Falkland Islands
Why War is Killing Less of Us Than Ever

Raymond Ibrahim

PJ Media

The value of actor Ben Affleck’s recent outbursts in defense of Islam on HBO’s Real Time is that here, in one 10-minute segment, we have all the leftist/liberal bromides used whenever Islam is criticized (Real Time with Bill Maher 2014.10.03).

In what follows, Affleck’s main arguments are presented and then discredited.

Relativism and the Islamic Heterogeneity Myth

At the start, when author Sam Harris began making some critical remarks concerning Islam, a visibly agitated Affleck interrupted him by somewhat sarcastically asking, “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?  You’re the interpreter of that?”

Affleck was essentially arguing that really no one is qualified to say what is or is not Islamic, since all Muslims are free to interpret Islam anyway they want.   This notion has less to do with how Islam is practiced and more to do with Western relativism, specifically the postmodern belief that there are no “truths,” that everything is open to individual expression.  Thus even if an Islamic sheikh from Al Azhar University were to tell Affleck that the criticism leveled against Islam were true, the actor would no doubt reply, “Fine, that’s your opinion, but I know that most other Muslims disagree.”

The fundamental mistake in this position is that it places Muslims on a higher pedestal of authority than Islam itself (even though muslims are by definition “one’s who submit” to islam, which is “submission” to Allah’s laws).  Islam is based on the law, or Sharia—“the way” prescribed by Allah and his prophet.  And Sharia most certainly does call for any number of things—subjugation of women and religious minorities, war on “infidels” and the enslavement of their women and children, bans on free speech and apostasy—that even Affleck would normally condemn.

In short, Sunni Islam, which approximately 90% of all Muslims follow, is far from heterogeneous.  It has only four recognized schools of jurisprudence, and these agree over the basics, with only minor differences over detail.  Even in the other 10% of Islamic sects, most of which are Shia or Shia offshoots, one finds that when it comes to intolerant aspects, they too are in agreement.  For example, while all Islamic schools of law prescribe the death penalty for leaving Islam, some argue that female apostates should “only” be imprisoned and beat until they embrace Islam again.

The ‘Racism’ Card

When Bill Maher, the host of Real Time, asked “But why can’t we talk about this [Islamic issues]?” Affleck shot back with, “Because It’s gross, it’s racist.”

This meme is as common as it is absurd and does not deserve much rebuttal.  Suffice to say that Muslims are not a race.  There are Muslims of all nations, races, ethnicities—from sub-Saharan Africans to blonde haired, blue-eyed Europeans.    Yet many apologists for Islam, including congressmen and congresswomen, habitually rely on this lie—I won’t even deign to call it an “apologetic”—simply because accusing someone of being “racist,” in this case, critics of Islam, is one of the surest way of shutting them up.

Conflating Muslim Teachings with Muslim People

At one point, after the other speakers made certain statistical points, Affleck made the following outburst, to much applause: “How about the more than a billion people [Muslims], who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who wanna go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you’re saying of all Muslims. It’s stereotyping.”

Again, Affleck conflates the actions of people—Muslims—with the teachings of a religion—Islam.  Going back to the apostasy example, Islamic law clearly teaches that those who abandon Islam—including as the world recently saw, one pregnant Christian woman, Meriam Ibrahim—are to be executed.   One can therefore say that Sharia calls for the death of apostates.

But can one say with similar certainty  that every single Muslim alive today believes that the apostasy penalty should be upheld?  Obviously not.  Yet this is not a reflection of Islam; it is a reflection of individual human freedom—a freedom that ironically goes against Islamic teaching.

Nonetheless, this conflation of Islam with Muslims is an all too common approach used to shield the former from criticism.   (See this 2007 video where I respond more fully to this question from a concerned reporter.)

Historical Revisionism

Next Affleck argued: “We’ve killed more Muslims than they’ve killed us by an awful lot. We’ve invaded more countries than they’ve invaded us by an awful out.”

Aside from essentially suggesting that “two wrongs make a right,” his assertions reflect an appalling acquaintance with true history—thanks of course to the ingrained lies emanating from academia, followed by Hollywood and the media.

Reality records a much different story.  From its inception, Islam has been a religion hostile to all others.  Jihad was its primary tool of expansion.

