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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Here’s how the story could have been reported, Part II

A few months ago, I took umbrage at a BBC news story that reported that Israel killed Palestinian children and only saw fit to mention, in the 5th and 6th paragraphs, that the children were fiddling around rocket launchers when Israel fired its missiles. I felt that the news was being reported to demonize Israel, and that’s why it led the story with the dead children. Just to refresh your recollection, here are the headline and first three paragraphs of that story:

Palestinian children die in blast

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.

Two months later, I now have an interesting comparison study about how newspapers report child deaths in the Middle East. As you may recall, yesterday Hamas, a Palestinian organization, fired into a crowd of supports of Fatah, another Palestinian organization. Here are a few headlines and first paragraphs.

From the BBC:

Deadly clash at Arafat Gaza rally

At least six people have died in gunfire at a rally in Gaza City organised by Fatah to mark three years since the death of Yasser Arafat.

The violence occurred when Fatah supporters began taunting Hamas police and throwing stones, witnesses said.

From the London Times:

Bloody anniversary wrecks hopes for peace between Gaza factions

Seven people were killed and more than 100 wounded yesterday when Hamas paramilitary police clashed with Fatah supporters during a massive Gaza City rally marking the third anniversary of Yassir Arafat’s death.

In the worst inter-Palestinian clashes since the Islamist Hamas drove its secular Fatah rivals from the Gaza Strip in June, the self-appointed Hamas police force fired on a demonstration and beat protesters, claiming that Fatah snipers on rooftops had triggered the violence.

From Sky News:

Gunmen Open Fire At Gaza City Rally

At least five people have reportedly been killed at a mass rally marking former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death.

Hospital officials said 50 others were wounded when security forces opened fire in Gaza City.

From the AP (via the Winnipeg Sun):

7 killed as Hamas open fire on Fatah rally

GAZA CITY — Seven civilians were killed and dozens were wounded in a clash between Palestinian factions yesterday when Hamas police opened fire after protesters began hurling rocks.

On the anniversary of the 2003 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a rally of more than 250,000 Fatah supporters posed the strongest challenge to Hamas rule in Gaza since the Islamic militants seized the territory.

From the New York Times:

6 Palestinians Killed in Gaza at Fatah Rally

GAZA, Nov. 12 — At least six Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded here on Monday when a rally by the relatively pro-Western Fatah movement to mark the third anniversary of the death of its founder, Yasir Arafat, ended in armed clashes with its rival, Hamas.

Doctors at two Gaza hospitals said all of the dead and most of the wounded were Fatah supporters who had taken part in the rally.

None of these stories, from major news outlets, make any mention of children amongst the dead after this Palestinian violence. Yet, surprisingly, at least one child was, in fact, a victim of this internecine bloodshed. I discovered that tidbit in paragraph 9 of a London Times story from today looking back on yesterday’s events.  Yesterday, buried deep in its initial report of the event, the London Times did have witnesses report that children were in the line of fire, but it mentioned no juvenile deaths.  The New York Times also didn’t mention juvenile deaths in its initial report, although I think it gets credit for reporting the Palestinians’ dawning realization that they opted for a sizzling Palestinian fire in lieu of the warmer, more humane, Israeli frying pan:

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Afaf Abu Tayeh, 45, was waiting by the morgue. She was there to look for two sons, ages 16 and 17. “The Israelis were more merciful than them,” she said of Hamas. “They beat children in front of my eyes.”

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I think there is something going on when the death of children is reported so differently, depending on who is doing the shooting.  And I think that what is going on is that the media, either purposely or because of an inherent, uncontrollable bias, views Israel as a demonic child-killing country (sort of the modern blood libel), while it is loathe to give any openings for too many value judgments regarding the Palestinians, whom the media has championed for so long.  And all the while, as we excuse the Palestinians for their bestial conduct towards others as well as to themselves, we give them carte blanche to continue with such behavior, so that more children will die.

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.

There’s an ugly irony here

A Palestinian human rights group is complaining about major abuses against Palestinian civilians. The malfeasors stand accused of

  • “extra-judicial and willful killings and shooting at combatants and civilians after capturing them;”
  • seizing people “in their homes” and dumping their bodies “in remote areas;”
  • executing “wounded persons during their evacuation to hospitals;”
  • pushing people “to their deaths from tall buildings;”
  • shooting people to death in hospital beds; and
  • “disregard[ing] the lives of civilians” by using civilian homes as battle grounds.

Those damn Israelis!

Whoops. There I go again, misreading a news stories. The fact is, as soon as I saw the words “Palestinians” and “abuses” I went on automatic pilot.  After all, from ordinary media reports, whenever the Palestinians complain about the violence visited against them, it’s always the Israelis’ fault. But not this time: this time, it’s Palestinian on Palestinian violence being reported, from the Fatah/Hamas fighting.

Nor can we get around the Israelis’ lack of involvement by contending that they somehow brutalized these people, rendering them incapable of avoiding this type of violence. As Augean Stables explains, a recent study shows that, while 11 million Arabs have died in the last 57 years, over 90% of them were killed by fellow Muslims. In other words, the bloody, brutal, heartless battles being waged amongst the Palestinians slot neatly into a cultural approach to tribal warfare that has absolutely nothing to do with the Jews.