<![CDATA[Hedgehogs.net: '' related content (page 4)]]> http://www.hedgehogs.net/tag/israel?offset=30 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352833/hamas-versus-israel-moral-clarity-awards Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:29:25 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352833/hamas-versus-israel-moral-clarity-awards <![CDATA[Hamas Versus Israel: Moral Clarity Awards]]> piece, I offered ten candidates for the Moral Fog Award.

These were countries, institutions, and leaders who couldn't, or wouldn't, make a clear moral distinction between Israel, a democratic nation seeking nothing more than quiet on its border with Hamas-ruled Gaza, and Hamas, a terrorist regime determined to fulfill its charter calling for Israel's destruction.

Before moving on to my top ten candidates for the Moral Clarity Award, it's worth noting two must-additions to that first list.

One is Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who, mind-bogglingly, condemned Israel for not sharing its Iron Dome system with Gaza's "governing authority," i.e., Hamas, and faulted the U.S. for assisting Israel with the defensive shield and not doing the same for Gaza.

And the other are the five Latin American nations - Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Peru - that recalled their ambassadors from Israel, a step taken by no one else.

These countries, to the surprise of many, showed a lack of sensitivity to the danger faced by Israel from Hamas, and to the millions of Israelis forced to rush to shelters at a moment's notice as rockets and missiles, more than 3,000 in total, were aimed at their country.

And now to the Moral Clarity Award winners, noting that, fortunately, there were more worthy candidates than space provides for here.

The United States, which remains Israel's closest friend and most indispensable ally.

Never for a moment did the U.S. question Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas-instigated violence. When it came to the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, the U.S. stood totally alone in opposing a pernicious resolution that ignored Hamas's culpability and called for a new Goldstone-like investigative commission targeted at Israel. And the life-saving Iron Dome system was made possible with the invaluable support of the Obama administration.

To be sure, there have been a few testy moments between Washington and Jerusalem during the tension of war, but they shouldn't be confused, not for a moment, with the strength of this enduring, unique, and mutually beneficial relationship.

The United States Congress, which doesn't agree on a whole lot these days, but took two vitally important steps over the past month.

The first was to adopt unanimous resolutions in both the Senate and House voicing support for Israel in the face of Hamas rockets, missiles, and infiltration tunnels. And the second was to approve additional funding for the Iron Dome system - unanimously in the Senate and with only eight dissenting votes (of 435) in the House. The bill was immediately signed into law by President Obama.

What remarkable expressions of bipartisan friendship and understanding!

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a hero to many for his consistent support of Israel and the Jewish people, who stood by Israel's side throughout the conflict with Hamas.

Here's a quintessential Harper comment: "Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. Canada reiterates its call for the Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, another staunch friend of Israel, who said: "We recognize Israel's right to self-defense, and we deplore the firing of rockets, the constant firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel."

No moral ambiguity or evasiveness from the Australian leader, but rather the straightforward we-say-it-as-we-see-it approach we've come to expect from Down Under.

Paraguay, which steadfastly refused to join with its Mercosur partners in the South American economic bloc - Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela - in singling out Israel for criticism while ignoring Hamas's responsibility for initiating the current conflict.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of the country that, in 1943, went to extraordinary lengths to save almost its entire Jewish community from the clutches of the occupying Nazis, who declined to join with fellow Nordic countries in signing a joint statement strongly criticizing Israel's actions in Gaza.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who weathered strong criticism from leaders of his coalition partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, the opposition Labor Party, and even a Conservative member of his own Cabinet, to defend Israel's right to defend itself, and who condemned "Hamas's refusal to end their rocket attacks despite all efforts to broker a ceasefire."

Egypt, the most populous Arab country and Gaza's neighbor, which better than many Western countries understood the true nature of Hamas, its organic link to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the threat it posed not only to Israel but also to moderate Arab regimes.

In particular, Egypt was most helpful on various fronts. First, it shut down the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt, which were an essential artery for Hamas to bring in weapons and component parts. Second, whether it said so or not, it fully grasped the necessity of Israel responding to Hamas-triggered violence. And third, it played an essential role in seeking to broker a ceasefire arrangement, providing a needed alternative to the pro-Hamas Qatar-Turkey track.

As Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shoukri, said at one point: "Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians." (With the benefit of hindsight, the number could have been in the hundreds).

Azerbaijan Airlines, British Airways, Czech Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, and the other airlines which ignored the FAA's misguided decision and continued flying in and out of Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport.

They understood the airport was safe and well-protected, and they refused to join in the knee-jerk reaction of too many other airlines.

And speaking of the FAA, no such list would be complete without Michael Bloomberg, New York's three-term mayor and a pilot himself.

