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In this article Norman Finkelstein, leading scholar of the Israel-Palestine conflict, analyses Israel's most recent attack ('Operation Pillar of Defense') on Gaza. He argues that shifting regional alignments and the legacy of the Goldstone Report combined to ensure that Israel suffered a stunning defeat.

This is posted here with the permission of both its author and New Left Project, where this article first appeared.

The official storyline is that Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence on 14 November, 2012 because, in President Barack Obama’s words, it had “every right to defend itself.”

In this instance, Israel was allegedly defending itself against the 800 projectile attacks emanating from Gaza since January of this past year.

The facts, however, suggest otherwise.

From the start of the new year, one Israeli had been killed as a result of the Gazan attacks, while 78 Gazans had been killed by Israeli strikes.   The ruling power in Gaza, Hamas, was mostly committed to preventing attacks.  Indeed, Ahmed al-Jaabari, the Hamas leader whose assassination by Israel triggered the current round of fighting, was regarded by Israel as the chief enforcer of the periodic ceasefires, and was in the process of enforcing another such ceasefire just as he was liquidated.  

Hamas occasionally turned a blind eye, or joined in to prevent an escalation, when Israeli provocations resulted in retaliatory strikes by Hamas’s more militant Islamist rivals.  It recoiled at being cast as Israel’s collaborator in the image of the Palestinian Authority.

It has been speculated that Hamas was itching for a confrontation with Israel.

But this past year Hamas has been on a roll.   Its ideological soulmate, the Muslim Brotherhood, ascended to power in Egypt.  The emir of Qatar journeyed to Gaza carrying the promise of $400 million in aid, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was scheduled to visit Gaza soon thereafter.   In the West Bank many Palestinians envied (rightly or wrongly) that Gazans fared better economically.  Meanwhile, Gaza’s Islamic University even managed to pull off an academic conference attended by renowned linguist Noam Chomsky.

Hamas’s star was slowly but surely rising, at the expense of the hapless Palestinian Authority.   The very last thing it needed at that moment was an inevitably destructive confrontation with Israel that could jeopardise these hard-won, steadily accreting gains.

On the other side, many cynical Israelis speculated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the operation in order to boost his election prospects in January 2013.  

As a general rule, however, Israeli leaders do not unleash major military operations for electoral gain where significant State interests are at stake.   The fact that Defence Minister Ehud Barak dropped out of politics soon after the latest operation ended and his popular standing improved suggests that the forthcoming election was not a prime consideration for him.[1]

Why, then, did Israel attack?

In one sense, Israel was straightforward about its motive.  It kept saying, credibly, that it wanted to restore its “deterrence capacity”—i.e., the Arab/Muslim world’s fear of it.

The real question, however, is the nature of the threat it wanted to deter.

The latest assault on Gaza unfolded in the broader context of successive Israeli foreign policy failures.  

Netanyahu sought to rally the international community for an attack on Iran, but ended up looking the fool as he held up an Iranian nuclear device “smuggled” into the United Nations.   Hezbollah boasted that a drone launched by it had penetrated Israeli airspace, and then reserved the right to enter Israeli air space at its whim.  Now, its “terrorist” twin upstart in Gaza was gaining respectability as the Arab/Muslim world thumbed its collective nose at Israel on its doorstep.

The natives were getting restless.  It was time to take out the big club again and remind the locals who was in charge.

“At the heart of Operation Pillar of Defence,” the respected Crisis Group observed, “lay an effort to demonstrate that Hamas’s newfound confidence was altogether premature and that, the Islamist awakening notwithstanding, changes in the Middle East would not change much at all.”

Still, Israel needed a suitable pretext.  So, just as it knew that breaking the ceasefire in November 2008 by killing six Hamas militants would evoke a massive response, so it must have known that killing Jaabari would evoke a comparable response.

The actual Israeli assault, however, differed significantly from Operation Cast Lead (OCL) in 2008-9: it was qualitatively less murderous and destructive.  Many commentators have therefrom inferred that Israel used more precise weapons this time and, concomitantly, that Israel had “learnt the lessons” from OCL on how to avoid civilian casualties.

In fact, 99 percent of Israeli Air Force attacks during OCL hit targets accurately, while the goal of OCL was—in the words of the Goldstone Report, which was supported by scores of other human rights reports—to “punish, humiliate and terrorise” the Gazan civilian population.

If Israel’s latest rampage proved less lethal by comparison, it was because of unprecedented political constraints imposed on it:

  • Turkey and Egypt made abundantly clear that they would not sit idly by if Israel  launched a repeat performance of OCL.   From early on, both drew a red line at an Israeli ground assault.  Although now officially denied, it was reliably reported at the time that Obama, no doubt prodded by these key regional actors, counselled Israel not to invade.
  • Israel had hanging over its head the Goldstone Report.  It managed to elude, the first time around, prosecution at the International Criminal Court and the exercise by several countries of universal jurisdiction for its war crimes and crimes against humanity.  But the second time it might not be so fortunate.
  • Gaza was swarming with foreign reporters.   Before OCL, Israel had sealed Gaza shut from the outside world with the cooperation of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt.   In the initial phase of the onslaught, Israel enjoyed a near-total monopoly on media coverage.   But now, journalists could freely enter Gaza and credibly report Israeli atrocities in real-time.

On account of this trio of factors, Israel mostly targeted sites that could be deemed “legitimate.”  True, some 70 Palestinian civilians were killed, but that could be chalked up to “collateral damage.”

The deaths and injuries of civilians during the Israeli assault, although far fewer than in previous rounds of the conflict, received in-depth and graphic news coverage.  When Israel tested the limits of military legitimacy, trouble loomed.  After it flattened civilian governmental structures in Gaza, the headline on the New York Times web site read, “Israel targets civilian buildings.”  A few hours later it metamorphosed into “government buildings” (no doubt after a call from the Israeli consulate).  Still, the writing was on the wall: Israeli conduct was being closely scrutinised by outsiders, so it had better tread carefully.  

The salient exceptions came during the final ceasefire negotiations when Israel resorted to its standard terrorist tactics in order to extract the best possible terms, and also targeted journalists in the event that the negotiations collapsed and it would have to, after all, launch the murderous ground invasion.

