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Unexamined Premises

Can Israel Finish the Job Now?

July 23rd, 2014 - 11:52 am

In “Why Israel Needs to Finish the Job Now,” my colleague David Goldman writes:

[Israel] cannot afford a repeat of 2012, after which Hamas rebuilt its weapons capability. Where Hezbollah is concerned, the Chinese proverb applies: Kill the chicken while the monkey watches. The reduction of Hamas has to serve as a deterrent for Hezbollah and Syria, not to mention Iran.

Israel’s leaders know this well, and outsiders should be cautious about offering tactical advice. But Israel’s friends must be clear that a “pinpoint operation,” as Secretary of State Kerry demanded inadvertently before an open microphone last weekend, does not serve Israel’s urgent interests. Hamas must be rooted out in depth.

Col. Kurtz provides a strategic assessment:

This is what the Jews are up against: an enemy that willingly sacrifices its own children, so great is its animus against its eternal foe.  To paraphrase Jimmy Malone in The Untouchables – what are the Israelis prepared to do? 

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Top Rated Comments   
Just saw this post from Pajama Media, a very thought provoking one, and I'm very discouraged. You have to watch the two videos as they are embedded in the post. I would say the thesis statement of the first is "If they are capable of greater horror than you, than they are stronger than you." The thesis statement of the second seems to be, "You say you want to defeat them by all costs, but are you really prepared to be as cruel as you would need to be?"
Applying this thinking to the situation in Gaza, the blogger seems to be doubting Israel's position. Implied is the idea that if Israel is concerned with keeping people alive, its own people, Palestinian civilians in Gaza, then it is weaker than Hamas, whose whole strategy is to arrange the death of as many Palestinian civilians as possible, to ratchet up the international pressure on Israel so that it will eventually, inevitably back down. Looking for tunnels by going house to house, school to school, hospital to hospital (each placement by itself being a war crime which will not attract the notice of the UNHRC one whit) will result in more Israeli soldiers dead, and ten times as many Palestinian civilians dead, and at a certain point, those numbers *will* get too high for a culture that loves and cherishes life. Will those numbers get too high before Israel destroys a critical mass of tunnels? I would say, regrettably, almost certainly so. I'm sure the IDF has better intelligence than to be just looking for needles in haystacks, but how much better? I'm not optimistic.
So how does Israel win then? Sadly, I don't think we need to look to Apolcalypse Now, or The Untouchables for the answer--they have provided the question. I think we need to look to the conclusion of WWII, and how the US decided to finish things with the Japanese. They had seen how fanatically the Japanese had defended every scrap of volcanic rock on those G-d-forsaken atolls in the South Pacific. How much more fanatically would they defend their homeland? And think--if they were dragging lone Japanese fighters out of the jungle years after, who never got the memo the war was over--the answer is, it would have been a fight to the death over every square inch in Japan. So how to win, without taking years, and losing hundreds of thousands of American troops, and countless Japanese lives, military and civilian alike? We had to show them we could be as cruel, as indifferent to civilian lives as they were.
The nuclear weapons were the answer. The Americans had to get the attention of the Japanese, who thought of them as essentially weak, weakened by their sentimental attachment to something like morality. They had to show the Japanese a level of cruelty that the Japanese did not know they possessed. That is why the dropped the two nuclear bombs on cities. If they had dropped them in such a way as to minimize civilian casualties, the Japanese would have said to themselves, "Ahh, they have an amazing bomb, but the finger on the trigger is still a weak one." They had to show the Japanese that they could be as cruel as the Japanese. I hate like anything to say it, but I believe that if Israel cannot find in itself a level of cruelty that will get the attention and respect of Hamas, we'll be replaying this movie ad infinitum. If Israel says, "Hamas, you don't care about your civilians? Then neither do we. We have these bombs that we've been saving for Iran, that can destroy hardened concrete structures tens of feet beneath the surface of the earth, oh, and leave craters many city blocks in diameter. The next time an Israeli soldier gets killed, we're pulling out and dropping one of these on the part of Gaza where we believe the tunnels are. If you fire one rocket, we're dropping another one. Make no mistake, each one will kill hundreds of civilians, but since that seems to be your goal, we figure you won't mind. Ball's in your court." And then do it.
So, war game the outcome. I'm sure that it would take two to get the message across, because it would be so like Hamas for some wise-guy to shoot a rocket from the smoldering ruins of the first one. But then this would be over. For everyone, for pretty much good. How many iterations of this current replay of Cast Iron Lead would we, the Palestinians of Gaza be spared? How would the body counts compare in the end? Hard to say. As for the response from the precious international community, and its selective approach to morality: Israel, the war criminal? We already are. Israel the disproportionate responder? We already are. Israel, the country you wanna mess with? Not anymore.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The job will be finished when Christians and Jews don't have to worry about pogroms meted out on them, that started in the Gaza Strip.