Consider: A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the seventh century, the jihad burst out of Arabia.  Leaving aside all the thousands of miles of ancient lands and civilizations that were permanently conquered, today casually called the “Islamic world”—including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India and China—much of Europe was also, at one time or another, conquered by the sword of Islam.

Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

In 846 Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim Arab raiders; some 600 years later, in 1453, Christendom’s other great basilica, Holy Wisdom (or Hagia Sophia) was conquered by Muslim Turks.

The few European regions that escaped direct Islamic occupation due to their northwest remoteness include Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany.  That, of course, does not mean that they were not attacked by Islam. Indeed, in the furthest northwest of Europe, in Iceland, Christians used to pray that God save them from the “terror of the Turk.” These fears were not unfounded since as late as 1627 Muslim corsairs raided the Christian island seizing four hundred captives, selling them in the slave markets of Algiers.

Nor did America escape.  A few years after the formation of the United States, in 1800, American trading ships in the Mediterranean were plundered and their sailors enslaved by Muslim corsairs.  The ambassador of Tripoli explained to Thomas Jefferson that it was a Muslim’s right and duty to make war upon non-Muslims wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.

In short, for roughly one millennium—punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that people like Affleck are obsessed with demonizing—Islam daily posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and by extension Western civilization.

Yet today, whether as taught in high school or graduate school, whether as portrayed by Hollywood or the news media, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic “victims” of “intolerant” Western Christians.  That’s exactly what a TV personality once told me live on Fox News.

Final Recourse: Justifying the Apologetics

Towards the end, a frustrated Affleck, unable to respond, exclaimed, “What is your solution? To condemn Islam? To do what?”

These are interesting questions in that they reveal the true position of the apologist.  I have encountered this phenomenon often, most memorably in a public debate with Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi.   Towards the end of the debate, he declared “You can sit here and talk about jihad from here to doomsday, what will it do? Suppose you prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Islam is constitutionally violent, where do you go from there?”

What this line of reasoning suggests is that the apologist believes there is no other recourse than to be an apologist; that the best policy is to ignore Islam’s violence and intolerance, since the alternative—open acknowledgement—will lead to something worse, a clash of civilizations.  War.  And that must be avoided at all costs—so let us pretend.

Note for instance how Affleck kept stressing the population of Muslims, often interjecting statements like “but there are over a billion Muslims”—as if that should have influence on whether truth is spoken or not.

What such apologists fail to recognize is that the clash of civilizations is already upon us; and it is not a product of Western “bigotry” but Islamic teaching.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, here it is.

The reason apologists can get away (for now) with their reasoning is because the U.S. is ostensibly immune from Islam—so they can spin and pass off feel good fables about Islam all they want.

Yet all the while, time progresses, Islam keeps marching and gaining ground, until the clash begins anew in earnest, as it did for centuries until Islam was beaten on the battlefield by the West in the modern era.  And when the Islamic world is finally in a position to unleash an earnest global jihad, when the “Islamic State” phenomenon appears all around the world—already people are being beheaded by Muslims in America and Europe—posterity will look back with great bitterness at the inaction and naivety of their Western predecessors who might have nipped the problem in the bud if they had only spoken truth—and implemented policies based on truth.

—–

And there it is.  Whether projecting Western intellectual maladies such as relativism onto Muslim teachings and persons; whether mindlessly crying “racist!” whenever Islamic teachings are criticized; whether confusing the matter by conflating the actions or beliefs of some Muslims with the actual black-and-white teachings of Islam; whether turning history upside its head by turning persecutors into victims and victims into persecutors; or whether, after being backed into a corner, exclaiming that one has no choice but to apologize as true speak will make things worse—in a nutshell,  Ben Affleck’s few minutes on Islam nicely summed up the Islamic apologetics game.

In the end, of course, Affleck may be excused.  He’s just a simple actor and not expected to know much outside of the realm of pretense.  The true guilty ones are all those Americans in political positions whose job requires them to be honest with the American people but who continue to act—to lie—about Islam.

caliphatewatch:

Oct. 4, 2014 : “Fears of massacre as Isis tanks lead assault on Kurdish bastion”, Hannah Lucinda Smith, The Times (UK)

caliphatewatch:

Oct. 4, 2014 : “Fears of massacre as Isis tanks lead assault on Kurdish bastion”, Hannah Lucinda Smith, The Times (UK)

Raymond Ibrahim

An apocalyptic scenario…

FrontPage Magazine

The following is an envisioning of what might eventually unfold if the Islamic State is left to flourish.  Although it is only one of several possible scenarios, due to its ostensibly implausible nature, it requires some delineation.

