In Gaza war, lions led by donkeys?

By Bernd Debusmann
January 15, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

It’s not often that a senior member of Washington’s usually staid and cautious foreign policy establishment likens Israeli political leaders to donkeys and questions their competence. But the fighting in Gaza prompted Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies to do just that.

“Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s action seriously damage the U.S. position in the region, and hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To be blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.

“To paraphrase a comment about the British government’s management of the British Army in World War I, lions seem to be led by donkeys…The question is not whether the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) learned the tactical lessons of fighting in 2006 (in Lebanon). It is whether Israel’s top political leadership has even minimal competence to lead them,” he writes in an analysis on Gaza.

In Cordesman’s view, the leadership lacks a grand strategic purpose. Are the tactical gains the IDF is making in its assault on Hamas to stop it from firing rockets into Israel worth the political and strategic costs to the Jewish state?

Strong words from a respected authority on the Middle East, a member of an influential network of scholars who migrate from senior government jobs (his included director of intelligence assessment for the Secretary of Defense) to think tanks and from there often move back to government in Washington’s revolving door scene.

With the prospect of fighting in Gaza dragging on past next week’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the next U.S. president, analyses and advice have flowed freely on how the new administration should deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a problem that has plagued a string of presidents and shaped Arab perceptions that the U.S. backs Israel, no matter what.

Will the U.S. shift course under Obama? In her confirmation hearing this week, his nominee for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, ruled out negotiating with Hamas, the group Israel is fighting in Gaza, unless it renounces violence and recognizes Israel. “That is just for me an absolute,” she said. No change on that front from George W. Bush.

No word either on Israeli settlements on the West Bank. They will remain standing once the guns fall silent in Gaza. Their continued growth – in violation of international law – bodes ill for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the so-called two state solution. In the past 15 years, the number of Israelis living on the West Bank rose from 116,000 to almost 300,000. In addition, another 190,000 Israelis live in the formerly Arab part of Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

END WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS

If Obama is serious about making peace between Israelis and Palestinians, says Aaron David Miller, a scholar at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Institute, he will need to tackle the settlement question. In the past, U.S. involvement has been largely rhetorical. Miller, a former adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations to six secretaries of state, said he could not recall one strategic meeting with an Israeli Prime Minister to discuss the damage the settlements did to peace negotiations.

“But it is a fact that settlements are incompatible with creating confidence, let alone creating an atmosphere of serious negotiations.” Why didn’t the U.S. press harder? “For one, we didn’t want a confrontation.”

If future American attempts to help negotiate peace are to be successful, Miller says, the U.S. must be equally firm in dissuading actions on either side that wreck chances of an agreement – rockets fired from Gaza, or Israelis settling on the West Bank. Agreeing to every idea proposed by an Israeli Prime Minister, as happened in the past, is not the right way to go.

The cause of even-handedness would also benefit if American politicians (and pundits) took statements from Israeli leaders with a grain of salt. Such as the analogy Defense Minister Ehud Barak provided to explain why the IDF launched the war on Hamas in Gaza, opening with a bombardment reminiscent of the shock-and-awe assault with which the U.S. tried to decapitate Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

“Contemplate what would happen if Kassem rockets were fired for years from Tijuana in Mexico to San Diego.”

There is no excuse for targeting civilians but Barak’s Tijuana-San Diego analogy is severely flawed. Tijuana has not been occupied by a foreign power, its citizens do not belong to families that were dislodged by a war in 1948, and the flow of goods into and out of Tijuana has not been subject to blockades. Unlike Gaza.

You can contact the author at Debusmann@reuters.com. For previous columns, click here.

189 comments

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Comparison of Israelis to lions and donkeys is on the conscience of Mr. Debusmann. I would though reserve the term “donkeys” to the upcoming US Administration – not only it seems more fitting in the context, but it’s the official mascot of their party. Lion, on the other hand, is quite appropriate – it’s the ancient symbol of Judea.
But then, what can Hamas be compared to? The only just comparison is rats – cowardly, mean, blood-thirsty, and dirty. Though in some sense this comparison is an insult – to the rodents. Unlike the animals, Hamas leaders must understand that placing a rocket launcher atop a civilian building makes that building a legitimate military target. Yet they do just that – and then scream about “Israeli war crimes” to everyone willing to listen. They extol martyrdom – yet they have no guts to stand up and fight like men. They hide in the tunnels, sewers, and basements. They shoot their rockets – not at tanks and planes of IDF, but at residential areas in Israel, deliberately trying to hit a school or a bus stop, and lamenting their rockets being insufficiently lethal. After the shooting they disappear underground, leaving their human shield to take the punishment. They are ready to fight to the last child of Gaza. They declare themselves winners – as if Hamas tanks encircled Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv lay in ruins.
And the worst part of it – there are fools swallowing Hamas propaganda whole, hook, line, and sinker, and not only in Tehran, but around the world. As long as Hamas thinks that the images of ruined houses and bloodied children are to their benefit, they’d do their utmost to increase the flow thereof by provoking IDF strikes. The suffering of innocents in Gaza is terrible, but the only way to really help them is to remove, or at least to limit Hamas capacity to sacrifice them for Hamas own political gain.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Hamas took over the power in Gaza illegally from palestinian authority in a coup. They don’t recognize the arrangements that were made by Israel, EU, Egipt, and palestinians on border control and the movement of goods. Therefore, Israel and Egipt have all the rights to close the borders until the legal authority of palestinians, who were kicked out, and European monitors are allowed to return according to previous agreement. Don’t forget, the Gaza borders were open until Hamas overthrew illegally the rule of president Abbas.

How is it possible to negotiate with Hamas when it doesn’t recognize any previous agreements, doesn’t recognize Israel right to exist. Peace process is suppose to be peace in exchange for land. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza completely, but instead of more peace, Israel got more terror, largely thanks to Hamas and their homocide bommings since 1990′s and rockets for the last 8 years.

There is no chance for peace and 2 state solution until Hamas and radicals like it will disappear from the region. All Hamas believs in a single state solution that doesn’t include Israel.

