel and getting a Palestinian state.


From Israel's standpoint, of course, how can it negotiate any comprehensive solution with the PA when it cannot deliver half of the territory, people, and armed men who are supposed to be bound by such an agreement? Moreover, the possibility that either Hamas will overthrow Fatah at some future point or even that the two will join together in a new war against Israel rather puts a damper on Israeli willingness to make concessions.


The paradox of a simultaneous blood feud and brotherly love relationship between the two Palestinian organizations is explained by the supposed sanctity of being fellow Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians, coupled with a deep and abiding loathing of Israel.


Yet this also coexists with such deep Fatah anger at Hamas that interviewed Fatah cadre told reporters that they were glad Israel was trouncing Hamas in Gaza Strip. The solution of this paradox was for the official PA line to be: it's all Hamas's fault but there should be an immediate ceasefire and Israel is behaving in a beastly way.


This approach is strengthened by the fact that most Arab states and a surprising amount of the media (albeit in many cases the two are identical) are taking a similar line. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the smaller Gulf states and more — pretty much all the leaders except for Syria — hate Hamas. They see it as an agent of Iran, meaning a friend of their Islamist opponents.


If Fatah were more adept politically, it could benefit from this situation. A clever and active policy would combine an energetic campaign to unite the Arab states behind the PA, while persuading the UN and West that they should ensure its restoration to power in the Gaza Strip as the "legitimate government." The Fatah underground in the Gaza Strip would be reinforced and figure out some way (even with a little secret coordination with Israel) to oust Hamas and seize power at least in sections of the territory.


Yet both the PA and Fatah lack the will power and political skill to take advantage of such a promising situation. They are sitting back and hoping that someone — though not Israel — will give them back the Gaza Strip on a silver platter. The problem also includes their lack of charismatic leadership and failure to deal seriously with the problems that led them to being kicked out by the election: corruption, incompetence, and the failure to articulate a moderate vision of achievable peace with Israel.


No outside power, including Israel, and no amount of money can make up for the shortcomings of the PA and Fatah. Thus, it is much easier for Hamas to lose the war than for the nationalist forces to win.

Barry Rubin

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Always Trouble with the Jews

 

by Christian Ortner (Die Presse)

 

Why don't the Jews just let themselves be killed without resistance? After all, that's how it used to be!

 

On the whole, Austria displays rather a lot of sympathy for the Jews, at least as long as we're talking about dead Jews. For example, today practically nobody has anything against the Jews murdered in the concentration camps.

 

It's a bit different when it comes to Jews who are (still) alive. True, in an interview the Austrian Chancellor did condemn Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel, but in the same breath he also condemned Israel's efforts to robustly defend itself against these acts of terrorism.

 

Presumably this resolute on-the-one-hand/on-the other attitude is entirely capable of securing a majority. As long as Israel puts up, without showing any resistance, with a situation in which a considerable proportion of its population are forced to live in air-raid shelters in order to avoid becoming the victims of a Hamas rocket, we tolerate its behavior. If they defend themselves against these attacks, we put them on the same level as the Hamas terrorist. Why can't the Jews living in Israel let themselves be killed off just as noiselessly and politely as their parents and grandparents did at the time in the European extermination camps?

 

In contrast, as might have been expected, France showed more awareness of tradition and continuity than the stubborn Jews. While its Foreign Ministry similarly reprimanded Hamas and Israel equally, in the best Orwellian style thereby eliminating the difference between aggressor and victim, the Grande Nation made a masterly connection to the glorious days of Vichy, when proud France also had to put up with acts of Jewish insolence with impunity.

 

By way of camouflage for their behavior, all those who expect Israel to kindly allow itself to be bombarded with rockets, without making any trouble, have recently started using the argument of "disproportionality" of Israel's resistance, in other words the fact that clearly more Palestinians fell victim to Israel's resistance than Israelis to Hamas' terror.

 

It is an undisputed fact that the main reason for this is that Hamas sets up its rocket positions at schools, nursery schools, and hospitals, precisely in order to achieve this effect. Which is why the following question must be asked: Why do the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza not prevent Hamas from firing rockets at Israel from their schoolyards? After all, it is hard to imagine that Hamas would be able to continue carrying out terror against Israel for even one day in the face of resistance by its own population.

