1. One of the criticisms most often leveled at Israel and her supporters is the claim that Israel’s actions in Gaza are costing it potential allies in the Arab world.
Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting.
Not this time.
After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.
“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents.
“I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” he said. “The silence is deafening.”
Although Egypt is traditionally the key go-between in any talks with Hamas — deemed a terrorist group by the United States and Israel — the government in Cairo this time surprised Hamas by publicly proposing a cease-fire agreement that met most of Israel’s demands and none from the Palestinian group. Hamas was tarred as intransigent when it immediately rejected it, and Cairo has continued to insist that its proposal remains the starting point for any further discussions.
But as commentators sympathetic to the Palestinians slammed the proposal as a ruse to embarrass Hamas, Egypt’s Arab allies praised it. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt the next day to commend it, Mr. Sisi’s office said, in a statement that cast no blame on Israel but referred only to “the bloodshed of innocent civilians who are paying the price for a military confrontation for which they are not responsible.”
“There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel,” said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. In the battle with Hamas, Mr. Elgindy said, the Egyptian fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle against Palestinian militants were nearly identical. “Whose proxy war is it?” he asked.
The dynamic has inverted all expectations of the Arab Spring uprisings. As recently as 18 months ago, most analysts in Israel, Washington and the Palestinian territories expected the popular uprisings to make the Arab governments more responsive to their citizens, and therefore more sympathetic to the Palestinians and more hostile to Israel.
But instead of becoming more isolated, Israel’s government has emerged for the moment as an unexpected beneficiary of the ensuing tumult, now tacitly supported by the leaders of the resurgent conservative order as an ally in their common fight against political Islam.
I, for one, hardly find it surprising that more mainstream Arab governments might find Hamas repellent, but I am sure that this news item will serve as a flabbergasting revelation for some.
2. Chloe Valdary writes truth:
The student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is prominent on many college campuses, preaching a mantra of “Freeing Palestine.” It masquerades as though it were a civil rights group when it is not. Indeed, as an African-American, I am highly insulted that my people’s legacy is being pilfered for such a repugnant agenda. It is thus high time to expose its agenda and lay bare some of the fallacies they peddle.
• If you seek to promulgate the legacy of early Islamic colonialists who raped and pillaged the Middle East, subjugated the indigenous peoples living in the region, and foisted upon them a life of persecution and degradation—you do not get to claim the title of “Freedom Fighter.”
• If you support a racist doctrine of Arab supremacism and wish (as a corollary of that doctrine) to destroy the Jewish state, you do not get to claim that the prejudices you peddle are forms of legitimate “resistance.”
• If your heroes are clerics who sit in Gaza plotting the genocide of a people; who place their children on rooftops in the hopes they will get blown to bits; who heap praises upon their fellow gang members when they succeed in murdering Jewish school boys and bombing places of activity where Jews congregate—you do not get to claim that you are some Apollonian advocate of human virtue. You are not.
The article goes on like that. It is righteous, it is wonderful, and it is entirely accurate. Read it all.
Imagine a politician ascending to the governorship of a small southern state. Having campaigned on a platform of extreme patriotic fervor and religious zeal—in his stump speech, he thundered that by the grace of God, America will last as long as there exist Heaven and Earth—the governor wasted no time translating his beliefs into law. Because the governor believed that homosexuals were “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,” he outlawed them, instructing his police officers to seek, capture, beat up, and imprison every gay individual in the state. Similarly, women were deemed better off tending to their families than wasting their time with such corrupting pursuits as jobs. A special educational program was devised and approved to teach young girls the fundamentals. These future wives and mothers, read the governor’s statement, “must be fully capable of being aware and of grasping the ways to manage their households. Economy and avoiding waste in household expenditures are prerequisites to our ability to pursue our cause in the difficult circumstances surrounding us.” The men of the state reveled in this new way of life, asserting themselves as lords of their manors; before too long, nearly half of them took to regularly battering their wives.
How many of those who define themselves as liberals would support the governor? Very few, if any. More likely, our hypothetical politician would have galvanized the left into action: The cleverly worded emails from progressive organizations, the fiery segments on The Daily Show, the pledges from celebrities to stop the menace—all would have been upon us before too long. And yet when the same politician appears halfway across the world, sporting a beard and proceeding far beyond the relatively tame scenario described above—sacrificing his own nation’s children and eager to murder innocent civilians across the border—all clarity seems to dissipate. All the homicidal zealot has to do is mumble something about justice and disproportionality and self-determination, and he’s transformed into a respectable, not to say sympathetic, figure.
