The IDF stepped up tunnel destruction along the Philadephi corridor after warning residents living nearby to vacate the areas. Hamas continued to reject full ceasefire despite taking a pasting from the IDF. The Australian reports that Hamas may have longer-range rockets whose 70 kilometer range would put Tel Aviv within reach. Martin Kramer sees Israel aiming to depose Hamas if possible, and allow the Palestinian Authority to take over (the PA having been violently ejected from Gaza in the Hamas coup of June 2007).
In contrast to the Palestinians, who are much of the world's (especially the UN's) darlings, NRO's Barbara Lerner paints a vivid portrait of the Israeli settlers. They often find themselves demonized as clones of Islamist terrorists, a comparison that goes beyond merely false to childishness. One need not accept the settlers' position to notice that they do not fire rockets at schoolhouses (or at anywhere else) nor do they launch suicide bombers and the like. Their historical claim has been set aside by 20th century politics, in favor of the dubious claims of the "Palestinians" whose "rights" the world discovered only after Israel won the 1967 War and retook land Jordan took in the 1948 War.
Care to move beyond caricature and calumny and take an unblinkered look at who Israeli settlers actually are, and when and why they were transformed from a widely admired little band of brave and selfless patriots into a synonym for evil and a scapegoat for the world? Read on, please. Settlers are Israeli Jews who reject the basic demand of the Palestinians: the demand that large parts of Biblical Israel be Judenrein — cleansed of any Jewish presence for all eternity. Settlers claim a right to buy land and live and work on it, anywhere in the Biblical triangle between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, and between the Red Sea and the Golan Heights, and they act on that right by building and living in communities in places like Hebron, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and Amona.
They claim, just as fiercely, the right to preserve, defend, and keep open to Jews, Christians, and appropriately respectful others, the physical sites and structures where the founders and key followers of the two great religions of the West lived, worked, and died: places like Abraham’s tomb and Joseph’s, and the Church of the Nativity, built over the place where Jesus was born — places that Palestinian attackers have desecrated and tried to destroy in the years after Oslo. Most settlers are deeply religious people who revere these places as sacred sites, but you don’t have to be a believer to think their obliteration would be an irreparable loss to civilized people of all religions everywhere — any more than you have to be a Buddhist to mourn the destruction of the colossal, 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas by the same kind of Islamist jihadis in Afghanistan in 2001.
Most Americans who sympathize with Palestinians do so because they see them as natives, and see Israelis as newly arrived Westerners. In fact, most Israeli settlers are Mizrahi: Jews who were dispersed to a host of Middle Eastern lands after the Roman conquest of Israel 2,000 years ago, but, unlike the Ashkenazi (the Jews most Americans know), never left the Middle East. They have lived in the region for 5,000 continuous years and have long been the majority in Israel — roughly, 3 to 4 million of Israel’s 5 to 6 million Jews. Tourist brochures to the contrary notwithstanding, relatively few Mizrahi really speak English, but most are still as fluent in Arabic or Persian as they are in Hebrew, and most believe what all Israeli settlers and most American evangelicals believe about Jewish rights in Biblical Israel.
As this article linked to in the Lerner piece indicates, there is a real refugee/settler problem: the grossly inflated count of Palestinians living in UN camps, now counted at about 4.5 million. No more than a tiny fraction of these are refugees by the traditional legal definition; the remainder are descendants of the 1948 flight, and would not be counted as refugees anywhere else in the world. Granting these refugees citizenship in the Palestinian entity or the Arab land of their choice--allowing the original refugees (by now, fewer than 100,000) a right of return inside Israel, would end the issue. The article cites a 2004 poll in which 85 percent of Palestinians found such a solution acceptance. Alas, do not hold your breath.
Oh, and today Palestinians in southern Lebanon fired several rockets into Nahariya (an action that Hezbollah surely cleared first), wounding two in a nursing home.
