Sunday, June 10 marked the 51st anniversary of the end of the Six-Day War, in which Israel decisively defeated Egypt and Jordan. As it happens, Hamas’s rolling assault on Israel’s Gaza fence is drawing to an end after nearly three months. What significant lesson can we draw from this latest round of Palestinian aggression? Three notable features of this latest flare-up in the Arab-Israeli conflict can guide us.
Palestinian Neo-Nazism. Begin with how Palestinian rioters marked April 20, Hitler’s birthday, no less: they flew petrol bomb kites into Israel marked with swastikas. In this vein are UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s remarks (6:22) excoriating Hamas for its May 14 assault on Israel, unleashed on the 70thanniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, and the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. In it she cites (approx. 4 min. mark) a Hamas terrorist stating, of his wearing the Nazi swastika emblem — openly flaunted by Palestinian rioters: “The Jews go crazy when you mention Hitler.” A press release from Hamas celebrating the “Return March” included this call, right out of the Nazi playbook:
Our Palestinian nation today has achieved true unity in the field of action, with gatherings, and in the struggle to reach the fence, which will be removed with the Will of Allah. It will ascend, through true national unity, and through the refined, pure blood that will enrich the land of Palestine…. Our duty is to build this freedom and the legitimacy of this powerful nation that has spoken today with its soul, blood, and limbs, and has spread its word to the world through its blood, strength, and revolution, and through its accumulated rage, and its blessed intifada… (Emphasis was boldfaced by news source; underlining is mine.)
Add in Haley’s recent remarks as the U.S. vetoed a one-sided Security Council resolution condemning Israel alone for deaths resulting from Palestinian riots: “It is now completely clear that the UN is hopelessly biased against Israel.” Nor was this a futile gesture: the EU, France, Germany, Italy and Ireland also condemned the action.
Here is another example of Haley’s truth telling at the UN, as she walked out of a Palestinian propaganda sally:
“Who else would accept this type of activity on your border?” Haley asked the council. “Those who suggest the violence has anything to do with the U.S. location of the embassy are sorely mistaken.”
“Hamas maps and social media show the fastest routes to reach Israeli communities in case demonstrators make it through the security fence,” Haley said. “They have reported on Hamas messages over loudspeakers that urge demonstrators to burst through the fence, falsely claiming Israeli soldiers were fleeing, when in fact, they were not.”
Her walkout echoed one by one of her great predecessors, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 1975, after the General Assembly passed the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. Moynihan’s eloquent remarks (3:50) condemning passage having been ignored, he went over to Israeli ambassador Yehuda Blum as the latter rose to leave. Moynihan threw his arm around Blum and, as they walked out together said in a voice intended to be overheard: “F–k ’em.” (This quote has been several times vouchsafed to audiences at events I attended; the source was a prominent witness to Moynihan’s Churchillian departure from traditional diplomatic norms. In George H.W. Bush’s finest UN hour the errant UN resolution was repealed in 1991.)
While the UN did issue a statement condemning the violence, its membership — both in the General Assembly and Security Council — remain on balance strongly anti-Israel. The UN’s so-called Human Rights Council — stacked with dictatorships who routinely grossly violate human rights — voted 29-2 (U.S. and Australia abstaining) to “investigate” the Gaza violence, and produce a report by March 2019; its infamous 2014 report condemning Israel having been demolished (28:34) for its outright falsehoods. The UNHRC membership (48) is divided into 13 African states, 13 Asia-Pacific, 8 Latin American and Caribbean, 7 Western European and “other,” and 7 Eastern European. The 2018 UNHRC roster sports such human rights paragons as Afghanistan, China, Congo, Cuba, Pakistan, and Venezuela.
Hamas War-Crime Tactics. A Palestinian mortar shell struck next to a kindergarten less than an hour before school was to begin. An Israeli think tank has issued a full report (71 p.) detailing the March of return, from March 30 to May 15. A Palestinian niche specialty is serial corruption of the medical profession. A Gazan “medic” threw a grenade into Israel. This echoes a 2015 failure to treat Jewish terror victims by Palestinian Red Crescent, and a Dec. 2017 Red Crescent ambulance ride given masked Palestinian rioters. Check out this Gaza Kindergarten ceremony video (4:58) in which terror attacks and hostage taking are praised.
