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Gaining Perspective on Gaza

Often I find that without a good historical perspective, understanding whatever is happening today in Israel and the Middle East is nearly impossible. So here are some better places to find news, and some answers to questions being asked. Make sure to read below about whether the demonstrations are filled with anti-Semitism or not.

Blogger Ima On (and off) the Bima suggests Let’s Take it Real World, Old School

I was talking with some folks (as I do constantly) about the matzav (situation) in Israel. I feel a bit obsessed, as I think many of my fellow Israel-lovers and bloggers do, with the news. I can’t stop refreshing Muqata and IsraellyCool and I scroll through my tweets looking for the news. There are so many misconceptions being played out in the mainstream media (MSM)…

So I offer this challenge to you, my dear readers. I am always asking you to blog or tweet or comment or visit. But today’s challenge is a little different.

I’m asking you to pick one site or post or picture that you feel is representative of The Truth — not the stuff being thrown around by the MSM but the stuff that you find to be Real and Right. Start, perhaps, with one of Jack’s round ups or one of Jameel’s liveblogs, or even just the count from your QassamCount status update.

After the blogs (some of my new favorites are on the bottom right column of this blog), go straight to the Israeli newspapers

Instead of focusing on CNN or Fox, New York Times or Wall Street Journal (each of whom can only offer a small amount of news, without adequate background), I invite you to peruse Ha’aretz newspaper for news from Israel. Then Jerusalem Post, and Ynet.

Follow it up with a peak at Rosner’s Domain (Jpost blog), the Los Angeles Israeli Consulate and AIPAC.

Don’t get lost in the partial news. Realize that “Israel Seeks to Minimize Civilian Casualties, Facilitate Humanitarian Assistance“.

Read here about Israel’s attempts to prevent civilian casualties while carrying out its defensive operations in Gaza and how Israel’s operations in Gaza are proportionate and in complete compliance with international law. Consider how Hamas intentionally places civilians at risk and how Israel is continuing to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

Jeff Jacoby writes “Yes, it’s anti-Semitism” in the Boston Globe (my paper from the “old country”) , noting:

Criticizing Israel doesn’t make you anti-Semitic: If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times. Yet somehow that message doesn’t seem to have reached the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who turned out last week to protest Israel’s military operation in Gaza. As their signs and chants made clear, it isn’t only the Jewish state’s policies they oppose. Their animus goes further.

Demonstrators chanted “Nuke, nuke Israel!” and carried placards accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and bearing such messages as: “Did Israel take notes during the Holocaust? Happy Hanukkah.” To the dozen or so supporters of Israel gathered across the street, one demonstrator shouted: “Murderers! Go back to the ovens! You need a big oven.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict induces strong passions, and the line that separates legitimate disapproval of Israel from anti-Semitism may not always be obvious. But it’s safe to assume the line has been crossed when you hear someone urging Jews “back to the ovens.”

By the way, some ask: Why won’t Israel agree to a cease-fire?

Israel is interested in securing a durable, sustainable cease-fire. But experience has taught Israel to insist on creating the conditions that will prevent Hamas from reopening rocket fire on Israeli civilians.

Last spring, Israel tested whether Hamas would move toward peace by accepting Egypt’s proposal for a six-month lull in fighting. Israel adhered to the calm while Hamas, with the aid of Iran, significantly enhanced its weapons arsenal by smuggling longer-range and more sophisticated rockets into Gaza from Egypt. In the weeks before the 6-month calm was set to expire, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets and mortars into Israel and unilaterally announced it would not agree to extend the six-month calm, which it had been routinely violating with sporadic rocket attacks.

Hamas has regularly said that it uses cease-fires or periods of calm merely as tactics in its continuing war against Israel. The Hamas leader in Damascus, Khaled Meshaal, said earlier this year that a period of calm “is a tactic in conducting the struggle. … It is normal for any resistance that operates in its people’s interest … to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit. … The battle is to be run this way and Hamas is known for that.”

Simply ceasing fire today may not create the necessary conditions to prevent future hostilities. A cease-fire without strong monitoring systems to prevent Hamas from smuggling even longer-range and more precise weapons into Gaza and building up its terrorist army may only lead to a more volatile situation in the future.

Others wonder: Why is Israel using disproportionate force?

Israel’s response to the ongoing terrorism from Gaza is proportionate and in complete compliance with international law. Israel’s actions to stop Hamas rocket attacks are proportional to the risk Israeli civilians—900,000 of whom are now within rocket range—have faced, including the real prospect of mass casualties. Israel need not wait for a rocket to slam into a school full of children before it acts.

Israel is carrying out its defensive operations in Gaza using an appropriate application of force and is taking dramatic action to minimize civilian casualties that virtually no other military in the world would do. Israel puts the lives of its own soldiers at risk by providing advance warning to civilians that it intends to carry out operations in specific locations. Israel uses pinpoint targeting to achieve its goals. Israel drops leaflets and makes phone calls to targeted areas to warn citizens they are in danger, even if this means losing the element of surprise.

In contrast, Hamas deliberately attacks Israeli civilians and intentionally uses its own people as human shields. While Israel makes every effort to minimize civilian casualties, international law precludes Hamas from using civilians to protect legitimate military targets, as Hamas regularly does. Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states, “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.” The responsibility for civilian casualties when the civilians are used as human shields lies with the party that deliberately places them at risk, namely Hamas.

Israel’s military operation in Gaza is an act of self-defense, a right enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Its aim is to put an end to the more than 6,300 rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli citizens since Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Just some thoughts…

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