Oct 19, 2009 7:12 pm


Arik Sharon, the man whose early gambles secured an all important Israeli victory in the 1973 war is lucky not to see the consequences of his 2005 gamble to leave Gaza. His sidekick and successor, Ehud Olmert, is not as lucky. He came to America to deliver a speech and found himself face to face with the trouble he wrought, Electronic Intifada members berating him for taking military steps to bring to an end years of Hamas shelling of Southern Israel from Gaza. It was not an onetime humiliation but one posted on youtube for anyone to view and review to their hearts content.

Of course, Olmert's personal humiliation is nothing compared the disaster he enabled an international body misnamed"Human Rights Commission" to bring on the entire state of Israel with the help of the now "saddened" court Jew Richard Goldstone. The affair is a tragedy deserving of Shakespeare master piece.

It began when a tired warrior and his ambitious side kick devised a plan that would enable Israel to move forward (Kadima) and leave a troublesome battlefield named Gaza. To reduce the possibility of ever having to return, thousands of Jews were enticed or forced to leave their homes. The global media that descended on Gaza saw civilians and soldiers crying together as they destroyed their homes and emptied their synagogues to prevent them from being defiled.

The Israeli assumption was that Palestinians and their supporters would have every incentive to make a show piece out of Gaza in order to incentivise Israelis to repeat the exercise in the West Bank. Israeli"occupation" of Gaza was over. As happened after Oslo, Israel and the Jewish diaspora planned to do their best to help Palestinians economically. They already began gifting the profitable Jewish built hot houses to the Gazans.

Sharon founded a new center party called Kadima (forward) and called for elections to ratify his audacious gamble. The country did. It has never wanted anything more than to move forward beyond the Palestinian conflict. Sharon promised it can afford to do so and live. So, Sharon was reelected prime minister. It was at this point that a stroke felled the gambling warrior and saved him from having to confront the losses of his last disastrous gamble. That fate belonged to his deputy, Ehud Olmert.

Hopes that this time the Palestinians will break the pattern and miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity were dashed with the destruction of hot houses, the electoral victory of Hamas and the escalating missile attacks on Southern Israel. Opponents of the disengagement from Gaza warned of such outcomes but were told that the Israeli army could always return to Gaza and put an end to the attacks.

The reality, of course, turned out to be different. So, Olmert did his best to ignore a problem called Sderot. Then came the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and Olmert decided to test the military doctrine on which the disengagement was based. The results were less than encouraging. Not only was extricating a captive soldier and ending the mobile missile attacks more difficult than has been assumed but Hezbollah opened a second front against Israel in the North. The result was the 2006 Lebanon War which left Hamas, if not Hezbollah, stronger than ever. It also revealed the propaganda efficacy of terrorist use of human shields.

A couple of years of unrelenting and increasingly more deadly missile attacks on Southern Israel followed. International efforts to use"smart power" to convince Hamas to cease and decease the shelling came to naught. Finally, even candidate Barack Obama admitted that had his daughters lived in Shderot, he would have resorted to military means to stop them being shelled, lawyer Olmert believing he had proven Israel's case beyond a shadow of a doubt, went to war against Hamas ruled Gaza.

The army had made good use of learning the lessons of the Lebanon War. It had successfully reduced the number of Israel casualties and tried to do the same with Palestinian civilian casualties. Do not take my word for it. Take the word a man who knows of what he speaks, Col. Richard Kemp, the former British commander in Afghanistan who delivered the following address to the UNHRC:

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy's hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The UNHRC could not care less about Hamas. It found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity thereby legitimizing a global campaign against the Jewish state. It's purpose was to use a report signed by a self aggrandizing useful idiots named Richard Goldstone to punish Israel and send a warning to other democracies not to fight terror too efficiently. To achieve that purpose, it ignored not only the Israeli efforts to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza but also history and geography. Ignoring the disengagement, it insisted that Gaza was still"occupied" and ignoring the fact that Gaza borders Egypt as well as Israel, it only blames Israel for the Gaza blockade.

And what about the Arab/Israeli peace process? It is dead. Every Israeli knows that giving up control of any inch of land means providing an impeccable enemy anther inch of land from where to attack it. Moreover, any attempt to defend itself will result in global opprobrium. Under such circumstances, would you give up control of such an inch of land?

Indeed, I would suggest that the Obama administration study carefully the Israeli example before it decides to turn over (actively or passively) parts of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Not everybody can be as lucky as Sharon and be spared having to watch the results of an dreadful error. They might share Olmert's fate instead.

comments powered by Disqus