A lot of writers and thinkers, much smarter and more educated than I, have written about this – so, I cannot help but feel that I am being redundant when I write what I am about to write.
Still, the vast majority of the mainstream media keep on presenting this issue in such glaringly prejudiced and prejudicial manner that I consider it morally necessary to add my voice.
My friend Elsa is doing an interview series during which she raises some less common, but immensely interesting questions. Like, what is the origin of one’s morality, how one arrived at what is right and wrong. It seems to me long ago now that the Western world – led by the USA – held as one of its core moral precepts that ‘one does not negotiate with terrorists’.
Obviously, we have lost our moral compass now, because negotiating with terrorists is now considered to be ‘the moral, balanced approach’!!!
Whether these be the terrorists in Afghanistan or Somalia or Gaza, our media and intellectual and political elites seem to take it for granted that refusing to negotiate with terrorists is immoral and evil and ‘war-mongering’. Am I the only one who finds this change in attitude appalling?
It is precisely because we give moral equivalence to violent thugs and terrorists, that we have empowered and legitimized these enemies of law and order and respect of human rights, that so much of our world is going up in flames. And, unless we change our course, and quickly, it will only get worse.
Oh sure – there are many oppressed peoples in the world. There are people living under military occupation, their rights and dignity stripped away at gunpoint. And yes, there is poverty and lack of opportunity and political oppression.
In all kinds of places.
And no, this is not fair or good, nor should we pretend that it is.
But, no amount of suffering, no amount of oppression, justifies terrorism!!!
How do I know?
I’ve lived it!!!
I grew up the daughter of a political dissident in country under a military occupation by foreigners. As such, I was socially shunned from fear that associating with me would lead to political oppression of those who dared not shun me. My prospects for secondary, much less post-secondary education were non-existent. I was singled out, publicly humiliated by political apartchicks because they could get away with it….let’s just say that growing up me was not all ‘butterflies and rainbows’.
To claim that having grown up oppressed and/or under a foreign occupation somehow entitles a person to commit violence, to resort to terrorism, is a slap in the face to all of us decent human beings who have lived through it bu have never lost sight of our humanity!!!
So it is with Gaza.
Strictly and accurately speaking, Gaza is not an ‘Occupied territory’ – nor has it been for a long, long time. And when it was occupied, it was occupied by Egypt, not Israel.
Once the Israelis freed Gaza from its Egyptian occupation, it became a ‘disputed territory’ as several different groups claimed it as their own. This, however, came to an end in 2005 when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, leaving it to self-govern.
That is right – the Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005. They loaded up all the Jewish settlers who lived there and moved them out, leaving their homes and functioning businesses behind – not asking for (much less receiving) anything from Gaza in return.
Yet, Israel still supplied electricity and clean water and all kinds of other things to Gaza, from food to medical supplies, plus, plus, plus.
And the ‘world community’ criticized Israel for ‘blockading Gaza’!!!
This is so patently wrong: Israel could never physically ‘blockade’ Gaza because Gaza has a border with Egypt – a border that Israel has no control over. Therefore, Israel could not possibly unilaterally place Gaza under a blockade!!! Egypt ALWAYS had the power to trade with Gaza, without any regard to what Israel may or may not have been doing.
It is not controversial to acknowledge that the people of Gaza are suffering. Of course they are!!!
But, it it incorrect to assert that Israel is the cause of this suffering.
Even as Gaza is in the middle of a war between the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas and Israel, it is NOT Israel who is causing the most civilian casualties in Gaza!!!
Many of the (Iran-originating) rockets that Hamas fires towards Israel are so poorly aimed, they land in Gaza itself – causing large-scale casualties.
Of course, some of the rockets do hit Israel – but hit targets like the power station that sends electricity to Gaza….
And – many of the rockets misfire – killing the civilians in the schools and hospitals from which Hamas had fired them. And, Hamas has repeatedly refused Israeli offers of humanitarian help in the form of medical aid to civilians caught in this war between the terrorist Hamas and the rest of civilization! They would rather see Palestinian civilians die than live – because the publicity of ‘dead Palestinians’ brings money to their coffers!!!
What ads insult to injury is that the Palestinian propaganda machine – something taken as unquestionable truth by much of the mainstream media – present Israeli victims of this was as ‘Palestinian casualties’!
I speak of none other than the Fogel family!!!
An Israeli Jewish family that was slaughtered by a ‘Palestinian patriot’ – including an infant, nursing at a mother’s breast!
The photos of this very Israeli family slaughtered by a Palestinian Muslim Arab terrorist have been published as photos of a Muslim Palestinian family slaughtered by Israel Defense Forces….
The words fail me….
