The stupid dance begins again *UPDATED*

We now know that the Gazans instant collapse into existential despair the last time Israel reduced their electricity flow was a carefully choreographed dance that served two purposes: it enabled Hamas to knock down the wall Egypt had built (a wall about which no one in the West ever complained) and it gave photo ops to the useful idiots in the Western press. It looks as if the whole grotesque dance is starting all over again:

Israel began reducing the amount of electricity it sells to Gaza as part of sanctions against continued rocket fire, Israeli officials said on Friday. The move prompted a warning from the United States not to “worsen the humanitarian situation” of the civilian population in Gaza, and was followed by the firing of yet more rockets at Israel by militants there.

Israel began reducing its electricity flow into the Gaza Strip by less than one percent late Thursday night. By Friday afternoon, 21 rockets had been launched against Israel, an Army spokeswoman said, with several landing in and around the Israeli border town of Sderot and in open areas south of Ashkelon, a larger Israeli coastal city north of the strip.

Israeli officials said the electricity had been cut by about one megawatt out of the 124 megawatts that Israel provides to Gaza, and that an additional megawatt could be cut each week depending on the security situation and the needs of the Gaza population. Israel said it would continue to provide the necessary minimum to prevent harm to the safety or health of the residents.

Has there ever been a time in the history of the world when Country A repeatedly states its wish to destroy Country B and then acts upon that wish, only to have Country B continue to keep vital material flowing into Country A? I’d like to say that it’s gotten to the point that Israel is too stupid to deserve the gift of national survival, but I won’t. It’s true that the Israelis, for reasons unclear to me, keep the amazingly ineffectual Olmert in office, and it is true that the Israeli peace movement could more aptly be named the National Suicide Pact, but there’s more to it than that.

The fact is, Israel inadvertently made a pact with devil when she began to rely. Because America is a necessary part of the Israeli war machine and the Israeli economy, Israel can’t afford to alienate her — that would be a suicidal act as sure as just opening the borders and letting in the Palestinians. So as long as the US has this bizarre “let’s make nice with your killers” attitude, Israel is completely handicapped. She cannot fight a war against her open enemies and, instead, ends up subsidizing them as they fight a war against her.

It always was a Catch-22, of course, because Israel could never have survived as long as she did without US aid. It’s like steroids I guess: first they make you stronger, then they destroy you.

UPDATE:  While Israel is forced by world pressure to support her enemy, fellow Arabs have no such constraints.  As James Taranto describes:

Arabs love Palestinians in the abstract–as a symbol of the putative evil of the hated Jews. But they’re not so crazy about Palestinians as actual human beings. Here is a prominent Egyptian who is so averse to Palestinians that even their money isn’t good enough for him.

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Maybe Condi has a plan

I respect Condi Rice for the most part, but have thought her naive for believing (or, at least, appearing to believe) that the Palestinians want peace with Israel, as opposed to Israel in pieces.  David Brooks, however, thinks that there is a method to her madness, and that Iran’s follies may result in a back door route to some stability in the Middle East:

It’s not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it’s about Iran. Rice is constructing a coalition of the losing. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is on the march. The nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to gather the “moderate” states and to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance.

It’s slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. It’s like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose. But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.

Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.

Though this article originated in the NY Times, I take its conclusions with a grain of salt, simply because I’ve come to distrust the Times.  Nevertheless, this is certainly not a wacky idea, and it does reflect an impulse to bring some central stability to a region that will become entirely unbalanced if the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis does in fact ascend to real power, rather than stopping at the noises of power, along with the violence of terrorism.

Why I support Israel

My blog, lately, has hosted a really interesting discussion about both Israel’s legal rights in the disputed territories and the Palestinians’ lack of legal rights. Those two statements (Israel’s rights vs. Palestinian non-rights) are not mirror-like redundancies. It’s entirely possible to argue (although I wouldn’t), that while Israel has no right to the disputed territories, neither do the Palestinians. That is, for Israel’s sake, advancing one argument is just as important as advancing the other.

