07 January 2009

07 January 2009 - You can't have it both ways

Anti-Israel activists have adopted a curious and paradoxical propaganda line. On the one hand, they want the fighting to stop. On the other hand, they regard the Hamas rocket attacks as a natural response to the international blockade of Gaza. So they want the war to stop, but they want the war to continue.

You can't have it both ways. If you launch rockets into another country's sovereign territory, you have initiated an armed conflict against them. A blockade is also an act of war, but the blockade itself was a response to rocket attacks, terrorism and arms smuggling by Hamas and other extremist groups.

The anti-Israel crowd argues that rocket attacks are mostly harmless. They do this not only to argue that Israel's response is "disproportionate," but because they generally support the rocket attacks and want to minimize the damage these cause in order not to be seen as encouraging violence against civilians.

They also call the blockade "Israeli," but in truth it is an international blockade, held in place because Hamas refuses to stop terror and renounce its goal of destroying Israel. Hamas could very easily end both the war and the blockade by giving up terror. But it won't, and so the fighting continues.

I find it interesting that the anti-Israel crowd has sided with Hamas so easily and comfortably, expressing few (if any) reservations about its ideology, its cruelty, its use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. Instead they are content, as usual, to invert facts and wail against Israel.

This is a conflict in which, as Orwell might have said, to be "subjectively" anti-war is to be "objectively" pro-Hamas. Those who cry out for an immediate end to Operation Cast Lead were silent, almost without exception, about the attacks against Israeli civilians over the past several years.

Those few who did condemn the rockets typically condemned the blockade as well. But the latter did not cause the former. The Gaza War is a conflict between two clear goals: one side wants the destruction of Israel at any cost, and one is willing to pay almost any price for peace and security.

Israel's peaceful and diplomatic options were completely, and painfully, exhausted. The best outcome for Israelis, Palestinians and the entire region would be the disarming of Hamas. Whether that is achieved through a cease-fire, or through further war, is now entirely up to the Hamas leadership.

The IDF has generally acquitted itself well in this war. There have been mistakes, and any number of civilians killed or injured that is greater than zero must be a cause for deep regret. But the Hamas infrastructure has been smashed, and its image has suffered as its leaders cower behind schoolchildren.

Hamas may even have begun to doubt itself. According to MEMRI, Hamas TV viewers last night were treated to six minutes of Polish erotica as a technician, bored with the usual footage, flipped through the European channels. Its leaders vow to fight, but its troops are likely tired, distracted and demoralized.

It is too early to declare victory, and the worst fighting may yet be ahead, but Israel is winning. And despite the usual protests that greet any attempt by Israel to defend itself, the Gaza War has made one thing clear: you can't have it both ways. You can be pro-Palestinian, or pro-Hamas, but you can't be both.

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