A Missed Opportunity: Guest Post by Yitzhak Sokoloff

Note to readers: I first met Yitzhak Sokoloff in 2002 when he spoke in Brookline about the Jenin operation, which the MSM media had almost universally presented as a massacre of defenseless Palestinians. He argued, on the contrary, that it represented the most exceptional case in recorded history of an army putting its own men in danger to spare the lives of civilians. It was really then that I understood how profoundly the media invert reality with their coverage. I have stayed in touch with him all these years, and been repeatedly impressed with the originality and common sense of his thoughts on the conflict. I have always urged him to write something for my blog, and now he offers these thoughts on the unilateral cease-fire.

Earlier this morning Israel inaugurated a self-imposed cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. The reason for this was not the inability of the Israeli Army to conquer the Gaza Strip and arrest the leadership of the Hamas, but the failure of the present Israeli leadership to imagine the possibility of victory over the forces of radical Islam. Many Israeli commentators are viewing this move as a creative way of dealing with the dilemma of bringing the war to an end before the inauguration of Barrack Obama without handing Hamas the victory of its own legitimatization through a negotiated cease-fire. In all likelihood, this effort will fail. Faced by the military might of an Israel which was cheered on by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Hamas has nevertheless emerged with the upper hand by virtue of its own survival. As long as it remains willing to pay a price in Palestinian casualties – and if anything this war has proven, it is that the Hamas has no regard for the lives of its own people [actually seeks to maximize death among its own people — rl] – Hamas can still launch rockets at Israeli cities and brainwash Palestinian children to become suicide bombers.

Israel has proven today that the Hamas is an indispensable political factor in the region and this is far more important than whether or not Hamas can replenish its arsenal in imitation of the Hizboulla. Hamas still holds the priceless bargaining chip of Gilad Shalit, and most important, despite all the havoc that it has wrought, Hamas continues to be in control of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. It is this control that will force the international community, like it or not, to grant some sort of political legitimacy to what remains a terrorist movement devoted to Israel’s destruction.

Even Israel has agreed that one result of the war will be a massive relief effort conducted by the international community. Who will be the chief beneficiary of this effort if not Hamas itself? Its control will mean that anyone trying to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza will need to go through Hamas. In addition to what it can siphon off directly for its own forces, Hamas will have the first and last word as to where the aid is distributed. Palestinians who dare to challenge Hamas rule will at the very least be denied assistance, and at the very worse added to the list of those already dealt with by Hamas execution squads.

For the past three weeks Israel and Egypt have both refused to permit an army of journalists poised to enter Gaza to begin the next phase of this war, the competition for the best picture of Palestinian suffering. When the journalists finally enter the areas of Gaza under Hamas control they will not find many Palestinians eager to condemn Hamas for initiating the war. The Hamas leadership will quickly emerge from beneath the hospital where it has been hiding and it will be clear to any Palestinian with a sense of self-preservation just whom to blame for all of the destruction. The journalists will quickly learn to avoid asking questions that meet with Hamas disapproval and Israel will be at the receiving end of a wave of righteous indignation.

Is there an alternative? Many Israeli commentators and officials prefer a weakened Hamas to a Gaza controlled by the IDF, even temporarily. I would argue that Israel would have done better had it finished off the Hamas and then invited the Egyptians to lead an international effort to repair the Gaza Strip, beginning with the replacement of the refugee camps by decent housing, a move that could have convinced the people of Gaza that there are better alternatives to Hamas. Such an effort would require courage and vision but these are the precisely the elements required to ensure victory over the forces of Islamic fundamentalism and to insure a better future for both Israel and the Palestinians.

16 Responses to A Missed Opportunity: Guest Post by Yitzhak Sokoloff

  1. EB says:

    What would be the point of destroying Hamas in Gaza? To allow Fatah in? How would that make things any better for Israel? This last Israeli incursion into Gaza, just like the last war in Lebanon, is essentially a punitive expedition, to suppress one’s enemy for at least a couple of years. Weaken Hamas, but not so much that something stronger can take its place….

    About the “refugee camps”, they are protected by UN. Israel has tried to get rid of them a while ago, but the UN shut that effort down. “Refugee camps” are essentially the biggest real reason for Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and they are kept around by American and European money under UN management. Why, I have no idea, but Israel can’t do anything about them as things stand in the world today.

  2. Diane says:

    What I like about the unilateral ceasefire (and I actually dreamed up such a solution myself more than a week ago) is that it says to Hamas: Israel can restart this war at will. Hamas can lick its wounds, but the next wave can start at any moment (by virtue of there not being a ceasefire in place or any negotiated agreement or UN directive). This is a dandy deterrent. Also, when Israel returns to life as usual, minus 13 fallen war heroes, compared to Gaza returning to post-war squalor, minus 1,000 or so Hamas fighters, that is a powerful message too about the long-run sustainability of such “resistance.”

    Lastly, what I like about this unilateral ceasefire is that it gives the Hamas leaders a false sense of security, so they will come out of their bunkers, making it possible for Israel to pick them off one by one. Again, without a ceasefire deal or negotiations, targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders remain perfectly legitimate actions by Israel.