 

So far, there is no information about Hamas (elected by a majority) using force to install its rocket positions right in the middle of the civilian population. Hence the question of "proportionality" must also be asked differently. As long as the Palestinians tolerate Hamas firing rockets at Israeli nursery schools, from within their midst, from their houses and schools, they cannot really be considered "innocent civilian victims."

 

It is not Israel's resistance which is disproportionate, but the criticism of this resistance.

 

Christian Ortner is a journalist in Vienna.

 

 

Defending freedom's defenders

 

By Caroline B. Glick

Last week, the Israel Defense Forces issued an unprecedented directive. All Israeli media outlets must obscure the faces of soldiers and commanders who fought in Operation Cast Lead. Henceforth, the identities of all IDF soldiers and officers who participated in the operation against the Hamas terror regime in Gaza are classified information.

The IDF acted as it did in an effort to protect Israeli soldiers and officers from possible prosecutions for alleged war crimes in Europe. The army's chief concern is England. In England, private citizens are allowed to file complaints against foreigners whom they claim committed war crimes. Based on these complaints, British courts can issue arrest warrants against such foreigners if they are found on British territory and force them to stand trial. Over the past few years, a number of active duty and retired IDF senior officers were forced to cancel visits to Britain after such complaints were filed against them in sympathetic local courts.

Following the IDF's move, on Sunday the government announced that Israel will provide legal assistance to any IDF veteran prosecuted abroad for actions he performed during his service in Gaza. The legal assistance will include representation, investigation of the allegations made against veterans, attempts to have the charges against them dismissed and defense at trials.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who brought the decision before the full cabinet, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and their colleagues all asserted that by committing the state to defending its warriors, they were fulfilling their sacred duty to protect Israel's protectors.

Unfortunately, both the cabinet decision itself and our leaders' statements miss point.

*******

LAST WEDNESDAY, an appellate court in Amsterdam ruled that the Dutch lawmaker and leader of the anti-jihadist Dutch Freedom Party Geert Wilders must stand trial for the alleged "crime" of inciting hatred against Muslims with his short film "Fitna," released last year.

In "Fitna," Wilders juxtaposes verses from the Koran with Islamic terror attacks, mosque sermons inciting believers to murder non-Muslims, and proclamations by Islamic clerics that Muslims must kill all the Jews, conquer the world and subjugate non-believers.

The second half of the 15-minute film is devoted to Holland. It highlights the massive immigration of Muslims to the country over the past 15 years, and calls by Islamic leaders in Holland to kill homosexuals, subjugate women, stone adulteresses, and take over the country. "Fitna" ends with a call for Muslims to expunge Koranic verses commanding them to conduct jihad from their belief system, and with a call for Dutchmen to defend their country, their culture and their civilization from the rising current of Islam in Europe.

All the material presented in "Fitna" is accurate. And it is also explosive. But it is hard to see how it could be illegal. By presenting the material in the way that he does, Wilders is not demonizing Muslims, he is challenging - indeed he is practically begging - his countrymen to engage in a debate about whether or not his dim assessment of Islam is correct.

Wilders has been living under 24-hour police protection since a Dutch jihadist murdered filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004. Van Gogh was murdered after he released his short film "Submission," which described the misogyny of the Islamic world and the systematic terrorization of women in Islamic societies. Since then numerous Muslim clerics have issued religious judgments, or fatwas, calling for Wilders to be murdered.

Last month Wilders visited Israel and was the keynote speaker at a counter-jihad conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem sponsored by MK Dr. Aryeh Eldad. Speaking to a standing-room only crowd, and under heavy guard, Wilders argued that Israel is a frontline state in the global jihad. The war against Israel, he claimed has nothing to do with territory, and everything to do with ideology. Israel, as the forward outpost of Western civilization in the Islamic world, stands in the way of Islamic expansion. Consequently, he claimed, when Israel defends itself by fighting its enemies, it is also protecting Europe and the rest of the free world.

As he put it, "Thanks to Israeli parents who see their children go off to join the army and lie awake at night, parents in Europe and America can sleep well and have pleasant dreams, unaware of the dangers looming."

