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Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Obama Should Do for Israel

Barry Cohen January 26, 2009
Article from: The Australian

I've not had the pleasure of meeting Israel's foreign affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor but he became my favourite diplomat after describing recent criticism of Israel as "unqualified bullshit". I wonder what he really thinks?

Since Israel decided that 60 rockets a day was more than any country should have to tolerate, the global media has accused Israel of every evil imaginable. They have been aided and abetted by, supposedly, non-political UN Relief and Works Agency officials who are more extreme in their anti-Israeli venom than Hamas terrorists.

The "bullshit" is exemplified by a Sydney Morning Herald headline from last week: "Israel kept UN aid out of Gaza." Israel has been accused of crimes against humanity for refusing to permit the passage of food, medical supplies, oil, electricity (used to make rockets) and other essentials required to destroy Israel.

The precedence, undoubtedly, was that set by Britain and the US during World War II. We all know how accommodating they were in ensuring Germany and Japan were well supplied with food and fuel.

There are times when one fears for one's sanity when listening to such rubbish. How many thousands more rockets must Israelis endure before they are permitted to defend themselves? What happens as the rockets become bigger and more accurate?

The few who concede Israel has the right to defend itself then argue that the rockets aren't very accurate. Some consolation if you have to run for air-raid shelters 60 times a day. Unlike Hamas, Israel protects its citizens by building air-raid shelters.

Imagine for a moment the reactions of the good burghers of Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney if rockets were fired into their neighbourhood. Contemplate what they would say to Kevin Rudd. "Wipe the bastards out" for openers. That has not been Israel's response. After 10,000 rockets over eight years, it has been remarkably restrained. However, when Hamas resumed attacks Israel decided enough was enough.

When three years ago Israel unilaterally handed Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah had the opportunity, once again, to negotiate a permanent peace with Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state. Hamas preferred war, bloodshed and martyrdom. Having been democratically elected Hamas claimed a mandate. Israel, it appears, was expected to endorse the mandate that called for its own destruction.

To understand the minds of those Israel is dealing with, consider the statement of Hamas supremo, Khaled Meshaal. From the safety of Damascus, he described the recent war in which 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died, as an "unequivocal victory". And a defeat?

The word in vogue to describe Israel's destruction of rocket sites, weapons stores and Hamas terrorists has been "disproportionate": a word not much used during the London Blitz, which resulted in the deaths of 67,000 British civilians. Arthur Harris, commander-in-chief of bomber command, decided to "proportionally" flatten German cities: 600,000 German civilians died.
In the Pacific the US lost 1700 civilians, mostly at Pearl Harbor, while Australia lost 700, primarily in Darwin. The US response was to "proportionately" bomb Japanese cities killing 580,000 civilians. Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki remember it well.

Had Hamas decided not to deliberately place their civilian population, arms and combatants inside schools, hospitals and mosques, far fewer innocents would have been killed and injured.

What happens now? Hamas claims it will continue to bombard Israel while one Israeli soldier remains in Gaza, ignoring the fact that three years ago Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The rocket attacks increased.

So where to now? The most oft repeated cliche regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute is that it's a very complex matter. I beg to differ. The Islamic world and the Palestinians in particular must accept that Israel will always exist. Not through the next truce or ceasefire but forever.

Israel's critics demand that it negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah, to create a Palestinian state, conveniently forgetting that Israelis have tried repeatedly to do so without success. How do you negotiate with those who, at the end of the negotiations, say:"No matter what we agree to we will destroy you"?

It's a cliche to say that the Arabs can lose a hundred wars and survive while Israel cannot lose one. If the Palestinians are encouraged to believe that eventually they will triumph no one should be surprised that after each defeat they regroup, rearm and plan the next onslaught.

Yasser Arafat taught the Palestinians to believe that even if they lost a battle they would win the propaganda war. With their friends in the left-liberal media how could it have been otherwise?They must be convinced they can never destroy Israel.

Since its founding in 1948 Israel's proud boast has been that it has never asked any other country to fight its battles. It has had considerable support from the US but that support has not been one way. Israeli intelligence, military technology and scientific know-how has been Israel's payback. Israel is also the US's only reliable ally in the Middle East. It is almost certain that if Israel were under savage attack and in danger of going under, the US would come to its aid. There is, however, no formal agreement, pact or treaty to support that unstated undertaking. Which suggests the question, "Why not?"

The only way, to deter Israel's enemies is for the US to say unequivocally that it would never allow Israel to be destroyed. Most Westerners find it impossible to comprehend the mind of those Islamic fundamentalists who welcome death and martyrdom, particularly if it is achieved in an attempt to destroy Israel. On the assumption that not all Palestinians want to go to Paradise before the last possible moment, a declaration by the US and a formal agreement that it would intervene if Israel was under serious threat would have sane Palestinians looking for a peaceful solution. It's an idea the 44th President of the US might consider.

END

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