|Israel Resource Review
||15th November, 2006
Commentary: How Should Israel Respond . . . ?
We are receiving additional warnings from military and security personal regarding the dangers in Gaza and the need to go back in:
Yesterday Yuval Diskin, head of Shabak (security services) appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He said the terrorists are preparing for attack and ultimately the IDF will have no choice but to initiate a large scale pre-emptive operation.
Today, Moti Yogev, former Division Commander in Gaza told Israel Radio that short-term offensives are ineffective and Israel must take both northern Gaza and the area adjacent to the Egyptian border. The government (which is stalling on a major action) is talking nonsense, he says.
In response to a comment by Justice Minister Meir Shitreet that military operations must be accompanied by diplomatic efforts, he said (emphasis added):
"It's true that in general military activity must be accompanied by negotiations but in this case, the Kassam rockets are a direct result not only of the terrorists who fire them, but of the wantonness, lack of professionalism and irresponsibility of this government and its ministers. . . . The government is not implementing the most basic effective measures to fulfill its basic responsibility to protect the citizens of Sderot and the western Negev.
"The various offensives recently carried out by the IDF are limited and ineffective. They hit from afar . . . and they de-legitimize our ability to act. There is no way to stop these rockets and the terrorists' mad dash to arm themselves other than to do these two things: Take over the Philadelphi Route [on the Egypt-southern Gaza border] for years to come as a permanent policy, and to capture all of northern Gaza . . . It will be a difficult mission, but the government owes it to the residents of the Negev and Sderot and Ashkelon - and to others, who live in areas that the rockets may soon be able to reach."
"To prevent Gaza from turning into a massive terrorist base against Israel, there is no substitute other than to conquer the place from which the Kassams are being fired - and this means from the northern Gaza border, where Elei Sinai and Nitzanit used to stand, all the way down to [the former Jewish community of] Netzarim, including Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Jebalya and the like. Let it not be said that we will just be repeating the situation of two years ago; since we left Gaza in 1994 under the Oslo Accords, we have never had control of these areas, except for a few days at a time in totally ineffective operations. They were ineffective even as they were happening; when we were in Beit Hanoun, they shot from another town, and when we left, they came back to Beit Hanoun and shot from there again. Our presence in Judea and Samaria prevents over 90% of the attacks there. This is the only way, and whoever thought otherwise was mistaken and must admit this now."
This critique is particularly incisive and pertinent today, for we have suffered several casualties from rockets.
Sderot awoke this morning to a barrage of Kassam rockets. One woman was killed and the 24 year old guard assigned to protect the house of Defense Minister Peretz lost both of his legs. Six other people were lightly injured.
Four other rockets were fired elsewhere in the western Negev.
Yesterday two rockets landed near a children's nursery in a nearby kibbutz and the Sderot Yeshiva has suffered direct hits on its grounds. The dorms for the 400 plus students of the Yeshiva are not reinforced. All schools in Sderot are supposed to be reinforced but this has not yet been completed. Children are in a panic and psychologists are being sent into the schools.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter made this comment today (again, emphasis added):
"The political echelons' instructions to the IDF should have been and still must be an absolute halt to Kassam fire from the Gaza Strip at Israel. Unfortunately, there is currently no such instruction. The steps taken up to now have not been successful. in putting a stop to Kassam fire."
"The army's activity is not sufficient, A broadening [of operations] is necessary. Defense forces exist to protect citizens, even at the expense of harm to the defense forces.
"The reality we live in today is unthinkable, intolerable."
Abu Obeideh, the spokesman of the Iz A-Din El-Kassam military wing of Hamas, has put out this statement: "Everyone knows that the main purpose of all the Israeli military missions is to stop the Kassam rockets. The enemy, in his despair, has tried all means of pressure, instilling fear, killing and collective punishment, but he recognizes the fact that all his plans will fail . . . "
If there is to be deterrence, a successful, and powerful military mission is essential in Gaza.
