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.


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.

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I highly recommend perusing and/or viewing a PBS Frontline program entitled “Israel’s Next War?” It’s about Israeli extremists (Kahanists Groups and the “Temple Mount Faithful”) dedicated to destroying all things Muslim: shows/israel/

Only posted because I think we in this country get a preponderance of information on Muslim extremists and assume no equivalent exists within the Israeli community.

I also recommend a read through of an incredible book: “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” Excerpt:

“…war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers – historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists and the state – all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life…”

I sense herein lies the real problem. And until we recognize such…no solution will work. Because so far our solutions ignore this basic dynamic – the dynamic of conflict as an addictive, adrenaline “high” for much of humanity.

Wishing everyone the very best.

Posted by Barbyrah | Report as abusive

I pretty much agree with Mark Collens, until you can stop the spread of hatred by the (I believe,) very load Fringe groups of both sides, there will never be peace. Both sides have small groups of folks who live and breathe death. They refuse to see anyone other than themselves as humans, with the right to live, and live free. They see anyone who disagrees with them as sub-human and undeserving of the natural (god given?) rights and respect that they themselves demand.

The majority of each side does not agree with that but go along out of a sense of fear and devotion. In times like these who wants to make more enemies. Just like the gang problems in inner cities across the world , these well meaning folk support the problematic groups by giving them places to stay, and meals to eat, etc. Not realizing that when you give a gang a place to sleep, you are saying not only that you agree but you support and encourage.

Posted by Robert Owens | Report as abusive

What? Are you kidding? No, Tiauana isn’t occupied by a foreign power but Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California are. In fact, in the minds of millions of Mexicans half of Mexico is occupied by a foreign power.
Of course Obama’s analogy is apt. Jeeze Louise!

Posted by dan stein | Report as abusive

For those interested from the Bible’s perspective, here is a passage worthy of your consideration.

Gen 12:1-3
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. <<>>

It has been fairly well documented in history what happens to those that opposed the God of Abraham.

Posted by Pro-Israel | Report as abusive

Dan Stein,
The analogy was Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s, not Obama’s.

Posted by carla | Report as abusive

Basically Israel needs to hold up to the original deal leave all tertiaries that most people even in Israel agree are Palestinian. They also need to open up trade routes. Then the international community needs to assist Palestinian to ensure that it can maintain its own security and stop any terrorist cells in their tracks. If this were done then there would probably initially be an increase in weapons fire into Israel as the dodgy organisations would have easier access to weapons but hopefully if all gave this a couple of years to bed in there would be a stable peaceful situation. If the above proved not to work then Israel can then take the moral high ground and I don’t think I or anyone else could criticise them for wiping Palestine off of the map. The fact of the matter is neither side has even tried and the start for the above to happen really needs to come from Israel.

Posted by JB | Report as abusive

To Rufus: My question may seem infantile to you but that is purely projection on your part. A sovereign state has its rights and obligations but it doesn’t define those rights and obligations by itself.

As for “infantile” – the whole idea that a state was consciously founded on a single religious or cultural tradition doesn’t argue for “maturity”. It screams bigotry and an even more “infantile” desire to live with only those one thinks one can trust. Israel didn’t grow from a long established presence in Palestine. It grew from that very infantile “Zionist” movement of the late 19th century and I think it is more than accurate to class Zionism with all the other fundamentalist tendencies in modern society, as a movement to break out of the more mature societies in which they live to create one where – only those with the same background can rule. That’s very much a childish desire.

I live in a country where, if any religious group tried to make an archaic – a liturgical language – like Latin for the Roman Catholics – the language of the state, more than a few people would wonder about that group’s grasp on reality. It would raise even more complaints and even hatred if anyone tried to make religious affiliation a prerequisite for full citizenship and the right to take part in the government. Israel does have it participants in government who are not Jewish but they are a small minority. The fact that the State of Israel is afraid of being out numbered by the Palestinians and does not want to loose its “Jewish” character is still a question worth examining. Neither and American nor a European politician could not utter sentiments like that and expect to occupy an elected office. There were a few who have tried – Le Pen in France comes to mind

And what the world wants does make a great deal of difference to a sovereign state. There are many countries living with economic sanctions today and perhaps the Israeli’s should be included with them?

And you don’t say anything to clear up a little confusion about what being “Jewish” means and how a secular state defines that for the purpose of granting citizenship rights. I am grateful I don’t have to live in one. That seems a perfect recipe for either hypocritical “religious” or opportunistic “secularists”.

But I won’t bow to the “infantile” charge until you include all such attempts by anyone in the world, whether Christian fundamentalists who want the make the Ten Commandments the law of the land – Islamic fundamentalists who want to make Sharia law the law of the land or any of the various cults and sub groups of the major religious traditions who want to create little sovereign entities of their own to make themselves their own “infantile centers of the universe” regardless of the constitutions and legal traditions of the countries they occupy or the rights and traditions of any of those around them and in Israel’s case – who preceded them.

I was told once years ago by a Jewish friend that “Jewish” was a “religion, not an ethnicity”. That evidently doesn’t apply in Israel.

