Dissents Of The Day

Many readers are upset over this post and our Gaza coverage in general:

Over the last few days I noticed you keep saying Netanyahu called for revenge. I assume that is based on this NYT editorial. I refer you to this rebuttal in TNR. If you have any other sources for that claim, could you please post them? I would also like to note that you have repeatedly stated as fact that the Israeli authorities knew the teenagers were dead, but that’s pure speculation. All they could know for sure is that they were shot. You also state as fact that the kidnappers weren’t Hamas, which is again speculation (not to mention that Hamas both encouraged kidnapping beforehand and approved of this one, publicly).

I’ve been reading your blog for years and generally enjoy it, but I have to say you seem quite emotional when talking about Israel. Now I have to go take a shower because you made me defend Bibi.

No, I’m not. I’m referring to Netanyahu’s out-of-context quote from Israel’s national poet, Haim Nahman Bialik, in the wake of the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teens:

The passage he chose came from a poem that Bialik penned shortly after the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, in which dozens of Jews were murdered in what today is Moldova. The line Netanyahu quoted — “Such vengeance for blood of babe and maiden hath yet to be wrought by Satan…” — is often interpreted today as promoting or heralding a fierce revenge for murder.”

The full poem undermines that feeling – but Netanyahu quoted only the inflammatory phrase. Another reader:

I’m starting to worry about you when I read things like this:

But what alternative do they have exactly, if they [Hamas] wish to have any military capacity at all? Should they build clearly demarcated camps and barracks and munitions stores, where the IDF could just destroy them at will?

Seriously?  Let’s back up a step. Why should Hamas have a military capacity and for what purpose? If they were responsibly governing their territory, they would have a military set up for defense of their borders and their people.  Quiet would be met with quiet, and the IDF would have no cause to attack Gaza. That’s not what’s happening.  Hamas takes every opportunity to smuggle in explosives, weapons, and rockets with the sole intent of attacking Israeli soldiers and civilians.  I’m no lawyer, so I can’t say whether Hamas’ attacks from civilian areas and it’s situating of military facilities around and under civilian buildings is a war crime, but it shows a shocking indifference to the welfare of the people it claims to represent.

I’m just arguing that, given Israel’s designation of the whole area as a terror state, no military capacity, defensive or offensive, would be permitted by Israel and so concealment in urban areas makes a horrible kind of sense. I don’t defend it, with its awful consequences for civilians. But I can see why it’s there – and it’s  too crude to say it’s there solely to get civilian casualties to put international pressure on Israel. That may be part of a horrifyingly cynical calculus, but it isn’t all of it. Another reader:

I am not a fan of Bibi, and I know that you don’t much like his government, as your current coverage of the conflict with Hamas clearly indicates. But you fail to cover some news items from the area that you willfully ignore.

Since the war with Gaza began – and that’s what it is, a war – Israel has permitted humanitarian aid to cross the border from Israel to Gaza. This includes medical supplies (including blood products), food, and fuel. Israel WARNS Gazans to get out of harm’s way before they strike. They have called off air strikes because of the apparent presence of non-combatants. You don’t mention any of this that I can see. Who ever heard of such a thing?! Can you imagine any other nation doing this?! Does the US drop leaflets on Afghanistan or Pakistan before going after Taliban fighters with drones? I doubt they ever even considered it.

Is it tragic that civilians are dying in Gaza? Of course. I may be naive, but I truly believe that if Hamas stopped firing rockets, Israel would stop the bombing raids. Why is it that in your eyes only Israel is not permitted to defend itself?! When I was in Israel last month, before the boys were kidnapped, rockets were falling on Southern Israel and Israel did nothing. I met some folks from Nitzan, a community in Southern Israel, who said that the rockets were landing almost daily, just south of their town and that they were very ticked at the government for doing nothing about it.

These folks were not your “Greater Israel” types. They just want to live in peace. But having rockets rain down on your neighborhood is unacceptable. I wouldn’t accept it and neither would you.

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