Thursday, January 08, 2009

Responding to the Press Yentas

The war in Gaza has gone on now to the point where the press Yentas are starting to do their usual worried shtick about disproportionate response and missed opportunities. Here are few pointers in response:

1. It seems to me that a country that has killed 655,000 citizens of another country that didn't even attack it shouldn't be complaining about the "disproportionate response" of Israel.

2. It seems to me that it's obvious that if you stick a pin in someone's arm often enough, eventually that person is going to swat you. Anyone who thinks Hamas didn't WANT Israel to respond this way is deluding themselves.

3. It seems to me obvious that there is little Israel can do with this invasion other than to a) show its population it's doing something and b) try to subdue rocket fire for a while. Anyone who ascribes loftier or more zealous goals to this is overreaching out of some sense that there MUST be a more long-term solution, when there really isn't.

4. Anyone who expected Israel to stop with aerial bombardment only has to wonder what the point of a response is if you are only going to try to blow up things and not at least try to stop the flow of rockets (and how else would that be done, given that the current status hasn't worked)?

5. It seems to me that comparisons between Gaza and the Holocaust come out of either a gross misunderstanding of history or a true feeling of anti-semitism. Such comparisons would be equivalent to saying that Kuwait defending itself from Iraqi attack was a holocaust or England's presence in Ireland was a holocaust and on and on in every situation. So why do we have to rely on only conservative networks like Fox to address this obvious canard?

6. When Hamas refers to "occupation" they mean not Gaza or the West Bank, but all of Israel. Asking Israel to negotiate with this position is like asking someone to negotiate about how you should kill yourself. So let's recognize how words are being thrown out here precisely to distort what's at stake. So far, Hamas has signaled no intention of backing away from that position, as any "truce" they put forward is only meant to be temporary.

7. If people are so concerned about peace they should be working to convince Hamas to accept the terms for international monitoring of peace that Israel already has on the table. Such terms have worked in Lebanon. Israel and Hamas have already agreed to a daily three-hour cease fire to allow a flow of supplies. But understand that the real reason Hamas won't accept a long-term monitored ceasefire has to do with their internal struggle with Fatah, not with Israel. Such a ceasefire would lessen the need for their existance and threaten to unify Palestinians under a single Palestinian Authority that could actually negotiate a long-term peace with Israel. That's the LAST thing Hamas wants. So to stop fighting on Hamas' terms of no recognition and no long-term truce is to give them a victory - as well as to destroy any hope for Palestinian statehood - for all Hamas needs for a victory is to have the world opinion side to allow Israel to withdrawal so it can continue uncriticized its bombardment of Israeli towns by rockets, which will continue to forestall peace and Palestinian unity. So where are the monitors who would make peace possible? So far, the world has seemed more eager to wag their tongues than to do anything would actually force back Hamas's positions and allow for a real peace to start to emerge.

8. In this war, the press is Hamas's greatest ally. Israel may have made a strategic mistake not inviting reporters into Gaza. But still, the press needs to examine how they're being played by terrorists as part of their gambit to create sympathy. It's a shame that rather than either only uncritically defending Israel (Fox) or hand-wringing about the casualties of war (everyone else), the press doesn't do more to examine the real strategic motives of what's going on. That seems to me to be part of the intractable problem in this situation.

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