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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

God Save Us From Armchair Generals

The normative Jewish blogosphere (if there is such a term as "normative" here) is filled with armchair generals demanding that not only Israel defend itself, not only should we wipe out Hamas, but no more and no less, Israel should retake and re-conquer Gaza.

I cannot think of a more idiotic, stupid and actually criminal demand these days than "to retake Gaza". I cannot even imagine the fools who make this demand. Do they have relatives or children who will spend their lives in such a venture? Do they understand the nature of war? Do they actually in all seriousness, think that "taking Gaza" with its populace will do anything but drain Israel of its manpower, finances and most importantly of its ethical and moral stance. The only thing they will accomplish is vengeance. The one thing that destroys the soul of man faster than acid, is hatred and vengeance.

Who in his right mind would want control over an enemy that has made the art of killing into an art form where Allah is the Commander in Chief? Who in his right mind would want to control and govern people who have no need, no desire, no affection for or to be governed by Israel? What sane human being would want their son policing the streets of Gaza?

Why is it that so many people confuse "defending oneself" with acts of aggression and stupidity? Why is it that so many people who have access to a keyboard and learned how to put up a blog, seem to think that it is all right and even justified to destroy, wipe out, kill and maim others just for the sake of occupying another area and vengeance - especially when the killing and maiming of Israel's own citizens will not stop even then.

How many of these people I wonder, who cry out for the "retaking of Gaza" have ever been in the midst of a war. How many of them have had to make the choice of killing or be killed in a split second?

Defending Israel is our right. Putting an end to the missiles is our right. Trying as much as possible, for as long as it takes to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas is our right. Killing terrorists is our right. Defending our citizens and allowing them to live normally is our right.

Conquering or retaking Gaza is not only NOT our right - it is stupid, idiotic and will only cause more death and destruction. The death of our soldiers - our sons, fathers and daughters - and more graves in military cemeteries. It will destroy any moral fiber we have. It will eat at our souls and cause the worst of nightmares.

Who is his right mind wants to retake a cesspool filled with hatred and terrorists?

God save us from armchair generals.

Posted On: The View From Jerusalem

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Time For Silence, A Time To Speak, A Time For Peace, A Time For War

It is a time to speak.

I was more than a bit surprised two days ago, after having left the blogosphere for the past year, to receive a phone call from someone who is a fairly famous figure in the Israeli-Jewish World. I had, until two days ago, never spoken with this person nor have I ever met them. They had but one simple request. Since the blogs I run are still fairly well-known and read, would I consider rejoining the blogging world in order to "help" with the current state of affairs that both Israel and World Jewry faces.

At first I was very reluctant and immediately answered in the negative. Blogs take time and they demand thought and precision in writing. They also are basically a very lonely affair, as one does not run blogs to pay the grocery bills. It was not that I did not want to help, it was the fact that many of the events that have taken place in the Jewish world fairly recently must, and should be handled with a finesse and sophistication that I sorely lack.

I thought that was the end of it actually. A request followed by a very polite refusal. However, this specific individual is known for their "obstinate" ways - and is one of those people who will not accept "no" for an answer especially when they feel the future of Israel and the Jewish people are at stake. I began receiving links in my email, links to news articles and other blogs covering the war in Gaza and other Jewish stories in the press these days, and I spent the morning pouring over them, mostly in disgust.

Perhaps it is time for the View From Jerusalem to re-open its doors if only for a bit.

As I look through the posts made over a year ago, I am amazed that my mindset in terms of Olmert and all his cronies has not changed even a bit. Leaving out the financial shenanigans that have finally gotten rid of one of if not the worst Prime Minister Israel has ever had, we can see today that he has not fulfilled one of his promises which took place on National Television at the beginning of his debacle in Lebanon. So I make no apologies for this man, and I will, for one be extremely glad to see him fade into the background in another two months.

However, it does seem that he has learned from his mistakes. On one hand the duo of him Ehud Barak is a scary thing. Barak is next in line for one of the worst Prime Ministers Israel ever had the good grace to have, and yet as a soldier and Chief of the Israeli Army he was an excellent choice. Old Soldiers in Israel seem to love to become politicians - and when they do enter politics, either right or left, they usually seem to loose all sense and proportion.