Which boggles the mind. Never mind that Hamas’ charter specifically states that its goal is the utter destruction of Israel—“Israel,” it reads, “by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims”—and never mind that fundamentalist Islamic organizations like it have sprouted from different terrains and under different historical and political circumstances: For Hamas’ liberal apologists, it’s all still about the Israeli occupation. Israel withdrew nearly a decade ago? Please, that’s too confusing—as long as any conflict involving Israel anywhere is unresolved, any and all violence against Israelis, liberals now seem to believe, is justified.
[. . .]
To my former friends on the left who see themselves as champions of progressive values while criticizing Israel’s attempts at self-defense I have this to say: You have already chosen. You’re all right-wingers now. You would probably want to cancel that monthly contribution to Planned Parenthood; the Gazan maniacs you tolerate don’t really go for that kind of stuff. And go ahead and give the membership department of the National Rifle Association a call, as you are now putting up with an organization whose passion for bearing arms at all costs far exceeds even that of the most fervent American survivalist. So please: Stop whining about the Koch brothers or the Tea Party or the Hobby Lobby ruling. In making excuses for Hamas, you’re endorsing a force of religious intolerance and a purveyor of oppression far, far more demonic than those benign forces at home you characterize as the destroyers of civil liberties and human rights.
If this terrifies you, it’s not too late to repent. All you have to do is look at your friends on what was formerly known as the right. They’re busy defending the right of a democratic nation to protect its civilians against mayhem. Like all democratic nations, the one they support is imperfect. The ongoing conflict led some Israelis to make unacceptably hateful statements; but then nearly 10,000 others joined in on a Facebook group called “Racists Who Oppress Me,” publicly shaming the bigots and calling for a civilized discourse even as the fighting continues. And despite substantial efforts to minimize civilian casualties, Palestinian non-combatants were killed; but then Israel set up a military hospital near the border crossing to make sure anyone who needed it received immediate and excellent treatment.
4. Read David Post:
Perhaps I’m missing something in all of the outcry over the Israeli action in Gaza, but what, really, is Israel supposed to do? What’s the right response to having a country on your border that sponsors – openly – rocket attacks on your territory, and has built a network of tunnels under the border and a whole terror infrastructure from which its operatives can enter the territory and attack your citizens? How would we respond if Mexico did this – not just some rogue band of Mexican “drug lords,” but the Mexican people, acting through their elected representatives? Or to make the analogy closer, what if it were the Navajo Nation, from inside the borders of their territory in New Mexico. How would we respond? How would any country (other than Israel, I guess) be expected to respond?
War is ghastly; innocent people get slaughtered for no damn reason at all, it’s horrible to see and to contemplate; and whose heart does not go out to the parents of all the kids who have been killed? But I can’t get my mind around the notion that anyone other than Hamas bears the full responsibility for this horror.
That one of their demands that helped spark this crisis was that Israel open up the border with Gaza – Hamas rejected one of the early Egyptian ceasefire proposals because they insisted that Israel open up the border first – borders on the absurd, in a particularly cruel way. I could imagine any number of demands Hamas could make of the Israelis, demands that it is not inconceivable the Israelis could actually agree to: that Israel pay them money for reparations, or build them an airport, or support their entry into the WTO and the UN, or any number of things that countries do for one another in this world, whether out of altruism (rarely) or blatant self-interest (almost always). But open up the border? How could Israel possibly agree to that, when they know – and everyone knows – that Hamas operatives are trained in the murder of civilians and would be happy to have freer entry into Israel?
The overwhelming majority of critics of Israel either have problems with strategic and tactical thinking–even when confronted with questions that have obvious answers–or they have no problems whatsoever with strategic and tactical thinking, and just excel at proposing “solutions” to conflicts involving Israel that just happen to put Jewish lives in peril.
5. And finally, read David Bernstein, who has questions for the media that need answering. Not that many media actors will respond, of course; they are too busy constructing false narratives about what is going on in the Middle East–narratives that shockingly enough, put the bulk of the blame for the conflict on Israel