Gaza: Temporary relief or definitive cure?
The gist of the story is that sometime soon, and with at least the tacit approval of President Bush, the Israelis will bomb and then invade Gaza, stay for several weeks to several months, destroy Hamas's installations and ability to make mischief and then leave. The aerial bombardment is meant to reduce the numbers of Israeli troops in the ground invasion and thus the number of Israeli casualties. If so, the plan is flawed on several counts.
The Gaza problem is not new, nor did it begin with the ill-conceived disengagement in 2005. It has been going on since 1948. Fedayeen, al-Fatah, Hamas, only the names change, the daily terror attacks on civilians remain the same. In 1956 Israel responded to eight years of daily provocation by invading and capturing the Gaza Strip and the whole of Sinai up to the Suez Canal, only to withdraw against its own interests at the insistence of Britain and France (who participated in the invasion and then got cold feet) and President Eisenhower. A United Nations force was put in place as a buffer against terror attacks, and that more or less worked until 1967, when Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser flicked his finger and the U.N. force, the proverbial umbrella that folds up as soon as it begins to rain, left. The Six Day War and Israel's miraculous victory ensued, and that overwhelming show of strength kept the peace until Israel's foolish decision to negotiate with enemies sworn to its destruction. Still, several settlement blocs placed with the approval of several Israeli governments, left and right, kept a lid on the violence. Then the disengagement. As anybody with any sense of history would have been able to predict (and did predict), the enemy kept on "engaging" with deadly effect. Duh, appeasement doesn't work. Munich anyone? So now, repeating the errors of the abortive Sinai campaign, the U.N. folding umbrella and the placement of settlements only to remove them when the going got tough, Israel is set to embark on an illusory quick fix instead of a definitive solution.
The American experience in Iraq should show us that aerial bombardment does not win wars. All it does is prepare the battlefield; wars are won by boots on the ground and plenty of them. That means casualties, but there is no choice since the existence of the State hangs in the balance; if Israel is perceived as weak and unwilling to take casualties, the enemy is emboldened to increase its attacks, not just from Gaza but from South Lebanon. All of Israel will be in missile range from north or south. It also means a lot of diplomatic heat, but again there is no choice; diplomacy never defeated Arab terror and never will. Israel has no one to rely on except God and its own strength. Limited war is an oxymoron; one must go whole hog or not at all. While Israel should not go out of its way to attack civilians, when the enemy hides its military assets in civilian areas, as those brave Arabs always do, Israel's air force should drop some very dumb bombs from very high altitudes and put the fear of God in the enemy. Cold, clawing fear is what the Arabs understand. And forget about leaving in a few weeks, months or years. How do you think Hamas came to power in Gaza? In as free an election as any you could get in that part of the world (except Israel!). And what will happen as soon as the IDF leaves? That's right - Hamas comes right back, rearmed by their Syrian and Iranian sponsors, and the rockets start falling again and worse. Gaza is part and parcel of Eretz Yisrael and Israel must stay there forever. The expelled pioneers of Gush Katif are, for the most part, still in temporary housing and would return in a heartbeat and rebuild everything that the Arabs destroyed after the disengagement and then some. Golda Meir once said that Gaza is a dagger sticking into Israel's heart and must never be surrendered (she also told the world, straight from the shoulder, "The future of Jerusalem is not negotiable."). They didn't call her the only man in the cabinet for nothing. The Arab population must be dealt with the way Poland and what were then Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union dealt with the Germans in the huge chunks of German territory they inherited after World War II. To wit, complete the exchange of populations begun in the 1950s when tens of thousands of Jews from Arab countries were expelled and came to Israel with little but the clothes on their backs. Let them go to the Palestinian state that has sat on 80% of mandatory Palestine since 1946 and is known as Jordan. Or let them come to America. Gaza's Arabs for Brooklyn's Jews? Israel can do with a lot of brainy English-speaking Jews who can take the sun as well as any Arab, would be happy to never look at a snow shovel or bundle up like an Eskimo again and do not pose a security risk.
And what is this business of seeking the approval of President Bush before acting? Is Israel a colony of the United States? The first duty of any government is to protect its people. The safety of Israelis, not Americans, is at stake here. What do you think President Bush would do if border towns in New York were under constant rocket fire from Canadian territory? I have little doubt that he would have the U.S. Air Force give Canada an early spring. Indeed, when President Bush was criticized for invading Iraq without a consensus of world opinion, he replied that he will never wait for a permission slip to keep America safe. The same principle applies here. Go in and clean out the viper's nest once and for all.