Posts tagged Gaza War

Honest, ugly discourse: Gilad Sharon and John Stewart Mill

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One of the responsibilities of the news media is to set the parameters of acceptable discourse in society. But while media outlets have the unique ability to demarcate what is and isn’t acceptable to print, in doing so, they walk a fine line and risk masking the ugliest – but real – faces of society.

Last week, in the midst of the latest round of deadly violence between Israel and Gaza, The Jerusalem Post printed an op-ed penned by Gilad Sharon, a man who has pushed himself into the public eye solely by virtue of the name and legacy of his father, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

In a hyper-nationalist tone, Sharon advocated escalating the limited military operation into what would be the 21st century’s first instance of genocide:

“We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”

There is no need to delve into the plethora of reasons Sharon’s words and ideas are appalling. If he were a man of any influence, his writings might be considered criminal under the Genocide Convention; a cursory reading (more…)

Gaza: New rules in an old war

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There’s something different about the most recent flare-up between Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians’ modus operandi appears to have changed, and Israel seems to be unsure of how to respond.

In the past month, armed Palestinian groups in Gaza launched a string of three, seemingly well planned and ultimately successful attacks against IDF forces along the border. Planted explosive devices, a massive and unprecedented tunnel detonation and an anti-tank missile left a total of eight Israeli soldiers injured, some seriously.

Already there was something strange. Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, has declared for some time that it was focusing on military targets, a change from its rocket attacks on Israeli civilian centers. Nevertheless, to have nearly a month go by without rocket attacks on civilians is almost unheard of in recent years.

The IDF’s responses to the attacks were also uncharacteristically restrained considering the Israeli casualties, limited to immediate defensive fire and late-night airstrikes on empty buildings and tunnels. Following the (more…)

Israel’s response to terror: Intelligence failure or blatant lies?

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In the early afternoon of August 18, 2011, terrorists launched a three-pronged attack on Israeli civilians and soldiers, shooting at civilian cars and buses, blowing up another bus, and launched cross-border shooting attacks. The violence along the Israeli-Egyptian border caused the deaths of eight Israelis, a number of the attackers and a handful of Egyptian security personnel.

At around 3 p.m. that afternoon, with shooting still audible in the background of a live press conference in Eilat, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the world that the attack (and attackers) originated in Gaza and vowed to respond “forcefully and decisively.” Minutes later, Israeli Air Force jets took off from their nearby bases and bombed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees’ leadership. Six people were killed in that initial strike.

A few hours after the air strikes began, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a dramatic press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. He presented a new doctrine of immediate, harsh response to any attack against Israelis and lauded his security services for (more…)

Flotilla 2011: Dueling narratives of the Gaza blockade

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The blockade on Gaza is oversimplified by those most active in supporting and protesting against it. Public relations branches of the Israeli government argue that the land and sea blockade on the coastal strip is necessary to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza that would threaten Israeli civilians living near the Strip. Those protesting the blockade, including participants in the upcoming flotilla, say that the blockade on Gaza is an illegal form of collective punishment on the citizens and civilians who live there, unnecessarily and painfully harming every aspect of life in the Strip. Both sides are correct, but neither is willing to allow the entire picture to enter their narrative.

From the time that Israel first occupied the Gaza Strip in 1956 and for more than three decades after its continuous occupation began in 1967, there was near freedom of movement for Palestinians and goods between the Strip, Israel and the West Bank. In 1991, that started to change as Israel implemented (more…)

Expectations for ‘disaster diplomacy’: Israel and Turkey

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Netanyahu standing with Turkish water-dropping airplane

Netanyahu standing with Turkish water-dropping plane - Moshe Milner, GPO

One always hopes that out of the ashes of tragedy, some good will come. Just hours after Israel’s devastating fire in the Carmel Forest that killed 42 people, destroyed 10,000 acres of forest, and exposed the decrepit state of the country’s firefighting service and bureaucratic mismanagement, at least one opportunity seams to have reared its head. Turkey, on the day the deadly blaze broke out, dispatched two desperately needed water-dropping planes to the Carmel Mountains.

For nearly two years, Israel has watched (and actively participated) as its relations with Turkey deteriorated. The climax of the fallout was this past May’s flotilla incident, in which Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara as it attempted to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. The distance between the two Mediterranean states, however, began to widen a year-and-a-half before, during Israel’s 2009 offensive in the Strip.

The Islamic-leaning government in Ankara – a new phenomenon in the country (more…)

Victims of terror: A unique Israeli formula

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In every one of the many terrorism-related courses and seminars that I’ve participated in, the first thing discussed is always the lack of a universal definition for terrorism. The ambiguity created by the lack of a definition allows for overly-inclusive analyses of what terrorism is, who terrorists are, and who the victims of terrorism are. Israel has long been known to use very inclusive parameters when calculating terror victims, but today I ran across a statistic that pushes the limits of even the most inclusive definitions of who terror victims are.

While reading an interesting article in Foreign Policy magazine this morning by Robert A. Pape about the causes of suicide terrorism, my curiosity was sparked by the causes of the drop-off in Palestinian terrorism in recent years. As I was doing some basic internet-research looking for recent statistics on Palestinian terror attacks, I found myself reading an Israeli General Security Service (the Shin Bet) report. In the GSS’s 2009 summary of “Data and Trends in Palestinian Terrorism,” a few things immediately caught my attention (more…)

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