by Jeff Swanson
Perhaps the most under asked question is; why is there a need for a cease fire between Israel and Hamas?
Not intending to give the impression of a warmonger, I am not suggesting that hostilities continue. Not at all. I am wondering if the recent fighting should have been occurring at all?
The last four years have left Israel withering on the vine. A nation having to decide how to defend itself in an increasingly unstable middle east. Having to essentially define how it will go it alone where Israel’s allies have simply chosen inaction as a course of action.
In 2009, meeting with Jewish leaders, President Obama stated the following, “Look at the past eight years,” he said, referring to the George W. Bush administration’s relationship with Israel. “During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.”
Though recently the administration has had a Come-to-Jesus moment, so to speak; State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said, “Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination.” A little late in the party for the Obama adminstration but better late than never.
This does, however, define the administration’s approach to international conflict. As with Benghazi’s side step on terrorism, or leading from behind of the self same Libya’s revolution, or the administration’s lack of support when Iranians took to the streets in a likely once-in-a-lifetime chance to change the direction of Iran; the administration only engages when it is obvious it should. When the decision is easy.
The Obama administration simply does not have the guts to take on international conflict. I understand that Obama is from the progressive, pacifist mold of sixties radicals. Nonetheless, when you man the big chair, you have to set that side and deal with reality.
To be fair to the President, he has supported, or more accurately continued support of military aid to Israel in the form of 3 plus billion dollars a year and even increased said aid by a quarter billion dollars.
Material support is a good thing and I appreciate that Obama has chosen to continue. However, I cynically assert that it would have been political suicide to have backed away from Israeli support.
At the root, the issue is less so about the President and more so the progressive mindset. The overall progressive mindset is that Israel is the aggressor. David Harris Gershon notes via the Daily Kos, “Jewish families are huddled right now, being terrorized by a barrage of Hamas rockets, precisely because of “tough” Israeli response for which Yoffie advocates.”
Is this true?
The ‘Yoffie’ he refers to is the Israeli newspaper Haaretz’ columnist Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie. In the article Mr. Gershon references, Yoffie makes this point, “As innumerable Israeli leaders have said, no other civilized country in the world would tolerate for a week what Israel has tolerated for a decade; a single rocket aimed at an American city would call forth a far more drastic response than anything that Israel has attempted or even contemplated.”
Without degenerating to a history of the conflict, where the conflict started and who is responsible for the original sin of the conflict, and thusly who is on the side of right, is immaterial. The point should still be taken by Yoffie that much of the world is expecting Israel to just sit tight and deal with it.
A ridiculous suggestion.
Clearly, Israel has tried to meet countless demands of the Palestinians. The world at large has asked Israel to make these concessions.
According to Israeli expert, Michael Rubin, “Palestinians and Israelis might argue about Jerusalem, right of return, and other final status issues, but there were no longer land disputes in Gaza. What followed was a disaster: Whereas southern Israel was once free of violence, suddenly towns like Sderot became targets for hundreds of rockets and missiles. Southern Lebanon, too, became a forward staging base for ever more advanced weaponry, as Hezbollah would demonstrate in 2006. The more land Israel ceded, the more insecure it became and the more violence her citizenry suffered.”
More pointedly, these concessions have only shown the enemy Hamas that Israel has the willingness to be weak. For that matter, it appears that Hamas views the current Palestinian Authority (PA) with some antipathy because of Abbas’ moderation. Via the New York Times, “Since June 2007, Hamas has been in de facto control of the Gaza Strip after seizing power from Fatah (PA) gunmen in a series of bloody clashes. Fatah retains control of the West Bank.”
Further, “…an increasing number of Palestinians are looking to Hamas rather than the Palestinian Authority for leadership, particularly after the eight day conflict over Gaza in November 2012, in which Hamas responded to a withering bombardment by firing hundreds of rockets, some of which came close to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
In looking at the most recent conflict and the intra-Palestinian conflict, Hamas is not looking for a negotiation. It is looking for control and has the support of Iran (weapons) and ad hoc support of Egypt in the form of a blind eye to weapons smuggling.
With a U.S. President that lacks understanding of Israeli history and his willingness to, as Mitt Romney stated, ‘throw Israel under the bus’, Hamas is making a calculated bet that an attack will gain them something. It’s not clear what the end game is for Hamas but it is clear that Hamas is seeking power of sorts.
With President Obama not understanding that the root of the conflict is very deep, this could be a challenge. After Obama’s Cairo speech, he flew to Germany with an eventual stop at a concentration camp. With a very deaf ear to Israeli history, Obama stated, “They could not have known how the nation of Israel could rise out of the destruction of the Holocaust and the strong, enduring bonds between that great nation and my own.”
Obama seemed to lack understanding that, though the history of an Israeli state started in ernest following World War II, the history of Israel for Jews is biblical in origin and has a basis in Hebrew writings. Moreover, a semi-secular Obama forgets that the very land in dispute is claimed by the three major three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
As a representative of the progressive view, Obama believes that if you wave the dove emblazoned flag and have some level of personal charm, that the conflict will moderate. It will not. More stressing is that with making the appearance of distance, the U.S. will seem more amenable to the radical Islamic street.
Due to his lack of understanding and the daylight that now appears between the U.S. and Israel, it has only emboldened not only Hamas but radical Islam as a whole.
It is this emboldening that has led to the current conflict. If Hamas is to believe that they have nothing to gain in attacking Israel, there would be little to no terrorist actions. Gain is the game.
An Israel that gives in is not a safer nation. However, if Israel remains strong, it is safer for its citizens. A United States that is not materially supportive leaves Israel vulnerable and this vulnerability, that they must go it alone, is the precursor to being attacked.
Even Osama bin Laden knew this, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”
Whether or not Israel is liked is immaterial. Without strong U.S. support, Israel is lesser respected than with American support. Fair or unfair, the planet’s greatest military power on your side is the type of gravitas that earns respect, begrudgingly from its enemies or otherwise.