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Israel's Left forgot what dissent really means

Dissent means going against the majority when you believe the majority is wrong — and not just to be contrary. That means being unpopular almost by definition; the majority will never send us flowers.

My colleague Mairav Zonszein has written an eloquent piece in The New York Times decrying the state of dissent in Israel, lamenting the persecutions and constraints on those who criticized the latest Gaza war from the left. She points to a number of disgraceful examples.

The article has generated debate, as observed here. However, much of it breaks down along disappointingly predictable lines: those further to the right, such as Tablet Magazine, attack her observations; those on the far left, like Mondoweiss, defend her. The Right rolls out the knee-jerk defense of everything Israeli: lumping the falsehood of the accusation that Israel stifles dissent right along with the falsehood of any culpability for Israel in the conflict at all.

The Left jumps to affirm any critique of Israel, as packaging all criticism together will serve the mission of proving Israel’s culpability in the conflict.

But freedom of expression is a separate issue, and Israelis should analyze it substantively, not as an automatic extension of their “left” or “right”-ness.

Read Mairav’s response to the criticism

No, Israel is not China, not Iran, and not even Azerbaijan. But the Right should take no comfort in that; the Right must not use such unsavory comparisons to justify or trivialize those terrible things that did happen.

But I think some on the Left have mis-characterized these real issues in a distracting way. If Israel was a society that completely controlled or stifled expression, censoring or shutting down websites, closing newspapers or arresting journalists, it would crush both criticism of and information about the conflict. There might be no protest against Israeli policy at all. Although existing criticism has not ended the occupation so far – at least we know that there is a vocal, organized and articulate community of Israelis searching for ways to change course.

Thus a left winger like Noah Efron, looking at it from a very sober perspective, pointed out in Haaretz that Israel is clearly not smothering dissent in ways described above.

Jumping to the convenient accusation that Israel as a state conspires to silence dissent, Efron argues in a point I take to heart, ignores the...

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All Israelis are implicated in the occupation

Rather than an army secret, the systems supporting the occupation include such normal institutions as taxation, infrastructure projects, the education system and, of course, army service.

The debate over refuseniks from IDF intelligence unit 8200 unleashed acrimonious debates all week. While I have already observed some of them, here are a few more that stand out.

Carolina Landsmann has one of the most powerful opinion pieces I’ve read in a long time, in Haaretz. It may yet appear in English, but for now the excerpts here are my translation. Like one former member of Unit 8200 who spoke to me, Landsmann says their act of refusal is a statement that intelligence work and the system of occupation are directly linked, cutting into the belief that only those who hold the guns are responsible.

She then takes this insight to its next logical step. In blunt language, she writes that the refuseniks point to a perspective built into Israeli thinking that is

All of Israeli society, writes Landsmann, supports this system. I find this one of the most essential and accurate observations of Israeli reality that is rarely understood.

Rather than an army secret, the systems supporting the occupation include such normal institutions as taxation, infrastructure projects, the education system and, of course, army service. She concludes with disturbing clarity, “No one can say ‘I have no part in it.’”

I don’t believe Landsmann means that all Israelis are evil, and I reject that idea myself. But the fact that all social and political structures of society support the occupation is true and must be internalized. Not in order to blame individuals; to help them know that stopping this means identifying their personal contribution, through whichever social system they belong, and changing it. The refusal letter, she hopes, may be the first steps of this profound mental shift.

Ironically, the far right has said this repeatedly. They argue that settlers are unfairly demonized, when in fact all of Israel, people and government alike, supports settlements.

Once, at a Nakba commemoration event at Tel Aviv University, I spotted far-right Hebron settler leader Baruch Marzel wearing a T-shirt reading “Solidarity: Sheikh Munis,” the original Arabic name of the Palestinian village where the university now stands. For a fleeting instant I wondered if the world had turned upside down. But simultaneously I knew it was mockery, an extension of the...

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Refusal by elite IDF reservists angrily dismissed as 'political'

Following the public refusal of 43 reservists of the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit, politicians and other veterans of the unit have openly denounced the reservists, viewing their refusal as an unacceptable politicization of their army service.