The Islamic State (IS) continues expanding its territory and influence through jihad.   Religious minorities that fall under its sway—at least the fortunate ones—continue to flee in droves, helping make the Islamic State what it strives to be: purely Islamic.

Left unfettered, with only cosmetic airstrikes by an indecisive Obama administration to deal with, IS continues growing in strength and confidence, as Western powers again stand idly by.

More and more Muslims around the world, impressed and inspired by what they see, become convinced that the Islamic State is in fact the new caliphate deserving of their allegiance.  Such Muslims—the most “radical” kind, who delight in the slaughter and subjugation of “infidels”—continue leaving Western nations and migrating to the Islamic State to wage jihad and live under Sharia.

In other words, a sizable chunk of the world’s most radicalized/pious Muslims all become localized in one region.  There they openly and proudly display their anti-infidel supremacism.

Throughout, Western media have no choice but to report objectively—so thoroughly exposed for its barbarity has IS become that it is an insurmountable task to whitewash its atrocities.  The world has seen enough about IS to know that this is a savage, hostile, and supremacist state without excuse.   Even Obama, after originally citing “grievances” as propelling the Islamic State’s successes, recently made an about face, saying “No grievance justifies these actions.”

Put differently, the “Palestinian card” will not work here.  Western media, apologists, and talking heads cannot portray IS terror—including crucifying, beheading, and raping humans simply because they are “infidels”—as a product of “grievances” or “land disputes.”

Indeed, the Islamic State itself, which is largely composed of foreigners, is the one invading other territories (Iraq, Syria), massacring and driving out their most indigenous inhabitants, from Christians to Yazidis.

In time, the Islamic State’s borders are fully consolidated and the “caliphate” is a fact of reality.  Its war on fellow Muslim “apostates”—its current excuse for not engaging the greatest of all “infidels” in the region, Israel—eventually comes to a close or stalemate.

Then the inevitable happens: another conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas; Muslims around the word, including those under IS authority, drunk with power and feelings of superiority, demand that the time to wipe out the Jewish infidel has finally come; that the second phase of the caliphate is now or never—conquest of “original infidels.”

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recently declared during his U.N. speech, “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree. ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.”

Thus the Islamic State will eventually be compelled to start saber rattling and worse against Israel.  After all, its entire legitimacy is founded on its namesake—that it is the“Islamic state,” the state that magnifies and protects Islam and Muslims.   It must eventually confront Israel or else be proven the greatest of all hypocrites or munafiqun—a term of great rebuke in the Koran, which some Muslim authorities are already applying to IS for not confronting Israel now.

Conflicts inevitably ensue between Israel and its neighboring Islamic State.   But unlike the Jewish state’s war on Hamas—which the mainstream media can manipulate and portray as a war on innocent Palestinian women and children—world governments and media will find it exceedingly difficult to criticize Israel should any conflict between it and IS arise.

Unlike sympathy for the Palestinians, non-Muslims around the world vacillate between hate for and fear of the Islamic State; even Karen Armstrong, John Esposito and their ilk cannot apologize for this particular group of Islamic savages—other than to insist that theirs is not true Islam (an irrelevant point for the purposes of this scenario).

Moreover, the argument habitually used against Israel—that its war on Hamas creates innocent Palestinian casualties—loses all legitimacy in any war on the Islamic State.

After all, IS, the state itself—not some terrorist organization ensconced within the state—is beheading, massacring, and enslaving humans solely on the basis of their religious identity.  Its citizens—who went there of their own accord, unlike “displaced” and “trapped” Palestinians—are fanatical, extremist Muslims, whose greatest aspiration is to decapitate an infidel.

No one can apologize for this.   The best that can be said is that this is not “true” Islam, which is neither here nor there.

This is why, even now, the pro-Islamic Obama administration is forced to condemn IS and even (if perfunctorily) militarily engage it.

