Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chattering and Doing

A Hamas Biggie has said what all Hamas people think: there's no room for Israel. Meanwhile, having lifted most of the barriers to Gazan imports, Israel is now opening the channels for Gazan exports. Someday there will be another round of large-scale violence between Israel and Hamas, at which point the Hamas-applogists worldwide will construct and broadcast a story of consistent Israeli perfidy and abject Palestinian victimhood; the links above will never be mentioned, as if they never happened.

Meanwhile, Israel continues its slow, tortuous but inexorable advance towards greening its energy infrastructure. In a country which has a southern half too dry for significant human residence and 350 days of strong sunlight annually, it's hard to know why this is taking so long, but the point is that it is happening. Hamas can chatter, the world can tut-tut, and the Jews eventually get their act together. This is the story of Zionism these past 120 years.

I'll be offline for most of the week. If you'd like intelligent and cogent appraisals of how the world works, the New York Review of Books will infallibly confuse you.

22 comments:

Barry Meislin said...

Most Israelis are well aware of what Hamas plans to export to Israel.

(No, we're not talking about cane furniture.)

Still, for the sake of the Gazan economy, I'm fairly certain that most Israelis would be willing to take a missile strike or two in Tel Aviv (or Beersheva, or points in between).

Or even several dozen.

To be sure, Israel might draw the line at several hundred (or more), at which point one would be able to criticize (constructively, of course) the Zionists for their lack of consistency in foreign affairs (at least for starters).

Y. Ben-David said...

I am totally mystified as to why the Israeli gov't does not say the following "There will be no lifting of ANY restrictions on Gaza until the Red Cross is allowed to visit Gilad Shalit and that he is given the same conditions as HAMAS prisoners in Israel". NO 'progressive' could argue with that.
Over and over and over we see the Israeli gov't abandon its prisoners such as Ron Arad, the three from the Battle of Sultan Yakub (Feldman, Katz, Baumel), Pollard and now Shalit (I am not arguing that the gov't should release terrorists for him, but they do have leverage to improve conditions for him until they can get him released in a way that won't endanger other Israelis lives).
Of course, for Tannenbaum, the drug dealer, Sharon was willing to move heaven and earth in order to release, and he did release terrorists, because Tannenbaum was a personal friend of his . But the Israeli Establishment shows a distinct lack of moral character in dealing with cases like these, or the South Lebanese Army in the aftermath of the IDF's flight from Lebanon in 2000, etc. Why aren't people having their voices being heard ?

Victor said...

Y. Ben-David,

This was the policy for four years. It failed. The blockade did not generate popular pressure on Hamas to change its policies or international pressure for the release or visitation rights of Gilad. Instead, it played into the hands of Hamas, creating an image of starvation and siege, and forcing the international community to break the blockade and contributing to a climate of confrontation between Israel and foreign governments. It's just not good policy.

Silke said...

Victor
you aren't saying that the Mavi Marmara thugs, wannabe killers and martyrs were forced by Israel's actions?
no matter how much the IC may have cheered them, they still remain at least criminals.

Victor said...

The blockade failed. It failed politically. Instead of focusing attention on the Hamas regime, it focused attention on the "starvation of Gaza". It failed militarily. Hamas has restocked its arms. It succeeded economically, but Israel is not allowed to win by impoverishing its enemies. Other nations are.

There are no winners and losers in modern war. Just the people who need to apologize, give up everything they conquered and the people who need billions in international aid to reconstitute themselves into a fighting force.

There was a Russian joke floating around 1998-99, when Clinton was bombing Serbia. If you remember, the Serbs weren't actually defeated, despite a two or three month bombardment; the Russians convinced them to give up, basically. Anyway, it went something like, when Milosevich heard that the Americans would pay to rebuild the country, he prolonged the war another two weeks. There were some old factories he wanted the Americans to bomb first - it was drawn up in the war plan as "new infrastructure investment".

Victor said...

Does anyone see a benefit from preventing Gazans from emigrating from the territory? That's just insanity. Israel should be encouraging Palestinian emigration, not locking people up in the strip.

I think it's pretty clear that Israel and Egypt have no real control over the kinds of weapons Hamas can smuggle in. Just last week they fired an advanced Russian anti-tank missile at an Israeli tank. The policy is too sophisticated and nuanced for it's own good.

The borders should be opened completely, at least on the Israeli side. There should be no collective punishment of the civilian population. Let Gaza be whatever it wants to be. But the next missile that's fired should be met with a 100 aircraft sortie bombardment of the Gazan government and infrastructure and the call up of 30,000 troops to the Gazan border. That part seems to have worked just fine the last time.

As Ibish says, Hamas talks a good resistance game, but they're cooperating with the Israelis on security no less than the PA, just indirectly.

Opening up Gaza will also put some pressure on the PA, which is feeling a bit too cocky for its own good recently. It will also challenge the consensus that the Fatah-led 2 state solution is the only alternative.

The present policy has failed. It's dead. The government should be flexible enough to understand that and think creatively instead of being dragged by the ears. If Israel isn't going to conquer Gaza, and if there is no one to take power away from Hamas, and there isn't, then Israel will deal with Hamas now or in 10 years.

Why wait?

Silke said...

as it happens I read Michael Oren's Yom Kippur speech only today (carefully) and I link it here in response to Victor who "knows" as an example of how a wise man talks about the choices one has to make.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/09/michael-orens-warning-to-american-jews/63292

It is such a good speech it deserves to be read and re-read regularly, especially since it is probably not possible to accuse Michael Oren of being a man who'd shy away once the decision for action any kind of action has been taken.

Victor said...

You're right, Silke. Thankfully, I don't have to make the choices that Netanyahu does, or Olmert before him, as horrendous of a leader as he was. Talk is cheap.

