Monday, January 19, 2009

A few comments on the just-ended war in Gaza and how it has and will effect our relationships with Europe, with Hamas and with each other.

By far the most important lesson from this war is that Israelis have the will and the ability to fight and fight well. This war showed that many of the weaknesses exposed by the Lebanon fiasco have been addressed. Also, whether or not Rachel Imeinu actually showed up to give combat tips, this war will -- in retrospect -- come to be seen as a salient step in the ascendancy of traditionalism as the cornerstone of a new Israeli ethos. (Ironically, the imminent demise of sectarian Religious Zionist politics is another key step in this ascendancy; more about this another time.)

In terms of its impact on Hamas, it obviously would have been better if we bombed them until they cried Uncle. We could have made a laundry list of demands including the release of Gilad Schalit, the beginning of the disbanding of UNWRA and so on. But, the truth is that that was never a realistic goal and further fighting is unlikely to have achieved it. A realistic goal that was not achieved, and for which we will pay a huge price, is retaking the Philadelphi route. This was a blunder, plain and simple. Other than that, the war restored our deterrence and destabilized the Hamas regime in the long run. My guess is that we will not be seeing many rockets for a good while now. (I hope tomorrow's headlines don't prove the foolishness of publishing predictions.)

On the diplomatic front, a few good things and a few bad ones. The bad ones all are closely tied to our Foreign Minister being a complete moron. The main culprit in the events that made this war inevitable is Egypt, which aided and abetted weapons smuggling into Gaza from the beginning. But instead of shouting this from the rooftops and taking measures to pressure Egypt into allowing others to prevent smuggling, our Foreign Ministry allowed Egypt to take center stage as peacemaker and negotiator. In the end, as many times before, Livni placed her faith in worthless paper and photo-ops for preventing smuggling from Egypt into Gaza instead of ensuring a physical presence on the border that might actually achieve this. (Olmert had a moment of pleasure at her expense when he sent her off to the U.S. to sign a meaningless document so that she'd miss the press conference where he declared victory.)

The good development on the diplomatic front is the one that, to my amusement, gets most people of good will rather exercised. Europeans (and Jewish apostates) are truly threatened by our moral superiority. The obviousness of this superiority so frightens them that they twist themselves into pretzels trying to level the playing field. Trust me, friends, you needn't shout yourselves blue in the face explaining that the goyim wouldn't set up humanitarian corridors for their enemies' benefit in middle of a war. For God's sake, who knows this better than them? They are the Goyim; you think they don't know what goyim would and wouldn't do? The more hysterically they try to tear us down, the more certain you can be that they get the point.

All I want from the Europeans is that they fear and respect us. That roving band of clueless European Ministers posing for photos today wasn't here after Lebanon, if you know what I mean. Fear and respect.


Anonymous Y. Ben-David said...

Why do I get the awful feeling that all this power we saw empolyed in Gaza will then be turned against the Jews of YESHA?

It is interesting to note that the ruling parties (Kadima and Labor) have not benefitted in the polls from the "victory" in the war. Have the people of Israel finally learned the lesson that the Left is leading the country to disaster?

10:50 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

Rachel Imeinu couldn't have been on the battlefield in Gaza that night because I saw her wandering confused around a Walmart Supercenter all week, by which I mean to sputter that I'm annoyed as hell by the backward primitiveness of the frum. Their stupid stories are no different from the stupid stories of all other backward folk and they reflect very very badly on people who are supposed members of an am chacham, v'navon. They sound more like the ramblings of a goy gadol.

Deuteronomic notes aside, I hope that your optimism is warranted Ben because from where I'm sitting (chutz la'aretz) things look a whole lot different. I grant you that there's been some return to Zionism as of late in Israel and some unity among Jews and some exceedingly belated realization that leaving Gaza might not have been our best move but I have a hard time believing that those fleeting benefits will make up for the drastic damage of every kind that this useless bloodletting has generated. We expended a whole lot of our friends' patience and loyalty on yet another useless war of attrition that hasn't gained us another centimeter of eretz yisrael, a positive paradigm shift in our favor among our enemies or friends (Hamas is still willing to blow us up given the opportunity), the expulsion of any Jorgyptians from our land, the removal of any ARAB-ISRAELIS from our voting populace (where among the next generation they number 1:3), or much of anything else.

Fear and respect we gained in The Six Day War and by blowing up the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor, every other extensive Israeli military adventure has been a useless War of Attrition that did more harm than good and which distracted us from inculcating an understanding of Herzlian Zionism among our youth (such that Jews who aren't mystics would be Zionists too) and from going on the Hasbara offensive regarding offering Arab-Israelis incentives to leave and offering Jordanians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis favors or cash in exchange for some of the territory that we regard as our own (which they would never accept but which would subsequently make it such that no explanation would be necessary for keeping any territory that we might conquer in a defensive war).

Again, we have different perspectives from different locations and environments and I hope to god that my perspective is the irrelevant one. Amen, ken yihi ratzon.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Ben said...


Ouch. If I hadn't been momentarily inclined to look on the bright side of life, I probably would have written exactly what you wrote.

1:45 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

One more thing. About Gilad. I recognize that I should not confuse my own naivete with national innocence. It appears to me that we care less about a Jewish life than we used to because I myself was awesomely naive on the subject for some time, unawares that there are plenty of frummeh Jews with hundreds of millions of dollars while so many other Jews can't afford to see a doctor.

But even discounting my own naivete on the subject, it seems to me that the price of a Jew's life has gone down in the estimation of gutteh yidden. It would be a tired cliche that would even put me to sleep were I to intone that we should fight like wild animals to get a Jew out of the hands of Nazi captors regardless of the consequences, yadda yadda, yadda, - but the fact that ... eh screw it. It was my naivete all along.

I'll leave this stillborn comment here as a macha'ah against any sort of nationalist sentiments that don't actually care for the individual human units that make up the nation.

A vignette - Caring about the bits of flesh whom I watched and buried after a bombing in Jerusalem, I figured that the most effective way that I could lessen Jewish suffering would be to lessen road accidents so I undertook a number of endeavors in that field. At one point in the knesset I asked Ephraim Sneh how he could support giving away the Golan Heights to the Syrians when it could potentially cost the lives of so many Jews. He responded that giving away the Golan Heights was not a "strategic threat" because it could be reconquered at any time, as for the casualties that could accrue until that time, "we don't count bodies" (these are exact quotes, we spoke in English). I was a child speaking with an adult. I know that now. My amateurish take on Ahavas Yisroel should be left out of all geopolitical discussions and thus "Gilad" should remain a word, not a person, a Jew.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Ben said...


Keep fingers to keyboard. You're spinning pearls today.

2:31 PM  

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