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I have to confess to a grave error of judgment and understanding regarding solutions for the Gaza situation.

I thought that No easy answers for Gaza had explained why there is no easy immediate solution to the problem of Hamas rule in Gaza. I was wrong. Well meaning people continue to offer "solutions" and to wonder why they are not adopted. Similar "solutions" are also offered for the Hezbollah problem, Iraq and Islamist extremism in general. It is evident that a more detailed explanation is needed.

The "solutions" offered consist of suggestions to carpet bomb Gaza, to destroy square blocks from the air after giving warning, or to destroy sectors by artillery fire - either with or without warning. The basic idea is to destroy civilian property or lives at random. The "advantage" of such solutions is supposedly that no Israeli soldiers will risk their lives. Apparently, that is what is meant by some people who insist that "there is only a military solution." These ideas are discussed by serious people in serious forums. The proposals are morally wrong, inexpedient and ineffective.

For those who need to understand the expediency and effectiveness arguments, I offer the following.

In general, the aim of terrorist groups like Hamas, the Taliban and the Hezbollah in asymmetric warfare is to provide just enough provocation to get their far stronger opponents to commit atrocities or to become involved in "no-win" wars. Atrocities by the state opponent mobilize public opinion and support internally and arouse public opinion abroad. This makes it possible to legitimize even the most odious ideologies regimes such as the Taliban, the Hamas and the Hezbollah. The biggest error of the Nazis in their invasion of the USSR was the nacht und nebel policy of atrocities against the civilian population. The Soviet people, whatever their feelings about Stalin and communism, had no choice but to rally massively against the Fascist enemy that was destroying their homes and their lives. The anti-communist Americans and British as well, felt constrained to come to the aid of the Soviet regime.

A wise Zionist leadership was able to beat the British empire because the anti-Jewish policies of the British in mandatory Palestine were obnoxious. They aroused the Jewish people, and they aroused the world. For Israel, the Second Lebanon war can serve as a model of what not to do - widespread destruction of civilian targets turned Lebanese and the world against Israel, just as the Sabra and Shatila massacre, not committed by Israel, was nonetheless used to turn Lebanese and world opinion against Israel. In Iraq, the Americans have been lucky enough to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. Their atrocities have slowly turned the Iraqi people solidly against "the resistance." If the Arabs of Palestine have slowly turned away from suicide bombing (there are still attempts) it is not because of any great moral scruples, but because they finally understood that the suicide bombings were hurting their cause rather than helping it, and turning world public opinion against them.

Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, which effectively eventually ended the wave of Palestinian terror that was instigated in 2000, was a spectacular and still under-appreciated success. It succeeded not because there was a massacre in Jenin or anywhere else, but because there were no massacres. There was a relatively precise plan for the attack, there was good intelligence and there was an excellent and well coordinated follow-up strategy. Palestinian propaganda tried in vain to invent a massacre story that would have destroyed the effectiveness of Defensive Shield, but even the UN and Human Rights Watch could not buy the fabricated massacre. The Palestinian population could not be mobilized for "resistance" either, because they understood that only those who continued terror attacks were threatened. In Gaza, we don't have such a clean option.

The main point of Defensive Shield, and the reason it succeeded, is that Israel gained control of the ground. As we saw in Lebanon, and as the US learned a long time ago in Vietnam, pounding the enemy from the air or at a distance cannot bring victory. The enemy in asymmetric warfare is always extremely determined, and their calculations are not upset by civilian casualties. They don't have a democratic regime and don't need to worry about public opinion. The Hamas could not care less if Israel wiped out half the people in Gaza, as long as their fighters are still alive in sufficient numbers to launch rockets.

A second essential factor in the success of the anti-terror effort was the construction of the security fence. Despite defects and insensitivity in the implementation of that measure, the powers of the self-righteous NGOs, the Hague court, the Tikkunistas and the terror lobby could not prevail against the security fence. That is because the fence, "Apartheid Wall" or whatever you want to call it stopped terror and prevents terror attacks every day. The fence saves lives. The fence, of course, would not stop rocket attacks, and neither would bombing square blocks of Gaza. War is always cruel and barbaric to some extent, but measures that are cruel, barbaric, ineffective and self-defeating cannot be justified.

Anti-Zionists and anti-Semites strain their imaginations to invent Zionist massacre stories, and to belabor the few real ones that can be suitably embroidered. The Mullahs of Tehran and Qom would like nothing better than to have the Israelis commit an actual massacre - to destroy square blocks, to shell areas at random, to vaporize Gaza. They are interested in Islamic revolution, not in helping Palestinians. They agree with Zionist extremists that the best sort of Palestinian Arab for their purposes is a dead one - a Shahid. Any of these "plans" for committing atrocities in Gaza would result in a catastrophe for Israel. Islamist fanatics would declare a Jihad. that would be joined by the entire Arab and Muslim world. The Egyptians would be forced to open the Rafah crossing to Mujahedin warriors and military materiel. The Gulf countries would institute a petroleum embargo, as if the price of oil is not high enough. The EU and the UN would most certainly recognize Hamas. The United States could not allow its weapons to be used in the commission of atrocities either.

