Oliphant’s Cartoon Is Not Just Despicable, It’s Dangerous

20090326oliphantantisemite1At Israel Insider, Barry Rubin does the best job I’ve seen of describing precisely why Pat Oliphant’s recent cartoon — featuring a goose-stepping, headless swordsman pushing a Jew-shark-on-a-unicycle — is so powerful, and so powerfully offensive. Hat tip: Andy McCarthy.

Is the cartoon truly anti-Semitic, or is it “merely” anti-Israel? I say both, but whatever. The point is that the cartoon is a dangerous lie. It’s dangerous not just to Israel, but to America, to the West, and to any society that faces asymmetric attacks from Islamic fascists.

Like McCarthy, I think this excerpt from Rubin’s commentary spells out the danger (emphasis added):

Oliphant like many or most Western intellectuals, academics, and policymakers, still doesn’t understand the concept of asymmetric warfare. In this, a weaker side wages war on a stronger side using techniques it thinks can make it win. What are these techniques? Terrorism, indifference to the sacrifice of its people, indifference to material losses, refusal to compromise, extending the war for ever. This is precisely the technique of Hamas: let’s continue attacking Israel in order to provoke it to hit us, let’s target Israeli civilians, let’s seek a total victory based on genocide, let’s use our own civilians as human shields, and with such methods we will win. One way we will win is to demonize those who defend themselves, to put them in positions where they have a choice between surrender and looking bad. This cartoon is a victory for Hamas. But it is also a victory for all those who would fight the West and other democracies (India, for example) using these methods. Remember September 11?

In World War II — the “good war” — we faced enemies that commanded military infrastructure comparable to our own. The enemy was both willing and able to meet us on the battlefield, and was capable of inflicting severe damage. To my mind, that parity helps justify actions we took that otherwise would be morally ambiguous at best: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden.

Today’s enemies are financed by immense oil wealth, but have virtually no industrial base of their own. Hamas buys missiles that it could not possibly produce and shoots them from Gaza into Israel. For the September 11 attacks, al-Qaeda took flying lessons at American flight schools, hijacked American jetliners and crashed them into buildings born of America’s industrial and architectural prowess.

Because today’s good guys are immensely more powerful than today’s bad guys, the bad guys have to change the context. They have to use our strength and our values against us. They count on the fact that we — America, Israel — will strive, at great risk to our own troops, to limit civilian casualties on their side. Israel could have killed every human being in the Gaza Strip with zero or close to zero Israeli casualties. Instead, Israel makes a practice of warning the human shields who live in houses that are targeted because they hold arms caches.

Meanwhile, Islamic fascists are more than willing to cause the deaths not just of our civilians, but of their own as well, because the PR exploitation of their own civilian casualties is a key weapon in their arsenal. The only thing Hamas values more than dead Israelis is dead Palestinians. Preferably Palestinian children. We face enemies who are willing to breed their own children for martyrdom.

Enemies practicing asymmetric warfare will always be able to inflict casualties, but the only way they can win is if they can persuade enough of us that it is somehow immoral to fight back. That’s why Rubin concludes that Oliphant — who in a different context would qualify as a classic example of a useful idiot — has scored a victory for Hamas.

"A Sickness in the Soul of Middle-Eastern Islam"

I don’t agree with every syllable of Ralph Peters’s column in today’s New York Post, but this part works:

Israel hasn’t killed a single civilian in the Gaza Strip. Over a hundred civilians have died, and Israeli bombs or shells may have ended their lives. But Israel didn’t kill them.

Hamas did. …

Peace is the last thing Hamas terrorists and gangsters want. Peace means the game is up. Peace means they’ve disappointed their god. Peace means no more excuses. They couldn’t bear peace for six months.

This is a war to the bitter end. And we’re afraid to admit what it’s about.

It’s not about American sins or Israeli intransigence. It’s about a sickness in the soul of a civilization – of Middle-Eastern Islam – that can only be cured from within. Until Arabs or Iranians decide to cure themselves, we’ll have to fight.

