Sunday, January 11, 2009

Israel and Gaza: Required Reading for Jan. 11

From the feedback I've been getting, people are really looking to understand what's going on, and in particular, to be able to respond to all the distortions that are out there. So, as we wait for the ice to melt this morning, some Israel-related material to look at:

On the local level, check out Rhonna Rogol's letter to the Advocate today .

For the latest, see

Israel: No More Restraint in Face of Rocket Fire - Lally Weymouth
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in an interview: "I don't like the term 'ceasefire,' since it looks like an agreement between two legitimate sides. At the end of the day, this is not a conflict between two states but a fight against terror." "In six months Hamas has changed the range of its missiles from 20 kilometers to 50 kilometers. This now threatens 1 million Israelis. We need to know that at the end of this military operation, we will not face the rearmament of Hamas." "We are not looking to reoccupy Gaza and we do not want to control the Palestinians....The only way to continue the peace process is not only by continuing the dialogue with their pragmatic leadership, but also by weakening those who are not willing to live in peace in this region." (Newsweek)

IDF YouTube Channel (Israel Defense Forces)

Jerusalem: "Diplomatic Window for Truce Still Open" - Roni SoferJerusalem sources said on Sunday that the window of opportunity for arriving at a diplomatic agreement for a ceasefire in Gaza will remain open for two to three more days. Israel is giving the diplomatic process a chance, but, barring any groundbreaking political surprises, there will be no choice but to expand the military operation. (Ynet News)

Liberate the Palestinians from Hamas - Bernard-Henri Levy (New Republic)
No government in the world would tolerate having thousands of shells falling on its cities year after year. The most remarkable thing in the affair, the true surprise, is not Israel's "brutality"; it is its restraint.
The fact that Hamas' Kassam and, now, its Grad missiles have caused so few deaths does not prove that they are inoffensive, but that the Israelis protect themselves, that they live burrowed under shelter: a nightmarish existence, with the sound of sirens and explosions.
The fact that the Israeli shells create so many victims does not mean that Israel is engaging in a deliberate "massacre," but that the leaders of Gaza have chosen to expose their populations, relying on the old tactic of the "human shield."
The Palestinians' worst enemies are the extremist leaders who have never wanted peace, have never wanted a state and never conceived of one for their people other than as an instrument and as a hostage.

IDF: 300 Hamas Men Killed in Ground Operation - Hanan GreenbergA senior IDF officer estimated Saturday that roughly 300 Hamas men have been killed since the army launched its ground incursion in Gaza. "Hundreds of people were killed in the various combat sectors," the officer said. "Some Hamas companies were simply wiped out. We also see cases of desertions." Earlier Saturday, the IDF killed Hamas' rocket chief in the Gaza City area, Amir Mansi. The senior officer said that shortly before his death Mansi clashed with his subordinates, who refused to come out of their hideouts. Mansi was left with no choice but to launch mortar shells himself, and was killed after being identified by the army. (Ynet News)

Hamas Rejects Diplomatic Initiatives - Ron Ben-Yishai The Security Council's resolution and the Egyptian-French efforts aimed at securing a stable ceasefire have failed thus far. The resolution is no more than a declaration aimed at appeasing Arab foreign ministers and showing that the United States and Europe are willing to mitigate the pressure exerted on them in the Arab world. The resolution's text contains no practical steps that would advance Israel's demand for a stable, long-term ceasefire. Hamas rejected the Security Council's decision and continued to fire rockets at Israel. The Egyptian-French mediation effort is also stuck because Hamas rejected it. (Ynet News) See also The Egyptian-French Plan to Bring Fatah Back to Gaza - James Bone and Martin Fletcher (Times-UK)

Palestinian Rockets Hit Beersheba Sunday - Yanir YagnaTwo rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday struck the Israeli city of Beersheba. On Saturday, at least 21 Palestinian rockets hit Israeli territory, wounding 14 people. Kassam rockets slammed into apartment buildings in Ashkelon, while the city center sustained another Kassam strike. Two Grad rockets were launched into Ashdod. (Ha'aretz)

