The Two Must-Reads of the Morning (UPDATE: Make that Three)

First, Jeffrey Goldberg:

We’ve all seen endless pictures of dead Palestinian children now. It’s a terrible, ghastly, horrible thing, the deaths of children, and for the parents it doesn’t matter if they were killed by accident or by mistake. But ask yourselves this: Why are these pictures so omnipresent? I’ll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble — and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed. It was one of the more horrible things I’ve seen in my life. And it’s typical of Hamas. If reporters would probe deeper, they’d learn the awful truth of Hamas. But Palestinian moral failings are not of great interest to many people. 

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then, Christopher Hitchens:

Palestine is a common home for several religious and national groups, but Hamas dogmatically insists that the whole territory is instead an exclusively Muslim part of a future Islamic empire. At a time when democratic and reformist trends are observable in the region, from Lebanon to the Gulf, Hamas’ leadership is physically and economically a part of the clientele of two of the area’s worst dictatorships. (Should you ever be in need of a free laugh, look up those Western “intellectuals” who believe that a vote for an Islamist party and an Islamic state is a way to vote against corruption! They have not lately studied Iran and Saudi Arabia.) Gaza could have been a prefiguration of a future self-determined Palestinian state. Instead, it has been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and made into a place of repression for its inhabitants and aggression for its neighbors.

And for a thorough and intelligent argument against the Gaza operation, there’s Lisa Goldman and her ‘epic post.’ I don’t agree with everything she says, but she says it very well.

“They started it”; “but they’re terrorists”; and “it’s worse in Darfur” are not, in my opinion, intelligent responses. I do not live in Darfur. I am a voting, tax-paying citizen of Israel, so this is where I have the moral obligation to speak out when I see something that is wrong.

Yes, Hamas is a bunch of fanatic thugs. I remember that they threw Fateh people off of multi-story buildings during the July 2007 coup. I know that they use civilians as human shields. I do understand that Israel has got itself caught in a struggle between Iran, which is funding Hamas, and the Arab states, which hate Hamas and fear Iran. And yes, Hamas could stop the war if they would just cease firing the rockets. But they will not do that. So it is up to us: we have it in our power to stop the killing. We can stop the war. And we should stop it, immediately. For their sake and for ours.

Because it is undermining our morality. Because it is costing us hundreds of millions of shekels. Because it is a shocking waste of life, money and goodwill from moderate Arabs. Because if we plan to live in this neighbourhood called the Middle East for the long term, we need to find a modus vivendi with our neighbours. We needn’t love one another. We just need to stop killing each other. And to those who say one cannot negotiate with a terror organization that refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist, my response is – perhaps you are right; but have you tried?

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Color me naive, but I believe we have to have tried – not publicly, but quietly, via Egypt, the US, the EU and other go-betweens. I don’t think any Israeli government sees putting soldiers in harm’s way as anything but a last resort. I join many of Lisa’s commenters in asking, “what was the alternative?”

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