Shoot First, Leap Second

Since nearly every sensible government views Hamas as a terrorist organization, I was glad to see that Israel rejected France’s proposed cease-fire. Whenever there is a flare-up there involving Israel, I am entertained by the various entreaties for peace, truce, etc. Today’s entertainment is courtesy of Julia Chaitin, a senior lecturer at the Sapir Academic College. Sapir is located near Sderot, Israel, and would be easily within the range of the Qassam rockets launched from Gaza. Chaitin writes an opinion piece in today’s Washington Post titled Darkness in Qassam-Land. It is the kind of piece that one might expect from someone that holds the title of program developer of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development. That sounds like real job security, right there.

Ms. Chaitin writes

This war is wrong. It is wrong because it cannot achieve its manifest goals — long-term “normal” life for the residents of the Negev region.

How do we know that it will not achieve the goals? And what is “normal” for the Negev region, anyway?

The war is morally wrong because most of the victims are Palestinian and Israeli civilians whose only “crime” is that they live in Negev or Gaza.

Most of the victims? Certainly the small number of victims in Israel are all civilians because Hamas targets civilians. But the victims in Gaza are nowhere near mostly civilians. It is certainly the case that Hamas has a morals problem because they operate from mosques and other facilities that are literally next to the homes of civilians. Thankfully, Israel employs precision guided munitions or the civilian victims would certainly be greater. And if the civilians of Gaza were responsible for elevating Hamas to power, maybe there is a cautionary object lesson here?

This war is wrong because it is not heading toward a viable solution of the conflict but is instead creating more hatred and greater determination on the part of both peoples to harm one another.

How can anyone with a shred of intelligence suggest that one should not protect oneself against an aggressor because such action would lead to more hatred by the aggressor? Ms. Chaitin should review the Hamas Covenant of 1988.

Hey, It Passed Spellcheck!

Hey, It Passed Spellcheck!

It is wrong because it is leading to stronger feelings that we have nothing to lose by striking further, with greater force.

Stronger feelings? Striking further? Greater force? Um, Ms. Chaitin, that ship has sailed. Don’t you know that Hamas continues to produce new versions of the Qassam rocket, with increased range? And that Hamas now imports the Iranian-made Grad and Fajr rockets with even greater ranges? The Grad and Fajr rockets, by the way, are smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt…the same tunnels that Israel intends to close.

This war is wrong because, even before the last smoke rises from the rubble and the last ambulance carries the dead and wounded to hospitals, our leaders will find themselves signing a new agreement for a cease-fire.

I doubt that any agreement will be signed any time soon. But suppose one were signed soon. What makes it wrong? I would suggest that the war is a success if it merely offers a lesson to Hamas and its supporters that there are consequences to aggressive actions. Far too often, in Israel and elsewhere, there are no consequences. For example, there could have been significant, punishing retaliation for any one of Qassam attacks this year. I think Israel shows remarkable restraint.

Qassam Rockets

Qassam Rockets

But I know the answer to our conflict will not come with this war. We will know peace only when we accept the fact that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have every right to lives of dignity. We will know peace only when we recognize that we must negotiate with Hamas, our enemy, even if we are devastated that the Palestinians did not elect a more moderate party to lead them. We will know peace only when our leaders stop considering our lives cheap and expendable, and help us create a beautiful, green Negev, free of fear and despair.

I agree that the Israel-Palestine conflict will not end with the end of this action by Israel. But I don’t believe that this is actually the goal of Israel in carrying out the action. Certainly, any notion that peace can only come with negotiation with Hamas is a pipe dream; a quick review of the Covenant would show that. As I have said before, there is no reason to feel devastated that a more moderate party was not elected by the Palestinians. Maybe the electorate will remember that elections have consequences the next time they are given a choice.

Earlier today, we were treated to an additional second of time. At 6:59:59 p.m., the clock had to wait two seconds before striking 7:00:00 p.m. I hope that Julia Chaitin put that “leap second” to good use. But if I had to guess, I would say that Ms. Chaitin was probably asleep at that time, dreaming.

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