Thoughts on the Israel-Hamas Conflict



I did not write much about the conflict in Gaza over the past few weeks. I provided a lot of links, perhaps too many, and generally avoided articulating what I think and feel about the situation. Part of this was due to concerns and fears. The fear that young friends in Israel will be called up for reserve duty and a concern about appealing callous to readers whose opinions I hold dear.

To be perfectly clear, I hoped and prayed for Israel’s overwhelming victory against Hamas. I doubted the political leadership of Israel was willing to go that far, but as others have pointed out, the primary means to achieve peace when one is at war with a totalitarian movement is overwhelming force against the enemy. A crushing blow is necessary.

Obviously, international opinion, especially in Europe, would be against Israel. The Muslim world would be calling for jihad. But isn’t this always the case? Hasn’t this been going on for decades? Whether Israel shows great restraint or not, its actions will be condemned by the “international community.” Every anti-terrorist operation conducted by Israel is condemned as some sort of “massacre” or “war-crime” by practically every country in the world except the U.S. while Palestinian terrorism is rationalized as “resistance”.

It does not surprise me that the radical/loony/leftover left supports Hamas just as they supported Hezbollah in 2006. At this point, “anti-imperialism” and above all, anti-Zionism, is their guiding ideology and raison d’être .

As with the previous conflict with Hezbollah,  some of my lefty friends and fellow bloggers strove to take a third position, pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. These good people—call them the sensible left (or perhaps the sensitive left?)—despise Hamas and everything it stands for, but they see the suffering of the elderly and children of Gaza and cannot bear it. They call for a cease-fire and more humanitarian aid (see Bob from Brockley, Flesh is Grass, and Modernity Blog. Also see Bob’s “Henry Siegman’s Lies” here and at Engage).

None of this is shocking. These are good folks, after all. What is surprising is many of these people support the broader war against Islamist totalitarianism, the Global War on Terror, or whatever you want to call it. As they know, this war requires positive action, not reactive self-defense.

Sometimes you have to take sides. Israel is on the front lines of the conflict and anti-totalitarians of the left, right or center should all be supporting Israel’s swift and total victory over Hamas. Not a cease-fire that allows Hamas to rearm and start this deadly game all over again. As Sultan Knish writes, “Israel must win by winning“:

Had Israel destroyed Hamas and Hizbullah, the criticism would quickly die down to an annoyed mutter. The fanatics would retire to raving in a corner. But Israel turned back from doing so, and so the hate will increase, the incitement will grow viler and the attacks will grow more dangerous. Because nothing emboldens the enemy like failure.

Also see the Sultan’s, “America and Israel Declare a Unilateral Ceasefile Against Terrorism.”


[Negotiate with me?]

4 responses »

  1. I have no problem taking sides, but reckless military action that does not FULLY do the job, combined with the high civilian casualty figures, is questionable.

    I have no problem if all of Hamas cease to exist tomorrow, but all of this military action is being used as a substitute for a political solution, which should be the real end game.

    A political solution should be the aim, with limited policing action, wherever possible.

    and we can all pick thru post war history around the globe where irresponsible military measures have led to worse, not better circumstances.

  2. Was it not George Orwell who said that neutrality, when one side is fascist or Nazi, translates, in actual terms, into support? Can anyone choose to remain neutral and “above the fray” when a struggle takes place between a murderer and his would-be victim, and still call themselves moral?

    “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist . . . If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other . . . pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.”

    I’ve been reading these reactions on the blogosphere and I wondered how quickly people went from supporting Israel to sanctimonious sidelineship, not just the emotionally shallow which were no surprise, but usually thoughtful people who could not resist the seduction of the weeping left. The media was flooded with horror pictures of decapitated Palestinian babies and that was the point at which common sense and a genuine sense of justice went out the window. You wonder how strong the initial support for Israeli life was in the first place.

    There seems to be a demand for similar horror pictures coming from the Israeli side. Without these pictures, these horrors, Israel became a dirty cause, something to be distanced from, by the language of “neutrality”. No pity, no support.

    You wonder at the depth of humanistic commitment to justice for all, that it relies on the pornography of violence to guide its moral judgment.

    I’m afraid Israel is quite doomed. Even my husband, who is a cool cucumber under any circumstances no longer scoffs at my gloomy assessment.

  3. About two years ago, Courtney from the Neo-Jacobin gave me the heads up to a piece in some online magazine that concerned the Euston Manifesto blogs and their (apparent) lack of content focusing on the then war in Lebanon. The writer (I don’t remember where the piece was) thought Euston folks did not spend enough time focusing on he ME conflict, and that since Israel was a major theme in the EM, he felt this was a problem with the community as a whole.

    One of the reasons I didn’t bother commenting on the recent Gaza affair is that I felt I had nothing new to add to the discussion, and my feelings were adequately represented elsewhere. I agree with your basic assessment TNC, and I also share many individual’s belief that the war won’t accomplish its goal and will not further Israel’s long term interests. Israel surely has to respond to attacks on its borders and citizens by terrorists like Hamas, and the hand they had to play didn’t have a lot of winning options, so I understand why they did what they did.

    Other than that simple assessment, I simply don’t know the answer. I’ll let folks who know more about than I add their two bits.

  4. Pingback: wupelijemogu » Blog Archive » BobFromBrockley: note to self re Geert Wilders

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