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Five Must-Read Articles on Israel and Gaza

Israel Declares Cease-Fire: Goals Met. What does this all mean? Here are some 5 Must-Read articles that offer perspective on what has happened and is happening:

1. Gaza and Hamas: Was it about Education or Eradication? The focus for Israel and Barack Obama’s team should be on creating a clear choice for Hamas for the world to see: Are you about destroying Israel or building Gaza? As Thomas Friedman writes:

I was one of the few people who argued back in 2006 that Israel actually won the war in Lebanon started by Hezbollah. You need to study that war and its aftermath to understand Gaza and how it is part of a new strategic ballgame in the Arab-Israel arena, which will demand of the Obama team a new approach.

2. David Forman asks (and answers) 20 Questions:

15: Why is the world demonstrating against Israel, displaying pictures of Osama bin Laden’s comrades-in-arms, Hassan Nasrallah and Khaled Mashaal, as national heroes, instead of holding mass protests against terrorists (Islamic extremists) who stage their vicious attacks upon innocents in Mumbai, Bali, London, Madrid, Jordan, Egypt, the Twin Towers, and Israel – to mention only a few? David answers: Good point.

18: Thanks a lot, as if I didn’t know. Could it be that I sense that no matter how justified our war is with Hamas, that we are adopting the tactics of our enemy, or is there no choice but to fight Hamas according to its ground rules, thereby rationalizing away some of our objectively horrid behavior and, in the process, suspending all Jewish moral concerns, reducing us to a nation like any other nation? David answers: All the above.

3. Two Israeli Leftists, A.B. Yehoshua and Gideon Levy, face off on the Moral Implications of the Gaza war. A.B. Yehoshua writes:

There is something absurd in the comparison you draw about the number of those killed. When you ask how it can be that they killed three of our children and we cause the killing of a hundred and fifty, the inference one can draw is that if they were to kill a hundred of our children (for example, by the Qassam rockets that struck schools and kindergartens in Israel that happened to be empty), we would be justified in also killing a hundred of their children.

In other words, it is not the killing itself that troubles you but the number. On the face of it, one could answer you cynically by saying that when there will be two hundred million Jews in the Middle East it will be permissible to think in moral terms about comparing the number of victims on each side. But that is, of course, a debased argument. After all, you, Gideon, who live among the people, know very well that we are not bent on killing Palestinian children to avenge the killing of our children. All we are trying to do is get their leaders to stop this senseless and wicked aggression, and it is only because of the tragic and deliberate mingling between Hamas fighters and the civilian population that children, too, are unfortunately being killed. The fact is that since the disengagement, Hamas has fired only at civilians. Even in this war, to my astonishment, I see that they are not aiming at the army concentrations along the border but time and again at civilian communities.

Levy responds.

4. Title aside, The New York Times offers a surprisingly balanced review of the challenges of determining ethics in Urban Warfare in Weighing Crimes and Ethics in the Fog of Urban Warfare. They analyze the actions of Israel and Hamas. Here’s one taste, a frontal critique on Hamas, not usual for the New York Times:

The other key legal principle is discrimination: has a military struggled hard enough to hit only military targets and combatants, while trying to avoid purely civilian targets and noncombatants?

Deciding requires an investigation into battlefield circumstances that cannot be carried out while the fighting rages, and such judgments are especially difficult in urban guerrilla warfare, when fighters like Hamas live among the civilian population and take shelter there. While Israel is the focus of most criticism, legal experts agree that Hamas, a radical Islamic group classified by the United States and Europe as terrorist, violates international law.

Shooting rockets out of Gaza aimed at Israeli cities and civilians is an obvious violation of the principle of discrimination and fits the classic definition of terrorism. Hamas fighters are also putting civilians at undue risk by storing weapons among them, including in mosques, schools and allegedly hospitals, too, making them potential military targets. While urban and guerrilla warfare is not illegal, by fighting in the midst of civilians, often in civilian clothing, Hamas may also bring risk to noncombatants.

5. Of course, always check Jack’s War in Gaza Update (Ceasefire Edition) and the Muqata’s Israel @ War Special Edition.

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