Posted by paul rosa | Report as abusive

It looks to me like Israel has lost this one, too. The idea was evidently to destroy Hamas before Obama took office, and to pump up Kadima before the next election in Israel. The effort has evidently failed, at great strategic cost as Cordesman notes. The strategic cost will continue to increase as videos and accounts of the carnage virally circulate the world. This is something the present Israeli propaganda and influence machine, which is directed toward manipulating elites, does not seem able to counter — hence the rather widespread interest in boycotting Israel. I imagine the next thing will be some kind of Hamas play in the West Bank. The Israeli leadership seems bent on creating the monster which will destroy it.

Posted by Anarcissie | Report as abusive

Lastly, concerning the so called terrorist that are everywhere including mosques and kindergartens, first of all these terrorists have certainly underestimated the level of IDF brutality that have no restraints from attacking civilian “targets.” Second, in many occasions, like the UN school which was attacked two days ago by the Israelis and civilians including two children were killed, the UN and the health agencies announced no “terrorists” were in the vicinity.
Have some regards for humanity.
- Posted by John

Don’t you understand that the laws must be either applicable to both sides or not applicable at all? The tactics of Hamas were, and still are, to insert themselves among the civilian population and use it as human shield. If the ratio of killed children to gunmen is not greater than it is, it can be attributed only to the effort of IDF to avoid collateral damage whenever possible, their skills, and precision of their weapons.
If the UN-marked buildings serve as Hamas rocket launching positions, they are fair game. If Red Cross marked ambulances are used to transport gunmen and Grad rockets, they are fair game. Announcements of “no “terrorists” were in the vicinity” don’t change the fact that there was fire coming from there.
If anyone must “Have some regards for humanity”, but sorely lacks it, it’s Hamas. There was another leader vowing to fight to the last man and last bullet, even when it was evident that the war was lost, and any continuation would result only in pointless slaughter. His name was Adolf Hitler. But even he had in the end the decency to commit suicide and thus open the way for his successor Doenitz to surrender. How low is Hamas leadership if even Hitler looks decent in comparison? And how low are defenders of Hamas?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

It’s sad when you have journalist like Bernd who’s views are so skewed and so called facts flawed, against Israel and its people in order to try and manipulate the less informed public majority. He’s making Hama’s a terrorist organization, sound like the “victims” and Israel are the “Monsters”. This is what Hama’s is counting on, people like Bernd and his selective groupies who he quotes, to create and regenerate this propaganda hatred towards Israel and its citizens. Im not saying Israel is perfect but imagine how the Arab people would react towards the Jewish people in Israel if the situation was reversed!!! Just look at history and there lies the answers. Arab states during ww2 were killing and threatening to kill those Jews that were in their Countries. There are no Synagogue’s in those Countries or other religions that are practiced other then their own. If the situation was reversed there would be no Jewish people in Israel. The Arabs would of “as they have tried to do since the rebirth of the State of Israel 60 years ago” practice genocide against the Jewish people. History tells us there has been Jewish people in Israel for at least as far back in time as the bible was written. Jewish people aren’t and never took land away from anyone and they fought for everything they have under the least ideal conditions. Britain promised in 1947 to give the jewish people back the land that they the Brits were in control of which not only inchuded Part of Israel today but also Jordan which didn’t exist until the Brits decided to please a Royal Arab King and at the last second give them that land. But of course that wasn’t enough for the Palestinians.
And Palestinians voluntary withdrew from Israel under the influence of other neighboring Arab states in 1947/8 because the Arab states told them to leave so they proceed with holy war against the Jew’s in Israel. Palestinians never ruled a Country!!! There were so many Arab Countries that could of taken in the Palestinians but not even their own people wanted them in there Country. They were instead like they are today used as Pawns to fight against Israel. However with Abbas as leader of the Palestinian’s there is some hope. With Hama’s who are controlled by terrorists in Syria and Iran there is not much hope. Hama’s is a puppet terrorist organization who even though they were elected to power, do not care or represent their own people in any positive way. They are corrupt, they care more about getting money and weapons from other militant arab countries then looking after the welfare of their own people!!!

Posted by marcus | Report as abusive

To yoseimtesam’s comment, it’s true that israel got rid of settlements in Gaza but that was replaced with sanctions on the strip….severe…in fact pretty much unacceptable…sanctions that would have ultimately left the most densely populated area on the planet a ghost town.

In other words, if you do some more research you will find out that your comparison of terrorist act is not valid. This is defense for life

Posted by get your facts straight | Report as abusive

Lets look at the problem Palestine problem. A search information on Palestine turned up an underlying problem for the Palestinians they have no country. Palestine was never recognized as a nation when borders were being established in the region in the 19th Century. Prior to that they had no country either. Much of what was a Palestinian area was absorbed by neighboring countries when European influences relinquished control of the region.
The West Bank and Gaza Strip are territories seized by Israel following the 6 Day War and had previously been claimed by Egypt and Jordan.
One of the interesting aspects of this latest conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is that Egypt which once held the Gaza Strip as its own kept its border closed, Palestinians could not flee the fighting to Egypt and Relief Efforts could not enter from Egypt. Even after its efforts to broker peace in Gaza their border is closed and Egypt is refusing efforts to patrol its border to prevent Hamas rearming.
The Palestinians are a people without a country and it appears that the Arab Nations dont want them to have one. Which makes me wonder at the Hatred they express for Israel.
I dont fault Israel for its assult on Gaza I fault the UN for not taking action to prevent HAMAS from gaining power in the region, for not interceeding when Palestinians (HAMAS) were firing indescriminatly into Israel. This Article indicates that HAMAS gained control of Gaza by a 75% majority vote. The casualties while unfortunate are the result of Palestinian actions and inactions. HAMAS has done nothing but attack and threaten Israel with total destruction since before it gained power in the region, despite being a recognized terrorist group. Where was the World outrage when that occured? Nonexistant because the news agencies and media werent splashing vivid images of the attrocities of HAMAS actions at them every hour.
Hamas has been refered to under every stripe here. It is an Islamic group (peaceful religious society) Palestinian when the casualty counts are made, and political group. Mention of its terrorist nature and ultimate goal get downplayed rather than adddressed. Perhaps that more than anything else influences my attitude about the situation in Gaza. You get what you pay for and the Palestinians are paying for HAMAS, where was Hamas when Palestinians were suffering for its actions, hiding under the porch like a cowardly dog. Now that the shooting seems to be ending, they are coming out to claim a victory that isnt theirs. Paid for by the blood of Palestinians many of who might have been innocent of wrongdoing, because 75% of them voted this terrorist group into power. Sadly hamas will probably come out of this with even more support from Palestinians and the international community.