Israel is showing remarkable perseverance despite the horrific shelling of the UN school, with a result clearly not desired by Israel. Hamas's leaders are ready, it seems, to use their women and children as consumables. Notably, the leadership is not personally suicidal. Hiding in hospitals, schools and Damascus shows that the leaders have survival instincts.
As this Jerusalem Post editorial notes in detail, media coverage is a major problem, partly because Israel found that in 2006 news reporters revealed information about Israeli military moves that helped Hezbollah, and partly because putting foreign journalist names on information supplied from Hamas confers added respectability on the reports. Hamas is blocking supplies from Egypt and then complaining of a humanitarian crisis, which the media reports in a manner that suggests Israel is guilty of blocking such supplies.
TAS pundit Lisa Fabrizio sees a world gone mad in excusing militant Islam's barbarity, while condemning Christianity and savaging America and Israel:
In a sane world, one faced with a religious cult that has been responsible for countless incidents of brutality and monstrous assaults on innocent life all over the world, we might see that world unite to rid itself of those responsible for these atrocities. As in WWII or the Gulf War, the civilized nations would put aside their differences and come together in the name of decency to defend the decent.
But in a mad, mad world, the perpetrators are lauded as "freedom fighters" and defended by "human rights" groups. Now, with renewed hostilities in the Gaza Strip, much of the world has incredibly decided that the fault lies with Israel, a people who in sixty short years have gone from earning the sympathy and respect of the world for enduring the Holocaust to being on the receiving end of its hatred and enmity.
In a world that claims to defend the lives of the innocent, any culture that encourages its women to become suicide bombers and straps bombs to its children and the mentally ill would justly earn the scorn and contempt of good men everywhere. Yet, in a crazed world, this behavior is incredibly excused by blaming it on the victims of such ungodly acts.
In a compassionate world, the use of schools, hospitals and places of worship as staging areas for terrorists would be decried as the barbaric and savage practice that it is. Every international agency and NGO would scream to high heavens about these heinous abuses of the "rules of war." But in a world gone mad, these tactics are defended as necessary to counteract the "disproportionate response" of the Israelis; as if the aim of legitimate warfare is not to gain such an advantage over one's enemies.
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center notes overt anti-Semitism engendered by Israel's not only defending itself, but affirming its right to exist:
My fear is that the rage we see in the protesters marching in the streets is far more profound and dangerous than we would like to believe. There are a great many people in the world who, even after Auschwitz, just can't bear the Jewish state having the same rights they so readily grant to other nations. These voices insist Israel must take risks they would never dare ask of any other nation-state -- risks that threaten its very survival -- because they don't believe Israel should exist in the first place.
Just look at the spate of attacks this week on Jews and Jewish institutions around the world: a car ramming into a synagogue in France; a Chabad menorah and Jewish-owned shops sprayed with swastikas in Belgium; a banner at an Australian rally demanding "clean the earth from dirty Zionists!"; demonstrators in the Netherlands chanting "Gas the Jews"; and in Florida, protestors demanding Jews "Go back to the ovens!"
How else can we explain the double-standard that is applied to the Gaza conflict, if not for a more insidious bias against the Jewish state?
Hier sees a dismal repeat endgame:
The pattern is always the same. Following a cease-fire brought on by international pressure, there will be a call for a massive infusion of funds to help Palestinians recover from the devastation of the Israeli attack. The world will respond eagerly, handing over hundreds of millions of dollars. To whom does this money go? To Hamas, the same terrorist group that brought disaster to the Palestinians in the first place.
The world seems to have forgotten that at the end of World War II, President Harry Truman initiated the Marshall Plan, investing vast sums to rebuild Germany. But he did so only with the clear understanding that the money would build a new kind of Germany -- not a Fourth Reich that would continue the policies of Adolf Hitler. Yet that is precisely what the world will be doing if we once again entrust funds to Hamas terrorists and their Iranian puppet masters.
Team Obama is holding its cards close, understandably. Its voice come January 20 will speak volumes.