Four boys were playing soccer on the beach in Gaza when they were killed Wednesday by an Israeli naval bombardment. They are but four dead out of more than 230 Palestinian civilians killed (a toll that is rising daily). By contrast, as of Thursday night two Israelis had died in the conflict.
They were just kids, for god’s sake, playing on the beach as kids do.
Yet they have become emblematic throughout the world of the brutality of a vastly more powerful Zionist state in its oppression the Palestinians, who have an historic claim to their homeland which has been progressively stolen from them since 1948.
The Israelis claim that the people of WWII’s Holocaust have a right to a homeland and to their physical survival, but they do not have a right to carry out a war of extermination that is every bit as heinous as the American war against the Native Americans or the Nazi war against the Jewish people.
I don’t have a solution to offer. But the hatred must come to an end or there will surely be a backlash and anti-Semitism will remain a permanent feature in this world.
Israel’s bombing of Gaza is morally justified — and eminently stupid
This conflict will accomplish absolutely nothing beyond creating yet more suffering, volatility, and distrust
Israel’s many wars have many names. The War for Independence (1948). The Six Day War (1967). The Yom Kippur War (1973). The First Lebanon War (1982-1985). The Second Lebanon War (2006). The Gaza War (2008–09).

I’d like to propose that Israel’s current bombing campaign in Gaza be known henceforth as The Stupid War.

Note that I didn’t say The Immoral War. With Hamas and smaller jihadi groups hurling rockets at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip, Israel is clearly justified in responding. (No nation in the world would accept such a bombardment without striking back.) And though the lopsided body count—over 150 Palestinian dead compared with zero Israeli casualties—is striking, it’s not Israel’s fault that its Iron Dome defensive shield has been so effective at protecting Israeli citizens from the more than 800 missiles that have been launched at the country in the past two weeks. If militants in Gaza had better weaponry or Israel was less adept at protecting itself, many would be dead on the Israeli side.

So yes, Israel is morally justified in defending itself against incoming missiles. But that tells us nothing at all about whether the war is wise. And it most certainly is not.

To grasp the war’s utter foolishness, you need to go back to the June 12 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knew almost immediately that the teenagers were dead and that the leadership of Hamas likely had nothing to do with it. Yet Netanyahu decided to engage in a breathtaking act of demagoguery. For over two weeks, the public was told that the government believed the boys were alive, and that Hamas was behind the kidnapping. Both statements were blatant lies.

But they were useful lies, since they gave Netanyahu public support for a strong military response, which he used as a pretext for sending the Israel Defense Forces to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations. The result was, according to journalist J.J. Goldberg, “a massive, 18-day search-and-rescue operation” in which troops entered “thousands of homes, arresting and interrogating hundreds of individuals” throughout the West Bank.

But that wasn’t good enough for the Israeli public, which with each passing day demanded an ever-harsher response to the kidnapping. Having spent more than two weeks whipping up grief and outrage throughout the country, Netanyahu began to lose control of the situation, with far-right members of his own government insisting that the IDF reoccupy Gaza and destroy Hamas. On June 29, the prime minister attempted to placate these calls for vengeance with limited airstrikes against a rocket squad in Gaza. That bombing killed a Hamas operative. The first Hamas rockets were fired at Israel the next day.

It was the first rocket barrage launched by Hamas since 2012. And all the rocket attacks that have followed in the intervening two weeks—weeks during which Netanyahu’s lies were revealed and a young Palestinian was burned alive by three Israeli teenagers in a revenge attack—need to be viewed in the context of this sordid backstory.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a true tragedy. I mean “tragedy” in the precise sense: a morally wrenching situation for everyone involved from which there appears to be no exit.

Israel—surrounded by hostile powers, still reeling from the collapse of peace negotiations at Taba in early 2001 and the terror of the Second Intifada (2000–05), still stunned by the rapid ascension of Hamas following unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005—understandably fears for its security and worries that a full withdrawal from the West Bank would engender a Palestinian state that actively seeks to destroy Israel.

Palestine—victim of an injustice stretching back 66 years, disenfranchised and wallowing in poverty, subject to enormous inconveniences and mundane humiliations of decades-long military occupation—understandably falls victim to despair, and is prone to embrace political radicalism, including terrorism, in a desperate attempt to better its sorry, seemingly interminable situation.

That would be bad enough. But it is the catastrophic errors of judgment on both sides that have made the circumstances truly tragic.

Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank is an unequivocal outrage. The building of Israeli apartments and residential neighborhoods, along with supporting infrastructure (roads, electricity, plumbing), deep within occupied territory, is simply not the behavior of a nation that intends to withdraw from that territory. It is the behavior of a nation that intends to hold onto the West Bank for good, relegating the region’s Palestinians to permanent noncitizen status, subjected to a future of political powerlessness and degradation as they watch their would-be homeland carved up into a Swiss cheese of military checkpoints and walled-off Israeli enclaves from which they are permanently excluded.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian choice for political radicalism, including support for Hamas, only confirms the worst fear of Israelis, which is that the Palestinians will only be satisfied with the defeat and destruction of the Jewish state. That empowers the maximalists on the Israeli side, who believe Israel should never give up the West Bank or permit the creation of a Palestinian state.

That is the tragedy—and the powder keg.

It was onto this powder keg that Netanyahu tossed a lit match back in mid-June. Instead of responding like a statesman to the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, by announcing the facts of the case right away and seeking to dissipate the predictable rage, he went out of his way to encourage it, hoping he could marshal it for political purposes.

He was wrong. And that appalling error of judgment is what has brought us The Stupid War, which will accomplish absolutely nothing beyond creating yet more suffering, mostly on the Palestinian side. What can Israel possibly hope to gain from its ferocious bombing campaign? It certainly doesn’t seem to be stopping the volley of Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. Does Netanyahu expect Palestinians to be cowed into submission? You can’t send an effective realpolitik threat when your opponent considers the status quo worse than any bombing campaign Israel dares engage in.

And what if Israel went further and all but leveled the Gaza Strip and killed thousands of Palestinians? They might be cowed into submission then, but at the cost of inspiring worldwide condemnation the likes of which Israel has never seen. Even Netanyahu surely knows better than to turn Israel into one of the world’s foremost pariah states in this way.

So what can Israel possibly hope to achieve?

Maybe a brief suspension of Hamas rocket attacks. Maybe. But soon enough, the region will find itself in a new, even more volatile status quo, weighed down even more heavily by anger and injustice, grievance and fear. Israel’s airstrikes can lead nowhere but to more provocation, more retaliation, and more tragedy for all sides.

And that’s why this war is so stupid.

Indeed, if the Swedish Academy gave a Nobel Prize for political idiocy, Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance over the past month would make him a shoo-in.


Damon Linker is a senior correspondent at TheWeek.com. He is also a consulting editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press, a contributing editor at The New Republic, and the author of The Theocons and The Religious Test.


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1 Response to “heinous”

  1. 1 Simon
    July 19, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Here is a very disturbing Unicef-report from 2013 how israel treats palestinians children and youths which done “crimes”,(For example stone-throwing on military-cars) and violated the un convention on the rights of the child systematically.

    Children and youths will be put on a ( Hang on ) YOUTH-Military-Court.

    Here a quote from the report:
    “”Many children are arrested in the middle of the night, awakened at their homes by
    heavily armed soldiers. Some children are arrested in the streets near their homes,
    near bypass roads used by Israeli settlers or at army checkpoints inside the West
    Bank. Many of the children arrested at home wake up to the frightening sound of
    soldiers banging loudly on their front door and shouting instructions for the family to leave the house.

    For some of the children, what follows is a chaotic and frightening scene, in which
    furniture and windows are sometimes broken, accusations and verbal threats are
    shouted, and family members are forced to stand outside in their night clothes as
    the accused child is forcibly removed from the home and taken away with vague
    explanations such as “he is coming with us and we will return him later”, or simply
    that the child is “wanted”. Few children or parents are informed as to where the child is being taken, why or for how long….

    ..Once a child has been identified, he or she is hand-tied and blindfolded and led to a waiting military vehicle for transfer to an interrogation site. Children are often prevented from saying goodbye to their parents and from putting on appropriate clothing for the journey. When the child is not transferred directly to
    an interrogation centre, he is often taken to another location, frequently a settlement in the West Bank, where he may wait until after daybreak before continuing the trip to the interrogation centre.

    Many children are subjected to ill-treatment during the journey to the interrogation centre. Some endure physical or verbal abuse; some suffer from painful restraints or from being forced to lie on the hard floor of the vehicle. The transfer process can take many hours and often includes intermediate stops at settlements or military bases where further ill-treatment is reported, including in some cases prolonged exposure to the elements and a lack of water, food or toilet facilities.

    During these intermediate stops, many children are brought before medical staff
    and asked a series of general questions about their health. The blindfold is usually removed, but the child’s hands remain tied. Very few children are physically examined. Some children report informing the doctor about their ill-treatment, but there is little evidence that these medical personnel provide medical attention even when the children have marks on their bodies from beatings or from the plastic ties.

    After this medical interview, which lasts about 10 minutes, the blindfold is replaced before the child is taken outside.The children’s journey from the place of arrest to the interrogation site can take anywhere from one hour to an entire day.

    The parents don’t know the first days, sometimes over weeks where their child is.
    There are reports of forced confessions (announcement of rape for example). Contacts to the family and lawyer are very restricted.

    Here is the link to the full report.
    Sorry , my english is not so .understandable 😉

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