Peregrine flight

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Vai en shalom?

Several friends have asked me what my thoughts are regarding Israel and Hamas. Honestly, it is very hard for me to sum them up today, the situation makes me sick to my stomach. This attack occurred exactly fifty years after the Yom Kippur War, to the week.

...unlike in 1973, this is not an attempt to occupy and hold territory. It is essentially a large-scale deadly raid, aiming to kill, destroy, and take prisoners and hostages back to Gaza. It resembles the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s attacks in the 1970s, only on a far larger scale. Current numbers suggest that more than 600 Israelis have been killed – the overwhelming majority of them civilians. Many families were gunned down in their homes. Thousands are injured. This was by far the deadliest day in Israeli history, surpassing the worst moments of the 2000s suicide bombings or the 1948 war. About 100 Israeli hostages are believed to be now within Gaza.

The initial attack was directed at young Israeli kids, many wearing tie dye, at a trance rave, trying to have a good time and live a quasi normal life. 

The attackers reportedly entered the festival in para-gliders.

Hundreds were slain, women and children kidnapped. Who does this? Why target youth? Is it because they are defenseless?

I was thinking about being a kid myself at a dead show in Las Vegas, imagining myself tripping and joyful and suddenly coming under a rocket attack or machine gun fire. 


But over 260 young Israelis trying to have a good time are now dead.

And the Democratic Socialists of America taunted the casualties at a parade in New York today, chanting "700" and mocking crying motions. Congressional Representatives and "squad" members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.)  Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) and Greg Casar (Texas) are all part of this organization.

The place where this awful event took place, Urim, is 40 km from my cousins' kibbutz, Revivim.

Iran's hand is all over this, with coordinated attacks from Hezbollah in the north. Blinken may deny it today but it is obvious. [ed. Hamas has now admitted it.]

Hamas's attacks on Israel, which began Saturday morning, were planned weeks in advance with assistance from Iranian security officials, according to a Sunday report from The Wall Street Journal.

The report, citing senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, stated that the Iranian officials "gave the green light" for the attacks during a meeting between them and Hamas in Beirut last week.

IRGC officers worked with Hamas since August to plan incursions from the "air, land, and sea," the report noted. Officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were also at the meetings in Beirut.

Let's look at Iran; last week a young Kurdish girl was beaten into a coma on a subway train by the morality police for failing to wear a head covering. The perfidious authorities say it was merely a case of low blood sugar. Witnesses, journalists and family members are suddenly disappearing. The usual.

I said it then and I will say it again now. Obama's attempt at realpolitik with Iran was misplaced then and any continuation of such a rapprochement by Biden is a mistake now.

...even were we to indulge the fantasy that the revolutionary Shiite sharia state would conscientiously abide by American-dictated restrictions (no doubt between chants of “Death to America!”), money is fungible: $6 billion in new funds supposedly earmarked for food and medicine equals $6 billion in existing funds that can be shifted to Iran’s main export: jihad – like what’s happening in Israel right now. But just as notable is the Biden administration’s precious assurance about how Qatar can be trusted to make sure all is well. Qatar just happens to be the longstanding home of the political leadership of . . .  wait for it . . . Hamas. 

Like it or not, the middle east is engaged in the latest chapter in a longstanding theological, military and cultural war. The Muslims have a long game plan and the loss of their people in this battle means little to a group who prize martyrdom above all else. No matter the result, and the amount of death and suffering their own people will endure, they will look at this provocation as a victory.

My heart hurts. My father was born in Palestine in 1926, twenty two years before Israeli Independence. In some ways I am the son of a Palestinian. I see the conflict from both sides. They say that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, in regards to peace accords, well, you can say the same about Israel. The people are more similar than either side would like to admit. Both sides are consumed by the end game and winning.

The Israelis feigned allegiance to Oslo and the initial conceptions of a two state solution and then riddled the second state with settlements, ruining any possibility of a contiguous homeland. They allowed right wing religious ultranationalists to start a campaign to reclaim biblical Judea and Samaria and here we are.

You want a religious war, you've got a religious war. Recently actions in Jerusalem brought things to a head.

Hamas leaders said Saturday’s operation came in response to a series of provocative moves by Israelis, including the storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem — a site known to Jews as the Temple Mount — by ultranationalist Israeli settlers.

