Monday, January 05, 2009

Shock and Oy

Hamas rocket

There is no questioning Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, but the ongoing aerial assault and ground invasion is Bush-like in its' conception, and Rumsfeld-like in its' execution. It is as if the caretaker Olmert government wants to unleash one last spasm of violence against Hamas while they have the blinkered Bush still in office. But the lame duck Olmert, like Bush, has nothing further to lose except his legacy. After the disastrous incursion into Lebanon in 2006 which empowered Iran and strengthened Hezbollah, Olmert's popularity among Israeli's fell to 3% and, also like George Bush, he became the subject of a Hebrew Google search where his name was synonymous with "miserable failure."

The violation of a truce by Hamas and their indiscriminate firing of Qassam rockets into Southern Israel as a foolhardy provocation needed to be addressed. But if you have a sniper in a tall building, you take out the sniper- you don't level the entire building and hope the sniper is killed in the explosion. The massive ground invasion proves that the Olmert government is still fighting last century's wars and hoping for new results. The outrage has been the civilian casualties of the bombardment. U.N. observers have stated that as many as 1/3 of the total deaths in Gaza are women and children. This philosophy of "destroying the village to save the village" was discredited in Vietnam, and if they're keeping score by body count, the Gazans are losing 540-5. The blockage of a cease-fire demand in the United Nation by the U.S. further inflamed humanitarians, Muslim and Israeli alike, for abandoning the Gazans to the cold and dark.

My father used to tell me that it wasn't wise for Jews to publicly criticize other Jews, because there were so many others eager and ready to do so. But American Jews need to make the same differentiation between the founding principles of the Jewish State and the succession of transient power-holders in the Knesset, as was done in this country with the Johnson/Nixon Vietnam era, and the current war of choice in Iraq. I consider that Americans like Richard Clarke and John Dean, who were among the first to criticize the Bush war policy, as the true patriots of this dark period. In Israel, even the frontrunner for next Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the Sharon/Olmert Kadima Party government was a "total failure." It's normal and understandable for Jews everywhere to wish to defend Israel against all naysayers, but in the succession of larger-than-life Prime Ministers, from David Ben-Gurion, to Golda Meir, to Itzak Rabin, Israel has come to Olmert, an official who has already formally resigned his post over suspicions of corrupt activity while in office.

There will be no Mid-East peace until a new group of actors take their places, but it's hard to imagine that the Hamas government, even if physically destroyed, will be discredited in the eyes of the Palestinians. Israel has had peace governments and war governments, and it hasn't seemed to make much difference because of one fact of life; the Israeli people and their government have shown the desire to live in peace since the nation's founding in 1948, while the acting governments in Gaza, the West Bank, Iran and Syria and massive portions of the Arab populations that surround Israel, live to kill the Jews. The original conflict has turned into a blood feud. It's unfortunate, then, that the image of the heroic Israeli fighter in the War of Independence, and the bravery of Jewish soldiers during the Six Day War, should fall victim to this current image of aggressor and occupier resulting from the poor judgements of politicians seeking short-term gain. As the U.S. sheds itself of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war, so Israel should examine its response of massive retaliation which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe and is in danger of transforming the Gaza Strip into a new Warsaw Ghetto. The Gazans must be responsible for electing Hamas as their representatives. Israel must realize, however, that every Gazan is not Hamas.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Randy,
very even handed on a touchy subject.

jazzdad said...

Randy

It's time for you to listen to
"Neighborhood Bully" by Bob Dylan



Jazzdad

Anonymous said...

Sputnik, your Dad was right! We'll have to disagree on this one...although you're still my alter ego blogger!
rek

William said...

A note to those who may not know: Hezbollah and Hamas are backed by the conservative muslim Shi'ites of Iran. As we know from information we've learned in Iraq, they don't exactly get along with the majority muslim sect of Sunnis. The Egyptian government (sunni) does not agree with Hamas and sealed their border to aid in the destruction of Hamas in Gaza.

Olmert's government's failure with the people of Israel was caused by the perception that not enough had been done in Lebanon against Hezbollah. The current fight against Hamas is an attempt to be more thorough in the destruction of their enemy.

It's almost impossible for us in America to understand life in Israel. I suggest taking a vacation there. The beaches, history and people are wonderful. Afraid to spend a couple of weeks there? How do you think you would feel if you lived there?

Anonymous said...

Randy,
I am soooo with you. These are my politics to a tee. Denise

Anonymous said...

