Category Archives: ARABS

War in Israel and my old Volkswagen

The latest war between Israel and Hamas again raises an important question: Is this the war that Israel will finally fight to win?

When I started college, I bought a used Volkswagen at a very good price from the widow of a family friend. It had been her husband’s car and she was not going to drive it again. For me, it was a good deal because, for financial reasons, I was going to commute rather than live on or near campus. Without the car, I would have had to rely on public transportation, and my commute, rather than taking 45 minutes each way, would have been double that time.

I owned that car for the next eight years. It was a terrible lemon. It left me stranded on the freeway innumerable times, including one of the worst rainstorms the early 1980s (a time of torrential rains) had to offer. The car broke down in the Sierras, the Rockies, and the heat of Texas. Speaking of Texas, not only did the car not have A/C, but the heating system broke and it blew hot air into the car all year long.

The problem was that I was in a situation that all poor people know: I could always scrape together the money to repair the car but I never had enough money to replace the car. And of course, that hole kept getting deeper because every repair further depleted any fund I might have started to buy a new car or, at least, a better, more reliable used car. By the end of my eight years of ownership, I had managed cumulatively to spend more money on that wreck of a vehicle than I would have spent had I just bought another car.

I keep thinking of my travails with that old car when I look back on Israel’s wars with the local Arabs.

An interlude here: I am no longer calling them the “Palestinians,” which gives them a historic claim to the land — by tying them to the Philistines or even the Palestinians from the Roman era —  that they utterly lack. The Arabs in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel itself are Ottoman Empire Arabs who have been on the land for roughly 150 years. That’s a mere blip compared to the fact that Jews have had a continuous presence in Israel for over 4,000 years.

The concept of Palestinian nationalism was an idea that Yassir Arafat cooked up in the 1960s. Every time we use the word Palestinian, we are giving credence to that historic lie. Henceforth, I will refer to Israel’s enemies in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel itself solely as Arabs — or perhaps, Jordanians, because that is their true nationality if they can be said to have one.

Interlude over. Back to my post about my old car and Israel’s approach to war.

Since the Israeli War of Independence, which was a purely existential war and which Israel had to fight to victory, Israel has never fought a war to the point of victory. Instead, in large part because of international pressure, Israel invariably fights wars to the point at which the Arabs demand a truce.

The international pressure on Israel for truces is always enormous. Brendan O’Neill points out that Israel is the only country in the world denied the right to self-defense. Others have made this point before but I think O’Neill does a particularly good job.

Biden, for example, is already pressuring Israel to end the violence, as if having thousands of rockets raining down on your entire country is just something you can walk away from. (To get an idea of the scope of the barrage, imagine rockets raining down on 1/3 of America, started at the entire Eastern seaboard and moving west.) The only infinitesimally small satisfaction I’m having from all of this is watching Democrat Zionist Jews on my social media grappling with the fact that, as I warned them, Biden wants to see Israel gone. Their struggles with cognitive dissonance amuse me.

But again, back to my main point about how all of the last 70 years of wars have ended….

Israel never conquers the Arabs. Or, to follow my car metaphor, she never buys a new car. Instead, by stopping short of victory, she does the equivalent of muddling along with my old car. She keeps doing temporary fixes that invariably fail, forcing her to engage in painful and costly repairs. Unlike my car, though, the cost isn’t just money. It’s blood. That’s a much higher cost.

And it’s not just Israeli blood. It’s Arab blood too. The first casualties of Hamas’s strike with a father and daughter (16 years old) who were Muslim Arab residents of Israel. A 5-year-old boy and a 21-year old soldier were killed. And Hamas has managed to kill more than 3 dozen Gaza residents with misfired rockets. The numbers will only go up.

The only way this will end is if Israel finally fights to victory. In the long run, a single victory will come at a lower cost for Israel and the surrounding Arabs than these endlessly dribbled out engagements.

Currently, Netanyahu is pretending that this time the Israelis will fight to win. Hamas, as it always does, is trying to get a truce that leaves it in a better position, even though Israel has greater military might. This article explains Hamas’s strategy:

The current major escalation between Israel and Hamas is a result of the terror organization’s long-term strategic vision aimed at ultimately crowning it as “Jerusalem’s defender,” both in the internal Palestinian arena and throughout the Middle East.

[snip]

The move serves Hamas’ interests on multiple levels. On the Palestinian street, it positions Hamas as the dominant party in the struggle for leadership with Fatah. In the Arab world, it pushes back against Arab states engaged in normalization in Israel, by sending out the message to their publics that these countries are counterfeit defenders of Jerusalem, while Hamas is the genuine deal.

This creates long-term legitimacy for Hamas in the Arab world, reversing its isolation. It could see Hamas receive significant support and funding in the future, even if it currently risks the immediate goals of rebuilding Gaza now.

[snip]

Hamas has, in fact, begun sending out feelers for a truce, as seen in statements calling on international intervention over Israel’s decision to stop fuel movement into Gaza.

Those truce efforts (which are really victory efforts) are continuing. This vaguely anti-Israel “news” story was just posted 30 minutes before I pasted it here:

Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel on Thursday, and Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes. The relentless escalation of hostilities came even as Egyptian negotiators held in-person talks with the two sides, intensifying efforts at mediation.