Posted by Czar | Report as abusive

I thank you kindly, Mr. Debusmann, for the article “lions led by donkeys”. Seeing the bodies of the Gaza children, on the net, is reminiscent of my childhood during ww 2. There has to be a better way then this and I thank you for pointing in the right direction. I pray that the new President will have the guts to put his foot down on both parties in the middle East, and stop this carnage.

Posted by Peter Quiring | Report as abusive

You all seem to ignore the basic problem. Hamas is not interested in Peaceful coexistence. Defense is not the issue. Freedom is not the issue. Trade is not the issue. raising their people up from poverty is not the issue. Statehood is not the issue. Hamas has only one goal and that is the elimination of Jews and the destruction of Israel. It’s not guesswork. It’s not a secret. They make no bones about it. So, you non-donkeys of the world, explain please how you would deal with that.

Posted by Stan G | Report as abusive

Over 1100 hundreds PALESTINIANS are dead…Mostly women and children’s JUSTICE can be delayed but justice can not be denied we want Israeli Government and Army gets charged for WAR CRIME and CRIME against humanity…

They have shown no mercy they are Barbaric and Savage people……Apology Not accepted…Or lets Tel vive get bombarded day and night for few days and once over 1100 hundreds Israelis get killed then we all should Apologies
To the Israelis…..

Posted by speakamerica | Report as abusive

I applaud Mr. Miller’s analysis. I think he’s right regarding the lack of credibility of Israel (with US complicity) due to their continued settlement construction and defiance of UN resolutions regarding Israeli annexation of land since the ’67 war. Volumes have been written on this subject but it’s mostly omitted from American political discourse and certainly obscured or invalidated by most of mainstream media and it’s biased pundits.

Posted by R. Murad | Report as abusive

Israel has an agenda -”don’t mess with me or I’ll kick your ass”. The problem with this mentality is speaking to your opponent does not enter the picture. My solution for change is to cut Israel’s aid. MRG

Posted by moira reilly-gutridge | Report as abusive

Nice piece by Debusmann and nice comment by Robert J. Muller. His analogy to California and Texas starts in the right direction but ends before observing an important conclusion. If the Mexicans had been militarily strong and determined enough, they would have kept fighting and the US would not now have unchallenged possession. An important dimension of the history of human civilization is that of conquest and dominance. That consists of the taking of territory and the imposition of new authority. In many cases though, the conquered remained sufficiently intact to see the day when they gained the upper hand (in a bit of irony, the Jews themselves have gone through this a number of times). By not taking the right steps to marginalize Hamas or extremists in the West Bank, Israel guarantees that its opponents will have the motivation and ability to keep fighting (Israel is unwilling to take the steps that conquerors have taken in the past to deal with this kind of problem). Indeed, they keep the issue at a boiling point by continually building new settlements and imposing very restrictive conditions on the lives of people in both the West Bank and Gaza. I certainly don’t deny that Israel had the right to strike back at Hamas, but how much of a carte blanche does that give them? Their current action certainly contributes to radicalizing the entire population of Gaza (in case they weren’t already).

I am often reminded that Sharon’s stated philosophy was that every time a Palestinian threw a stone at Israel, the retaliation should be hard enough that the Palestinian would not think of picking up another stone! Given the human spirit (people don’t easily give up), that kind of attitude ensures continued fighting in the Middle East for a long time to come. Israel’s current strategy seems to be to stay militarily ahead of its opponents forever. Given its history, I’m not sure that that is wise.


