Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The Lessons of Gaza
LESSONS OF GAZA
By: Steven Plaut
Date: Wednesday, January 28 2009
The great untold story of Operation Cast Lead was the level of euphoria
and national unity that gripped Israel. Those who think the era of
miracles is over will have to explain this sudden wall-to-wall political
consensus in Israel.
In what is arguably the most contentious society on earth, public opinion
polls were showing a 94% approval rating among Israeli Jews for the
military action against Hamas. Almost the same percentage opposed any
cease-fire that did not include the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad
The emergence of this sudden national consensus came against a backdrop of
an international wave of naked anti-Semitism on a level not seen in
decades, and of Israeli Arabs almost uniformly expressing both opposition
to the operation and outright hatred of Jews and the Jewish state.
The really amazing thing, however, was that the man responsible for the
surge of good feelings and patriotism among Israelis was the most
unpopular and probably the most corrupt politician in modern Israeli
Ehud Olmert already had one foot out the door of the Prime Minister's
Office before the shooting started, and many believed his other foot was
headed straight for prison. Olmert's approval ratings before the Gaza war
were not significantly above zero. Yet within moments of his ordering the
commencement of operations, Israelis were closing ranks behind him in a
way that caught nearly everyone by surprise.
The rest of the world may be united in denouncing Israeli "brutality" and
the supposedly disproportionate level of Palestinian casualties. But
Israel was just as united, at least for the moment, in celebrating the
beginning of the end of its era of national self-debasement and
Israeli television stations and newspapers reported in great detail on the
countless anti-Israel demonstrations all over the world, down to and
including the swastikas and the chants that Hitler had been right. This
only seemed to augment the sense of national unity and determination among
The devotees of Hamas could march on Western campuses all they wanted,
Israelis seemed to be saying, but we will deal with the savages in our own
The new Israeli national unity manifested itself even in the face of the
distorted and maniacal denunciations of Israel for its alleged
insensitivity to the plight of Palestinian civilians.
Of course, the same world media that failed to challenge the lies
surrounding the infamous "death" of the Gaza boy Muhammad al-Dura back in
2000 kept repeating the Hamas "estimate" as if it were a scientific
finding from an unimpeachable source.
In any case, clearly the bulk of the Palestinian dead were armed genocidal
terrorists. The usual "human rights" organizations, which have never
acknowledged that Jewish civilians in the Negev are entitled to their
human rights, kept claiming that a quarter of the dead were "children." Of
course, they count any 17 year old killed while firing a bazooka at Jews
as a "child."
My youngest son spent most of the war dodging rockets in Netivot, a town
of 26,000 in the Negev near the Gaza Strip best known for serving as the
spiritual center for Moroccan Jewry, with its shrines of leading Moroccan
rabbis. Netivot was hit by more than its fair share of Hamas rockets.
Home for a weekend, my son watched the televised images of a Palestinian
man sitting on a pile of rubble that had once been his home and sobbing
about how there is no justice.
"You do not like having your house blown up?" my son responded to the TV
screen. "So who told you to start firing rockets at me?" He speaks for
nearly all Israelis.
And then of course there was all the whining by the media about how Israel
was preventing convoys of supplies from entering Gaza, as if the Allies in
World War II had sent convoys of supplies to Berlin when it was under
siege. A caller to an Israeli radio program put it rather succinctly: "So
release Gilad Shalit and stop shooting rockets at us and you can have all
the supplies you want; in fact you can shop in Israel and use our
hospitals and beaches."
Even some - though certainly not all - members of the country's dwindling
far left came out in support of the operation. (I say "dwindling far left"
because half have woken up to the fallacies of leftist thinking while the
other half have morphed into outright anti-Zionists.)
Consider the following developments, which would have been unthinkable a
month ago and which are a very small sampling of the changed mindset in
The novelist A.B. Yehoshua, leader of Israel's leftist literary soviet,
wrote a scathing article telling off an anti-Israel columnist at the far
left anti-Zionist daily Haaretz.