The armed resistance Hamas put up during the eight-day Israeli assault was largely symbolic.  Although Israel acclaimed the success of Iron Dome, it almost certainly did not save many and perhaps not any lives.  During OCL some 800 projectiles and mortar shells landing in Israel killed three Israeli civilians, while during the recent Israeli assault some 1,400 projectiles and mortar shells landing in Israel killed four Israeli civilians.

It is unlikely that, in the main and allowing for the occasional exception, Hamas used much more technically advanced weapons in the latest round.  Through its army of informers and hi-tech aerial surveillance Israel would have been privy to large quantities of sophisticated Hamas weapons and would have destroyed these stashes before or during the first day of the attack.  It is also improbable that Netanyahu would have risked an attack just on the eve of an election if Hamas possessed weapons capable of inflicting significant civilian casualties.  A handful of Hamas projectiles reached deeper inside Israel than before but these lacked explosives; an Israeli official derisively described them as “pipes, basically.”

If Israel ballyhooed Iron Dome, it was because its purported effectiveness was the only achievement to which Israel could point in the final reckoning.

The climax of Israel’s assault came when it was unable to break the spirit of the people of Gaza.  On the one hand, it had exhausted all preplanned military targets and, on the other, it couldn’t target the civilian population.  Hamas had successfully adapted Hezbollah’s strategy of continually firing its projectiles, the psychological upshot of which was that Israel couldn’t declare its deterrence capacity had been restored, and thereby forcing on it a ground invasion.

Israel could not launch such an invasion, however, without suffering significant combatant losses unless the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) blasted everyone and everything in and out of sight as it cleared a path into Gaza.   But, because of the novel circumstances—the regional realignment after the Arab Spring, and Turkey under Erdogan; the threat of a “mega-Goldstone,” as a veteran Israeli commentator put it; the presence of a foreign press corps embedded not in the IDF but among the people of Gaza—Israel couldn’t launch an OCL-style ground invasion.  

Israel was thus caught between a rock and a hard place.  It couldn’t subdue Hamas without a ground invasion, but it couldn’t launch a ground invasion without incurring a politically unacceptable price in IDF casualties and global opprobrium.  

It is possible to pinpoint the precise moment when the Israeli assault was over: Hamas leader Khalid Mishal’s taunt to Israel at a 19 November press conference, Go ahead, invade!

Netanyahu panicked.  His bluff was called, and Israel stood exposed, naked, before the whole world.   What happened next was a repeat of the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.  Unable to stop the Hezbollah rocket attacks but dreading the prospect of a ground invasion that meant tangling with the Party of God, Israel called in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to negotiate a ceasefire.  This time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was summoned to bail Israel out.  Not even the 21 November bus bombing in Tel Aviv—which, ceasefire or no ceasefire, would normally have elicited massive Israeli retaliation—shook Netanyahu from his determination to end the operation immediately, before Hamas resumed its taunting.

The terms of the final agreement marked a stunning defeat for Israel.  It called for a mutual ceasefire, not one, as Israel demanded, unilaterally imposed on Hamas.  It also included language that implied the siege of Gaza would be lifted.  Notably, it did not include the condition that Hamas must cease its importation or production of weapons.  The reason why is not hard to find.  Under international law, peoples resisting foreign occupation have the right (or, as some international lawyers more cautiously phrase it, license) to use armed force.  Egypt, which brokered the ceasefire, was not about to accept a stipulation that conceded Hamas’s legal right.[2]

Israel no doubt hoped that the U.S. would use its political leverage to extract better ceasefire terms from Egypt.  But the Obama administration, placing American interests first and consequently wanting to bring the new Egypt under its wing, was not willing (assuming it could) to lord it over Egypt on Israel’s behalf.

If any doubt remained about who won and who lost in the latest round, it was quickly dispelled.  Israel launched the attack to restore Gaza’s fear of it.  But after the ceasefire and its terms were announced, Palestinians flooded the streets of Gaza in a celebratory mood as if at a wedding party.  In a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, Hamas’s Mishal cut the figure and exuded the confidence of a world leader.  Meanwhile, at the Israeli press conference announcing the ceasefire, the ruling triumvirate—Netanyahu, Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman—resembled grade-schoolers called down to the Principal’s Office, counting the seconds until the humiliation was over.

The ceasefire is likely to hold until and unless Israel can figure out how to militarily prevail given the new political environment.   The days of Cast Lead are over, while a Pillar of Defence-type operation will not bear the fruits of victory.  

It is unlikely, however, that Israel will fulfil the terms of the final agreement to lift the siege of Gaza.  During deliberations on whether to accept the ceasefire, Barak had already cynically dismissed the fine print, saying “A day after the ceasefire, no one will remember what is written in that draft.”

It is equally improbable that Egypt will pressure the U.S. to enforce the ceasefire terms on Israel.  The respective interests of the new Egypt and Hamas mostly diverge, not converge.  Egypt desperately needs American subventions, and is currently negotiating a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, where Washington’s vote is decisive.  The popularity of President Mohammed Morsi’s government will ultimately hinge on what it delivers to Egyptians, not Gazans.

In the meantime, U.S. political elites are lauding Morsi to high heaven, stroking his ego, and speculating on the “special relationship” he has cultivated with Obama.  Those familiar with the psychological manipulations of the U.S. when it comes to Arab leaders—in particular, contemptibly mediocre ones such as Anwar Sadat—will not be surprised by the current U.S. romancing of Morsi.

It is also unlikely that Turkey will exert itself on Hamas’s behalf.  Right now it is smarting from Obama’s rebuff of designating Egypt as prime interlocutor in brokering the ceasefire.  Turkey was reportedly disqualified because it labelled Israel a “terrorist state” during the assault, whereas Egypt “only” accused Israel of “acts of aggression, murder and bloodletting.”  