Posted by pb | Report as abusive

According to the christian bible, the land in contention between the jews and arabs today particularly the palestinians, originally belong to canaanites. In a covenant with God, Abraham from Ur in Babylon (now Iraq) settled as a nomad and assimilated among the natives of Canaan. Abraham has 2 sons. The first, born by Hagar, was Ismael who became the father of the arabs. the second born by Sarah, was Isaac who became the father of the jews. And their family grew into a tribe, then a nation of 12 tribes who could not agree among themselves, therefore weak. But despite that, they were able to defeat some enemies, among them philistines (from Crete)where the name Palestine was probably derived. Due to disunity among the jews, they were conquered and made slaves by series of empire that stumbled upon them, egyptians, assyrians, persians, greeks etc. the worst were the romans, that the jews have to disperse to survive. For 2000 years diaspora, they had no country but roam around the world. What held them together was their tradition and culture, their torah and the hope to someday come home. Because of that, they were kicked around the world for being jews. The worst was Hitler who gassed and put them into ovens over 6 miilion in all. But before that,at the turn of century, jews had already trickled back into Palestine of what once was Israel, only to find the land in neglect and inhabited by arabs under turkish empire. Through the idea of Theodore Herzl, the land was occupied or bought by zionist international from arabs who gladly sold such semi-arid, “only for goats” unproductive land. The jews worked the land back to health and establish commerce, surprising the arabs who want the lands back! Riots erupted between the arabs and jews under the administration of the british empire who had succeeded the turks. The arabs just could not accept the british plan for the partition of Palestine between the jews and the palestinian arabs, they just want the land back. Then came the european survivors of Hitler’s holocaust stampeding back to the holy land of their patriarch Abraham. A big head ache and the hapless brits wants out in disgust. Israel thru UN recognition, prepared to establish the state of Israel on the eve of british departure, while the arabs encircled and prepared to attack the jews. On its birth on may 14,1948, Israel was attacked, but survived and won the war. Lands alloted for palestinians disappeared because the West bank was annexed by Jordan while Egypt absorbed Gaza and its people were not assimilated but turned into refugees for political purposes by arab states. Since then it was war and terrorism…always initiated by arabs, culminating in 6 day war of June 1967 where Israel captured Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, Golan heights of Syria and west bank and Jerusalem from Jordan. Due to “land for peace” policy of Israel, Sinai was returned to Egypt after they became friends. Same thing with Gaza and the West bank, after Arafat and Rabin shook hands at camp David. It was supposed to become the palestinian homeland, with Jerusalem under further negotiation. But after getting Gaza as initial turn over,(with West bank next) the palestinians sent suicide bombers, forcing Israel to fence off the borders. Then hamas took over and used missiles to fly over the fence and blast Israeli cities, forcing Israel to fight back in an ugly way.

Posted by zdrx | Report as abusive

Hello Paul Rosa,
Referring to your post “Israel is afraid to lose its Jewish character” you’re absolutely right it is. Israel is a Jewish state its main purpose is to grant all the Jews in this world a home, a place in this earth. Would u like me to explain to u why Jews need an independent state of their own? If u do I’ll refresh your memory: When Hitler came to power and time past and life for the Jews in Germany became unbearable thousands tried to escape and then when Germany started ww2 millions tried to escape and what did the world do? It let only a handful of Jews enter their countries leaving most to cope with their own fate. U know that during that period of time the United States lowered the capacity of emigrates that were aloud to come to America from Eastern Europe, a law that basically lowered the amount of Eastern European Jews that could enter the country? Oh lets not forget the heroic convention Roosevelt summoned were most of the western countries sent delegates in order to find a way to help the Jews in Germany. What exactly happened there? The answer is nothing. They all figured out that the best solution was to just allow the Jews to leave Germany and come live in their countries, but not even the USA, that initiated the whole convention, agreed to allow more Jews to come into the state.
Dear Paul Rosa why do u think 6 million Jews were murdered? Just because of the Natiz’s? Oh they did the most part but if the world would have acted sooner and really tried to help the Jews find sanctuary, definitely 6 million or more wouldn’t have been murdered. Out of the 6 million human beings that were murdered just because they were Jewish more then 1 million were kids.
That is why Israel needs and has to keep its Jewish character because the world hasn’t really changed its view about Jews, but now the Jews just don’t have to take it because they have a home anytime they need it! They don’t need to beg for help from anyone any more. That is what Israel stands for, a home for all the Jews in the world!!!!

It is a mistake for the govt of Israel to suppose that attacking any person who lives in Gaza is equivalent to attacking Hamas. When the govt of Israel kills a Gazan civilian, the dead person’s brother, cousin, son, father, daughter, spouse and mother become enemies of the govt of Israel, and if they aren’t very particular, of all Israelis or Jews or Americans or whatever group to which they assign responsibility.

Hamas fallaciously assumes that attacking any Israeli civilian is equivalent to attacking the govt of Israel.

In the case of both Hamas and the govt of Israel, they commit war crimes in attacking children and other unarmed civilians. Self defense requires the defender to assault the attacker, but doesn’t justify assaults on noncombatant bystanders. Self defense doesn’t justify the barbarities of Hamas and the govt of Israel. The individuals responsible should be tried as war criminals.

Posted by Daniel Brockman | Report as abusive

The thing is the state of Israel is a very new place. It creation involved the deadly bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 and the removal of Palestinians from there home. Thus demonstrating that when it comes to terrorism Isreal is poacher turned game keeper. Now we have a Palestinian population that live in slums and have nothing but to fight for there own home, resembling apatite in South Africa. We also have a Jewsh population that have there home in these taken lands and it is clearly impractical to remove them from this area so therefore we have conflict. Israel has clearly taken this opportunity to launch a lethal attack against Hamas before the new US president becomes sworn in eg a few rockets < 1200 people dead. Its currently hard to see what this latest assault has achieved except to potentially prompt the Palestinians to take a less favourable deal that may be presented to them under the Obama administration. However it is fundamental that the Palestinians develop negotiation skills and take the opportunity to work off the back of the ill feeling that Israel has created in the world to obtain there realistic goals helped by the bombing of UN assets. However this will require realistic goals to be set by the Palestinians, the prevention of rockets been fired and above all diplomacy!