The popular singer Arik Sinai, long associated with Tel Aviv bohemian
leftism, suddenly went on a Zionist crusade, complete with bashing of
Street protests in Israel against the war consisted almost exclusively of
Arab students and Jewish members of the pro-terror HADASH communist party.
The Israeli national consensus opposing the declaration of a cease-fire by
the Olmert team was almost as broad as the consensus in support of the
* * *
Within days of the new cease-fire, however, it was becoming clear that
Olmert had blown the whistle before the team had finished its work. The
abandonment of Gilad Shalit was just part of it. The new cease-fire would
allow Hamas to re-stock its armories and replenish its rocket warehouses.
Hours after the cease-fire went into effect, Hamas's smuggling tunnels
were being repaired and returned to operations. Worst of all, most of the
Hamas leadership remained alive.
Even more worrisome, the Olmert people were reverting to the approach that
had produced the rocket blitz on Israel in the first place. After eight
years of a policy of restraint that had achieved absolutely nothing,
turning the other cheek was being restored as the national defense policy.
Olmert and Livni were back to offering land for peace, reaffirming that
two decades of giving up land and getting war in return had taught them
nothing. For decades Israeli leaders had agreed to one unilateral
cease-fire after the next. These bought Israel nothing but demonization in
the world media.
After their brief incarnation as fierce Zionist warriors, Olmert and his
pals were once again pretending that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA were
something different from the Hamas; that they were reasonable people who
yearned for peaceful coexistence with Israel and with whom deals could be
struck. And Israel was again offering to release hundreds of terrorists
If there was one lesson Israel should have learned over the past eight
years, it was that Israeli restraint buys neither goodwill for the country
nor moderate behavior on the part of Palestinians. For eight years Hamas
and its affiliates in Gaza fired rockets at Jewish civilians, while the
Israeli government's main response was to turn the other cheek and order
the country just to wait passively for Hamas to run out of ammunition.
Israeli leaders had deluded themselves into thinking that if only the
world would clearly see unprovoked Palestinian aggression and terror,
Israel would enjoy a public relations Xanadu. Especially after the Israeli
government, for the sake of peace, drove all Jews out of Gaza.
The expectation that restraint would boost Israel's image was among the
stupidest of the delusions of Israel's Osloid leadership. The world not
only ignored the thousands of rockets fired at Jewish civilians, it went
to contorted moral lengths to justify them.
For decades Israel's leaders misunderstood and misjudged anti-Semitism and
they continue to do so now.
Anti-Semites and those with totalitarian ideologies always reverse cause
and effect. For them, every atrocity against Jews is a righteous protest
against Jewish wrongdoing and Israeli misbehavior. Every retaliation by
Israel is an unprovoked criminal act of malice and Nazi-like aggression.
It is exactly like claiming the Japanese were the victims of American
aggression at Pearl Harbor.
The real problem is that the Anti-Israel Lobby does not consider Jews to
be human. Therefore Jewish deaths never matter and Jewish lives are
expendable. Because Jews are not quite human, they can never be entitled
to the right of self-defense or permitted to engage in it. Anti-Zionism
has now been thoroughly Nazified. There can be no other word for people
who insist that Jewish life is worthless and that Jewish deaths never
If Olmert had responded to the firing of thousands of rockets at Israel by
merely sneezing in the general direction of the terrorists, thousands of
protesters would have take to the streets and the campuses in Europe and
America to denounce this as a disproportionate response and a war crime;
many would no doubt describe it as an act of biological warfare.
Absolutely nothing can ever be gained by Israeli restraint, except to
demonstrate weakness and fan terrorism. But that insight, clear to any
reasonably intelligent seven year old, was too complicated for Israeli
officials who for eight years ordered residents of Sderot and the other
towns of the Negev to sit and take it. Sderot had been turned by the
Israeli government into an undefended Guernica, its children traumatized,
its families reduced to paupers.
* * *
Another delusion that fell victim to Operation Cast Lead was the notion
that Israel's far left, while perhaps dangerously na.ve, is not at all
anti-Semitic or self-hating.
