Yehonatan Ben Israel

Israel, Gaza and Sun Tzu: Lesson to Learn

“When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.” –Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Well guys, here we are. I’m writing this blog during the war with Hamas in Gaza. Thanks G-d, my family is safe, though I have friends who have been deployed to the south, and others who families have been evacuated from their houses. One particular friend of mine’s daughter went missing. I hope and prayer they will find her.

We pray for victory and an end to this once and for all.

All things considered, we know that this is nothing compared to what Hamas in Gaza is going to face. I hope and pray that even as I write this, that I or whoever looks back on this blog will see is as only a particular event in the past that lived up to King Solomon’s maxim, “This too shall pass.”

In any case, I sit down to write this blog to give my own rough analysis of the situation, how we got here, and what we can and should logistically do about this, from an ethical perspective, though the reader may not see it as such.

I want to start by giving a bit of a background as to how this whole thing started–this particular issue with Gaza.

In 2005, the Bush Jr. Administration was strongly pushing for what it called it’s Road Map to Peace initiative entailing it’s own blue print for a two state solution with Israeli jurisdiction on what is called the pre-1967 borders, and with the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction in Yehudah and Shomron, or as much of the world calls it, the West Bank (Despite my temptation to open the can of worms and write about how I believe a two state solution cannot and should not ever take place, this blog is about Gaza. Maybe another time). Furthermore, both Bush Jr. and then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated what they perceived to be a diplomatic act of good faith in this peace process by removing all Jewish communities and settlements in the Gaza strip, giving Palestinians sole jurisdiction of the area. Though I was overseas at the time and only a teenager, I still remember staying on top of the reports from the Jerusalem Post, seeing pictures of settlers passively refusing to leave their homes and being carried out by IDF soldiers who were ordered to do the unthinkable–forcefully remove their own Israeli brothers and sisters from their homes not for the sake of an impending threat of the enemy, but for a diplomatic endeavor that the world never appreciated. President Bush Jr. called this a “Historic withdrawl,” and I would tend to agree that it was historical–historically one of the most needless, pathetic, wasteful and self-defacing diplomatic endeavors that the world could have ever seen and never appreciated. It is only too saddening that the public, media, rabbanut, and government in their disgusting complacency and naivete endorsed such a worthless endeavor.

The Bush Jr. Administration during this time was also in the middle of it’s War on Terror thoughout the Middle East, had invaded and conquered Sadaam Hussein’s Iraq and Taliban-held Afghanistan, and began it’s project of nation building in said countries. Moreover it began attempting to bring democracy to the Middle East–elections were held in Afghanistan and Iraq for a democratic government. The Bush Jr. Administration was furthermore insistent that the Palestinian Authority also hold it’s own fair elections, and in January, 2006, Palestinian elections were held. Hamas, a designated terrorist organization in the US and Israel, emerged with the highest vote count and most seats in the Palestinian parliament. Despite his encouragement for fair and open elections for Palestinians, Bush Jr. expressed his disapproval of Hamas’ politically strong entrance into the Palestinian parliament, stating,

“The Hamas party has made it clear that they do not support the right of Israel to exist. And I have made it clear so long as that’s their policy, that we will not support a Palestinian government made up of Hamas.” (President Bush Remarks on Hamas Victory in Palestinian Elections (January 2006) (

One could see how this could be frustrating to those who held the elections, and it further shows the incompetence of the US government in understanding the culture of the Middle East. This same exact mistake of the US government’s incompetence and lack of understanding was made in later President Obama’s strong endorsement of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libia, Tunisia, and Syria in 2011.

Returning to the issue of Gaza, later in 2007 a civil war erupted between Palestinian Authority party Fatah, and Hamas. When the dust settled from the conflict, Fatah had gained jurisdiction in Palestinian cities in Yehudah and Shomron, and Hamas had a firm hold on Gaza. (Hamas takes control of Gaza | Palestinian territories | The Guardian) The Israeli government then promptly set up a blockade on Gaza, as Hamas was vowed to Israel’s destruction, and the Gaza debacle has been with the Israeli government ever since, with every few years a war between Hamas and Israel–Hamas shooting rockets into the country and Israel committing air strikes and sending in ground forces to quell the shooting… until now when a security fiasco happens and Hamas terrorists in large numbers have been able to make it out of Gaza as far as the Israeli town Ofakim in the south.

As I look back on this, I wonder, given the situation, could we have done better? As far as the withdrawal from Gaza goes, the answer is yes, absolutely! And yet, given that it happened, and that even at the end of this conflict, given the fact that when we’re done Hamas may still govern in Gaza, what could we do?

With all this, I’m reminded of Sun Tzu’s maxim as quoted above–to never corner an enemy, and to always leave room for him to escape–which seems to be exactly what we have not done in Gaza; Hamas is a cornered enemy. 

This is not to provoke sympathy for Hamas. In point of fact, they can all go to hell. If they want martyrdom, well, in dealing with the IDF I believe that they came to the right place. May we oblige them, and may they get a rude awakening at seeing horrific hell in the afterlife instead heaven. However, our policy in Gaza, it could be stated at least per Sun Tzu, has not been strategically sound. We can and always will win a fight against Hamas in Gaza, with G-d’s help. However, leaving them there I would argue is not only against good strategy, I would also argue that it is unethical to the innocent on both sides of the war.

So yes, I am going to pull a Rav Meir Kahane statement and say it–they need to be shipped out–not only for our own children’s sake, but also for theirs. Let them have their own training camps somewhere else in the Middle East, let them practice their own tarnished version of Islam, let them abuse their own children with antisemitism and military training, but let them do it somewhere else. Gaza is literally shut off from the rest of the world and is therefore a breeding ground for children to grow up exclusively indoctrinated in hatred for and the destruction of Israel and all of her sons and daughters. In point of fact they are evacuated and sent somewhere else in the Middle East, their children have a better chance at a normal life–a life not stuck behind a wall with a leadership that indoctrinates them into a sick worldview of killing Jews and butchering their babies, as we have seen.


I do not believe that the current government has the strength or will to do such a thing, but I hope and pray that we will not have a worse wake-up call than what we’ve already experienced.

About the Author
Yehonatan was born in Dover, Tennessee, US. After converting to Judaism under the conservative movement, he made Aliyah, and converted again in Jerusalem under the Israeli Rabbanut at Machon Meir. He lives in Northern Israel with his wife, daughter, and son.
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