There is no escaping the troubling fact that President Obama’s policy on the Gaza conflict is intended to save Hamas from the natural consequences of its evil, in effect, to allow Hamas to survive to fight another day and murder more Jews. However Jewish Democrats seek to spin this, it is an overt and stunning betrayal of Israel. It would be fair these days to ask Obama the question made famous by President George W. Bush: “Are you with us, or are you with the terrorists?”
But Israel would be foolhardy to listen to a word that Obama says, even if he again shuts down American air traffic to Israel in an attempt to intimidate and weaken Israel. And if Israel embraces a cease-fire along the terms that Obama suggests (essentially, Israel ceases firing, while the enemy is allowed the launch of an occasional missile or rocket as well as the resumption of its tunnel-building) all the casualties would have been lost in vain.
The obvious reason is that halting Operation Protective Edge now would kick the can down the road for a few years, until the enemy re-arms and is even more powerful, with even deadlier weapons. Today’s Hamas is largely equipped with unguided rockets and missiles such that most fall in uninhabited areas. That necessitates a more limited use of the Iron Dome, which, for all its astonishing success and technological genius, is an expensive system to operate. Shooting down a $500 rocket with a $50,000 missile is imperative but not very cost-effective. The next war – if there is a next war – could involve Hamas missiles that feature guidance systems that could target specific areas and overwhelm even Iron Dome. Leaders must anticipate the future, not just see the past or present.
But there is a more compelling reason for seeing this mission to its natural conclusion – a death blow to Hamas – notwithstanding the Obama/Kerry perfidy. There is a convergence of factors here that might not recur for the foreseeable future. Egypt is allied with Israel (as are the Jordanians and the Saudis) against Hamas. Egypt has been extremely aggressive in recent weeks in closing off the southern border to Gaza, depriving Hamas of one avenue for importation of its weapons, and has killed numerous terrorists without, naturally, incurring the wrath of the international community or having to deal with the canard of “civilians.” (In Gaza, apparently, only civilians are killed, or so we are led to believe. Either there are no terrorists there, or somehow all bullets either bounce off them or are miraculously drawn to “civilians” as if by magnetic pull.) Both Israel and Egypt have an interest in eradicating the Hamas threat, a situation that could easily change in the coming months or years.
Additionally, the Israeli public has achieved a remarkable level of unity in support of the current operation. Upwards of 85% of the public support the mission. But if the past is any indication of the future, that will not endure. Already the insane left (given disproportionate attention by the dominant leftist media in Israel) is protesting the war, not fully grasping that the enemy means to kill them as well or perhaps, in their delusional state, preferring death to the moral quandaries that arise in any act of self-defense. This unity itself is a product of several phenomena.
From one perspective, sad to say, rockets on Sderot and environs for years did not properly trouble every Israeli. But now that missiles have targeted Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv and even as far as Haifa (not to mention Hezbollah’s missiles from Lebanon) it is clear that all of Israel could become Sderot, unless the dynamic is changed. Additionally, perhaps people are tired of having to fight the same battle every 2-4 years, against the same enemy but with increasingly-advanced weaponry. The sense that it can get worse – much worse – tends to focus the mind on real, not ersatz, solutions.
The soldiers of the IDF are anxious for battle, while mindful of the potential costs; morale is very high, and the sense of mission, of esprit de corps, is epic (which is why a premature conclusion will be deflating, and is also politically imprudent for Netanyahu). And the ever-increasing number of religious soldiers in the IDF – especially among the officer corps, where they are today probably a majority – adds a different dimension to the struggle. While secular Israelis limit the scope of the conflict and see it as eminently solvable, religious Jews tend to see Jewish history from a broader perspective. We realize that the enemies of Israel weren’t created in 2005, 1967, 1948 or 1897 – but from the moment we received the Torah at Sinai (Masechet Shabbat 89a). Today’s wars are just the ancient wars in a slightly different guise, and in some sense, they are indistinguishable. All these add up to a nation that is primed for victory – for the defeat of one of its arch enemies – victory for itself and victory for the free world over the forces of Muslim terror.