In short, conventional war becomes very justifiable against IS—especially because there is no longer any worry of accidentally killing this or that moderate or non-Muslim, as they have all been driven away, replaced by Islamic terrorists from around the world.

And conventional war has traditionally been the bane of Islamists, who prefer terrorism, hiding among civilians, using them as shields, and playing the victim.

Safe from international censure and pushed to the edge, Israel eventually obliterates the Islamic State, while even Islam’s greatest apologists in the West must hold their tongue or else be seen as defenders of the state responsible for the greatest atrocities—crucifixions, beheadings, rapes, slavery, and wholesale massacres—so far committed in the 21st century.

Three positive consequences emerge from all this:

  1. Not only is the Islamic State destroyed, but with it, some of the world’s most supremacist and hate-filled Muslims—those who quit their home countries, including from the West, to persecute and kill the “infidels.”
  2. The rest of the world’s Muslims get a major and much needed wakeup call.  Some may start to rethink the notion of “jihad” and eternal enmity for the rest of the world.  Some may start to rethink Islam altogether.
  3. The non-Muslim world also gets a much needed wakeup call, another lesson to add to the major wars and conflicts of the 20th century, this time about Islamic fascism, which, finally, becomes catalogued as the danger it is.

Note: I am not advocating for this scenario—admittedly, one of many different kinds of scenarios that can develop if the Islamic State is left to flourish—and would prefer to see IS made extinct now. For even if this scenario comes to pass, matters must first get significantly worse before they can begin to get better.

Image source: Peace Now
The empty spaces in Gaza

by Alan M. DershowitzAugust 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4580/gaza-population-density



How many times have you heard on television or read in the media that the Gaza Strip is “the most densely populated area in the world”? Repeating this statement, however, does not make it true. There are dense parts of Gaza, especially Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, but there are far less dense areas in Gaza between these cities. Just look at Google Earth, or this population density map.
The fact that these sparsely populated areas exist in the Gaza Strip raise several important moral questions: First, why don’t the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why do they only show the densely populated cities? There are several possible reasons. There is no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring. But that’s precisely the point—to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn’t show these areas is that Hamas won’t let them. That too would be a story worth reporting.
Second, why doesn’t Hamas use sparsely populated areas from which to launch its rockets and build its tunnels? Were it to do so, Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically.
That is precisely why Hamas selects the most densely populated areas from which to fire and dig. The difference between Israel and Hamas is that Israel uses its soldiers to protect its civilians, whereas Hamas uses its civilians to protect its terrorists. That is why most of Israeli casualties have been soldiers and most of Hamas’ casualties have been civilians. The other reason is that Israel builds shelters for its civilians, whereas Hamas builds shelters only for its terrorists, intending that most of the casualties be among its civilian shields.
The law is clear: using civilians as human shields—which the Hamas battle manual mandates—is an absolute war crime. There are no exceptions or matters of degree, especially when there are alternatives. On the other hand, shooting at legitimate military targets, such as rockets and terror tunnels is permitted, unless the number of anticipated civilian casualties is disproportionate to the military importance of the target. This is a matter of degree and judgment, often difficult to calculate in the fog of war. The law is also clear that when a criminal takes a hostage and uses that hostage as a shield from behind whom to fire at civilians or police, and if the police fire back and kill the hostage, it is the criminal and not the policeman who is guilty of murder. So too with Hamas: when it uses human shields and the Israeli military fires back and kills some of the shields, it is Hamas who is responsible for their deaths.
The third moral question is why does the United Nations try to shelter Palestinian civilians right in the middle of the areas from which Hamas is firing? Hamas has decided not to use the less densely populated areas for rocket firing and tunnel digging. For that reason, the United Nations should use these sparsely populated areas as places of refuge. Since the Gaza Strip is relatively small, it would not be difficult to move civilians to these safer areas. They should declare these areas battle free and build temporary shelters—tents if necessary—as places of asylum for the residents of the crowded cities. It should prevent any Hamas fighters, any rockets and any tunnel builders from entering into these sanctuaries. In that way, Hamas would be denied the use of human shields and Israel would have no reason to fire its weapons anywhere near these United Nations sanctuaries. The net result would be a considerable saving of lives.
But instead the UN is playing right into the hands of Hamas, by sheltering civilians right next to Hamas fighters, Hamas weapons and Hamas tunnels. Then the United Nations and the international community accuses Israel of doing precisely what Hamas intended Israel to do: namely fire at its terrorists and kill United Nations protected civilians in the process. It’s a cynical game being played by Hamas, but it wouldn’t succeed without the complicity of UN agencies.
The only way to assure that Hamas’ strategy of using human shields to maximize civilian casualties is not repeated over and over again is for the international community, and especially the United Nations, not to encourage and facilitate it, as it currently does. International law must be enforced against Hamas for its double war crime: using civilian human shields to fire at civilian Israeli targets. If this tactic were to be brought to a halt, then Israel would have no need to respond in self-defense. Applying the laws of war to Israel alone will do no good, because any country faced with rockets and tunnels targeting its civilians will fight back. When the fighters and tunnel builders hide behind human shields, there will inevitably be civilian casualties—unintended by Israel, intended by Hamas—regardless of how careful the defenders are. Israel has tried its hardest to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas has tried its hardest to maximize civilian casualties. Now the United Nations and the international community must try their hardest to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.


