ONTD Political

The Iron Dome, Press Bias, and Israel's Lack of Strategic Thinking

9:37 pm - 11/16/2012

Some observations as the Gaza crisis continues to unfold:

1. The Iron Dome anti-rocket and missile defense system seems to work better than most people expected. Israel is becoming very good at shooting down missiles.

2. Israel also seems to be getting better at not killing civilians in Gaza. The numbers are of course too large, and this could change in an instant, but right now the casualty rate is much lower than in Operation Cast Lead. And yes, of course, much smaller than the numbers from the American drone war in Pakistan. Hamas, of course, is trying to maximize civilian casualties. Which brings me to:

3.The media is biased against Israel. Yes, got it. Yes, Israel is being judged harshly. Yes, I know that probably 300 people have been murdered in Syria since this Gaza affair started, and no one cares. An acquaintance of mine, a Syrian living in Beirut, wrote me in frustration about this last night. "We get very little interest from the international press compared to the Palestinians. What should we do to get more attention?" 

My advice is to get killed by Jews. Always works. That said, what do pro-Israel people want? And what does Israel itself want? Israel is more powerful than its Palestinian adversaries, and the press almost axiomatically roots for the underdog. There is much greater sympathy for the Palestinian cause than before, which is partially Israel's fault -- if Israel didn't appear to be a colonizer of the West Bank, it would find more sympathy. Jews, and certainly a Jewish state, are never going to win popularity contests, but the situation wouldn't seem quite so dire to Israelis and their friends if people plausibly believed that the Netanyahu government was interested in implementing a two-state solution.

4. Barack Obama hasn't turned against Israel. This is a big surprise to everyone who has not paid attention for the last four years, or who had decided, for nakedly partisan reasons, to paint him as a Jew-hater.

5. Israel's media campaign -- Gamify? -- is disgraceful. David Rothkopf just pointed out to me that people are most influenced by their enemies. In this case, the braggadocio of the IDF is beginning to resemble the braying of various Palestinian terror outfits over the years. All death is tragic, even the deaths of your enemies.   

6. I'll be asking the same question over and over again the coming days: What is Israel's long-term strategy? Short-term, I understand: No state can agree to have its civilians rocketed. But long-term, do Israeli leaders believe that they possess a military solution to their political problem in Gaza? There is no way out of this militarily. Israel is not Russia, Gaza is not Chechnya and Netanyahu isn't Putin. Even if Israel were morally capable of acting like Russia, the world would not allow it. So: Is the goal to empower Hamas? Some right-wingers in Israel would prefer Hamas's empowerment, because they want to kill the idea of a two-state solution. But to those leaders who are at least verbally committed to the idea of partition, what is the plan? How do you marginalize Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state, and empower the more moderate forces that govern the West Bank? 

Here's one idea: Give Palestinians hope that Israel is serious about the two-state solution. And how do you do that? By reversing the settlement project on the West Bank. It is not unreasonable for Palestinians to doubt the sincerity of Netanyahu on the subject of the two-state solution, when settlements grow ever-thicker. There's no way around this: The idea of a two-state solution will die if Israel continues to treat the West Bank as a suburb of Jerusalem and Kfar Sava, and not as the future location of the state of Palestine.


7. Hamas also lacks coherent thinking. Here is David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on where Hamas went wrong in this latest round of violence: 
Hamas seems to have miscalculated on several fronts. First, it may have believed that Israel would avoid major action for fear of antagonizing the new government in Cairo, given Gaza's proximity to Egypt and Hamas's close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. It may also have believed that recent shows of regional solidarity (including the Qatari emir's visit to Gaza last month and ongoing support from Turkey) would raise the diplomatic cost of Israeli action to prohibitive levels.

In addition, Hamas may not have expected an attack against a high-profile target like Jabari, which was a change from Israel's pattern of sporadic retaliation to rocket fire. Indeed, Israel considered him a leading terrorist -- he was responsible for overseeing at least one suicide bombing in the late 1990s and was key in Hamas operations during the second intifada, when the group carried out numerous suicide attacks. And when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, he organized its fighters into a military force with companies, battalions, and brigades. Jabari is also believed to have overseen the detention of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, allowing himself to be photographed when Shalit was swapped for Palestinian prisoners last year.

apostle_of_eris 17th-Nov-2012 05:43 am (UTC)
The last point is the first.
What the fuck was Hamas thinking? Israel is very predictable in some ways: shoot off a lot of rockets and they'll kick the shit out of you. (I'm not siding, excusing, or anything except talking about one, narrow, known thing: Israel's behavior can be very predictable.)
So why did Hamas act like this is what they wanted??
sesmo 17th-Nov-2012 07:04 am (UTC)
Because Hamas wants to overshadow Fatah's visit to the UN for internal political reasons, and Israel is about to have an election and Hamas wants to make sure Israel remains with hardliners, because an Israel that is willing to negotiate takes power away from Hamas. /conspiracy theories
curseangel 17th-Nov-2012 07:43 am (UTC)
I think a big part of it lies in the fact that Hamas, and Gazans as a whole, have very little in the way of legitimate and legal means to respond to the atrocities visited on them by Israel. My understanding is that this incident was precipitated by the Israeli killing of a thirteen year old Palestinian boy.