This is so despicable – yet credulous people all over the world believe it and condemn the very people who were victimized – demanding they meet and negotiate as with equals with the perpetrators of this violence.
Sad – so sad…
I, for one, stand with Israel!!!!
August 1, 2014 at 14:22
Israel most certainly has a right to exist.
However, Muslims also have a right to exist, and this inevitably brings them into conflict with Jews.
Why? Because the Qur’an is intolerant of non-Muslims and the Talmud is just as intolerant of non-Jews. And, as the Chinese say, two tigers cannot live on one mountain.
Thus it is disingenuous to point fingers at the Muslims and not the Jews, and vice versa.
Both are guilty as sin.
Need I remind you that it was the Jews who invented modern terrorism?
What is the difference between Irgun or the Stern Gang, on one hand, and Hamas or Hezbollah, on the other?
The Jews are better at it, so they won. That’s the only difference.
In broad brush strokes, Irgun and the Stern Gang became the Mossad and the Knesset – but in no way does this enhance their legitimacy or imbue them with moral rectitude.
The real problem at this point is the lack of will to carry the victory through to its logical conclusion. Why don’t the Israelis just push the people of Gaza out of Israel into Egypt and Jordan, and be done with it?
This is a shameful refusal to deliver the coup de grâce to a mortally wounded and suffering enemy. This is not a virtue. It is a vice.
The correct attitude would be: we won; you lost; deal with it.
It won’t right any past wrongs, but it sure would prevent a great deal of heartache and pain going forward.
August 1, 2014 at 17:03
It is a little bit more complex than you let on.
Sure, I have no argument with your point about Irgun and the Stern Gang.
But – the State of Israel has evolved past their beginnings.
They drop leaflets, warning the population to evacuate prior to an attack.
They have attempted to render medical and humanitarian aid to the Gazan civilians – even during a time of war.
They build bomb shelters which are for the use of ALL citizens of Israel, Jews, Arabs and others, Muslims Christians and atheists included.
This is not the behaviour of the Hamas Palestinians: they are even massacring other Palestinians who are not sufficiently pro-Hamas.
Attempting to morally equivocate the two sides is failing to differentiate between the civilized side and barbarians.
August 1, 2014 at 15:30
There is no moral principle that precludes negotiating with terrorists.
The reason one does not negotiate with terrorists, is that it only encourages them. The way to discourage them is to make it abundantly clear that acts of terrorism are utterly pointless.
Thus, vis-à-vis a terrorist, one takes the following stance: any hostages you have taken are already dead to us; any damage you have done is beneath our notice; nothing you have to say is of any interest to us; your actions will achieve nothing but your own ignominious death.
However, this is a stance one can credibly maintain only while one has overwhelmingly superior strength, and is unashamed to use it.
The problem is, Western culture has become a culture of victims, in which not even our leaders have the temperament or the fortitude to assume the stance of a victor.
Our sanctimonious abhorrence of violence is nothing but thinly-veiled cowardice, and negotiating with terrorists is only one of its many shameful and ruinous manifestations.
August 1, 2014 at 16:57
That is exactly my point – perhaps not as well articulated as you have done.
August 1, 2014 at 21:31
Well, civilized is not necessarily good and barbaric is not necessarily evil. The civilized Romans were corrupt and decadent, while the barbaric Visigoths were honourable and virtuous. But that’s not directly relevant to this discussion.
When it comes to Zionists and Islamists, a detailed examination of who did what to whom leaves little room to prefer one side to the other on moral grounds. The main visible differences are that the Zionists are better funded, better fighters, and better at propaganda.
My main point, though, is that I don’t understand why the Israelis are dragging this out.
What do they have to gain by continuing to poke the hornets’ nest, but never routing them out, once and for all?
The Palestinians are defeated. Deport them and put an end to it.
August 1, 2014 at 21:55
They cannot because of political pressure from the outside.
P.S. – Civilizations decay….by the end, Romans were no longer ‘civilized’ in the sense in which I use the word….while Visigoths were.
August 2, 2014 at 16:07
About the decay of civilizations: yes, exactly my point.
About the diplomatic pressure Israel faces: dragging this out is only making it worse.
If the Israelis simply moved the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, and those from the West Bank to Jordan, the Gordian knot would be cut.
Israel could use some of the money saved on internal security to beef up border security, and give the rest to the Egyptians and the Jordanians to compensate them for taking in their homeless Muslim brothers.
There would be an international outcry, but it would be short lived; it would fade away surprisingly quickly.
Instead, they let the wound fester, creating bad publicity and diplomatic repercussions that get worse and worse, with no end in sight.
This is another ruinous manifestation of that thinly-veiled cowardice I mentioned above.
