Israel & the Middle East
(Israel, Palestinians, Arabs, War, Terrorism, America)
Last update 2/2009. Here are some links and a few thoughts on the Middle East. The idea originally was to pull together some sources of information on the Middle East and to share some thoughts. In the sources of information (first) section I tried at first to balance the sources (Jihadist, Palestinian, & related with Israeli, Western, & related) with the idea that they can be explored and used to better understand the situation. In the second section of thoughts and conclusions I did not seek balance. Now, I have abandoned trying to balance sources of information as I have a greater understanding of the depth of evil in the Islamist world and the relationships among (1) terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda and (2) the relationships among the Western world's fight against international terrorism and Israel's fight to exist. Make no mistake, this is a war of civilizations - or more accurately, a war between civilization and hate.
My background: I fought in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam and have since dedicated much of my life to refugee and immigrant health (see Refugee & Immigrant Health, Infectious Diseases, and my website on Refugees). I am a Christian (Presbyterian) and support Israel from a sense of brotherhood, not from any kind of right-wing end-times prophecy. I invite you to send links, thoughts, whatever.
Essential Links (more below)
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI): provides translations from the Arab media - spend some time on this one - maybe the most important link in this site. Victor Davis Hanson for a clear-eyed historian's view on a distorted world; Little Green Footballs for news, truth ... and how to use children to express hate.
The Demons of Gaza
Ralph Peters*, New York Post, January 14, 2009 (Added to site 2/2009 because of the clarity of the writing)
Israel hasn't killed a single civilian in the Gaza Strip. Over a hundred civilians have died, and Israeli bombs or shells may have ended their lives. But Israel didn't kill them.
It's time to smash the lies. The lies of Hamas. The UN lies. And the save-the-terrorists lies of the global media.
There is no moral equivalence between Hamas terrorists and Israeli soldiers. There is no gray area. There is no point in negotiations.
Hamas is a Jew-killing machine. It exists to destroy Israel. What is there to negotiate?
When Hamas can't kill Jews, it's perfectly willing to drive Palestinian civilians into the line of fire - old men, women and children. Hamas herds the innocent into "shelters," then draws Israeli fire on them. And the headline-greedy media cheer them on.
Hamas isn't fighting for political goals. "Brokered agreements" are purely means to an end. And the envisioned end is the complete destruction of Israel in the name of a terrorist god. Safe in hidden bunkers or in Damascus, the Hamas leadership is willing to watch an unlimited number of civilians and even street-level terrorists die.
Lives, too, are nothing but means to an end. And dead kids are the coins that keep the propaganda meter ticking.
All Hamas had to do to prevent Israel's act of self-defense was to leave Israel unmolested by terror rockets. All Hamas needs to do now to stop this conflict and spare the Palestinian people it pretends to champion is to stop trying to kill Israelis and agree to let Israel exist in peace.
Hamas didn't, and Hamas won't.
Now Israel has to continue its attack, to wreak all the havoc it can on Hamas before a new American president starts meddling. If Israel stops now, Hamas can declare victory just for surviving - despite its crippling losses.
While it's impossible to fully eliminate extremism, killing every terrorist leader hiding in a Gaza bunker is the only hope of achieving even a temporary, imperfect peace. The chance may not come again.
And don't worry about "creating a power vacuum." Let the Palestinians pick up their own pieces. Even anarchy in Gaza is better for Israel than Hamas.
Israelis, Americans and Westerners overall share a tragic intellectual blind spot: We're caught in yesterday's model of terrorism, that of Arafat's PLO, of the IRA, the Red Brigades or the Weather Underground. But, as brutal as those organizations could be, they never believed they were on a mission from God.
Yesteryear's terrorists wanted to change the world. They were willing to shed blood and, in extreme cases, to give their own blood to their causes. But they didn't seek death. They preferred to live to see their "better world."
Now our civilization faces terrorists who regard death as a promotion. They believe that any action can be excused because they're serving their god. And their core belief is that you and I, as stubborn unbelievers, deserve death.
Their grisly god knows no compromise. To give an inch is to betray their god's trust entirely. Yet we - and even some Israelis - believe it's possible to cut deals with them.
In search of peace, Israel handed Gaza to the Palestinians, a people who had never had a state of their own. As thanks, Israel received terror rockets. And the Palestinian people got a gang war.
Peace is the last thing Hamas terrorists and gangsters want. Peace means the game is up. Peace means they've disappointed their god. Peace means no more excuses. They couldn't bear peace for six months.
This is a war to the bitter end. And we're afraid to admit what it's about.
It's not about American sins or Israeli intransigence. It's about a sickness in the soul of a civilization - of Middle-Eastern Islam - that can only be cured from within. Until Arabs or Iranians decide to cure themselves, we'll have to fight.
