When one says that it is a pity certain Palestinian groups seem to hate Israelis' children more than they love their own, one opens oneself up to accusations of "racism" and "spouting Israeli propaganda", but how else is one to interpret creating television programs targeting children with the message that suicide bombing is something noble and praiseworthy?
It is tempting to think Israel's support for settlement building in the West Bank is the "root cause" of all the conflict in that part of the world, but while I do agree that most of the settlements must go (especially the ones far away from the "Green Line"), I am not so naive as to think that a desire for peace would suddenly bloom in the hearts of the Palestinians if every last settlement were simply to vanish into thin air. At heart, this is a conflict with a religious basis, and one which does not allow for any peaceful resolution: the Palestinians (and much of the rest of the Muslim world) believes that all of the former British mandate is holy soil which belongs to them by right, and the very existence of a Jewish state on any of it is therefore considered unacceptable. Seeing as the Israelis aren't about to either let themselves be driven into the Mediterranean sea or submit to becoming subservient subjects of a Muslim state, this conflict will run and run regardless of anything foreign politicians might do to try to bring it to a close.
I've just come across an article in the Guardian, written by a certain Peter Beaumont, which goes on in some detail about what the aftermath of Israel's Operation Cast Lead has been for some families in Gaza. The details are harrowing, and I think it's worthwhile that such things be more widely known, if only to ensure that no one ever starts to fall under the illusion that war is something else than a hellish, murderous undertaking, never something to plunge into lightly.
A constant refrain heard during the course of the IDF's "Operation Cast Lead" campaign in Gaza was that by attempting to crush Hamas, Israel was only acting to radicalize the Palestinians further - as if it really were possible to be even more politically extreme than one must be to vote Hamas into power. What struck me as even stranger than these prophecies of Palestinian "radicalization", however, was that none of those making them ever stopped to consider that a similar dynamic could possibly be at work on the Israeli side as well, i.e. that Hamas' unrelenting campaign of terror could push Israeli voters well to the right of the likes of Tzipi Livni's Kadima and Ehud Barak's Labor, both of which parties are clearly much more amenable to the creation of a viable Palestinian state and full equality for Israel's Arabs than any of the more right-wing alternatives: in other words, while Palestinian "radicalization" would only mean even shriller impotent cries of "Death to Israel" and the like - but without the smuggled weapons to realize them - the Palestinians really did stand to lose a great deal by goading their declared enemies. You'd think that those who insist most stridently on the powerlessness of the Palestinians would be most aware of this reality, and yet the very same people were the ones ranting as if it was Hamas most in need of placating ...
At any rate, what pushed me to write this piece is that it would seem events are validating my counter-argument: Israeli public opinion is indeed being radicalized by Hamas' unwillingness to consider peace, so much so that the extreme right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party stands to eclipse the Labor Party which once had as strong a claim to the title "Israel's natural party of government" as the Social Democratic Party did in Sweden. As the polls currently stand, a right-wing coalition between Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas or the National Union seems likely to form Israel's next government, with Benjamin Netanyahu sitting in the Prime Minister's office. If this seems like a positive development for Hamas' many left-wing apologists, they are welcome to commence celebrations, but from where I stand the prospect of any sort of Palestinian state has just receded considerably into the distance. Thus are the fruits of Hamas' campaign of terror.
As the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has unfolded over the last three weeks, we've heard a tremendous amount from all sorts of commentators about how "disproportionate" Israel's response to the over 5,500 rocket attacks on its territory have been, with the usual evidence offered being a comparison of the number of Palestinian deaths which have been incurred as against the number of Israeli deaths which have transpired under indiscriminate Palestinian rocket fire. Although this "disproportionate response" argument has rubbed me the wrong way from the very first time I heard it, until now I've preferred to hold my peace in order to devote my time to more pressing concerns; but now I cannot stand the idiocy and hypocrisy of such sloganeering any longer, and I will endeavor to explain precisely why anyone who cries "disproportionate response!!!" is at best a misguided fool and at worst a barely disguised antisemite whose real issue is that Israel dares to respond at all.
In the interest of forestalling a lot of nonsensical argumentation to the effect that Hamas is merely a "freedom fighting" organization whose rocket attacks against Israel were simply in opposition to "occupation" (which in fact Israel unilaterally ended back in 2005), I strongly suggest reading this Times article providing a few interesting excepts afrom Hamas' 1988 charter. I quote:
I've long found it ridiculous how Barack Obama's most fervent supporters as well as his most vehement detractors have projected onto Obama a left-wing radicalism which nothing in the man's words or deeds has ever supported; as such, I took it for granted that his foreign policy would be much less of a radical break with the Bush administration's than many either hoped or dreaded. Now comes telltale evidence that my take on Obama is indeed correct: the activist antiwar groups who were first to throw their weight behind him are already grumbling about the likely make-up of his cabinet.
There is no doubt that an Obama administration will differ substantially from the outgoing one in many aspects of its dealings with other nations, but anyone who imagines that America will suddenly start asking for everyone else's permission before taking any controversial action, that it will forswear war under any and all circumstances, or that it will suddenly abandon old alliances and embrace nations it once viewed with hostility, is living in a world of delusions. American "unilateralism" is not going away: if anything, the new administration will probably bend over backwards to avoid giving force to the "weak kneed", "Jimmy Carter retread" accusations the Republicans are certain to throw at it.
Haaretz reports that Haider has died in a car accident. Don't expect any tears on his behalf from me, but one has to wonder what it means for Austria's domestic politics; with the international economy in turmoil and the Austrian far-right at its strongest in ages, the time was ripe for a demagogue like Haider to make a bid for supreme power. Will this be the opportunity needed by the even more dangerous - and far more openly fascistic - Heinz-Christian Strache to make it to the top of Austrian politics?
As it's no secret that totalitarian regimes excel at organizing mass spectacles, it should come as no surprise at all that the opening of China's 2008 Olympic Games has provided a treasure-trove of dazzling images. The Chinese regime has spared no effort to beguile the world with images of splendor which are meant to sell the billions of worldwide viewers on the message of Chinese might and wealth as something wonderful for the world, and to a certain very limited extent, this even contains a portion of truth, even if the image of power and competence is conveyed in part through Potemkin buildings.
77% of Arab citizens would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world.
It would be one thing if this were saying they'd rather live in Israel than in any Arab country, but the statement is actually far stronger than that, and therefore all the more surprising. It suggests to me that Israel's Arab citizens appreciate that despite whatever resentments they might have about Judaism's privileged religious status in Israeli law, Israeli Arabs really do have it good, especially by comparison with Arabs living in Arab-majority states.
There is more to the report than this one statistic, however, and I suggest reading it in full, but even this much should give a little pause to all those fond of tiresome rhetoric about Israel being an "apartheid state" [sic]: evidently Israeli Arabs know something such sloganizers do not.