The problem with the argument about rights to the disputed territories is that these arguments often boil down to something like the lawsuit from Hell. The various disputants point to events in 3,000 B.C., 2,000 B.C., 1,000 B.C., the 19th Century, the 1910s, the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, and so on, ad nauseum, right up until events taking place yesterday. Throw in the sagging Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the British Mandate, the League of Nations, the United Nations, five wars, the fact that Arabs routinely lost on the battlefield but were rescued at the UN, endless border battles, strategic missteps by the Israelis, and the rhetorical hijacking of purely legal, territorial arguments by Islamists and radical Leftists — face it, you’re not going to create any easily comprehensible arguments.

Then, layer over this whole factual and rhetorical swirl of words the fact that Israel, in her endless quest for some sort of meaningful ceasefire from the Palestinians, has soft pedaled her own indisputable rights. Israel’s tentative approach, from the 1940s onward, to asserting her legal and post-war rights creates a situation where, to either the uninformed eye or the eye looking for Israel’s faults and failures, it appears that Israel doesn’t believe in her indisputable rights. Then, consider that Israel is a truly pluralist country hampered by a coalition style government imported from Europe. This last point explains why Israeli policy wobbles from strong to weak, and why Israel is exceptionally bad at setting out a coherent statement of her case before a hostile world.

These problems, where fact and law intersect, where arguments became muddy, and where Israel sometimes appears terrified of asserting her own case, are also easily exploited by those who have Israel and Jews in their cross hairs. Indeed, a point of exploitation, right now, is the publication of a revamped Walt and Mearshimer book, which AFP is pushing hard as the ultimate truth regarding Israel’s alleged evil control over world debate and American foreign policy.

At times like this, it sometimes helps to pull back and look at larger issues. Throwing around legal arguments dating back either 4,000 years or 1 day can be fun, just as playing an endless game of Monopoly can be fun. Still, there’s no doubt that these arguments, while satisfying their makers, don’t necessarily shine light on the situation.

For me, the larger issue is the nature of the two cultures currently at war, and my own moral decision about the culture I believe deserves my support.

On the one hand (that would be the Israel hand), we have a representative Democracy that gives equal legal and political rights to women, gays, Arabs, Christians, Hindus — hey, to all citizens within its borders. It is so desperate for peace that it routinely compromises its own security in the hope of obtaining that peace. Recently, rather than mowing down entirely a neighboring community devoted to killing its citizens, Israel built a wall, immuring its own people to help prevent their deaths. It’s also a country with free speech and a thriving marketplace of ideas, one that adds quality to the day-to-day life of people around the world.

On the other hand (that would be the Palestinian hand), you have two lawless communities that subjugate and brutalize women, murder and harass gays, murder and expel Christians, and refuse to allow anyone else within their territories (including, of late, even grovelingly friend journalists). For generations, these people’s sole goal, and the value they’ve passed to their children, is to murder the Israelis — every last one of them — that live next door. While Israel tries to prevent its own citizens from dying, these people put their children in the front line of battle, not even because they actually aid fighting, but because their inevitable deaths help this culture look pathetic, giving it a leg up in international opinion.

Given these two different cultures, I say law is useful, but not determinative. I have no truck with moral relativism, and I’m therefore able, with a clear conscience, to place my support behind Israel, the country of (sometimes flawed) Western humanism, and not behind Hamas or Fatah, territories of animalistic immorality and violence.

UPDATE: A little more on the perverted lessons taught to Palestinian children.

UPDATE II: Today’s example of free speech (NOT) amongst the Palestinians.

UPDATE III: And this is where the UN falls on the moral question of backing either a free Democracy or a nihilistic, murderous, semi-theocracy.

UPDATE IV: Yet another recent story about Israeli innovation that makes a difference — this time for American soldiers.

Here’s how the story could have been reported

Israel, which has been the victim of endless and destructive rocket attacks originating in Gaza, successfully stopped one before it happened. Taking facts directly from the BBC, this is how I would have reported the Israeli Army’s successful action:

Israel destroys several rocket launchers in Gaza

The Israeli Army reports that it surveillance into Gaza revealed several rocket launchers aimed at a heavily populated industrial zone in Beit Hanoun. Several people were clustered around the rocket launchers, apparently preparing to fire them. The Israeli Army responded by shelling the rocket launchers.