Here's the explanation for all the political turmoil in the world and throughout the ages. I read an article in a newspaper recently written by a think tank guy who is also some sort of political historian. He says that the basic problem is that all politicians everywhere and for all time are basically corrupt. He said that good guys are not very proficient at seizing and holding on to power. Therefore good guys are not in the game to any great extent. The type of character who is drawn to inordinate wealth and power are the very ones who create all of the corruption and wars, etc. The best that a people can hope for is that the crooks who run their country are relatively benign. They are all liars and spin-meisters. And the media is in cahoots with the power merchants. Therefore the little people at the bottom never know what is really going on. Governments thoughout the ages have always been engaged in a huge intercontinental shell game in which the little guy is screwed. Think of all of the imperialism and colonization of backward countries throughout history by Britain, Spain, America, etc. in which people were enslaved and their country's natural resources were ripped off. Wars are inevitable when it comes to the fight over wealth and power so all of your pleading for world peace is just so much spitting in the wind. But, I guess you have to do something with your time, so rave on.

juan said...

Excellent writing as always, Randy. All best wishes and HOPE FOR A BETTER 2009,
J

Anonymous said...

It seems that David has morphed into Goliath.
and it is neither attractive nor honorable.

Anonymous said...

Randy, I am now confused by your position on war. Most of the time you come across as an absolute peacenik. Don't lift a finger when it comes to war. Now you are saying that the Israelis should fight. Please explain your position in regard to armed conflict. When is it good and when is it bad. Now I don't know where you stand. You seem to be saying that America should never engage in war, but it's allright for Israel to do so. Where are you coming from on the issue of armed conflict. You seem to make up the rules as you go along. Are you a politician and spin meister like Anonymous 10:11am was telling about?

Sputnik57 said...

"To everything there is a season." Yes, I'm a pacifist, but you'll find no objections in my writings to the U.S. going to war with the Taliban or Al Qaeda after the attacks of 9/11. America and its allies' cause was just in WWII because we were attacked and fighting an enemy attempting to destroy freedom. A case can even be made for the Korean conflict as a worthy endeavor because we were fighting on the side of the South Korean people and not for a corrupt puppet government like we propped up and defended in Vietnam to disastrous results. The so-called "war on terror" is not a front-lines war that requires attack by divisions of troops. It is a para-military and guerrilla war that should be fought clandestinely with the use of good intelligence and special forces. I favor armed conflict with those forces that attacked us without regard for innocent life, and I think Israel should reserve the same right. The collateral damage is always the greatest tragedy and should be minimized at all costs.

Anonymous said...

Oh, then you are not some peace-at-any-cost nut case. I am relieved. And I agree with you on your depiction of how the war on terror should be run. Communication is a great thing. I am much less conservative since I have been reading your blog. I hate to admit it but I have been a liberal deceived into thinking that I was conservative. I have noticed some cognative dissonance within myself for some time. My mind seems to be somewhat conservative, but my heart is liberal...if that makes any sense. I guess I am coming out of the closet. I have seen that the conservatives are wrong about as much as the liberals. The trick is to look at both sides without prejudice so that you can pick up whatever truth is from either side. One of my favorite expressions is that there are two sides to every story...and then there is the truth.

Anonymous said...

Randy, if you don't mind responding to this question, what is your position on the pot issue? I know that this doesn't have anything to do with the current topic, but I am curious.

randy said...

For Anon 11:48, That was very kind of you to say that and I appreciate it very much. I agree with you that truth knows no party and it's best to keep your windshield clean so you can make your own judgements. I wrote a verse in 1971 that says,
"Each of us must make a judgement/ what is false and what is true/ Just be wary of the ones/ Who try and make the choice for you." Of course, I was younger then.

To Anon. at 11:51, I've been planning on writing an article about pot. I'm just waiting for the Patriot Act to expire.

Thanks, Randy

Anonymous said...

Well said. I checked the Isr. Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, looked under Terrorism, and did a search for their list of Victims since 2001. After going through the list (horrible sad thing), which gives a description of each incident, I count a total of 15 deaths from mortar, rocket, and missile attacks. That's an avg. of two per year according to their data, actually about the same as from stabbings according to the same data. They have racked up 500 deaths supposedly "in retaliation" for two per year. They have claimed no justification based on suicide bombings, which kill far more people, because there have been none this year. Something is wrong with this picture. If this were the Navajo reservation, the Gov. of Arizona would not call in F-16s and Apaches and tanks to deal with two deaths per year from Indian raids and rack up a toll of 500 men, women, and children.
.
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/

Anonymous said...