As soon as he heard about the FAA's warning, he booked a ticket on El Al and flew to Israel. In a CNN interview explaining his decision, he said: "The fact that one rocket falls...a mile away doesn't mean you should shut down air traffic into a country and paralyze the country...That's how terrorists win. You can't do that."

Now, if that's not moral clarity, what is?

The last month has been a test of moral vision. While too many failed the test, happily, there were those that passed with flying colors. We should remember who's who.]]>
http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352830/bringing-israels-reality-home-we-may-have-to-hang-up-if-we-hear-sirens Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:29:18 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352830/bringing-israels-reality-home-we-may-have-to-hang-up-if-we-hear-sirens <![CDATA[Bringing Israel's Reality Home: 'We May Have to Hang Up If We Hear Sirens']]>
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http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352826/lessons-from-a-summer-vacation-at-war Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:29:12 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352826/lessons-from-a-summer-vacation-at-war <![CDATA[Lessons From a Summer Vacation at War]]>
One of the diners said she had just had the opportunity to use an expression for the first time, and she was amused that it was one that was itself already an anachronism. The phrase she used was "Nafal ha'asimon." Literally it means "The phone token dropped." It's the Hebrew equivalent of the English expression "A light bulb went off" or "It clicked," meaning "I got it" or "I finally understood." It refers to the old-style Israeli payphones, which required a dedicated phone token in order to make a call. Anyone who's ever used a payphone -- and we're getting to be an elderly bunch -- knows the feeling. You dial your number, then wait until the call connects, the money in the machine engages, and your stomach does that tiny flip of excitement when you know the call has gone through. It's Oprah's "'aha!' moment," I suppose.

Sometimes "Nafal ha'asimon" refers to the second when information comes together and finally marches itself into order, like a difficult math problem that you solve after a struggle. You had all the pieces but couldn't for the life of you figure out how to synthesize that knowledge to answer the problem. And then, suddenly, magically, it all makes sense. The numbers no longer fly aimlessly off the page. The answer was there all along. Aha! The token dropped.

Other times, though, that moment is willful.

A few months into our marriage, my husband discovered a lump in his neck. Thinking the doctor would tell him it was nothing, he was a bit surprised when he was told it needed to come out, and soon. Still, though, we were not overly concerned. This kind of tumor was benign fully 80 percent of the time. We scheduled the surgery, a four hour-long ordeal in which they worked with terrific precision to avoid severing his facial nerves.

Halfway through, the surgeon, who, as it happened, was a neighbor of ours, came to the waiting room. The tumor had looked suspicious, so he had sent it to the lab right away so that they could get the pathology before they closed him up. Two hours later he was back, a smile from ear to ear. The surgery had been a success, and the tumor benign. In the recovery room they gave my husband the same good news, and he related that his first thought was, "Benign? You mean it could have been malignant? Holy crap!" He'd known it all along, yet only after the surgery, when he knew everything was OK, nafal lo ha'asimon. His token dropped.

We spend our summers in Israel and the rest of the year in the States, so even given the current crisis, here we are, sending the kids to camp and keeping an eye on the nearest bomb shelter. Over the last two weeks I've seen numerous videos of soldiers -- kids, really, not much older than my own biggest children. They are videos meant to inspire love and pride. They are all essentially the same: A large group of young men in uniform, just outside Gaza, getting ready for the fighting. They sing, nearly screaming, songs about God, and Torah, and the Jewish people, dancing with the fervor of a groom at his wedding. They have their arms around each other. Sometimes there is a gun in the air.

The mini-films are intended to be inspirational. But, after the initial tear in my eye, these videos leave me surprisingly cold. What does a child in Gaza think if he sees these clips on YouTube? Will knowing how much we love our country make him run even faster when he catches a note from the sky telling him to evacuate? Is this who we are, dancing with guns in the air while singing about God and Torah? Is this what I want for my children when we talk about joining the army or making aliyah?

These summer evenings I sat in my apartment in Jerusalem and wrote careful letters to my older kids at sleepaway camp in the States. I thought, "Maybe this is the reason I react the way I do, my heart stretched as it is, nearly all the time, across oceans. Maybe it is my essential Americanness that divides my emotions as I watch those videos." After all, how can we send soldiers, not yet old enough to buy a beer in the U.S., to risk their lives for our country without a little dose of indoctrination? Don't they need to be hyped up, adrenaline rushing, in order to have the best chance for survival? Will this be my own children someday, drugged on patriotism and music and history, babies sent in to fight on behalf of grown men who know there is always more political capital to be gained from a war than from sitting and compromising at a table?