The question is: what does victory look like? How can victory be assured?
Undoubtedly, if the war is left to its natural conclusion, Hamas can be vanquished as a military and a political force within weeks. It has lost tremendous support in the Arab world, and few outside the world of radical Shi’a will mourn their demise. Of course, to the extent that Hamas represents an ideology of terror, hatred and violence it will continue to exist, as ideologies can only be destroyed if the entire infrastructure that sustains it is destroyed and its propagators eliminated (e.g., Nazism). But as a fighting force, military threat or political power, Hamas is on the verge of being devastated. Its leaders are in hiding, letting their electorate bear the brunt of the fighting, and their people know it – and know also that the Hamas leadership has embezzled that Western money that they have not squandered on their evil quest to destroy Israel. Most Hamas leaders – apart from Meshaal who lives in Qatar – have not lifted their heads from their bunkers or been heard from for weeks. They are ripe for defeat, a takeover of their territory followed by being ferreted out from their bunkers and tunnels. Victory means a Hamas surrender.
And then what?
Israel’s government has embraced the notion of demilitarization of Gaza, which is great if it could be implemented, but it can’t, so it is a pipedream. Under the Oslo Accords, none of the weaponry currently in possession of the Arabs in Judea, Samaria or Gaza is legal. They were all acquired in violation of standing agreements, so an additional agreement concerning demilitarization is futile. And as is now apparent, the main preoccupation of the Gazans is smuggling, and weaponry is just another entity that is smuggled. Another approach, even worse, sees the ultimate objective as destruction of the tunnels – as if the tunnels are the problem rather than the terrorists who use the tunnels and the killers who dispatch them.
One view gaining currency in Israel is that Gaza should be re-conquered by Israel (it would be for the fourth time since 1948) and its civilian administration assumed by responsible international organizations. That assumes, of course, that there is such a thing as a “responsible international organization,” a dubious proposition especially in light of UNRWA’s treachery and Jew-hatred that has now stretched over six decades. There are too many diplomats dressed in suits whose hatred for Israel and wishes for its demise rivals that of anyone in a kaffiyeh.
Consequently, I don’t believe that would succeed. The seeds would just be sown for the next conflict, under the same or worse leadership. There is only one solution that could work, change the entire dynamic in the Middle East and usher in an era of peace and prosperity (all right, perhaps the latter not right away). That is why it won’t happen.
In short, Gaza has to be depopulated.
The reality is that, despite Israel’s best and sometimes foolish efforts, the Middle East conflict is a zero-sum game. There are not enough Muslims who openly support the existence of a Jewish state in Israel, and there are too many Muslims who actively work, conspire and plan for its demise. “Land for peace,” which never made sense except within the echo chamber of the left, has run its course. Similarly, the “two-state solution” is anything but. It is clear to all but the willfully blind that any concession made to Arabs is simply the starting point of the next war and the next round of negotiations. The Arab world is divided between those who favor negotiating Israel into non-existence and those who favor destroying it into non-existence. That is the reality, sad as it is.
Nothing will change that. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria – and too many Israeli Arabs – harbor fantasies of Israel’s destruction, even when their own lives would suffer as a result (!). That is not changing. But start with Gaza. When Three Mile Island was contaminated by radioactivity in 1979, hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated for their own safety and well-being. One year earlier, several thousand people had to be resettled when the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls was discovered to be sitting on chemical wastes.
Gaza today (for decades, actually) is Five Mile Island, a toxic waste dump saturated in violence, depravity and Jew hatred. It cannot and should not be rebuilt. Arabs who dwell there will always retain animosity towards Israel and yearn to destroy it. They will sacrifice their children and grandchildren to that evil and quixotic quest. How they should be resettled is a different question than whether or to where they should be resettled (although western Iraq seems ideal – vacant desert land.)
