Jewish World Review July 14, 2006 / 18 Tamuz 5766
Knowing the enemy
Israel is currently fighting a two-front war after both Hamas in
Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon attacked across international frontiers. We
await denunciations of these acts of aggression from the United Nations
Security Council, the European Union or human rights organizations.
Denunciations of Israel, of course, are swift. The U.S. vetoed a proposed
Security Council resolution condemning Israel. An angry e-mailer writes to
me demanding to know how Israel can justify attacking the Beirut airport.
And as if taking orders directly from Tehran, Amnesty International
condemned Israel for striking at Lebanon. Amnesty also called upon Hizbollah
to treat the two IDF soldiers it kidnapped humanely but amazingly did not
call upon Hizbollah to release them.
The Washington Post, hoping to provide context for this crisis,
provides a chart in the July 13 edition labeled "Events that led to the
military escalation in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon." Under "Gaza,"
the Post starts with the swearing in of the Hamas government on March 29.
Fair enough. But the next item is "June 9: Explosion kills seven members of
a Gaza family. Witnesses blame Israeli artillery, but Israel denies it."
Missing is any reference to the non-stop shelling of Israel from the Gaza
strip that began in 2005 and has not let up since. Nearly 3,000 rockets have
been fired from Gaza into Israel.
And why? If you believe the conventional wisdom about the
conflict, then getting Israeli "occupying" forces out of Gaza (and the West
Bank) was exactly what the Palestinians most fervently wished to achieve.
The occupation, they ceaselessly wailed, was what kept them from a decent
life, from economic advancement, from dignity and from peace. They could not
be expected, advised Hanan Ashrawi and a host of other spokesmen, to cease
their terror against Israel so long as the occupation continued. When
Israel, for its own reasons, elected to accommodate them and withdrew from
Gaza (even uprooting several thousand Israeli settlers in the process), the
Palestinian moment should have dawned.
Instead of starting to build their "secular democratic state,"
the Palestinians immediately began attacking Israel across the border.
Strange behavior for people whose supposed goal was an independent state
living side by side with Israel. But not so strange if the Palestinians'
goal is actually to eliminate the Jewish state as the Hamas movement,
winner of the last election, is pledged to do. (Which is why many hardheaded
Israelis believe withdrawal from Gaza was a mistake. The Palestinians
interpreted it as a sign of weakness.)
Anyone who has watched what the Palestinians have become over
the past quarter-century could not be deluded into believing that their goal
was peace. Under the thugocracy of Yasser Arafat, and aided by the Islamic
radicals, the Palestinians (and Arabs generally) have been steeped in the
most bitter hatred it is possible for one people to feel for another. No
crime is so monstrous or incredible that it has not been attributed to Jews
and Israelis, no motive more base and no power more exaggerated. The
Washington Post quotes a Lebanese butcher on the kidnapping of two Israeli
soldiers: "As soon as I heard the news I was overjoyed. It was like Italy
winning the World Cup."
A poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center found
that 77 percent of Palestinians agree. Sixty-seven percent support further
Another piece of conventional wisdom that cannot stand up to the
weight of recent events is the notion that Sunnis and Shiites will never
cooperate. While it is true that a low-grade civil war is now underway
between the two groups in Baghdad, the Shiites in Lebanon (who serve Iran)
seem to be having no difficulty working with the Sunnis in Gaza. In fact, as
Michael Ledeen reports in National Review Online, the mullahs in Iran
have quite openly supported the Baathist "insurgents" in Iraq. There are
rumors that Shiite Iran is harboring Sunni Osama bin Laden. What could draw
these traditional foes into one another's arms? Only a common enemy.
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