Archives For: Israel

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Ali Murat Yel defends Turkey’s reluctance to join the war coalition against ISIS:

Public opinion in Turkey holds that a Muslim cannot be a terrorist and any terrorist cannot be a Muslim. In other words, terrorism and Islam cannot be reconciled. This public conviction is certainly the real attitude of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has formed the Alliance of Civilizations with Spain against the expectation in some quarters of a “clash of civilizations” and has been trying to restore peace with different ethnic groups in Turkey. The President himself and the majority of Turkish people believe that terrorism could be defeated intellectually not through waging war on them.

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by Jonah Shepp

At one point or another in my short life so far, I think I have held every position on Israel that it is possible to hold, from militant support to equally militant opposition. But this summer, I briefly reverted to the right-wing Zionism of my teenage years, at least for the purposes of Facebook. Amid the Gaza war, my feed was suddenly inundated with denunciations of the racist, fascist, Zionazi terrorist state. There wasn’t much to love in the rants about the ZOG or conspiratorial nonsense about ISIS being an Israeli-American plot, but what really got my goat were comments like this one:

Settlers can go back to anti-semitic Europe where they came from! … Every last zionist shall be kicked out and notice the emphasis on the word zionist. Jews however are welcome to stay and woreship like they have among us for the past 1500 years. (sic)

This oft-expressed distinction between Zionists and Jews betrays a total misunderstanding of what Zionism is and what Israel means to most Jews. Palestinians who say that “the Zionists” must go but “the Jews” can stay need to come to grips with the fact that Zionism, at its core, is about creating a space where Jews do not need someone else’s permission to live. Diaspora Jews of my generation may be much less attached to Israel than our parents and grandparents, but when push comes to shove, we’d rather it exist than not, because we know that our permission to live freely and safely in any other country can be withdrawn at any moment. In our history as a people, we have seen it happen time and time again with devastating consequences. With a well-armed territorial state to our name, we no longer have to fear those consequences.

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by Dish Staff

On Sunday, Israel declared nearly 1,000 acres of land near Bethlehem in the West Bank to be “state land”, allowing it to be developed into a new settlement, in what Haaretz describes as a partly punitive measure:

The announcement follows the cabinet’s decision last week to take over the land in response to the June kidnapping and killing of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas militants in the area. Peace Now, which monitors settlement construction, said it was the largest Israeli appropriation of West Bank land in 30 years. … The appropriated land belongs to five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem area: Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin. The move is the latest of a series of plans designed to attach the Etzion settlement bloc to Jerusalem and its environs. Construction of a major settlement, known as Gvaot, at the location has been mooted by Israel since the year 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site, and 523 are currently under construction. Ten families now live on the site, which is adjacent to a yeshiva.

Jonathan Tobin defends the decision by pointing out that this particular area would end up going to Israel in any conceivable two-state deal anyway:

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Syria’s War At Israel’s Door

Sep 2 2014 @ 5:09pm
by Jonah Shepp

The Syrian civil war took an interesting turn late last week as fighters from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra overran the Quneitra checkpoint between Syria proper and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and captured or surrounded dozens of UN peacekeepers from Fiji and the Philippines. Juan Cole finds precisely none of this surprising:

The London-based Al-`Arabi al-Jadid reports that Israeli Gen. Aviv Kochavi, now head of the Northern Command but until recently chief of military intelligence, has for two years been warning that the Syrian civil war could spill over onto Israel. Haaretz has also shown alarm at the developments. Not only is the Succor Front consolidating its hold on Golan, but the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) is alleged to be infiltrating Syrian villages near Israel in the north. The Syrian army, once responsible for Israel-Syria border security, has “evaporated” after losing battles with the militants. The likelihood that Israel could in the long run be completely insulated from a raging civil war right next door, which has displaced 3 million abroad and more millions internally, was always low. The view that it is good for Israel when the Arabs fight one another is a glib and superficial piece of cynicism challenged by seasoned observers such as Gen. Kochavi.

One of the many side effects of Israel’s regional isolation is that it tends to treat conflicts in and among its neighbors as the Arabs’ problems and pay them relatively little mind, compared to the interest one might expect a country to take in violence so close to its borders. This isolation emerges from the intractability of the conflict and, to my mind, represents a noteworthy obstacle to regional peace.

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A War Without A Winner, Ctd

Aug 27 2014 @ 3:55pm
by Dish Staff

Juan Cole casts doubt on how much of a victory the Gaza ceasefire really is for Israel:

[W]hat the Israeli military was going for was a result similar to its 2006 war on Hizbullah in Lebanon; since that conflict Hizbullah has not fired any rockets into Israel or Israeli-occupied territories like the Shebaa Farms (which belong to Lebanese farmers). It is not at all clear that the war produced any such similar cessation of hostilities between Gaza and Israel. In part, there are undisciplined small groups in Gaza perfectly able and willing to construct some flying pipe bombs and send them over to Beersheva and Sderot (former Palestinian cities from which Gaza refugees hail that are now Israeli cities). One drawback of Israel reducing Hamas’s capabilities is that it also reduced its ability to police the Strip. Hamas itself has in the past honored cease-fires as long as Israel has observed their terms. In part, that 70% of Palestinians in Gaza are refugee families from what is now Israel and that 40% still live in squalid refugee camps means that they are very unlike the Shiites of southern Lebanon, who are farmers with their own land.