Political leaders both from the government and the opposition condemned 43 reservists from Israel’s prestigious 8200 intelligence unit who stated their refusal to take part in intelligence-gathering activities that, they claim, deepen Israel’s military rule over Palestinians. Unlike the issue of refusal during Protective Edge, which was hardly noticed or covered during the war, the 8200 letter grabbed headlines over the weekend, appeared on most major news Internet sites, and was one of the lead stories in television news.

Prime Minister Netanyahu encouraged the unit to continue its important work for the security of Israeli citizens. Haaretz reports that Defense Minister Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon called the letter “an attempt to harm the unit and its activities.” He said the move was a deplorable attempt to assist the “campaign of delegitimization” against Israel and the IDF.

Yariv Levin, the Likud chairman of the governing coalition, repeated a common accusation from the Right equating opposition to the occupation with support for terrorism. In a comment likely to elicit guffaws from Palestinians living under Israeli military rule, Levin, a veteran of unit 8200, told Maariv, “One who refuses to assist in guarding his country crosses the border between those who support Israeli democracy and the freedom it represents, to the terror-supporting Palestinian side, and attacks the innocent citizens of Israel.”

However, the members of the opposition and people associated with the mainstream Left also clamored to decry the reservists’ refusal.

Both the current leader of the opposition Yitzhak (Bougie) Herzog, also a 8200 veteran, and the former head of the Labor Party Shelly Yachimovich condemned the letter at length.

Herzog stated that he opposes refusal, and said that the citizens of Israel would pay a price for such calls. But Yachimovich went further, lashing out first of all at the signatories themselves. On her Facebook page she essentially argued that they were arrogant for writing as if they are superior in Israeli society based on the prestige of the unit. Noting that they gain invaluable skills and enjoy shining career possibilities, they ought to be grateful rather than critical, she wrote.

Yachimovich did not seem to consider that the reservists might have felt a responsibility precisely...

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IDF's 'start-up nation' reservists refuse to serve the occupation

One of the most striking points in the unprecedented refusal letter is the forceful argument that Israel’s policies vis-a-vis Palestinians are simply unrelated to defense –and they are a matter of choice.

Forty-three members of the IDF’s prestigious and secretive Unit 8200 have signed a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating their refusal to serve in reserve duty related to military governance over Palestinians. The document, made available by Ynet, expresses their opposition in blunt language (my translation):

8200 is practically a legendary unit within the intelligence corps of the army. It is responsible for both internal and foreign signals intelligence-gathering, alongside the Mossad and Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. A large unit with various subdivisions, some members are known for their Arabic language skills, used to monitor life and media in the Arab and Palestinian world. Perhaps its strongest reputation is as Israel’s high-tech incubator, developing the cutting edge technology related to communications, focused on hacking, and encrypting, decoding and transmitting information.

As civilians, its highly educated and largely Ashkenazi graduates, particularly the men, have often leveraged their skills in Israel’s high-tech industry and are commonly thought of as the sparky, plucky drivers of the “start-up nation.”

+972 Magazine’s Haggai Matar, writing in Hebrew on Local Call and citing a Yedioth Ahronoth article, described the incidents that the reservists concluded were unjustified (all excerpts my translation):

Haggai interviewed Daniel, one of the reservists who initiated the letter about one year ago – long before Protective Edge.

Daniel also stressed to Haggai that these incidents are not aberrations:

Collective refusal in this elite unit is unprecedented. Haggai notes that the last group refusal from any unit was a decade ago.

A former member of the unit who agreed to speak with +972 Magazine anonymously, although she was not a signatory (nor was she approached), felt that the move was significant in several ways.

On an operational level, she explained, the skills that 8200 members possess are not easily replaced. A reservist who refuses duty can’t be replaced as easily as a combat soldier.

She also saw it as a statement that intelligence – specifically human intelligence which is one of the unit’s major tasks – is equally responsibility for the situation on the ground. “Maybe in the past they thought, if we were combat soldiers, we would be refusing. But now they realize there’s...

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One or two states, Israelis and Palestinians are bound together

Whether the conflict here is resolved through one, two, three or ten states, Israel will still never be homogenous. Ethnic homogeneity is a nasty and dangerous sham.

As the referendum over the future of Scotland approaches, poll numbers for the “YES” (pro-independence) have suddenly spiked. Many Brits are now panicking that Scots may really decide they are not “Better Together,” as the cheerful “NO” (or polite, “No, thanks”) campaign has tried to portray.