To its great credit, the Israeli Supreme Court roundly rejected claims by “human rights” activists that the IDF committed war crimes by targeting innocent Gazan women and children in this latest round of Palestinian terror. The Court is usually further left than even the most left-wing American courts on national security issues. It is frequently sympathetic to pro-Palestinian advocates — and often at odds with the Israeli Defense Forces that protect the court and other Israeli institutions. Not this time. As reported by the Times of Israel:
The High Court of Justice on Thursday unanimously rejected two petitions from human rights groups against the IDF rules of engagement allowing live fire during clashes with Palestinian protesters on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The petitioners had asked the court to give a conditional order prohibiting the army from using live fire against demonstrators who do not constitute an immediate threat to soldiers’ lives.
High Court President Esther Hayut, Deputy Chief Justice Hanan Melcer and Justice Neal Hendel ruled that Hamas and other terrorist organizations were posing a huge challenge to the security forces by deliberately mixing terrorists in with civilians, including women and children, to make it hard for the army to pick out the former. (Italics mine.)
Mideast maven Jonathan Schanzer debunks bogus claims by Hamas that Israel is to blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza:
Israeli officials told me during my recent visit that the Hamas government was handing out $100 in cash to some of the rioters. Hamas canceled school so that children could participate. Hamas released prisoners from jail on condition that they rush to the front lines of the conflict and directed protesters to stage the unrest at 13 different locations across the Gaza border, to ensure the Israelis would be spread thin.
The Israelis used a loudspeaker to warn protesters not to breach the fence. They fired tear gas and nonlethal ammunition. And when they deemed necessary, they fired live ammunition to prevent border breaches, shootings, fires (23 fires were started in Israel by flaming kites) and the laying of IEDs.
Israeli officials are remarkably blunt about their own “lack of creativity” in confronting the rioters and the lamentably high number of deaths. But they also charge that Hamas is inflating the actual numbers. Even Hamas officials now cede that the overwhelming majority of the dead (50 of the reported 62) were Hamas members or fighters.
Schanzer notes that since the 2014 Israel/Gaza War Israel has “facilitated the transfer” of over 7.5 million tons of humanitarian aid to Gazans. Bush 43 senior adviser on Mideast Elliott Abrams explains why Hamas cannot reform:
Misery in Gaza is not in Israel’s interest. The problem is that Hamas has thus far shown no interest in such a transformation from Islamist terrorist group into responsible government of Gaza.
This should be no surprise. Yasser Arafat could never make that transformation either, from terrorist into head of government. His rejection of Israel’s offer at Camp David was in part a rejection of changing himself from a “resistance” leader in military uniform into an administrator responsible for schools, hospitals, roads. And Arafat was secular; Hamas is Islamist. Its Covenant is a bizarre anti-Semitic document filled not only with Koranic references and calls to expel the Jews from the Middle East, but also explanations that the French Revolution, First World War, and the League of Nations, as well as the Freemasons and Rotary and Lions clubs, were the product of the Jews.
No one rises to leadership in Hamas because he thinks the unemployment rate in Gaza must be reduced or the water supply improved. Asking the Hamas leadership to abandon the battle against the Jews is asking them to abandon their raison d’être and their life’s work. I suppose it is possible that a tactical retreat can be negotiated.… But how long can that last? Hamas is an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to the eliminating [sic] Israel, and will never agree to transform itself into a “normal” government.
Global Media Complicity. Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren (author of scholarly works on several Israeli wars) recently charged — accurately — that the global media elite routinely sides with Hamas, ignoring any inconvenient facts showing otherwise. As reported by Breitbart in an interview Oren gave them:
The international media, he noted, had reported the clashes as if Israel were killing innocent, young Palestinian demonstrators, even though many of the rioters were armed, and many — at least 24 of the 61 dead — were members of the Hamas terror group.
“We developed Iron Dome,” Dr. Oren said, referring to Israel’s anti-missile system, “but we have no Iron Dome, as far as I can see, for the public diplomacy and legal aspect of this, because the next war is not going to end on the battlefield, but at The Hague.
“The battlefield is no longer the battlefield, but the media,” he continued, adding that Hamas had developed a “new missile” that can evade the Iron Dome.
“It’s called a ‘demonstrator.’ It’s cheaper, it carries less risk, and in most cases, the missile is reusable.”
Oren notes most media and political types — including Republican legislators sympathetic to Israel — are utterly ignorant of verifiable facts (5:39) as to the roots of the conflict. False accusations abound as to Israel of intentionally targeting civilians, blockading the flow of humanitarian goods, etc. Every interview Oren gave in the first 48 hours after the recent Palestinian assault was 100 percent on the side of Hamas. The reality is that Hamas deliberately puts women and children into the line of fire, hoping that the IDF will kill them and thus score Hamas another propaganda victory.