I recall an evening when I was in college and working in Israel for the summer. I spent Shabbat with close friends, more like family. When the sky was dark and I knew I had to return home for work Sunday morning, I got in the car with the father, a close college friend of my mother's. His eldest son, a couple of years my junior, was in the army in Lebanon. All of Shabbat we had been joking about the army base I had stayed on a few years earlier. The father had been stationed there numerous times in his reserve unit, and he loved the irony that this little American girl had been sent to what he considered to be the worst army base in the country.

I knew that in the back of his mind, though, was a constant, low-level buzz of anxiety and worry. Willfully he held the volume on low. While we were driving, the beeps that announce the news at the top of the hour sounded. Out of habit he turned up the radio. I only half-listened, involved in my own thoughts. Something about some soldiers who had been killed, names I did not recognize. With sudden force he drove the car onto the shoulder and put in in park. Then he let out a sob, a scream, that came from somewhere unrecognizable. It was clear that it would be a while until he could talk, so I waited, silently, in the passenger seat. When his cries had calmed enough to speak, he explained.

"That was my son's unit. His commander."

Even though he knew his son was in the army, doing dangerous things, and even though he himself had served for so many years, hearing now how close his son had come to death, the token that he had been holding back by sheer force of will finally dropped.

And even if this might be a just war, and even though Hamas is, well, Hamas, those videos haunt me still. That's when the light bulb goes off. Nofel li ha'asimon. In war it doesn't help at all to be right.]]>
http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352825/obama-i-have-no-sympathy-for-hamas Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:29:10 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352825/obama-i-have-no-sympathy-for-hamas <![CDATA[Obama: 'I Have No Sympathy For Hamas']]>
"I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza," Obama said at a press conference, when asked if he agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion that Israel's bombardment of Gaza was both "justified" and "proportionate."

Obama, who has publicly stood by Israel throughout the crisis, reiterated many of the talking points he and his administration have employed since the war began on July 8.

"I have said from the beginning that no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities," he said. "As a consequence, I have consistently supported Israel's right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks."

The United Nations has estimated that three-quarters of the Palestinians killed in the fighting were civilians, while Israel contends that about 900 of them were militants. The Israeli death toll includes 64 soldiers and three civilians.

Obama was once again reticent to criticize Israel on Wednesday, noting that he has expressed his "distress at what's happened to innocent civilians, including women and children." He said he was glad that a 72-hour ceasefire has offered the people of Gaza a temporary reprieve, as indirect negotiations continue in Egypt.

"The U.S. goal right now would be to make sure that the ceasefire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope and so the people of Israel feel confident that they're not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches that we've seen over the last several weeks," Obama said.]]>
http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352824/negotiating-with-terrorists-lessons-from-south-africa Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:29:08 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352824/negotiating-with-terrorists-lessons-from-south-africa <![CDATA[Negotiating With Terrorists: Lessons From South Africa]]> The Guardian last Friday, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg took a stand for peace. In the article, he made the claim that the only way Israel and Hamas can find a permanent resolution to the discord that has spawned this harrowing period of violence is through negotiations in which Israeli and Hamas leaders sit down at the negotiating table together, face to face. To quote Clegg, "Military action has repeatedly failed to prevent rocket attacks against innocent Israelis. Modern history teaches that you can't shoot, occupy or besiege your way to lasting security. Peace only ever flows from sustained and stubborn engagement."

I write this post from Cape Town, South Africa, where as a student of African history and politics, I can't help but notice the striking similarities between what could happen in the Middle East and what did happen in this country.

2014-08-05-MKbombings.jpg For over three decades, the Apartheid government (National Party) struggled to capture or kill Black "freedom fighters" whose militant doctrine permitted violence against innocents. Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK, or "Spear of the Nation"), the militant wing of the African National Congress (ANC), bombed civilian buildings, performed executions without due process, and killed innocent people using tactics that the United States government classified as "terrorism." It was ostensibly for these violent acts that South African police arrested and imprisoned MK's president and founder, Nelson Mandela.

In 1990, the Apartheid government, buckling under intense boycotts, divestment, and sanctions that an international community desperate for justice had imposed on South Africa, declared an end to their policy of not negotiating with militant groups that opposed the state. In doing so, they released Mandela, the architect of militancy in South Africa, later recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. By the middle of that year, F.W. de Klerk and the National Party had initiated talks, face to face, with Mandela and the ANC. The ultimate result was democracy, ushered into existence in 1994 by the country's first multiracial elections.