As to a comment about refugees from 1948 war. It is very important to remember how this war started. All major arab countries attacked Israel and tried to destroy it. When Germany started WWII and lost it, many germans were displaced from former German territory and other areas of Europe to a current Germany. These refuges are just being used to score political points by terrorists like Hamas.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Mr.Debussman is right on the point.Israel has made a big mistake because it lost support all over the world,and now might have to face war crimes against humanity.
This crazy war will prove that Israel is making a mess into its own garden because in the long run Arab people will not trust the Israelis to make peace with the Jewish state.
Ok,you (Israel) hate HAMAS you kill and murder the whole people in the enclave what a shame,even people who have sympathised with Jews during WWII will rethink their position and wonder what the hek is Israel doing to the innocent ones who really dont give a damn about HAMAS or FATAH or Israel all they want is to have peace of mind and live happily with their children since you and I know the amount of suffering they have endured since 1946.
To be honest,it seems Israel thinks it is above all international laws and regulations forgetting that this is not the way to deal with others.
So Mr,Debussman,lions and donkeys can lead each other to disasters,but the lion knows at the end, will not tolerate the donkey no more and might eat him>>>>
Like the King of Jordan has said before Israel need to get out of its war and military mentality and extend its hand to peace,cause as he put it,Israel will not endure stability or peace unless it comes down and accept all UN resolutions and have peace with the Arab countries.

Posted by Abraham | Report as abusive

I don’t believe that opinions posted anonnymously should be published by any opinion posting sites.

Posted by Frank Austin | Report as abusive

Mr. Debussman is right. Hamas certainly started this war although the blockage against Gaza was a contributing factor. The tactical victory that Israel will achieve could be marginalized by the political dividends that Hamas achieves on the Arab street. The biggest loser will be the Palestinain Authority which sits on the sidelines. I believe that a serious approach to reinforce the two-country solution with direct involvement of the U.S. I hope that the day will come for peace in this region.

Well, if you don’t like the Tijuana example add people sneaking to your child school bus and bombing it.
Blockades are a necessity that saved a lot of lives.
There were many mistakes by both sides
but the difference is, Israel wants peace, one we can all live with. Every politician that wants to succeed in Gaza, have to at least pretend he wants all Jews in Israel killed… great start for peace, right ?
And all the Arab countries that are angry about the Palestinians, never helped them. The ones that are living in these countries are hated there too and sometimes badly mistreated.
It’s very easy to be smart from the outside.
People keep forgetting that the Palestinians don’t want peace at all. And they let groups of terrorists control their lives when all they do is use them as live shields
.

Posted by yael | Report as abusive

The question is what comes first, to stop the rocket firings which have basically paralyzed Southern Israel, meaning nearly a million inhabitants not being able to carry out their jobs, studies etc, aside from the psychological effects, or to give first priority to world opinion which is fed by a one-sided media, which commits the sin of omission,thus creating anger of the masses towards Israel, and at the same time inderectly encouraging the Hamas to still fire rockets when the “show” is over?
The government has an obligation to protect its citizens
and if it doesn’t, will find itself replaced by another party.
The settlements should be removed-besides being a direct insult to the Palestinians,they are a hinderence, and no end of millions of dollars have been wasted wherein that money could have been used for more important matters e.g. strengthening the defences of Sderot.
I have read articles on Britain’s reaction to the WW2 v1 and v2 rockets fired on them by Germany, the bommbings of Dresden, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and other similar articles. It seems that what’s okay for Europe to do is not okay for Israel to do i.e. exercising the basic right to self defence. As always European hypocrisy is alive and well.

Posted by paul k | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann doesn’t mention the fact that the Hamas came to power mainly by killing Fatach members in Gaza. He also don’t tell that Israel had redrawn it’s forces from Gaza a few years ago, and instead of good will got thousands of bombs. And what about Iran’s involvment in Gaza, sending it’s poissones arm directly to Israel’s heart trough the Hamas.

When will the world understand?
Hamas = Al-qaida
Busses being bombed in Israel =Towers falling in New-york

Stratigic purpose? How about defending thousands of Israelis from missiles. Strategic enough for me. And regarding the Arabs around us and their reaction to our actions. The moderate countries like Jordan and Egypt are not too sad we are kicking Hamas’s ass.

Posted by Ohad Itai | Report as abusive

Wrong, wrong, wrong. On all points.

The Palestinians in Gaza act like a bunch of wild animals, it is impossible for Israel to let them have open borders since they would attack Israel at every opportunity. In 2005, Israel left Gaza and the Palestians freely chose to install a regime that does not recognize Israel. They refused to follow the negotiated rules for allowing their border crossings to operate. They don’t follow the laws of war, they don’t wear uniforms, they hide behind civilians, and the reason that there are refugees in Gaza from 1948 is because even then they refused to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have a state there and turned down the chance to have their own state. Of course, when Egypt occupied Gaza from 1948-1967, they didn’t work with Jordan (who occupied the West Bank during the same time period) to establish a Palestinian state; they concentrated on destroying Israel.

The West Bank settlements are a red herring. With a negotiated peace treaty, Israel can dismantle settlements within weeks. But dismantling settlements or even freezing settlement construction is a big concession from Israel that should be accompanied by Palestinian concessions as part of negotiations.

The Israel strategy in this war is the same as the successful strategy Israel followed in 2006 in the war with Lebanon. Hizbollah claimed victory, but Nasrallah, the Hisbollah leader, also said that if he knew what the Israeli response would have been, he would have not kidnapped the Israel soldiers that started the war. Note that Hisbollah has been very quick to deny any connection with any weapons fired from Lebanon since the end of that war. Since 2006, a beefed up UN force has patrolled the same area in Lebanon that Israel occupied for a number of years and the border has been much quieter since the war than it had been in the 2001-2005 period after Israel’s withdrawl from Lebanon. Israel wants an international force to take over policing the Gaza border and to prevent the Palestianians from attacking Israel from there. I don’t know if they will get that, but the outcome is likely to be an improved security situation from Israel’s standpoint.

