Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gaza-Israel: it doesn’t add up

Paris 16 July 2014 (anniversary of the rafle du Vel d’Hiv)
[My English version of an article I originally wrote in French]
Nidra Poller
Israel, they say, harumph, has the right to defend itself, but…  But not entirely. Both sides are asked to act with restraint. Not exactly both. Because the conflict is lopsided: 37 then 58, 102, and now more than 200 Palestinians killed. The vast majority, according to Palestinian sources, are civilians. Women, children and the elderly, to say nothing of the thousands of wounded. On the other side, zilch. That’s it, the stage is set, the lethal narrative has wheels and it’s going to be fueled daily, automatically, unapologetically. 

How might Hamas act with restraint? Its goal is to kill all the Jews and occupy all the territory from the Jordan to the sea. Whereas the Israelis want zero dead, zero wounded, and the pursuit of a productive life in an intact nation.  So what would restraint amount to? Hamas would kill half the Jewish Israelis? There is no justification for this cooking-the-books vision of a confrontation with worldwide ramifications: The frontier between civilization and savagery runs along the Gaza-Israel border. 

The Israeli army could crush Hamas in the space of 24 hours, simply by disregarding the fate of civilians caught in the interstices of a war machine built instead of a decent place for living creatures. Israel doesn’t use its power that way.

If the heroic Iron Dome were struck with a malediction and all eight batteries suddenly went dead, if ever Hamas got the upper hand, the rockets launched from Gaza could quickly balance the books. Would that be okay? 200 victims on each side. A draw? The competing teams shake hands and go home happy to have played a good game? No. Hamas would pursue its genocidal enterprise without the slightest restraint. What would they say then? The president of the United States, his secretary of state, European leaders, the General Secretary of the United Nations, journalists and readers eager to comment on the “conflict.”  If ever Israel became weak like the helpless people of Iraq or Nigeria, what would public opinion say? Sorry, guys. It turns out you should have hit the enemy with all your might. Contemporary public opinion has taken a strong stand on that old-fashioned genocide, the Shoah. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out: it was a terrible tragedy that is sincerely regretted Or almost.
Thirty-seven killed on the Palestinian side in the first days of the operation and nothing on the opposite team, how dare they? Genocide, dixit Mahmoud Abbas. From then on, every day has its lot of tribulations, the toll is rung up at the end of each newscast on channels all over the world, the proportion of civilians increases from many, to more than half, to almost all.  Where do these figures come from? Palestinian sources. Who can verify them? Don’t bother. Every confrontation involving Israel uses the same accounting methods. A man who launches a rocket--from someone’s patio-- aimed at civilians in Israel becomes, if hit by the counter-attack, a civilian. While all Israelis, all Jews, including the three students assassinated in June, are soldiers.
Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it’s a jihad fighting force. It has the same Islamic faith and ideology, the same slogans, banners, uniforms, and methods as the forces that occupy a large swath of Syria and Iraq where they have laid the foundations of the caliphate that must spread over the whole earth. The fact that Hamas is in murderous rivalry with other jihad factions doesn’t make a nick in their common trunk. All of them--Al Shabab, Boko Haram, ISIS, Jabhat Al Nosra, diverse and varied Salafists, Wahabis, Muslim Brotherhood, and down to the so-called lone wolves-- are manifestations of one and the same force that is exploding in the face of the world today. The parents of hundreds of young women kidnapped three months ago in Chibouk weep; Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan, Pakistani Christians tremble; Egyptian Muslims revolted and the Kurds of Kirkuk proudly defend their land against mujahidin determined to impose submission. Like Hamas in Gaza, like Hamas against Israel. Like the jihadis that laid siege to the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue on rue de la Roquette in Paris on the 13th of July.
There too, restraint on both sides? The locals shouted loud and clear, like the Hamas they support: Kill the Jews! Should the president of the synagogue have let them in to discuss the terms of a ceasefire? Or were the Beitar, Jewish Defense League and unaffiliated braves justified in fighting with all their might against those Sunday jihadis until riot police, empowered by la République, finally arrived? Their aim was zero dead on the Jewish side.
Since the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 a total of 11,000 rockets have been fired into Israel. These rockets are eminently concrete. They have to be manufactured or smuggled in. They use raw materials and financial resources, take up space, require mobile or stationary launching pads  installed in schools and private homes, hidden in underground tunnels. It’s an elaborate enterprise, freely chosen. Our [French] foreign affairs minister pleads for an immediate ceasefire. Our president reminds us that France always seeks compromise, mutual understanding, peace. [The mayor of Bordeaux] Alain Juppé asks what is the use of “brutal repression [by Israel].” And Hamas demands, the last we heard, draconian conditions: unfettered opening of border crossings into Israel and Egypt, release of all the prisoners set free in the exchange deal for Gilad Shalit and re-arrested during the search for the three kidnapped students…. Once the fire has ceased Hamas will certainly demand abundant fruits of their jihadish victory such as reparations, condemnation… Ah, I almost forgot… and the end of the Occupation, from Eilat to the Golan.
In other words, as a reward for having shot more than 1000 rockets at Israel this week, Hamas insists on a return to the status quo ante that will give it a chance to replenish and improve its stock of arms in view of the next round and so on and so forth until the final victory.
Who could satisfy these demands? The international community, my friend! Composed, on the one hand, of Hamas’ Islamic brothers and paymasters and, on the other, of those who, after Israel, as well as Israel, are in the crosshairs of Hamas or its comrades in arms, or its more jihadist, more powerful, even more brutal rivals, any or all of the above fighting under the black banner of jihad, shouting slit the throats of the Jews, slaughter the kuffars, allahou akhbar.
It is obscene to say “Israel has the right to defend itself, but…”  That’s not a right, it’s a permission. No one has the right to grant it, refuse it, or limit it.

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