[snip]

Many world leaders have condemned the violence and urged restraint, and a visit by Egyptian security officials was a significant development in international efforts to bring about a cease-fire; such efforts have been key to ending past rounds of fighting. The officials met first with Hamas leaders in Gaza before holding talks with the Israelis in Tel Aviv, two Egyptian intelligence officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Netanyahu is engaged in the usual pretense of “holding firm”:

“It will take more time, but with great firmness … we will achieve our goal — to restore peace to the State of Israel,” he said.

The previous evening, Israeli TV reported Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet authorized a widening of the offensive that the military says has already hit 600 targets in Gaza.

Reading it, one might think, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this time Israel will fight the war to win, rather than hemorrhaging blood and lives for another several decades.” But then reality kicks in. Sooner or later, the international pressure will be too much to bear, coming as it will be pictures of those dead children the Arabs always provide for the cameras. At that point, as she always does, Israel will not take the steps necessary to change the dynamic (e.g., to buy that new car). Instead, she walks away, once again having achieved nothing other than keeping the rattletrap of current Israeli-Arab policy on the road for a little while longer.

[VIDEO] Why don’t you support Israel?

The latest excellent video from Prager U features former Canadian PM, Stephen Harper, explaining why Israel deserves support, not condemnation.

When I was Prime Minister of Canada, I was often asked this question: “Why do you support Israel?”

My response, in effect, was always the same: Why wouldn’t I support Israel?

Why wouldn’t I support a fellow democratic nation where open elections, free speech, and religious tolerance are the everyday norm? Why wouldn’t I support a country with a vibrant free press and an independent judiciary? Why wouldn’t I support a valuable trading partner and a well-spring of amazing technological innovation? Why wouldn’t I support our most critical ally in the Middle East, and in the international struggle against terrorism?

In a rational world, in a world where simple common sense prevailed, the question “why do you support Israel?” would be like asking “why do you support Australia?” or…”Canada?”

But we don’t live in that rational, common-sense world. So the case for Israel has to be made over and over. I, for one, am happy to make it.

Let me start with this:

Every military action Israel has ever taken has been to protect itself. Israel is not an aggressor state; it’s a defensive state. This has been true from its founding to this day.

As a fledgling nation in 1948, Israel was immediately attacked by its Arab neighbors. Their goal was not to contain the tiny new country; it was to annihilate it. No nation came to Israel’s aid–not the United States, not my country, Canada, not the United Kingdom–no one. They all thought Israel would lose. But it didn’t lose. It won.

In 1967, Israel’s neighbors again sought to utterly destroy the Jewish State, a nation that had then existed for two decades. Again, Israel prevailed. And It survived another all-out attack in 1973.

Those are the big wars, but I’m not sure there has been a single day in Israel’s entire history when some act of terror has not been waged against it–inside or outside its borders.

There have been two bloody waves of terror, so-called intifadas, in the late 1980s and the early 2000s, when Israelis were blown up on buses, at pizza parlors and celebrating weddings. There have been incursions from terror groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon. There have been thousands of rocket attacks from Hamas in the Gaza Strip–even after Israel completely withdrew from that territory in 2005.

In between the wars, in between the terror, Israel has sought peace with its neighbors. And it has achieved peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. For others, however, every Israeli gesture for peace is met with incitement and violence.

I recount this history for one reason: Any nation that has endured what Israel has endured could easily have become a police state. But through it all, Israel has never abandoned its commitment to the rule of law, to democracy, to tolerance. One-fifth of its citizens are Muslim. They enjoy the same rights as Jewish citizens. They occupy key positions in the nation’s courts, press and government. And they have their own parties representing them in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. To say that Muslims in Israel are the freest Muslims in the region is an understatement. How about this as a human rights test: Prisoners in Israel, be they Jewish or Arab, are well-treated, well-fed, and have access to the best possible medical care. Parents and spouses of these prisoners know where they are and that they are safe. Who else in the region but Israel can make that claim?

Through all the wars and all the terror, Israel has survived and, especially in the last twenty years, it has thrived. It’s known as “start-up nation,” and with good reason. Key components of your cell phone and your laptop were designed in Israel. A drug or a medical device that has saved your life or the life of a loved one may have been developed in Israel. Yet there are leftist politicians, activists, artists, academics and college students who devote their lives to denouncing Israel, calling for boycotts, demanding it be cut off from academic and professional societies.

Do they denounce the Palestinian leadership that hasn’t held an election in well over a decade? Do they denounce the leadership of Hamas, who use women and children as human shields to protect their fighters?

No. They denounce free, vibrant, democratic, innovative Israel.

With all the brutal and violent regimes, not only in the Middle East, but around the world, how is one to explain singling out Israel for condemnation? Sadly, only one explanation fits: anti-Semitism.

Do these haters of Israel question the legitimacy of any other democratic nation? Of any nation, for that matter? Of course, the answer is “no.” Somehow, they only manage to oppose the Jewish one.

The State of Israel has now existed for 70 years. It is one of the freest, most prosperous, most successful nations on earth.

Why do I support Israel? Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t anyone?

I’m Stephen Harper, 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, for Prager University.

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