Posted by YM | Report as abusive

It is absolutly appaling to read what Anonymous had just finished writting . Describing HAMAS /Palestinian fighters with rats makes me think of another era and anotehr war and yes , acleansing of the very people that he belongs to to be Hitler. Hitler described your ancestors as rats , thus , dehumanizing them and killing and gassing them . Shame on you for using the very Nazi language that had given you the excuse to fool the Americans into helping you and your nation to become a lethal killing machine. Your zionist mind has been brain washed by swallowing teh zionist pill for ages. You can’t come and steal the land, remove”Cleanse”??” it’s people, submit them to absolute dependence ,and then ask them to give their God given right of self defense !!This is a mockery and nonsense and you ought to be ahsmed of your self andf start educating yourself of the real Zionist agenda andit’s stated goals since it’s inception. Jews, Muslims and Christians lived in harmony in the land of Palestine for centuries.. zioists like you brought the hate, racism , destruction and above all .. fealth to the land of Palestine and started to spread your filth . And you should read and learn teh facts, hamas was created by Isreal as an attemp to replace the PLO ..Hamas saw the light and realized that Isreal is teh true enemy and must be resisted … I guarentee you taht if HAMAS had the fire power .. they would be “have been;”‘ fighting you in Tel Aviv ..These men have no fear of your mechanized American Weapons .. These men are the true men of war .. they are brilliant in using what they can and improvising to inflict seriouse damage on Isreal from all sides of the globe. I predict that they will win the hearts and minds of all fair minded people all over the world.

Aaron Schlickman

Posted by Aaron Schlikman | Report as abusive

Reuters’ coverage of the war — just see the web site from today alone — is tremendously slanted towards the Palestinians, conveniently leaving out Hamas’ misdeeds and only pointing the finger at Israel. No objectivity here. But Debusmann’s story is really unfair, especially in its end. He continues to state the flawed point that Hamas is reacting to recent blockades. But Hamas for years has been undermining every serious peace effort, since Oslo, when every meeting between Israel and the PA was then preceded by some Hamas atrocity bombing or attack, just to poison the atmosphere. Hamas is on record as doing everything it can to undermine peace talks. And in its charter it articulates its aims to destroy Israel and drink the blood of the Jews. You don’t like Barak’s analogy to Tijuana? But Israel left Gaza over three years ago and instead of peace it got rockets. Where was the peace gesture from Hamas for Israel’s evacuation? Where were the confidence-building steps from the Palestinians? All Israel got was what it has always gotten — the lesson that leaving territory does not invite peaceful gestures but more attacks. Hamas is a vicious tyranny that brutally exploits and murders it own people, why not expose it? Hamas plays the media like a well-tuned fiddle, that’s why the world hates Israel now, not because of what Israel does. (Why doesn’t the world hate the Sudanese for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians? Because people like Debusmann really don’t care about civilians, only about bashing Israel.) Debusmann takes anti-Israel propaganda and spreads it, and that’s what hurts Israel’s case, using the Reuters platform. As for the settlements, Israel has shown that it is willing to leave territory for peace, but it keeps learning that it gets no peace for leaving territory, just an attempt to wrest more territory, and greater vulnerability. Get real, Mr. Debusmann.

Posted by David Kronfeld | Report as abusive

I wonder if the anonymous is not aware that he/she is exactly doing what he/she is accusing hamas of? Hiding! But one cannot expect more from someone so full of hate against humanity.

Lets strip the conflict between palastine and Israel from the religious context of Hamas being a moslem group and Israel jewish becasue these emotionally charged badges obscures the facts.

We all have great sympathy with the jewish people for their sufferings throughout history and rightly so. But what is going on in Gaza is not much different with what Hitler and his SS men did to Jews themselves. Why we are closing our eyes on one of the gravest post WWII genosides letting it happen in a very similar manner to the systematic way as Nazis went about their crimes against jewish people. Would we tolerate what Israel does to Palastinians if it was done by another state?

I am aware that these are uncomfortable questions and it is also not easy for me to word them leave alone to have an answer to them, but I think it is time to leave our comfort zone and start thinking out of the box. As mentioned by Abraham, people want to live in peace, see their children grow and their grandchildren borne. They want to have a little garden with olive trees and enjoy a sunset in summer chatting with their neighburs while drinking tea. All of this is possible if we learn to recognise that human blood is the same, nevermind if it is flowing from an Arab, Jewish, black or white body. The problem is that the international law does not see the value of human life the same all over the world, therefore it is also not prepared to protect the ones it percieves to be of lower birht.

It is sad but again it is one those painful truths we live with.

Posted by Pouruchista | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann criticizes Israel, but offers no real alternative solution to what the Israelis are presently engaged in. The rockets attacks started about 7 years ago. The Israelis tried political pressure, economic pressure, they tried to get Arab countries to pressure Hamas, they tried limited military incursions,and most recently they tried a 6 month ceasefire, which Hamas chose not to extend. Prior to the present fighting the rockets were hitting Israel at a rate of 80 to 90 per day and they were aimed at civilian targets. The present Israeli strategy is really the only one Israel was left with. Unlike what people such as Mr. Cordesman may think, so far, it is working, not just from a military point of view, but in terms of a long term political strategy. Until now, Hamas has never been vigorously confronted, and the result has been to see its power grow (in particular it has crushed it opponent Fatah). It has become ever more belligerent and more determined than ever to destroy Israel. Now that it facing the prospect of losing this present war in a military sense, it will also suffer a political set-back. No one likes a loser, not even the Palestinians. Once extremist forces like Hamas are defeated, the Israelis and Palestinians will be able to negotiate a permanent peace treaty.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

I think that Mr. Debussman has a very good point in that the Israeli political leadership will be unable to achieve any lasting results from the recent military incursions in Gaza.