Still, aspiring to be the U.S.’s chief regional partner, and calculating that the road to Washington passes through Tel Aviv, Turkey has resumed negotiations with Israel to end the diplomatic impasse after Israel killed eight Turks aboard a humanitarian vessel headed for Gaza in 2010.   On the other hand, its recent operation has brought home to Israel that alienating both its historic allies in the region, Egypt and Turkey, is not prudent policy, so a face-saving reconciliation between Ankara and Tel Aviv (the Turkish government is formally demanding an apology, monetary compensation, and an end to the Gaza siege) is probably in the offing.

The long and the short of it is that, even in the new era that has opened up, definite limits exist on how much regional support the Palestinians can realistically hope to garner.

It appears that many Palestinians have concluded from the resounding defeat inflicted on Israel that only armed resistance can and will end the Israeli occupation.  In fact, however, Hamas’s armed resistance operated for the most part only at the level of perceptions—the projectiles heading towards Tel Aviv did unsettle the city’s residents—and it is unlikely that Palestinians can ever muster sufficient military might to compel an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

But Gaza’s steadfastness until the final hour of the Israeli assault did demonstrate the indomitable will of the people of Palestine.  If this potential force can be harnessed in a campaign of mass civil resistance, and if the supporters of Palestinian rights worldwide do their job of mobilizing public opinion and changing government policy, then Israel can be forced to withdraw, and with fewer Palestinian lives lost than in an armed resistance.

This article benefited from many conversations with Palestinian political analyst Mouin Rabbani and from Jamie Stern-Weiner playing the devil’s advocate.

Norman Finkelstein is the author of many books on the Israel-Palestine conflict, most recently, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End, and is currently working on a book with Mouin Rabbani on how to resolve the conflict.

Originally published at New Left Project

__

[1] It has also been speculated that the governing coalition had to do something to placate popular indignation at the Hamas attacks.  But in fact, these attacks have barely registered on Israel’s political radar the past year, the focus being mostly on Iran and domestic issues.

[2] In a diplomatic side note to Netanyahu, Obama vaguely promised to “help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza.”

Originally posted to Heathlander on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for a good dose of reality. (9+ / 0-)

    Netanyahu could use some. Let's hope that the vote today in the UN finally recognizes the rights of Palestinians.

    Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

    by Mr Horrible on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:51:17 AM PST

  •  I appreciate your efforts. (8+ / 0-)

    We'll see what happens in the January elections.

    Any chance this might backfire on Netanyahu?

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:51:27 AM PST

  •  Robert Wright has an interesting read (8+ / 0-)

    over at The Atlantic under the title "Is Hamas Really a 'Surrogate' of Iran?"  A sample of what he has to say, which dovetails in certain ways with Finkelstein here:

    Second, the sudden slack in Hamas's relationship with Iran seems to have been taken up by Qatar, which is now bankrolling Hamas, and, in a different way, by Egypt, which is closer to Hamas under President Morsi than it was under Hosni Mubarek. This shift in Hamas's source of support--from Iran and Syria toward Qatar and Egypt--could prove constructive in the long run, since both Qatar and Egypt are members of the global establishment and seem to want to stay that way.
    Much of Wright's analysis draws off Irani-Israeli Meir Javendafar, who writing in AL Monitor has said:
    Apart from supplying weapons, Iran did not have any other influence. If it did, and Hamas was acting as its proxy, the latter would not have agreed to a cease-fire and instead done everything to force Israel to launch a land invasion in Gaza. Such an outcome would have many benefits for Iran and, in fact, this is what Iran's military and political leaders wanted. They wanted to see Israel stuck in a quagmire in Gaza, with its economy and diplomatic standing suffering heavily while its relations with Egypt reached breaking point. Unfortunately for the Iranian regime, it did not get its wish precisely because Hamas is not its proxy, nor does it have any political influence over Hamas. Otherwise, the story would have been different.
    On key points, Qatari and Egyptian influence on Hamas being more important than Iranian and that Hamas came out of the conflict better positioned than Israel, Wright agrees with Finkelstein.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:08:27 AM PST

  •  Finkelstein's Sadat quip is simply ridiculous. (3+ / 0-)

    "Contemptibly mediocre"? Really now?

    Say what you will about his domestic dictatorial attitude, Sadat was a foreign policy visionary and genius, and is still regarded as a towering figure in Egyptian and regional history.

    I'm not sure why Finkelstein even mentioned Sadat here, but it has the ironic effect of invalidating his claim to authority on Middle East history and politics.

    His text - like too many I've been sent over the past couple of weeks - is a hodge-podge of speculations written to fit preconceived prejudice, and - again like many others - particularly designed to avoid giving credit to Obama for stopping the operation early.

    The claim that Bibarak are somehow the ones who asked the world to stop them early - which is what I understand Finkelstein is saying here - has zero empirical evidence to support it. No matter how many underemployed pundits hop on that CT bandwagon (yes, I've already read this theory elsewhere).

    DKos Adalah bloggers, including the diarist himself, have provided far better and more realistic analysis of this operation and of I-P in general. I'm not sure why we need to bow our heads in deference to the "Anti-war Beltway" pundits, when they are so demonstrably off the mark.

    Nate Silver, too, was "only a blogger" in 2008 and a target of ridicule as recently as 3 weeks ago.

    •  I'm always wary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anorish

      when I hear phrases like "is regarded", without specifying 'by whom' and why I should care.

      You may disagree about Sadat - Finkelstein doesn't go into it, and you offer no evidence either - but it's hardly a main point of the article, nor does it 'invalidate his claim to authority' on anything (Don't. Be. Silly.).

      In any case, no one has asked you to 'bow' before anything, and no-one has said that this article is correct because of the 'authority' of its author.

      As for Obama, I won't go over it again. This article explains why Israel couldn't invade Gaza in terms of important structural shifts which have changed, fundamentally, the cost-benefit calculus driving Israeli policy. You'd prefer to explain it in terms of - what was it? - 'one man', 'an intellectual' who acted with his typical 'mastery' and 'sensitivit[y]', managing in his usual 'style' to work 'wonders', and so on,  ad very much nauseam. OK, to me that's not serious political analysis, but people will have to judge for themselves.

      •  Posting a diary which is a transcript of someone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JNEREBEL

        else's analysis (yes, with permission) -

        - Is either giving that person a stage (in case the writer is unknown), or bowing before their authority (if they are a known figure).

