Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Real People, Real War, Wisps of Faint Hope

The younger brother of Meir's closest friend has been wounded and is in the hospital. (Meir is our oldest son). Nechama, our daughter, alluded this evening to Tomer Bohadana. When I didn't understand the allusion, she patiently explained, as sometimes must be done for old geezers, that in the Lebanon war of 2006 Tomer Bohadana was flown from the front with injuries he wasn't likely to survive. As he was raced into the emergency room at Rambam hospital in Haifa, a medic staunching the flow of blood from his jugular vein, he was still conscious enough to notice a TV crew, and he gave them a V-sign and the semblance of a grin. "And ever since then, Abba, in case you haven't noticed, whenever a wounded soldier on arrival at the hospital sees a camera, they all flash Tomer's V-sign" (which originally was Churchill's, but who's counting).

I hadn't noticed. Much as I pride myself on being a seasoned observer of Israeli society, here's an entire cultural symbol of tremendous significance for these young heroes, which I'd never even heard of.

Tomer Bohadana, by the way, having had his 1.5 second of fame, fully recovered from his injuries and went back to his anonymous life - but what a 1.5 second it was, apparently.

Sometime this afternoon we killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in a school. The Palestinians claim more than 40 dead civilians, the BBC says it was 30. The IDF says mortar shells were fired from within the school, and even names the two Hamas men doing the firing; both were killed and must be counted among the dead. (I continue to be amazed by the level of micro-intelligence the IDF is working with). These dead civilians are added to the many dozens, perhaps even a few hundred who have been killed so far. Which is horrifying, and terrible. I'm a father, my children now all responsible adults, but I can remember fondly when they were younger. I think I can imagine the terror of the Palestinian parents in Gaza, and I can feebly feel the pain of those losing children. So can any Israeli. Contrary to what the Guardianistas tell you, we're human beings, not monsters.

There's another fundamental difference between us and the antisemites: we know the Palestinians as people.

I can't speak for the citizenry of Tel Aviv. But I can say it's unlikely there's a single adult Jew in Jerusalem who doesn't have some sort of personal relationship with one or more Palestinians. These are not generally close friendships, but they can be many years old. There's Muhammad the janitor, Ashraf the gardener, Dr. Tibi the gynecologist at the hospital (before he became a politician), there's the co-worker at the bakery, that perpetually smiling fellow at the delicatessen...

I'm not claiming there's full educational and thus social equality, and that's a complex issue for another day. But we know them, and they know us, often by name. The enmity is between people, not theoretical constructs.

The hatred spewed by the Guardianistas is theoretical. They know no Jews, certainly no Israeli ones, and haven't the remotest interest in what they might think and feel. How can they, when Israelis are colonialists, invaders, thieves of land, captives of their history etc etc etc? Seeing real Israelis would complicate the theories, perhaps even sully them, and we can't have that, can we.

Yet the Guardianistas know no Palestinians, either, nor do they care. If they were Tamils, say, and a war that had killed 70,000 people was finally being brutally ended, they'd get a brief mention in the Economist, but never ten or twelve articles a day in the Guardian. If they were Algerians after the Colonial French had left, they could be massacred with impunity for years, more than 100,000 of them, and while they would get mentioned it would be perfunctory, with no indignation and never any shoe-throwing demonstrators. Never. The Palestinians are coddled because they are the enemies of the Jews; were they not to be, they'd be of no interest. Or rather, they're already of no interest, except as anti-Israeli props.

This is not beneficial even for the Palestinians.

Our troops currently fighting in Gaza are finding an astonishingly complex web of tunnels beneath the ordinary buildings the locals live in. These tunnels couldn't have been dug without the connivance of the populace, the owners of the kitchen cabinets which hide the entrances. The thuggish Hammas murderers are surrounding themselves with Palestinian children as they move from place to place, correctly assuming our troops won't deliberately target children. The parents of the children see this happening. In spite of the fighting, dozens of trucks with supplies are going into Gaza, even today; the goods aren't being distributed, they're being hijacked by the Hamas strongmen. The civilians see this happening.