Posted by jimbob | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann,
Pro-Palestinian critics of Israel such as yourself still insist on
denying Israel’s right to self defense by asserting a false moral
equivalency: “… rockets fired from Gaza, or Israelis settling on the
West Bank”, attempting to equate the targeting of civilians with rockets
to be the same as building homes on land supposedly belonging to a
nation state not yet created. Land can be returned, lives cannot.
In addition,Pro-Palestinian critics of Israel such as yourself still
insist Israel “occupies” Gaza, despite its’ evacuation of the Strip in
2006:”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.” Israel is
under no obligation to trade with a hostile entity, just as the US is
not obligated to trade with Cuba and Iran.
Your call for “even-handedness” is the same call made by enemies of
Israel calling for its’ dissolution.

Posted by Kenneth Sigel | Report as abusive

The ones responsible for all this death is HAMAS. Not the Palestinian people, not Israel, not the Israeli Army. When if ever Hamas recognizes Israel right to exist, the Palestinian people will benefit the most. When Hamas will stop teaching the Palestinian people to blow themselves up in the name of Allah, the Palestinians will stop dying.

The death toll is reaching the 1300 Palestinians, of which 55% – Hamas militants. the other 45% – civilians are Hamas’s victims as well. The world, its leaders and its people can stand on their heads in protest against Israel… The UN and its useless politicians can call on Israel to stop and condemn its actions… Israel has and will do everything needed to secure her citizens from radical islamic groups like Hamas and its financiers: Iran. I wish for peace to all people, but as long as we have radical regimes like Iran (among others) fulling, training and financing groups like Hamas there will be no peace anywhere.

Overall the comments and thought process of Mr. Debusmann, are seriously mistaken. His views completely polarized and do nothing but to propagate the Jihadist fundamentals. “Kill yourself in the name of Allah… Kill as many infidels as you can and you shall go to heaven, further; you will be rewarded with riches and women.” That is the HAMAS way, disregarding life and glorifying death.

Posted by David Bercovici-Artieda | Report as abusive

There is no question Hamas is lacking competence in strategie;Fail to evaluate the strength of the opponant,in politique,the timing before the govt switch in the Us,in financial,during finance crisis in the world,And the full moon…?This ignorance make them more dangerous to predict.But the show of the Israely forces with the Us weaponery make a big Image in the world and he will boost the military sales.The civils casualties have differents effects,the democratic point of wiew ,Ugly,bad image,But for the extremists the message is clear,even if you used human shield we do not have a choice we will hit you the best we can,i am sorry to said that but it is a good image.Today the rockets stop…Andorra,liechtenstein,monaco,st marino,lot of small enclaves flourish since the middle age in peace,they politicaly neutral…

Posted by bernard | Report as abusive

the “think tanks” produce exactly this sort of inbred nonsense:

just for the record, the “formerly arab part of jerusalem” is formally called the “jewish quarter of the old city”, and was jewish long before the (illegal) jordanian occupation of jerusalem in 1947. in fact, jerusalem’s jewish population goes back to the time of king david, predating the greeks, the romans, and the arabs.

and also for the record, if israeli settlements in the west bank are such an obstacle to peace (as the plo claims), why did their absolute and complete uprooting from gaza not produce a “just and lasting peace”? in fact, this bit of incestuous groupthing flies in the face of all observable reality: there was a much greater chance of peace (or certainly a lesser chance of war), with 10,000 settlers in gaza, than without them, not to mention the economic and social benefits of gainful employment (other than rocketry). if gaza is to be the model, then this is a “peace process” that everyone, israelis, palestinian arabs, and americans could do without!

and while we’re bashing cliches, those “think tanks” need a dose of math and a little history. there already IS a “two-state solution”, because israel and jordan were set aside, as early as 1923, to be the jewish and arab parts of the british mandate of palestine. (trans)jordan contains 78% of the land area of palestine. what the arabs of the west bank and gaza are proposing now is “salami politics”: to split off part of the remaining 22% (the “jewish ” part) in order to create two more states: fatahland and hamastan. you see, that would be a “four-state solution”, which doesn’t have quite the same cachet, does it?

but i suppose it’s not a good idea to let facts spoil a good story…

I agree with those who believe that the Israeli perpetrators should tried for war crimes. And, for shame Americans for supporting them.

It is all very well to criticise Israel because the outcome of this latest middle east violence is not a clean decisive, unequivocal win to Israel and the end of Hamas and their terrorism.

But what does Messrs Cordesmann and Debismann think the wolrld is, a geopolicical Wal Mart where a vast range of silutions are just there on the shelf, each with a warranty and a returns policy attached?

The real problem here is the trite, smartypants commentary that is put about that looks at a comprehensive problem with the breadth of vision available by looking through a drinking straw.

But what the heck, they get paid to write such pointless tosh.

Posted by mike seward | Report as abusive

- Posted by Kenneth Sigel
“The thing is the state of Israel is a very new place.”

no, israel (then called the kingdom of judah) dates back about 2,500 years. really. you can look it up. the people of judah were called “judeans” or “jews” as first occurs in the book of esther. you can look that up, too.