  3. oao says:

    1. From the start I suspected that the troika of failures would repeat the Lebanon performance. They CANNOT do any better because they want to appease the world. they just cannot get it through their heads that the world will be appeased by NOTHING israel does. and if they hate you anyway, you better defend yourself.

    2. It is frustrating to see the desperate attempts by pro-israel people to give a positive interpretation to yest another israeli failure, in defiance of the huge empirical evidence to the contrary.

    3. The 2nd failure of Israel has, for all practical purposes, put israel existence in peril. it has reinforced the perceptions of iran, hezbollah and hamas that that israel has no longer the guts to win and that the world is beginning to believe that israel was a mistake, with violent antisemitism breaking on a global scale and the loss of US support.

    4. The consequence will be that when the next confrontation occurs, it is very likely that hezbollah and hamas will work in tandem from a much better position than today’s. by that time ALL the support of israel will be gone and israel won’t be able to cope with simultaneous long-range rockets from both lebanon, ghaza and possibly syria.

    5. but then the only other positive development will be the practical islamization of europe and its going into dhimmitude and sharia. and that’s what’s giving me most satisfaction.

  4. Eliyahu says:

    Yits’haq, without discussing your whole article, I think that Gilad Shalit needs mention. You point out that he is still in Hamas hands “as a priceless bargaining chip.” Now, right here is one of the great failings of the –shall we say– super unfit Israeli leadership. We don’t even know whether Gilad Shalit is dead or alive. If Hamas followed the international law of war –which they violate in many ways– they would have allowed the Red Cross [ICRC] to have access to him during his captivity. The ICRC claims on their website that they have indeed asked for access to him but have been refused.

    http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/israel-interview-111208

    Now right there is an opportunity for Israel to respond, even maybe gaining the upper hand in the so important court of public opinion. After all, our manifold enemies among the fake NGOs regularly condemn Israel for violating int’l law. Yet, Hamas is violating one of the earliest, most fundamental rules of the int’l law of war by preventing ICRC access to a prisoner. No doubt this is meant to create psychological pressure on the family and on all loyal Israelis. Plus the uncertainty of knowing whether he is dead of alive.

    Yet, our misleadership have never, to my knowledge, charged the Hamas with violating int’l law in the case of Shalit. Olmert-livni-barak could have demanded that the ICRC be given access to Shalit as a precondition for any cease fire negotiations, as a condition for sending Amos Gilad to Cairo to negotiate. And they could have done this on the grounds of int’l law. They should have done this for Shalit’s sake and for the sake of all of us. They could have demanded that Ban Ki Moon demand ICRC access as a precondition for his trip to Israel a few days ago. They could have pointed to the absence of mention of Shalit in the UN Sec’y council resolution of 2 weeks ago as a reason for rejecting that insidious resolution. Instead, these sinister clowns who dare to call themselves our leaders made the same kind of mistakes that they made 2 1/2 years ago in the diplomatic conclusion to the Lebanon war. Carolyn Glick had a good column in the JPost on their repeated diplomatic incompetence.

    Further, they have never publicly accused Hamas of being a Nazi-like body on account of the genocidal incitement in their charter [see esp. Art. 7]. This leadership is part of our problem.

  5. Eliyahu – I am not Israeli and therefore have no moral standing to tell Israeli leaders what to do. But I can say as an outsider that I fully agree with your view.

  6. JD says:

    They failed in Lebanon because Olmert feared any sense of occupation of So. Lebanon. Even the initial battle plans were constructed so, with in and out forays.

    What Mr. Sokoloff should be thinking about is how little of Gaza Israel is occupying, only around Gaza City.

    Why?

    Not all Gaza is under Hamas leadership control.

  7. JackOfHeart says:

    With all the loses in lives in Gaza due to this barbaric genocide, Israel simply lost….it lost Ethically, BIG TIME!!! The entire world witnessed a “massacare” against innocent children at the hands of Israelis and their media was able to capture graphic details of this evilness. Here in the USA, we got ebmarassed (again) internationally due to our blind and unjust support to this Evil terrorist country of Israel. No one would have expected that the same people who claim to have been victims of the terrible holocausts are now doing it to other people, unless, like other things, the term Holocaust got monopolised by jews!!!
    the United Nations’ Shelters and humanitarian air convoys are witnesses on the reckless bombings of Civilian homes, schools, hospitals, churches …..you name it! This is not war, because a war would imply two comparable armies fightings agaisnt each other, but this was a true holocaust/genocide/and a barbaric massacare(s) beyond Evil! America will be largely to blame for its “solo” support of this evident evil! F-16′s, Tanks, bunker-busters ALL made in the USA and shipped “next-day” delievery to commit killings!!! Whats your excuse? Hamas? How about in 2006 when the Israelis killed 1000′s of children in Lebanon? Hezbullah? Genin in 2003? Evry time, Evil has a reason for killings, reasons as authentic as the WMD’s excuse to invade Iraq, which by the way was engineered in Israel to get rid of an old nemesis in Iraq. All for the security of Israel!. Let me ask this, what the fack is Israel doing in the middle of 23 countries that can’t get along with Israel????? Now that I think about it,AhmadiNijad has a point; its easier and more ethical to “delete” Israel than to kill ALL Muslims. Thank you very much!

