Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Yacov Ben Efrat, "Israel and Hamas Won, So Who Lost?" Challenge Magazine, January 28, 2009.

  The media devoted its full power to nurturing the consensus, covering the war with unprecedented bias.

The spectacle of tanks back from the battlefield with the blue and white Star of David flapping from their turrets, the faces of the young soldiers, their body language—all leave no doubt concerning Israel's victory. If we compare this pullback from Gaza with the one from Lebanon over two years past, there is no need for extensive commentary: Israel has retrieved the pride and reputation of its army, which had been badly damaged by that other war in the north. The world has been reminded that the Middle East contains but a single military power worthy of the name. Deterrent capability, the magical force that is supposed to protect Israel from its enemies, has returned in full strength. Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who promised to correct his earlier failures in accordance with the findings of the Winograd Inquiry, has indeed come through.

The dry statistics show the same picture. The ratio of death in the Gaza operation was 1:100! The number of Palestinian losses, 1300 including 300 children, the flattened neighborhoods, the destroyed institutions, are just the immediately visible features of an enormous humanitarian catastrophe. Unlike Israel's cities in the south, Gaza does not have a system of sirens or warnings. There is no Palestinian Homefront Command. There are no "secure rooms" in the buildings, rather hovels with tin roofs. Hamas declared that when Israeli ground forces entered the built-up areas, the Resistance would "turn Gaza into the army's graveyard," breaking its morale. This did not happen. The tanks avoided the booby-trapped roads, moving instead through rows of houses while shaving them down—a tactic to which Hamas had no answer.

[This article ignores the November 4 IDF raid now believed to have signalled the real end of the tahdiyya, and repeats the loaded oversimplification of events that Hamas "threw the PA out of Gaza." But it expresses a number of interesting ideas about the war: 1) "...Obama, will soon have to decide whether to continue cold-shouldering Hamas, as his predecessor did, or to join Sarkozy in supporting a unity government (NY Times January 22, 2009); 2) "Israel, for its part, shows signs of favoring internal Palestinian reconciliation" though the signs it mentions are far from convincing; and 3) "The Arab world is split in two. On one side stand Qatar, Syria, Iran and Hamas, on the other, the moderate states headed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Qatar attempted to hold an Arab summit at Doha, but Egypt torpedoed it. Instead, there was a limited meeting of the radical axis, including Hamas, President Ahmadinejad of Iran, and President Assad of Syria." -jlt]

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