“It creation involved the deadly bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 and the removal of Palestinians from there home.”

actually, the bombing of the king david hotel (a hotel that was the headquarters of the british military occupation forces) was a little strange: the jewish bombers phoned in a warning to evacuate the building an hour before the bomb went off, in order to spare lives – the warning was ignored. can you imagine the palestinians doing such a thing”

as for the removal of palestinians from their home, please be more exact: prior to 1964, no arab called themselves “palestinian” – for 2,000 years “palestinian” meant a jew from palestine (occupied judea). also, it is difficult to understand why 500,000 arab refugees from jewish palestine couldn’t integrate into 5 neighbouring arab countries with the same language, religion and culture, whereas 500,000 jewish refugees from arab countries could be integrated into a single, small country with very little arable land. and why the arab refugees from palestine are the only third-generation “refugees” in the world, while in the meantime millions of other refugees from dozens of conflicts and countries have been resettled (including myself)?

and the facts don’t actually support that palestine was their home, either. the historians have a bit of trouble explaining where all the the arab population suddenly came from, once the european zionists started draining swamps and building cities. the increase in arab population is dramatic and follows the economic development closely.

“Thus demonstrating that when it comes to terrorism Isreal is poacher turned game keeper. Now we have a Palestinian population that live in slums and have nothing but to fight for there own home, resembling apatite in South Africa. We also have a Jewsh population that have there home in these taken lands and it is clearly impractical to remove them from this area so therefore we have conflict.”

even the arabs call israel “the land of the jews”, when they tell each other the truth. (“al-quds” is really “al-quds al yahoud”.) jews are not poachers in judea.

those palestinian refugee camps were not built by israel, but by the neighbouring arab countries who refused to allow the arab refugees from palestine to resettle. they have always been part of the arab strategy to exploit the refugees in the fight to delegitimize and destroy israel.

the comparison to apartheid is not even superficially valid: black people in south africa were citizens of the country who were denied their rights. the arabs of gaza and the west bank are citizens of an enemy country that has been at war with israel for 60 years. what “rights” does your country give to enemy citizens during a shooting war?

“Israel has clearly taken this opportunity to launch a lethal attack against Hamas before the new US president becomes sworn in eg a few rockets < 1200 people dead.”

perhaps you don;t follow events in the middle east very closely: over the last 8 years, the peaceful natives of gaza have fired over 10,000 rockets at israeli civilians. and deliberately firing at civilian targets is a war crime by the way.

in the three and a half years since the last israeli pulled out of gaza, they have fired over 4,000 rockets at israeli civilian targets, and in the last year alone, in spite of a six-month “ceasefire”, they fired 2,000 rockets at israeli civilian targets.

in the days following the december 20 end of the ceasefire, hamas fired 50-60 rockets A DAY into israel. that means that up to 50 times a day, you and your family would have 15 seconds warning to run to the nearest bomb shelter or be shredded by ball bearings and shrapnel.

“a few rockets”?

the fact that israelis value life, and do their utmost to minimize the loss of life, doesn’t make the islamists less barbaric, or their crimes less heinous. if hamas cared even a bit about their own people, they would put women and children in shelters, instead of on the roofs of buildings used to store munitions, and on balconies with snipers.

but what is saddest about the arab-israeli conflict is that the islamists manage to confuse stooges like you into supporting their cause – because in the words of the arab proverb, “after saturday comes sunday”; once they finish the jews, they’ll come for the christians.

If Israel has little humanity they should not invade Palastein and more over they violated international war laws.As common people we want to know what they gained by killing innocents, childs and women. From this the whole world understood that Israel is the real terror in the world.

Posted by mansoor | Report as abusive

The official media coverage in the West failed to expose the Israeli spin of “self defense”. It should be pointed out that self defense applies when you are under attack not when you are taking away more and more of other people’s land and water. This behaviour is usually called theft or aggression and any victim of it would be entitled right to self defense.

Posted by Akram | Report as abusive

Akram, during a conflict it is unusual for territory borders to remain the same. That is why nations avoid war.

This initial problem started because Palestine waged war against Israel shortly after its creation, and was defeated.

When land is seized during war, this land comes under the control of the holding party. That “occupied” land remains under the control of that nation, until the territory is dealt with under a peace accord.

An example is the Yom Kippur (or Ramadan) War. At the end of hostility, Israel held control over the Sinai. After the war, Israel relinquished the peninsula to Egypt as part of the formal peace agreement. Since then, Egypt has honoured the peace that was made.

If the Palestinian people seek a peace treaty, then this treaty will deal with the issue of “occupied” land. It may result in Israel keeping that land, at which point it is no longer “occupied”.

Given the strength of Israel’s position, and the risk of any peace deal, Israel is unlikely to relinquish territory now. They already pulled out of Gaza a few years ago with little result. Good faith has already been lost between the parties.

Palestine may very well need to focus on what is attainable. If they settle for Gaza and the West Bank, then there will be peace.

If they choose to hold on to a fifty year old territory dispute then nothing will change for them, and it will be the innocents who suffer.

Posted by Spooky | Report as abusive

Spooky, in trying to correct Akram, you say Palestinians
attacked Israelis shortly after they were formed. Did you not know that before that, the Israelis blew up the British HQ at that hotel, and also chased out all the Palestinians who then ended up living in camps in foreign countries. Your selective reporting of history, looks like the manipulative methods used by the Israel lobbies.

A few Israeli leaders are holding their populace by using the fear card, not unlike what our very unpopular president Bush has been doing.

