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Friday, January 02, 2009

Krauthammer on moral clarity

Writing in Friday's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer succinctly states the moral clarity that emerges from examining Israel's conduct of the current war in Gaza and comparing it to the conduct of the 'Palestinians' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.

This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).

At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.
Krauthammer goes on to state the obvious: Israel wants peace. Hamas wants perpetual war. He's right about that.

But Krauthammer wrongly describes the mistake Israel committed three years ago by leaving Gaza, and because of that, he risks encouraging decision makers in Jerusalem and Washington to make the same mistake again.
Israel's only response is to try to do what it failed to do after the Gaza withdrawal. The unpardonable strategic error of its architect, Ariel Sharon, was not the withdrawal itself but the failure to immediately establish a deterrence regime under which no violence would be tolerated after the removal of any and all Israeli presence -- the ostensible justification for previous Palestinian attacks. Instead, Israel allowed unceasing rocket fire, implicitly acquiescing to a state of active war and indiscriminate terror.
That's nonsense. Israel should never have withdrawn from Gaza in the first place. Every security assessment - without exception - in the summer of 2005 said that once Israel withdrew from Gaza, the rocket fire on Israel's Negev would increase. You see, the 'Palestinians' started firing rockets on the Negev from Gaza when they started the Oslo War in 2000. And they have never stopped.

Thursday night, Charles Johnson presented a couple of graphs of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into the Negev and noted the sharp increase in those rockets since Hamas threw out Fatah in the summer of 2007. But not all of those rockets and mortar shells in 2007 were fired after Fatah was thrown out. And there were actually more rockets fired in 2006 - the year after Israel left Gaza when Fatah was nominally in control - than there were in 2007.

Israel's mistake was leaving Gaza in the first place. Once Israel left, it could not enforce a no-tolerance policy on 'Palestinian' rockets and mortars. The launchers are too mobile. The terrorists - as Krauthammer notes - hide among the civilians and are more than happy to take them along to the 72 virgins. The only reason that Israel doesn't also have rockets and mortars raining down on the center of the country is that when the IDF went into Judea and Samaria's cities during 2002's Operation Defensive Shield, it stayed there. That's the lesson that should have been learned long before the expulsion from Gaza.

Krauthammer - like all of us - wants a 'sustainable and enduring cease fire.' Without IDF troops stationed in Gaza, that won't happen. Because it's not just Hamas that wants a perpetual war against Israel until the Jewish state no longer exists. It's the entire Arab and Muslim world.


At 2:32 PM, Blogger Abu Yussif said...

are you saying that if israel didn't withdraw from gaza that there would not have been as many rockets, or are you saying that the amount of israelis now under rocket threat would not be as great?

as i remember, rockets and mortars were already falling, even on the settlements with deadly results. and not to mention tunnels were starting to be used to succeed in commiting fatal terror. seems that it was only a matter of time before it was out of control.

i'm not interested in the rightness or wrongness of withdrawal, but if israel had remained in gaza, wouldn't the mortars/rockets/tunnel terror have gone through the roof anyway (with settlers being on the massive receiving end)?

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abu, Israel should have done something about it way back then, so that the residents of Gush Katif could have lived in safety, just like the IDF is fighting today for the safety of almost 1 million of its citizens located within rocket range.

Let a fire burned uncontroled and you'll get an inferno.

But what really needs to be done - or undone - is to recognize the mistake called Oslo. There is no room for a terrorist entity on any of Israel's borders and they must all be eradicated to obtain a resolution.

Anything less will repeat in failure.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Abu Yussif said...

shy, obviously. but israel shoulda-woulda-coulda then but didn't, and won't even now.

oslo was a failure, clearly. but both before and after oslo israel didn't have the wherewithal to take care of business. and even now troops stand on gaza's border waiting to do something, but still won't take care of business.

it seems to me that if oslo never happened, the problem would be the same now. israel jumped into oslo hoping it would avoid what we face now. except, just as back then, there still is no will to do what needs to be done.

i'm just saying in my post above that israel wasn't willing to do what it needed pre-oslo, today, whenever since 1973. evacuating families/women/children from gaza would have been inevitable, the only difference would be that it would happen under fire. am i wrong?

At 4:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Steven Plaut has pointed out its the removal of Israel's occupation that breeds Arab violence and barbarism. The Israeli Left has been wrong about everything over the last 15 years. Oslo endures because its a cargo cult and those who believe in peace have closed their eyes to reality. Their dreams live on but the Middle East didn't change to fit their dreams. It never did. Bottom line: Israel never should have left Gaza.


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