One annoying aspect of Lozowick's bloggering is his didactic tone, always explicitly stating the conclusions that a less sophomoric pundit would leave it for his readers to draw (namely, that anti-Zionists are a bunch of morons, jackasses, nutcases and kneejerks). I suspect he's not so much interested in my opinions as in the possibility of making fun of me (although in a way it will be mostly his diehards who will find terribly funny) in a paragraph that will begin with the word "predictably".
Even so, I have a few ideas of my own re the situation in Gaza, and it will do no harm to express them even if I risk the doctor's derision.
1. I don't understand Hama's use of rockets against Sderot and other Israeli towns. It makes no sense even if you subscribe to some idiotic theory that "all Israelis are soldiers or future soldiers" or such. To put it cynically, if you know the world will condemn you for your actions, at least you should make it sure you hit your enemy hard. For instance, the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit, also indefensible under any civilized standard, at least made sense under a tortured tit-for-tat logic: Israel kidnaps Palestinians, so Hamas kidnapped an Israeli to gain bargaining power and possibly exchange him for the Palestinians held by Israel. Immoral, but not crazy. However, the rockets on Sderot achieve the rare feat, even by Hamas' standards, of being both immoral and crazy. Without dismissing the anguish and stress suffered by southwestern Israelis, it is pain Israel can live with, while Israel's responses (first a crippling blockade, now widesacale bombings, next possibly an invasion) are pain Gaza is much less likely to be able to cope with.
2. It's appalling that certain commentators are using the words "genocide," "Holocaust" or "Nazi" in connection with the Israeli op. These words do a great disservice to the Palestinian cause and make their users' credibility plummet. No; unlike those who have generalized the word "antisemitism," and now apply it to, say, people who don't talk about Tibet, I don't find it acceptable to similarly devalue the word "genocide." It means the systematic killing of a people, like the Armenians under the Turks, the Jews and Gypsies under the Nazis, the Tutsis under the Hutus and possibly the Pygmies under Les Éffaceurs. Israel has clearly never committed, will never in any likelihood commit and is certainly not comitting genocide in the present Gaza action.
3. That said, a lot of bad faith has been on display on the Zionist side in the context of explicating (is there such a word as "hasbarizing"?) the Gaza op. We know that the brainwashed will repeat clichés with admirable discipline, but the problem is with the brainwashers who supply them with the sound bites, who would seem to be missing (but one suspects are not) a few important points.
One ususally-made argument is "Israel withdrew from Gaza, and the Palestinians, instead of building a state, started to launch rockets." This is disingenuous for several reasons:
a) Gaza is a small and overcrowded strip of land with virtually zero natural resources and can hardly constitute the basis for a future state.
b) While Israel can disengage from Gaza, Gaza can't be "disengaged" from the West Bank. To make an analogy both silly and sound, if the United States took over Mexico and then withdrew from Baja California, the Mexicans living in the peninsula couldn't be reasonably expected not to keep on fighting for the rest of their country.
c) The disengagement was not part of an agreement, and involved none of the guarantees that are vital to get an economy functioning, such as freedom of movement into and out of the territory, the right to collect and use taxes, etc. Of course a point can be made that Israel can't offer that for security reasons, but the failure to build a state in Gaza can't be analyzed as if such guarantees had been in place.
d) Most importantly, Israel didn't withdraw from Gaza to allow the Gazans to rule themselves. It withdrew, in part, because Gaza is not a valuable piece of real estate; it has no water, scarce arable land and little strategic importance; it wasn't worth the budget it consumed. But it also withdrew precisely to be able to charge the Palestinians with not building a(n impossible) State and thus justify the failure to implement further withdrawals, for instance from any reasonable fraction of the at least 105 illegal outposts the Jewish settlers have established in the West Bank. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon's foreign policy adviser at the time of the disengagement, explained it with remarkable candor in an interview with Haaretz:
“When you freeze that process [i.e. the political process with the Palestinians], you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem...Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state . . . has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”
"The disengagement plan is the preservative of the sequence principle. It is the bottle of formaldehyde within which you place the president's formula so that it will be preserved for a very lengthy period. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
I want to remind you that there will also be a withdrawal in the West Bank.