I don't know Arabic, beyond a word here or there, and I don't have sources in Gaza to give me information, so I can't tell what's going on. Is the populace so fanatic in its hatred that it's willingly supporting Hamas, eager to pay any price as long as it hurts Israel? They may; or some may. Stranger things have happened. Populations indeed can lose all moral compasses, and the Palestinians have a track record. But one shouldn't be deterministic. It is conceivable that parts of the Gazan populace can see what's going on, and wonder if Hamas is such a blessing.

The strongest indication for this, in my mind, comes from the West Bank. Israel is punishing Gaza as never before; even Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 wasn't like this. If the cycle-of-violence theory, and the hitting-Hamas-will-further-radicalize-Palestinians theory were so pat and clean, why are the Palestinians on the West Bank mostly quiet, at least so far? Is it conceivable they've made their own strategic decision, to turn their backs on their worst demons, try to get their own society functioning, and see if this can lead to a better life?

Because if they have, there is hope. Not for Peace in Our Time just yet, but perhaps a road that might lead to it might be found.

If the demons can be banished.


Anonymous said...


The UN, and Condi Rice, got caught out!

It's wonderful for Israel to take on all the antisemitic mischief makers. With the obvious: There's no need for them to provide fake papers, anymore. Israel wants a real peace. Where the missile attacks STOP. Nor more "gaming the system."

Yes, the UN knows it has provided ambulances to the terrorists; to make the shipment of missiles all that much easier. Given that at some point in the smuggler's route, they have to go from "underground" ... to bringing this stuff out.

Other than the crying yelpers, I don't think too many Americans are gonna buy a french made product. Or one that comes with the usual crap that the UN delivers.

In a way, this is like bursting the bubble. The antisemites have given very little. So, it wasn't worth "playing" with them.

And, Bush? He learned when a pair of shoes came flying at his head. And, he's probably thinking that he can salvage something of his legacy by keeping the UN at an arm's length.

Also, you'll eventually get to see what got hit. Tunnels, fer shur. Maybe as many as one hundred?

There's also a good article up on the Jerusalem Post; where the IDF has been in training for two years. Weighing everything! Including, by going after the ground that has "secondary explosions," a lot goes wrong for ham-ass.

The IDF used training; along with video gaming. So the troops know what's in store. (Which is more than the media provides.)

Now, if you were in Obama's shoes, what would you see? (The stage can be entered left. Or right.)

My guess? By finding the center; and realizing MOST Americans HATE THE UN! With the cry: "Take the US out of the UN!" I'm not making this up.

Yes, Obama gets to play a card, or two. But if he thinks he's been hired to be the president of the UN, then instead of being very bright, he'd be very stupid.

Most people have very little sympathy for arabs. And, seeing the UN creating this "regugee" drama ... and never solving the problems! Will, in the end, cost the UN even more of its reputation.

As to name, this one will be called THE GAZA WAR, I'm sure.

And, I expect to see names never before in print; who are close to the upper eschelon of the IDF.

I also expect Olmert to write about "recent events." Where you already know Bernie Madoff and Morris Talansky, both grew rich on the dollars of AMerican Jews. Could'a been put to a whole lot better use!

And, yes. Israel just changed the dynamic. For some reason, on the diplomatic stage, Israel always played "the loser."

If nothing else, ALL of Israel's soldiers, sailors and pilots, can now demonstrate they're a whole lot smarter! Oh. And, they vote.

Lydia McGrew said...

My own theory, FWIW (which may not be much), is that the Arabs in Judea and Samaria are relatively quiet nowadays because of the continued signs of occupation there (checkpoints, security corridors, etc.) not in spite of them. I believe that if Israel withdraws from the "West Bank" we will see a repeat of Gaza to at least a significant extent, and the entire thing will be the ultimate lose-lose situation and a terrible waste of life and many other things of value as well, just as the withdrawal from Gaza has been. In particular, the Palestinians in the West Bank will be, along with the Israelis, the losers in any such a scenario, as indeed they (the innocents especially) have been in the withdrawal from Gaza. Are Palestinian children in Gaza better off--materially, in safety, or in any other significant way--as a result of the Israeli withdrawal in 2005? The sad answer to that questions is only too clear.