What I find interesting is how hard various folks want Israel to stop short. I daresay some can write a column, or a series of columns, as to how vulnerable they feel.

Could it be they are convinced of a domino effect that starts with Hamas being evicted from Gaza?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's the problem, unfortunately Israel has conditioned the Palestinians not to take these attacks seriously. So not only does Israel need to step up the violence, they need to step it up to overcome this bad conditioning. Israel has to show they are serious.

After all, the Palestinians voted in Hamas. And why not? Maybe 1% of the population will lose their houses, only to be rebuilt by foreign aid. And Israel will try, try, try not to hurt "civilians". Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Israel was wrong not to take over Palestinian education when they occupied Gaza 1967-2000'ish (or whenever it was). Israel is WRONG with their current rules of engagement.

I say this because I think it will NOT require 100,000 or 500,000 Palestinian casualities. But it probably will require 10,000 to 20,000 to "get their attention".

Israel is right on the cusp of saying "F" world opinion because Iran is hovering in the background and nobody on Earth is helping, well, plus or minus a little Stuxnet virus but we still don't know the details on that. I think they have already told Obambus to FOAD. I wonder what the Saudis are saying behind closed doors, what with their Frankenstein monster ISIS wandering around on the map.

"Finish the job" whatever that means, and it certainly means more than they're doing now, but how much more is the question.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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How you can write about Viet Nam and its shame is beyond me.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is not Israel's job to organize good governance for Gazans or other Arabs. The only job they must do is protect its' state and citizens. And to do this they need to hit much, much harder but shorter. And direct it immedeatly after the first rocket, bullet, dead cat thrown over the fence at instigators instead of waiting and indecisive sporadic actions
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is it not clear to the Israeli leadership that "The International Community" is a community of Jew haters? If that is not clear to the Israeli leadership than that leadership is willfully blind. But if it is clear then why waste a breath or a moment on what the "World" thinks of Israel, which is to say Jews. The government has one and only one primary responsibility: protect its people, the Jewish people, do everything in its power to insure the safety and continued existence of its people. And if that means using every weapon in the arsenal...so be it. Let "The International Community" scream its fool head off. Save the Jews!!!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
So why did the Interneational Community, if it is a community of Jew Haters as you say, declare the Palestinian elections of 2006 null and void, so preventing the rise of a second democracy in the Middle East? If you are a Jew, you are also a human being. Why save only the Jews and not Gazans and their children also?
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Is it not clear to the Israeli leadership that "The International Community" is a community of Jew haters? "

I don't know about the Israeli leadership, but many, many Israelis are not clear about it at all, and they vote.

A few years ago I worked as a contractor for an international company. This particular project was based out of their Israel office, so I worked with a lot of Israelis. I found that many of them don't believe that Hamas, et al, really want to kill them. "Just give them their land and they'll leave us alone." was a common sentiment.

I find that level of head-in-the sand bizarre, but it's real, and any leader in Israel has to deal with it as a political reality.