"The withdrawal in Samaria is a token one. We agreed to only it so it wouldn't be said that we concluded our obligation in Gaza."
"On the other hand, in regard to the large settlement blocs, thanks to the disengagement plan, we have in our hands a first-ever American statement that they will be part of Israel."
4. Another argument that has been put forward is that Israel had to do something about the rockets raining on Sderot and that the only thing it could do is what it did. Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, former commander of the IDF's Gaza Division, begs to differ:
"The state of Israel must understand that Hamas rule in Gaza is a fact, and it is with that government that we must reach a situation of calm."
In Zakai's view, Israel's central error during the tahadiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce that formally ended on Friday, was failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip.
"We could have eased the siege over the Gaza Strip, in such a way that the Palestinians, Hamas, would understand that holding their fire served their interests. But when you create a tahadiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues, it's obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahadiyeh, and that their way to achieve this, is resumed Qassam fire.
"The carrot is improvement of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip. You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they're in, and to expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing. That's something that's simply unrealistic."
This general with some on-the-ground experience seems to sense what the flat-screen warriors in Europe and the US don't, namely that a political process is necessary even under an imperfect truce, and that not punishing a whole population, even if it's the same population that voted for Hamas, over the rockets on Sderot, might be a good idea. "All stick and no carrot makes Israel a dumb boy..." or how was it?
5. Finally, the issue of proportionality. During a six-month period there was low-level violence materialized in isolated rockets (but not barrages) thrown from the Strip, causing stress but no victims, met with a crippling blockade of Gaza on Israel's part, also causing stress but no victims. Then on Nov. 5 Israel killed 6 people in Gaza. Call them terrorists, militants or resistance fighters: the fact is that they were the first people to be killed in the truce period.
Although much has been made of the fact that the Qassams are fired randomly and thus any rocket can kill people, the fact that no person had been killed does have relevance. (Even though the Zionists spoke of unbearable Israeli pain in Sderot, they are the same Zionists who were boasting that the terrorists hadn't been able to disrupt national life -- what gives?) If you use missiles that have an extremely low probability of hitting someone, not firing enough of them that a person will likely be killed is a form of restraint. And Qassams (and Grads, and Katyushas) began to be thrown in casualty-causing amounts only after the six Gazans were killed by Israel.
The Israeli bombing campaign started on Saturday does not seem to meet a reasonable standard of proportionality. While popular belief has it that civilian casualties are wrong and noncivilian ones are right, the actual distinction is between combatants and noncombatants. And for instance the young cops who died in large numbers at a police academy graduation ceremony are clearly noncombatants. Although Israel plays on the West's image of a Palestinian policeman as a dark-skinned, thick-eyebrowed guy with shining black eyes and a knife between his teeth, the group is more likely to be mostly composed of cops like this:
who doesn't strike me as an immediate threat to Israel's security.
Also, the destruction of administrative infrastructure would seem to indicate that the lessons of Iraq have been lost on some. The Americans destroyed the whole Baathist administrative apparatus (instead of recycling it for democratic purposes) and made the local population pay dearly for it during the period of chaos that ensued. But it's not that Mr. Ehud Barak doesn't know this. The answer may lie in the coming Israeli election and the deep dive of his Labor party in the polls. It's a dangerous thing when a candidate is accountable to a public that wants blood.
One thing is for sure: bombing 'em into the Stone Age won't do the trick. Any long-term solution requires a political strategy, complete with goals, sticks, carrots and the intervention of international players. And I don't see the Israeli leadership formulating any policy other than the ephemeral manu militari solution it is currently implementing.