Unfortunately, the Dutch court's decision to prosecute Wilders for calling attention to the threat of jihad in Europe demonstrates that the Europeans aren't particularly grateful to their defenders. Indeed, they despise them. Films like "Fitna," and Israel's use of its military to defend its citizens from Islamic supremacists, serve to remind them of the growing threat they desperately seek to ignore. Consequently, Europeans embrace every opportunity to blame any messenger.

*******

THE RIPPLE effects of Wilders' indictment were immediately evident. In England, the British Muslim community mobilized to prevent his film from being screened in public. "Fitna" was scheduled to be shown at the House of Lords on January 29. But last Friday, with the threat of mass Muslim riots hanging thickly in the air, the House of Lords announced that it was cancelling the event.

British Lord Nazir Ahmed called the decision to prevent the thought-provoking, factually accurate film from being shown, "a victory for the Muslim community."

*******

WILDERS' INDICTMENT is a textbook example of blaming the victim. Wilders has been forced to live a miserable life for the past four years. He has no home. Security forces move him from place to place every single day. Since Van Gogh's murder, Wilders' entire life has become one long attempt to dodge the bullet permanently pointed at his head by radicalized Muslims in Holland and throughout the world. These would-be killers wish to see him dead not to avenge any violence Wilders committed, but rather, they believe he must die for doing nothing more than talking about Islam and how he interprets its message and meaning.

Needless to say, the Dutch Muslims Wilders caught on tape in Fitna calling for an overthrow of the Dutch constitutional order and threatening homosexuals have not been arrested for inciting hatred.

*******

dangers of radical Islam are hounded - first by Muslims - and then by legal authorities. In contrast, those who seek to intimidate and physically silence them are embraced by the states of Europe as legitimate leaders of their Muslim communities.

This dismal state of affairs, where jihadists are supported and their victims are oppressed, is true not only of people like Wilders who actively fight radical Islam's encroachment on European freedom. It is also the case for people who are victimized solely on the basis of their ethnic identity.

At the same time Wilders and people like him are forced into hiding, Jews throughout Europe find themselves assaulted and under siege not because of anything they have done, but because they are Jews.

Incidents of anti-Semitic violence in Europe reached post-Holocaust record highs over the past month. Jewish children have been violently attacked in France, barred from schools in Denmark, and harassed in England, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland and Germany just for being Jews.

In Britain, Muslims have now taken to entering into Jewish-owned businesses and kosher restaurants to threaten the owners and patrons - just because they are Jewish. Synagogues have been firebombed and defaced. Calls have been issued in the US Muslim community on the Internet for Muslims in America to similarly intimidate Jews by entering into synagogues during prayer services and condemn worshippers for supporting Israel.

Jewish men have been brutalized by Muslim gangs in Britain and viciously stabbed in France, just because they are Jewish. In Sweden, pro-Israel demonstrators were attacked with stones by Muslims this week. Even in the US, anti-Semitic violence and intimidation has reached levels never seen before. And in almost all cases of anti-Semitic violence throughout what is commonly referred to as the free world, the perpetrators of the violence and intimidation are Muslims. They attack with the full backing of non-Muslim multiculturalists as well as neo-Nazis. The two groups, which are usually assumed to be at loggerheads, apparently have no problem converging on the issue of hating Jews.

And in almost all cases of anti-Semitic violence, the Islamic identity of the attackers has been de-emphasized or obscured by the media and by politicians, or used as justification for their crimes. In France, for instance, from the way government officials talk it, would be reasonable to assume that a dozen Muslim teenagers were provoked to viciously beat a ten-year-old Jewish girl by the IDF's operation against Hamas in Gaza.

*******

 

HERE THEN, we arrive at the point that the cabinet missed on Sunday when it passed its decision to commit the government to providing legal assistance to any IDF veteran who runs afoul of European legal authorities during vacations in London and Brussels and Oslo and Stockholm. The point that was missed is that in the event that IDF veterans are charged with war crimes, even the best attorneys will be of little use. These veterans will not be defendants at legitimate trials. They will be the victims of politically motivated show-trials.