They shouldn’t have started the fight, if they don’t have the stomach to finish it.
August 8, 2014 at 15:53
Neither Jordan nor Egypt is willing to accept the ‘Palestinians’.
Israel had tried, over and over, to give them the ‘Palestinians’ – even with their land, as Egypt used to occupy Gaza and Jordan the East Bank – but they simply refuse to take them.
In addition, the descendants of these ‘Palestinians’ living in, say, Jordan have been stripped of their Jordanian citizenship in order to maintain their state-less status, so they can be used as a tool to vilify Israel.
The Israelis have NOT started this war – the ‘Palestinians’ did, firing a constant barrage of rockets into civilians areas (both of Israel and of Gaza, then not permitting the medical aid Israel sent to the Gazan casualties to enter the strip…)
Israel is in a much more complicated situation than you suggest.
August 3, 2014 at 14:45
This very thoughtful piece by Gabor Maté, entitled Beautiful dream of Israel has become a nightmare, is precisely the kind of bad publicity which I refer to above. Maté, a Jew who is saddened, disillusioned and repulsed by what Zionism has become, writes
“My heart tells me that ‘never again’ is not a tribal slogan, that the murder of my grandparents in Auschwitz does not justify the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, that justice, truth, peace are not tribal prerogatives. That Israel’s ‘right to defend itself,’ unarguable in principle, does not validate mass killing.”
He is so right!
Worse, time is not on the Israeli’s side. Their hesitant, half-hearted conduct of the conflict just maximizes the misery and turns Israel’s friends against it. If they continue in this way, they will slowly and painfully drag defeat from the jaws of victory. Thus the only advice one can give Israel is this:
Either finish it quickly and cleanly, or give up and go home.
But whatever you do, stop pussy-footing around!
August 8, 2014 at 15:55
The problem is that if they try to go in fast and sharp – they will get beaten up by the international community.
And if they stop protecting themselves, they will have no home to go to….
August 6, 2014 at 02:04
I think… I might actually have to side with CodeSlinger here. I honestly don’t believe either side is righteous. No side can be righteous in a war, and I guess we have to look at the core dispute here. Israel wants to cede no land. Palestine wants Israel to cede land. Peace will never happen here. (I shouldn’t say never. Just not for a long while.)
Nobody wants peace. They want peace ON THEIR TERMS. Which is essentially the basis of war.
So, while I don’t think Israel is morally superior in the war, I think they are morally superior overall because they are culturally superior.
August 9, 2014 at 01:42
Yes, you’re right.
Each side desperately wants peace… if and only if the other side lets them have their way.
Neither side will give in.
And neither side can claim the moral high ground.
Gaza has devolved into a meat grinder precisely because the Israelis think they can have both moral and physical victory. But they cannot, and the more they try for both, the more certain it becomes that they will end up with neither.
August 9, 2014 at 01:52
Yes, I’m well aware that neither Jordan nor Egypt wants anything to do with the Palestinians. Who can blame them?
Nonetheless, Israel should push the Palestinians off into Jordanian and Egyptian territory with the solemn promise that any Palestinian crossing the border back into Israel will be shot on sight.
There is only one other way to end this conflict, and that is to kill them all without first giving Jordan and Egypt a chance to take them in.
Oh, wait. I guess there is a third option. The Israelis could all just pack their bags and go back to where they came from (outside the Levant).
That’s it. There are no more options. You have to pick one.
Which will it be?
August 10, 2014 at 21:53
Neither of these options is workable – and pretending it is is disingenuous.
August 11, 2014 at 12:36
So what, specifically, would you have them do?
August 11, 2014 at 23:42
I really, really don’t know that I would have them do anything other than what they are doing now.
The Israelis are in a very, very difficult position: the UN is stacked with anti-Semites, the Europeans are afraid to upset their anti-Semitic Islamist colonists (and yes – the Muslims who are true immigrants are integrating as best as they can – it is the Islamists who are entering Europe who are colonists, not immigrants who are preventing them), and the US is more anti-Semitic than ever. It seems that Canada is the only major ally of Israel – and we are small potatoes on the world stage.
So, the Israelis are stuck in a highly unenviable situation.
Israeli civilians are bombarded by rockets fired from Hospitals and UN schools within Gaza. It is only because of their investment in bomb shelters that the Israeli casualties are minimal.
But, the Hamas ruled Gazans have taken billions in ‘humanitarian aid’ and instead of bomb shelters and the equivalent to the iron dome, they built underground tunnels into Israel, often undermining kindergartens as particular targets in order to add shock value to their anticipated attack during a Jewish holiday. They have even worked several hundred Gazan children to death in mining these tunnels…
The Israelis MUST do something to primarily stop these tunnels which are extensive and through which Gazans dressed in Israeli military uniforms have snuck into Isrel and murdered people, secondarily to stop the rocket fire because a civilian population cannot indefinitely function under such conditions.
