Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Operation Cast Lead Myth-buster (continued)

Claim #5: Israel must release control / return all areas it conquered to their respectful owner(s)

Hmmmm... Lets see:

The Gaza Strip has been conquered from Egypt during the 1967 war; that war, like all Israeli-Arab wars, has not been initiated by Israel (the 1967 war has been initiated by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon).

Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1978, and all territorial disputes have been resolved and signed-upon.

The West Bank has been conquered from Jordan during that same war. Jordan and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1994; all territorial disputes between the two countries have been resolved and signed-upon, as well.

So... who should Israel return these areas to?

Plus, if we're at it, then perhaps we should promote the idea of all Canadians and Americans moving back to their countries of origin and hand North America back to the Native Americans.

Claim #6: Israel's goal is to take over as much territory as it can

By the same logic presented for claim #1 in one of the previous posts, again, if this is the case, then Israel is doing a terrible job at it. Lets just assume for a second that the rumours about Israel's nuclear weaponry are correct; and that the United States will back Israel in all of its military endeavours; how come, then, that Israel hasn't taken over the world yet?

Israel's area is 22,072 square kilometers, with a population of over 7.2 million. To put it in perspective:

  • Canada's area is approximately 10,000,000 square kilometers, more than 450 times the size of Israel;
  • Lake Erie, bordered by Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New-York, is larger in area than the state of Israel (25,000 square kilometers);
  • The total land mass of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia - all are countries from which the Palestinian people arrived in the first place - is just under 3,800,000 square kilometers - more than 170 times the size of Israel.

Again, this is claim that doesn't align well with reality.

Claim #7: The current war in Gaza is the indirect result of a territorial dispute that can be resolved by Israel returning territory to Egypt / Gaza / Hamas etc

In the year 2000, Ehud Barak - then prime minister, now minister of defence - has offered Yasser Arafat, then the chairman of the Palestinian Authority - more than 97% of the territory that was conquered in 1967. Instead of accepting this and signing a peace agreement, Yasser Arafat chose to initiate yet another uprising, which has been going on to these days.

Territorial dispute? I'm sorry, not buying it. Cultural difference - sounds more like it.




Sunday, January 11, 2009

Operation Cast Lead (continued)

I was just going to enjoy an hour or so of guitar playing, when I was asked by a friend of mine for my opinion about Operation Cast Lead (better known as "The War That's Going On Now In Gaza"), for an essay she is preparing. As she happens to be a 4th (or is it 3rd already?) Kyu Aikidoka, and has knocked me down to the mat more times than I can actually remember, I decided to help out.

My support for the operation stems from the following principles:

  1. Every country has the right to live in peace;
  2. It is the first and foremost duty of all governments to do whatever is in its power to protect the lives of their citizens;
  3. There is absolutely no justification for terror of any kind;
  4. It is immoral to negotiate with terrorists.

Applying these principles to the current conflict:

  1. Israel has the right to exist and live in peace, without rockets being fired on it on a daily basis;
  2. The innocent Palestinian people have the right to live in peace, without having Hamas militants hiding weapons in schools, hospitals and apartment buildings occupied by innocent civilians;
  3. The most important duty of the Israeli government is to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens, by all means necessary - including an act of war if absolutely necessary;
  4. The Hamas party, which rules the Gaza Strip, does not have the benefit of its citizens in mind. Had the benefit of its citizens been at the top of its agenda, it would use the enormous amounts of monies it received during the years for the purpose of developing the Gaza Strip, rather than purchasing weapons and firing them into Israeli territory;
  5. I fail to recall the last occurrence of Israelis terrorize Palestinian civilians;
  6. Hamas is, by definition of almost the entire world, a terrorist organization; its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. This is not an opinion - it is a fact;
  7. Hamas has been firing rockets into Israeli territory for the last eight (yes, eight) years. These rockets did not target any military establishment; they targeted, and sometimes hit, civilians.

Since the operation started, I have read hundreds of articles, comments and opinions about it. However, all such opinions and comments against the operation have the following characteristics in common:

  1. Failure to understand the mere fact that, all Hamas has to do in order to stop this operation, is to simply stop firing rockets. Israel has pledged that the attack will stop as soon as Hamas denounces terrorism and stops firing rockets. If the benefit of the Palestinian people is at the top of Hamas' agenda, how come rockets keep being fired?
  2. Failure to suggest an alternative way for Israel to stop the firing of rockets. The reason for this failure is obvious: there is no alternative, at least not one that Israel hasn't tried before.
  3. Failure to explain the logic in fighting a so-called "occupation" that does not exist anymore (Israel pulled out of Gaza in the summer of 2005).
  4. Failure to explain the reasoning behind Hamas' decision to engage in a war that there is no way for it to win (I would say that firing rockets into the heart of Israel is an act of waging war; then again, it may just be me).
  5. Failure to acknowledge the fact that Hamas militants use civilians as human shields, including women and children. This does not necessarily mean that they physically grab women and children and hold them against their bodies; it means firing rockets from within apartment buildings, restaurants and schools.
  6. Failure to explain how come there still are people living in Gaza, if Israel has indeed decided to destroy the Palestinian population there (Israel's military power is immense).
  7. Failure to acknowledge the fact that Hamas has declined negotiations for truce.

Denouncing war and terrorism is a very easy thing to do (especially when you live in a far-off land and when rockets are not being fired at you on a daily basis); suggesting viable alternatives appears to be much trickier.

Israel has tried everything it could have tried before engaging the military. There is no other country the world that would ever put up with rockets being fired into it for eight years straight. Not Norway, not Canada, not Spain, not France.

An inconvenient truth of any conflict is that, in war, innocent people die. No matter how hard you try to avoid it. Nobody has yet to invent the bullet, rocket or missile that will disengage itself if it was accidentally fired towards a civilian. It is sad, it is inconvenient - but it is true. The difference between responsible governments and irresponsible ones is, that responsible governments know it and resort to war only if all other options run out - while irresponsible governments (or terrorist organizations holding millions of people hostage) do not know it (or know and do not care).

Another inconvenient truth in this conflict is, that there was only one reason why Hamas fired rockets into Israel, and it is identical to the reasoning that Hezbollah had when it waged war on Israel in the summer of 2006; it strongly believed that Israel will not retaliate in such aggressiveness. How Ironic: almost the entire world blames Israel for aggressiveness, while Hamas was abusing Israel's softness and humanitarianism by firing rockets into it, as if to make some sort of point.

War, however, never lasts forever. It will have to end at some point - and the sooner, the better. That said, ending the operation before achieving its objectives is against the best interest of not just the Israelis, but of the Palestinians (that is, the innocent amongst them, which are the vast majority) as well. The reasoning:

  1. Israel failing to achieve its objectives implies that Hamas continues to fire rockets;
  2. Hamas firing rockets will cause yet another tension in Israel, leading the citizens to pressure the government for more military action;
  3. At some point, military power will have to be exercised again, with more innocent civilians killed on both sides.

As much as I despise politics in general and Israeli politics in particular, I truly believe that the government of Israel really had no other choice but to invoke military power against Hamas. I feel terrible when innocent people die, especially due to the stupidity of their government. The Palestinian people deserve better than Hamas.

Lets just all hope that this is all over soon.