Terrorists come up together, thats probably why we have Osama bin Laden, Bush and people like Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahoo spewing hate and violence.

Well at least the Israeli court finally convinced the Israeli president to step down after the allegations of him raping some woman, so theres some hope for justice.


Posted by Padme | Report as abusive

Israel’s response to the sporadic Hamas fire was to say the least excessive. It is stated that Israel had no choice is absurd. They invaded with infantry, yet leveled whole blocks on the chance someone who fired a rocket was in them, an let’s not forget UN compounds, hospitals, and schools. If rockets were fired from there, then use the infantry to root them out. That is one of the jobs of the infantry. The disproportionate nature of the response is evidenced by the casualty figures, 10 Israeli soldiers, 1500 Palestinians, 700 civilians. (Reuters figures).

I am not a armchair quarterback in these matters, besides my study of military science, I spent about 3 years in the Army including a tour in Vietnam, also, over 12 years in the Navy before injury forced me out. I have put myself in harms way many times.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

So what happened to all the Patriot and Arrow missles that Israel possesses, whgich capable/supposed to knock out incoming missles such “advanced” missles such as Cruise. Couldn’t these have been used to take out the basic and crude home-made missles that Hamas was firing into Israel?
Am i missing something here?

Posted by Imran Khan | Report as abusive

Padme, I recall that prior to the creation of the Israeli milita groups, the Palastinians had already begun attacking Jewish communities during the Arab Revolt.

The Jewish communities were forced to assemble milita, due to the lack of protection provided by the British. Both the Arabs and Israelis then attempted to gain independence in their respective regions.

Eventually the British pulled out, and the United Nations began the UN Partition Plan. The Arab nations objected to the idea of a Jewish nation living next to them, and decided to invade it and create a single Palastinian region.

Israel fought back and won. The rest is history.

Posted by Spooky | Report as abusive

Mean Spinners

Question for those who say ‘The Land’ belongs to ‘People of Judah’ …

To whom did the ‘The Land’ belong before ‘Kingdom of Judah’ i.e. before 2500 years and before that and before that?

There can never ever be justification to kill innocents and those who kill innocents can never ever escape from the justice of the “Owner of the Land”. I am sure everyone know who is the real owner of ‘The Land’.

Think about ‘Two Equal States’ and not ‘Two States’.

In these sad moments, please do remember poor native Indians of North America just like other countless innocents being killed in greed for power.

Posted by Khaja Ahmed | Report as abusive

What is rarley mentioned is the cost $$$ of Israeli military actions to the US tax payer.An example,Israel uses $50,000 US made missiles to assasinate individual Palestinians.US subsides that ofcourse.
In Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon.Israel asked and received rushed US Aviation fuel and precision guided munitions to finish bombing Lebanon.Extra HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS put on the Pentagons balance sheet not Israel’s.Coming and going,all bankrolled by hapless US TAXPAYER,No strings.
Christian Science Monitor article estimates that Israeli lobbies have been able to funnel 1.3 Trillion Dollars in US TAXPAYER AID to the Jewish state since 1948.

Posted by bruce | Report as abusive

Bruce, you think Israel just use’s U.S weapons and U.S. money to fight wars? You have no idea what your saying. Israel makes the best weapons and supply the U.S. as well with some of the most advanced technology’s available. It’s a trade off between Countries!!!Also the U.S. are far as the middle east is concerned can only rely on Israel as a friendly base to support U.S. military and supply’s sent in the region to combat war started by Iraq for example in the Gulf war. How about the millions or billions that the UN. relief for refugees pay out to Palestinians which the bulk is coming from the U.S and European Country’s not Arab Countries. Im not sure about your figures either, but if you are so upset where your tax dollars are going as a U.S. citizen then maybe you should move to Cuba then you can be more certain its not going to Israel. And Jewish people are U.S. tax paying citizens as well and have no more say where their money is going then you!!! Even when some go to Palestinian even Terrorist organizations!!! “Funneling”, you make it sound as if something illegal is going to Israel which is not the case. Usually the people that criticize Israel lobbyist are people who can not accept Israel as a state, therefore have antisemitic sentiments!!!The next conclusion they derive is that all the U.S. problems are due to Israel and Israel starts all the wars , and on and on …Israel blamed for everything that people can’t accept their own responsibilities for.

Posted by marcus | Report as abusive

Whether you are for or against Israel, they can’t win with this strategy. The more civilans they kill the more money people are inspired to give to Hamas, the more people that join Hamas, and the more that Fatah is marginalized for wanting to negotiate with Israel. And, maybe most importantly, there is a number of dead Palestinian civilians that will cause the American public to demand that their government stop funding Israel’s military. We don’t know what the number is, but I think we all know there is a number.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

The United States forfeited its right to serve as an honest broker in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Our taxpayer dollars provided the bombs that have slaughtered thousands of Palestinian civilians, mainly women and children and the elderly. Israel has repeatedly derailed any attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state and has continued its illegal settlement, thumbing its nose at the world. The two countries, the U.S. and Israel, share imperialistic, militaristic, racist tactics that will eventually bring both down. A citizen and a patriot who is not afraid to speak the truth.