This is why criticizing Israeli policy is such a waste of time. 99% of us have no access to anyone with the power to make a difference. Either we support the big picture and try to get a word in edgewise, focus our effort where we can make some small, tangible impact, or simply disengage.

AKUS said...

I suspect that the solar farms in the Negev will become favored targets for hamas rockets and Bedouin vandalism, to the cheers of lunatics who adamantly demand more use of green power sources everywhere else in the world but like to see efforts like this in Israel destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Even before the Bedouin, the ecologists will issue dire warnings about the destruction of the fragile desert ecosystem.

Anonymous said...

Victor is right. There is hardly a difference between Hamas and Fatah. They both have the same end goals. Hamas is even more preferable because they are more open and honest about their intentions.

Israel's policy has failed. Israeli leaders built up Abbas as this honest broker and moderate leader. The first reason this tactic is a failure is because once Israel backs an Arab leader, the Arab public hates them and considers them collaborators. They lose all popular support.

The 2nd reason this policy is a failure is while Israeli leaders are building up the PA in all ways including economically and militarily, Palestinian leaders are delegimizing Israel leaders and Israel all over the world and world media and saying over and over again that Israel is the obstacle to peace. Not to mention that the PA is trying to destroy Israel's economy, along with several European gov'ts, by pushing the BDS movement. Even if they have been unsuccessful thus far, the intent should not be ignored.

Carrie

Barry Meislin said...

In fact, Israel should itself send arms, weaponry and materiel to Hamas.

That way, at least, Israel will know the kinds of weapons, rockets, missiles, mortars, and anti-tank weapons that will be used against it.

Silke said...

Somehow my memory insists that the propping up Fatah program was sold to me with the claim that witnessing a booming economy and the state of law the population of Gaza would decide to get rid of Hamas.

Somehow my memory also insists that this to me unconvincing plan (not that I'd have been able to come up with anything better) was sold to me by US and EU media.

I don't remember Israel having been enthusiastic about it.

If my memory is correct I find it a wee bit unjust to blame it today all on the Israelis. It is hard to resist the big powers, if you have to admit as they probably had to at the time that we have no better idea, there probably isn't much harm in it, so let them/us try it. Money makes people lazy and lazy people aren't so keen on Intifada or something along that line and maybe a miracle happens ...

Barry Meislin said...

If my memory is correct I find it a wee bit unjust to blame it today all on the Israelis.

In the end, Czechoslovakia has only itself to blame.

And as far as your memory goes, it must, by definition, be unreliable, given the ground rules established by the Ministry of Truth.

(Ergo, your memory can't possibly correct -- and if it is correct, it's only correct until it becomes incorrect. By definition.)

Silke said...

a remark worth to be remembered from the 3rd part of this program when they are talking about the cities of the Levant. The last they have mentioned before the remark are Alexandria and Beirut. And then one of the males says:

Cities need armies.

ain't it amazing how sane these learned people are as long as they aren't talking about Israel. I don't know the men in this threesome but Mary Beard's tales have been spoiled for me by her apparent loss of "it" when Israel is concerned. How much is she to be trusted, if there is one field where she sounds to me like any other looney left?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00cjwrr

Anonymous said...

Actually Victor, Israel never really had a blockade of Israel. On one hand it did just enough to get it condemned whilst still having no effect. Yet another example of half-hearted approaches by Israel.

I have no doubt that had Israel simply sealed the border and cut it off with nothing in or out, that it would have been a different story.

Personally, I think Israel should have thought outside the box and simply retaken Gaza. Said we tried pulling out and look what we got. They say Israel still occupies Gaza then Israel should re-occupy it for real. Show the Palestinians and their friends in South Lebanon that what was given can be taken away. Think what that would have done for Hamas's support if they were the ones who brought the occupation back.

Danny

Y. Ben-David said...

Anonymous-
I believe that if the IDF were to retake Gaza, most Gaza residents would greet the soldiers as liberators, and then a coupe of weeks later they would start throwing rocks at them

Barry Meislin said...

We are all Hamas now!

http://pajamasmedia.com/michaeltotten/2010/12/28/hamas-is-not-only-israel%E2%80%99s-problem/

(Or according to some: "What hath Israeli policy wrought?!!")

Victor said...

Danny, are you willing to sacrifice your sons and brothers to retake Gaza only to give it up again, or to occupy it for another five or ten years? What's the point. If you said, let's kick all the Arabs out, at least that would be a strategy.

Why not just kill whoever needs killing from ten thousand feet and negotiate with the rest?

YBD, this isn't 67, they wouldn't throw rocks. High density urban warfare is high casualty. It's a real miracle more soldiers weren't killed in Cast Lead.

Guys, forget Gaza. We have a hundred living Jewish communities in the Shomron that need support.

Independent Observer said...

Victor, you make an error in the way you pose the issue. The question for Israel is whether it will have to endure a certain level of ongoing harm to its soldiers, or to abandon the Israeli population and security (on both sides of the border) to make Israel one huge Sderot-style ghetto, subject to whatever increasingly-heavy arms the Palestinians and Lebanese care to import from their Iranian friends.

Empress Trudy said...

AKUS, you're probably right. On the other hand you and I know that the first people screaming about the existence of solar farms at all will be the Greens who maintain that they disturb the ancient and pristine desert in the first place. Most of the Green movement is actually anti-human not anti civilization.

Anonymous said...

Victor, I prefer to do that than have them die for "deterence". The main advantages I see:

1) Can do a thorough weeding out a la West Bank.
2) Shows that territorial moves are not all in one direction
3) Which makes the strategy of do nothing except "resist" less palatable to the other side.

Ask yourself whether Hizbollah would be more circumspect if the next move they made resulted in them losing territory for an indefinite period of time.

Danny