Tag Archives: israel

Geoffrey Wale: Palestine Arabs must reject fundamentalism

The conflict between Hamas and Israel rages on and both sides are suffering losses. Families in Gaza and Israel are left in mourning. The fighting goes on with no end in sight. The yearning for statehood is at the root of this conflict. Palestinian Arabs remain stateless, trapped in Gaza and under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Is the use of terrorism justifiable in the drive for Palestinian statehood? In my opinion, the willful destruction of life and property to advance any cause is never justified. However, in the history of the conflict over Palestine, Zionists resorted to terror in advancing their drive for the foundation of Israel. Let me be clear, I am not equivocating Hamas with Zionist organizations such as Irgun.

Irgun was a splinter group from the Haganah–a militia founded in 1920 to defend Jewish immigrants in Palestine–dedicated to armed struggle for the foundation of a Jewish state, maintaining “only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state.” Irgun waged a campaign against British rule in Palestine in an effort to drive the British out. There were attacks on the British Army, sabotage of infrastructure, bombings of British embassies abroad and smuggling of Jewish refugees to Palestine. Irgun was designated a terrorist organization by the British, and captured Irgun fighters were imprisoned and in some cases hanged. In the end, Irgun prevailed: Israel was founded on May 14, 1948.

However, Israel is a modern, secular nation, a parliamentary democracy and signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which crucially, ensures religious liberty is guaranteed in Israeli law.

In contrast, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its goal is the restoration of the caliphate with the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine. The basis of the Hamas Charter is Sunni Islam and Salafism. The Hamas Charter reiterates the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief.” This is nothing more than a deadly pipe dream. If there is any hope for the foundation of a Palestinian state in the region to coexist with Israel, the Palestinian leadership must reject religious extremism, particularly the internecine fighting between the Sunni and Shia denominations in Islam. It must also reject terrorism as this only ensures fighting will continue with no end in sight.

The Hustings

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Karsten Erzinger: Where is America?

As I continue to read about the various crises that have recently erupted around the world, two questions keep popping into my head: “Where is the United States? What will their response be?” The answers to those questions seem to be “nowhereandnothing.” While Barack Obama has gone to great lengths to soften America’s foreign policy since becoming President, Obama’s response to recent events have taken this approach to a new extreme. This does not bode well for American allies and for the international community at large. Power abhors a vacuum and if the United States continues to remove itself from international conflicts and shrink its influence around the world, the vacuum left will likely be filled by unfriendly regimes and other bad actors.

Surveying the current landscape it’s not hard to see that the bad actors of the world have become emboldened. The examples are numerous; the Ukraine-Russia conflict, where Russian-backed rebels seem to have shot down a passenger plane, ISIS in Iraq, Israel-Hamas conflict, Iran steadily progressing towards a nuclear bomb, the endless killings in Syria, Boko-Haram, the turmoil in Libya – the list goes on. The United States, under President Obama’s leadership, has been content to outsource and minimize their role in these conflicts by “leading from behind”, calling on vague “international responses”, using “hashtag diplomacy,” or by flat out ignoring the problems. Most recently, American efforts to intervene in the Hamas-Israel crisis has been so ineffective that even liberal-leaning media outlets are mocking the efforts.

As shocking as some of these events have been, they are likely to become the new normal if the United States continues its passive and reluctant approach to foreign affairs. Everyone knows the US wields a large stick, but if they are unwilling to even threaten the use of it, it serves no purpose. The world’s problems cannot be solved solely by economic sanctions or by carefully worded statements delivered via a teleprompter, despite what the President seems to think. The continued reluctance of the United States to engage in a serious manner on these issues presents major problems for those reliant upon them for protection and support.

President Obama’s foreign policy approach has largely failed. He has alienated allies, emboldened enemies and lessened America’s power and influence throughout the world. One can only hope that President Obama has ability to recognize this and implement some badly needed course correction.

The Hustings

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Jackson Doughart: What’s different about this Gaza war?

From the beginning, there seemed to be something different about the present war between Israel and Hamas, at least in comparison to Israel’s response to Hamas rocket fire every couple of years in “mini wars”. The “backstory” of alleged ethnic killings and revenge killings, the length of the conflict, the changed landscape of the Middle East (including for Hamas a more hostile Egyptian regime than it found under President Morsi), and of course the eventual ground campaign by Israel are all factors in this sea change.

But what may in time emerge as a great consequence to the Middle East conflict in general is twofold. First, the nature of the international response—to say nothing of the local reaction from Arabs in the West Bank and within Israel proper—has blurred the distinction between anti-Semitism and “anti-Zionism”, the latter of which has long presented itself as a principled opposition to Israeli policy on the ground of alleged colonialism and apartheid. But the character of demonstrations over the past couple of weeks, including in such cities as Chicago, London, and Paris, have shown the two to be increasingly indistinguishable, with accusations of “human rights abuse” going hand in hand with the blockading of a Paris synagogue, ostentatious anti-Semitic caricatures, and Holocaust-praising chants. (One echoes Douglas Murray from Britain’s Spectator in noting that the thousands of European Muslims taking to the streets in rage over Gaza stayed home through the continuing carnage of the Syrian civil war and the present calamity in Iraq, suggesting that the taking of Muslim life is unimportant to them unless the enemy party is Jewish.)