What will happen 6 months from now? 1 year from now?
Hamas (although weakened) is still there and the jewish settlements are still there…

Anonymous:
You are of course entitled to your opinion, but you are not making any sense!
“The suffering of innocents in Gaza is terrible, but the only way to really help them is to remove, or at least to limit Hamas capacity to sacrifice them for Hamas own political gain.”
Basically you say that the only way the Israeli armed forces can avoid civilian losses is by bombing Hamas and therefore causing immense civilian casualties.

Posted by Ahmad Hamada | Report as abusive

Israel was bomed 8 years, where were you ?
It is importantant that the western world will protecet itself. We cannot let not democratic teror to use the openess of the democratic . We need also to save as much pepole as we can in order to save the democratic

Posted by eran | Report as abusive

Actually neither Debussman or Barak is correct. The US occupies the California side of the Tijuana border – land it took forcibly from Mexico. But Barak’s point is correct – I doubt Mr Debussman would complain if the US responded to rocket fire from Mexico. But he does complain with Gaza – even though Israel left Gaza several years ago, only to find (predictibly) that withdrawal did not bring peace. It brought more rockets. This is because the Palestinians do not recognize Jewish claims to ANY of Israel, despite those claims being stronger than their own, because they do not recognizes Jews as a valid religion / people. And they will not settle for a negotiated solution to this conflict, settlements or no settlements, except only as a temporary measure to strengthen their position. To ask Israel to remove the West Bank settlements is more ludicrous (historically speaking) than asking the US to leave California.

Posted by seth | Report as abusive

To a previous unnamed poster:
I think you are off subject. This article is not about the actions of Hamas; I think most reasonable people can agree that Hamas committed war crimes by intentionally targeting civilians. Rather, this is about some policy experts pointing out that Israel may be harming herself in the long run through her current actions.

Posted by Shea W | Report as abusive

Not many people know but there are many muslim’s in the israeli army. I am muslem and served in the IDF. palestinian hamas tactics are simple – they do anything they can to kill israeli civilans and that’s a fact, they declared they will not stop until they distroy israel, on the other hand they hide behind their wiman and children, they shoot rockets from school’s and mosque’s to increase there civilian casualty’s – the world does not care when hamas kills israeli children becase hamas is teror orgenazetion and it’s “normal” for theme to kill civilian’s… for year’s they shoot missile’s into israel and the world did nothing. what were the options of israel? do nothing? wor is not the unswer? then what is? how could israel negotiat with hamas when they dont recognize israel’s right to exist!
I AM MUSLIM AND ISRAELI AND PROUD TO HAVE to serve’d in the israeli army, i am sure they do what they can to avoid civilian casualty’s but it’s impossible when you fight bloodthirsty organization like hamas.
The palestinian people should dicide if they want to live with peace – if they do – they should not appoint teror organization as their leader’s.
I AM A MUSLIM AND IN THE SAME TIME I KNOW I PREFER TO LIVE IN ISRAEL THEN ANY OF THE ARAB country’s.

Posted by Hasan | Report as abusive

Why not? Anonymous has a point. What would you have the IDF do? Have all the Israelis sit in their country having rockets rained upon them? How do you fight an enemy that hides among civilians and uses human shields? Would, say, Americans tolerate this in their country? Barak’s analogy holds true because the Southwest lands of the US were all once Mexican lands, seeing as how the people had lived there for many years before the US took over. Say the mexicans in the southwest US decided that it was unfair that the US took all that land and rose up and started killing civilians left and right and mexicans started fired rockets across the rio grande? What would the US military do? Exterminate them. What would the UK do if a group similar to Hamas rose up in Ireland but based on Catholicism and started firing rockets into London? The fact is, those sort of extremists groups will never be okay with Israelis living there. Those kind of people will always have festering hatred and recruit more people to fight an injustice served in the past. They will never choose to live amongst Israeli’s because they have developed such a hatred and that sort of environment is just too chaotic to live in for long periods of time. What would YOU do if you had to live in fear everyday, that some wayward rocket could kill your children, kill your family, take everything away from your that you have worked for all your life? I don’t blame them for wanted to get rid of Hamas. Step into their shoes.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Ha! These posts are ridiculous and Debussmans article is probably one of the worst, most biased pieces of journalism I have seen on this site. Reuters should be ashamed for letting him post such an article. While I could find holes in every argument this Mr. Debussman makes I just need to address his closing remarks. First of all Israel has not been an occupying force in palestine for 7 years! Secondly who started the war of 48′?? It certainly wasn’t the Israelis. Thirdly, if Tijiuana was importing weapons to fire at the US, you don’t think there would be a blockade on the flow of goods??? Debussman please think about what you post from now on instead of spewing out the garbage you do.

Mr. Cordesman remarks quoted in the article fail to recognize the potential danger to Israel’s populated areas of longer range missiles surely to be smuggled in to Gaza from Iran. The citizens of southern Israel are already traumatized and with the potential of longer range threats Israel had to strike Hamas to defend its citizens,-and we would do the same. Since Hamas thrives on martyrdom and playing up civilian losses to the media, it was clear that Israel would suffer on the diplomatic front. But it just had to be done. The deliberate use of civilian facilities for military actions shows the cowardice of these jihadist leaders. What does Debusmann think of setting up their control center in a hospital?

Posted by bert boyson | Report as abusive

Have you read any of the Hamas statements about Israel? Here’s just 1 example…
Fathi Hamad, Hamas Member of Parliament, to al-Aalam Iranian television in Arabic, 15 March 2007: (prior to the swearing-in of the Palestinian Unity government):
“Hamas rejects the Arab [peace] initiative and wants Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. If today Israel cannot be beaten militarily, it will be possible in the future.”

and you still think peace is up to Israel? I think not. Today Hamas would not even honor the 3 hour break from military action when Israel sends in aide and takes Palistinian injured to Israeli hospitals for treatment, no they fired more rockets at civilian targets in Israel during that period, too. Oh, and the term “Palistinians” for an Arab ethnic group, this is a modern political creation with no basis in fact – and had never had any international or academic credibility before 1967!

