Friday, January 16, 2009

Israel and Gaza: Required Reading for January 16

As we appraoch MLK Weekend and a most historic Inauguration Day, we reflect on the perilous world we live in and how deeply we as Jews desire to forge a world where peace prevails. It appears that, despite the devastation that is a necessary part of war, Israel may have taken steps over the past few weeks that will lead to this being a more peaceful planet. Carrying the torch for those who respect human life and reject extremist views, the soldiers of Tzahal have displayed remarkable courage. In the fog of war, mistakes are made, yet the Israelis have continued to hold themselves to the highest possible standards of morality, higher even than the rest of the world holds them to - including the hypocritical, two-faced and morally blind members of the international community and media who condemn them.

In his daily update last night, Marc Shulman wrote:

Psychologically, the events of the last few days seem to have broken Hamas. When the war first began, Izadim el Qassam (Hamas' military wing) said it would defend the border. Then it said it would defend the built up areas. When they failed to do that, they claimed they would defend Gaza City. Now the IDF has penetrated to wherever it wants to go in Gaza and it is clear to everyone that Hamas' claim of having a significant military force is worthless. This is probably the ultimate success of the mission.

I concur with that analysis. Israel has achieved the clear military victory it needed, despite the fact that rockets still land on Israeli towns. Now, with the war having been won, it is time to win the peace. If negotiations yield anything less than an iron clad assurance that Hamas will not be able to rearm, Israel should and will resist. Too much blood has beens spilled to accept half a loaf on that issue. Israelis in the south have lived in fear for too long. And if Hamas continues to be defiant, that only gives the Israelis more time to do more damage to Hamas' ability to harm others (including their own people). As David Horovitz wrote in today's Jerusalem Post, Israel's deference to Egyptian sensitivities enabled Hamas to build up its military strength. If the diplomats fail again, the next confrontation will be far worse.

Israelis above all do desire peace. And so to illustrate that point, and to usher in this historic week in the spirit of MLK, I offer a couple of YouTube clips with contemporary versions of that quintessentially Jewish prayer, "Oseh Shalom," "May the One who brings peace to the heavens bring peace to us ansd to all of Israel, and all the world - Amen." These links offer the image of children - and in the second one, a popular ad this past year in Israel for a cell phone company, expresses the eternal yearning of all Jews, secular, religious, young and old. Hamas teaches its children to hate and fight. Israeli kids dream of living in peace and harmony with their neighbors.

Oseh Shalom:

1) (thanks to Janice Rosenstock for suggesting this one)


- Here is the audio of the song in its complete form: audio of the song in its complete form
- and here is the story of the creation of this commercial: the story of the creation of this commercial

Even for those who don't speak Hebrew, the energy of Israel's secular youth cunture comes through - and keep in mind that what they are singing is the JEWISH PRAYER FOR PEACE. Ancient lyrics, but a new, new song. A song about a hope that never ends.

And isn't this weekend, after all, about the audacity of hope?

Shabbat Shalom

Today's required reading: (See also

A.B. Yehoshua / An open letter to Gideon Levy

Today's Myths and Facts: #67: Iran’s Interest in Gaza War

From the New Israel Fund:
Jewish and Arab Neighbors Hold Hands for Peace
Last Saturday 300 Jews and Arabs from the Wadi Ara region of Israel demonstrated against the harming of innocent civilians in Gaza and the surrounding Israeli region. The rally was organized by NIF grantee Awareness for You, which runs empowerment courses for Arab women in the village of Kfar Kara. MORE>

Jewish Goalkeeper Defends Arab Mayor
In an effort to rekindle the spirit of coexistence created through Israeli soccer, Meir Cohen, the Jewish captain of the Arab-owned Bnei Sakhnin team, has defended the city's mayor Mazan Ghanem. Ghanem transformed Bnei Sakhnin into a leading Israeli soccer club and has been an ally of NIF in the struggle against racism in the stadium. MORE>

Critical Currents: War, Human Rights and Democracy
The Jerusalem Post

More News:

The Dahiya Doctrine: Applying Disproportionate Force - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff- The head of Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, spoke a few months before the war of the "Dahiya Doctrine." The destruction in Gaza is reminiscent of what the air force did to Beirut's Shi'ite Dahiya quarter in 2006. Israel has made it clear that it is capable of inflicting enormous damage if provoked in such a way that it feels compelled to respond. The Israeli operation in Gaza was completely disproportional. Al-Jazeera faithfully broadcasts all the announcements issued by various unknown Palestinian factions about their alleged successes in the Gaza fighting. The running captions at the bottom of the screen report non-stop on wholly fictitious events. The Popular Resistance Committees announce they have destroyed a Merkava tank; there are numerous false reports about IDF soldiers being killed. Hamas propaganda films immortalizing a strike on Israeli soldiers are broadcast over and over again. The viewer can't help but conclude that, at any moment, Hamas' forces are about to reach Gaza's northernmost point and that the IDF is fighting a desperate battle to push them back. When Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh eventually emerges from his bunker, he will proclaim his organization the victor - and plenty of people in the West Bank will be ready to believe it. Haniyeh will have a harder time convincing Gazans. One Gazan journalist, noting Hamas claims of delivering surprises to Israel, said this week: "Hamas' only surprise were the more than 1,000 dead we suffered." (Ha'aretz)