In the last four months, Gazans have launched ten qassam rocket strikes on Israel. The seventy-seven rockets fired over this fourth month period killed two people, wounded several others, and caused significant damage to a factory containing hazardous materials, requiring evacuation.

Palestinian spokespeople announced that three children were killed in the attack. This report has yet to be confirmed.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible. “The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

In fact, this is how the BBC reported the story, using the same facts, but with a very different emphasis:

Three Palestinian children have been killed after an Israeli tank shell hit northern Gaza, Palestinian doctors say.

Israel’s military confirmed it launched an attack, saying it had targeted people setting up a rocket launcher.

Doctors said two boys aged 10 and 12 died of shrapnel wounds. A 12-year-old girl who was critically injured in the blast died also in hospital.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible.

“We identified and fired at several rocket launchers aimed at Israel in the Beit Hanoun industrial zone,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

“We also identified several suspicious looking people fiddling with the rocket launchers before we fired. The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” she added.

This is what I mean when I talk about spin. The spin one could put on it is that Israel successfully deflected what was shaping up to be the tenth rocket attack on it in just four months. Unfortunately, because the Palestinians place their children in combat areas, both to use them as soldiers and to increase youth casualties for propaganda purposes had, in fact, had children swarming around these rockets, which are also obvious targets.

The alternative, of course, is that the Israeli Army kills children. Then, at the back end, you note that, perhaps, just perhaps, the children were in what could possibly be classified as a combat zone, since they were near weapons about to be fired. An in the really alternative, you don’t even mention that these type of rockets have been fired into Israel unceasingly for years, with increasing numbers of civilian dead and wounded.

Sadly, the second alternative is the type most commonly found in newspapers, especially European newspapers.

By the way, if you’d like to hear the Israeli point of view directly from the horse’s mouth, you can read this article, which points out that Israel believes (as I do) that the launch sites are war zones. I’ll just add that I don’t believe that a humane people cluster their children around weapons and war zones, unless they intend to use those children as soldiers or strategic targets.

UPDATE: More on Palestinian children used as instruments of war.

UPDATE II: Here’s a report from the LA Times identifying in the lede that the children were hanging out near rocket launchers.  It also gives a bit more context for the Israeli actions, by acknowledging the fact that, last month alone, more than 90 rockets were launched into Israel from the same area.

Two articles about the Middle East

It’s rare that, on the same day, two articles come out that neatly bookend a single subject.  Today, though, that happened, with the first article being a Mona Charen piece about Israel, which discusses its overall humanism (despite a few bad apples) and which points out the difference the wall has made in Israel.  As to that last, no one can doubt that the wall has stopped the cycle of violence everyone on the liberal side decried.  Without Palestinians intentionally blowing Israeli citizens into little pellet and nail ridden pieces, Israelis are not forced to go into the territories and mow down the houses that hid these same mad bombers.  Sounds good to me.

Having read that, check out this glowing San Francisco Chronicle review about a Palestinian activist who decries the wall as a totally unfair abomination, but who is nevertheless viewed by the Chron as an even handed, clear-eyed assessor of the Palestinian scene.  As to that last, it’s not because he recognizes that the Hamas people are cold-blooded killers bent on genocide, but because he, like everyone else who isn’t completely brain-dead, can tell that Hamas’ murderous tactics may be just as bad for the Palestinian people as they are for the Israelis.

Putting the blame squarely on Carter

It’s too good an article to quote from in snippets.  Simply go to the Jerusalem Post and read as Michael D. Evans explains precisely how and why Jimmy Carter, back in 1979, got us into this mess in the first place.  Then, with Carter’s culpability for the rise of the Jihad now threatening the West firmly in mind, read his remarks about Hamas’ virtues during a speech before the Forum on Human Rights.  (Or, at least, try to read them, if you can overcome the queasiness or outright nausea that may quickly overtake you.)

I remember when Reagan was first diagnosed with Alzheimers, a lot of nasty jokes came out about the fact that he must have had it already when he was in the White House.  In the same vein, it’s clear that, just as Carter is revealing himself in his old age to be a vicious, amoral, psychopath, all of those seeds were already there during his White House years.