2014-08-05-boerfarmer.jpg To say that Afrikaners (the descendants of mainly Dutch settlers in South Africa) opposed the idea of equality for Blacks would be a gross understatement. Throughout the 20th century, Afrikaner children were indoctrinated with the notion of swart gevaar (black danger), or the idea that Blacks once empowered would use their newfound freedom to slaughter the White population that had repressed them. Though an Afrikaner concept of what could happen in the future, this White idea was inspired by the words of militant Black leaders. Indeed, many Black freedom fighters were actually clamoring to drive Whites into the sea. Popular slogans among ANC leaders (including current SA president Jacob Zuma) at the time were "One Boer, one bullet" and "Kill the Boer, kill the farmer," which became a popular song in Black circles. Moreover, the Black freedom movement in nearby Mozambique, where victorious guerrilla fighters in 1975 forced the White population of 250,000 to leave the country in 24 hours, imbued the hearts of White South Africans with a dread that something similar would happen to them should their government concede to Black demands.

Despite the strong political incentives that White leaders had to continue the cycle of violence between Black and White in the name of Apartheid, they chose a different course, one that had never been tried before in southern Africa between White and Black. By choosing to engage in talks as equals with the pragmatic Mandela, de Klerk likely saved his people from economic and possibly physical decimation. The White population today holds considerable financial clout in South Africa, but this result would not have been possible had Mandela not mollified the vociferous Black supremacist and Communistic tendencies in his party. Inviting Mandela to the table resulted in a significant moderation of the ANC's tactics to the point of nonviolence, despite popular Black calls to banish Whites and dismantle the South African state in favor of a new socioeconomic order with radical redistributions of wealth.

2014-08-05-MandeladeKlerk.jpg To their detriment, Israel's leaders have heeded an archaic axiom that has continued to doom the people of Israel and Gaza to cyclical violence: "don't negotiate with Hamas." Yet in South Africa, de Klerk's decision to negotiate with Mandela who spoke for MK and the ANC likely saved the country from hundreds if not thousands of additional civilian deaths. As de Klerk said in a June 2014 speech, "We have learnt in South Africa after centuries of conflict, after decades of growing conflict that the only way to end conflict is for past enemies to sit around the table and talk to each other." Had de Klerk not opened the way for negotiations with the ANC, as Israel must do now with Hamas, there might still be blood being unnecessarily shed in South Africa.

Though the pre-democracy ANC and Hamas are not the same, there are striking similarities between the tactics that the militant wings of each organization have used to advance their respective agendas: "driving Whites into the sea," terrorizing civilians, charters that dedicate members to destruction of the occupying power. South Africa provides just one recent example of a time when occupiers approached bona fide terrorists to begin negotiations. As Clegg notes, Serbia and Ireland also produced "freedom fighters" who swore to annihilate the enemy but ultimately foreswore violence once given the opportunity to negotiate on level terms. In each of these cases, the effect of negotiations significantly moderated the tactics of radicals, hastening a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

If Israeli leaders are serious about peace, they must do whatever it takes to end the cyclical violence that has only distanced Israelis and Palestinians from a resolution. Indeed, if they are serious about peace, they will only achieve it through negotiations. Should Hamas negotiators demand nothing more than the destruction of Israel, then Israel has won the moral high ground. But the choreography and intermediaries of these complicated and ineffectual US/Egypt-brokered talks must end. When peace is at stake, no one is too good for talking.]]>
http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352699/israel-withdraws-troops Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:02:31 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352699/israel-withdraws-troops <![CDATA[Israel withdraws troops]]> <

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352603/palestinians-accuse-israel-of-breaking-7hour-gaza-truce Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:01:31 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352603/palestinians-accuse-israel-of-breaking-7hour-gaza-truce <![CDATA[Palestinians accuse Israel of breaking 7-hour Gaza truce]]>

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352015/funeral-for-israeli-soldier-hadar-goldin-killed-in-gaza-fighting Mon, 04 Aug 2014 07:50:15 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352015/funeral-for-israeli-soldier-hadar-goldin-killed-in-gaza-fighting <![CDATA[Funeral for Israeli Soldier Hadar Goldin, Killed in Gaza Fighting]]>

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352014/erdogan-israel-will-drown-in-the-blood-they-shed Mon, 04 Aug 2014 07:50:14 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352014/erdogan-israel-will-drown-in-the-blood-they-shed <![CDATA[Erdogan: Israel "Will Drown in the Blood They Shed"]]>

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352013/bbc-assesses-israels-military-campaign Mon, 04 Aug 2014 07:50:13 +0100 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11352013/bbc-assesses-israels-military-campaign <![CDATA[BBC Assesses Israel's Military Campaign]]>