        Yes, you can replace "Obama" with "The US" if you prefer. However, "The US" under Bush would have not tried to bring a ceasefire before many bodies piling up in the streets. We have ample empirical evidence to suppose that.

        Even with Obama, after a loss to Romney, "The US" in a lame-duck situation would not have nearly as much leverage as it does now.

        This is why I prefer saying "Obama". What you can replace it with "The US", same difference to me.

        Sorry, calling it like it is, as I always try to do...

        •  And calling the diary "what really happened" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, JNEREBEL

          seals its fate as bowing before the authority of the person who penned it.

          •  That's a very good point, Assaf, but... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Assaf, PeterHug

            really it just says that heathlander agrees with and wholeheartedly endorses Finkelstein's analysis. This being heathlander, I assume a fair amount of careful reading and thought came before the endorsement.

            I'm very interested in seeing heathlander reflect on the piece in more detail: what are the strongest parts of Finkelstein's analysis, what assumptions is he making, and which of his conclusions are somewhat tenuous? This original a viewpoint does beg for more factual support than I see here.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:33:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It really isn't a 'very good point'... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Anorish

              Finkelstein himself titled the article 'Israel's Latest Assault on Gaza - What Really Happened'. I guess he chose it because it his account of ... drumroll ... what really happened in Gaza. The 'really happened' bit serves to indicate that his account will be at variance with the conventional view.

              •  fair enough. (0+ / 0-)

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:30:17 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I actually find the text quite conventional. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht, JNEREBEL

                  Par for the course of Western anti-war commentary on the matter.

                  The strongest common theme among all these commentators has been doing verbal somersaults to minimize, ignore or even vilify Obama's role in the ceasefire.

                  They have also been quite on-message in overplaying factors such as Goldstone, and in getting the workings on the Israeli side somewhere between moderately wrong and spectacularly wrong.

                  I think my track-record here is long enough to suggest that I call it the way I see it in general, with a pretty good hit percentage - and am not an Obama-suckup in particular.

                  To my recollection, my Thanksgiving diary which has so infuriated heathlander was my most Obama-friendly post ever. I accept that some of the verbiage was over-the-top, but I was feeling really festive that so many lives had just been saved (besides the festive holiday atmosphere itself) - and also quite a bit amused, already predicting by the characteristic way Obama chose to act that so many traditional commentators will fail to see (either willfully or inadvertently) the magnitude of his role in this. So that affected the style. However, I stand firmly behind the substance.

                  With that, I fare thee well.

        •  No. (0+ / 0-)

          This is not a 'transcript', it's called an article. I co-edit a website called New Left Project, and in that capacity commissioned an article by Norman Finkelstein on the Gaza conflict, to which I also contributed, in very a small way.

          Having published it, I now re-publish it here. This does not imply 'bowing before' anyone's 'authority'. It implies that I think it's useful analysis that people could benefit from reading.

          Get a grip, and - I'm genuinely sorry to have to say this to you, of all people - stop trolling this diary. That's the last I'll say on the matter.

          •  "stop trolling this diary"? You're being unfair (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Assaf

            I'm reading your responses, and you're making a lot of sense - when you explain things which were not already clear, e.g. your first paragraph here. You seem to have refuted the "'bowing before' anyone's 'authority'" canard.

            I've seen you go head to head with MBNYC or volleyboy1 in long threads of repitition. That's not what Assaf is doing, and he's certainly not trolling your diary. Your last two lines sound unfairly harsh and abrupt.

            I'm sorry if you think I'm being ignorant and unhelpful here. I'm not going to keep poking at you. I just think there's an opportunity for more meaningful debate here than you do.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:41:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Brecht (0+ / 0-)

              this will be my last comment on the matter because it is so silly, that I can't believe grown adults are voluntarily spending actual time talking about it.

              I agree there is room for 'meaningful debate' and have said so. This is why it is frustrating when, instead of 'meaningful debate', I get idiotic comments about the legitimacy of posting an article or taking issue with - on the basis of an absurd reading of - its title. It certainly is trolling to respond to a densely substantive article by ignoring almost every point, and instead going on about the very act of posting it.

            •  You rang? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JNEREBEL, volleyboy1

              Yes, some of us are vain enough to search for our handles on Daily Kos. Sue me.

              But heathlander going 'head to head' with me? That's rich. It's more along the lines of 'that bullshit is so spectacularly self-absorbed and wrong' that my fingers itch.

              Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

              by MBNYC on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:22:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  heathlander & Assaf are two of the best commenters (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Martha, Assaf, angry marmot, PeterHug

        in I/P threads, and I rely on you both to keep me far ahead of most of the media in my awareness of what is actually happening, and what it really implies, in the Middle East.

        These comments both feel like they raise valid points, wrapped in more emotion than is your usual wont.

        I agree with heathlander that the Sadat quip doesn't "invalidate" the whole article. But it does make me question it, and ask what assumptions Finkelstein is resting on.

        Finkelstein's article and viewpoint are far apart from anything I've read recently on what's happening there, and certainly make me think. Do you, heathlander, think that Finkelstein overstates his case, or see any likely flaws in his analysis?

        My largest agreement with Assaf is with these points: Most of what I read in the papers is "a hodge-podge of speculations written to fit preconceived prejudice"; and "DKos Adalah bloggers, including the diarist himself, have provided far better and more realistic analysis of this operation and of I-P in general".

        But on the latter point, I don't mean wrt Finkelstein, so much as wrt to everyone else but Glenn Greenwald and Juan Cole. (Yes, I'm sure there are other good sources, that heathlander especially, & also Assaf, rely on).

        I'd love to see you both, heathlander & Assaf, examine Finkelstein's assumptions and conclusions in more factual detail. If his gist is on the money, that's a big paradigm shift for me, and fascinating.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:24:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I agree with his analysis. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, Fire bad tree pretty

          You say there is speculation in the piece. I agree. When trying to analyse the politics behind something that happened a few days ago, the best one can hope for is informed speculation. The only 'proof' one can have of these things - internal documents - won't be available for decades.

