James Adler

Insistence on Gazan Rights (while a Plague on Hamas).

J.J. Goldberg showed that the tragically abducted and murdered Israeli teens’ rescue effort was an excuse to blame Gaza’s Hamas officials and ransack the West Bank and launch an attack on Gaza.Previously there had been two years of no Hamas rockets.

The Hamas response, after the 2-year quiet, was predictable.

As Avi Issacharoff wrote in The Times of Israel (June 30, 2014):  “Hamas fires rockets for first time since 2012,”

Israeli officials say volleys that hit near southern communities Monday may have been launched by terror group to warn Israel against targeting its members.” That is, using the unsubstantiated blame of Gazan Hamas officials to target Hamas.

Goldberg wrote in The Jewish Daily Forward essentially what Issacharoff later would. This, from Goldberg’s July 10 tour de force: How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza. The heart of the matter:

“The last attack on Gaza… in November 2012, targeted Hamas leaders and taught a sobering lesson. Hamas hadn’t fired a single rocket since, and had largely suppressed fire by smaller jihadi groups. Rocket firings, averaging 240 per month in 2007, dropped to five per month….. Neither side had any desire to end the détente…. The kidnapping and crackdown upset the balance. In Israel, grief and anger…grew steadily as the fabricated mystery stretched into a second and third week …. Jews everywhere were in anguish over the unceasing threat of barbaric Arab terror plaguing Israel…. This, too, was misleading. The last seven years have been the most tranquil in Israel’s history…. When the bodies were finally found, Israelis’ anger exploded into calls for revenge, street riots and, finally, murder….

“Amid the rising tension…Ministers on the right demanded the army reoccupy Gaza and destroy Hamas… In Gaza, leaders went underground. Rocket enforcement squads stopped functioning and jihadi rocket firing spiked. Terror squads began preparing to counterattack Israel through tunnels. One tunnel exploded on June 19 in an apparent work accident, killing five Hamas gunmen, convincing some in Gaza that the Israeli assault ad begun while reinforcing Israeli fears that Hamas was plotting terror all along….On June 29, an Israeli air attack on a rocket squad killed a Hamas operative. Hamas protested. The next day it unleashed a rocket barrage, its first since 2012. The cease-fire was over. Israel was forced to retaliate for the rockets with air raids. Hamas retaliated for the raids with more rockets. And so on.”

And so it began. After 2 years of quiet, now a decision that would knowingly entail mass slaughter.

A larger look at Gaza appears in The New York Times July 22 by native Gazan and Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, Ghada Ageel, in her OPED, Look Carefully at Who Started the Current Israel-Hamas Conflict.

She notes that “Israeli officials think they can get away with murder by blaming everything on Hamas and – in the dehumanizing — and scandalous — words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel – those “telegenically dead Palestinians.”

Ageel points out: “Seventy percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees. We are in Gaza because Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, including my grandmother and grandfather and both my parents from Beit Daras.”

So Gazans are 70% are refugees.

On May 8, 2003, a leading mainstream Israeli writer, Yossi Klein Halevi wrote in The Jerusalem Post about The Meaning of Painful Concessions. His topic was Israeli settlements in Gaza, but it is actually about anyone’s homes and communities and neighborhoods:

“We need to courageously confront the   consequences of uprooting … We need an advance account of the enormity of that pain…. [A] key element… has been our unwillingness to concede the human, social, and historical consequences….  ‘Land’ implies a pristine landscape, devoid of human presence. In fact, the formulation means a destruction of worlds neighborhoods and homes, schools and synagogues, hangouts and hitchhiking stations … It isn’t [merely] ‘land’ … The human toll that will result from the destruction of organic communities is incalculable.”

Doesn’t Yossi Klein Halevi also evoke, above all, the incomparably vaster uprooting of the Palestinians?–

“The enormity of the pain?” The “incalculable human toll?

Do they not explain the intensity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Hasn’t Halevi laid out and bare the very heart of it?

Above all in Gaza. 70% refugees. Destitute. Isolated. Jam-packed. Dirt-poor and still rife with refugee camps.

Israel entered a dirt-poor strip and left it 38 years later just as dirt-poor. All its investment was in the settlers, 1% of Gaza’s population, and military bases. For which it seized 30% of jam-packed Gaza. And Israel meant to do this to them– forever. Until Sharon upped and left (except besieging its borders and airspace and coastline) without dialogue and in silent contempt — to concentrate on further West Bank and Arab Jerusalem occupation and settlement expansion.

The destitute and despairing 70% refugee Gazans know it all. A main reason they are so angry today.

Hamas in its malevolent intensity is horrendous.

But suppose the situation were reversed between Israel and Gaza? What would a Likud –that is, Irgun– ruled climate of opinion be like today inside an Israel-in-Reverse?