Israel has one great advantage in the struggle with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and their allies that we did not really enjoy in the struggle against the violence of the "second Intifadah:" we have international support. The Hamas is an illegitimate genocidal movement that took power by force, and it is perceived as such by much of the world. Yasser Arafat was lauded as a hero in much of the world. Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh are rightly perceived as fanatical and bloodthirsty racist thugs. The proposed "solutions" would rob us of our only advantage. It would turn us into the fanatical and bloodthirsty racist thugs. Israel would lose the Gaza Monopoly game. We would land in the green square labeled "International recognition of Hamas or Hamas lookalikes."

Israeli responses are already straining the patience of many. It is regrettably not possible to combat the rocket attacks without killing at least some Palestinian civilians, even when due care is exercised, and without doing a lot of damage to property. Despite all the anger and suffering engendered by the barbaric rocket attacks, they have killed less than half a dozen Israelis since the beginning of the year. As many Palestinians are often killed in a week by Israel.

No Israeli government will implement any such atrocity strategy. It is opposed to the ethical code of the IDF. Not even the "Hatikva" party of Aryeh Eldad could do it, if only because the United States would not let them. So the entire discussion of such plans is as pointless as disputing the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin - it is a sort of deadly psychopathic version of "pilpul" (Talmudic disputation of irrelevant points for the sake of dispute).

The advocates of the "bomb 'em to Hell" school of thought must know all this. They continue, for obscure reasons, to advocate these bloody, nightmarish, fantastic, unrealistic and childish plans as if there had never been a Second Lebanon War with its lessons and all the years of fighting Palestinian violence with their lessons, and as if Israel can operate in a vacuum. They do incredible harm to Zionism and to the cause of Israel when they advocate them in public, because they are fulfilling the stereotype of bloodthirsty demonic "Military Zionism" created by anti-Israel fanatics.

Those who do not believe in expediency or Zionist morality, might be persuaded by the Bible. What didn't you understand about "Thou shalt not murder ('al tirza'h')"?

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000568.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 5 Comments

Dear Micha,
The Russians have quite a different opinion about US and Russian aid, and there was a reason that Stalin sent the "Anti-Fascist Committee" to the USA. In any case, despite Ukrainian defections, the truly heroic sacrifices made by the Russians would have been unimaginable if the Nazis had really come as liberators and treated the population humanely.

Carpet bombing Dresden didn't do any good. Luckily for the allies, there was no UN to tell them to to stop, was there?

It is one thing to get people to agree that Qassams are bad. It is quite another to get them to agree to carpet bombing civilians. Did you try convincing them of that idea?


Ami Isseroff, Sunday, June 15th

Sorry, Ami, but the the history of the WW2 does not support your stance. Churchill and Roosevelt stood by Stalin luring the USSR to attack Germany before the German atrocities started and even before the German invasion on June 22, 1941. On that very day Churchill promised to help the Communists whom he continued to hate (and rightly so). Later he (and the rest of His Majesty subjects)never had second thoughts about carpet-bombing Dresden (upon Kremlin's request, by the way).
True, German atrocities against the Soviet civilians worked against the Germans, but not by turning the USA and the UK into protectors of Stalin's occupied folks, but by persuading the Red Army soldiers that Hitler is worse than Stalin. Only in the end of 1942, when the German atrocities became a common knowledge, the Red Army started to fight instead of rushing to become POWs.
As Gazans do not need to be persuaded to destroy Israel, your comparison is not valid.

I also doubt that our shelling Gaza can not be defended in the international arena. I had a personal experience of arguing with a group of intellectuals (couple of Jews among them) in London last year. I suggested to those of them who brushed away Qassams as "imprecise and ineffective" weapon, which do not justify our fighting back. "You would not object", I suggested to them, "if whenever Qassam is "imprecisely" lobbed in the direction of Israel, a mortar shell will be fired in random direction from the courtyard of Israeli embassy in London". My opponents shut up, and several neutral Gentiles cheered.

Misha SHAULI, Sunday, June 15th

What we need is a lot of cheap unmanned planes (mazlatim).

Micha, Sunday, June 15th

A good question. I remember reading that monitoring the entire Gaza strip and keeping that many planes in the air at all times would apparently be pretty expensive, and it is certain that the other side would set up a lot of dummy launchings. Israel does bomb many of the launch sites and launchers either directly before or after a launching.

There is also no doubt that Hamas would find a different "gadget" if we overcame this one. The problem is to get rid of Hamas.

Ami Isseroff, Sunday, June 15th


I realize that I'm not much of a military strategist, but there are a couple of things I would like to say.

First of all, I don't quite understand why Israel can't bomb the missile launchers (from the air). I find it hard to believe that the military doesn't know where the bombs are coming from.

Secondly, the big thing that should be learned from the whole Gaza debacle is that giving away the precious land of Israel is a horrible idea. It should not be repeated in Yehuda and Shomron.


compugraphd, Sunday, June 15th

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