In Defense of Israel - Editorial
The paramilitary overlords of the Gaza Strip use civilians routinely for protection in the knowledge that many will be sacrificed to Israeli airstrikes. Unlike the IDF, they deliberately target civilians with their own rockets. At least 70 such rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel in December. This was the criminal act that triggered the current crisis. Hamas has explicitly rejected a two-state solution. It exists chiefly to promote a nihilistic doctrine of self-defense through terror, and to foster a delusional pan-Islamism with no tolerance for unbelievers, let alone a Jewish state. The way to end this war is not to abandon Israel. It is to defeat Hamas. (Times-UK)

Arab Reaction to Gaza Conflict: Anger at Israel, But Scant Support for Hamas - David PollockEven after two weeks of fighting in Gaza, Arab officials are showing remarkably little support for Hamas, even as they express strong outrage at Israeli behavior and sympathy for Gaza's civilians. Contrary to common perception, no evidence exists that this situation is "radicalizing" or "destabilizing" the region, or even strengthening Hamas politically. So far, Arab reactions suggest a real opportunity to weaken, isolate, and ultimately marginalize Hamas. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

No Way Forward While the Hamas Hydra Lives - Amir Taheri
Hamas has forged an alliance with Iran based on President Ahmadinejad's strategy of "wiping Israel off the map." Israelis see Hamas as one of the two arms of a pincer, along with Iranian-funded Hizbullah in Lebanon, that Tehran is building against them. Israel's war aims are clear: end the rocket attacks, reopen Gaza to other Palestinian parties and eliminate the Iranian presence. This means creating a new status quo in which Hamas is not the dominant party in Gaza. Hamas is part of a pan-Islamist movement with global messianic ambitions. Creating a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank is not its aim. Hamas is the Arab acronym for "Islamic Resistance Movement," making it clear that the movement regards Palestine not as a nation in its own right but as a small part of the ummah, the community of believers. Cutting Hamas down to size would be good not only for Israel but also for the Palestinian people, more specifically the people of Gaza. (Times-UK)

Israel's Gaza Offensive Also Confronts Iran - Con Coughlin
While the Israeli military's immediate focus is to destroy Hamas' ability to terrorize Israel's southern border, the military campaign should be seen within the wider context of Israel's growing resolve to deal with the combined danger of Iran's continuing support for Islamic terrorist groups and its controversial uranium enrichment program. The Israeli government sees both of these as direct threats to the country's existence. The Israeli authorities are deeply alarmed by Iran's continued support for radical Islamic groups located on the country's northern and southern borders, both of which are committed to Israel's ultimate destruction. The Grad rockets provided by Iran mean that Hamas now has the capability to hit targets deep within Israel's heartland, a development that precipitated the Israeli government's decision to launch the current offensive in Gaza. Few in Israel are under any illusions that the main enemy they have to confront, whether it is in Gaza or South Lebanon, is Iran, and that the military offensive against Hamas is merely the start of a broader campaign to curb the Iranian threat. (Telegraph-UK)

From my colleague, Rabbi Jack Moline, on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Is Gaza A Just War?: War is very bad business. No one with an ounce of compassion wants to cause suffering to innocents, heartbreak to parents or terror to civilians. But when those without that ounce of compassion promote suffering, heartbreak or terror, then the only inappropriate response is no response at all.

Olmert: IDF closer to achieving its Gaza goals, will press ahead

European Jews plan series of rallies to counter anti-Israel sentiment across continent (Ha'aretz)

Thousands turn out for London, Manchester pro-Israel rallies
'It was important for Anglo-Jewry to show solidarity,' says participant; organizers: 20,000 at rally

IAF: Hamas tried to down plane with anti-aircraft missile Aircraft undamaged in weekend incident; 24 Palestinians reported dead in clashes in Gaza City suburb of Sheikh Ajleen. (JPost)
Families in the South find welcome respite from the war Thousands of Israelis have opened their homes.