Leaders in Israel’s far-right government have pushed for a greater Jewish presence at the site, which holds religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians. It has long been a flash point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over Jerusalem, and a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

So stupid and avoidable, but Netanyahu is beholden to these people for support for both his coalition and his push for judicial overhaul. 


I have lived through several war situations in Israel and personally been through the rocket attacks many times. But I also had Palestinian friends during my times there and noticed that communication between arabs and jews got much worse in the interim and over time. Both sides demonize each other and then compartmentalize each other and finally fail to see each other as human beings.

I have visited the West Bank. It is like a giant jail cell. And people in jail get very angry and at times they boil over and blow up, especially when they have no hope. That is when they turn to religion, in this case, extremely cruel religion that allows its adherents to engage in unspeakable acts. Hopelessness turns normal people into terrorists. Eight in 10 Gazans live in poverty, according to the United Nations, and 95 percent of the population lacks regular access to clean water.

The Israelis had some time to do something about the jail cell and they did not. And now that opportunity has passed and we are left with murder and hostages and unspeakable cruelty directed at men, women and children.

Many Israelis pretend that the Palestinians never existed, that there is no such thing. That Israel was promised by G-D 5k plus years ago and that is that. But I can guarantee that when Herzl got there, when my grandfather arrived from Poland, there were real human beings living there. 

And many of those people had been working their olive groves and tending their goats there for hundreds of years, since time immemorial. They existed and it is Israeli hubris to pretend that they did not. Conversely, the Jews have lived there for over five thousand years and the Muslims built their temple right on top of the Jewish Second Temple.

Some like to say, "Well, Israel is so small and the Arab world so big, let them move somewhere else." Sort of like we did to the native Americans. Can you imagine someone saying that to the people of your original homeland, how do you think they would take that? And so we had the nakba, the uprooting.

Now it is true that a Palestinian state was created by the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes Picot Agreement in 1914. It was envisioned to encompass much of present day Syria and Jordan. But Winston Churchill needed to throw his Hashemite allies a bone and so created Transjordan in 1924.

It was unfortunate because the population was over 97% what we would call Palestinian and the Hashemites represented less than 3%. But they continue to rule modern day Jordan (which was renamed when King Abdullah occupied the West Bank in 1948) and the Palestinians got the shaft and were also deprived of a true homeland.

And now we are left with Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter and like its benefactors in Tehran, wants to wipe out the presence of Jews in the middle east and throughout the world.


So here we are. The Israelis are going to extract their tooth for a tooth, with understandable vengeance. Gaza is going to be flattened and a lot of people, both innocent and culpable, will lose their lives.  The Arabs will get nowhere and the Israelis will even have more antagonism and hatred towards these inhabitants who will not allow them to lead normal lives. Iran will continue to use both Hezbollah and Hamas as a proxy against their sworn enemy Israel.

And the entire area will be no closer to a solution that respects the well being and territorial integrity of all parties involved.

Am I making a claim of moral equivalence here? No, I am not. These horrific actions against innocent Israelis, many children and women, are inexcusable. But they were not unforeseeable. Israel is surrounded by mortal enemies committed to its destruction, Iran being the principle antagonist.

People in the middle east do not get to have normal lives.


Shalom, shalom, vai en shalom? (peace, peace, where is the peace?)


Finest said...

"If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions."

Abba Eban

The 6 billion Biden-bucks sent to Iran just paid for slaughter.

Blue Heron said...

Hi Robert, your post today captured some of my thoughts about what is happening in the Middle East. It brought up a couple of questions in my mind related to the general situation in some of your commentary in previous years. Specifically the growth of non-productive members of Israeli society, and the political pandering of them leading to dysfunctional government policies that seem to me then and now as leading to a death spiral for a society, considering that the birth rate for citizens whose only civic duty is prayer is so high.

That brought up the larger question in my mind about assimilation. How have the Jews remained separate all these iterations? Why the consistency of outsider relationships leading to scapegoating?

I guess my thought there this morning is that those guys in the black hats are really rather odious. Is this maybe something I have been missing in terms of historical narratives?

Blue Heron said...


Jon Harwood said...

Yeah, you have it right. I think, in addition to all that you pointed out this also demonstrates the downside of simply keeping a lid on the Palestinians. It works well 99% of the time, but when it doesn't work, it really doesn't work.