The reality is that it is easier to change a human being’s location that it is to change his heart. So the world has a choice: it can continue to pour billions of dollars into Gazan “infrastructure,” knowing full well that the money will be used for terror. It can continue to waste the time of diplomats and politicians drafting arcane and detailed agreements that will be signed and never followed. It can continue to cajole the Arabs into verbally recognizing Israel’s right to exist, knowing full well they are not sincere and are just awaiting the most opportune time to attack Israel.
And so the world can be witness to more Arab deaths, grinding poverty, miserable lives, dysfunctional families, child suicide bombers, etc. – generation after generation sacrificed on the altar of jihadist genocidal ambitions aimed first and foremost at Israel (but then the rest of the West, of course). Or the world – led by Israel – can analyze the situation and say that something must change dramatically. It is not enough to disarm them or demilitarize them but to resettle them. As it stands now and for the foreseeable future, no combination of words, inducements, bribes, carrots or even sticks will reverse the genocidal trends that animate an entire group. The same billions that Hamas and allies will divert to terror uses can be employed in resettlement, and the entire region and world would benefit. Of course, those Gazans who want to live as civilized people and accept Israel’s sovereignty can certainly stay, with blessings, and the application of the “one strike, you’re out” rule. And they would benefit from the return of Jewish settlers who had made that desert bloom before they were summarily expelled by short-sighted Israeli leaders, some of whom still lurk in positions of power.
As long as the enemy remains on land from which it can threaten Israel, nothing will ever change.
Which route is more moral – nurturing the Arabs’ false hopes of statehood and Israel’s ultimate disappearance in a land in which they have resided less than 100 years, or resettling them in a place where they can build the society of their dreams free of the necessity of raising their children on hatred, envy and violence? It is a choice between endless death and new life.
It strikes me that the latter is more moral and even more feasible, once the shock has worn off and the blinders have been taken off. Nothing else is going to change. Jews have no other place to go and fulfill a divine commandment living in Israel; Arabs have an abundance of choices although, given the proclivity to violence, admittedly not all are savory.
Undoubtedly, normal Gazans would accept this offer of resettlement – with compensation paid, of course – but many will be intimidated by the forces of evil which they wittingly voted into power. Their hatred of Jews is that irrational and that passionate, and Hamas does love the death of its own citizens almost as much as it loves the death of Jews. That is why it must be defeated. But a concerted effort on the part of the international community, and great resolve by Israel, will demonstrate that this is the only way. As long as there is a glimmer of hope that a “Palestinian” national home is a possibility in the land of Israel, the macabre dance of death will continue.
If it succeeds, there is hope for Judea and Samaria as well.
Of course, none of this will happen in the next week, month or year, and will require a generation of new thinkers able to break away from the tired and painful paradigms of the past.
In the meantime, Hamas has to be vanquished into unconditional surrender, and not rescued by the meddlesome team of Obama/Kerry. Israel then has to resist the temptation to make new concessions to some other group of Arabs which will also just prolong the war. Due to the bravery and sacrifice of Israelis, the first objective is within reach. May their resolve remain strong, and may G-d bless their efforts!
DANIEL WOHLGELERNTER office phone: 310-315-0101
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Although your blogs are normally right on, I think there are two flaws in your argument. The first is putting any reliance on ‘the world’ – especially the ‘world led by Israel’. That presumes there is a single entity called ‘the world’, it assumes they like Israel or see the need for a peace that includes a healthy Israel and it assumes they would be willing to be led by Israel. Won’t happen.
The second flaw is that there would be a place to relocate the Gazans to. We know that Arab states will not integrate Gazans or tolerate them integrating into their society.
I don’t have a better solution. Maybe all we can do is squash them as much as possible in order to lengthen the intervals between ‘troubles’..
But maybe not every problem has a resolution. I know that’s a cop-out. But maybe a better description is ‘Teku’.
But by world, I meant the civilized world, such as it exists.
I appreciate anyone taking a fresh look at resolving this conflict, and while I don’t have a “better” solution (and unfortunately believe that a legitimate solution might not even exist), I don’t see how this can realistically be accomplished?