But, if the Israelis do not take extreme care to do what they are doing – dropping leaflets to warn people, phoning them to let them know an attack is coming, sending a harmless, warning shot against a building with enough time for civilians to evacuate before the real missile which will demolish the building is fired, if they did not call off air strikes when children are in the target area….they would be sinking beneath their own level of civilization!!!
After all, some of these Gazans may have voted in Hamas, but others did not and the children, of course, are innocent. Brainwashed – yes, but killing them would be barbaric. Israelis would be abandoning their own civilized state – not in the past, but now.
But if this were not a sufficient reason, if you wanted a purely pragmatic one, I can supply one of those as well.
Israel cannot survive if the whole world – with the exception of Canada and a few other little nations, like the Czech Republic – refuses to trade with them and completely isolates them.
And every dead Palestinian child – whether killed by Israeli weapons or by Palestinian rockets aimed at Israel and accidentally landing in Gaza – is a source of money for Hamas. So, Hamas will make sure that each and every real and imagined dead Palestinian child makes headlines. (And, yes – they have been caught not only passing off scenes from a horror movie as ‘Palestinian children killed by Israel’ – but also passing the photographs of the Isaeli Fogel children (including a suckling infant) who were murdered by a Palestinian terrorists as they slept in their beds, these too are being passed off as ‘Palestinian children killed by the Israelis’!!!
The Israelis – both Jewish and non-Jewish – may have much going for them, but they are a tiny country surrounded by nation states that share an ideological imperative to destroy Israel as a State AND to kill every Jew alive on this tiny little planet. And if the Jews pack up and colonize another planet, the Islamists will follow them to that planet nd try to murder them there.
Because their desire to kill every Jew in general and destroy Israel in particular is dogmatic, rooted both in the Koran and in the Hadith.
The Islamic prophet Muhammad had sheltered with both Jewish and Christian communities while he was, for reasons not known to history, excommunicated from Mecca. Both the Jewish and the Christian communities excommunicated him in their turn, also for reasons unknown. At least, that is what I was taught at Carleton University many decades ago when I took a course on Arab history.
While with the ‘People of the Book’ (Christians and Muslims), he learned a lot of their mythology. In particular, he latched on to the idea that the Jews had been God’s chosen people – which is why all the Old Testament killing and raping and genocide to get the Jews their ‘promised land’ was OK. God was fine with genocide – as long as the genociders were God’s ‘chosen people’. But, according to Muhammad, the Jews got too comfortable and broke their covenant with God (the whole Jesus thing, money-changers in the Temple and all that stuff) – which is why God punished them by kicking them out of the magical promised land, Israel.
Because, if Israel is ‘the promised land’, then only God’s chosen people get to live there – right?
And, the punishment that Muhammed is said to have inflicted on the Jews – to prove they were no longer his favourite people – was to deny them a homeland at all. As in – no matter where the Jews would have set up their new nation state, it would have made Muhammed wrong for saying they will never have a homeland as divine punishment. That is, the moment the Jews have a nation state of their own, Muhammed is proven wrong and all of Islam is proven to be a false religion…
But, setting it up in the promised land is an order of magnitude worse, because that is reserved for God’s favourites. And if the Jews get a homeland there, that means that they ARE God’s favourites…which means the Muslims are not, which means that Islam is not 100% correct….which it claims to be, so if one part is falsified, then all of it is….which is why them Jews have got to be kept out of Israel.
As do the Christians and everybody else.
Because of the Muslims are not God’s favourite people, then their whole religion is proven to be false…
So, now that we know why only the Muslims may live in Israel, we get to the secondary reason: all the Jews, including children, must be killed.
Because the Koran says that only when all the Jews are exterminated will the day of judgment (and paradise on Earth) take place.
So, you see, the Palestinian Islamist have very logical reasons for not wanting peace with Israel:
1) More dead Palestinian babies = more money for Hamas
2) Permitting Jews in ‘the promised land’ would bestow the title of ‘God’s favourite people’ on them and not Muslims, falsifying Islam
3) Killing all the Jews will bring Paradise to Earth and ought to be accelerated
Thus, Israel has no hope of a peace treaty with Hamas.
If Israel acts as any other country would to protect its people, the international community (weighted by Muslim and Islamist-fearing State votes) will destroy it through isolation.
Therefore, doing what they are doing now – pursuing their objectives while taking every possible precaution to save civilian lives is the only reasonable course of action open to the Israelis.