Blogs are great!
Blogs are essentially democratic, in two ways. Firstly, of course, on the basis of allowing pretty well unfettered access to people who wish to disseminate opinions. And secondly, because they (presumably) tend to stimulate debate and thereby (presumably) may promote social and political outcomes that reflect broader-based input.
It is with that in mind, that I am compelled to challenge several aspects of a recent blog that claims to tell its readers “What this war is about” – surely an immodest undertaking, given the assumptions of readers’ basic intelligence, as well as of the likelihood that readers of The Blogs are relatively well informed about the events of the past 11 days, as well as about the historical background.
1. Hyperbole is the enemy of cogent argument. PLEASE, Hamas is a genocidal band of mad zealots (even a cabal, or an ideological sub-category of an even greater evil – Iran), capable of the most atrocious barbarity (a la ISIS, and Al Qaeda, and, yes, Iran), but to call it a regime, defies reality. And YES, it must be destroyed, but not by going into Gaza at this point. There is no direct logical line between the real need to subdue Hamas and the actions advocated in the piece – actions, apparently, the IDF and our own “leaders” are contemplating. Hamas can be contained (it will be contained) without getting many more Israeli’s (including hostages) killed, and there’s no immediate urgency to doing that reflexively, without strategic considerations for the long term. And NO, on October 7, Israel DID NOT become “the most dangerous country in the world for Jews.” And “…Destroying Hamas” would be a good thing, but surely NOT “a crucial step in restoring [any] broken promise.” Hyperbole is not the language of reasoned argument.
2. “We need to make our case against Hamas not by seeking the world’s pity but its understanding.” A beautiful line. Worthy of a master, but superfluous here, if not misleading in its messaging. The world understands Hamas quite well. Hamas made things even clearer to everyone – supporters and opponents equally – on October 7th. And the world does not require perush Halevi for this atrocity and its perpetrators. And if anyone should know it, surely Mr. Halevi knows that decades of seeking the world’s understanding, by explications and by citing injustice, is usually a fruitless undertaking.
3. The real and astute “….warning[s] that Israel is about to repeat the mistakes America made in Afghanistan and Iraq. … there is no quick fix…. You need an end-game, a vision for Gaza the morning after, a vision for peace with the Palestinians.” begets a nonchalant ” I fear they may be right“, followed by “But those concerns are irrelevant to Israel’s most urgent need, which is the immediate restoration of our shattered deterrence.” Fallacious logic yet again. The concept of folly comes to mind, in its purest manifestation – yes, like the folly of US in Viet Nam and in Iraq, and successive follies of regimes from Russia, to the USA, the UK in Afghanistan. REALLY?! “most urgent need, which is the immediate restoration of our shattered deterrence.” Hyperbole usually leads to flawed thinking, rarely more evident than in this hysterical sentence. How many more ultimately futile “shows of force” and demonstrations of Israeli deterrence capabilities will be necessary for the recognition that desperate people, especially from within a cult of martyrdom, will not be forever deterred? And, Hamas already knows about our deterrents. Our deterrence is not “shattered” and therefore does not require restoration. If anything is shattered, it is the political leadership of our country, a corrupt band of zealous ideologues that has interfered (and undermined!) more than any “leadership” in our history in the supposed independent professional functioning of the IDF, internal policing, and the judiciary, all for dogmatic and political motives. Halevi undermines much of his own argument by, CORRECTLY, stating that “Astonishingly but not surprisingly, the government’s abandonment of the south persisted even after the massacre. The state has been criminally ineffective in dealing with the basic needs of the survivors. That incompetence is a direct result of this government, which has systematically replaced professional civil servants with political hacks, undoing decades of reform in the civil service.” Deal with the internal mess – the healing, the clean-up, the restoration of real priorities, and the holding to account of the delinquent “leaders” who virtually invited this tragedy with polemics, and actually facilitated it with focus on their biblical “missions” and their irredentist ambitions.
Going into Gaza, and getting thousands more killed, will not solve that fundamental problem. The “most urgent need” is to attend to Tikun Israel, not Tikun Olam, and to not divert any focus or energy to self-harming displacement activity.
Now to the plum of Halevi’s misbegotten argument: “No one has offered alternatives!” Such outlandish falsehoods usually emanate from Netanyahu, Trump, Smotrich, and their ilk. There are plenty of alternatives, several logical and implementable ones that have been around for decades, but see instant opposition based on outdated security concerns, as well as atavistic parochial opposition.
To end on a constructive note, there is a totally new “alternative” that was proposed, three days ago, within the very space used by Halevi to bemoan the absence any. Empty current Gaza through incentives. Offer a real alternative for peace-seeking folk. Allow them to move out and go on with their lives in a “Gaza V. 2023”- a totally disarmed Gaza with security guaranteed by the US, EU, and NATO.
A Gaza that will be for those who want to live and let live, undisturbed by racist warmongering ideologues from within and without (who continue to harbor decades old plaints and resentments as opposed to accepting some realities that do not suit their exclusionary dogma), will also be a model for a peaceable West Bank Palestinian State whose time has surely come. Only then, after the vast majority of humans who just want to pursue their lives depart from Gaza to a more hospitable and safe alternative, allow the IDF (upon first provocation) to destroy the vipers and hyenas that are currently interspersed among (and have control over) a majority of a peace-seeking population. And, for the love of the God you so frequently invoke, spare us the biblical and historical struggles analogies. We are not defenseless lambs, and the fact that others want to destroy us does not mean that they have the capability to do so. We, like many nations that have gone before ours, are capable of self-destruction, and preventing that IS the “most urgent need“.