1) Why would Iraq or any middle east country accept these refugees? It seems that they have no incentive to take them, and if anything, they’d prefer them in Gaza as a thorn in Israel’s side.
2) I don’t think the vast majority of Palestinians would leave that area willingly. At that point, the IDF will be forced to essentially detain/fight all of Gaza. I can’t imagine how that could be accomplished.
It won’t be easy but here’s the answer:
Iraq today is a non-country. The government barely exercises control over even half its territory.
It should not be the IDF’s responsibility, but that of the civilized world. For humanitarian reasons, it should oversee the evacuation to safety of Gaza’s Arabs, just like after WWII, the Allies oversaw the transfer of millions of Germans, Poles, and others, and just three years later, 11,000,000 Indians and Pakistanis were resettled in order to avoid a protracted conflict.
It is the most moral solution. For implementation, I’m open to ideas.
Are you offering Teaneck, among the moral and feasible “abundance of choices” for where we should be relocating 1.8 million people (or whatever the “normal” subset turns out to be)? [resubmited with minor edit]
No. Not Teaneck. Not enough room, and you know how strict America’s immigration laws are…
Western Iraq sounds perfect.
And there aren’t 1.8M people in Gaza. Don’t believe those reports. It’s probably 30% fewer.
I wish you could understand how disturbing it is to read a rabbi openly calling for the forcible depopulation of more than 4 million people to “some other place.” Do you not see that besides being cruel, unfair, illegal, and reminiscent of some of the worst moments in Jewish history, that this is essentially exactly what Hamas proposes as its “solution” to this conflict?
Here’s the difference, among many: It’s been done a dozen times in the last 70 years for the benefit of the respective peoples. And I would love if the Arabs wished to dwell in peace with Israel, but they don’t. So it is not at all “exactly” what Hamas proposes, because they desire the extermination of every Jew in the world. I wish the Arabs life and happiness, but if they refuse to countenance the existence of the Jewish state, this proposal is far more moral than to have endless killing.
As such, why must it be forcible? It is both moral and rational – two reasons why it won’t happen, although it should.
How does one respond to the following arguments that are often made:
1. After leaving Gaza, Israel suffocated it by seriously impeding their exports and fishing due to its border policies. This severely hurt the Gazan economy. Israel in this sense never really stopped acting as occupier.
2. Hamas was elected by a people looking to rid itself of Fatah cronyism, not by a people looking to battle Israel. Israel and the US then took a position of further isolating Hamas, although Hamas removed the call for Israel’s destruction from its charter.
3. The above two points further disheartened Gazans, with many seeing no option but to smuggle, fight and kidnap for their freedom and rights, much like the Haganah did against the British in the early days.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Much of the above is false. Here’s why.
Gaza’s economy did not have to be hampered at all. Israel left behind factories and hothouses when they foolishly fled from Gaza, all of which were promptly looted and destroyed by the Arabs. The billionaire James Wolfensohn immediately, and foolishly, raise $1B to invest in Gaza and develop their economy. The money was all seized and diverted to other uses, especially the purchase of weapons. Not one refugee camp has ever been liquidated and the people resettled in homes. All the raw materials they imported were used for terror. Obviously they could not be trusted with an airport or seaport. But had they been willing to live as civilized people, they had a very accommodating Israeli government to work with in 2005-2008. Instead, they resorted immediately to rockets, terror, kidnapping and mayhem. That was not an accident, but a plan.
Remember that Keren Shalom was set up to facilitate imports, exports and trade between all parties. Then the Arabs started dispatching suicide bombers there to kill Jews. That did reduce their imports.
And Gaza has no economy, no material resources, and therefore no possibility of ever functioning as a state. Its only export is terror, and its only resource is the number of its citizens who wish to kill themselves while murdering others and implementing worldwide jihad. Thus, they don’t want a state. Their goal is just to kill Jews. As they never had a state, never established a state, and history recognizes no such “people” I do not know what “rights” they have that they are exercising. There is therefore no comparison to the Jewish people’s right to return to their ancient homeland, especially when the reigning sovereign – the Ottomans – sold them land, and in 1917, the land of Israel became a land without a sovereign.