Posted by Lorena arker | Report as abusive

What Israel had done in Gaza shows the work of the American Tax payers’ money Killing innocent men women and children, which actions make America and the American taxpayers accessory to murders in any court of law.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Sometimes people use their emotions instead of seeing reality. Israel moved out of gaza as an experimment to see it could move out of the west bank and hand back settlements. they got rockets in return. they aren’t going to give back more, and would be crazy to do so, until one side shows it’s ready to live in peace. The uncomfortable truth that people don’t want to see is that hamas doesn’t want peace. when chanberlin gave hitler what he asked for it didn’t stop WW2. You can’t apply your western rational way of thinking to tribal societies. It doesn’t work. Please don’t forget that in many places in the middle east you shun your sister for getting raped (or even kill her) for the shame she has brought upon your family. You and I will never understand this way of thinking, so don’t think hamas, hezbulla, or other parties will think they way you do. This is a flse assumption, and one europe makes over and over along with many other so called experts. Hamas would rather have every palestinian die a martyr instead of living with the shame of a perminant secure isreal. The reason is because that would mean they would have to admit the failure of destroying israel, and it’s better to die than live with the shame of failure.

Posted by db | Report as abusive

Hamas can’t defeat Israel. They can only get Israel to defeat itself. Hamas runs on despair. Israel’s right wing runs on fear. But Hamas knows that despair can beat fear. The FLN did this to the French in Algeria and won. Israel can bomb its way with overwhelming force right into defeat. Israel needs to master its fear. For all its toughness, it hasn’t really done that. Hamas has done that, but it can only survive in the presence of widespread Palestinian despair. Israel’s strategy could be improved.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

Donkeys alright, with their head in their behinds! What should really disturb everyone is how diabolical these donkeys are; They target the U.N., hospitals, doctors who are on t.v., Reuters journalists’ headquarters, civilians (babies). Isn’t it ironic the donkeys removed their heads in time for Obama’s Inauguration? What a challenge the President-elect has, as if Israel is saying kiss me!

Posted by rzarbldrnnr | Report as abusive

Iran has the last laugh here,its growing influence in muslimworld will invariably pose a deterrent to USA if not already has.
Many Muslim and Non Muslim countries are taking notice of Irans views in International forums. Iran is not in a doghouse as some folks want to believe in.Its position is worrisome, because of its cozy relationship with all terror outfits. Sauds have a different strategy, they send fat checks to keep terror outside its soil.
Terrorism is linked to religion without any doubt. A Global agenda is in the making, these groups will have a common leader in a decade, if go unchecked. Madarasas, Injured inoocent Children and suicide bombers are their strength. First victims are the nations with huge muslim populations.
See the post in today’s Pakistani daily,Dawn
“Suicide bombers are the atomic weapons of Muslims because Muslims do not have the latest weapons to fight enemies who are committing atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq,”

Are the 911 attacks and recent Mumbai massacre making world at large insensitive to suffering. Scary that terrorists can offset the mental equilibrium of entire human race, I sicerely hope the loving and tolerant minds will revert back to their kindness once the terror outfits are eradicated from the face of earth.The countries that suffer most are the ones that harbor them.
Its spine chilling that the Taliban in western Pakistan burnt down girls schools in swat area and declared war on girls.Should only Muslim countries address the issue ( since this was a proclamation of a religious party)or all concerned people ( world) join forces to protect the women.

Israel responded to thousands of Palestinian rockets being fired against Israeli civilians the way any American or European leader would have responded, but even more carefully to minimize Arab casualties. Hamas is a pimp organization for Iranian Ayatollahs and must be squashed or else Europe and the US will be within sights of Islamist supremacists. Support Israel! The Arabs and Iranians are gunning for the West. Hamas and Hizbollah are Murder, Inc for Iran, hired killers spreading a hateful Islamist creed of destruction.

Posted by Jared | Report as abusive

As the military action draws to a close, we can finally begin to look at this action from a reflective view.

Israel’s military suffered a few casualties. Gaza did not become an “Israeli graveyard”. The rocket fire has stopped for the first time in six months. A 12-month ceasefire is on the cards. The international community is attempting to prevent Hamas from re-arming.

What international mediation failed to do in three years, Israel managed in three weeks.

Remember the Lebanon War? Israel, by showing restraint and working with the UN, was jeered as losing the war by the world media.

Then we had the Georgian War. Within 24 hours of Georgian brigades entering South Ossetia, an entire Russian army had crossed the border. Russia used a massive unforgiving offensive to secure a swift victory against Georgia, followed by swift withdrawal.

Russia destroyed Georgia’s navy and military equipment. UN crisis talks were ignored. European “mediation” simply confirmed Russia establishing de facto military control over the contested regions.

The moral of the story? Military action needs to be quick and decisive. Attempting to work with the UN will only hinder your military goals. And don’t choose Sarkozy as your mediator.

Now Israel has learnt its lesson from the media, Russia and the UN. A swift overwhelming assault, followed by a quick withdrawal, seems to be the new way of warfare.

Posted by Defcon86 | Report as abusive

I find it pointless to discuss Israel to people who walk around with blinders on their eyes. History means nothing to them. Hamas parades a picture of a bleeding child and the world weeps. Never mind that the photo is posed and probably fake. Remember the photo of the slain boy being held by his father in an earlier skirmish with Israilis. That photo was seen all over the world – it was proven a posed scene – the boy was wounded by Masked, Arafat Fighters. Arabs and Hamas and Hezbelah fighters are always masked with only their eyes showing. Why? Are they afraid to be recognized???

Posted by bevjoy22l | Report as abusive