Gaza: Two Israeli Opinions

These are today’s lead editorials in the two major Israeli newspapers that appear in English as well as Hebrew.


From the Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2009:

The UN's hollow Gaza resolution

There can be nothing more valid or just than Israel's security cabinet's pledge to press on with the Gaza operation regardless of UN disapproval. It is exactly as the prime minister's statement encapsulated: "Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens."

Friday's rocket attacks, following the UN Security Council's call for an immediate cease-fire, the statement continued, "only prove that UNSC Resolution 1860 is not practical and will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations."

Even before Israel's official reaction, Hamas responded with more violence to the council's resolution. The terrorists – who hold sway over Gaza, arm it to the teeth, cynically turn its inhabitants into human shields and indiscriminately rocket an ever-broadening range of civilian targets within sovereign Israel – rushed to reject the resolution. The endorsement the resolution won from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is irrelevant.

This, however, doesn't necessarily remove the onus from Israel – though in a fairer world it certainly should. The international community, which for over eight years calmly tolerated the targeting of ordinary Israelis, chose to speak out only when Israel finally acted to protect its populace. In that context, the council's alacrity to impose a cease-fire looks more like a bid to impede Israel's self-defense.

From Haaretz, January 11, 2009:

A big shudder on the wing

Around two weeks after the start of fighting in Gaza, there are only vague reports on Israel's success in damaging Hamas' terrorist infrastructure. On the other hand, statistics on the harm done to civilians accumulate. More than 800 Palestinians have been killed and around 3,000 have been wounded, an overwhelming majority of them from air strikes. According to UN figures, half of those killed are civilians, and half of the civilians killed are women and children.

Alongside reports on the number of dead and injured are reports of doctors being denied entry, the inability of aid groups to reach refugees and give them food, and a serious shortage of medicine and supplies. Blame does not rest with the Israel Defense Forces for all these issues. Hamas and other Palestinian organizations deliberately fired at a food convoy heading to Gaza because it sought to enter the Strip through a different crossing than what Hamas had desired. Hamas also liquidates its adversaries at home and is not ready to adopt the Egyptian cease-fire initiative. But these cannot serve as a pretext for a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians.

Yesterday Israel announced, by dropping leaflets into densely populated areas in Gaza, that it plans to escalate its military operation. This stirs concerns that, similar to what occurred during the Second Lebanon War, the reason for going to war has been forgotten and replaced by an unrealistic desire to topple the Hamas regime in the Strip. If a few years ago the public cried out in protest over the bombing of a home in Gaza and the statement by former pilot and chief of staff Dan Halutz, who said he felt a "slight shudder on the wing" when he bombed a house, today it responds indifferently, even satisfactorily, to the harming of Palestinians.

The lessons of previous wars, during which the IDF destroyed infrastructure targets and the homes of civilians but did not gain the quiet it had sought, have not been internalized. Israel's justified rationale in acting against rocket launchers has been increasingly damaged over two weeks. The legitimacy and understanding extended to Israel melt away amid the pictures of killing and ruin. Accusations of war crimes are already being bandied about in Israel. This war needs to move immediately to the diplomatic track and agreements that will end the fantasies and delusions of both sides.

3 thoughts on “Gaza: Two Israeli Opinions

  1. To me, the saddest thing about this conflict is that I could see myself, having been born either a jewish israeli or a palestinian in gaza, acting in more or less the same ways that both sides are currently acting. I would no sooner put up with the rocket attacks (as an israeli) than I would fail to fight for independence as a palestinian (though probably I’d be one of the ones getting shot in the knees for thinking that antagonizing the superior army was an ultimately pointless exercise).

    But whether or not I would be radicalized by the situation is almost irrelevant — I would in some sense be unable to condemn the actions of my countrymen, whoever they were. To think at any length about this conflict is to be confronted by your own basic instinct toward tribalism.

  2. Dear Christopher,

    Yours is one of the wisest and most important comments I have received. You may want to look at some recent entries on my other web site, http://www.melvinkonner.com:

    "Terror in India"
    "A Philosophy of Violence and Sacrifice"
    "Some Questions About Violence"

    and an older one called "More War," on the outbreak of the war between Russia and Georgia:
    http://www.melvinkonner.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=More-War.html&Itemid=46

    Also, a more extended review I wrote of the process of ethnic rivalry and conflict in biological perspective:

    http://www.melvinkonner.com/images/PDFs/articles/Hum%20Nat,%20Ethn%20Viol%20&%20War%2006.pdf

    Tribalism is a force of great and tragically underestimated power in the modern world.

    Thank you for writing,

    Mel