Alan Dershowitz’s latest book is “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law”.

Related Topics:  Palestinian Authority  |  Alan M. Dershowitz

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…

Somehelp

The citizens of Israel are now into their second week of a horrific war of rockets inflicted upon them primarily by the Hamas terror group operating out of Gaza. So far over 1350 rockets have been hurled at Israeli population centers, traumatizing children and putting an unfathomable burden on the little country. Tens of thousand of Israeli reservists have been pulled from their families and await possible orders to enter into a dangerous ground war with a ruthless enemy.

There is hopefully some comfort for Israel in the stalwart support of tried and true organizations  like the Jewish National Fund, the Orthodox UnionMagen David Adom,One Family and the Jewish Federations of North America, all who have set up Emergency Funds to support the beleaguered Jewish state. These special campaigns are providing much needed services like counseling , medical assistance, mobile shelters, toys and foodstuffs.

We are thrilled that our “Stop the Sirens” campaign is being implemented in collaboration with local Jewish Federations-  and other groups. We in North America stand shoulder to shoulder with all Israelis.  - Jewish Federations of North America

One organization, the New Israel Fund  issued an impressively evenhanded press release today to publicize their very own efforts to support and raise the morale of the besieged citizens of Israel. 

Given the military confrontation between Israel and Hamas, which came on the heels of unprecedented incitement and tension between Jewish and Arab Israelis, the New Israel Fund stands ready to fund projects through our Emergency Grant Program

The New Israel Fund (NIF) promotes itself as a younger, hipper pro-Israel organization, and they certainly are trend setters. As part of their own Emergency response to the terror war on Israel, NIF has authorized an expedited grant to “Al Amar to help establish a series of special working groups for young Palestinian-Israeli political activists to help them organise non-violent protests.”

Emergency grants to fund protests against Israel

Emergency grants to fund protests against Israel

What a great morale booster it will be to Israeli families hunkered down in their bomb shelters to hear the heartwarming chants of NIF funded protesters rushed to the scene to decry the Jewish state.

NIF is no less concerned about the stresses this war has inflicted upon the valiant men and women of the IDF. It will be a source of great comfort for the soldiers to know that NIF has rushed an emergency grant to BDS funded B’Tselem an organization’s whose sole purpose is to critique and thus hamper Israel’s defensive operations. As a nod to the appreciation Israeli’s have for B’Tselem’s efforts, NIF has designated funds for extra security at B’Tselem’s offices. 

While the sentiment of NIF’s efforts to “support Israel” in these difficult times is certainly appreciated, we respectfully suggest that they consider redirecting some of that same type of “support” to Hamas, the IDF would surely appreciate the help.

המלחמה קשה למי שמאמין בהידברות וחושב שזו הדרך לפתור מחלוקות. המלחמה היא אתגר למי שמאמין באהבה. היא מגלה שיש מי ששולל את זכותך להתקיים, לא משנה כמה תאהב אותו. המלחמה היא אתגר קשה למי שמאמין בזכויות הפרט, כי מבטלים בה את כל זכויות הפרט של האויב, לפעמים אפילו את זכותו לחיות.

