Posted by: Lister | December 31, 2008

Zig-Zag Barak

I learned Ehud’s nickname from Tony Karon:

Barak, never shy about spewing utter rubbish when his audience is American and prone to be taken in by demagoguery, last weekend offered the priceless suggestion to Fox News that “expecting Israel to have a cease-fire with Hamas is like expecting you to have a cease-fire with al-Qaeda.” Presumably it would not occur to Fox’s anchors to ask why, then, had Barak maintained just such a cease-fire for the past six months? And why had he been seeking its renewal?

Most of Karon’s post is about the Israeli historian Benny Morris.

You’d think that the 100-1 ratio of Palestinian to Israeli casualties of the first four days of the Gaza offensive would give the lie to the idea that Israel is threatened with annihilation by Hamas and its rockets.

In my post yersterday, I linked to reports suggesting that the rate at which Israelis are dying is far, far greater now that the ceasefire has collapsed.

From Karon’s post, again:

I suppose the question I’d like to ask Obama, in the very Jewish tradition of asking how I would experience that which I was about to do to another, is what he would do if someone had moved his grandparents out of their home and forced them into a refugee camp, where he and his daughters lived, caged in, and were now being slowly choked of any meaningful livelihood, denied access to medicines, elecricity, even basic foodstuffs sometimes. What, I wonder would he do then? (He needs to have a meaningful answer to that question if he’s to be anything other than an obstacle to progress in the Middle East, like Bush has been. He may want to take a lesson from “Mr. Zig-Zag” here: On the election campaign trail in 1999, Ehud Barak was asked what he’d have done if he’d been born Palestinian, and answered without hesitation, “Joined a fighting organization.” A moment of rare honesty, that.)

Karon quote’s Shmuel Zakai, former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. Haaretz:

The Israeli military is certainly capable of a Gaza conquest, and at any given time, Zakai, once Israel’s top soldier in the Strip, said on the army-run station. “But the question that we must ask ourselves is this: ‘Okay, we’ve conquered Gaza – what now?’ We’re ruling over a million and a half Palestinians. Israel’s economic situation is known to everyone. Will Israel’s tax revenues now be used for rehabilitating the sewage and education of a million and a half Palestinians? What, exactly, will this give us?

[…] Zakai believes Israel should take a different approach, essentially combining two other options with a fundamental reappraisal of how Israelis should regard Hamas.

At heart, he says, “The state of Israel must understand that Hamas rule in Gaza is a fact, and it is with that government that we must reach a situation of calm.”

Israel must also understand that Hamas is a pragmatic organization, Zakai continues. “The moment that the organization understands that Qassam fire is contrary to its interests, it will stop the fire.

[…] In Zakai’s view, Israel’s central error during the tahadiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce that formally ended on Friday, was failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip.

[…] “We could have eased the siege over the Gaza Strip, in such a way that the Palestinians, Hamas, would understand that holding their fire served their interests. But when you create a tahadiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues, it’s obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahadiyeh, and that their way to achieve this, is resumed Qassam fire.

“The carrot is improvement of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip. You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and to expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing. That’s something that’s simply unrealistic.”

[…] “It’s just like after the disengagement. We left Gaza and we thought that with that troubles were over. Did we really think that a million and a half people living in that kind of poverty were going to mount the rooftops and begin singing the Beitar hymn? That is illogical.”

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