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
How about exchanging Mosul's Christians with Gaza (and for a good measure Judea & Samaria) arabs?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
When blocks and blocks of arab homes are demolished, the arabs might turn the light bulb on.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just saw this post from Pajama Media, a very thought provoking one, and I'm very discouraged. You have to watch the two videos as they are embedded in the post. I would say the thesis statement of the first is "If they are capable of greater horror than you, than they are stronger than you." The thesis statement of the second seems to be, "You say you want to defeat them by all costs, but are you really prepared to be as cruel as you would need to be?"
Applying this thinking to the situation in Gaza, the blogger seems to be doubting Israel's position. Implied is the idea that if Israel is concerned with keeping people alive, its own people, Palestinian civilians in Gaza, then it is weaker than Hamas, whose whole strategy is to arrange the death of as many Palestinian civilians as possible, to ratchet up the international pressure on Israel so that it will eventually, inevitably back down. Looking for tunnels by going house to house, school to school, hospital to hospital (each placement by itself being a war crime which will not attract the notice of the UNHRC one whit) will result in more Israeli soldiers dead, and ten times as many Palestinian civilians dead, and at a certain point, those numbers *will* get too high for a culture that loves and cherishes life. Will those numbers get too high before Israel destroys a critical mass of tunnels? I would say, regrettably, almost certainly so. I'm sure the IDF has better intelligence than to be just looking for needles in haystacks, but how much better? I'm not optimistic.
So how does Israel win then? Sadly, I don't think we need to look to Apolcalypse Now, or The Untouchables for the answer--they have provided the question. I think we need to look to the conclusion of WWII, and how the US decided to finish things with the Japanese. They had seen how fanatically the Japanese had defended every scrap of volcanic rock on those G-d-forsaken atolls in the South Pacific. How much more fanatically would they defend their homeland? And think--if they were dragging lone Japanese fighters out of the jungle years after, who never got the memo the war was over--the answer is, it would have been a fight to the death over every square inch in Japan. So how to win, without taking years, and losing hundreds of thousands of American troops, and countless Japanese lives, military and civilian alike? We had to show them we could be as cruel, as indifferent to civilian lives as they were.
The nuclear weapons were the answer. The Americans had to get the attention of the Japanese, who thought of them as essentially weak, weakened by their sentimental attachment to something like morality. They had to show the Japanese a level of cruelty that the Japanese did not know they possessed. That is why the dropped the two nuclear bombs on cities. If they had dropped them in such a way as to minimize civilian casualties, the Japanese would have said to themselves, "Ahh, they have an amazing bomb, but the finger on the trigger is still a weak one." They had to show the Japanese that they could be as cruel as the Japanese. I hate like anything to say it, but I believe that if Israel cannot find in itself a level of cruelty that will get the attention and respect of Hamas, we'll be replaying this movie ad infinitum. If Israel says, "Hamas, you don't care about your civilians? Then neither do we. We have these bombs that we've been saving for Iran, that can destroy hardened concrete structures tens of feet beneath the surface of the earth, oh, and leave craters many city blocks in diameter. The next time an Israeli soldier gets killed, we're pulling out and dropping one of these on the part of Gaza where we believe the tunnels are. If you fire one rocket, we're dropping another one. Make no mistake, each one will kill hundreds of civilians, but since that seems to be your goal, we figure you won't mind. Ball's in your court." And then do it.
So, war game the outcome. I'm sure that it would take two to get the message across, because it would be so like Hamas for some wise-guy to shoot a rocket from the smoldering ruins of the first one. But then this would be over. For everyone, for pretty much good. How many iterations of this current replay of Cast Iron Lead would we, the Palestinians of Gaza be spared? How would the body counts compare in the end? Hard to say. As for the response from the precious international community, and its selective approach to morality: Israel, the war criminal? We already are. Israel the disproportionate responder? We already are. Israel, the country you wanna mess with? Not anymore.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Inhuman solution. Did you read the details of Nagasaki and Hiroshima? A nevr-to-be forgotten crime against humanity
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Needle in a haystack is easy. Burn the haystack and run a magnet through the ashes.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Shocking inhumanity when you know there children in the haystack
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
an axe-age, a sword-age,
shields will be cloven,
a wind-age, a wolf-age,
before the world's ruin.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kill all they send. Eventually they will stop coming. Courage is required because the tyrants are on the wrong side of the coin each and every time.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tyrants are indeed on the wrong side of the coin. So why are Israelis cheering on the holocaust of children in Gaza
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The job will be finished when Christians and Jews don't have to worry about pogroms meted out on them, that started in the Gaza Strip.

What I find interesting is how hard various folks want Israel to stop short. I daresay some can write a column, or a series of columns, as to how vulnerable they feel.

Could it be they are convinced of a domino effect that starts with Hamas being evicted from Gaza?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
They could finish the job, but they will not. The pain is not great enough. Until Israel suffers immensely , this is but a sparing match. A dead soldier here, a missile there. We lost well over 50,000 dead in Vietnam, and we didn't "finish" the job. Nobody felt the pain back home in the good old USA. The Japanese did not call it quits until they felt the pain kiloton style. Finish the job now? Just wishful thinking.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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