Alan Dershowitz concurs, noting that 40,000 Gazans were sent to try to tear down the fence at the Israel/Gaza line (not a legal border) of demarcation. He quotes a Palestinian leader who said this:
For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘we desire death like you desire life.’
Ynet News quotes a Hamas activist who adds telling detail:
“Hamas organized the protests in order for people not to ‘turn’ on them. They (Hamas) say: Instead of them harming us and ‘turning’ on us, we’ll send them to the border fence where they will be hit,” he told his investigators.
“They tell women to go forward. They say to a woman: Go ahead, you’re a woman and the army doesn’t shoot women. They tell small children: Go ahead, the army doesn’t shoot small children. They tell a child to go ahead and he goes. It’s a small child. They trick him,” the man insisted.
An assertion by the usual suspects that Israel killed a baby at the border, using tear gas, has been contested by a Gazan doctor who said the infant had a pre-existing condition.” And as Jonah Goldberg writes at NRO, “How dare you ask why someone would bring a (very sick) baby to a riot? How dare you suggest that there is subtext to the story of Palestinian righteousness?” (Italics in original.)
A remarkable film, “Behind the Smokescreen” (22:36) documents at length the wholesale deceit and sheer barbarism of Hamas. As filmmaker Pierre Rehov put it on social media, his film is
The [sic] ultimate tool against Palestinian propaganda, Hamas use of international media, UN and media lies against Israel. Not all Palestinians are terrorists, but most terrorists are connected one way or another to the so called Palestinian cause. Journalists and reporters who take their side have blood on their hands!
(Rehov is an Algerian Jew who now resides in Israel, and films under a pseudonym lest he become a target for the Palestinians.)
His film includes this gem: a Hamas leader leads the crowd in a chant of “Khaybar, Khaybar!” (near 12 min. mark). The reference is to the destruction of a Jewish fortress near the town of Medina (second holiest city for Sunni Islam). Of even more interest is a captured Palestinian who accuses Hamas of fomenting violence against Israel to deflect a domestic uprising against Hamas (begins near 17 min. mark). Hamas organizers tell Gazan women and children to march to the fence, because the IDF does not shoot women. Most depressing is a young Palestinian woman, who seems of age to be a young mother, declaring that Palestinians insist on getting every inch of Israel (near 20 min. mark); the older adults are lost causes for peace; the kids might, in time with proper education replacing brainwashing, change. But it is hard to see young adults as changing — and they will pass their attitudes and narrative on to their children.
The insanity of this latest round of Palestinian violence is perfectly captured by a Palestinian rocket that hit Gaza’s electric grid, causing a blackout. The IDF also destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel (tunnel video — 1:00) that reached 900 meters — more than a half-mile — into Israel. In all, the tunnel stretched 2 km. (1.2 mi.), and had exits not only in Israel but also in Egypt.
How does one make peace with people like this?
LESSON 2018: The Folly of a West Bank/Gaza Palestinian State. The monster that is Palestinian nationalism is grounded not in centuries of ancestral presence in the region, but in an invented diaspora created by Arab nations. In stark contrast (4:09) to Israel’s acceptance of 600,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands where they had dwelled for centuries, Arab countries refused to accept Palestinian refugees — even though many of the 700,000 who left Israel were encouraged by the Arabs to do so during the war of extermination they started in 1948. (What Israelis call the War of Independence ended in 1949 with four armistices, not final borders, as Arab nations refused to recognize the Jewish state.) The UN compounded this original Arab sin by defining, in 1951, descendants of these refugees as refugees themselves — a status conferred on none of the descendants of the 35 million refugees created by World War II. As a result, today the UN counts 5.3 million Palestinian refugees, when the number according to the hitherto single-generation refugee count would be some 20 to 30 thousand. The UN Relief and Works Agency, specially created for the Palestinians, continues to endorse mendacious textbooks that falsify history.
Nor, as Prof. Alan Dershowitz explains (4:32), are the Israeli West Bank settlements the root of the problem. Postwar Palestinian terrorism began the day after the UN’s 1947 partition resolution dividing Jewish and Arab Palestine and internationalizing Jerusalem, peremptorily rejected by the Arabs. Here are ten historical truths largely forgotten thanks to Palestinian lies and media amnesia.
