Whether Israel actually has the right to exist as a sovereign nation seems to be the underlying question in the debate about the current Israeli offensive against Hamas.
Some critics ask why this action will bring about results that are any different than the poorly planned 2006 Israeli military action in Lebanon. Others focus on Palestinian civilian casualties. And then there are the zealots, conveniently ignored by the mainstream media in this country (and elsewhere, like France) that believe Israel has no right to exist whatsoever.
That Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign state is beyond dispute. It is a sovereign state and has the right and requisite responsibility to defend itself against all enemies. I’ll posit that everything outside of that fact is open to debate including Israeli foreign policy blunders, U S meddling that has exacerbated the security problem in Israel, Palestinian homeland issues etc. But the fact remains that Israel is a sovereign nation.
To Israel’s critics abroad, the picture could not be clearer: Israel’s war in Gaza is a wildly disproportionate response to the rockets of Hamas, causing untold human suffering and bombing an already isolated and impoverished population into the Stone Age, and it must be stopped…
Yet here in Israel very few, at least among the Jewish population, see it that way.
Since Israeli warplanes opened the assault on Gaza 18 days ago, about 900 Palestinians have been reported killed, many of them civilians. Red Cross workers were denied access to scores of dead and wounded Gazans, and a civilian crowd near a United Nations school was hit, with at least 40 people killed.
But voices of dissent in this country have been rare. And while tens of thousands have poured into the streets of world capitals demonstrating against the Israeli military operation, antiwar rallies here have struggled to draw 1,000 participants. The Peace Now organization has received many messages from supporters telling it to stay out of the streets on this one. (emphasis mine)
As the editorial page of The Jerusalem Post put it on Monday, the world must be wondering, do Israelis really believe that everybody is wrong and they alone are right?
The answer is yes.
“It is very frustrating for us not to be understood,” remarked Yoel Esteron, editor of a daily business newspaper called Calcalist. “Almost 100 percent of Israelis feel that the world is hypocritical. Where was the world when our cities were rocketed for eight years and our soldier was kidnapped? Why should we care about the world’s view now?”
A united Israel? Yes. That is what differentiates the current military action from the 2006 mistake in Lebanon:
“Unlike the confused and improvised Israeli response as the war against Hizbullah in Lebanon unfolded in 2006, Operation Cast Lead (the Gaza attack) appears to have been carefully prepared over a long period.”
“Israeli media reports, by usually well-informed correspondents and analysts, alluded yesterday to six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint Hamas targets including bases, weapon silos, training camps and the homes of senior officials. The cabinet spent five hours discussing the plan in detail on December 19 and left the timing up to Ehud Olmert, the caretaker prime minister, and his defence minister Ehud Barak. Preparations involved disinformation and deception which kept Israel’s media in the dark. According to Ha’aretz, that also lulled Hamas into a sense of false security and allowed the initial aerial onslaught to achieve tactical surprise – and kill many of the 290 victims (emphasis mine) counted so far.”
Victims? Not so much if they were Hamas terrorists.
Hamas may have catastrophically miscalculated and Israel’s decisive victory against this Iranian proxy could forebode some intersting foreign policy calculus for the incoming Obama administration. At a minimum it can only be hoped president elect Obama doesn’t squander this advantage because the past several weeks of Israeli resoluteness and decisiveness, combined with imminent victory in Iraq, have been an excellent departure from what has been for conservatives a decades long exercise in frustration with US Middle East foreign policy.