The notion that people elected Hamas because of Fatah cronyism is as credible as the similar claim (all by foolish Westerners) that the Muslim Brotherhood was elected in Egypt because they provided better social services. It’s the type of argument made by facile journalists and amoral apologists. Both are jihadist, anti-Western, genocidal and Jew-hating movements, the modern incarnation of the Nazis, who were also voted into power in 1933, and not because of their economic program, although that was also used as a rationalization. That is one reason I have little sympathy for the “civilians” here, such as they are (many are just terrorists without uniforms): they voted for these murderers.
And Hamas has never amended their charter, and proudly reiterated as recently as last week its basic points: not only that the State of Israel has to be destroyed through violence but also that every Jew in the world must be exterminated.
That is pretty nasty stuff. And that reality will never change. Never. We should get used to it and act accordingly.
Winston Churchill said [in year 1955 CE]:
“You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem; it is they who made it famous.”
SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 26,
page 292) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE
Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.
[Winston] Churchill spoke [in year 1954 CE] of the Jewish Nobel Prizewinners, whose contribution to humanity in many fields had been “unique and absolute.” There were nations of hundreds of millions of people who had been unable to produce a single Nobel Prizewinner, “and are the beneficiaries every day from the genius and discoveries of the Jews.”
SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 26,
page 290) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE
Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.
“Of course, none of this will happen in the next week, month or year…”
You got that right! You are advocating for Hamas to be deposed today and you are (at least somewhat) conceding that you don’t have a plan for what to do tomorrow. Therein lies the problem.
I’m not as offended by this plan of “depopulating Gaza” as some people. Simply put, I don’t think this is a plan. It’s the kind of thing one says in the total absence of a plan. So let’s not argue. Instead we should all unify around the hope that the Israeli government has more realistic ideas than relying on international support to resettle millions of people into the Iraqi desert.
“None of this will happen in the next week, month or year…” is not the same as saying that there is no plan for tomorrow. Right now, there are no leaders who will embrace this most moral plan. New leaders will be required, and new ways of looking at the problem.
Most problems do not have a solution “tomorrow,” like this one, but it makes no sense to continue doing what hasn’t worked and what will never work. And I am not committed to the Iraqi desert, and am open to practical suggestions!
The current government plan is to continue to kick the can down the road and fight a war every few years. Surely, there is a better way. Fortunately, there are voices within Israeli society and the government that realize there is a better way, for all concerned.
“‘None of this will happen in the next week, month or year…’ is not the same as saying that there is no plan for tomorrow.”
Yes. It. Is. The. Same.
There’s a lot of references in the above thread to “refugee” camps, and (elsewhere) to the United States. SUGGESTION: Explain for your readers the precise relationship between Gaza and the UNRWA (United National Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” – the official name on their web site.)
A lot of people don’t realize that Gaza IS, for all intents and purposes, an adjunct of the UN. It’s not an area like (eg) Macedonia, in which the UN might come in for a few year to ostensibly help out, then leave. No, the UN is Gaza’s biggest employer and provider, and has been for more than sixty years. More than 2/3 of the entire country have official status as “refugees.” There’s more to say on this, which the Rabbi can explain far better than me. The point is, as the point that there is no distinction in Gaza between “civilian” and “terrorist” need be driven home again and again, so does the relationship between the UN and Gaza. The UN is not a neutral party, and this is not even the usual run of the mill anti-Semitism one finds there. Gaza IS the UN.
Usually your Blogs are brilliant, but this is a naareshe pipe dream
If you will it, it is no dream.
Any better ideas or have you resigned yourself to endless conflict?
I am in both camps!
When candidate Barack Obama was campaigning to become President of the USA, he promised that if he were elected President, the USA would stop telling foreign countries what to do.
So how does President Obama justify telling Israel what to do?
Maybe he does not consider Israel to be a foreign country!
Is Thinking Obsolete? by Thomas Sowell 2014 August 5