Remember Golda Meir, “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Posted by Ann Arbeit | Report as abusive

Where were all of the commentaries when the rockets were raining down on Israel. Hamas needs to be stopped and nobody but Isreal seems to be willing to do so.

Posted by James Middleton | Report as abusive

israel left gaza, but arabs continued to shoot rockets at israel. Debusmann does not care if jews die. To the contrary from his comment it is clear he feels they deserve what they get. This is why i warn my children that another nazi period could come at any time.

Israel has not lost the support of the world, just the loud minority. I’ve actually wondered what took Israel so long to strike back at the seemingly never ending rocket fire. I certainly would not have waited so long. I feel for the innocent of Gaza, but they did elect them. The sooner Hamas is eliminated the better of the world will be.

Posted by Martin R. | Report as abusive

Finally an American journalist who is telling an honest story. People here tend to forget that Israel is invading another nation, blockading the people of Palestine, killing their industry, their economy. The fact that Palestine is referred to as ‘occupied territory’ says it all. There are boundaries made by diplomatic process that Israel ignores. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis build their home in Palestine. Perhaps a better comparison would be if Mexicans ignored the US border and just built towns in the USA, surrounded them by a wall and called it Mexican Territory. Firing rockets is wrong but when you have no economy left and no organized army you have no option. Imagine if a rich nation such as Saudi Arabia started giving the Palestinians the sort of wealth the USA gives Israel to buy weapons, there would be uproar. It is double standards all the way and needs to be stopped. Return Palestinian land to it’s people and work on co-habiting as peaceful neighbors.

Posted by richard. The | Report as abusive

Abraham -
“Even people who have sympathized with Jews during WWII will rethink their position”

I believe the state of Israel care less about sympathy and more about it’s citizens life. We have learned our lesson from the holocaust, you can keep the sympathy to yourselves. This time, when a nation wage against Israel, we are not waiting for the world to understand.

Posted by Moshe Saraf | Report as abusive

The Israeli communities in the disputed territories need to be handled, but in the opposite way from that suggested. The willingness of the Palestinian Arabs to accept the reality of land which is not judenrein is a litmus test for whether they’re actually interested in peace. It’s long past time for America to lay it on the line and tell the Palestinian Arabs to forget about their demands for ethnic cleansing; they simply have to be taken off the table.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

The crisis between israel and palestine prolonged so many years without final end. And the cause of the crisis is clear. it’s not about the question of egg and chicken..which comes first ? who start first ?. i don’t know why israel hostility againt arab palestine. in the early 1900, most of the jews spread all over the world particularly europe. most of them are treated badly, discriminated by european,,even mass killed by them (nazi). in the same time the jew live in peace among arab in jurusalem. I,m never heard palestine kill or expell the jew. but why the arab get poison when they give milk ?

Posted by wander | Report as abusive

It is heart wrenching to watch what Isarael is doing to the Citizens of Gaza. Let us adress the first issue of Hamas firing rockets into Isarael for the past eight years as claimed by the Isaraeli government. The numbers of people injured or killed and the property damage caused by these fireworks can be counted on fingers. On the other hand, the fierce bombardment of Gaza by Air, Sea amd Land has caused more than 1000 deaths and huge damage to infrastructure and private properties in a matter of few days. The Israeli response to the Hamas attacks is way out of proportion to the damage caused by their rockets. It has been repeated over and over again that what are the Israleis to do. For ONE they should behave like HUMANS. In no civilised society, police will go after criminals with their guns blazing if they were hiding behind civilians.

Mr. Debusmann is being kind in comparing Israeli leaders to donkeys. I think even donkeys are more intelligent. Israel has been trying to eliminate these problems by FORCE since it came into existance. And to date what have they to show so far only thousands of dead palestinians. If Jewish people need a homeland, so do the Palestinians. I would like to challange anyone can show that under the given status of the land – West Bank and Gaza seprated by Isarel, that a viable Palestinian state can be created. The palestianians will be at Isarel’s mercy for the rest of their lives.

Untill there is a fair settlement for the People of Palestine there is no hope of peace. It is a shame taht people who claim to be the Gods chosen one can so cruel and heartless.

A note for the Anonymous: If Hamas is coward and are hiding behind civilians, IDF is no better, they are dropping Bombs from palnes and tanks agianst which Hamas has no waepons to defend themselves. If IDF is so brave I would like to see them go in without Air and Artillary support. Level the battlefield and than make the claim that Hamas is coward.

Posted by Harinder Sahota | Report as abusive

There will never be a lasting peace, or even ceasefire in the land of Occupied Palestine, (now called Israel and the West Bank and Gaza) as Zionism is, at it’s core, a racist and fascist ideology. The World defeated Nazism and then it defeated Apartheid. Zionism is the last major racist outpost of Western Imperialism and it too, must now be destroyed for World Peace and for Justice to be achieved for the native indigenous population. the Palestinians, have suffered immeasurable at the hands of the Zionist Mass Murderers, who are now engaged in another one of their racist and genocidal murder sprees in the Gaza Strip.

Posted by Pipard | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann,
Thank you for the thought provoking article. I agree with you. Israel is destroying any hope for peace. The 6 month truce was destroyed by Israel’s vicious blockade of Gaza for 2 month, in violation of the conditions of the truce. By late Dec., Gazzans were out of food, fuel, electricity, and water. There is no doubt that Israel was implementing a policy of collective punishment on all the population in Gaza. In the recent events, it is very clear that Israel’s goal is to destroy civilian infrastructure, mosques, and hospitals. And the excuse is always ready, “they were firing at us from there.” Even the UN’s headquarters were not spared. If this is not criminal, I don’t know what is. Read articles written by Israelis themselves exposing the lies and propaganda of Israel:
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/chan nels/avnery/1231625457/

The world’s silence towards the slaughter of innocent civilians is appalling.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

all of the emotion and blind allegiance to israel has to stop. calling names, as in the responses of some, is easy when the deck is stacked and usually fools always try to solve a problem by stating in the middle and NOT at the beginning.
the article is well written and it addresses the all-inclusive problem of the 1948 fiasco and the continued and supported violations by “poor misunderstood israel”. they act like a bunch of crybabies that if they are corrected they will take their marbles and go home. that would be fine if their intrusion into gaza were the marbles. hillary is a disaster waiting to happen and she will not properly work out a fair solution, for her comment bodes ill for negotiations and any hope of peace. i say this because backing israel at all cost is a failure and the problem of hamas firing rockets is a symptom, not THE problem. (kerry should have been the sos) no one mentions the kidnappings, tortures and land-grabbing by israel. the farce that they are so religious and blessed has played out and the kid-glove treatment needs to be over. the article and the writer are to be commended for not kissing israel’s bloodthirsty butt and finally being a courageous MAN to tell the truth. it is easy to sit in your homes and be racist and hateful to palestinians, but GOD, through HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, will have the last say in this.