In an interview with Ha'aretz on Friday, Wilders claimed rightly that the Dutch court's decision to prosecute him was not a legal decision but a political one. And if he is convicted, his conviction won't be based on evidence. It will be based on the desire of the Dutch multiculturalists to make an example of him to appease the radical Muslims who seek his death, and intimidate any would-be disciples into keeping their mouths shut.

So too, if IDF veterans are indicted for war crimes, they won't be prosecuted based on facts. They will be persecuted to advance the prosecutors' and judges' goal of appeasing their homegrown radical Muslims who seek the destruction of Israel and who violently attack anyone perceived as supporting Israel.

Given this bleak reality, the steps that Israel must take to defend its citizens are not legal but diplomatic. Israel should announce travel advisories against all states that enable the conduct of show trials against its citizens. And it should threaten to cut off diplomatic ties with any country that seeks to persecute Israeli soldiers. Only by recognizing and pointing out what is really going on will Israel have any chance of protecting those who defend our freedom from Europeans who have decided to surrender to Islamic intimidation rather than protect their own liberty.

Caroline B. Glick

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The Battle of Gaza : Stirring New Dilemmas

 

 

by Raphael Israeli

 

Apologia

 

When a country decides to go to battle , it is usually in order to resolve, once and for all, issues that she was unable to settle by diplomacy, reflecting on the old adage that war is the continuation of diplomacy. So, after years of regular shelling of Israeli villages from Gaza, and thousands of Palestinian bombs, shells and missiles which landed on its citizens and caused substantial  human, emotional and material damage,  did the Israeli government,  propelled by the upcoming elections in Israel, finally decide to venture into this long-awaited operation which the Israeli electorate widely supported.

 

            The operation, in addition to the immense human sacrifice its occasioned, mainly caused by the  Hamas strategy of using its own population as human shields,  without any regard for schools, hospitals and mosques, and assured that Israel  either would not  dare to assault those places, or they would bear the blame for attacking civilians and humanitarian and holy places, showed the ultimate primacy of “strategic “ considerations, over the human cost they entail. Backed by HIzbollah in Lebanon, which embraced the same tactics in 2006, and supported by Iran, which had  triggered both confrontations,  these Islamic  movements have in fact set themselves apart from  civilized conduct.

 

            The Gaza battle, far from  deciding the war and the further  management of the Islamo-Jewish, the Arab-Israeli and the Palestinian-Israeli rift, has on the contrary  complicated it by altering fundamentally  those basic equations which have hitherto been taken as permanent truisms: The  57- member Muslim world, which had always regarded the existence of Israel as an affront to it, has split into two rival parties in Gaza – the supposedly “moderate” who opposed the Hamas, due to the dangers it poses to their own regimes, and the vitriolically “extremist”, who would battle to the finish against Israel and much of the world;  the Arab world, as it is encompassed by the Arab League, has never been so divided and so chaotic, as reflected in the two parallel, and rivaling Arab Summits that took place in Kuwait and Doha;  the Palestinian front, has in fact two separate territories (the West Bank  and Gaza), and two separate governments (PLO and Hamas), rendering any negotiation with the Palestinians to seek any settlement, unfeasible.

 

Leading up to the Gaza Operation

The battle of Gaza did not grow in a vacuum, it is the fruit of the mindlessness of several  successive Israeli governments, beginning in 1993, who  foolishly, though innocently, believed that the Palestinians were ready for self-government, and that if they were accorded territory and economic development, peace would descent on earth. Both assumptions were proven erroneous, but the Israeli leaders who harnessed all their and their country’s future to that na├»ve assumption, were never decent enough to acknowledge in public their fatal mistakes and to move away from the  purview of the people which had elected them, but has awakened and changed course well before them, while they continue to lead him into the impasse, or  drifting uncontrollably into the abyss.

