I begin with some very essential observations that go to the heart of Israel’s situation, observations that are broadly recognized among Jews here in Israel, but are not grasped by many – Jews and non-Jews alike – in the Western world:
1) The scourge of the Western world today is radical Islam, which is gaining traction in many quarters. Israel is the only country that sees this with clear eyes and is prepared to do battle. In taking on Hamas, we are on the front line for the world – a world that neither recognizes nor appreciates this.
2) Along with growing radical Islam there has been an incredible proliferation of anti-Semitism. We are seeing violent actions that echo pre-Holocaust behaviors in Europe in the 1930s: A crazed mob locking Jews inside a synagogue in Paris. This, in July 2014. The single radical difference between the current situation and that of the Jews at the time of the Holocaust is the existence of the State of Israel.
How heavy, then, is the burden on the shoulders of little Israel. We truly are at the center of the world, and, with the help of Heaven, we will be equal to it. But how much harder it is because we are so roundly excoriated in many venues, criticized unjustly even by some of those who profess to be our friends. We are far from perfect, but our every action is placed under a microscope that is reserved just for us.
Let me rush to mention here, lest anyone think otherwise, that I do recognize and appreciate that we have friends – and that heart-warming pro-Israel rallies have been held or are being planned in a host of cities, in NY, Toronto, London, Sydney, San Francisco, Miami and elsewhere.
Yet I feel moved to point out that these wonderful rallies are a reaction to the anti-Israel sentiment that floats in the air. Celebrating Israel is hardly the norm in Western societies.
I share here a video that pinpoints the moral difference between the Muslim Arabs in Hamas and Israelis. Jewish doctors treating Palestinian Arab children, including from Gaza:
Truly do I wish I knew how to coherently describe what is going on now with regard to Hamas. But the situation is terribly unclear and fluid. There is no closure, no finality. IDF troops have definitely pulled back from portions of Gaza, and lend the impression that the operation is close to an end.
Some troops have been pulled out and are being given a break, with the understanding that they might go back in.
Yet, today, the JPost cites a senior IDF figure thus (emphasis added):
“There is no decision to stop the operation. We are preparing to attack, not only to defend. If a decision is made that this is necessary, we will attack.”
It could not really be otherwise, as the south of Israel is still being hit rather fiercely by Hamas rockets.
While YNet cites a senior military source (the same one?) who explains (emphasis added):
“What we are doing in the field right now is based on the lack of an agreement; it is possible an understanding will not be reached. There are other options on the table.”
Israel is deploying forces in a temporary “security strip” along the border inside of Gaza, and is prepared to allow in large quantities of humanitarian goods, medications, etc.
At the same time, Palestinian Arab delegations – Hamas and the PA, with other smaller groups such as Islamic Jihad – have shown up in Cairo to begin the “negotiations” that Israel will not be attending.
Other “international” figures such as Tony Blair are also present.
The agenda called for those Arab delegations to first meet amongst themselves regarding a joint position, which they would then take to the Egyptians. And word tonight is that the delegations have already agreed:
“Cease-fire, the pullout of Israeli forces, ending the blockade, releasing the prisoners … and starting the reconstruction process..” And an end to Israeli “incursions, invasions, assassinations, house shelling and flights over the Gaza Strip.” They are also demanding free passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, freedom of fishing within 12 miles of the coast, reopening the Palestinian airport in the southern Gaza Strip, construction of a seaport and cancellation of buffer zones along the border with Israel.
Cute? A pretty comprehensive list.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Israel is in constant touch with the Egyptians. At some point Egypt is going to come forward with a “plan,” which will not incorporate all of the above demands but may well honor some of them.
Both the Egyptians and the US are pressuring Netanyahu to join the talks. The very excessive nature of the Arab demands surely will stiffen his back. It is terribly important that the terrorists in Gaza not be rewarded for agreeing to stop launching rockets at us, and that he hold to his position that Hamas cannot be trusted to honor commitments.
It may be that something is transpiring behind the scenes that we are unaware of. Our prime minister, who is under breathtaking pressure in this situation, may know what he is doing. Who knows what “other options” he is weighing.
But I write today with an enormous sense of unease. We cannot permit this to end badly for Israel. And I am hardly the only one who would like to see a definitive victory.
That Hamas is still launching rockets at us means they are not yet on their knees. Their leaders are still hiding out – whether in Qatar or in tunnels under Gaza City. As long as the heads of some of them have not been separated from their shoulders, they will emerge from their tunnels with intent of rebuilding.
The risks of a reinvigorated Hamas, which manages to secure even better weapons for next time – perhaps because demilitarization has not been genuinely enforced, not genuinely embraced by the international community – do not bear thinking about.
My friends, this is an existential issue for us. We cannot allow ourselves to be defeated by the likes of that Palestinian Arab mother who loves death.
We here in Israel are all moving about with heavy hearts. None of this is simple for us.
Second Lt. Hadar Goldin was buried today. It was announced earlier in the day that he had been declared dead, and his status was no long that of MIA – i.e., kidnapped. I wish to touch upon this only very lightly, for it is difficult and unpleasant. Let me simply report that it was not a question of “finding” the body. The determination of death was made via a pathologist’s report in conjunction with a rabbinical ruling on halachha. I am convinced that Hamas had him.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.