          There are two kinds of evidence one can bring to bear to support an analysis like this: empirical and logical. Empirically, Finkelstein refutes the conventional accounts by showing them inconsistent with the evidence, and proposes an alternative that is more consistent with the evidence. He can't prove this alternative account, however, for the reason explained above. Logically, he rejects the conventional accounts as missing important political shifts, failing to take into account importance evidence and suffering from internal inconsistencies. He then advances an alternative account that is more logically sound.

          The fact that all such analysis is to some degree speculative means there is room for legitimate debate. Accusing others of "bowing before authority", needless to say, does not come under this heading.

          •  Maybe I'm missing something, (8+ / 0-)

            but aside from the fact that I don't like seeing you and Assaf fight like this, I'm not convinced that what the two of you are saying is mutually exclusive. Rather, it seems to me that it's a matter of what one chooses to emphasize.

            I think you both agree that the geopolitics of the region have changed due to the Arab Spring and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Concurrent with that is the public support being given to Hamas by Qatar, which I'm sure is being driven by multiple motives, none of which I'm going to speculate about.  I think we're all much more interested in effects.  

            Just looking at the New York Times, I think the coverage was a bit different this time.  I don't think it was great--there was still too much of Israel has a right to defend itself while being silent on the Palestinians' right to defend themselves--but I do think that there was more coverage of the devastation wrought on Palestinian civilians, not just on Israeli ones, than during the coverage of Cast Lead.  And I suspect that the presence of foreign journalists made a difference.

            As for whether or not Israel was planning to invade and was called off by Obama, it's all speculation and I think you both raise reasonable points.  I think what Finkelstein speculates is plausible.  I think it gives more sense to Bibi and Barak than I think is warranted but I certainly recognize that that's possible, even though I don't think much of either of them.  But I can see the plausibility of that; if Israel invaded, what then?  If one is interested in mowing the grass rather than digging up the grass, then it's certainly possible that Bibi and Barak, behind the scenes of their public utterances, realized that an invasion would have committed Israel to something that was impossible to do, given Hamas' continued defiance.

            But I also think that it's just as plausible that Bibi and Barak had every intention of invading.  I mean, let's face it, one only has to look at the US invasion of Iraq to note that neoconservative warmongers don't exactly have a good grasp on reality; how many people said that it would have exactly the ethno-religious blowback that it's had and were derided for saying so?  So yes, I think it's plausible that they were planning to invade and Obama (or the US) stepped in for any number of possible reasons: 1) to save Israel from Bibi and Barak, 2) to save Bibi and Barak from themselves, 3) to preserve the US' standing (or what's left of it) in the region, 4) who knows?

            So I really wish that the two of you could have a more reasoned discussion about the assumptions that each of you are making that are behind the speculations.  Because there's no way to know for sure what the motivations were, so it's all an act of interpretation anyway.

            •  By bringing in related issues and fresh thoughts, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Assaf, poco

              you are bringing this thread back on track towards the interesting and relevant debate it should be. Thank you.

              What you say makes sense to me.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:46:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  A reasonable comment. (0+ / 0-)

              It is a matter of interpretation, but that doesn't mean all interpretations are equally plausible.

              Agree with most of what you say, except:

              'one only has to look at the US invasion of Iraq to note that neoconservative warmongers don't exactly have a good grasp on reality'
              I don't accept that, actually. If the Iraq War had gone well everyone would be hailing the neocons as strategic geniuses. True, it didn't go well, but you can't always predict those things in advance. Back to Israel: is there evidence that Barak and Netanyahu tend to act irrationally when it comes to wars (with respect to their means; obviously I don't agree with their goals)? Haven't they on the contrary always paid very careful attention to the strategic and geopolitical consequences of their actions? Isn't Netanyahu, in fact, known for being militarily cautious?

              And compare Israel's actions this time versus Cast Lead. When Israel wants to invade it tells the US in advance, it prepares the ground, it makes sure there are no journalists around, and it doesn't hang around for days on end dithering, while Hamas taunts it to invade and a bomb goes off in Tel Aviv.

              •  Iraq: I did predict. Without being an Iraq expert. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Anorish, Aunt Martha

                From a simple pragmatic-realist perspective, the Iraq invasion was pure insanity.

                Besides being against it on principle, I predicted this is a move that is far more likely to end disastrously than well.

                •  Sure, as did many (0+ / 0-)

                  within elite circles too. And no doubt it was a highly risky adventure by a group of people who were even more confident in the efficacy of violence than is usual.

                  But it wasn't irrational. It was just mistaken.

                    •  An irrational actor (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Assaf, Aunt Martha

                      can't be relied upon to pursue means which it is plausible to argue will achieve their stated aims, based on the evidence available at the time of decisionmaking.

                      Now the fact is many US elites thought Iraq would be quickly winnable, and immediately after it, many thought it had been won. Subsequently it turned into a catastrophe as the U.S. occupation failed to control the country. But had events turned out differently, we wouldn't even be having this debate.

                      Here, the question is: would Netanyahu and Barak launch an invasion without any regard to its likely costs - costs which, we know from Israel's behaviour (its obsession with 'the Goldstone threat'; its demonstrated recognition of the need to clear journalists out of Gaza before attacking; it's oft-expressed fears about international 'delegitimisation'; etc.), that it takes deeply seriously? I think it's implausible, and its extreme reluctance to launch a ground invasion this time attests to that.

                      •  Thank you. By your definition, A Bibarak decision (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        heathlander, Brecht, Aunt Martha

                        to invade would have been more rational than the Bush-Cheney 2003 Iraq invasion, not less.

                        Israel has far more control and knowledge of what faces it in Gaza, then the US ever had about Iraq.

                        The geographical scales are ridiculously small. The IDF had immense manpower and firepower assembled to achieve at least certain significant tactical ground results, within 1-2 days max, with expected losses that Bibarak could have evaluated as politically acceptable, considering the impunity track-record of the past decade and even longer. Even more promising domestic-political benefits, considering the upcoming elections and assuming that they will achieve some sort of victorious result for the price paid.

