Seemingly Sisyphean Quest

Sisyphys (1548–49) by Titian, Prado Museum

Sisyphys (1548–49) by Titian, Prado Museum

The most effective weapon which Hamas wielded against Israel throughout Protective Edge was its manipulation of civilian casualty numbers and images. The cumulative impact was used to provoke hate campaigns against Israel and/or Jews worldwide and misrepresent Israel’s self-defense as a calculated massacre of helpless civilians.

Some of the ploys were cynical beyond belief.

Photos of dead bodies from the Syrian conflict were recycled as Gazan victims of Israeli malevolence. Even pictures of the Fogel family children, slaughtered inside their Itamar home in 2011 by Palestinian terrorists, were purported to show Arabs murdered by Israeli troops.

Footage from the emergency room at Shifa Hospital in Gaza was rerun continually as if chronicling brand new incidents. Patients brought in due to disease, accidents and domestic violence were all exhibited as casualties of deliberate Israeli barbarity.

But none of this rivaled the numbers game.

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Better Off Without UNWRA

image001UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, has joined Hamas’s clamor for lifting the blockade on Gaza forthwith. This was the gist of what UNRWA’s Gaza spokesman Chris Gunness demanded. No surprise here. UNRWA never played a remotely constructive or impartial role in the Mideast.

Its self-preservation interests perhaps rule out neutrality and fairness to begin with, lest these actually lead to improvements that might obviate the sham pretext for keeping UNRWA around. UNRWA’s continued existence hinges on not solving this region’s problems.

Put differently, it’s in UNRWA’s distinct interest to keep the flames of conflict burning high. Continue reading

Piteously-cum-victoriously

Rockets on board the Klos-C freighter, intercepted by Israel’s navy on its way from Iran to Gaza last March

Rockets on board the Klos-C freighter, intercepted by Israel’s navy on its way from Iran to Gaza last March

While it wails piteously, Hamas also crows victoriously. This evident logical incongruity may bewilder us but Gaza honcho Ismail Haniyeh connects the dots thus: “The military victory by the resistance and the legendary strength of our people will lead us to a lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”

Gaza, he avers, “has turned itself into a graveyard for Israel” and had sown death and destruction in Tel Aviv. On the flipside, precisely Gaza’s own devastation “will make it impossible for the world to ignore the Strip.”

“Gaza’s sacrifices” mandate acquiescence to its demands, foremost the elimination of what Haniyeh calls “the siege” on Gaza. Continue reading

No Mean Feat

This is no wholesale retreat – all options remain open after Hamas was dealt grievous blows

This is no wholesale retreat – all options remain open after Hamas was dealt grievous blows

The rule of thumb in gauging any public’s mood is that the higher the expectations, the deeper the let-down. Put differently, it may be argued that the more unrealistic the expectations, the more groundless the grumbles.

This was all too evident in the reactions of disappointment that followed the purely tactical decision to re-station IDF units at staging areas in and around the Gaza Strip, while keeping others behind to maintain defensive positions that safeguard Israel’s hinterland.

Anyone who bothered paying attention would have understood that this is no wholesale retreat, that all options remain open after Hamas was dealt grievous blows both to its rocket arsenals and tunnel projects. Continue reading

No Magic Wands

Gazan Terror TunnelWe cannot even begin to estimate how many lives Iron Dome saved. But we know it’s very many lives. The downside, though, is that its success encouraged all too many Israelis to expect all our troubles to be solved by state-of-the-art magic wands. This isn’t always possible.

No miraculous technological gimmicks can entirely eliminate Gaza’s tunnels.

The only way to diminish this diabolical threat is by sending infantry in, by going from house to house to discover trap-doors and concealed shafts. Suggestions that the tunnels could be flooded or filled with smoke are impractical if their entry and exit points are unknown.

This rules out a deluxe war. This unavoidably costs lives and we’d be exceedingly lucky to even limit the cost. Continue reading

A War Against All Jews

The Paris demonstration on July 13, 2014

The Paris demonstration on July 13, 2014

Hardly any anti-Semites nowadays admit they hate Jews. The accepted guise for Judeophobes is to claim that they harbor no ill-will toward Jews and that they are merely anti-Zionist or oppose given Israeli policies. Yet on occasion their words and actions offer a glimpse into the sinister darkness behind the cynical politically-correct façade.

