Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
The first rule of pride is this: When they run you out of town, walk like you’re leading the parade.
I’ll give Israel this: When international pressure got to be too much, Israel left Gaza as if it was Israel’s bright idea, “a unilateral ceasefire.”
In truth, Israel surrendered. It is “surrender” if you leave with Hamas rockets still flying into Israel, and with Gilad Shalit remaining in his private Dachau. Imagine how Shalit was tortured these past three weeks. Imagine being his parents. If this Gaza operation even resembed a success, Israel could have said, OK Hamas, we’ll stop devestating your neighborhoods and killing your so-called civilians in exchange for two things: The rockets have to stop, and Shalit comes home.
What we see is that Hamas wasn’t all that devestated; if they were, they’d have taken the deal.
Israel’s soldiers never quit; their leaders did, like Roberto Duran not coming out for the next round, “no mas,” throwing in the towel.
We know that Israel lost because Hamas set the terms: The rockets do not stop; Shalit stays where he is.
What would we be saying about Roosevelt and Churchill if they settled for a cease fire on Jan. 18, 1945, with the excuse that, hey, the German cities have been badly damaged, but yes, the Nazis can still drop rockets on London, and yes, the Jews stay in the camps. Even if it’s only one Jew. Who would call that a victory?
This war was supposed to re-establish Israel’s deterrence. That was supposed to be the lesson to the rest of the Middle East. Instead, the lesson is that Israel quits before the rockets do.
Israel has established in Gaza exactly what it established in the Hezbollah war: That Israel can go three tough weeks and only three weeks, and then Israel looks at its watch (or at the European Union’s watch) and goes home, job incomplete.
Hamas, like Hezbollah, is an Iranian satellite, a stand-in. This, like the 2006 war, is a harbinger of a worse war to come.
What if Iran is prepared to fight for four weeks? Is Israel prepared to go four? If Israel is so flustered by charges that it killed a stray civilian, be prepared that when Israel fights Iran we’ll be told that every Israeli bomb falling on Iran is landing on nothing and no one but women and children, innocent babies and maternity wards. If Israel attacks Iran, you can bet that Iran’s nuclear operation will suddenly be declared “peaceful,” generating only nuclear energy to help Iranian orphans and United Nations relief facilities. The so-called “international community” will then help rebuild Iran’s peaceful nuclear facility and they’ll call it humanitarian aid. Israel will then send Iran medical supplies and halvah. With that scenario, already played out by Israel with Hamas, I don’t see how Iran is deterred at all.
Israel should not be answering those who accuse Israel of war crimes by begging the cynics to believe that “we love life.” That’s embarrassing. It sounds like Mister Rogers.
If cynics accuse Jews of deliberately targeting civilians, don’t answer like that doomed drama queen in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Blanche DuBois: “Deliberate cruelty is unforgivable, and the one thing of which I have never, ever been guilty of.”
Jews should be very, very worried when their leaders sound exactly like Blanche DuBois.
Instead, Jews should answer that the premise of war is that cruelty is indeed forgivable, some things are worth dying for; better yet, some things are worth YOU dying for — you, Hamas. Disproportionate? As Gen. Patton said, the purpose of war is not to die for your country, it’s to make the other son of a bitch die for his country. And that’s what Israel did, making Hamas killers and their civilian supporters die in a war that Hamas started and Israel
finished should have finished.
“A Streetcar Named Desire”? Better another Brando movie, “The Godfather.” When charged with war crimes, Jews should answer unemotionally, but with total confidence, like Don Corleone: “I don’t apologize for taking care of my family.”
Israel had no business fighting this war in the first place, and risking the lives of Jewish soldiers, if Israel had no intention of going the distance. Why did any Israeli soldier have to die, leaving family, friends and lovers to mourn for the next 60 years? To set Hamas back six weeks? Israel didn’t set Hamas back six hours. Rockets were flying the day that Israel left Gaza.
And Israel continues to send “humanitarian aid” into Gaza, aid that Israel admits is being hijacked by Hamas. What parent would give their child’s kidnappers “humanitarian aid” without even demanding a phone call, a chance to hear their son’s voice, even a Red Cross visit to the kidnapped child? No, Israel is facilitating the flow of food, cash and supplies to Shalit’s kidnappers in exchange for nothing.
And if, God forbid, Shalit is already dead, then Israel ought to withhold aid to Hamas at least until Shalit gets a decent burial, if not long after, if Israel has any dignity left. There have been over two dozen instances in recent years in which the Palestinian Authority has suspended talks with Israel to protest one Israeli policy or another but Israel won’t suspend the sending of tons of supplies to Hamas to protest the torture and imprisonment of Shalit that is in total violation of the supposedly sacred Geneva guidelines for a prisoner of war.
That’s right, the very same Geneva guidelines for p.o.w.’s that so inflamed politicians, academics, clergy, editors and, ethicists from around the world to demand that Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo be closed, and that its Al Qeda prisoners not be “tortured,” have never sparked a similar international campaign to close the Hamas dungeon where Shalit is tortured, a dungeon where war crimes are never tabulated. Odd, how concern for Shalit eludes the humanitarians. Pity him in his lonely war, the last Jewish soldier in Gaza.
In the end, like all Israeli wars, these past weeks were somehow inspirational if only for the courage and holiness of the soldiers. They are the best of us, and “us” is the key word. The goodness and passion of young Israelis — who were winning this war but who will suffer its consequences — may not deter Iran but it’s a reason to believe, and to fall in love with the Jewish people, all over again.