                        What happened instead was, that the window of opportunity closed on Bibarak - from multiple directions, but most poignantly with a US-blessed ceasefire paper suddenly shoved in front of their noses. And the way they reacted in public during the critical last 1-2 days (since none of us has been behind the closed doors) gave clear indication that they didn't see this one coming.

                        That said, I am open to learning that I was wrong. Although considering the truth-telling record of those who have been behind closed doors, it is quite likely that we'll never get definitive answers.

                        •  Sure, I think (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Brecht, Assaf, Aunt Martha

                          one could always construct a rationalisation to show that rational people, in Barak and Netanyahu's positions, could choose either to invade or not to.

                          I just wanted to establish that it is more helpful to think of them as rational actors - i.e. as people who were acting on the basis of concerns about state interests - than as acting out their inner psychologies etc.

                          I agree the IDF has enormous firepower but recall that Israel's strategy for politically-inexpensive war has in recent years relied on the Dahiya doctrine, i.e. blasting infrastructure to smithereens. That's what they did in Cast Lead - instead of fighting street to street, taking significant casualties, they blew up neighbourhoods before going in. And Finkelstein's point, which I think is plausible, is that the changed situation now renders that strategy prohibitively expensive. And therefore, if Israel had launched an invasion, it would have had to do so without the massive destruction to infrastructure, and it would have taken significant casualties as a result. That's why they were so reluctant to do it.

                          I think they always expected a truce, but that they wanted it to be a unilateral one as after Cast Lead. What probably surprised and shocked them, was that the ceasefire eventually imposed by the U.S. was on Egypt's terms, rather than theirs.

                  •  This I do disagree with. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Anorish, Assaf, poco

                    I think it was irrational, for reasons that I've indicated, as well as mistaken.  That doesn't mean that there wasn't a small chance that it could have turned out better and that Bush et al were right.  But I think the chances of that occurring were very small because of the basic irrational and mistaken premises at the core of the invasion.

                •  Bibarak are not exactly role models of cautious (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht

                  Bibi's 1st term:
                  - 3 months into power, opening the Old City tunnels causing the worst riots in several years and about 100 dead on both sides
                  - 1997 or 8, trying to assassinate Mashal and ending up releasing Yassin in a humiliating manner

                  2nd term: flotilla anyone?

                  There are other, domestic examples, but never mind.

                  He just didn't get his chance to do a real war all his own. So he cooked one up a few weeks ago.

                  About Barak, if Cast Lead and blowing the Oslo accords to smithereens over rather manageable negotiation disagreements are not enough, then I don't know what is.

                  Oh yes, as IDF chief of staff in the early 90's he put in motion a practical operation plan to assassinate Iraq's Saddam. That got aborted when 5 soldiers died in an accident during the dress rehearsal.

                  Maybe blowing up his own political party 3 times in a decade - the last time, apparently for no other reason than just enjoying the effect - can be the cherry on top.

                  In summary, sending a hypercharged armored column, or a snazzy commando outfit, to seize the Hamas HQ in Gaza is so, so not beyond the imagination or capability of this pair.

              •  Sure, heath, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Anorish, Assaf

                one can never predict the future with any type of certainty.  But that doesn't mean that anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the composition of Iraq's population and of the history and geopolitics of the region couldn't have warned that the result of the invasion was significantly more likely to be exactly what happened than things going well. And that's exactly what lots of people said and they were derided for doing so by neoconservatives.

                Now, how much do neoconservatives believe their own rhetoric?  Did Bush et al really think that the Iraqis would greet them with open arms and flowers?  Did Bibi and Barak really think that Hamas would back down?  Or was some or all of it more about domestic power (i.e., in the US and in Israel)? It's hard to know, especially when there are other domestic concerns potentially involved.

                So again, I'm not saying that I think that you're right and Assaf is wrong or that Assaf is right and you're wrong.  You could both be right.  Events can't always be controlled.  The Arab Spring has changed the dynamic.  Motivations are complex things.  

                To combine my response to both of your comments, it could also be true that Israel was stuck up a tree without a ladder and that it was seriously thinking of invading anyway and that Obama stepped in to save Israel's face and to protect US interests.  I don't think that any of it is necessarily either/or.

                •  Agree, it's not either/or (0+ / 0-)

                  on that narrow point (see below).

                  "...anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the composition of Iraq's population and of the history and geopolitics of the region couldn't have warned..."
                  But many U.S. elites who did have that understanding supported the war. It wasn't purely the neocons on their own. It is true that they represented, as I say, a strand within the U.S. elite that had particular faith in the efficacy of force. I'm not sure you can call that 'irrational', unless by irrational you simply mean 'wrong'.
                  'it could also be true that Israel was stuck up a tree without a ladder and that it was seriously thinking of invading anyway'
                  Yes, if a ceasefire hadn't been agreed it would have probably had to (Finkelstein says this too, btw). But that would have been a desparate last resort, not the intended plan. The reasons why it couldn't invade up till then, are in my view the ones Finkelstein lists above. The idea he rejects (correctly, imo) is that Israel when it called up all its reserves etc., was always intending to invade. He thinks, no, they had no intention of doing so because they couldn't. That's the key point.
                  •  Let's put it this way. (0+ / 0-)

                    In the run up to the presidential election, the right-wing echo chamber was convinced that Romney was going to win.  Now, did some of them do a cold, hard look at the electoral math and realize the almost utter impossibility of that scenario occurring and yet spun it out anyway because that's what campaigns do?  Sure.  But as kos has demonstrated amply and multiply, a large preponderance of them actually believed it.  That's not simply mistaken, that's simply irrational as there was absolutely no basis for that belief other than magical thinking and believing one's own made-up view of the world.

                    I don't think the invasion of Iraq was any different.  I think there was a lot of magical thinking going on, including what you, I think aptly, call "particular faith in the efficacy of force."

                    As for the disagreement that you and Assaf are having, I understand what you're both saying but again, I don't see it as either/or.  With the obvious caveat that it's all speculation, why can't it also be that Israel called up its reserves to hedge its bets?  Yes, it has the military might to bomb Gaza back to the Stone Age or Middle Ages or however far back in prehistory one wants to go.  And yes, there were all sorts of geopolitical constraints against that occurring.  Calling up forces allows it to cover its bases, including invading because, as you say, it's possible that Bibi and Barak panicked, felt cornered, and had to show that they're in charge.