Israel Closing In on Hamas HQ in Gaza City - Amos Harel and Avi IssacharoffIsraeli military pressure has destroyed most of the Palestinian defenses in the heart of Gaza City.

Hamas: We will not accept Israel cease-fire demands

Rift Apparent in Hamas on Cease-Fire - Salah Nasrawi and Sally Buzbee

Olmert: UN Compound Shelled in Response to Hamas Fire - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday that Israeli troops had shelled a UN compound in Gaza in response to fire coming from the building. "The Israeli forces were attacked from there and their response was severe," Olmert's office quoted him as telling Ban. "We do not want such incidents to take place and I am sorry for it. I don't know if you know, but Hamas fired from the UNRWA site." (AFP)

Obama's UN Ambassador Nominee: UN "Unfairly Condemns Israel" - President-elect Barack Obama's choice for U.S. envoy to the UN, Susan Rice, noted at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday that many try to use the UN "willfully and unfairly to condemn our ally Israel." Rice served in the Clinton administration as assistant secretary of state for Africa. (AP)

Israelis Overwhelmingly Back Gaza War - Shashank BengaliIsraelis aren't blind to civilian deaths or to mass suffering in Gaza. However, Israelis support the war against Hamas by more than four to one. If you lived here, many say, you would too. Polls show that Jewish Israelis see the war as necessary and justified, despite the deaths in Gaza and massive destruction of Palestinian homes and property. The public attitude here is that there's no peaceful way to deal with a foe such as Hamas, which doesn't recognize Israel's existence and whose fighters have fired thousands of rockets into Israeli towns over the past eight years.

Aerial Evacuation Time of IDF Wounded: 45 Minutes - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post) The IDF has reduced the aerial evacuation time of wounded soldiers from Gaza to an average of 45 minutes, Col. (res.) Nof Erez, head of aerial evacuations in the Gaza Division, said Thursday.

U.S. Sees Gaza Rebuilding as Opportunity for Abbas

Fatah Cracks Down on Hamas in West Bank

Hamas in Tactical Rethink - Abraham Rabinovich- The battle in Gaza is the first time Hamas has engaged the Israel Defense Forces in large-scale combat as an organized military force. Hamas hoped to humble the IDF by employing unconventional, quasi-guerilla tactics in densely built-up areas a conventional army would have difficulty dealing with. In ten days of ground combat, however, Hamas offered only sporadic resistance, melting away before the Israeli advance while suffering heavy casualties and inflicting few.

Hard Lesson for Hamas - Editorial (Globe and Mail - Toronto)

On Proportionality - Michael Walzer (New Republic) - Before the six months of cease-fire (when the fire never ceased), Hamas had rockets that could only hit nearby small towns in Israel. By the end of the six months, they had far more advanced rockets that can hit cities 30 or 40 kilometers away. Another six months of the same kind of cease-fire, which is what many nations at the UN demanded, and Hamas would have rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv. And this is an organization explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel. How many civilian casualties are "not disproportionate to" the value of avoiding the rocketing of Tel Aviv?

Hamas, Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda: 21st Century Nazis - Samuel Rodriguez (Washington Post) - Hamas, Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda are not political extensions of an ethno-ideology contextualized within the framework of a religious narrative. These groups represent nothing less than an unbridled commitment to murder, destruction and terrorism. Accordingly, the prophets and ministers of this hybrid religious/political cult preach from the canon of fear and chaos, vociferously advocating the message of religious totalitarianism. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Perceptions of Victory - Yossi Klein Halevi- When the fighting in Gaza ends, and Ismail Haniyeh emerges from his bunker beneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and proclaims victory amid the ruins, how credible will that boast be among Palestinians and among Arabs generally? In the Middle East it is not enough to objectively lose or win a war; perception often overtakes and determines reality. A crucial factor is what Israelis themselves believe and communicate. If the Israeli public remains convinced that the IDF has restored its credibility, that the military command is trustworthy and its soldiers are fighting more effectively and with greater motivation that they have in decades, then Haniyeh's inevitable declaration of victory will appear less credible in the Arab world. (Shalem Center)