Posted by AARON LEWIS SR. | Report as abusive

I tentatively agre with Anthony Cordesman.

At first I was hopeful that Hamas could ACTUALLY be smashed, & Israel could return to dealing with Fatah. This does not seem to be the case any longer. I have lost my faith that rocket attacks can be stopped by force alone. Any extreme action taken by israel, leads to popular outcry.

Why? Because Israel is the \”Strong\” one, the \”opressor\” in this situation. Always upon the strong one rests the burden of the high moral ground. Yet always the strong cannot understand the limits of excercising raw power & force. You cannot beat the love of allah out of a fundamentalist muslim, only increase his resolve to die a martyr.

I cannot fault the jewish people for being slow in adjusting to the role-reversal here, please remember there are holocaust survivors STILL ALIVE! They were given this plot of land in good faith by the colonial powers. They should have gone with Alaska or whatever the 2nd choice was. I cannot fault the jewish people for defending their citizens from armed assault. Look at the Post 9-11 mess resulting from the military hawks gaining cachet in the USA. Well that is the permanent political state of affairs in Israel. The hawks are always right because there is always another rocket attack upon citizens. (remember the jewish psychology, someone is always trying to kill you, but this time they want to kill back!)

That said, the blockades & checkpoints & especially the settlements are THE problem.
If Israel removed these barriers to the way of life of the normal Palestinian, support for radical violence would begin to reverse. Unless Israel stands with open arms welcoming palestinians as brothers in the holy lands, they cannot JUSTIFY the use of force to hunt militants, because there will always be militants in opressed, gated, confined cultures. Especially those cultures OCCUPIED by settlers from the opressors.

I know that exposes Israel to potential danger. I know the loss of a single Israeli life is an untenable political position for any politician. (ahh \”democratic\” politics)

BUT! It has always been 10-1 or 100-1 Palestinians killed in any exchange of fire, so MAN UP Israel & take the hits to win Peace!

Otherwise, the moderate Islamic states will increase their funding to covert militancy, & this whole thing will end in 5, 10, or 15 years with a nuclear exchange in the cradle of civilization.

I hope they find another way, Inshallah.

Posted by Damon the Dove | Report as abusive

Yes, I agree with the author on the premise that fighting always advances to bloodier fighting on the next go around. And both sides have put each others in corners where the only option is to eliminating the other party, in order to live in peace. Both sides have not learned anything but more hate and more killing from each other. The state of Israel has become very affective in creating and furthering the goals of Iran in the eyes of the general Arab populist, by making the Sunni Arab governments look weak & ineffective,while Arabs in the Gaza being bloodied and destroyed by advanced weaponry- Iran will be be the big winner here, not Hamas or Israel. Israel & the Palestine peoples will be the losers if moderates on both side do not resolve this crisis, and do not allow fanatic elements, on both sides, which are running this war solely based on hate and racial profiling, similar to the Nazis in WWII, to continue down this road will only lead to the destruction of all concerned.

The statements by Mr. Cordesman and other residents of the diplomacy “establishment” simply demonstrate the decay into which this series of vested interests has fallen over a length of time. Falsification of the record of actual events with respect to al-Qaeda between 1986 – 2001, stating that Israel has no right to the West Bank or all of Jerusalem, and imposing ethnic segregation on two sets if diverse peoples is a position which combines racist elitism and automatically prevents the development of a common market as the eventual solution to the problem set. The Carter Peace Treaty implied the development of the Common Market for Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Palestine. But there is, in reality, no Palestine other than as an historical remnant of the former Roman state, of which Britain, France, Spain, and Italy were provinces. We are heirs to that state. It is a part of that heritage that we inherit in our imposing Rome’s conquest of Israel, Herod’s murder of the last of the Macabbean family, and Vespasian’s attack on Jerusalem – to be followed by the subsequent actions of Rome. We today seek to impose our fundamental Greek Christian contempt for Jews, which we inherit at each Sunday School class and carry forward with us despite any subsequent changes in our thinking, on Israel by limiting the boundaries of Israel and claiming that a Palestine exists. Palestine does not exist and has existed as no more than a cultural artifact and fiction in fact since the Byzantine Empire in its southern provinces was conquored by the Muslim armies. The British continued the fiction in the imposition of colonoal zones of control after WWI, when the European powers and our Senate defeated Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to bring a rational solution to the problems presented to us by the unrepresented minorities of the former Ottoman Empire. That he died of a stroke is tribute to the grandeurs of french and British economic provenance and to the inheritors of that arrogance which we witness today in Anthony Cordesman and his ineffectual colleagues. They would rather enhance and legitimatize a balance of terror with Hamas and Hisbollah, as instruments of Iran and Syria, while serving gthe economic interest of France in its part in the trans-Syria pipeline from Iraq to Lebanon.

As we no longer listen to Mr. Kissinger and his “balance of terror” between Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Grand Council, so we can stop listening to Anthony Cordesman. As the popular saying goes, “Freedom is not free.” We shall always pay a steep price in our blood, our fortunes, and by risking our sacred honors. Mr. Cordesman cannot function in that milieu, which gave birth to our Nation, the new Republic of Iraq, and to the Magna Carta. When we remove Hamas from Gaza, we can begin work on creating a multi-ethnic State of Israel with the establishment of BASE, the Basis Assets Securities Exchange program. This is designed for the Palestinian people and provides them access to the Common Market with and within Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates.