The Dish looked at the hazy definition of “victory” in Gaza during the previous ceasefire earlier this month. Mitchell Plitnick observes how Netanyahu failed to achieve his strategic goals:

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Will This Gaza Truce Hold?

Aug 26 2014 @ 3:20pm
by Dish Staff

The NYT reports that Israel and Hamas have agreed to an open-ended ceasefire proposed by Egypt:

People familiar with the agreement said it would ease but not lift Israeli restrictions on travel and trade, largely reviving the terms of a 2012 cease-fire agreement that ended an eight-day air war. It also will allow construction materials and humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in large quantities for a major rebuilding effort, with a monitoring mechanism to ensure that concrete and cement would go only to civilian purposes. “We’re not interested in allowing Hamas to rebuild its military machine,” the senior Israeli official said. Other issues — including Hamas’s demand for a Gaza seaport and airport, Israel’s demand for Gaza’s demilitarization, and the return of Israeli soldiers’ remains believed to be in Hamas’s hands — were to be addressed after a month if the truce holds, people familiar with the agreement said.

In an interview with David Rothkopf, Martin Indyk offers his view on how the Gaza war has altered the dynamics of the peace process:

I think it’s made it a lot more difficult — as if it wasn’t difficult enough already — because it has deepened the antipathy between the two sides.

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by Dish Staff

One of Israel’s air strikes in Gaza this weekend leveled an entire apartment building:

The Israeli military said that it destroyed the building because it contained a Hamas command center, though spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner “could not immediately specify which floor, or floors, of the building were the targets in the attack, or whether the intention had been to destroy the whole tower,” according to the Times. Residents denied that Hamas had been working out of the building. Residents said they received an alert from Israel 20 to 30 minutes before a drone dropped a “warning” rocket on their home. A warplane filled with non-warning weapons arrived shortly after. Text messages, voice mails, and leaflets distributed by Israel also warned that it would target anything “from which terror activities against Israel originate.”

Israel hit several other targets in Gaza over the weekend, including two homes and a commercial center. Ten Palestinians were reportedly killed in those attacks.

Netanyahu is now preparing his public for a war that continues into next month. A new ceasefire proposal may be in the offing, though that won’t be much comfort to the 106 Palestinians or the four-year-old Israeli child killed in the exchange of fire since the previous truce broke down last Tuesday:

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A Blow To The Head For Hamas

Aug 22 2014 @ 1:15pm
by Dish Staff

Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed Abu Shammala, one of

The IDF assassinated three Hamas commanders in a strike on a building in Gaza yesterday:

Israeli forces had a day of successful air strikes Thursday, killing three senior Hamas officials just a day after the organization claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. The strikes targeted leaders of Hamas’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. According to Hamas, the strikes killed Mohammad Abu-Shamalah, Raed al-Attar, and Mohammed Barhoum, all highly sought by Israeli forces. The IDF initially only confirmed the deaths of Abu-Shamalah and al-Attar, but later confirmed that Barhoum had been killed as well. … These triumphs against the Qassam Brigades leadership came just a day after Hamas’s Saleh al-Arouri claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and deaths of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel.

Morrissey thinks these assassinations are particularly significant:

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The Twice-Displaced Palestinians

Aug 21 2014 @ 7:12pm
by Jonah Shepp

Alice Su highlights the peculiar predicament of Palestinian Syrians, who unlike other displaced people looking to flee the civil war don’t have the right to seek refuge in neighboring countries:

Amid the millions of refugees from Syria flooding into neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan, a minority group is being quietly denied entry, detained, deported, and pushed out in any way possible: Palestinians. They are refugees who literally have nowhere to go.

In recent months, Jordanian and Lebanese authorities have acknowledged that Palestinians from Syria are not welcome to asylum in the same way that other Syrian refugees are. Jordan and Lebanon have respectively been barring Palestinians from entry since January and August 2013, in contrast with the treatment of some 600,000 Syrian nationals in Jordan and 1.5 million in Lebanon, according to Human Rights Watch. The organization has also documented forcible deportations of Palestinians—women and children included—from both countries.

I touched on this issue last week, and I’m glad to see it’s getting some more press. This is another example of the many ways Palestinians suffer for having no state of their own and no genuine acceptance in the countries where so many of them ended up after being displaced in the 1948 and 1967 wars.

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by Dish Staff

The Gaza ceasefire ended today with a fresh exchange of fire and the calling off of negotiations in Cairo. Netanyahu –shock– was quick to blame Hamas:

After reportedly coming close to an agreement, the parties appear to be back at square one:

Netanyahu’s right-wing Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennett, said after the renewed fire Tuesday that it was impossible to negotiate with Hamas. “When you hold negotiations with a terror organization, you get more terror,” he said. “Hamas thinks that firing rockets helps in securing achievement in negotiations, therefore it is firing at Israel even during a cease-fire. Rockets are not a mistake [for Hamas], they are a method.”

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, accused Israel of dragging out the talks and of not being serious about reaching an agreement. “Israel’s foot-dragging proves it has no will to reach a truce deal,” Abu Zuhri said. “The Palestinian factions are ready to all possibilities,” he added, presaging the likelihood of a return to further conflict.

Though the fighting drags on, Israel seems to believe it has already won. Eli Lake watches the victory lap:

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