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments.

The family of a Gazan, paid sufficient cash, would likely become willing accomplices to the siting of a tunnel entrance in their closet.

If a member of a Gazan extended family belongs to HAMAS, it seems likely that the HAMAS gunmen used that family member to make the demand.

The family of an arrested criminal might have become willing accomplices in order to "bail out" their relative.

And then there is just plain old peer pressure, coupled with a veiled threat. "Everyone else agrees to this. Why are you opposing it? You are talking like a collaborator! Do you really mean it?"

Unfortunately, the reason why the family agreed to accept this is irrelevant. Once a civilian structure is integrated into a military fortification and is used for storing weapons, moving troops or firing at enemy forces, it becomes a valid military target. During a hot conflict, this means that the structure will be shot at or blown up. The blame for endangering the civilians inside falls squarely and fully on the shoulders of HAMAS.

Not all Palestinians support HAMAS. In particular, there are Fatah supporters who hate HAMAS more than they hate Israel. Knowing that HAMAS men pushed their friends/relatives off of buildings doesn't make them friends of HAMAS. On Sunday, some news sources said that HAMAS gunmen shot several Fatah supporters, broke the hands of others, and put others under house arrest for fear that they would capitalize on the confusion by acting against HAMAS.

Other Fatah supporters hate Israel more than they hate HAMAS. The AAMB claim to be fighting the IDF in at least one sector.

Such are the politics of Gaza.


Your Correspondent said...

The apparent anti-semitism of the Euros is probably petro-philia. If you take away the oil from the Muslim states, I'm sure you'd see less of the insanity in Europe.

One, because the Arabs spend political money in Europe. And two, because the Arabs have economic power over Europe.

Those Euros who actually hate Jews don't usually like Arabs all that much either.

Arab antisemitism gets expressed as European policy; Even though some of that Arab antisemitism is recycled old European antisemitism, such as the Protocols. The motor of transmission is oil money.

The solution is to seize the oil fields and deprive the Arabs and Iranians of the income.

Jack Steiner said...

Very interesting. I am going to include this in my next round up of news and information about the war.

Anonymous said...

Cycle of violence:

The "cycle of violence" theory is the theory that Israeli "atrocities" are the cause of Palestinian attacks and that Palestinian terrorism are the cause of Israeli attacks.

While this theory is true in some cases, it fails in the general case.

Palestinian terror attacks continue regardless of whether Israel responds with force. In fact, Palestinian terror attacks often intensify and become more frequent if Israel does NOT respond, or if Israel makes gestures to improve the lives of Palestinians.

For example, the 2nd Lebanon war started when Hizballah, without any Israeli provocation, invaded Israel. The war ended in a ceasefire after the IDF advanced to the Litani River. Hizballah had suffered enough damage that it did not want to continue the violence, and even refrained from responding to the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in 2008. In neither case does the "cycle of violence" theory explain the actions of Hizballah.

Similarly, the "cycle of violence" theory does not explain why Gaza terrorists continued to shoot rockets at Israeli civilians throughout the so-called "calm," and why Islamic Jihad and other groups have continued to attempt to carry out bombings roughly since Oslo, though most of these attempts have been thwarted.

The reality is that while Arab terrorist organizations promote the myth of a "cycle of violence" by claiming that their attacks were launched in revenge for such-and-such, these attacks were planned months before such-and-such occurred in the first place.

When Arab organizations think it is in their best interest to use violence, they do so. When they think that it is in their best interest to refrain, they do so.


Anonymous said...

I should have said "Arab terrorist attacks" rather than "Palestinian terrorist attacks" in my 3rd paragraph. Hizballah is not a Palestinian terror organization.