Giving Voice to Anti-Semitism - Frank Furedi- I have always criticized the tendency of some commentators to dismiss all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. However, in recent years, especially since the eruption of the latest conflict in Gaza, anti-Israeli sentiments often mutate into anti-Jewish ones. Recent events indicate that in Europe the traditional distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish feelings has become confused and blurred. The most worrying development in Europe is not the visible signs of radical Muslim and far-right vitriol directed at Jews but the new culture of accommodation. What has emerged is a slightly embarrassed "see nothing, hear nothing" attitude that shows far too much understanding towards manifestations of anti-Semitism. Sometimes even politically correct adherents of diversity and anti-racism manage to switch off when confronted with an anti-Jewish comment. The writer is a professor of sociology at the University of Kent in England. (The Australian)

Do Ordinary Iranians Understand the Israel/Hamas Conflict Better than the Experts? - Clifford D. May- Jeffrey Gedmin is president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, whose Iranian service, Radio Farda, has been receiving messages from its Iranian listeners regarding the war in Gaza. Here's a sampling (translated from Farsi): "The clerical regime is lying. It was not Israel who started this war." "Any other country [apart from Israel] would have done the same a long time ago." "Hamas should be destroyed. This cowardly group is taking cover in hospitals and residential areas. The people of Gaza should help Israel." "As long as [Iran's rulers] are helping Lebanon and Palestine, we're not going to have a decent living." "In my opinion, it would be better if our leaders, together with their supporters, would relocate to Palestine....This way we would have peace and quiet in Iran and our economic situation would improve." The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Review)

Save Gaza by Destroying the Heart of Terror - Natan Sharansky (Bloomberg)

Israel Is Communicating with Gaza - Safa Joudeh (TIME) Israel has infiltrated local Gaza news channels and radio broadcasts. While watching the news, we see the screen go black, and a message comes up for a few moments, saying something along the lines of, "You will witness our wrath." We turn off the television and turn on the radio, only to hear another message from the Israeli military. In addition, almost all the residents of Gaza have been receiving recorded messages from the IDF over the phone. Then there are the thousands of leaflets Israel has been dropping from the sky.

Reporter's Notebook: An emotional disconnect By HAVIV RETTIG GUR (JPost) Responsibility for suffering in Gaza rests solely on Hamas, Israelis say.

Israel Info Center

Gaza War Info Links

Myths & Facts -

Best Daily News Digest - Daily Alert:

Call the US State Department to support Israel at their Israeli-Palestine phone line: 202-647-3672

Media Monitoring: Be vigilant in responding to anti-Israel news stories, blog postings, op-eds, letters to the editor on campus media. Incorrect information or information presented without context could be challenged with letters-to-the-editor. See here for a model Op-Ed.

Contact your Member of Congress: You can reach out to your Member of Congress, and urge Members who have not done so to make a statement of support for Israel's right to defend itself. Here's a template letter by the UJC/JCPA Israel Advocacy Initiative.

Make your voice heard on: Facebook , Twitter , blogs, etc. You can utilize these UJC/JCPA talking points.

Post your thoughts on: President-Elect Obama's website.

Support the IDF during this difficult time and help the FIDF in their efforts to keep up with demands from the ground for care packages, hygiene kits, enlistment kits, etc. You can earmark your donation to Operation Cast Lead at

Quick Facts on Humanitarian Aid :

Kerem Shalom cargo crossing is scheduled to open for the transfer of humanitarian commodities. 80 truck loads of medical supplies, medication, and food commodities including donations from Greece, Jordan and Egypt are expected to cross into Gaza.

The fuel depot at Nahal Oz is scheduled to convey some 200,000 liters of fuel both for the power station and other humanitarian needs. The depot was closed for the last week due to security concerns that impeded the ability to operate the crossing.

At the request of various embassies, an evacuation of some 200 dual nationals is also planned to take place. Arrangements have been made for dual nationals to leave Gaza to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.

NEW Media Resources:

Israel Trauma Coalition, supported by the UJA Federation of New York, on-the-ground update
Quotes from Arab Leaders Supporting Israel

Behind the Headlines

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: Hamas's Military Force in the Gaza Strip

Operation Cast Lead Power Point Update

Quick Facts on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Israel (with JCRC Exec. Vice President Michael Miller)
Video: Eyewitness News , CBS , and NBC
Articles: New York Times and the New York Daily News

A rare video interview with former President of the Islamic Youth Movement: Fox News December 4, 2008, Complete Video Interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef
Escape from Hamas - Part 1
Escape from Hamas - Part 2
Escape from Hamas - Part 3 - "Hamas torture and kill their own people"
Escape from Hamas - Part 4
Escape from Hamas - Part 5
Escape from Hamas - Part 6

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