I am reminded of the ubiquitous OXI (NO) posters that blanketed the Greek side of Cyprus prior to the ill-fated 2004 referendum to reunite the island. Although the Annan Plan envisioned two largely separate communities under the principles of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, they would have been more united than before. But three-quarters of Greek Cypriots rejected the plan. Many were simply not convinced they were ready to live (more) together – even in a limited way.

Last week I attended a workshop about the two-decade-long unresolved conflict between  Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno-Karabakh. The predominant working assumption among some participants – self-defined as advocates of a peaceful solution – was that the sides should seek the greatest possible separation, as living together is bound to cause trouble.

The conviction that separation is more natural for different groups in society runs down to the level of individuals in daily life. Can police be trusted to protect the “other”? Serbs in northern Kosovo think not and the people of Ferguson, Missouri are sure they cannot. Is it okay for people to marry the “other”? Many Israelis and Palestinians say no, and some Israelis even won the right in court to protest such a wedding recently.

Lately I find myself asking, who in the world is this mythical ‘other’? After years of engagement with dialogue and co-existence programs, this summer I suddenly couldn’t tolerate the word “other” at all. Each initiative means well, but they feel so artificial – usually I don’t have many disagreements with the participants. Often, I know them all, sometimes for years. Lightning bolt: they aren’t the other!

Is the “other” my friends in Gaza, who like me, wish to live openly and freely, in peace and constructive, creative human endeavor? Is my “self,” my “in-group” my national representative Moshe Feiglin, who wishes for ethnic cleansing; my foreign minister who calls to boycott Arab shops in Israel? Is the “self” my...

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A Palestinian ultimatum to end occupation?

In a diplomatic surprise, the Palestinians have threatened to turn to the International Criminal Court if no date is set for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders – a move that +972 writers predicted more than a year ago.

The PLO will demand that the UN Security Council announce a deadline for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, to the 1967 ceasefire lines, reported Haaretz today. Ma’an News Agency writes that Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah figure and veteran negotiator, has said the bid will be submitted on September 15, 2014. If it is not accepted, he told Ma’an that the PLO will continue with long-rumored plans to pursue accession to the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute), so that it can bring claims against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

With every other attempt to shake off Israel’s military rule proving futile, the idea of a simple ultimatum for withdrawal – with or without an agreement – ought not to come as a surprise. In fact, Noam Sheizaf and I not only predicted it, we advocated it over a year ago.

The move marks the third time in four years that the Palestinians have undertaken a major diplomatic effort for statehood in the 1967 territory. In 2011 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for UN membership, and submitted a bid to the General Assembly, but a vote was never held due to the certainty of a Security Council veto. In late 2012 a vote was finally held in the General Assembly. It passed, granting Palestine the status of non-member observer state in the UN, but made little difference on the ground.

Two further diplomatic attempts to achieve statehood and recognition happened before and after those: In 1988 the PLO first declared its independence along the 1967 ceasefire lines. That marked a major shift away from Fatah rhetoric, which up to then called for a single state from the river to the sea. Most recently, as the Kerry-led negotiations were falling apart, Abbas advanced applications and acceded to a number of international treaties and organizations to make statehood more meaningful on the international level.

The current move is, therefore, an extension of decades of Palestinian diplomatic action to end Israeli military rule. It may be partly designed to remind the world...

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As violence rises, Muslim moderates must do more

My colleagues at ‘Let Us Build Pakistan’ and I have discovered various overlapping interests on certain issues and we occasionally cross-post material that we think our audiences would find relevant. Here is one such article I found interesting.

Against the background of a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East, a Muslim writer calls for introspection.

By Asif Zaidi

The following book review in The Telegraph addresses two recently published books mainly defending British Muslims. A friend sent me the article, hoping that it will help me “see the light.” But I believe the review downplays some significant problems.

[A book by Arun Kundnani ] dispels myths, pointing out that “there is no Islamic doctrine of ‘kill the unbelievers’ as anti-Islam propagandists often maintain. Islam, like other religions, provides a broad moral framework for thinking about questions of violence.” Again and again this book challenges your assumptions. It is worth reading for its examination of the word “extremism” alone. Martin Luther King, Kundnani points out, was denounced in this way.