Instead, we want to talk. We convince ourselves, against all evidence, that our enemies really want to talk, too, that they just need "incentives" (the diplomat's term for bribes). The apparent belief of our president-elect that it's possible to negotiate with faith-fueled fanatics is so naive it's terrifying.
Yet, it's understandable. Barack Obama's entire career has been built on words, not deeds, on his power to persuade, not his power to deliver. But all the caucuses, debates, neighborhood meetings and backroom deal-making sessions in his past haven't prepared him to "negotiate" with men whose single-minded goal is Israel's destruction - and ours.
If Obama repeats the same "peace-process" folly as his predecessors, from Jimmy have-you-hugged-your-terrorist-today? Carter through Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he'll be devoured before he knows he's been bitten.
How many administrations have to repeat the identical error of believing that, deep down inside, terrorists, gunmen and warlords really want peace every bit as much as we do? Israel's enemies aren't just looking to cut a sharp deal.
They want to destroy Israel.
Which part of what they shout in our faces is so hard to understand? Israel's foes have been preaching Jew-hatred for so long that even the "moderates" can't turn back now.
And why does the global left hate Israel so? Why would they pull out the stops to rescue Hamas?
Because Israel exposed the lie that a suffering people can't lift itself up through hard work, education and discipline. Israel didn't need the help of a hundred condescending NGOs and their misery junkies.
Because the Holocaust is a permanent embarrassment to Europeans. They need to believe that Israelis are kosher Nazis.
Because, from the safety of cafes and campuses, it's cool to call terrorists "freedom fighters." It makes you feel less guilty when you hit up daddy (or the state) for money. I mean, dude, it's not like you have to, like, live with them or anything, you know?
Because, above all, the most-destructive racists in the world today are mainstream leftists. Want the truth? The Left codes Israel as white and, therefore, inherently an oppressor. Israel is held to the highest standard of our civilization and our legal codes - and denied the right to self-defense.
But the Left tacitly believes that people with darker skins are inferior and can't be expected to behave at a civilized level. Leftists expect terrorist movements or African dictators to behave horribly. It's the post-modern, latte-sucking version of the "little brown brother" mentality.
The worst enemies of developing societies have been leftists who refuse to hold them to fundamental standards of governance and decency. But, then, the Left needs developing societies to fail to prove that the system's hopelessly stacked against them.
A battered, impoverished, butchered people built a thriving Western democracy in an Eastern wasteland. Israel can never be forgiven for its success.
In this six-decade-old conflict that Israel's intractable neighbors continue to force upon it, there not only are no good solutions, but, thanks to the zero-sum mentality of Islamist terrorists, there aren't even any bad solutions - short of nuclear genocide - that would bring an enduring peace to the Middle East.
And even the elimination of Israel wouldn't be enough. The terrorists would fight among themselves, while warring upon less-devout fellow Muslims.
All Israel can do is to fight for time and buy intervals of relative calm with the blood of its sons and daughters. By demanding premature cease-fires and insisting that we can find a diplomatic solution, we strengthen monsters and undercut our defenders.
And don't believe the propaganda about this conflict rallying Gaza's Palestinians behind Hamas. That's more little-brown-brother condescension, assuming all Arabs are so stupid they don't know who started this and who's dragging it out at their expense.
Gaza's people may not care much for Israelis, but they rue the day they cast their votes for Hamas. Hamas is killing them.
*Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army officer and the author of Looking For Trouble.
Terrorism Speech by George Bush 9/6/2006 (and John Doe Manifesto + a filthy fatwa) - Good review of 9/2001-9/2006 - Oh my, I've become a (gasp) neocon or something like that.
"The radical Islamic group Hamas, which won control of the Palestinian parliament in January, deplored the U.S. airstrike that killed Zarqawi and praised him as a martyr. 'With hearts full of faith, Hamas commends brother-fighter Abu Musab . . . who was martyred at the hands of the savage crusade campaign which targets the Arab homeland, starting in Iraq,' the statement said." Washington Post, 6/9/2006
Photograph (pulled by CNN, but the story is compelling and revealing): Avraham Boaz, 71. Moved to Israel from the U.S. in 1961. An architect, he built homes with a Palestinian partner. Two weeks before he was murdered, he remarried his ex-wife, Eve, who was on her deathbed. She died a few days after the wedding. Kidnapped at a Palestinian Authority checkpoint in Beit Jala, taken to the Bethlehem area and executed 1/15/2002. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility.
Statement read to my Sunday School class after the Passover murders: The Dallas Morning News is calling for this day to be a day of prayer for peace in the Middle East. I pray for peace. But to everything there is a season, and this is not a season for moral equivalencies. So I pray also for victory over evil - specifically, I pray for victory over terrorism - for victory over bombers, beheaders, and hijackers - for victory over those who seek only to destroy. And I grieve with my Jewish brothers and sisters in this terrible Passover. Charles Kemp. Photograph is of Anne Frank. Click photo for more info. (removed)
Letter in the Morning News: On the one side we have people who celebrate the murder of innocent civilians; people who are bankrolled by Iraq ($25,000 to the families of suicide bombers); people who are supported by Hizbollah (who, for the short of memory, blew up 241 US Marines); people who are allied with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and every other despotic Middle East regime and hate group; people whose ongoing goal is to destroy Israel. On the other hand we have the only democracy in the Middle East - a nation that exercised extraordinary restraint in responding to attacks and suicide bombings (until the Passover bomb, that is); a nation hated by every Middle East regime and terrorist organization; a nation living in a sea of hate. They say it is about the land, the "occupied territories." The Palestinians and their Arab allies gave up their rights to that land when they lost their wars of extermination against the Jews in 1948-49, 1967, and 1973-74. And that really is the bottom line now - another attempt at the destruction of Israel. Charles Kemp
Columnist Ahmad Ragab, writing for newspaper owned and operated by the Egyptian government: "give thanks to Hitler, of blessed memory." (From Wm. Buckley column 7/31/02)
What I've learned on the road to Zionism (yes, a Presbyterian can be a Zionist)
- If Israel gives the Palestinians what they demand or if Israel does not defend herself, it is the end of Israel. And of course the end of Israel is the goal of the Palestinians and most of the rest of the Arab world. If Israel gets what it wants - or is clearly willing to accept, the Palestinians will live in the freest country in the Middle East, have the opportunity to be the most prosperous people in the Middle East, and have the greatest degree of religious freedom in the Middle East.
- There is enormous difference between killing teens at discos, people enjoying a Passover dinner, and children at pizza parlors on the one hand and killing the the people who plan the murders and recruit suicide bombers/murderers on the other hand. Equating these is what is called moral equivalence. And it is not about "extremists on both sides." It is about radical Islamic Arab hate - from wars of annihilation to suicide bombers to the WTC - it is about incandescent hate. See below for information on the "occupied territories."
- This isn't a war of Palestinian desperation but part of a long pattern of Palestinian self-destructiveness and terrorism. Just as there would have been no Palestinian refugee problem had the Palestinians not rejected the U.N. partition in 1947 and tried to destroy the newborn Jewish state; and just as there would have been no Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza had the Arab world not tried again to destroy Israel in 1967; so too would there be no reoccupation today had the Palestinians accepted Israel's offer of land and governance two years ago (Yossi Klein Halevi, 2002).
- This war is also about antisemitism. The antisemitism preached among Palestinians and other Arab Muslims is grotesque beyond belief (see MEMRI). The resurgent antisemitism in Europe is more sophisticated, but truly, the evil is growing.
- It is evil to celebrate - literally dancing in the streets - when innocents are murdered, including at the World Trade Center - and dance many Palestinians did after the WTC; and they continue to celebrate the murder of innocents. "They (Palestinians) handed out sweets and thousands danced in the streets" after the Hebrew University bombing (NYT, 8/4/2002). Most Palestinians (68%) support suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians and most (51%) hope for the destruction of Israel (see copy of article or Israelinsider).
- The Palestinians are allied with every vile terrorist regime and hate group (including al Qaeda) in the Middle East. As a former US Marine, I will never forget the Marines killed in Beirut by Hizbollah. I remember when the Marines went in during Desert Storm. There was a burning in my chest and a deep joy that finally we were striking back. Got some. Fallujah - Got some! And that job is not yet done. As an American, I remember September 11 - and the job of responding to 9/11 is also not yet done. The Palestinians are - at a minimum - fellow travelers with the radical Islamic enemies of the United States.
- The Palestinians and their Arab allies have tried repeatedly to destroy Israel because, they claim, the land ("occupied territories") is theirs. No, it is not. This claim is a classic "big lie." First, on the basis of who was there first and throughout most history, claims to the land are in Israel's favor (see CNN background on Middle East, the Bible, Israeli perspective, and for a more detailed history, see factsandlogic.org). Israel was a nation 2000 years before Islam came into being and none of the lands or cities of Israel are mentioned in the Koran except in relation to Jews; yet these lands and cities are central to, and named in the Old and New Testaments. Second, "The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:3). Third, though Arabs took control of Jerusalem and Israel in 1071, they did so by force, and thus moral claims of (1) "we were in charge before you were in charge" or (2) "nations cannot be formed and exist by force" lose their validity in this case. The Arabs were the occupiers. Fourth, the "Palestinians" are precisely the same people (ethnicity, culture, language, history, etc.) as the Arabs living in Jordan and elsewhere. There were no "Palestinians" until 1948, much less any Palestinian homeland - Jordan controlled the West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza; and they were not about to give it away.