An open letter to Annie Lennox For your information, this country is full of civilians, too.

Obama Won't Deal with Hamas (Jerusalem Post) The incoming Obama administration will not abandon President George Bush's doctrine of isolating Hamas, the Obama transition team's chief national security spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, told the Jerusalem Post. President-elect Barack Obama "has repeatedly stated that he believes that Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction, and that we should not deal with them until they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by past agreements," she said in a statement.

There's nothing better than first hand information: A listing of some good Israeli blogs can be found at


By Neal Ungerleider
(Not Quite) Live From Beersheva
I was going to write a post about how American students and expats in Beersheva were dealing with being under rocket attack. But apparently, a Grad landed behind my apartment complex a few hours ago.

Also see.. (from Jewcy)
How Liberals Arrive at "We Are Hamas"
by Josh Strawn, "WE ARE HAMAS," said protestors in London on January 3rd. Welcome to 2009, and to the thoroughly postmodern, ahistorical, depoliticized, world in which we live. And if the reader will kindly forgive the initial barrage of academic ... [Read more]
Tough Love: Moral Choices in the Gaza War By Haim Watzman, Making Difficult Choices in Wartime

Shmuel Rosner: The Two-Sided Argument Over Gaza

Material from Barry Rubin, of the Gloria Center, an Israeli think tank:

Ending The Gaza War: Choices, Not Solutions Last December, Hamas unilaterally ended its ceasefire with Israel and escalated the kind of cross-border attacks continually attempted even during the ceasefire. [more]

The Gaza War: A Small Part of The Nationalist Islamist Conflict In decades to come, when the Middle East's history for this era is written, the current war in Gaza will be deemed a skirmish in the great Arab-Persian; Sunni-Shia; Arab nationalist-Islamist [more]

The Rules of War and The Rules of Logic A major problem in debating about international issues nowadays is that it is so often hard or even impossible to respect our adversaries. It is quite possible to disagree with someone but [more]

January 11, 2009
Let's say that you love the Palestinians, are sympathetic to Arabs, and are indifferent to Israel.
Presumably, you would favor an immediate ceasefire to stop Palestinian suffering. But what else? What next? What is the solution from your point of view, from the Palestinian point of view?
The answer is: you should support the downfall of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. Let me explain why:...

Recent Quotes from Hamas:
“Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don’t recognize the State of Israel or its right to hold onto one inch of Palestine.”
Dr. Mahmud Al-Zahar, Hamas leader in Gaza, Jerusalem Post, August 18, 2005

Hamas Charter
“Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”

“For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.”

From a mother of a new Israeli soldier who was called up:

Our son finished his 17-month gruelling training in an elite commando unit last Thurs night. On Friday his unit prepared equipment, then returned home for Shabbat. He was called to report for service on Shabbat eve, before we had benched. This was the first time the phone had rung in our home on Shabbat that we recall. In the hour before he left, we read together some poetry, Coleridge and Blake, Wordsworth--romantics who defied social institutions with their embodied eros, and Mary Wollestonecraft's introduction to Vindication of the Rights of Women. I shiver with our embrace at the threshold of our home, at the threshold of shabbat and desecration, at the seam of peace and war.

We have not yet heard from him. It is impossible to imagine this, the most difficult thing that I have ever faced. There are no words to describe the anguish of killing and vulnerability, the mixture of Zionist conviction and empathy with suffering, how much humanity is compromised in the struggle for safety for our human life. The sheer fear for the life that we birthed, nurtured, raised, love beyond any comprehension.Bezalel is a builder of sacred vessels. May he and all of our dear ones speedily return to their life missions, bodies and souls intact.I share with you love in the midst of blood.

May we create peace.

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