  8. Richard says:

    Is JackOfHeart a joke? It’s a surreal rant…

    It is time for the leaders of the West to abandon the soft and sentimental visions of international politics and actually begin to understand that we need to be hard in a world dominated by authoritarian and terroristic regimes.
    Bush demonstrated this by destroying Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

  9. oao says:

    he is a sad joke, and they are all crowling out from under the rocks where they have lied dormant waiting for anti-semitism to become fashionable again.

    this usually happens when societies in crisis are looking for scapegoats and the joos are the classic scapegoat.

    he should be ignored.

  10. oao says:

    btw, since israel is gonna be accused of genocide no matter what he does, maybe it should engage in the real thing, to justify the accusations.

    does anybody believe that the JackofHearts of the world would have not issued the same idiotic rants had israel continued to absorb the rockets and done nothing?

  11. HKSunny says:

    ISRAELS’ BIGGEST MISTAKE

    Israel will live to regret that stupid PR in quitting the fight so early as a gift to the new US administration(a little bird told me that Obama Livni Hillary requested a deal to be delivered with guarantee prior to the inauguration).
    The fight just started in Gaza and is a very very long way from finishing. Hamas setup their devices around women and children rightly to live, succeed and glorify their victory as always ‘the day after’. Only the idiots in Jerusalem do not see that. Hezbols did the same and they WON. The number of rockets left around will be paraded soon on the web to prove that Israel is dum, and they will be right. Hamas is a much better organized mob than any bunch of ‘sniffers’ of Tel Aviv. Hamas’ 90% of their personel is already out and breathing the open air created by the IDF clearing of old unoccupied buildings. The small number of casualties given the enormous firepower used is considered. They were prepared for all that and Israel did not given that the latter was never intended to go all the way till the flattening of Gaza which would have been the right strategy.
    The same idiots song and croc tears will be played again by the Israel admin in southern Israel on TV etc, to the future detriment of their unfortunate citizens. Olmert the eternal loser had a wish to depart in high spirit and his pretended advisors in Washington will just approve. Also the doves in Jerusalem will be rewarded to fight their next Election to the detriment of the other side. Whether the Israel modern voters will bite that , who knows. May well be . It suits the Demos and Obama to have suckers in Jerusalem and it also help their would be new image to start with. Who would believe that little Israel would put the big USA in good light ? The USA will be the same one to organize both the reconstruction of both Gazan buildings and some compensation of southern Israel losers. It is GOOD to start getting commerce kicking at this very stagnant time. Isn’t it ? Blowing things suits them but not many regimes have the stomach for “that” at the moment. Someone always pays for reconstructions and someone else gets more than only a job. Please don’t remember Iraq or Afga.
    As for Hamas they will be undisputably be able to show that they could get the IDF to vacate in only a week with the tail….!
    Then the new so-called generation of Israelis will go back to their favourite ‘passtime’ in Telaviv. They cannot be bothered as rockets are not yet hitting downtown. One day they will find it is too late and they were sniffing and napping when there was work to be accomplished.
    The new generation of Hamas is enormously more motivated and will always be on the winning side.
    They will prove it again with and without rockets.
    Who is the loser now ?
    Keep asking, one day the answer will come and probably not very welcome.

  12. oao says:

    one of israel’s problems is that its early wars were always fought on enemy land and they had no home front. its citizens are not very used to home war. israel also fell into the mental trap of oslo, believing the wars were over.

    by bringing the PLO into the west bank and allowing hamas to develop in ghaza, it brought itself to an indefensible situation.

    europe and to a slower degree the US are on their way to islamization and dhmmitude. their governments and populations are scared shitless of their violent muslim populations which they no longer control. it is thus much more expedient to delude themselves into scapegoating israel as an inconvenient problem which, if they can make go away, they can make their new overlords nicer.

    to reiterate, if there is one positive consequence from all this is that I can’t wait to see the west under sharia. that’s what it deserves.

  13. oao says:

    i forgot, of course, hezbollah in the north. now, instead of being surrounded by egyptian, lebanese and jordanian armies, they are surrounded by jihadists supported by the world — the west, the arab rich and iran. There is no way israel can survive when the world has decided it should not.

  14. Israel says:

    Israel is democracy!!!
    Israel fights with terror!!!
    HAMAS use ther wifes and children as live shield!!!
    HAMAS shoots rokets on Israeli civilian!!!
    What side is yours???
    Now Israel needs your support:
    please vote here:

    http://www.israel-vs-palestine.com/gz/?home

    vote for freedom and democracy and against terror.

  15. nelson says:

    Take care with 15: it is probably a trap or a virus.

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