–A stateless, deeply shrunken, 70%- refugees, refugee-camp-rife, destitute and despairing, besieged, Israel on just 22% of its recent former land?

What would Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Abraham Stern, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Liberman, Ariel Sharon (most of his life), and now Benjamin Netanyahu do?

In this reverse Gaza-like Israel?

Well-known center-right scholar Amnon Rubinstein wrote about Gaza in The Jerusalem Post on Aug. 9, 2005:

“The settlements have created, within the same territory, two kinds of residents: Israeli citizens, enjoying full rights, and Arab non-citizens devoid of political rights. In Gaza, this gap was especially outrageous. A sure way to turn a person from friend to foe was to bring him to Gush Katif and show him the frightening chasm between the Jewish islands of prosperity and the surrounding sea of Palestinian misery.”

Again: “A sure way to turn a person from friend to foe was to bring him to Gush Katif… and the surrounding sea of Palestinian misery.”

And how could these decades of anger and misery instantly disintegrate instantaneously?

After decades of occupation and non-investment and neglect, after Rubinstein’s sea of misery, after Israeli investment only in its bases and settlers, which were planned to last forever, and, then, after 38 years of occupation and neglected obligations as occupier, Israel leaving it behind in silence and contempt and as dirt-poor and despairing as when it first arrived.

After having taken 30% of the jam-packed land for setters, (again 1% of the population) and bases in jam-packed destitute Gaza–Gaza 70% refugees from Israel Proper.

Wealthy settlements replete with swimming pools and all manner of First World amenities. And in a land afflicted with dire water shortages and overall poverty and hopelessness and destitution and despair –

Again Rubinstein’s “sea of misery.”

Why wouldn’t the Gazans be filled with despair, a sense of helplessness and powerlessness of history transactedover their heads, filled destitution, humiliation, hopelessness, rage?

What would Menachem Begin have done?

Begin wrote in his Introduction to his autobiographical The Revolt:

“Tyranny is armed. Otherwise it would be liquidated overnight. Fighters for freedom must arm; otherwise they would be crushed overnight… “The underground fighters of the Irgun arose to overthrow and replace a regime. We used physical force because we were faced by physical force.“We had to hate — as any nation worthy of the name must and always must hate – the rule of the foreigner, rule, unjust and unjustifiable, per se, foreign rule….“Such hatred has been the driving force of progress in the world’s history –‘not peace but a sword’ in the cause of mankind’s advancement. “

The government of Israel is the heir to Begin and the Likud.

An article appeared in YNet on April 21, 2001, entitled: Book: Begin armed,Argentina during Falklands War.

Begin hated the British occupation – though it was an occupation of the Palestinians, not his people – so much that, though they left in 1948, 40 years later wanted to help the Argentines “kill” – his word – the British. 40 years after they had left. 40 years later.

Menachem Begin’s Likud still runs Israel today.

And Ynet says: “Begin agreed to cooperate against Britain fairly quickly, saying: “You’ve come to talk badly about the British. Is this going to be used to kill the English? Go ahead… Obviously, it must be all done perfectly.”

Hatred and wanting to kill, 40 years later. He could have been Islamic Jihad, or Hezbollah—Or: Hamas in Gaza.,7340,L-4059254,00.html

Legendary Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban wrote in his The Beirut Massacre (1983) that the “Zionist revisionist movement, out of which Menachem Begin’s Likud government would later emerge gave war a larger place….

They did not shrink from personal assassinations and attacks on predominantly civilian Arab targets.” (Italics added)

Forty years later he still wanted to kill the English.

Why wouldn’t the Gazans be angry?

Although we would profoundly wish they would be have adopted the Gandhi rather than Begin model.  But how much less reason had Begin to be angry?  He was never under “occupation” and yet he wanted, as Israeli Head of State, to kill  English youth 40 long years later.

One of the weakest perennials of Hasbara is that “Israel withdrew from Gaza” — so why are they still angry? We hear this constantly. We have already plowed through much of this—the no investment, settlements, taking 30% of the land, coming in with it destitute and leaving it contemptuously and just as destitute and despairing.

And now the First-Worlders have killed more than 700 Gazans including nearly 200 children.

Hamas, like Irgun, is beyond awful. So is its counterpart– today’s Irgun, doing the killing and trying to take over another country, Palestine, and meanwhile killing innocent Gazans.

And the Palestinians (like the Jews) are all one people, one mutually caring kin, and even more than the Jews under one destiny.

I honestly don’t care if Hamas operatives get killed. They are terrorists and deserve it.  But what about the 600 and rising–out of 700 and rising– innocent dead Gazans? Including Gazan children–also numbers rising?

A Plague on Hamas. But an Insistence on the Rights of the innocent and despairing and helpless Gazans, including their 10,000 displaced persons and their many hundreds of dead.

About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.