January 14, 2009
Even Arabs Will Benefit if Israel Finishes the Job in GazaBy Joel J. Sprayregen
It is in everyone's interest -- including the Arabs -- to let Israel finish the job in Gaza. The U.N. Security Council decreed that the arsonist should remain free to pile incendiaries next to his neighbor's house. The arsonist insisted he would continue to try to set ablaze the house. This was the illogic of last week's non-binding Security Council Resolution 1860, calling for "immediate" ceasefire in Gaza without demanding an immediate halt of Iran's supplying missiles.
Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan said on al-Arabiya TV that the group "is not interested because it does not meet the demands of our movement." Those demands include destruction of Israel in accordance with Hamas' Charter, unrestricted firing of rockets at Israeli civilians and continued smuggling of arms. Israel rejected the resolution as "unworkable" because it would not stop arms smuggling.
The text of this Alice in Wonderland resolution would merit an emphatic "F" in any law school class. There is no mention of the 7000 Hamas rockets which necessitated Israel's response. Nor is there mention of Hamas or Israel. Hamas of course is not a country or U.N. member. It won 2006 elections in Gaza supervised by (who else?) Jimmy Carter. It murdered its way over the Fatah forces of Palestinian President Abbas to absolute power in Gaza. No fair observer need waste time on the U.N.'s text, recalling Justice Holmes' maxim that "the life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience." The experience of the past two weeks teaches several important lessons:
Hamas can be defeated
If calm is to be restored, Israel must finish degrading Hamas' power so the missile barrages cease. Edward Luttwak of the Center for Strategic Studies wrote last week:
The focus must be on destruction of the complex of hundreds of tunnels through which Iran and Syria supply Hamas. This is why the IDF has been concentrating on the Rafah region in south Gaza. Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser of Israeli Intelligence says: "We can not afford to let the tunnels continue." Any end-game that does not interdict weapons smuggling to Hamas means that Iran will supply missiles which eventually place Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport under terrorist fire. Tony Blair, EU envoy to the Palestinians, agrees "the only way this is going to stop is if there is a genuine plan to end the smuggling into Gaza." 300 Hamas gunmen have been killed; many have been captured. Desertions are increasing.
2. Thwarting Hamas' "CNN Strategy"
What Hamas calls its "CNN strategy" must be thwarted. Professor Alan Dershowitz reminds: "The number of civilians killed by Israel is almost always exaggerated. By any objective account, the number of genuinely innocent civilians killed by the Israeli Air Force is lower than the collateral deaths cause by any nation in a comparable situation." While every death is regrettable, Hamas rockets only Israeli civilians while firing from schoolyards and hiding explosives in mosques and hospitals, thus using Gaza civilians as human shields. Israeli Intelligence Chief Yuval Diskin reports that Hamas' leadership is headquartered beneath Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest. Dershowitz concludes that the "government of Gaza declared war against Israel" and that under self-defense provisions of the U.N. Charter "Israel is entitled to take whatever military action is necessary to repel that attack and stop the rockets."
Steadfastness by the U.S.
The U.S. astigmatically abstained rather than veto Resolution 1860. Secretary Rice explained that she is awaiting the outcome of Egyptian mediation with Hamas. Dr. Rice -- whose blunder in insisting that Israel cede control of the Egypt-Gaza border is a prime cause of the crisis -- is trying to salvage a success from her failed Israel-Palestine diplomacy. Vetoing this feckless resolution would have been more consistent with Americans' readiness to recognize terrorists when we see them. Congress reflected American sentiment last week by passing resolutions -- unanimously in the Senate, 390-5 in the House -- supporting Israel's military campaign. Speaker Pelosi urged the world community to "lay blame precisely where blame belongs, i.e., on Hamas."
Arab Hopes For Defeat of Hamas
While Arabs fume at deaths of Palestinians, responsible Arab opinion understands that Iran seeks to dominate the region through its Hamas and Hezbollah proxies. Michael Young, editor of the Beirut Star, wrote in Forbes: "America's Arab partners, Palestinian President Abbas leading the way, will try to contain Hamas...and by so doing also contain Iran. It may not look that way, but Israel's ground incursion is the muscle behind that effort." Tom Friedman, frequently an acerbic critic of Israel, adds: "Nothing has damaged Palestinians more than the Hamas death-cult strategy of turning Palestinian youths into suicide bombers." The precision of Israeli intelligence about Hamas suggests that Gazans are providing information to end Hamas misrule (Hamas two weeks ago authorized crucifixion as a judicial punishment). The Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya blames Hamas and its Iranian-Syrian masters for Gaza casualties:
The Washington-based Reform Party of Syria is circulating a remarkable editorial by veteran Egyptian-born journalist Youssef Ibrahim, asserting that "a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading though commentary by Arab pundits, letters to editors, and talk shows on Arab TV" based on realization that "The war with Israel is over-and they won." Ibrahim challenges Palestinians to abandon terrorism which compels "your children to play in the sewers of Gaza" and instead to "let a new future begin."
The Need for Patience
Israel, drawing lessons from the 2006 Lebanon war, is proceeding methodically. Its ground forces are poised outside Gaza's cities, ready for the perilous end-game. Hamas rocket fire has been reduced from 200 to 20 per day. There is increasing friction between beleaguered Hamas gunmen and leaders urging them to martyrdom from the safety of Damascus or underground hideouts. In the interests of achieving durable and sustainable peace, and inflicting a signal defeat on Iran, Israel should be given time to do what the diplomats have failed to do, i.e., smash Hamas terrorism. Notwithstanding manipulation of world public opinion by Hamas' "CNN strategy," Israel deserves support from everyone who believes that terrorists must be resisted.
Joel J. Sprayregen, a Chicago lawyer, returned last week from Israel where he consulted with military and academic sources. He is associated with JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) and other think tanks dealing with international security issues.