Instead, we want to talk. We convince ourselves, against all evidence, that our enemies really want to talk, too, that they just need “incentives” (the diplomat’s term for bribes). The apparent belief of our president-elect that it’s possible to negotiate with faith-fueled fanatics is so naive it’s terrifying.

Yet, it’s understandable. Barack Obama’s entire career has been built on words, not deeds, on his power to persuade, not his power to deliver. But all the caucuses, debates, neighborhood meetings and backroom deal-making sessions in his past haven’t prepared him to “negotiate” with men whose single-minded goal is Israel’s destruction – and ours.

Pictures: Little Green Footballs

Gaza: A Time for War, a Time for Peace

At Pajamas Media, Middle East commentator Eli Bernstein examines Israel’s war against Hamas in the context of the ancient doctrine of a “just war.” He concludes, of course, that Israel has the right to use military force to protect its people. Further, he argues that Israel now has a moral obligation to continue its operation until Hamas’s ability to wage terrorist attacks is crippled:

An ethical exit strategy must be in place with a peace settlement that ensures the violated rights are enforced (Rights vindication). For the war not to be fought in vain, Israel must ensure the original just cause is rectified through a sustainable cessation of violence. Israel must therefore not agree to the unilateral ceasefire, proposed by the Europeans.

Bernstein’s closing paragraphs are particularly strong in describing the stark differences in the motivations of the combatants (emphasis added):

Israel as a democracy surrounded by rogue regimes has to balance its inherent abhorrence of violence with the violent zeal of the rogue regimes it is surrounded by. Israel cannot be expected to act like Sweden when its neighbours are neither Norway nor Finland.

As nations around the world increasingly confront the menace of terrorism and rogue regimes, the Western world will have to learn the unpleasant truth that there is a time for peace and a time for war. Bill Clinton’s pacifist stance on Rwanda caused more deaths than any act of war America has ever engaged in. The pacifist does not necessarily have the shorter sword than the warrior.

It is time the world stops the double speak of moral equivalence. Every Palestinian innocent life lost is a tragic undesired outcome for the Israeli side, whereas the loss of Israeli civilian life is the aim rather than an incidental outcome for Hamas. In the conflict between Israel and Hamas, there simply is no moral equivalence. It is time the world recognised this truth and spoke in one voice.

Israel vs. Hamas: How Much Violence is Enough

A law professor considers the notion of proportionality in Forbes:

The claim is that it is not permissible for the Israelis to kill many individuals, including civilians, to stop sporadic deaths from rocket fire. Sorry. As with individual aggression, proportionality has no place in dealing with deadly force, where the right rule is that all necessary force is permissible.

The Israelis are not required to slowly bleed in Sderot because Hamas is at present only capable of using primitive rockets against it. It need not wait until the attacks become ever more deadly to raise the ante.

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer thinks Israel is nearing a successful endgame:

[T]he only acceptable outcome of this war, both for Israel and for the civilized world, is … the disintegration of Hamas rule. It is already underway.

This is not about killing every last Hamas gunman. Not possible, not necessary. Regimes rule not by physically overpowering every person in their domain but by getting the majority to accept their authority. That is what sustains Hamas, and that is what is now under massive assault.

Hamas’s leadership is not only seriously degraded but openly humiliated. The great warriors urging others to martyrdom are cowering underground, almost entirely incommunicado. Demonstrably unable to protect their own people, they beg for outside help, receiving in return nothing but words from their Arab and Iranian brothers.

In the same paper on the same day, Jackson Diehl looks at the same situation and reaches the opposite conclusion:

Every day this war continues, Hamas grows politically stronger, as do its allies in other countries and its sponsor, Iran. Though Israel must defend its citizens against rockets and suicide bombings, the only means of defeating Hamas are political. Palestinians, who have no history of attraction to religious fundamentalism, have to be persuaded to choose more moderate leaders, such as the secular Fatah. In the meantime, Hamas’s existence must be tolerated, and it should be encouraged to channel its ambitions into politics rather than military activity.

