As noted in my post yesterday ("Responses to Israel's Attack on Hamas"), the "lull" in hostilities between Israel and Hamas was violated hundreds of times in 2008, as the terrorists in Gaza lobbed rockets on Israeli outposts since at least June. Depite this, one of the left's memes we've seen this week is that Israel's actions have been condemned by the "entire international community," with the exception of the United States. So it's no suprise that the rhetorical Katyushas continue to rain down on Israel this morning. Let me start another roundup of the left's anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism with the editorial position of the Jerusalem Post, "A Time to Fight":
ON A quiet post-Christmas weekend, the events in Gaza have captured world attention. From an unsympathetic foreign media, we are already hearing complaints that Israel's retaliation is "disproportionate" and a form of "collective punishment." That over 200 Palestinians have been killed compared to only one Israeli leads some journalists to conclude that Israel is inherently in the wrong. One British news anchor wondered why her government had not already demanded that Israel halt its operation. There was a grudging understanding that Hamas uses Palestinian non-combatants as human shields, along with an unreasonable demand that Israel magically find a way not to harm any of them.Well, the "civilized world" doesn't want to stop Hamas. If we take a look around the leftist blogosphere, we see pretty much the postmodern consensus on the crisis in the Middle East: That the U.S. and Israel bear the brunt of responsibility for the crisis, and there will be no peace until Israel relents in authorizing its self-destruction.
The formula for purchasing the affection of those who suffer from moral relativism is sickeningly clear: if one Jew is killed, we get very little piety. If, heaven forbid, an Israeli kindergarten was to take a direct hit - Israel might, temporarily, gain the sympathy of news anchors from Paris to London to Madrid.
At that price we would rather forgo their sympathy.
Nevertheless, we expect our diplomats to work 24/7 to make Israel's case to the international community. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has begun that process. In an English-language address she said, "Enough is enough" - Israel would not continue to absorb rockets, mortars and bullets without retaliating.
At this newspaper, we wonder how an international community that can't bring itself to explicitly support Israel's operation against the most intransigent of Muslim fanatics expects to play a positive role in facilitating peace in this region.
Hamas must be stopped. And the civilized world must help stop it.
So, let's begin with Glenn Greenwald, who attacks Marty Peretz for his no-apologies endorsement of the Israeli response:
Opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are so entrenched that any single outbreak of violence is automatically evaluated through a pre-existing lens, shaped by one's typically immovable beliefs about which side bears most of the blame for the conflict generally or "who started it." Still, any minimally decent human being - even those who view the world through the most blindingly pro-Israeli lens possible, the ones who justify anything and everything Israel does, and who discuss these events with a bottomless emphasis on the primitive (though dangerous) rockets lobbed by Hamas into Southern Israel but without even mentioning the ongoing four-decades brutal occupation or the recent, grotesquely inhumane blockade of Gaza - would find the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinians to be a horrible and deeply lamentable event.The rest of Greenwald's post is a long, ad hominem screed demonizing Peretz, an essay which in itself is Greenwald's proxy attack on the United States and its relationship with Israel. Notice how anyone who endorses Israel's right to self-defense is not a "minimally decent human being."
That's me, I guess, an "evil neocon."
In any case, let's go now to the formidable foreign policy "expert" Steve Clemons and his essay, "Hijacking Obama's Middle East Strategy:"
Barack Obama cannot afford to allow his presidency and its foreign policy course to be hijacked by either side in this increasingly blurry dispute. Israel's actions today just created thousands of aggrieved and vengeful relatives committed to delivering some blowback against Israel ....This is a really strange piece. It implicitly blames the United States for deigning to support the Israeli state, and it minimizes the fighting on the ground - and thus the deaths of innocents in Israel from the Islamists' nihilist terror - as akin to a patch of "weeds." Especially odious is the assumption that the incoming Obama admistration is being dragged into a "chronic foreign affairs ulcer" through no fault of its own, and hence Obama must wash his hands of the mess and leave Israel to its fate. That's the "solution" underlying this drivel: Let the Jewish state perish and American will be out of this business of taking moral stands for right in world politics.