While I don't IN ANY WAY condone Hamas bombing Israel, I think that it may seem to some people in Hamas that this is the only avenue of response they have - no one will listen to them or help them in the international community, Israel has all the power, and there is no legitimate way for them to respond to what Israel does to them.

(And lbr, Israel does want this. They want an excuse to kill and further marginalize the people of Gaza, and it's clear they're taking it.)
ms_maree 17th-Nov-2012 08:06 am (UTC)
I think this is a perfect example of 'one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter'.
slurp 17th-Nov-2012 09:17 am (UTC)
A "war to end all wars" never works. Even if someone they manage to wipe out all of Hamas, which they won't, someone else will rise for revenge.
cozmic_oceanz 17th-Nov-2012 09:52 am (UTC)
interesting article. thanks for posting
kagehikario 17th-Nov-2012 09:02 pm (UTC)
Omg an article calling BOTH sides out on their shit?

I have been holding my breath for this.
kitchen_poet 19th-Nov-2012 01:08 am (UTC)
Seriously, right? Color me shocked.
gruimed 17th-Nov-2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
>press almost axiomatically roots for the underdog

Unless Jews are involved... Israel is an underdog in its conflict with the Arab world... Somehow, in this particular case, the media does not side with the underdog.
soleiltropiques 17th-Nov-2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness. Um, no.

While I am certainly not denying or defending attacks on Israelis, the scale of Israeli actions against Palestinians, as opposed to Palestinian action against Israelis, is incredibly skewed.

-For over 5 years, 1.6 million Palestinians have lived under an Israeli military blockade that has left more than one million people dependent on international humanitarian aid. More about this here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/israel-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-2012#section-7-3

-Troubled waters - Palestinians denied fair access to water. More about this here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/mde150272009en.pdf

-Israel has a long history of appropriating (well, stealing, more accurately) Palestinian lands.
('Israel's Ulpana neighborhood is built on years of land theft and forgery': http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/israel-s-ulpana-neighborhood-is-built-on-years-of-land-theft-and-forgery-1.426140)
('Legitimization of land theft. The theft of private land and lawless construction, with the authorities' collaboration, have long been routine in the land of the settlers'. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/legitimization-of-land-theft-1.214201)
('Land expropriation and taking control of the land'. http://www.btselem.org/settlements/taking_control)

-On the deportations of Palestinians (these ended *officially* in 1992 but are actually still ongoing). http://www.btselem.org/deportation/deportation_to_gaza

-In 2011, the Palestinians killed 11 Israeli civilians. During the same year, Israeli security forces killed 115 civilians in the Gaza strip and the West Bank, according to B'Tselem: http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20120321_2011_annual_report

I could go on, but these are just examples.

While I do sympathize with Israel with regards to their suffering, I also have to acknowledge, in all fairness, the disproportionate nature of this conflict.

(Opinions regarding this conflict's resemblance to the time of apartheid in South Africa.)
(1) http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/2059-apartheid-south-africa-and-israel-two-sides-of-the-same-coin
(2) http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/israel-is-new-south-africa-as-boycott-calls-increase-7813538.html
(3) http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/are-israel-and-apartheid-south-africa-really-different-1.265580

(no subject) - Anonymous
ms_maree 18th-Nov-2012 02:26 am (UTC)
Israel has nukes. Hence it has the balance of power in the region.
(no subject) - Anonymous
ms_maree 18th-Nov-2012 02:43 am (UTC)
Like yeah, that's where I started from?

I understand why it has nukes (though I think it's going a bit overboard, and if only they spent half as much time putting that money towards other things..), but it undeniably works to keep enemies from doing anything, especially if they show that they are willing to use them. It's part of the reason China has never taken Taiwan and if you look at the size of Taiwan in geographical size and in population you can see that it's vastly outgunned, but MAD comes into play.

(no subject) - Anonymous
ms_maree 18th-Nov-2012 02:52 am (UTC)
I just don't understand why you felt the need to tell me stuff I already knew about Israel

TBH, that was my fault for not really paying attention. I only just started tracking this post, and your post was the first one that was on the top of my email (before seeing the one you were responding to) and I didn't note the user name. I really got to get better at that, I have a bad memory of icons and usernames. At the top of my mind was the idea that a lot of people don't know that Israel has nukes, because it's one of those unofficial things.

Sorry. I know. Pathetic excuse is pathetic.
soleiltropiques 18th-Nov-2012 02:27 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree. These are good points.

freeze_i_say 19th-Nov-2012 09:25 am (UTC)
"The media is biased against Israel."

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