So Mr. Diehl, let me get this straight. Israel must defend its citizens from violent attacks… but not through military means. It must tolerate the existence of Hamas… even though Hamas has no intention of tolerating the existence of Israel. Hamas “should be encouraged to channel its ambitions into politics rather than military activity”… even though its ambition is to drive Israel into the sea.

I sure hope Krauthammer is right, because I don’t hold out much hope for Diehl’s approach.

Israel’s Further Adventures in Social Media

Israel continues and escalates its efforts to use social media to press its case in the global court of public opinion.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the once and perhaps future Prime Minister, is pulling out all the stops to explain Israel’s position in the war with Hamas. In addition to an excellent op-ed in the Wednesday Wall Street Journal, Bibi’s Likud Party has a trilingual blog and social media site (in Hebrew, English and Russian), with an oddly cheery-looking Flash animation showing which towns in Israel are within various ranges of the Gaza Strip.

From the op-ed:

In launching precision strikes against Hamas rocket launchers, headquarters, weapons depots, smuggling tunnels and training camps, Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties. But Hamas deliberately attacks Israeli civilians and deliberately hides behind Palestinian civilians — a double war crime. Responsible governments do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties, but they do not grant immunity to terrorists who use civilians as human shields.

The international community may occasionally condemn Hamas for putting Palestinian civilians in harm’s way, but if it ultimately holds Israel responsible for the casualties that ensue, then Hamas and other terror organizations will employ this abominable tactic again and again.

The charge that Israel is using disproportionate force is equally baseless. Does proportionality demand that Israel fire 6,000 rockets indiscriminately back at Gaza?

Hamas Deploys Children in PR Offensive

A debate is raging over civilian deaths, some of them children, at a Palestinian school.

GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) — Israeli mortar shells exploded Tuesday near a U.N. school in Gaza that was sheltering hundreds of people displaced by Israel’s onslaught against Hamas militants, killing at least 30 Palestinians, tearing bodies apart and staining streets with blood.

Israel’s military said its shelling — the deadliest single episode since Israeli ground forces invaded Gaza Saturday — was a response to mortar fire from within the school and said Hamas militants were using civilians as cover.

The pictures tug at the heartstrings, as they are designed to do. But there are other pictures of Palestinian children that need to be seen as well.

At A Soldier’s Mother, a marvelous blog I discovered just this week, the mother of an Israeli soldier describes in searing detail the different parenting techniques of Palestinians and Israelis.

I heard a [Palestinian] father mourning the death of his son. He blames the Israeli government, and I blame him. “Are you insane?” I want to ask him. “How could you allow your son to be near mortars being fired? What did you think Israel was going to do?” Why didn’t you take your son?… My son [the Israeli soldier] is stationed far from the cities. Why? Because if he is a target, we don’t want civilians nearby. We do not hide in hospitals, in schools, in homes. Why, why do the Palestinians? And if they do, why, why does the world blame Israel?

Hamas uses children — even their own children — and other civilians as human shields. Palestinian children are indoctrinated from an early age into the perverse death cult of Islamic extremism.

A Soldier’s Mother has many pictures of young Palestinian children playing with toy guns, grenades, suicide belts and more. But check for yourself, scroll to the bottom. Little Green Footballs, which has chronicled what it aptly calls “Palestinian Child Abuse” for years, has a slideshow with over 150 similar photos.

Israel will, and should, continue to do what it can to avoid civilian casualties. The Palestinians, on the other hand, breed their children for martyrdom. This deep-rooted sickness in Palestinian society, which has Islamic extremism as its foundation, is the primary barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Photo Credit: A Soldier’s Mother

Gaza Bromide: “Tweet, Tweet” Is Better Than “War, War”

(Welcome, readers of TheDonovan.com, a.k.a. Castle Argghhh. If you’re a fan of “Jonah’s military guys,” you might be interested in my October post about that site, “In Praise of Milbloggers, and of the Iraqi Air Force”. And a warm welcome as well to Wired and Mudville Gazette readers.)

In an earlier post (“Israel Turns to Social Media in Fight against Hamas“) I described how the Israeli Consulate in New York is using Twitter in the battle for public opinion regarding the conflict that partisans on both sides seem to be calling the “War on Gaza.”