Yet, this duo of Barak and Olmert (let us include Livni here as well and make it a threesome), seem to finally have gotten their act together. When Hamas decides to reign 300 missles down on Israeli cities in one week, it became increasingly clear that silence and peaceful negotiations were not an option.

The world press gave Israel maybe 48 hours of grace before of course, the normal flood of pictures only from Gaza came pouring through (Fox News is an exception here). Once again, and for the millionth time Israel was the aggressor. Israel was the bad boy and big bully. No mention of rocket attacks on Israeli cities. No mention of the fact that it was the equivalent to sitting in Jersey City and lobbing in a missile into Midtown Manhattan. No mention of the Israelis and Palestinians (yes even Palestinians) killed and maimed by Hamas missles. And very little mention of Hamas being a recognized terrorist organization.

And then I must admit Olmert surprised me. He did not get on television and make dumb bombastic speeches full of promises he could never fulfill. He has resisted the urge to strike out with "glory lines". After all if you are going to do a televised "fireside chat", make sure you say something to the people that you can achieve.

Barak for once did not say "this is my red line" and then a day later say "no, I meant this is my red line" and a day later say "no no no - this is my red line". Suddenly, almost quietly, with teeth clenched as they should be anytime a nation goes to war, we finally viewed forethought and dare I say it, a beam of intelligence shine through.

The leaders made it clear this was not going to be easy. They made it clear this is going to be bitter. They made it clear that we are not going to be able to destroy a total Hamas infrastructure. They also finally made it clear with little words and appropriate action, that Israel is not the punching bag for Hamas.

It scares me, as a former soldier and reservist to see the tanks and APC's lined up on the border with Gaza. It scares the living daylights out of me. Gaza is a swamp with too much quicksand to get swallowed up in. The Palestinians could not control the area; the Egyptians would like to see it disappear, the Jordanians if truth be told would like it to disappear as well. Unfortunately, Gaza is on Israel's borders. Unfortunately, in 2008 as we go to 2009, there are still a few hundred million people on the face of our planet that would like to see the Jewish People and specifically the Israelis driven into the sea. Unfortunately, as usual, we are caught between being killed or having to go to war.

I can say that I have lived many years now and seen a great deal of what is good and evil in mankind. War never achieves what those who set it in motion strive to achieve. It is beyond any one man's control or even one group of people. Yet, there are times, even with that foreknowledge wars must be fought. There are times when it comes down to simple defense of your civilians, cities and homes. There are times when the "red line" simply cannot be crossed.

We are now in one of those periods. It is impossible, nor is it viable, to continue living as we have and still do, with missiles indiscriminately raining down on major cities. It is impossible to sit back and just wait "till the bad times pass". It is impossible to ignore the ever-growing impudence with which Hamas has decided to attack Israel, day after day and hour after hour.

I pray we can end this before tanks and foot soldiers are ordered into Gaza. I have been there and done that, and would not wish that experience on any living human being. It is horrendous and horrible. There will be only more death and destruction on both sides.

I also know the word "peace" is not a viable option until Hamas gets over its Jihad mentality and realizes Israel is not going to make its home under the sea. So we don't hope for peace. We know this will not be the last war. We know just who we are and what we are. We look to the heavens and wonder at the silence at times. We look to mankind and wonder at its awesome ability to be so blind. So we hope only for a viable, working "political accommodation" so that Gaza can no longer invade our nightmares. How is that for finesse?

I do not say "bring the boys home". I do not think actually, at this point, we should in any shape manner or form suddenly pull back. I pray only that Olmert has learned his lessons well, keeps his public glory speeches to a minimum, Barak stays to what he does best - military planning, and somehow the message gets through that lobbing missiles into Israel is just not going to "fly" (pun fully intended).

Sadly, the only thing here to say, is it is about time we are doing something to protect our own citizens. And it is about time we have learned to do it with less talk, targeted action and the understanding that we must fight this battle both in Gaza and on the electronic byways of the Internet.

Sadly, the time for silence and peace has ended. But we would be true fools, if we did not recognize that right now the time to speak and the time for War has been pushed upon us. Silence is a virtue - Silence in the face of destruction is stupidity. Peace is wonderful and fulfilling - but peace can only be achieved when one is not afraid to walk out of ones home or even stay inside of it for fear of a missile.

It is a time for war.

Posted On: The View From Jerusalem