 

           The failure of the Oslo Accords (1993) has not only demonstrated that the Palestinians were as yet unprepared for agreement with Israel,  as evidenced by the Camp David  Conference of 2000  in which  they refused to sign the finality of the conflict even when Israel offered to withdraw for 97% of the territory; but that they are also unprepared for self-rule. They declared free elections in 2005, but when the Hamas was elected, they never accepted it in reality. When Hamas took over by force Gaza, it actually established its own hegemony there, against the wish of the President, Abu Mazen, whose rule, just like the rule of all other Arab dictators, lacks legitimacy, especially after his term of office expired officially (January 2009) and no new elections were set or agreed upon. In the meantime,  his rule in the West Bank, which in fact does not extend beyond Ramallah,  can be maintained only due to Israeli security  preponderance in the area which prevents the Hamas from taking over. In confrontations  between PLO and Hamas in Gaza, PLO people were murdered, jailed, humiliated and even thrown to their death from the high rise buildings in Gaza, recently built for slightly different purposes.

         After the failure of  the 2000- Camp David  Conference, but still entrenched  in the  illusions of Oslo, that by making further concessions to the Arabs, they might mellow and come to settlements with Israel, Israel adopted a series of unilateral withdrawals, first  from Lebanon (2000), which allowed the HIzbullah to build up in preparation for 2006, and then from Gaza (2005), which allowed the Hamas takeover and the creation or a forward Iranian base, sponsored by the victorious HIzbullah and under its guidance and tutorship. Oslo was a dead corpse by then, but those defeatist governments of Israel continued to claim that they were negotiating a settlement with the Palestinians. Which ones? Not those who held the effective rule in Gaza and showered on Israel 7000 missiles since  the latter erroneously and naively ceded territory to them, and  continued to deny to  Israel the right to exist and to terrorize its citizens;  but those who had no actual power, but continued nonetheless to demand that Jerusalem be divided, and that the Palestinians be accorded the right of return, namely to inundate Israel with enough Palestinians to drown it.

 

            The Israeli elections of February 10, 2009 broke that deadlock, as the attraction  of the right kept mounting among the electorate, and as the Egyptians, the Saudis and  the Jordanians, who had much to fear for their flimsy governments which lack legitimacy, were pushed into a coalition of convenience with the Israelis, in the face of the immense, and growing, popularity of Ahmadinajad and  Nasrallah in the Arab street in general.  But once the date was set for those elections, the main parties in power, who  fear the loss  of the reins thereof,  suddenly “remembered” that Hamas, which had been smuggling through tunnels and  accumulating illegal weapons, prohibited under the Oslo Accords, in whose name they were operating,  and shelling Israel without reprieve in the past few years, was threatening the Israeli public who could no more  accept the repeated, but vain,  promises of the Israeli government that it would move “soon”, and that the move had become “inevitable”. Never had  the terms of “soon” and “inevitable” been so hollow. Until election was announced.

 

The Gaza Operation and its Aftermath

Hamas, learning from the HIzbullah experience, turned Gaza into a civilian trap; its children, journalists, foreign workers and  innocent citizens into its shield; the foreign institutions, mosques, schools and hospitals into  arms depots;  Gaza’s underground into  a complex  web of tunnels which began or ended inside houses; and innocent looking  apartment buildings into deadly booby-traps. The tragic death of so many non-involved civilians and the destruction of so many non-military targets, did not emanate from  the will of the Israeli army to devastate them, but from the  necessity to put an end to that rain of missiles which were  launched from those houses. Israel  set out to destroy  depots of illegally smuggled in weapons, of ammunition and missiles, and the launching pads of the missiles, and if they happened to have been placed, purposely, by the Hamas ,  in mosques, schools or apartment buildings, then those were hit and destroyed.

 

           Many media reports tried to evaluate the relative guilt on both sides of the divide by measuring the  tragic amount of devastation, coming to the conclusion that since many more Palestinian casualties lost their lives and much more Palestinian real estate was demolished, that meant that Israel was more guilty, acted “out of proportion”, and was even accused of genocide. It was as if after the German blitz on London and Coventry, the British would be blamed for flattening the city of  Dresden on Vallentine Day, 1945, killing more “innocent” citizens” and destroying more  real estate than did the Germans to   Britain. To kill more does not make one a culprit, and to be killed more does not make one innocent. The judgment has to be made by the volume of fire and by the intention of its shooters. When the Hamas pointed those 7000 missiles to Israel, they were intended to fall in the center of cities and towns, and to kill whomever was hit. Most fell in the open, by chance or failure, not by design, and when their targets were hit, they found the citizens, who had been trained by frequent alerts, in the shelters which were built and prepared to protect them.  That made the minimum of casualties and of damages.