Perhaps there was a time when a Palestinian twin-rump (West Bank plus Gaza) plus a land-bridge (between the West Bank and Gaza, thus bisecting Israel) state might have worked. Witness an Israeli who lives near Gaza recalling halcyon pre-Arafat days. But that is now nearly 30 years past, with two generations of Palestinian Hitler-Youth having been raised to terrorist Jew-hating adulthood. There can be no going back.
Recall how Palestinians danced in the streets (1:52) celebrating the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. (Clearly spontaneous rather than organized, nonetheless such demonstrations would not take place unless there is tacit approval from the authorities.) Palestinians also threaten journalists over unfavorable coverage. Thus the Committee to Protect Journalists, a global press-freedom watchdog, once reported:
In the nearly seven years since the Palestinian National Authority assumed control over parts of the West Bank and Gaza, Chairman Yasser Arafat and his multi-layered security apparatus have muzzled local press critics via arbitrary arrests, threats, physical abuse and the closure of media outlets. Over the years, the Arafat regime has managed to frighten most Palestinian journalists into self-censorship.
The article dates back to the 2000 Palestinian uprising, but nothing has changed since; the pro-Palestinian reporting rules are well known to journalists, who disregard them at their own risk. A more honest media would simply depart the area and thus deprive terrorists of the media oxygen they need to promote their cause. And more recently, a Palestinian leader has been barred from Palestinian campuses for the heinous crime of attending a conference in Herzliya.
In the end, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is existential, not merely over territory. In 1977, nonpareil classical scholar Bernard Lewis assessed long-term prospects for an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The future of the Arab-Israel conflict will be shaped by the course of events at three levels: first, that of relations between the state of Israel and the Arab states, more particularly those which are its neighbors; second, the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and third, the policies and actions of the great powers, and in particular of the United States and the Soviet Union. Much of the complexity and difficulty of the situation arises from the intermingling and interaction of these three. Yet, though connected, they are basically different, and affected by different factors. In each of them certain conditions are necessary if there is to be any chance of progress toward peace or even toward a settlement.
Lewis stated that the prerequisite to “normalization” of Arab-Israeli relations was transforming an existential struggle into a land dispute. Of Palestinian “moderation” back then he cited an observation from Winston Churchill: “As [he] once remarked in another context, they showed their moderation by agreeing to eat their meal in successive courses instead of demanding that it all be served at once.”
Lewis believed that left to themselves, the parties would have either settled the matter in a mutually unhappy compromise, or else the conflict would have become a minor, low-level affair.
Such was not to be the case, thanks to Russia (and beginning after the Gulf War, the European powers, a point Lewis could not make in 1977). He compared the superpowers then — as true today of Russia:
A characteristic feature of this confrontation is its asymmetry. Russia is ruthless, determined, and consistent, but hampered by economic weakness, technological backwardness, defective information and judgment, and pervasive inefficiency. America is rich, well-informed, and efficient, but is crippled by divided counsels and purposes and hag-ridden by guilt. Russia’s friends need massive military and economic aid and can usually count on getting it; America’s friends need far less but can never be quite sure. As a Turkish general once remarked, the trouble with having the Americans as friends is that you can never be sure when they will turn around and stab themselves in the back. Russia exploits every opportunity, cynically if not always effectively, to extend its power. America seeks to limit that power but at times shows an alarming lack of firmness and of realism — as in its recurring inability to distinguish between friends and enemies, a necessary condition of survival.
Further, any settlement that risks Israeli security — i.e., Israel trades land without getting (a) a durable peace and (b) formal recognition (by the Palestinians) as a Jewish state — risks American security as well. David Goldman notes that Israel’s value as our ally is without parallel: Several times Israel has destroyed Russia’s most advanced weapon systems without forcing Russia to respond. A U.S. strike of similar magnitude against their top assets Russia could not ignore.
Golda Meir was once allegedly asked when there would be peace between Arab and Jew. She supposedly responded: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” The quote may be apocryphal, yet it rings true. The tectonic shifts of the past 20 years — global jihadism, Iran’s rise, Israel’s role in militarily countering same, and Israel’s stunning emergence as an economic, energy, environmental and technology regional superpower — are pushing many Arab states towards Golda. The next years may bring many more to the fold. It is in this that the hope of defeating Palestinian Neo-Nazism rests. Without victory over this, there can be no “just and lasting” peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
John C. Wohlstetter is author of Sleepwalking With the Bomb (2d Ed. 2014).