So it was last Sunday in Paris during a demonstration against Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Some of the marchers broke off and made a beeline for two centrally located Paris synagogues.

The worst incident occurred at the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue on the Rue de la Roquette (in the heavily Jewish 11th arrondissement of Paris). A mob donning keffiahs, waving jihadist flags and wielding clubs (and chairs grabbed from nearby sidewalk cafes), converged on the synagogue, attempted to storm the building and attack the worshippers trapped inside. They were thwarted by police and Jewish security volunteers. Injuries were reported both among the Jewish defenders and the officers.

Many witnesses reported that the attackers chanted “death to the Jews” in French, along with the Arabic Itbach el-Yahud (slaughter the Jews). The siege on the synagogue lasted for well over an hour, during which time the congregants couldn’t extract themselves. Continue reading

Blackout Waiting to Happen

The Ashkelon Power Plant

The Ashkelon Power Plant

It was almost poetic justice – a rocket which Hamas fired at Israel Sunday night knocked out a high-voltage line that supplies electricity to some 70,000 Gazans. This was a blackout waiting to happen. Literally biting the hand that feeds it, Hamas persistently aims at the very Ashkelon power plant upon which Gaza depends for its electricity. Israel has refrained from switching the power off lest it incur censure from abroad.

Neither Gaza nor the Ramallah half of the Palestinian Authority pays for the power consumed. Gaza alone, it’s estimated, owes the Israel Electric Corporation NIS 220m (out of the staggering NIS1.5bil unpaid Palestinian debts).

The downed electricity line is one of a dozen high-tension lines with 120 megawatts per hour transmission capacity. Its loss means that the entire area between Khan Younis and Deir el-Balah has been plunged into darkness. Continue reading

Preview of Coming Comments

Preview of coming eventsThe hardly unexpected reactions to Operation Protective Edge, from those who rarely react when Israel is attacked, may be regarded as a preview of coming comments.

At first hearing, some Israelis took heart from the fact that players like the UN Secretary General and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton at all denounced the missile barrages from Gaza. But the devil is in the further details. It’s instructive to pay heed to the entirety of their messages.

Thus Ban Ki-moon, according to a statement released by his spokesman in NY, “condemns the recent multiple rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. These indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.” But then comes the clincher: “The Secretary-General is extremely concerned at the dangerous escalation of violence, which has already resulted in multiple Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations against Gaza.”  Continue reading

Badge of dishonor

The site of mass Holocaust-era Jewish graves in Volodymyr-Volynsky

The site of mass Holocaust-era Jewish graves in Volodymyr-Volynsky

News that the mass grave of thousands of slain Jewish men, women and children was ransacked by Ukrainians in their lust after fabled riches, cannot but churn the stomachs of even those most inured to evidence of enduring Judeophobia. In one of his most memorable rebukes (2Kings 21, 19), the Prophet Elijah asked: “Have you murdered and also usurped?” Seven decades after the Holocaust this question is still painfully applicable to all too many in Europe, especially to the Nazis’ most avid collaborators.

These proliferated appallingly in areas with Ukrainian inhabitants. So it was in the vicinity of the then-Polish city of Lvov (which started out as the Austrian Lemberg and is now Lviv in Western Ukraine). Ukrainian accomplices there did much of the Nazis’ dirty work with undisguised relish.

Apparently, the evil spirits of those dark years haven’t yet abated. Continue reading

Immune from penalty

MK Haneen Zoabi

MK Haneen Zoabi

There’s no doubt that Israel is the world’s most liberal and tolerant society even by the yardstick of the truest democracies. It’s hard to envisage a comparable situation where a society in the throes of a cruel war puts up with voices in its own parliament that plainly give succor to the enemy. The question is whether this isn’t tolerance-gone-too-far, especially when cowardly atrocities against children are brazenly condoned and justified.

This is exactly what Balad MK Haneen Zoabi did Tuesday when she asserted on radio that the abductors of three boys on their way home from school aren’t terrorists. Later, after an aggressive showdown in the Knesset with MK Aliza Lavi (Yesh Atid), Zoabi – whose salary we all pay – tried to put things right by explaining on TV that “if I were asked whether to carry out this operation [abduction], I’d have said that it’s not worthwhile and not efficient and therefore I don’t support it. But to accuse them [the abductors] of being the chief culprits – absolutely not.” Continue reading