Second, the willingness of liberal Jewish commentators to defend ideological co-thinkers who sympathize with Hamas seems to be diminishing. One of many examples is this article from the Forward by progressive writer Tova Ross, who describes how the present events have disabused her of the naïve pseudo-even-handedness which once animated her view of the conflict. She has been persuaded that her hawkish father was right all along.

Now there are surely gradations to this phenomenon and many a hold out, but it’s worth noting that the anti-Israel crowd’s desired legitimacy has long been aided by people such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finklestein—leftist Jews who advance the rhetoric of apartheid and delegitimation. So if more progressives feel conflicted by lambasting Israel alongside the sordid types who praise Hamas, it must be good for Israel in the long run.

The Hustings

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Barbara Kay: A Macleans columnist’s selective nausea trigger

Emma Teitel, a columnist of progressive views for Macleans magazine, recently walked into a north Toronto camping stores serving a largely Jewish clientele. There she saw something “that made my stomach turn.”

Pundit stomachs don’t “turn” lightly, so I braced myself for the answer. Was it a big, slimy rat poking its head out of a sleeping bag? A drug addict shooting up in a pup tent?

The answer (put off for 10 suspenseful lines) was quite a letdown: there on a table “piled high with T-shirts…sitting neatly right beside stacks of Batman and Superman shirts, a pile of forest-green tees bearing the bright yellow lego of the Israel Defence Forces (my emphasis).

Teitel then informs us she was so agitated at the very idea that “war” and “fashion” and “superhero movies” could be conflated that she took a photo of the offending T-shirts, intending to “share” them via a disapproving hashtag (#Jewsishdiasporafail strikes her as a possibility). Then she realizes this could be something anti-Semites might seize on (ya think??), and resists the temptation.

Good call, Emma!!

But let’s backtrack a bit here. The IDF is a democratic nation’s legitimate military branch. Its mandate is to defend Israel. What’s with the stomach-turning over Jewish kids declaring pride in the armed forces of a nation to which one is historically, culturally and emotionally attached?

Let me guess. Because the IDF, in the course of defending Israel from a barbarian, exterminationist gang of terrorists bent on murdering as many civilian Jews as possible, has ended up killing Gazan civilians whom they warned to evacuate buildings but who refused (or Hamas did not permit) to leave?

Teitel has fallen into the victim-numbers trap: she’s rewarding Hamas with the moral high ground because Israel actually protects its citizenry. More than any other military, the IDF routinely risks – and loses – lives to minimize civilian loss of life. To Israeli children huddled in shelters, and to Diaspora kids who feel their fear, the IDF is indeed as heroic as Superman. They merit proud sartorial lamination.

Know what turns my stomach? Impossibly high standards for Jews alone. I’ve probably seen a thousand T-shirts bearing the iconic likeness of bloodthirsty massacrist Che Guevara gazing romantically into the future. Now those are tees deserving of condemnation. But so far I’ve never read of a progressive writer, certainly not Emma Teitel, even burping at the sight of them. Check your #Jewishself-righteousness.

The Hustings

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Tom Stringham: Endless war in Palestine

A barrage of Israeli missiles in Gaza has cast the light of our attention once again on the scene of endless carnage in the Middle East. Once again, Hamas has smuggled rockets into Gaza and launched them at Israeli cities, stirring a response by the Israeli Air Force. Once again, a lasting peace appears impossible.

Westerners are troubled by the tangible animosity between the Jewish state and many of its Arab neighbors, and by the strange asymmetry of the ongoing conflict. Israel has the power to destroy Hamas, but not the will, while Hamas has the will but not the means to destroy Israel. The asymmetry of animus gives Hamas the ability to start conflicts, much to our regret, while the lopsidedness of power allows Israel to end them, to our general disapproval.

Hamas understands the strategy of Israel and its allies reasonably well. Its leaders know that Israel will not utterly wipe the regime out of power or attempt a brazen occupation of Gaza in the near future, if for no other reason than that liberal democratic Israel depends too much on the support of public opinion, both within and without the Jewish state.

Gazan rockets will awaken exactly the response from the Israelis Hamas intends them to awaken: hundreds of civilian casualties in Gaza, which will understandably stir the sympathies of the international public. These sympathies are Hamas’ best chance of meaningfully weakening Israel.

But while Hamas has a cynical perceptiveness of Israel and the West, the West generally does not understand Hamas, in the way that civilization often misreads sophisticated barbarity. The material goals of liberal democratic polities—peace, order, good government, and so on—are not ends for Hamas, and they may not even be means. The end, as always, is immaterial and beyond this world. For the Islamist, the existence and stunning success of a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world is not just humiliating but theologically disturbing. The salvation of the region’s Muslims is in the destruction of that state.

This is why the regime would not be appeased even if Israel emptied its national treasury for the Arabs, or handed over half its land, and why negotiations will continue failing in the coming decades. The only scenarios involving eventual peace are all stark: either the destruction of Israel, the destruction of Arab Gaza (and likely the West Bank), or an incalculably costly worldwide reformation of Islam.

The Hustings

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