Bowen’s book is at bottom gentle and optimistic. She suggests that over time there is no fundamental contradiction between Islam and the modern Western state…”

In fact, most members of most religious communities in Britain are patriotic and law-abiding but it is only Muslims who require constant reassurances like those in the review above. Why? The answer is simple: because most radicals have been Muslims and people like Anjem Choudary get their mug all over the television. To me, rather than constantly looking for reassurances, Muslims in Britain should be arguing against the likes of Choudary and protesting against incendiary pronouncements and actions. It is normal that in the absence of such posturing, suspicion grows. Not all Catholic priests are pedophiles. But hasn’t the fact that many cardinals turned a blind eye to those who are has drawn more opprobrium than the pedophiles themselves?

The silence or acquiescence of the so-called Muslim ‘moderate’ majority reinforces the perception of Muslims as a group of people who cannot, or will not, control their extremist fringes. I think this is an accurate reflection of the reality and see no problem with it. To claim that not all Muslims are terrorists, jihadists, or extremists sounds hollow. Not all men are misogynists or violent towards women, either, but we incessantly reiterate that men have a duty to stand up to...

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Wedding crashers: Do anti-miscegenation protesters hate or love Judaism?

With chants of “Death to Arabs” and “Mohammed is dead” in the background, the 30-something couple spoke earnestly, their faces worried. “As far as I’m concerned,” said the woman, an economist who didn’t want to be named, “I came to a funeral. The father is in mourning. I’m here to support the family in their pain with our presence.”

They have come to a grimy parking lot outside a tacky mall in Rishon LeZion, deep in the center of Israel, to protest the wedding of an Arab Muslim Israeli and an Israeli woman born Jewish, who converted to Islam. The wedding is in a hall about 200 meters away from the protest, as per a court order. About 200 protestors have gathered in the thick, hot air. The couple talking to me come from Rishon; they say they are secular.

The band of youth who have been chanting close by start jumping, in formation, screaming: “There are no classes in Gaza/because there are no kids in Gaza!” – referring to the hundreds of children killed by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge – and “Jews have souls; Arabs are sons of bitches!” The secular husband gestures towards them. “I don’t agree with that ‘death to Arab’ stuff. It’s too bad this has become a platform for extremism.” He bounces a giggling, pigtailed toddler. “We are here to give the bride’s family hope, to remind them: it’s reversible.”

The ingredients are all there for an explosion. Large placards with elaborate slogans, such as “what future can there be for someone who forgot her past?” are spread on the ground for participants who might want one. A 15-year old girl in a long skirt holds a huge canvas sign speaking of shame. The core of the protest is a group of wild-eyed teenage boys, dotted with far-right stalwarts such as former MK Michael Ben Ari and Kahanist Hebron settler Baruch Marzel. A left-wing counter-protest in support of the wedding is taking place across the way; one of them murmurs that the anti-wedding group is from La Familia, the thuggish sports fans widely thought to have been behind the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, in July.

Many of the protestors are wrapped in Israeli flags, draped over black T-shirts of “Lehava: The Jewish honor guard.” Lehava is a self-anointed “anti-assimilation” movement. The previous week, the group posted Mahmoud...

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IDF reservist sentenced to military prison for refusing draft

Update: The reservist has since decided to expose his identity. He is Gilad Halpern; the name has been updated here.

An IDF reservist was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport Wednesday upon returning to Israel after fleeing call-up orders to serve in Operation Protective Edge. He was later sentenced to 21 days in military prison.

Gilad Halpern, one of three reservists who spoke to +972 Magazine recently for an article about refusal (before he left the country), spent 15 days abroad following a military order to appear for active duty. When he received the order, just as the ground operation was starting, he communicated with his superiors for several days about his intention to refuse on ideological grounds. But the army insisted he report to his unit, and finally told him he must appear within the hour. Instead, he left the country. An IDF representative came to his house just after he had left the country.

Gilad stayed with friends in the Netherlands, then traveled to France where his family, including his wife and two-year old son, met him. When he returned on Wednesday he was stopped at passport control. Along with the border guards who actually arrested him was a “deserter catcher” – a permanent role within the IDF. It was the same person who had come to his apartment the day he had left.

