The Gaza War: What You Don’t Know, But Should

As an unhappy bystander in the Gaza War, I have rather a privileged position to share with the outside world. With the ground and aerial battles raging for the most part out of earshot, from my vantage point I can bear witness to media blitzes being conducted for or by both sides. But now that the missile fire has miraculously abated in the Jerusalem area, I’ve done with hand wringing and, though I remain deeply concerned for the lives and property of Jews living in the Southern Israel, where I visited just before the official outbreak of hostilities, the time has come to make some sense out of what is happening.

With Their Backs Against the Wall

As the war broke out in Gaza or, more correctly, the south of Israel fell under siege, the news on the chareidi radio channel on pretty much constantly in the kitchen was mixed. On one hand, we were hearing about missiles that had thankfully landed in open areas or been deftly intercepted, and on the other how the present government of the State of Israel was about to withstand a vote of no confidence that would lead to immediate calls for elections and hopefully a regime change.

Listening to clips of Knesset speakers calling for the fellows — Livni and Lapid — to preserve their dignity by withdrawing from the ruling coalition now. “How stupid,” I thought, “not to back any kind of government when the nation is under attack,” yet now in retrospect I fully understand that initiating the Mighty Rock campaign was no less than a godsend for the Netanyahu government. Nothing less than a call for unity when under fire could have saved the day.

Strangely, pretty much the same can be said of Hamas. Despite the fact that CNN and others are party to the rhetoric that Islamic extremists are capable of maintaining a democratic form of government, most of us in Israel know better. They may have come in power purporting to offer humanitarian and social services to the hodgepodge of Arabs living in the Strip, but that was only the sheep’s clothing they wore to get votes.

Probably the correct, or at least Israeli perception, of the enemy is that Hamas is a mafia with a stranglehold on the people of Gaza, which is why the IDF continues against it’s best interests to provide for humanitarian cease-fires and truckloads of food and medicines that are not only aiding and abetting their foe, but also allowing Hamas to regroup.

That said the nature of a mafia is not only on occasion to be endlessly kind while inversely having no respect for human life vis-a-vis its own self-serving intents and purposes, but rather to constantly expand it’s power and influence or die. That said, it is now clear in retrospect that the recent peace was rather a hudna or lull in hostilities while Hamas was busy digging tunnels and importing rockets.

Given the above, it becomes clear that the Kerry/Obama pursuit of peace in the Middle East is a delusion. The bottom line is not only that radical Islam as practiced by potential or active militants worldwide is diametrically opposed to Western cultural values, but more specifically totally intolerant of “the Zionist regime.” Thus all of them, wherever they are, will be eager to portray Israel as the oppressor, and both the democratic press and governments will be willing to swallow it hook, line and sinker.

But the truth of the matter is that Hamas and the Government of Israel are in a fight to the finish, simply because each of them is fighting for their lives.

In Praise of Our Valiant Soldiers

Though I am not physically fighting this war as, besides being too old, I am, like my children, not ideologically prepared to do so. Yet when it comes to the fallen and injured, we have no end of concern and sorrow to offer and no pity whatsoever for the Arab population, even the for silent majority who are beleaguered and exploited by their leaders.

An in-law from America recently sent me a link to a Jerusalem Post article discussing a Haniyeh mutawa that declared the Gaza hostilities to be a war of attrition to be won because the Israelis are morally weak and will fold when there are enough war dead and captured citizens and soldiers. Besides the fact that the mindset of any scion of Islamic militarism is unfathomable to anyone steeped in Western cultural values, Ismail the Scourge has got it all wrong.

Overlooking the ranks of the Israeli fallen is a cheap way out, and underestimating any Jew’s, let alone an Israeli’s ability to bounce back is downright foolish. Not only has Am Yisroel withstood centuries of abuse across several continents, their ability to make kiddush shem shamayim is not likely to stop here. The soldiers in the field flushing terrorists out of tunnels that have been dug in flagrant disavowal of Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation are being attacked because they are Jews, and not just because they are wearing Israeli uniforms.

But what bothers me is that our boys are being made to fight an unfair war, and let me explain what I mean.

One of the first to fall was an Ethiopian recruit in his 30’s from a family in our neighborhood. They set up a mourning tent, and one of my married daughters who lives nearby went to express her condolences. There was hardly anybody there, so when she got back to her apartment she called her unmarried sister and urged her to go. My daughter called a friend who lives in town and the next night they went, only to find a very big turnout.

What impressed her most, besides the enormous amount of food and watermelon being served to callers in accordance with the Sepharadi custom, was the variety of people at the tent. She said she spent most of the time that she was there just grappling with the reality of all kinds of yiddenkind who had come to show their solidarity with bereaved parents in their 70s, who had already lost another son somewhere along the way, and an older brother who seemed to be direly in need of grief counselling.

Among those present were two older IDF officers in uniform. They were probably lieutenants, given the way they were talking, but my daughter knows nothing of military rank. The officers were trying to figure out which of the recent fallen they had come to mourn.

When they had picked up enough information to get past that, they began talking. “This is no war for young soldiers,” the officers said. “They don’t have a chance. What no one is saying is that we are finding heavy drugs in the tunnels. These Palestinians are fighting like mad men. No one has any defense.”

What this means is that Hamas is simply sending its people out to die. None of its so-called army is fighting for the greater glory of Islam, a proposed pan-Arab caliphate, or the promise of a place in a very lush and sensual afterlife, but most likely because they have been stuffed up with heroin and sent out of the caverns at gunpoint. What chance does anyone have against something like that?

About the Author
Y.B. Fishel holds cum laude degrees from Princeton and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as written ordinations from members of Israel's highest, ultra-Orthodox authorities. His reason for being around ToI is to provide a chareidi insider's view of what's happening in Israel.