                    Honestly, we'll never know for sure.  I think the important take away from this, something that I know you and Assaf agree on, is that for now at least, the geopolitical situation has changed.  Whether that lasts, of course, and if so how so, we can't know.

            •  Also, recall the sequence: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht
              'it's plausible that they were planning to invade and Obama (or the US) stepped in for any number of possible reasons: 1) to save Israel from Bibi and Barak, 2) to save Bibi and Barak from themselves, 3) to preserve the US' standing (or what's left of it) in the region, 4) who knows?'
              At the beginning the U.S. line was extremely pro-Israel. It backed the killing of Jaabari etc. 100%. And likewise, Egypt and Turkey did nothing, beyond theatrics, while that was going on. But the red line for both Egypt and Turkey was a ground invasion.

              The problem was that events were escalating towards a ground invasion because Israel was stuck up a tree without a ladder: the continued rocket fire meant it couldn't claim victory, and so had to escalate further; yet changed international conditions meant it couldn't escalate much further. And this was recognised by Hamas, which started openly taunting Israel to invade, knowing that it couldn't. Now at that point, what could Israel do? Military targets had already been exhausted so it was now just bombing for the sake of it. It was stuck. And so the U.S. was called in - it really doesn't matter whether it was Morsi or Netanyahu who physically dialled the number on the phone, though Netanyahu who the one in crisis - to impose a ceasefire. And crucially the ceasefire that was imposed was on Egypt's, not Israel's, terms.

            •  Thank you, AM, for being the grown-up in the room. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht

              And thank you for your kind compliments.

              You summed up the agreement between us very well. I think heathlander and myself agree on 99% of this. The only substantial disagreements are 1. The "personal vs. structural" - or rather, my view that both factors play a role vs. heathlander's view that personalities are only a convenient media distraction - and 2. The relative size and role of Obama/US in bringing about ceasefire before invasion. Mind you, we both agree that there has been such a role.

              I also think heathlander does not appreciate (in this particular case) the content insight I bring to the table as an Israeli.

              For example, when on the 3rd or 4th day I heard of Bibarak's plan to call 75k reservists, I too thought they were inflating the number for PR purposes. But it turns out they did actually call up 58k of them. This is a humongous number. It mobilized broad segments of the population, and further disrupted the Israeli economy.

              Furthermore, the call-up dramatically ratcheted up expectations in the Israeli public for, well, somehow using these troops to stop the rockets. Separating between reserve soldiers and their loved ones, many of whom are in the missile range, further dramatized things and made the political fallout from losing the "game of Chicken" that much worse.

              Yet, the call-up took place exactly during the time frame when Finkelstein suggests Bibi had already panicked and was looking for a quick way out without using these troops.

              I'm sorry, that is baseless speculation that is unsupported by the facts. OTOH, the massive reservist call-up that started midway through the operation is empirical fact, which appears nowhere in Finkelstein's text. The least we owe our readers is to incorporate the obvious empirical facts in our analysis.

              Yes, we all know Bibi tends to panic under pressure. But this time, his panic took hold at the very end - when he had to choose between a humiliating sudden ceasefire, and plowing ahead by escalating an already-shitty operation into a ground invasion, in open defiance of a ceasefire deal blessed by the US.

              He tried to bluff and balk for 21 hours, hoping something will happen to reshuffle the deck. It almost happened (the bus bombing) - but the other actors (I assume, the US and Egypt) refused to budge. The game was up.

              This is the most plausible story line, the explanation that fits the data best and requires the least speculation. And no, it is not the CW description by any means - neither in the mainstream and certainly not among anti-war pundits. But you read it here at DKos, and perhaps a few places elsewhere.

              Have a good day everyone!

              •  Someone has to be! (0+ / 0-)

                The question I have for you, Assaf, as you know the Israeli actors better than anyone here, is whether Bibi and Barak care for human life as little as neoconservatives here seem to do.

                And by "human life," I don't just mean those of "them"--i.e., Iraqis or Palestinians--but I mean of "us"--i.e., Americans or (Jewish) Israelis.  The actions of the GWB administration made it eminently clear to me that they could care less about the loss of American lives, American bodies, the American economy, etc.  What they care about is their own power.

                Why can't it be that the reserve call up was done for that exact same reason, the cost to Israeli lives be damned?

    •  Your point about (0+ / 0-)

      not wanting to give credit to Obama is unfair and wrong. NF places Obama in a position of power, not allowing Turkey to broker the deal but rather picking Egypt, sending Clinton to the region to break heads and do what was best for US interests, resisting Israeli demands etc. I would've thought you would've been happy about that, given your views of the centrality of Obama in the ceasefire. Nor are you being asked to bow your head by anyone.

      All our analysis on this event is informed speculation, I  don't see CT anywhere here. You might disagree about what is plausible but we have all foundations of sand on this one until the interviews are done, the papers are released and the books are written.

      I'm not sure what point you are trying to make about 'anti-war Beltway' pundits but if you think that NF has no credibility because of the negative judgements he made on Sadat, then shouldn't we also think that you have no credibility because of the negative judgements you make about NF? it would be preferable if you criticised what NF was really saying rather than making non-substantive attacks on his views.

  •  Israelis better starting worrying about Syria (0+ / 0-)

    Islamist have already established an defacto Islamist government in Syria,meaning in the future thier will be Islamist streaming into Israel by the thousand  taking the battle  to the street of Israel ,if Assad fall from power

  •  Israel (0+ / 0-)

    After suffering for over a dozen years of missiles and rockets being directed at Israeli civilians it is Israel's right and requirement to protect and defend itself against this  attacks.

  •  So this is how Hamas... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is going to spin this as a win.

  •  A leading scholar? Really? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JNEREBEL, volleyboy1

    Controversial scholar is a better description.