המלחמה קשה למי ששייכים לפוסט־מודרנה גלובלית, שהפנימו רעיונות של ניו־אייג’, ואיבדו בדרך את זהותם הישראלית. המלחמה מסכנת את ה”אני” שלהם. סכנת אובדן “האני המאפשר”, ה”מקבל כל אחד כמו שהוא” תחייב אותם להוכיח שמלחמה היא טעות. המלחמה כה מזעזעת את עולמם, שכדי לשרוד נפשית הם צריכים להעלים מן התודעה את אכזריותו של האויב, או לקחת חלק מהאשמה על עצמם: לא סיפקנו לחמאסצורכי יסוד, לא הקשבנו באמת לצד השני, לא נתנו לעזתים חופש תנועה שהוא מיסודות זכויות הפרט.

גדל כאן דור שאינו יודע להתמודד עם תופעה שאי אפשר לפתור באמצעות חשיבה חיובית, אי־שיפוטיות, מאבק על זכויות המיעוט, אפליקציה, או אוכל טבעוני. הניצחון במלחמה מסוכן להם כמו ההפסד.

העולם אכזר. אויבינו נמנים עם האומות האכזריות ביותר. רק הצבא יכול היום לנהל את מצרים. רק רודן אכזר כמו סדאם חוסיין הצליח להחזיק ביחד את כל המרכיבים של עיראק.אסד והאיראנים נראים פתאום מתונים יחסית לדאע”ש.

קשה לקבל כי אויבי אינו שותף לערכי. שהוא לא עבר את עידן הנאורות וההשכלה ולא הפנים את ערכי הדמוקרטיה. הערכים האלו שלי, הם איום על עולמו, על המשפחה המסורתית שהוא מתקשה להמשיך לקיים כשילדיו חשופים לאינטרנט. מזעזע לגלות שערכי האהבה, ההידברות, וזכויות הפרט הם בעיניו סימנים של חולשה. מזעזע לגלות מתחת לשכבה הדקה של התרבות, את האכזריות של זולתי, ושלי. אנושיות היא המאמץ להישאר אנושי גם במקום שאין בו אנשים.

יש עת להידברות ועת שאסור בה להידבר. יש עת לאפשר, ועת לקחת מהזולת את כל מה שיש לו. יש עת לאהבה, ועת שתוקפנות הישרדותית צריכה להוביל. ואחריה, לקוות, תהיה שוב עת להידבר. קהלת, שלימד אותנו שיש עת לכל דבר תחת השמש, לא האמין בכוח ולא האמין בהידברות. הוא לא האמין בזכויות הפרט, ולא האמין במלחמות. חייו היו מאורגנים ממקום אחר. מלחמה ושלום היו בעיניו מרכיבים באישיות שצריך למצוא להם את המקום, הזמן, והמידה הנכונה.

ד”ר כספי הוא מנהל מרכז “פסיכולוגיה ויהדות”

Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The main Hamas command and control bunker in Gaza is located underneath it.

As everyone knows, Hamas has embedded its command posts, rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities within the civilian population of Gaza. This makes it difficult to destroy them from the air without large numbers of civilian casualties. It is also the case that important installations are underground where they are difficult to destroy from the air.

I have been expecting (and I admit it, hoping for) the IDF to mount a ground attack against Hamas in Gaza. But there may be an alternative, better, approach.

The very knowledgeable Dr. Mordechai Kedar lists some of the difficulties of going after Hamas in the heavily populated Gaza city area:

1. Population size and density, especially in urban areas such as Gaza City, Khan Yunis, Rafiah and the refugee camps make it necessary for Israel to introduce large infantry forces to a considerable number of points.

2. A tank has no advantages in urban areas as it has limited maneuverability, cannot aim at upper floors and is a slow-moving, easily hit target for antitank weapons, such as RPGs and rockets.

3. An armored jeep is also an easy target for antitank weaponry in a built up area.

4. Soldiers making their way on foot in built up areas are sitting ducks for snipers. Hamas has laid mines, built tunnels underneath the houses, fortified sniper positions in strategically placed buildings.

5. Eliminating Hamas military and civilian infrastructure requires a large Israeli presence over a lengthy period of time, enabling Hamas to attack command posts and headquarters (that is what occurred in Tyre).