Today I attended a lecture at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs given by Professor Richard Landes of Boston University. His subject, broadly, was "Conspiracy Theories" (which abound today). But he touched as well on various other group mindsets. I would like to share a few pertinent observations from his excellent talk.
He described something he calls "masochistic omnipotence." "Omnipotence" because those adhering to this perspective believe they can control things via their behavior. "Masochistic" because the control is achieved through self-punishing or self-denigrating behavior.
Here in Israel we can see it in those on the far left who say, "We've been wrong: we control the Palestinians too much, we set up too many road blocks, whatever, whatever. If we will correct our behavior, then everything will be OK and there can be peace." Omnipotence: As if we can achieve peace simply through adjusting our behavior if the other side is not doing its part. People with this mindset never admit to an error in thinking. An error in behavior, absolutely, but an error in thinking? Never! Thus . . . if being nicer to the Palestinians, taking down roadblocks, providing relief, etc. etc., doesn't bring us closer to peace, it's not because it was a mistake. Adherents never say, "We were wrong to expect peace from this, now we see it won't work because they don't really want peace." Instead, the thinking does like this: "It's because we didn't do enough. We have to do more." And more concessions are made, and more, in the effort to achieve peace. Always it's about what we need to do.
Prof. Landes provided a true historical story to illustrate this thinking: In one African country during the period of British occupation, one member of a tribe came to the people and said he had had a dream -- the ancestors came to him and told him if they kill their herd of cattle the British will leave and they, the ancestors, will provide new cattle. So . . . they started killing their cattle. But the British didn't leave, and the ancestors didn't bring new cattle. Did they conclude that it was a mistake to kill cattle? No. They decided the fault was with themselves because they hadn't killed enough cattle. Many died of starvation.
This thinking is particularly dangerous, says Landes, because it dovetails so neatly with Arab Muslim thinking. Refusing to accept any responsibility for what's going on, they also maintain that we're always at fault. They demonize us and our left wing accepts this.
Then there is "cognitive egocentrism": This attributes to the other one's own mode of thinking -- projecting one's own (cultural) point of view on to the other. "Of course the Arabs want peace, and to raise their families, and nothing more. I'm sure of this. Isn't this what everyone wants?" "Of course they will appreciate our concessions." There is an inability or a refusal to recognize that some people really do think differently. It's hard, for example, to wrap one's head around the reality that some people really rejoice when their sons strap on bombs and blow themselves up. Or that concessions are seen not as kindnesses but weakness that invites attack. But these things are the realities.
As to conspiracy theories: In the US there is a growing theory about 9/11 having been arranged by Bush, the Neocons (read Jews), and the Mossad in order to provide an excuse for invading Iraq. Says Landes, people who think this way would rather think ill of Bush than Bin Laden. A very dangerous phenomenon. This is a belief widely held by European intellectuals. Democrats, he says, have also become subject to this thinking, which is a disaster for Israel. Bush is represented as bringing in Fascism. This is driving a wedge between the right and left just as unity is needed to combat Jihadism. Liberal Jews run to show themselves as progressive (read pro-Palestinian) to separate themselves from the taint of this theory.
A great deal of food for thought . . .
I recently alluded to the myth that terrorism is promoted by poverty, and that providing increased economic opportunity will moderate people. I would like to thank reader Wallace Edward Brand for an article he sent me offering additional evidence to refute this myth: Michael Coren, in "Hot for Martyrdom," in the National Post of Canada, interviews Dr. Tawfik Hamid, who was once a part of an Egyptian terror group. Says Hamid:
"The first thing you have to understand is that it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with poverty or lack of education. I was from a middle-class family . . . Hardly anyone in the movement at university came from a background that was different from mine. I've heard this poverty nonsense time and time again from Western apologists for Islam, most of them not Muslim by the way. There are millions of passive supporters of terror who may be poor and needy but most of those who do the killing are wealthy, privileged, educated and free. If it were about poverty, ask yourself why it is middle-class Muslims-and never poor Christians-who become suicide bombers in Palestine."
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