New Gaza War : The Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again

“A loud-mouthed bully?”: Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem December 21, 2008. Photo by Gali Tibbon / Pool / Reuters.

‘Once again, Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom.’
By Gideon Levy / December 28, 2008

Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: “Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!”

Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation “Cast Lead” is only in its infancy.

Once again, Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom.

What began yesterday in Gaza is a war crime and the foolishness of a country. History’s bitter irony: A government that went to a futile war two months after its establishment – today nearly everyone acknowledges as much – embarks on another doomed war two months before the end of its term.

In the interim, the loftiness of peace was on the tip of the tongue of Ehud Olmert, a man who uttered some of the most courageous words ever said by a prime minister. The loftiness of peace on the tip of his tongue, and two fruitless wars in his sheath. Joining him is his defense minister, Ehud Barak, the leader of the so-called left-wing party, who plays the role of senior accomplice to the crime.

Israel did not exhaust the diplomatic processes before embarking yesterday on another dreadful campaign of killing and ruin. The Qassams that rained down on the communities near Gaza turned intolerable, even though they did not sow death. But the response to them needs to be fundamentally different: diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire – the same one that was initially breached, one should remember, by Israel when it unnecessarily bombed a tunnel – and then, if those efforts fail, a measured, gradual military response.

But no. It’s all or nothing. The IDF launched a war yesterday whose end, as usual, is hoping someone watches over us.

Blood will now flow like water. Besieged and impoverished Gaza, the city of refugees, will pay the main price. But blood will also be unnecessarily spilled on our side. In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel’s overreaction.

The history of the Middle East is repeating itself with despairing precision. Just the frequency is increasing. If we enjoyed nine years of quiet between the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War, now we launch wars every two years. As such, Israel proves that there is no connection between its public relations talking points that speak of peace, and its belligerent conduct.

Israel also proves that it has not internalized the lessons of the previous war. Once again, this war was preceded by a frighteningly uniform public dialogue in which only one voice was heard – that which called for striking, destroying, starving and killing, that which incited and prodded for the commission of war crimes.

Once again the commentators sat in television studios yesterday and hailed the combat jets that bombed police stations, where officers responsible for maintaining order on the streets work. Once again, they urged against letting up and in favor of continuing the assault. Once again, the journalists described the pictures of the damaged house in Netivot as “a difficult scene.” Once again, we had the nerve to complain about how the world was transmitting images from Gaza. And once again we need to wait a few more days until an alternative voice finally rises from the darkness, the voice of wisdom and morality.

In another week or two, those same pundits who called for blows and more blows will compete among themselves in leveling criticism at this war. And once again this will be gravely late.

The pictures that flooded television screens around the world yesterday showed a parade of corpses and wounded being loaded into and unloaded from the trunks of private cars that transported them to the only hospital in Gaza worthy of being called a hospital. Perhaps we once again need to remember that we are dealing with a wretched, battered strip of land, most of whose population consists of the children of refugees who have endured inhumane tribulations.

For two and a half years, they have been caged and ostracized by the whole world. The line of thinking that states that through war we will gain new allies in the Strip; that abusing the population and killing its sons will sear this into their consciousness; and that a military operation would suffice in toppling an entrenched regime and thus replace it with another one friendlier to us is no more than lunacy.

Hezbollah was not weakened as a result of the Second Lebanon War; to the contrary. Hamas will not be weakened due to the Gaza war; to the contrary. In a short time, after the parade of corpses and wounded ends, we will arrive at a fresh cease-fire, as occurred after Lebanon, exactly like the one that could have been forged without this superfluous war.

In the meantime, let us now let the IDF win, as they say. A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air yesterday, and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully’s strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him.

Source / Haaretz.com

Thanks to Carl Davidson / The Rag Blog

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1 Response to New Gaza War : The Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again

  1. Good post; I found this that might add to this topic. Regards, Diane

    Israel’s President Shimon Peres, On the Attacks in Gaza
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    As a member of the press, I get Government Press Office updates on crucial talks and events happening in Israel. This morning, President Shimon Peres delivered this special statement to the press, on Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s attack on Hamas terrorists’ infrastructure in Gaza), and the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire on civilian areas in southern Israel.

    I’ve included a word-by-word transcript of the statement, and thought it will be useful (especially) for those so removed from the conflict, yet so eager to debate about it.

    Here is the transcript:

    President Peres:
    It is the first time in the history of Israel that we, the Israelis, cannot understand the motives or the purposes of the ones who are shooting at us. It is the most unreasonable war, done by the most unreasonable warriors.

    The story is simple. Israel has left Gaza completely, out of our own free will, at a high cost. In Gaza there is no single Israeli civilian or soldier. They were evacuated from Gaza, our settlements, which called for a very expensive cost. We had to mobilize 45,000 policemen to take out our settlers from there. We spent $2.5 billion. The passages were open. Money was sent to Gaza. We suggested aid in many ways – economically, medically, and otherwise. We were very careful not to make the lives of the civilian people in Gaza difficult. Still I have not heard until now a single person who could explain to us reasonably: why are they firing rockets against Israel? What are the reasons? What is the purpose?

    And I must say also that the phenomenon about Israel is the restraint of the army and the unity of the people. The army waited and waited; the Palestinians asked for a ceasefire, and we agreed. They themselves have violated the ceasefire. Again, we didn’t know why, until it came to a point where we were left without a choice but to bring an end to it. The operation was planned carefully and the army was true to its principles: namely, to be precise in its targets and careful not to hit civilian life. There is a problem because many of the bombs were stored in private houses. We have contacted the owners of the houses, the people that dwell there, and told them leave it. You can’t live with bombs. We have to bring an end to the source of the bombs.

    Israel doesn’t have any ambition in Gaza. We left out of our free choice. We have never gone back to the idea of returning to Gaza. It’s over. But we cannot permit that Gaza will become a permanent base of threatening and even killing children and innocent people in Israel for God knows why. I feel that in our hearts, we don’t have any hatred for the Gazan people. Their suffering doesn’t carry any joy in our hearts. On the contrary, we feel that the better they will have it, better neighbors we shall have. Now that Hamas is turning to the Arab world for help, the truth is that the Arab world has to turn to Hamas for the help of Hamas. If Hamas will stop it, there is no need for any help. Everything can come again to normalcy. Passages: open; economic life: free; no Israeli intervention; no Israeli participation in any of the turnarounds in Gaza.

    As a nation, we feel united. As a nation, there is wholehearted support for the army, the way they handled it, their restraint, their discrimination, and their responsibility. The great winner can be reason, and reason will lead to peace. We are very serious, in a serious mood. Many of our children are still in the shelters, and we would like them, like the children of Gaza, to breathe fresh air again. This is the story, and whoever asks us to stop shooting – they have to change the address. Let them turn to Hamas and ask them to stop shooting, and there won’t be shooting. Thank you very much.

    END OF TRANSCRIPT

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