Please educate me. What does the Patriot Act have to do with writing a commentary on pot?

Anonymous said...

The verse you quoted from 1971 was profound and it points to something that everyone needs to be aware of. What does your being young have to do with it? Are you saying that there is something in the verse that it invalid because of your youth? I don't think so. It could be put into a book of profound quotes.

Anonymous said...

Rhetorical questions for the day: 1) What is more bogus than the American political system?
2) What is more bogus AND dangerous than the American System of Quasi-Justice? Anybody who watches the political scene can answer the first... probably nothing. Or a good answer might be just about any lawyer. Only those who sleep walk thru life could trust the American justice system. I am a big fan of the criminal forensic shows. I wish I had kept a list of all of the instances of prosecutorial misconduct that are revealed. It is stunning to find out about how prosecutors will knowingly have innocent people convicted just to advance their careers. Case in point: I recently saw a forensic show which dealt with a black (they have always been stepped on by the so-called justice system)who was jailed for over 22 years for a rape-murder of two women based on what turned out to be erroneous eye-witness testimony. Through DNA testing, which didn't exist when he was being tried, the real perp was found. He had raped and murdered a total of 10 woman including the two that the innocent man was jailed for. But, guess what? The justice system refused to release the innocent man in spite of the absurdity of having two men in jail for the same crime. It took a herculean effort from some decent lawyers (there are a few around)to get the guy out of jail. There are countless other examples. The bottom line? Beware of The American Quasi-Justice System!!! Some prosecutor might have you jailed or even executed to further his career even though he knows for a fact that you are innocent.

Anonymous said...

We disagree about a lot and agree on some issues.. Of course, I feel for the people in Gaza. They are in a horrible position, and it would be wonderful if Egypt could open their border to provide humanitarian aid or allow innocent people shelter.
However, we stay in touch with friends and family in Israel. They are all pretty liberal politically and in fact, were active in protest against the settlements in Gaza several years ago. I just can't' think of any Jewish mother who wants to send sons and daughters off to a war. However, they really felt they had no choice. The attacks in recent years have made living a peaceful life impossible. Just yesterday, another kindergarten was hit. I wish the world community had demanded a cease fire last year, last month, last week when innocent people living in southern Israel were being bombed.
I truly believe that we should always try to avoid a war, and it's best to find political solutions. But I know I would fight back if I were an Israeli citizen or if the United States were attacked. When we talked with cousins over the weekend, several of their children are on alert and waiting to be called up. These are reasonable, peace loving people, but they must defend themselves.

Anonymous said...

That is a sane, fair, and balanced commentary on the situation in Israel. The bottom line is that peace-loving people must sometimes fight for self-preservation no matter how repugnant war is. The only other option is to lie down and be murdered.

Anonymous said...

Hey Randy, that guy that you photographed passed out with his head in the urinal in your last commentary looks just like me at our party the night we graduated from high school circa 1964. I don't suppose that you would have been out taking pictures that night. However, it may not be me because I noticed that the guy in the picture had no puke on his sport coat. That would have been completely out of character for me back then.

Gimme a break said...

It is funny to me how some of you think that war should be even. Let's see, if they shot two of our guys, we should only shoot two of theirs.
These people are firing thousands of rockets with no regard for innocent life. If they have only killed 15 people, they are just not very good at it. They should be crushed, obliterated, stamped out!!! They should be taught not to fire rockets again, and if they do, they should be squashed again and again until they learn.
Get real people. War is not fair. The best army will win.

Anonymous said...

Hamas is a terrorist organization voted to be the governing faction in Gaza by the "innocent" Gazans knowing that the Hamas charter is sworn to the destruction of Israel and the death of the Jews. It is unfortunate that there are amongst the Gazans those who don't agree with Hamas that are victims. Force is the only thing Hamas understands. Israel's only mistake is lack of force even in the current conflict. They must be crushed.You cannot reason with these thugs.Go to Memri.org to check out the hate they spew. After viewing these videos see if you feel the same way. How do you "snipe" away an entire hostile government and its supporters. The women and children of Hamas are as violent, anti-semitic, and hateful as the men. The children are brainwashed from an early age to hate and kill Jews. This is institutionalized in their society.The only way for Israel to survive is to inflict so much pain on their enemies that they will think twice before commiting acts of terror. Possibly then the population will cry that they have had enough. Israel left Gaza and received only rockets in return.