Fred Siegel: On the Gaza War

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[H/t to the Telos Press blog]

This talk by Fred Siegel was presented at the 2009 Telos Conference which was a couple of weeks ago. I had all intentions of attending but things came up and, well, you know how it goes:

When my wife and I arrived in Israel a few days before the Gaza war began, we were taken aback by the focus on the increase in rocket attacks from Gaza after Hamas had decided to end the “truce.” Friends from across the political spectrum were incensed. During the truce, Hamas used the Arabic world for lull as a dozen rockets and mortars a day came into Southern Israel, but the count had jumped to 70 to 80 a day, and Southern Israel was forced to live in constant fear. The attacks were barely mentioned in the Western press.

We were struck by the unusual concurrence on what to do about the attacks. Generally our left-wing, upper-middle-class North Tel Aviv friends and our middle- and lower-middle-class friends from Hadera, whose middle Israel population of Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries) is hawkish, agreed on little. But to our surprise their responses to the Hamas rocketing were in both emotional tone and political conclusion virtually identical. They all wanted both separation and normality—meaning as much separation from the Arabs and as much of a conventional Western life as possible.

In effect, the left had won the argument with the right over the settlements. The current center-right Kadima government came into power after Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza on the platform of pulling out from the West Bank as well. But as in Lebanon the dovish hopes of land for peace had been replaced with land for rockets. When it came to Hamas, the right had won the argument over whether there was anyone to negotiate with.

[read it all here]

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