Posted by Eruc Hands | Report as abusive

to mr anonymous, do you have any proofs for your allegations buddy. a lie is a lie no matter how many times you keep on repeating it. i think instead of making up stuff try to comprehend an important article like this one..

Posted by eddy | Report as abusive

And if it is then Hamas stop the rockets, would israel open the borders for humanitarian aid?. The answer is no, like in several months since Hamas won the parliamentary election. Today Hamas stops the rockets, but israel keep bombing Gaza.

I agree with James and I re-echo his question:where were all the commentaries when the rockets were raining down on Israel?Where the Arabs alseep when Hamas fired rockets were wreaking havoc on Israeli soil? Hamas is obiously no respecter of anybody and it shows in their actions. It is sad innocents have lost their lives during the attack by Israel, Hamas simply didn’t and still doesn’t care. If they cared, they would have stopped sending rocket missiles into Israel for the sake of people that might be injured or die. In spite of the rising casualties, they still continued sending rockets into Israel. If the Hamas cared less about innocent Palestine civilians, Israel shouldn’t care any more.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Good article. As long as Israel denies the Palestinian people peace, justice and a land of their own they will resist, and if Hamas is crushed, an even more radical group will take their place. The only way to peace is to knock down the settlements, Israel to withdraw from the whole of Gaza and the West Bank and treat their neighbours as humans, with dignity.

Hamas are not rats, they are people who were democratically voted into power by a population who have been abused for 60 years. Israel will eventually reap what it has sown unless it actually works for peace

Posted by Put the war Israeli war criminals on trial | Report as abusive

WWI British soldiers were lions however the IDF are murderers, nothing more, nothing less.

Some WWI British commanders were donkeys however the Israeli leadership are war criminals, nothing more, nothing less.

I think your analogy has fallen down somewhat.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

How long would ANY country tolerate rockets launched by its neighbors toward populated cities? One week? Two weeks? One month?
How about EIGHT YEARS, as Israel suffers it? How about more than 3500 rockets in 2008 (the year of TAHDIYA, another version of ceasefire from the Arab culture , which means anything but ceasefire..)? Would YOU accept situation where over million of your citizens are rocketed on a daily basis, having some 15 second alert to run to a close shelter? Israel built shelters for every home, every school, every kindergarten, every store… For how long would you expect Israel to tolerate such conditions? Israel has warned time after time, that those attacks must end; Israel tried several other activities to try to stop it – for EIGHT YEARS!
In order to understand a conflict, one should go after the goals and heading of each side:
Israel wants peace, with all its neighbors . They say it. They write it. They sing it. With political, economical, cultural relations. If not acceptable – without it. But violence and genocide goals will not be tolerated.
What does the Hamas want?
Hamas goal is to destroy Israel and kill all Jews. They say it. They write it. They sing it. They pump their young children with it (so called “education system”, where even Mickey Mouse is fighting the Jews and asks to become a Shahid, where school children are promised to have 72 virgins in heaven if they kill Jews, where all songs lyrics admires the Shahids [martyr] and preaches for Jihad [holly war]..)
Why don’t you just read the Hamas Covenant?
The HAMAS Covenant holds more than 10,000 words: more than 90% of them are focused on the destruction of the state of Israel and the extermination of Jews!
Few examples are :”..our war with the Jews is pan-Islamic…the goal is JIHAD [holly war] by any Muslim in the world against the Zionists…. The war will end until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them all, until Jews will hide behind a rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will say “oh Muslim, the sun of God, there’s a Jew behind me, come over and kill him…… the land is holly and belongs only to Muslims, and we’ll fight until it is returned to Muslims and mosques all over it will announce the Islamic state……
Even the Nazis used “clean” terms, such as “final solution” for genocide: the Hamas does not need that-they say clearly and loudly that their goal is to destroy Israel and kill all Jews: Are you sure we should accept it as ‘internal use’? Would you?

The west bank occupation and two state solution is only in your imagination, I’m afraid: Jews has been murdered years before Israel controls the west bank (reminder: after a joint attack from all Arab countries… reminder: when attacker loss – he need to pay for it: in the Arab logic, if one succeeds to hold back a knife targeting his throat, the attacker deserve to get “back to the initial position” – meaning holding the knife next to your throat, while still declaring they want to kill you reminder: the west bank was occupied by Jordan prior to the 1967 war. Never in history there was any Palestinian State (though in their books they have invented one, since historical facts does not play any role in their education system).
Look at the big picture, for a change:
800 million Muslims.
Six million Jews.
The Muslims want to kill all Jews.
All the rest are just details. But the media always prefer to focus on the small details, and miss the big picture.
I wish you never face the threats and risks that Israel is facing, from its establishment, and those of the Jews in the last 3000 years.

Posted by Abe Ariew | Report as abusive

The Palestinians are victims of their own cultural dysfunction, exacerbated by the desire of the surrounding muslim nations to maintain the conflict due to there self described sense of “humiliation”. Of all the new nations and borders created after World War II, only in Palestine have the people been kept isolated and in refugee camps rather than being assimilated into the surrounding nations. The Palestinians who embrace terrorism are paying the price they deserve. They are wholly responsible for the isolation, and the misery of their people. Israel has a right to protect itself. The fact that the occupation arose from the on-going terror attacks against Israel is conveniently disregarded. “Side-line chatterers”, such as the author, describe the events in an aloof, academic manner. It is personal for the Israelis. Their very survival is at stake. A culture that embraces and glorifies terrorism deserves only extermination. The only hope for relief from their misery is for the Palestinians to condemn and reject terrorism.

Posted by Dan Detroit | Report as abusive

Lions led by donkeys? Ahem, it could be Lions led by “Elephant”.

Leaders cannot become Presidents or Prime Ministers unless they have a “political Brain” better than donkeys? However when advised by biased and bigoted “intellectuals”, they ultimately become “donkey” brained and make “donkey” mistakes.