6. Total elimination of Hamas will not prevent its resurgence as soon as our soldiers leave.

Kedar makes two points: that the ground attack would be costly — both to Israel and to the civilian population — and not assured of success, and that even if the Hamas infrastructure were completely destroyed, a permanent IDF presence would be required to keep it from being rebuilt.

Keep in mind that Hamas is depending on the “international community” to force a cease-fire and then help it rebuild; this will be accelerated by civilian casualties in Gaza. It has therefore encouraged its population to become human shields by ignoring IDF warnings, even going to rooftops of houses that are expected to be bombed.

Hamas sees casualties both among IDF soldiers and Gazan civilians as advantageous, and is doing everything it can to force Israel into a ground war in order to increase them. It certainly has been behaving as though this is its aim, deliberately crossing red lines and bragging about its intentions.

Here is Kedar’s strategy:

1. Israel must not enter Gaza and continue dealing with the problem from the air, where Israel has a significant advantage over Hamas and the other terror organization.

2. Israel must continue and expand its targeted assassinations against activists and leaders. Israel must give Hamas political leaders clear warning that continued rocket launching will lead to their elimination.

3. Israel must announce publicly that two days after the aforesaid announcement, it will shut the supply of electricity, water, food and fuel to Gaza, and that this will continue until the rockets cease. Israel can also threaten to cut off all line-based communication to Gaza that goes through Israel. There has never been a situation in which a country continues to provide supplies and services to an area from which it is being shot at. This two days in advance warning is intended to deal with legal, public, political and media issues that might result from the cutoff.

The third point is important because Israel is providing a propaganda victory to Hamas by its humanitarian policies, enabling it to retain popular support:

Our side keeps saying: We differentiate between terrorists and civilians: we fight terror and send food to the civilians. There is nothing more infuriating and incorrect, because think about it – who hands out the food to the people? Israel or Hamas? In other words, the people thank Hamas for succeeding in blackmailing Israel into transferring food even though Hamas is raining missiles on Israel.

We say that we are transferring food and fuel so that world media will report it. This, too, is a faulty approach, because it is based on a twisted scale of values, according to which Israeli lives are less important that Israel’s image.

Continuing to transfer food, water, fuel and electricity, is seen as a sign of weakness by  the other side, and weakness invites more pressure in the form of rockets and missiles. Stopping the supplies would cause the residents of Gaza to demand that Hamas cease to launch rockets. Clearly, continued transfer of supplies is the reason for the continued rockets.

Kedar would prefer that Hamas — a humiliated and weakened Hamas — maintain control of Gaza, while being forced to stop its aggression against Israel.

I think he’s right about the contradiction between ‘humanitarian’ assistance and warfare. After all, the population of Gaza overwhelmingly voted for Hamas in 2006, and overwhelmingly supports its objective of killing Jews. We have no obligation to place the well-being of Gaza’s population over that of our own. The opposite is true!

If we cut them off, we can expect great international pressure to resume the transfers. Our response can only be: “yes — as soon as Hamas stops its attacks and begins to disarm.” Continued transfer will depend on the progress of disarmament.

I don’t suggest that we embark on this course unless we are prepared to follow through, because surrender to pressure would be far worse than not taking it at all. It must be made clear that the fate of Gazans is in Hamas’ hands, not ours.

Unfortunately, Hamas is probably correct that this war will end with an imposed cease-fire like previous conflicts. Our strategy should be designed to 1) hurt Hamas as much as possible — materially and psychologically — before this occurs,  2) establish conditions afterwards that will work against a recurrence of the conflict, and 3) protect our own people, both civilians and soldiers.

It is possible to combine air attacks with small, targeted ground operations by special forces without committing to a major ground offensive that sees dozens of tanks rolling across the border. I think that this can be combined with a cutoff of Gaza’s lifeline as advocated by Kedar to best achieve our goals.

Thomas Barnett:

Let’s rethink America’s military strategy
TED2005 · 23:43 · Filmed Feb 2005 

In this bracingly honest talk, international security strategist Thomas Barnett outlines a post-Cold War solution for the foundering U.S. military that is both sensible and breathtaking in its simplicity: Break it in two.
pinThis talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Military strategist

Strategic planner Thomas Barnett has advised US leaders on national security since the end of the Cold War. His bold ideas about the future of warfare and the military are spelled out in his best-selling book The Pentagon’s New Map. Full bio

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