Over the past two decades a malignant plague of anti-Semitism has swept
the left, including the Jewish left. It affects Jews in the United States,
in Europe, and even in Israel. While 94 percent of the Israeli public was
solidly behind the soldiers and the attack on the Hamas infrastructure,
the Jewish left was out at the forefront of the pro-jihad Nuremberg
marches, waving Hamas and PLO flags, demanding international boycotts of
Israel, calling for a Hamas victory.
The Jewish-born British Member of Parliament ranting about how Israel is a
Nazi regime was just the tip of the iceberg. While the Arab regimes
themselves were letting everyone know the contempt they felt for Hamas,
Jewish leftists were out displaying their contempt for Jews, from the
members of J Street to the Reconstructionist "rabbi" leading a pro-Hamas
rally in Philadelphia,.
Those who thought that "Jewish anti-Semite" was an oxymoron will have to
think again. Increasingly, the left, and especially the campus left,
produces a mass of Jewish collaborators with the enemy, the Jewish
equivalents of Taliban John. Just about every Israel-bashing newspaper and
Internet site now features anti-Jewish columnists and writers, many of
them Israeli faculty members.
But the rudest awakening of all at the end of Cast Lead came with regard
to the Israeli far left, led by the academic fifth column. For years, the
pursuit of leftist silliness has been just as fashionable on Israeli
campuses as it's been on campuses in the U.S. and Europe. As Orwell wrote,
some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them. As the
guns in Gaza began to fall silent, a number of Israeli leftists emerged
from their bunkers with a vengeance, sabotaging the consensus of
patriotism that had filled Israel during the war.
Ben-Gurion University, the campus with arguably the largest number of
anti-Israel extremist faculty members, was shut down for weeks as Hamas
rockets bathed Beersheba. Several rockets landed close to the campus.
Public-school buildings in Beersheba were destroyed by rockets. Yet
leftist faculty members at BGU went on the warpath against Israel and in
support of Hamas. In an article titled "Black January," BGU sociologist
Lev Grinberg proclaimed Hamas terrorists to be the true Maccabees,
struggling against the evil empire:
I admit that I find the name "Cast Lead" in bad taste because of its
allusion to Chanukah and the Maccabees who fought against a mighty
conqueror. If indeed there is a struggle here of the weak against an
occupying empire, it is the struggle of Hamas against Israel, not the
other way around. Our self-image as the weak victim is utterly surreal and
trapped in the mythology of the Jews as the ultimate victims, regardless
of reality.... The firing of missiles by the prisoners in protest against
their starvation was interpreted as aggression, while their oppression by
their jailers was interpreted as self-defense.
Grinberg had earlier denounced Israel's targeting of terrorist leaders as
Neve Gordon, a BGU lecturer now serving as the chairman of political
science at the university, turned out one pro-terror anti-Israel article
after the next for anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi websites, denouncing Israel
as a criminal entity. In one, he excoriated Israel for bombing the Islamic
"university" in Gaza that was serving as the storage warehouse for the
very same rockets being fired at his own university campus.
Oren Yiftachel, a professor of geography at Ben Gurion University who has
made a career out of denouncing Israel for being an "apartheid" regime,
cheered the firing of rockets at the children of Sderot and Netivot as the
moral and just response of Palestinians "imprisoned" by Israel firing at
At my own University of Haifa, left-wing faculty members exploded in a
wave of outraged protests when the campus heads decided to fly Israeli
flags as a gesture of solidarity with the embattled residents of the Negev
towns. The leftists claimed this would be insensitive because it would
offend the pro-jihad Arab students who fill the campus.
The most important lesson of the past eight years, at this late stage
understood by everyone except university leftists and most Israeli
politicians, is that nothing will really put an end to the terror and
rockets other than some good old-fashioned R&D - Reoccupation and
Everything else is a delusion.
2. From the Wall Street Journal - OPINION EUROPE
JANUARY 27, 2009, 6:20 P.M. ET
End the Holocaust Memorials
The ceremonies have become a substitute for acting against modern
By DANIEL SCHWAMMENTHAL | From today's Wall Street Journal Europe
After yesterday's Holocaust Memorial Day, I have a request: Let it be the
last one, at least outside the Jewish world.