Because Gilad had communicated his intention to refuse by fax rather than reporting to his unit in person, and then left the country, he was considered AWOL rather than a soldier refusing an order. Gilad says he didn’t realize that the means of communication mattered, and he now believes that had he formally reported and then declared his ideological refusal, the army would have been less likely to give him a severe punishment. He is not an officer, and the IDF might prefer to avoid publicity about incidents of refusal, especially from those in the lower ranks.

From the airport Gilad’s guards took him to a military base in the south. The officers considered transferring his case to a military tribunal, but in the end he was tried the following day by a colonel. Gilad explained that a brief length of desertion warrants a less formal military procedure. Longtime deserters – upwards of a few months – face a full military court proceeding, with an indictment and harsher penalties.

Gilad was sentenced to 21...

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Who are the Israelis refusing the call of Protective Edge?

On Saturday evening, another anti-war demonstration was held in Tel Aviv. A few hundred people marched and chanted and hoped that rumors of a drawdown were true.

With minimal numbers and attention, the demonstrations have had little impact. But there doesn’t seem much else that those opposed to the war can do.

Soldiers and reservists have another option: civil disobedience, refusal to participate.

It is a huge taboo. The idea of avoiding IDF service in a society whose mythical founding narrative is about protection from existential destruction is anathema even in normal times.

To refuse a draft order in wartime is practically incendiary. When I posted a status asking for contacts to refuseniks, a friend shot back “Why would anyone refuse?”

Refusal then and now

Back in 2005, when some soldiers refused service in order to avoid evacuating settlements from Gaza, I thought about when refusal is seen as legitimate.

I revisited those words now, to assess the thoughts of few individuals who refused to participate in Protective Edge. They asked that details about them be kept vague as a condition for being interviewed. Their names have been changed here.

‘You can’t change things from the inside’

Tamir is a 28-year old who served in a combat unit and as a reserve soldier. He fought in the previous Gaza war, Pillar of Defense, in 2012. But his doubts began already during his regular service. “I wasn’t politically active before being drafted. I thought the occupation wasn’t good, but I thought we had to control the Palestinians so they wouldn’t blow up buses. The army caused me to become political, when I was confronted by the occupation in the West Bank, and also when I served in Gaza and saw what happened there.

He thought that it was important to do reserve duty in order to change things from the inside. But “Little by little I realized it doesn’t matter. You can’t change things from inside, only from the outside, by voting or demonstrations. And then I realized that that doesn’t work either.”

By Pillar of Defense, he confronted a growing gap between the portrayal of army missions versus reality. “What was being described in media was not reflective of reality. What is a  ‘legitimate Hamas target?’ It can be anything that the IDF decides to blow up: a house, an orchard, a junction. They say,...

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Who are the Israelis fighting this war?

This is Israel. These are the people I live with – children who become soldiers, and adults who have been soldiers. I want to see what became of those children, and what happened to make the adults around me who they are. This is a snapshot.


An improvised IDF camp in southern Israel. I drive down to visit my cousin, taking his girlfriend with me, who has come by bus from Jerusalem so I can give her a lift from Tel Aviv. It is 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit), hotter in the dusty, beating sun of the south, even at 5:30 p.m.

The camp has the atmosphere of parents’ day at summer camp, or a Scouts retreat. There are clusters of people camped out under scraggly trees and mesh-net green tarps. Soldiers are directing cars of visitors to parking areas linked to each battalion.

Girlfriends kiss boyfriends at length, parents look on adoringly. Ecstatic followers of Rabbi Nachman of Uman park a van blaring techno music, their wild-eyed missionaries shove boxes of popsicles at passing cars, offering them for free. One of them walks among the groups of soldiers in flowing robes, blowing a long, winding shofar.

We ask a few soldiers if anyone knows my cousin, C.

“Which C?” says one.

“The American,” I say.

“That one! Sort of blond, always cheerful? Red cheeks?”

“That’s him.”

“His group is over there.” He points to a clearing with more trees, tarps and clusters of green bodies lying around on black yoga mats.

We pick our way through sleeping soldiers, lounging soldiers, boxes of half-eaten pizza. It could be the morning after a frat party except there are too many parents and no alcohol – one soldier triumphantly pulls an energy drink from a backpack and dangles it in front of the others. The rest are lying among heaps of packs and equipment, communication devices, guns, helmets, baggy helmet netting, boxes of canned food, food in boxes, whole fruit and fruit rinds. Garbage.

