Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Obligatory Gaza Quote Post

Christopher Hitchens:

It is only when one begins to grasp all the foregoing that one understands exactly how disgusting and squalid is the behavior of the Hamas gang. It knows very well that sanctions are injuring every Palestinian citizen, but—just like Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq—it declines to cease the indiscriminate violence and the racist and religious demagogy that led to the sanctions in the first place. 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. Once again, the Party of God has the whip hand. To read Benny Morris is to be quite able—and quite free—to doubt that there should ever have been an Israeli state to begin with. But to see Hamas at work is to resolve that whatever replaces or follows Zionism, it must not be the wasteland of Islamic theocracy.
Glenn Greenwald:
Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world -- Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East, the U.N. leadership -- opposes and condemns the attack, all to no avail. The parties with the superior military might -- the U.S. and Israel -- dismiss world opinion as essentially irrelevant. Even the pro-war rhetorical tactics are the same, just as those who opposed the Iraq war were said to be "pro-Saddam," those who oppose the Israeli attack on Gaza are now "pro-Hamas."
Daniel Finkelstein:
So when Israel is urged to respect world opinion and put its faith in the international community the point is rather being missed. The very idea of Israel is a rejection of this option. Israel only exists because Jews do not feel safe as the wards of world opinion. Zionism, that word that is so abused, so reviled, is founded on a determination that, at the end of the day, somehow the Jews will defend themselves and their fellow Jews from destruction. If world opinion was enough, there would be no Israel.

The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.

There cannot be peace until this changes. For Israel will not rely on airy guarantees and international gestures to defend it. At its very core, it will not. It will lay down its arms when the Jews are safe, but it will not do it until they are.
Mark Steyn:
Like East and West Pakistan, the "Palestinian Authority" has split into two states — and, just as India does with Bangladesh and Pakistan, Israel treats its eastern and western Muslim neighbors quite differently. On its borders with Gaza, it maintains an economic blockade. On its borders with the West Bank, it's removed checkpoints, created a free-trade regime and helped facilitate a remarkable economic boom in a rump statelet that's done little to deserve it. Israel did this with the intention of demonstrating to Gazans that there's a heavy price to be paid for supporting Hamas. It's not obvious, however, that Gazans care.
Victor Davis Hanson:
Almost no other issue in recent memory has illustrated the moral bankruptcy of much of the international community. Hamas has no pretensions, like the PA, of being a governing authority; it used violence to rout the PA and then bragged that its charter pledging the destruction of Israel remained unchanged. Israel evacuated Gaza; Gazans in response looted their own infrastructure, alienated both the PA and Egypt,and then sent off more than 6,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, while eagerly becoming a terrorist puppet of theocratic Iran.

Nothing could be more clear: either the fact that a constitutional republic was trying to avoid civilian casualties while a terrorist organization was intent on killing Jewish civilians as it used its own citizens as shields to protect mostly young male terrorists; or the world's craven reaction to all this.
Carlo Strenger:
I will never stop criticising Israeli policies that I take to be wrong-headed, short-sighted or immoral. But I have no sympathy for the critics of Israel who refuse to see that there are ideologies who put destruction above human life and wellbeing. Hamas has changed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from something that can be solved, to a clash defined by the principle that only one side can survive - critics cannot expect Israel to accept this simply because it is the stronger side.
Jeffrey Goldberg:
For the record: I defend Israel's right to defend itself, but I fear that Gaza will quickly become a quagmire. I fear for the lives of Israelis, obviously, but I also fear for the lives of Palestinian civilians -- I have friends there, in harm's way -- in part because the Israeli army (and I say this from personal experience) can be a big, rough bulldozer of an army, and in part (large part) because Hamas terrorists unblinkingly and ostentatiously use their own civilians as human shields. I've seen this up-close, and it's repulsive. One story the media isn't telling, because it's impossible to get this story in these circumstances (especially because Israel stupidly won't allow foreign reporters into Gaza) is how much resentment the Hamas policy of using Palestinians as human shields causes among Gaza civilians. Early reports indicate that Hamas mortar teams were firing from the UN School. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

One more thing, speaking of pornography -- 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.
Matthew Yglesias:

One time when I was riding my bike, someone threw a smallish rock at me from a housing project across the street. As it happens, the kid didn’t hit me and everything was fine. But I suppose if he’d hit me in just the right way I could have been knocked down and injured. And depending on what the cars on the road were doing, it’s conceivable that I could have wound up being run over and terribly injured. Long story short, it was a pretty terrible thing for the thrower to be doing. And this has been a sporadic problem in the city for a while. But obviously it wouldn’t have bene right for me to stop, get off my bike, pull a bazooka out of my bag, and blow the houses from which the rock emanated to smithereens while shouting “self-defense!” and “double-effect!” And had I done so, and killed some innocent people in the course of things, and then I’d tried to say that the real blame for the deaths lay with the rock-thrower who’d started it everyone would look at me like I was crazy. And this is true even though it’s clear that going to the police would have been useless in that case.

I don’t believe in analogies, so don’t read that as one. Rather, it makes the point that the existence of a right to self-defense doesn’t authorize just doing whatever any more than the injustice of occupation justifies deliberately targeting civilians.

Michael C. Moynihan:
Now, having visited Sderot last year (where, incidentally, I spent the day with an Israeli peacenik), I have an enormous amount of sympathy for those hyperventilating bicyclists of Southern Israel, and I am obviously quite hostile to an illiberal political movement that hates dancing, gays, and dancing gays. But leaving that aside, lets fine-tune Yglesias's analogy: Imagine if Matt rode his bike by this project every day—and was attacked with rocks everyday. And imagine that the rock thrower was attempting to obtain bigger and more deadly rocks to target him and his Dalton School classmates. And imagine if the rock-thrower organized everyone in his project to, say, write a charter that demanded the liquidation of Dalton and its students. And one day, rather than tossing the requisite rock, the young project-dweller decided to kidnap Matt for a few years. And so on.

But I'm making a spurious argument, after all, because as Yglesias explains in the same post, he doesn't "believe in analogies, so don't read that as one." We won't.