Let's put an end to the shallow declarations of "Never Again," which have
degenerated into denunciations against long-dead Nazis made from a safe
historical distance. This is risk-free grandstanding, which German writer
Johannes Gross summed up well: "The resistance to Hitler and his kind," he
once wrote, "is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the
Holocaust Memorial Day has become an annual ritual in which Europeans
promise moral clarity and courage the next time it's needed. Yet the list
of post-Holocaust genocides is long: the killing fields of Cambodia, the
slaughter of Tutsis in Rwanda, the murder of Christians and animists in
southern Sudan and the continuing destruction of Muslims in Darfur. While
the world yawns, the Islamists in Khartoum are busy with their second
Nor has the memorial day benefited Jews. Solemn declarations about the
evils of the Holocaust have not ended Europe's booming trade with those
dreaming of Israel's destruction, the mullahs in Tehran. The ceremonies
deploring the West's inaction against the German fascists 60 years ago
have become a substitute for action against modern fascists, predominantly
Anti-Semitism -- and not only when disguised as anti-Zionism -- is in
vogue again in Europe. To scant media attention, and even scanter
government criticism, the shouts of "Death to Jews" have filled the
streets of the Continent in recent weeks, as protestors, mostly Muslims,
voice opposition to the war in Gaza. Western trade unions and academics
have intensified their calls for a boycott of Israel. In Italy, a trade
union even called for boycotts of local stores owned by Jews.
The solemn speeches around Europe yesterday mourning those who died in the
Holocaust hardly mentioned these developments. Citing the rise of
anti-Semitism in Europe, the Central Council of Jews in Germany stayed
away from yesterday's official ceremony in the German Parliament.
The United Nations also had a Holocaust memorial service yesterday. Yet
just four months ago, the president of Iran was allowed to give an
anti-Semitic speech at the General Assembly to enthusiastic applause from
many delegations. Although talking about "Zionists," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
use of classic anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish plot for world
domination made it clear whom he really was after.
Although they "are miniscule minority," he said, the Zionists "have been
dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as
well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries
and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner." And so on. The
secretary general of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann,
embraced the Iranian after his hate speech.
That's the same d'Escoto Brockmann who is calling for a boycott of Israel.
It's also the same man who was scheduled to open yesterday's U.N.
Holocaust Memorial ceremony but backed down after Israel complained. It's
easy to understand why he had wanted to be there: The more crocodile tears
people like him spill for dead Jews the easier it is for them to demonize
the living ones and avoid being tagged as anti-Semitic. In such hands,
Holocaust memorials have become a cover to pound the Jewish state with
greater moral authority.
In Europe, there were a few cancellations of yesterday's annual Holocaust
Memorial Day events, along with comments suggesting that Jews are the new
Nazis. In Barcelona, a city official told La Vanguardia that "marking the
Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not
right." People in Lulea, Sweden, said Israel's war in Gaza left it unable
to mourn the six million dead Jews. "It feels uneasy to have a torchlight
procession to remember the victims of the Holocaust at this time," Bo
Nordin, a clergyman and spokesman for a local church, told Swedish
National Radio. "We have been preoccupied and grief-stricken by the war in
Gaza and it would just feel odd with a large ceremony about the
Trine Lilleng, a Norwegian diplomat -- stationed in Saudi Arabia no less
-- spelled it out more directly in an email that found its way into the
Jerusalem Post: "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War
II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi
Germany," she is reported to have written.
The lessons of the Holocaust are straightforward enough but they haven't
been learned, as yesterday's events show. Let's stop pretending otherwise
and put an end to these phony ceremonies.
Mr. Schwammenthal is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal
3. Montreal Jews and the Anti-Israel Israeli Moonbat:
4. Ben Gurion University does, so why shouldn't UNRWA?:
5. Pipes on Israel's legacy of foolishness:
6. The Wilders Show Trial:
7. Lying about dead Palestinians:
8. Guilty until proven innocent - yet another leftist professor at the
Law School of Tel Aviv University wants Israel's "war crimes" investigated: