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Everyone’s an Expert

Thursday, 8 January 2009

For some reason, situations in Israel motivate just about everyone to not only have an opinion but share it too. Roseanne Barr has been blogging extensively about Gaza but since she sounds completely crazy, I am hopeful that rational people won’t take her seriously.

Brian Eno is another story. The musician/music producer penned an article which appeared on Counterpunch. Not only is it extremely biased, but it is filled with inaccuracies and blatant lies.

It’s a tragedy that the Israelis – a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression – are now acting as oppressors.

It is unclear what Eno means by “oppressors.” As the ruling government, Hamas is responsible for the economic and social oppression in Gaza; not Israel.

As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked “Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it’s the Palestinians”.

Citing Primo Levi here is misleading as Levi died in 1987. He was voicing his well-known opposition to the 1982 Lebanon War. The circumstances were quite different and there is no way to know what Levi would have thought about this particular situation.

By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they’ve forgotten it.

As I noted in an earlier post, use of Holocaust rhetoric is meant for inflammatory purposes only. The current economic and social conditions in Gaza are a direct result of the mismanagement of millions and millions of dollars in foreign aid by Hamas. And the UN-refugee camps? Who is keeping the Palestinians in them? The surrounding Arab countries refuse to come to the aid of their Palestinian brethren, preferring instead to keep them as refugees.

And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians – with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers – and themselves – with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world – they sacrifice all credibility.

Again, Eno paints a misleading picture. Teenagers are not the only one involved on the side of Hamas. Furthermore, “homemade rockets” leaves the reader with the impression that these weapons are incapable of inflicting mortal damage. Certainly Qassams are not the most sophisticated weapons. However, they are constructed with the express intent to maim and kill. Though many of them are in fact manufactured in residential areas, the use of the term “homemade” is meant to both minimize their dangerous impact as well as portray Hamas as the military underdog. Make no mistake; the weapons fired by Hamas onto the Israeli civilian population for the past eight years are deadly.

The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen.

Living under fire for the past eight years cannot be considered “squandering every chance” for peace. Let us remember that it was Hamas who broke the six-month cease-fire.

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it.

While some have suggested that an IDF operation will have a positive effect on the upcoming elections, it is preposterous to think that this defensive action serves any economic or political purpose. Israel will continue with Operation Cast Lead until it can be assured that its civilian population is safe.

While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements.

I am no apologist when it comes to the settlements and have long felt that they are an impediment to the peace process. That being said, there is no construction occurring at this time. All of Israel’s efforts are going towards the protection of her citizens.

While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States.

While bombing the innocent civilian population of Israel, Hamas has continued to receive millions of dollars from many of the world’s countries. Money that has been used not for establishing necessary infrastructures but for the purchase and construction of deadly weapons aimed at Israel.

And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending. Gaza is now an experiment in provocation.

Provocation? Israel has stood by for EIGHT YEARS while her children have grown up in bomb shelters! Who is provoking whom?

Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly…and, surprise, surprise – they turn hostile.

The population density of Gaza has been bandied about quite a lot these past couple of weeks. And while there are a lot of people living in a small place, Gaza has the same population size and square mileage (less 4 square miles) than Philadelphia (city-proper)! And its population density is far less than that of the city of Manhattan. This is not meant to minimize the real population concerns. It is meant, however, to clarify and correct the claims that Gaza is the most overpopulated place on earth — a claim repeated often in the mainstream media.