- A central fact of life is that entities that start and lose wars lose the right to dictate terms of peace; and those who start and lose wars of extermination lose all rights in all matters. What whiners these Arabs are.
- All this notwithstanding, in the 2000 effort to find peace, Israel conceded to virtually all Palestinian demands and (this is usually not noted) gave up virtually all their own. Arafat said no and started the current intifada. The Palestinians will never see another offer as good as the one made in 2000.
- In one sense the Palestinians are sad pawns in the larger Arab game of Jew-hating. In 1948, there were about as many Palestinians in Israel as there were Jews in Arab countries. All the Jews were forced out of their homes in the Arab countries, losing everything except their lives; but Palestinians were allowed to stay in Israel. Many of those who wanted to leave were not accepted in Arab countries, which preferred to leave them in Israel as a poison pill. In another sense, the Palestinians embrace hate and murder with evil glee; and so go from sad pawns to something else altogether.
- Here is the official Palestinian response to the June 18, 2002 murder of 19 Israeli civilians in a bus bombing - including, as always, children. From CNN: "The Palestinian Authority ... retains its position of not condoning the killing of civilians -- Palestinians and Israelis," said Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator. "We reject any Israeli attempt to assign blame or finger-pointing at us." After the Hebrew University bombing, "an estimated 10,000 people rallied on Wednesday night to celebrate the bombing attack and endorsed calls for more 'martyrdom operations.'" (AP, 8/1/02). Photograph: Marla Bennett, from San Diego. Palestinians danced in the streets celebrating her murder at Hebrew University. (removed)
- The Israelis have shown unbelievable restraint in their dealings with the Palestinians - far far more than any other country in the world would have shown. As for what an Arab country would have done to people behaving as the Palestinians do (e.g., throwing rocks at soldiers & bombing civilians) - the problem would have been dead and buried long ago. Someday, perhaps soon, the Palestinians will get what they think they want - a real war.
- Like individuals, corporations, and other entities, countries can make poor decisions. From the perspective of what is good for the Palestinian people, the current strategy and tactics are poor decisions and terribly counter-productive. If the Palestinians would stop the bombings and murders, the Israelis could be their greatest allies. If they would work with the Israelis, the Palestinians could have the only free Arab state - and ultimately the most prosperous Arab state - in the world. But that would mean giving up their ugly dream of destroying Israel.
- There are many Heroes: Israel Defense Forces
- Some good things in 2004: We do not have to listen to foolishness like, "Islam is a religion of peace." Or, "What jihad really means is struggle, like a spiritual struggle." Or, "Muslim women are not oppressed."
- There are the less than heroic.
- Has anyone else noticed that President Bush using the word "crusade" enrages Arabs; yet "jihad" is a fine word for Arabs to use - even post 9-11! And that it enrages them for Christians to be in the "sacred land" of Saudi Arabia; but fine for Muslims to live in Jewish and Christian lands. And that it is intolerable to Arabs that Jews live in the West Bank; yet Arabs are entitled to live elsewhere in Israel. Has anyone else noticed that hypocrisy and rage are central themes in these people?
- Are the Israelis completely virtuous and the Palestinians and Arab world completely without virtue? Neither side is perfect. But one side embraces evil to an extraordinary extent and (as they say - as they blaspheme) "God willing" will destroy Israel and kill every Jew they can kill. "Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them" (Sheik Ahmad Halabaya on PA TV). The other side seeks a very small place (1/6 of 1% of Middle East) of safety and, thankfully, is willing to fight for it.
That said, do I hope for peace? Yes. But it is difficult to see how it will happen. Separation is probably the best option - as long as Israel is not exposed for the inevitable next war. And any settlement must recognize that the Arab world will try and try again to destroy Israel. Does anyone doubt for even a moment that the Arab world longs to see weapons of mass destruction used against Israel, and given the opportunity, will use them? I feel that if we allow the destruction of Israel we will lose the very soul of our civilization and our faith will turn to ashes.
And they (radical Islamists) will try again to hurt the United States and would destroy us if they could. It looks to me that we may be headed for something really big and really bad. These are hard times; times for strength and for holding fast to our faith.
Click on the woman to visit hell (removed). Why do I have photographs of Jewish people murdered 1944-2002? Because the goal (killing Jews) is the same and I want to show the faces of the murdered. Consider, these, like so many other murdered Jews, are all deliberately targeted civilians. Because I remember.