We find my cousin but he is in a briefing. We sit down to wait, and two soldiers gallantly offer us black foam yoga mats to sit on instead of the thorny, desert-dry grass and sand. One of them speaks to us carefully in English. I switch to Hebrew, but his Hebrew is not native either, and I ask where he is from. He comes from...

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Beyond protest: War and the Israeli Left

This article first appeared in Dissent Magazine.

Many Israelis who define themselves as “on the left” (about 20 percent of the population on a good day) support Operation Protective Edge. It’s a small and lonely subset that is both left wing and opposes the war. Over the last month, this little constituency has faithfully staged demonstrations of a few hundred—with last Saturday’s rally reaching somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000, by organizers’ estimates—and has written articles of protest. But the demonstrators tend to use such general slogans as “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” or “No, no, we won’t let fascism come to pass” (the latter chanted at right-wing counter-demonstrators). The anti-war left in Israel is clearly upset, but it has neither generated a coherent line of critique about the war nor formulated demands or proposals for alternate approaches other than calling for a ceasefire. Its influence, as a result, is severely limited.

There are three main reasons why it is so hard to create an effective opposition line, let alone gather supporters and momentum: the circumstances of this particular war (and the two previous rounds); the general climate of opinion in Israel; and the left’s own weaknesses, including baggage of the distant past.

First, the current circumstances make opposition very difficult, on the surface. Hamas is a miserable political regime that imposes religious fundamentalism on Gazans, stifles women, and kills collaborators. It has fired rockets at Israeli towns for over a decade and dragged Gaza into wars that were bound to kill its civilians. Not content with rockets, it has dug tunnels for terrorists targeting Israeli civilians. It is not hard to understand, in these conditions, the case for a forceful response on Israel’s part.

Unless, that is, one considers history before June 30, when the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teens were found. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already outraged by a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal made in late April that created an interim technocratic government without Hamas and called for Palestinian elections. That would have meant a more unified Palestine, something Netanyahu has worked hard to destroy. Using the abducted teens as a pretext, without providing evidence of Hamas’ involvement—an Israeli police spokesperson allegedly admitted this weekend that it wasn’t directly responsible—the prime minister ordered a sweeping West Bank operation against the organization, just as much a...

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How can you possibly oppose this war?

Someone asked me an innocent question: “What is the position of Israelis who are against the war?”

There are obvious answers.

First, this is a disproportionate war that harms huge numbers of civilians. The IDF is bombarding an area that it has already imprisoned by occupation from 1967, and then through suffocating border, movement, import and export control since 2007. Its residents have been stateless since 1948. It is attacking by air, land and sea, while Hamas attacks civilians in Israel through rockets and now through terrorist infiltration, at an increasingly frenzied pace.

Second, escalation breeds escalation. The south of Israel has not been at peace for a decade, but in this war, the whole country is under attack. And “Protective Edge” made things even worse for the south; all the Israel casualties so far – as of today two civilian deaths, numerous wounded (including children) and one soldier killed – have been in the south. “Code Red” warnings in Sderot all these years were awful, but death is worse. On a good day, there is suffering in Gaza; now the death and destruction there is indescribable.

Third, most of the stated goals of the war seem impossible to fulfill. Israeli Foreign Minister Liberman’s blustery call to take down Hamas is hot air, unless Israel wants to full-out occupy Gaza (it doesn’t) or watch even more extreme groups take over. Destroying the “infrastructure of terror” also falls apart upon close inspection, since, as I have heard some say, “you can’t kill an idea.” The stated goal of the ground operation is to destroy tunnels into Israel where terrorists have tried to infiltrate over the last few days (following the air war). I certainly support preventing terrorists from reaching Israel. But tunnels can be destroyed, as many of the Rafah ones were by Egypt late last year, without going to war.

Fourth, the political and social consequences of the war will be a disaster in the short, medium and long term. In the short term, Hamas could easily become stronger, having become the defiant face of military resistance against Israel as diplomacy crumbles.

In the medium term, the best hope for the two-state political resolution in years is dead: that was the Fatah-Hamas agreement, which removed Hamas from government and could have led to elections. Jerusalem Post writer Gil Hoffman, speaking at a Limmud...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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