The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ground Hog Day

Ground Hog Day? For those who don’t remember the movie, it’s the story of a man who relives the same day over and over again, trying to improve on the result with each iteration. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has the same feel.

In this iteration, the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, whose stated goal is the complete destruction of Israel, lobs hundreds of rockets into Israeli civilian centers. Their actions—purposely targeting Israeli civilians—are clear violations of International Law, but the world quietly watches and occasionally clucks its “concern.” The usual suspects at the UN subtly suggest that Hamas is justified in its actions because Israel is “starving” the Gazans when it blockades it borders with a country that is openly at war with it. This despite no evidence of starvation and a continuous flow a “humanitarian aid,” even as Israel fights Hamas.

It’s useless to ask what other country on the planet would calmly accept continual rocket attacks against its towns and cities or which of the world’s nations would feed, cloth, and provide medical attention to a population that has chosen a terrorist regime that vows to annihilate the nation providing the aid. Silly questions.

In the eyes of the Left, the MSM, and many diplomats, the Gazans are the aggrieved party. Daily rocket attacks, occasional suicide bombers (occasional only because the borders have been closed), and violent rhetoric have no bearing. In the world’s MSM, Israel is characterized as a bully for defending itself, it is criticized for using “disproportionate force” and among the intelligencia, for not recognizing that it must negotiate a settlement.

The stupidity of each of these criticisms is overwhelming, but no matter.

Wretchard of the Belmont Club describes the situation perfectly:
I think the diplomats are playing a dangerous game. The only thing that keeps the situation in the Middle East stable is Israeli restraint. But that’s the stability of a spinning plate in a juggler’s hands; not that of a concrete block sitting foursquare on the floor. The danger is the diplomats may come to regard Israeli restraint as a foundation on which to build their diplomatic fantasies. They will keep handing the juggler one more plate, one more ball, one more champagne glass to spin at the end of a stick. Give back the Golan Heights; let the Arabs have part of Jerusalem; ignore the rocket attacks from Gaza. Today there are no more enemies. Only Partners for Peace.

But they build at the risk that someday the juggler will miss a catch. Restraint may collapse or maybe simply lapse for an instant. But that instant will be fatal. The Arabs, conditioned to expecting Israeli restraint, may explode in outrage. The Israelis may be driven over the edge. All the plates will come crashing down. And on that day the diplomats will be the persons most astonished at the collapse of their house of cards. There won’t be any stability in the Middle East until there is real restraint on both sides; not fake restraint on one side and real restraint on the other.

The reality is that the problem is intractable. Negotiation won’t work because Hamas (and many members of the West Bank’s “moderate” Fatah movement) will accept only the complete destruction of Israel. Backed by supporters in Syria, Iran, and throughout the Arab world, they care little for the Palestinian people and less about building a viable state. They care only about ridding an infidel presence from their midst, even though the infidel (Jews) have inhabited the region for thousands of years before Islam existed.

But war won’t work either. Israel is a nation that values human life. They will not obliterate the Palestinians and would be gravely criticized by the world community if they tried. So they fight back in measured steps, degrading the enemy for a time, but never willing or able to finish the job.

An uneasy calm returns for a time and the cycle repeats.

There are some problems that can be solved. This is not one of them. It is a situation that must be managed, given the murderous intent of Hamas and Hezballah and their backers throughout the Arab world (along with the Islamist leadership of Iran).

And so, as you listen (yet again) to growing criticism of a tiny country that is doing nothing more than defending itself against a movement that will accept nothing less that its complete destruction, just think—ground hog day.