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by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado At this writing, Israel is in its third week of military operations in Gaza. Still the rocket attacks on southern Israel continue and there are reports of several being fired into northern Israel from Lebanon, re-igniting fears that Hezbollah may exploit the situation in Gaza to engage Israeli forces on a second front. As it has been since its creation as an independent sovereign state and Jewish homeland, recognized as such by the United States in 1948, Israel is surrounded by enemies who do not accept its right to exist. Israel takes pains to describe its action against Hamas in Gaza, not as a war, but as a “military operation”. The distinction may be lost on victims of the violence but the intent is to make it clear that the purpose is to stop the indiscriminate rocket attacks on innocent Israeli civilians, not to reoccupy Gaza or intentionally harm innocent civilians. By whatever term, war or military operation, Israel is now in the intermediate stages of a fight for its very survival. It is at a critical crossroad and none of the paths will be easily traveled. It can, on the one hand, continue on the present path of periodically responding to Arab aggression by pounding the aggressors using overwhelming military force in an attempt to persuade them to back off. This usually results in world condemnation, anti-Israeli demonstrations and finally a temporary truce of sorts while international aid pours in and the aggressors, having declared victory over the Zionists, rearm for the next phase. Pursuing this strategy, Israel has, so far, survived, emerging victorious in three wars and numerous military operations. But this strategy has not brought a durable peace and will eventually lead to disaster as her enemies grow stronger. Rocket attacks are penetrating deeper and soon all of Israel, a tiny country, smaller than New Jersey, will be within range. And Iran, also sworn to Israel’s destruction, will have the big bomb. A second path would be to ignore world condemnation and continue the military operation until Hamas is rendered incapable of, or dissuaded, from further attacks against Israelis. This would require the reoccupation of Gaza with all the bloodshed and collateral casualties this would entail. Re-occupying Gaza is not something that most Israelis want but Hamas rules Gaza and it is a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction. Israel has every right under international law to remove that threat to its citizens. The peace at any price crowd, horrified at the daily media images of dead and grieving Palestinians and reading endless media accounts of a pending humanitarian crisis, will argue that there is only one path. That would be the so-called peace process, the latest edition of which is referred to as the Roadmap to Peace, leading to an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in everlasting peace and mutual respect. Alas, that road is paved with yellow bricks and leads to a place which, like Oz, exists only in the imaginations of peace negotiators. It will simply never happen while Israel’s enemies pray daily for its destruction. Those who condemn Israel for fighting to survive need a dose of reality. Hamas is not fighting for an independent Palestine. That offer was long ago made and rejected. They are fighting for a Palestine that includes not only the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel as well. The aim is to drive the Israelis into the Mediterranean, out of the Middle East altogether. Israel’s critics argue that its use of force is disproportionate because Palestinian casualties are far greater than Israeli casualties. That’s the general idea, of course, when you are fighting a war for survival. Some of our own liberal university professors argue that Israel is guilty of war crimes by killing civilians. By that logic, the U.S. was guilty of even more serious war crimes because it fire-bombed German and Japanese cities and dropped two atomic bombs to expedite the end of World War II, indiscriminately killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Israel forces do not deliberately target civilians although Hamas terrorists hide among them and in schools and mosques from which they launch attacks and store weapons. Hamas does so deliberately, hoping to provoke Israeli attacks that will ignite world outrage against Israel. But where is the outrage against the indiscriminate rocket attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians? The silence here from Israel’s critics constitutes a shameful double standard. It is well past time for some honesty in our approach to the Middle East. We cannot straddle the fence indefinitely trying to support our Israeli ally while at the same time seeking to mollify the oil-rich Arab dictators who pretend to be our friends when it is convenient to do so. Europe may need to worry about its large and restless Muslim populations and access to Middle East oil, but that should not dictate our policies. We must come down firmly on the side of a democratic ally and friend and support its fundamental right to defend its citizens, regardless of world opinion. Moreover, it is not enough to merely abstain from UN Security Council anti-Israeli resolutions. We should veto them and tell the world that Israel’s security will be ensured by us, if necessary, and in any case is not negotiable. CRO copyright 2008 J.F. Kelly, Jr. J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.

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