As for access to necessary supplies, it is Hamas who has prevented access to food and medical treatment. For months, international humanitarian organizations have reported that there are ample food supplies in Gaza. While the current situation does make it dangerous for the civilian population to take a quick trip to the store, the IDF is now designating a three-hour safe period each day to allow Gazans to replenish their supplies. (A safe period during which time Hamas has kept up its offensive against the citizens of southern Israel.) Or, I suppose, Hamas could allow its extensive tunnel system to be used for the transport of something other than weapons. As for the electricity, Israel *continues* to supply the Gaza Strip with over 70% of its electricity. You read that correctly. Even as it is bombing the Hamas terrorists, Israel is providing necessary electricity to its citizens. Finally, Israel has always provided medical care to terrorists. I have witnessed this at both Hadassah hospital and Shaarei Tzedek hospital. This is, in fact, one of the most basic beliefs we have — the saving of a life. Even when it means that the medical team goes to any and all lengths to save the life of an individual who has blown up Israeli civilians. In the case of Gaza, Hamas (and to some extent the PA) is preventing most of the civilian victims in Gaza from accessing Israeli care, rerouting them to Egypt. Who, by the way, hasn’t appeared very enthusiastic about accepting the wounded.

Now why would you want to make that experiment? Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now ‘under attack’ you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn’t possibly reach an accommodation.


The people of Gaza are responsible for electing a terrorist group as its leadership. It is irresponsible to blame Israel for the weak infrastructure given how much financial aid Israel has poured into Gaza for the express purpose for building up an infrastructure. It is in Israel’s best interest to have stable neighbours and therefore makes no sense for her to weaken it.

And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.

When there is nothing left to say, end with an inflammatory and untrue statement. What is Eno’s suggestion? For the Israelis to pack up and leave their ancestral land? Israel has already disengaged from Gaza. Both Gaza and the West Bank are under Palestinian control. What more does Eno want? An Israel free of Israelis?

Last year, in addressing a group of Southern Californian rabbis, Rabbi Daniel Gordis said that most people tend to limit their reading to authors with whom they are in agreement. Since then, I try to expose myself to opposing points-of-view. It is usually difficult, but it helps me clarify my own views. What I cannot abide is the blatant manipulation of the truth.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Thursday, 8 January 2009 5:23 pm

    Eno’s good at reciting the talking points he has been taught. Wonder if he really knows anything about the matsav. I doubt it.

  2. Thursday, 8 January 2009 6:26 pm

    FS, you are my hero – when I grow up I want to be you. This is a wonderful post and doesn’t just refute Eno’s stupid arguments but everyone who makes these ridiculous statements out in the world. Good for you! Well said.

  3. Friday, 9 January 2009 12:51 pm

    Great posting. This was awesome. I’ll have to send you a copy of the thoughts I collected after being back from Israel a couple of days now…

  4. Friday, 9 January 2009 1:16 pm

    What a great post! I really admire your ability to read (and then write so eloquently in response to) those with whom you disagree. You are my hero, too!

  5. Gerald Fleischmann permalink
    Saturday, 10 January 2009 9:41 pm

    Your note on Israel providing medical care to terrorists is consistent with my visit last year to Bikur Cholim hospital in central Jerusalem. The head doctor of the Emergency dept. spoke of treating a number of young Palestinian terrorists who were brought in a year or two ago. As I recall, he treated one for a lost leg due to an accidental premature detonation of his bomb intended for Israelis. Whenever he was conscious, he continued to rail against the “heartless” Israelis (who were dispassionately engaged in saving his life). In a wierd way, that scene reminded me of the classic Monty Python bit where one knight has had successive limbs cut away from his body by another knight, and all the while, the loser is taunting his victor with incessant barbs, such as, “Oh, you’re a coward, eh? Come back and fight!”

  6. Kayla Ship permalink
    Sunday, 11 January 2009 5:05 am

    Kol Hakavod or in American, “Go You!”. Your critique of Eno’s points are spot on!

  7. Tuesday, 20 January 2009 4:46 pm

    Shalom, Rabbi Rebecca;
    I continue to read your blog with great interest! You are truly a talent.
    I try not to read any newspapers on the subject of Israel, and in particular Israel at war.
    I do receive commentary from Jews in the know. (Yourself included).
    Please continue to improve, healthwise. We all are anxious to have you back on the CBT pulpit.
    I am well, thank God. Hopefully, I will remain so.

    Have a great week and a restful Shabbat.

    Love, Larry & Terry Schnitzer

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