 

               In Gaza, all the millions were invested in weapons, not one penny for shelters, no provision was made to alert people or warn them. Hence the inordinate  disproportion between the parties, not the evil of the one and the innocent victimhood of the other. Quite the contrary, those who claim innocence were guilty of a-priori sacrificing their civilian population, and those who are accused of wanton destruction, took all the necessary  precautions and risks of battling from house to house, instead of simply razing entire areas by artillery and air-force without taking any risk. A reporter of  Al-Arabiya  was caught on tape as telling her editors on the telephone  from the rooftop of the foreign correspondents building in Gaza that she saw a missile fired from the lower levels of the building. But her station only reported the denial of the foreign correspondents association to the effect that their building was hit by design of the Israelis. The same went for the UNRWA building.

 

               On the inter Arab front, all Arab countries duly fulfilled their duty of siding  with Gaza and harshly criticizing Israel, though many of them  in fact supported the defeat of the Hamas. Even Egypt, who did the most to show understanding to the Israeli operation,  because if successful, the Hamas would threaten the regime of Cairo by linking directly, or by example, with the Muslim Brothers of which it is one wing,  in public reproached to Israel its “arrogance” and “aggression” against the Palestinians. European media, as usual,  were impressed by the  body count and the intensity of the devastation, and made no attempt to reason about the meaning of “disproportion”. Should have Israel  launched 7000 missiles blindly into Gaza, for the “proportion” to be redressed? Then there would be no Gaza  to lament  about anymore.

 

            On the Islamic front, which also , predictably,  blamed Israel without investigating the root of the crisis, Turkey, which has been in the last decade a close ally of Israel, joined the  noisy cacophony of blind condemnation of Israel, without even attempting to inject any sense of balance into the picture. Israelis were shocked about that “crisis” in the previously “friendly” relations. It was convenient for them to forget, that since the elections of 2002, Turkey had fallen in the hands of Islamists, and that even their more important alliance with the US has known strain since. The Erdogan- Gul government did not move to downgrade the relations with Israel only because of the military who would not permit it. But as this government gathers popularity and years, it has been gradually putting its own men at the help of the supreme command of the army, to make sure that what happened in 1998 to their predecessor Necmettin Erbakan, who was removed from power and his party de-legitimized,  should not recur to them. In the meantime, they get more and more intimate with Iran, Syria, the Palestinians, an alliance not likely to improve Israel’s standing in their eyes.

 

          On the international front,  and in spite of the last  minute “defection” of Condoleeza Rice at the Security Council, and the intense hypocrisy evinced by Bernard Kouchner and his colleagues at the UN and in Europe, Israel did get a backing by the US and Europe  to stand fast and to deny Hamas both a recognition and a possibility to rebuild its power, by imposing an embargo on weapons  to Gaza. But at the same time, since they put an emphasis on “Humanitarian aid” to the Palestinians, they understand that concrete and iron  which are sent to Gaza for restoration, can and will be channeled by Hamas to building  fortifications; food sent  to civil population, will be confiscated by the gunmen there for their own use, as they have already done; fuel will be deviated for making weapons and other military uses. And therefore, under pressure to respond to “humanitarian needs” of the Palestinians, Israel will end up, once again, handing the Hamas the tools to build or to facilitate the smuggling of more weapons which will be directed against her.

 

        There is  much hypocrisy around regarding this Hamas “crisis”. When Israeli cities and towns were shelled for years, no one bothered to protest or to call for a security council  discussion. Far more serious than the  Gaza crisis has been the disaster of Darfour. But since that regards an Arab country, no Arab or Muslim regime , not even  civilized Europe which has been channeling billions to the Palestinians for years without seeing any positive  outcome , have raised their voices. IF those moneys had been invested in settling Palestinian refugees, instead of handing  them over to corrupt leaderships, something may have been achieved. The  current inadequate treatment of the problem by Israel, the Arabs and the West  prods us to safely predict that very soon we shall all be in square one again.

 

Raphael Israeli

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Share It