    As for his assertions, this piece only works if you ignore all of the following:

    • The number of Israeli citizens killed by a method of attack has no connection to the country's obligation to defend citizens from attack. In the short term, this means operations like Pillar of Defense. In the long term there has to be a non-violent deterrent such as changing Gaza from a failed state to a successful one. However, Israel's obligations to stop rockets from falling on its citizens homes, schools, and places of work is not mitigated by the fact that they have a decent warning system, bomb shelters everywhere, and Iron Dome.
    • His piece paints Israel as always being provocateur no matter what. Any argument about the conflict that arbitrarily chooses moments of provocation to prove its point is, in my book, less interested in a fact based assessment and much more interested in painting one party as being the victim of the other in all scenarios.
    • He mentions that there have been "periodic ceasefire" without mentioning (a) in 2012, for example, the longest period that has gone by without missiles or mortars falling on Israel from Gaza has been 17 days (source, feel free to do the math) and (b) that there are in reality very few formal cease fires. Deciding not to launch rockets for a while unilaterally is not a cease-fire. As far as I can tell we are in the third cease-fire of this year so far.
    • He lists all the accomplishments of Hamas's political wing. These are not in dispute, but he leaves out the continuing attacks run by their military wing. Sometimes they moderate, sometimes they participate, but to list the political accomplishments alone only tells part of the story.
    • He puts the word "terrorist" in quotes when referring to Hamas, which is identified as such an organization by Israel, the EU, Canada, and Japan. If the military wing of a non state actor launches suicide bombings targeted at civilians they use terrorism as a tactic. To put the word in quotes is to deny the group's less savory behaviors. Violence by Israelis is the only relevant violence in this piece.
    • He only quotes the Crisis Group article on Israel's motivation but leaves out their assessment of Hamas's reasons for escalation:
      By standing its ground, Hamas was measuring the support it could expect from countries that have the resources and international connections its previous allies lacked, prodding them to do more, seeking political dividends from the new regional configuration.
      Here it is useful to question why Finkelstein leaves out a link to the article. One reaosn may be that, since he is trying to gloss over Hamas's own contribution to violence, the Crisis Group article taken as a whole does not help his cause.
    • He mischaracterizes Israel's perspective on both the Goldstone Report and the ICC. Officially, Israel denies the legitimacy of both. Israel is like many other states when it comes to the UN and international law. They are only legitimate when they serve the state's needs and the rest of the time they have no jurisdiction.
    • When giving reasons for the lower death count he does not even entertain the idea that Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties because it is the right thing to do. Somehow Israel is only motivated by power and pressure and never by a single moral value if we take this piece to be the truth.
      • This is not a binary situation, of course. Some Israeli leaders are probably trying to kill less civilians because it looks bad; others because they do not want to kill civilians except when there is no choice in order to defend Israel's citizens. Humans, especially humans in politics, are way more complex than Finkelstein would like to admit.
    • In the bullet point about reporters he mentions "Israeli atrocities" without listing any. He takes it at face value that Israel routinely commits atrocities and assumes that the reader will agree with him. What were the atrocities? How prevalent were they? If they happened were they committed by lone actors or as a matter of policy?
    • By putting "legitimate" in quotes when discussing targets he wants the reader to question whether any target of an Israeli bomb could really be considered a legitimate one. Again, he fails to say why Israel chose their targets; Is the location from which a rocket was just fired at your citizens legitimate or not?
    • As a frequent reader of outlets such as the NY Times I would argue that Israel was treated more fairly by the media during this operation than during Cast Lead in '08; Finkelstein's assertion that the media was making Israel look worse than in the past is pretty off target as far as I remember. For example, this NY Times editorial titled "Hamas's Illegitimacy" places at least some blame on Hamas for the situation in Gaza and recognizes Israel's right to defend its citizens with military means even though it advises Israel not to do so. Hardly a condemnation.
    • He accuses Israel of terrorist acts during the operation:
      The salient exceptions came during the final ceasefire negotiations when Israel resorted to its standard terrorist tactics in order to extract the best possible terms,
      while failing to identify even one of those acts. Again, the reader is supposed to take him at face value, as he is a Very Serious Person when it comes to the conflict.
    • He calls the fight put up by Hamas "largely symbolic". 800 rockets is symbolic because they failed to kill more than three people. Again, Hamas does not commit acts of violence in this piece, just acts of, what, symbolic protest with deadly projectiles? Firing rockets at civilian population centers should be excused because they are not technically advanced enough?
      • A metaphor - lets say a miscreant is using a low-powered pistol, one that can kill. Lets say he fires it at a police officer in full body armor, which the pistol has no hope of penetrating. Would any court accept, as a defense, that what he did is not assault because there was no way the officer would have been mortally wounded?

    • As he gets to the section on whether Israel achieved his goals he writes:
      On the one hand, it had exhausted all preplanned military targets and, on the other, it couldn’t target the civilian population.
      The implication here is that Israel would just go around targeting civilians willy nilly if only they could get away with it. His idea of Israel is a country and military so full of hate that it is only the attention of the world that prevents it from killing as many Palestinians as possible.
    • Note that he never refers to Hamas as using "rockets", only generic projectiles. Nice boys don't fire rockets, they fire generic ideas.
    • He makes an assumption early in the article that Israel's goal is to deter Hamas and other Arabs from attacking Israel through an overwhelming show of force. Of course, that was not the publicly stated goal of the operation. This was:
      The stated aims of the operation were to halt the indiscriminate rocket attacks originating from the Gaza Strip[22][23] and to disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations.
      By changing the objective of the operation he builds a strawman in the beginning of the article just to knock him down at the end and portray Israel as failing in their objectives. The cease fire, which has held for a week now, proves him wrong.

    For those who see this as a dose of reality, think about whether you like the piece because it is a well thought out assessment of the real facts on the ground by a noted PhD, or because (similarly to viewers of Fox News) it confirms things you already believe to be true but do not see states often enough.

    Read up on the facts, draw your own conclusions, and please don't let authors manipulate you the way this piece tries to do.

    If you believe that ALL criticism of Israel is antisemitic, you're an idiot.
    If you believe that NONE of the criticism of Israel is antisemitic, you're a fool.
    If you call EVERYONE who criticizes Israel antisemitic, you're just an a$$hole

    by A Gutin Daf on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:33:38 PM PST

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