The U.S. - and the incoming Obama administration - must move an agenda forward in Israel-Palestine negotiations that works at levels higher than the perpetrators of this violence. It's time to get this conflict out of the weeds, and time to stop allowing any actors in this drama to hijack the foreign policy machinery of governments trying to push forward a Palestinian state.
America has to get out of the role of "managing" this conflict - and must solve it. Israel and the Palestinians have shown themselves unable to maturely end their conflict - and short of a results-oriented strategy that puts the "Middle East Peace Business" out of business, America will be constantly tugged into this conflict and blamed for it.
Now, moving on, Spencer Ackerman quotes the liberal J-Street advocacy group who offers more nonsense about negotiations:
Even in the heat of battle, as friends and supporters of Israel, we need to remember that only diplomacy and negotiations can end the rockets and terror and bring Israel long-term security and peace.Ackerman then, after citing some indignant commentary from the Israeli opinion pages, adds this conclusion:
The Jewish writers who consider Palestinian life to be worth a fraction of an Israeli life will start braying about antisemitism, because when Palestinian bodies are charred in the streets, the real victim is a sensitive Jew's sense of collective guilt. (That doesn't mean there isn't actual antisemitism in this world. Do not test me in the comment section.) Fellow lit'ry tribesman: do you believe for a moment that leveling Gaza will stop the rockets? Well, then you've lost your right to call the peaceniks naive. You want the cycle broken? Then you can start by breaking your own.Actually, it's not naïvity that's the problem here, it's leftist ideology. For Ackerman, Israel's resort to self-defense is the problem. By fighting to protect the national survival, Israel has perpetuated the "cycle of violence." Of course, as recently as 2000, Israel had agreed to a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis, which the Palestinians rejected. Once the Clinton administration left office, the second intifada showed the world that the Palestinian agenda is jihad not negotiation.
Finally, notice how Stirling Newberry at Firedoglake ties the death of Samuel Huntington to the current flare-up of violence in the Middle East:
Samuel Huntington died at a convenient moment: one of his wars is starting. Huntington was an advisor to Carter and Hubert Humphrey, from a generation of post-Victorian romantic nationalists. His work is broader and more nuanced than its readers. However, Clash of Civilizations and Who Are We are not books meant to attract nuanced readers. Nuance in both is a rationalization, not a rationale.I doubt there's ever a "convenient moment" for someone to die, unless the convenience is found in Huntington as a ready foil for the left's attacks on Western culture, tradition, and the primacy of the nation state (and Newberry is extremely disrespectful of Samuel Huntington).
While Huntington warned against America imposing its order on the rest of the world, his paradigm left few other options. His late influence obscures his contributions to political realism, such as Political Order in Changing Societies, which featured perhaps the most concise discussion to its day of modernization which, despite its rationalism does not necessarily mean the rationalization of power, authority, structure, or political participation, because of the difference between modernization as a direction, and modernization as a process.
The current war between Hamas and Israel is a Huntingtonian War, in that it is based on the belief that cultural unity is essential for national hegemony, and that unlimited force is acceptable in pursuit of this goal. It is an idea that was born of the rise of the Nation-State, and which traces a vast arc for good and evil, to land in the sands of Al-Anbar, the ravines of Helmand, and the mazes of Gaza. Israeli politics is predicated on certain totems of cultural unity which must be pursued at all cost as essential to their national identity, even if these conflict with peace. They are arrayed against a people - the Palestinians - who beginning 80 years ago traded their identity as Palestinians, for their identity as the edge of militarized pan-Arabism, a movement to which they historically had not belonged.
The outgoing administration backs Israel completely, however virtually the rest of the international community has called for a halt to the attacks, which have claimed more than 230 lives, of which Hamas reports 160 are security personnel. 700 are reported wounded. For comparison 31 Israelis are listed as killed by terrorism this year through October, 12 of them soldiers or security personnel. Steve Clemons perceptively notes that this is part of Bush's reverse hundred days to restrict Obama to Bush's policies.
In any case, I'll have more on this later. If you haven't yet, go back and read the Jerusalum Post's excellent editorial in full. The opinions there are neither naïve nor bombastic, in contrast to what we'll be hearing from the antiwar left in the days ahead.
Photo Credit: "Lynching in Ramallah."