It turns out there’s some social media savvy on the Palestinian side as well.

GazaTalk.com (warning: if you click around on the site you’ll see gruesome photos) launched January 1. I discovered it at about 5 a.m. January 5 (today), via a link in the tweetstream of Beshr Kayali. I have no idea who he is beyond the fact that his Twitter page says he’s in Damascus, and because I need to wrap this up quickly before a busy workday, I’m not going to research it.

The GazaTalk.com homepage features the death toll scorecard badge above, along with links to articles, blog posts, pro-Palestinian “Gaza Tweeters” and more.

(Disclosure: I’ve made clear where my own sympathies lie in this conflict. For this post, I’m setting aside my political views to focus on social media.)

If you click on the image below, I think you’ll see a much-larger version of it. (Works on my machine, anyway, but I’m still a newbie blogger and I don’t know if it will work for you. Give it a shot, then come back here to continue the text.)

By using Tweet Grid — one of the many independent sites that have sprung up to leverage Twitter’s tweetstream — I’ve collected the most recent tweets from both Kayali and from Benny Daon. I don’t know anything about him either, but he gives his location as Tel Aviv.

The large screenshot (if you can see it) shows Daon and Kayali parsing the nuances of the conflict in 140-character tweets. Here’s a text version of one exchange:

Beshrkayali: RT @ysalahi: Gaza’s 9/11: 500 dead so far out of 1.5 million in #Gaza. that’s approximately 100,000 americans out of 300 million.

Translation: Kayali is re-tweeting (“RT”) a tweet from someone else (“@ysalahi”) which compares the Gaza death toll with the 9/11 death toll, based on the respective populations of Gaza and the U.S. (If anyone cares about what I think about this argument on a substantive level, please inquire in the comments — I’m staying neutral in the body of the post.)

Daon fires back with a different take:

daonb: @Beshrkayali of the 500 dead in #gaza most are jihadists who got their wish and many others were human shields. In 9/11 just civilians

One last observation, then I’ve gotta wrap this up. Daon and Kayali both press their cases in highly partisan language. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I think I detect a hint of grudging respect and even camaraderie in this exchange:

daonb: @Beshrkayali watching bbc news now for smart analysis on #gaza. hoping we can have peace after this bloodbath, but very much doubt it

Beshrkayali: @daonb Yeah me too… It appears that Israel won’t stop until ALL Palestinians are dead… That’s what Olmert said… #gaza

The two sides in the Gaza War may not be negotiating, but at least they’re tweeting.

Gaza, and Obama Derangement Syndrome

Photo: Associated Press via Yahoo! News

Caption: Muslim protesters wearing masks of, from left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, take part in a rally against Israeli air strikes on Gaza, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.

I didn’t vote for Obama, but I wish him well, because there’s a lot at stake. Sixteen days from now he’ll be America’s president, and my president.

So I don’t want to slip into the kind of partisan glee some conservative bloggers have been showing at the growing evidence that the man behind change.gov (I bet they retire that domain before 2012) will face some limitations in his ability to change the world.

There’s little doubt that Obama will be treated with considerably more respect throughout his term by the American news media than Bush ever was. That’s likely to be true around the world as well, at least initially. But America has real enemies, and Obama will quickly become the face of the Great Satan for jihadists everywhere. The process is under way.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I am more confident than I was two months ago that Obama will protect America with a muscular foreign policy. It will be interesting to see how the longtime purveyors of Bush Derangement Syndrome will react when it’s their man making the tough decisions.

Moral Clarity on Hamas and Gaza, from Krauthammer

Time and again, after reading a Charles Krauthammer column, I find myself thinking, “why couldn’t I have written that?” It’s a combination of my admiration for the man’s craft and my nearly complete agreement, more often than not, with what he has to say.

Today’s column is headlined “Moral Clarity in Gaza.” It’s hard to decide which snippet to quote. But here’s the sentence that resonates most clearly for me, the day after Hamas thug Nizar Rayan died along with the family he used as his human shields:

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians.

To coin a phrase, you should read the whole thing.