Bush outsmarted Al Gore in Florida and served a second term which should have been the brainy Gore. Same with Israeli Prime Minister and so are the HAMAS leaders. What is so “donkeyish” is the World response to small conflict on a small piece of land? Both the Muslim and non Muslim world are raved up for proxy wars that we worry more about the survival of either Palestine or Israel without bothering about the of millions more in their own borders. Proxies sent in millions of dollars to feed peoples who hated each other for generations before.

We are the donkeys, I believe. UN looks like the “donkeys” as well for wasting so much time and money on “humanitarian” issues there. If HAMAS want to commit JIHAD and the population there voted for them and not PLO, doesn’t it mean that they ready to be that “human shield” so that the HAMAS leaders can shout and shoot their rockets just to provoke the Israeli attacks so that ?”DONKEYS” around the world rally to support them. Maybe if UN stop feeding them they may get tired of HAMAS? They may not be donkeys though. They may have their own Islamic agenda?

The strategic purpose that the Israeli government attempts to achieve is survival. This goal is clearly supported by the likely outcomes from the Gaza campaign. The military deterrence that was partially blunted in Lebanon 2006 is an aspect of that strategic view. A one sided removal of settlements from the West Bank would be as useful as the voluntary withdrawal from Gaza, it would merely be seen as a sign of weakness by Israel that invites more violence against it. The reality is that the Palestinians, in particular those supporting Hamas, are not ready at all for co-existence with Israel. When Hamas (or Hizbulla) calls for ‘resistance’ is not to occupation, as they not occupied by Israel or any other external power, it is resistance to the very existence of Israel. The Palestinians are being held as pawns to be sacrificed by their ‘brothers’ in the aim to ‘cleanse’ the Middle East from ‘infidels’. It is an infantile and sentimental approach based on values foreign to the West, but when coupled with money, religion and arms, it becomes a very dangerous mixture. Appeasement will not defuse this situation.

Posted by Rob Shaw | Report as abusive

I agree full to the extent of this article. The new administration will cater toward Isreal. Hillary Clinton is in relation of Jewish Descent. We are in for possible devastation in the Mid-east of higher escalation. Well written article.

To the comment regarding lack of analogy by the article author: Gaza was not occupied by Israeli troops for a significant amount of time prior to the initiation of this incursion, just like Tijuana; the border crossing of both entities are controlled, and Tijuan’s would certainly be even more so if it were firing rockets at the US; and the reason there are children of refugees in Gaza is that the Muslim countries, in order to create difficulties for Israel, using the UN as their agent, refused to re-settle them. So a pox on your house too.

Posted by Jonathan | Report as abusive

I’m with you on most of your comments, but as a Californian with a knowledge of US history, every time the Mexican state has given us problems, we have responded directly with military force, invading them (Veracruz ring any bells?) and forcing them to back off, not to mention taking land (like Texas and California). No right of return for the Mexicans displaced, either, but a complicated land-grant transfer system. This history goes back all the way to the Polk administration, a lot more history than Israel and Gaza (depending on your time frames, of course–Moses had his troubles too with the Egyptians and Caananites). What’s the conclusion? We all have a lot to learn about how to live in peace. Let’s get on with it.

Posted by Robert J. Muller | Report as abusive

Israel should just Finish It in the time-tested way similar problems were always solved in Europe: Send your army and drive all the Palestinians out into Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Then close the border.

After a few generations nobody would care to the point where they will recommend others to have their mortal disagreements decided by a UN committee.

Posted by fajensen | Report as abusive

Has anyone here bothered to ask the most important question of all? Why is Hamas firing rockets into Israel? WHY??? DO any of you truly think that these people are just psychotic Arabs who don’t want peace? Logically, if they are launching rockets into Israel, there must be a reason. Once this reason is known, most of your views will change. Do any of you know how many Palestinians have been murdered by the Israelis (IDF, Mossad, terrorist Israeli organizations that are unknown to the public, etc?) since the creation of Israel? I don’t have an exact number but I can tell you it is more than 4 times the number of Israeli deaths. Do you know how many Palestinian houses have been demolished since 1967 to the present day?? 18,147 houses have been demolished by Israeli bulldozers since 1967 (Source: Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions ). Israel is currently holding 10, 756 political prisoners while Palestine is holding 1 political prisoner (Source: The Mandela Institute for Human Rights – Palestine). Now just with these statistics I can tell you that Israel has instigated the response from organizations such as Hamas. For every action there is a reaction. If you treat people like animals they will in turn react like animals. You lock people in a cage, ration there basic necessities, and expect them to sit down and shut up?? Come on! That is simply unrealistic and sick!! What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians is an obvious attempt to instigate the Arab world into reaction. Extremist groups like Al-Qaeda will fall for this attempt and will call for Jihad, and the Muslims who are not well informed will fall for this call of Jihad and the Israelis will be pleased since this will instill fear on the World (the best tool of war against the Arabs in general is to make sure the World is afraid of them). What the Israelis don’t realize is that the moderate Arab Muslims (which is the majority) will write and they will use there pens as the ultimate weapon and they will not allow the world to fall for this war of propaganda. While the Israelis continue this ethnic cleansing campaign (as a top Vatican official stated, Gaza resembles a concentration camp) they will continue to breed hate amongst the Arab world, Muslim and Christian Arabs alike. There is simply no justifications for the bombing of the UN headquarters, UN officials are adamantly stating that there were no Hamas fighters ever present at the UN headquarters…A mistake Mr. Olmert says? Ha, Israel is so proud of their state of the art military equipment (that was all funded by the American tax payer), yet they use the excuse of making a mistake, come one, who are you trying to fool??? This conflict will never end as long as Israel denies the Palestinians a right to live like human being and not animals in a cage. The illegal settlements must be dismantled, the blockades must be lifted, the Palestinians must be given every right that an Israeli has, and I am sure that there can be co-existence in Palestine/Israel.

Posted by Sherief | Report as abusive