July 31, 2014

On Israel-Hamas: A Response to a Critic

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel, Politics

Regarding my piece on the recent Israel-Hamas flare up that has been in the news, one individual disagreed and issued a series of counter statements.  I hope to address his statements here. It is important that my original post be read first for context.

His first point:

Hamas is a terroristic genocidal group. They themselves say that their goal is the destruction of Israel and every Jew. It is not just Israel propaganda, but something Hamas uses as its rally point.

I’m not entirely sure what this point is a response to. Nothing was said that contradicted the claim that Hamas hates Israel and wants them gone. It is quite true that they don’t like Israel.  Saying that their goal is the destruction of “every Jew” is a stretch. Rather, it is more accurate to say that they despise the nation of Israel, especially its government.  And they also use terroristic means to accomplish their goals of harming Israel.  But why? This is the fundamental question at hand. Why do they hate Israel? There are thousands of Christians living in Gaza, but the main object of their attack is the State of Israel.  The reason for this rests in Israel’s constant aim to expand their territory via the Socialist housing developments in Palestinian areas, Israel’s own history of the initiation of violence against Palestine, and various other political efforts to harm the lives of the Palestinians.  One example in recent years was the deal that the Palestinian Authority (PA) made with the State of Israel that allowed Israel to collect taxes from the Palestinians.  Once the $50 million in tax money was collected, Israel decided to hold on to it.  Incredible instances of criminal behavior (like this theft) causes Palestinian hatred against Israel.

But in any case, my article does not dispute that Hamas is not some force for good.  Although I do hold that many of their efforts can arguably be considered defensive, contrary to the neoconservative narrative on Israel-Hamas relations.  It should be crystal clear that I take the side of neither group. I am not pro-Israel or pro-Hamas. I am pro-property rights and pro-Christianity.  As Joel McDurmon at American Vision recently wrote in answering the question of which side should we take in the conflict:

The answer to the above question is “neither.” Both sides are in the wrong in certain ways, and America should have no entangling alliance with either, and no obligation to either. Those who understand biblical laws for warfare and foreign policy will have no problem with this.

His second point:

It was not the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli that started the conflict even though that caught a lot of media attention. The war did not start because of the kidnappings. It started when Hamas broke a long ceasefire and rained more rockets on Israel, in a complete breach of international law. And kept at it even after repeated warnings of the consequence of continuing to do so.

Why did Hamas “rain more rockets?” Because, as I argued in my original post, Israel launched a stunning invasion into Gaza using as its excuse the kidnapped Israelis. My critic can deny that the kidnapping started the conflict, but the fact of the matter is that Israel’s recent invasion preceded the rocket-firing by Hamas. This is a huge denial because it says that Hamas’ rockets had no motivation.  That is, it says that Israel’s preceding invasion had no effect. But I fear that this narrative arbitrarily rips apart the true cause and effect of the recent escalation of tension.

Thus, it was not that Hamas that broke the ceasefire randomly, but rather it was Israel who provoked them.  And as John Glaser points out, this is usually the case.  Israel’s modus operandi, it seems, is to provoke their enemies into launching attacks, and then pointing the finger at the bad guys for breaking “international law” (of course, when it comes to breaking international law, Israel, is one of the worst offenders).

Speaking of cause and effect, why did the rouge group of Hamas members (without Hamas approval) suddenly kidnap the Israelis.  It is my contention that it was the recent settlement expansion in Palestinian territory that frustrated these extremists.  One of the ways that Israel expands its territory and steals Palestinian land is by building houses on it and then creating walls into their new seized boundaries.  Israel announced 1500 new units right before the kidnapping.  The Palestinians have long been (rightly) aggravated by such disturbing expansions and since Hamas was not taking action, it seems that the group decided to “do something about it.”

No, the kidnappings and the rockets are not condoned. But every event has a cause.  And Israel’s actions are not condoned either.

His third point:

Hamas and the PA claims that 75% of the dead are women and children. This has long been shown to be false. Note that first of all, most of these were deliberate human shields. We also have instances and videos of woman suicide bombers, children being instructed to fire rifles at soldiers, and even refusing to leave after warning missles were fired on their roof top but instead hide indoors, etc. These are not innocent civilians. And did we mention launching attacks from hospitals, schools, etc? And Hamas themselves have boasted of their use of human shields as being effective, and even attacking and assaulting palestinians who try to leave the area after warning by the Israeli.

Even not taking all these into account, including children and women terrorists, we probably still have more than 80% of those killed as terrorists. Check out this statistical analysis.

http://honestreporting.com/analysis-of-gazans-killed-so…/

I don’t deny the first paragraph and my article did not even mention such statistics. So technically this point is entirely irrelevant. His second paragraph is a bit maddening.  The “analysis” that he cites concludes that 80% of the Palestinians killed have been men.  My critic then interprets this to mean that 80% of those killed were terrorists.  Thus, it seems that one of his premises, if this were a syllogism, is that all men in Palestine are terrorists.  Now, I am sure that he would not really say this. But looking at the cited stats, and reading his conclusion, this is the logic that he assumes.  It is precisely things like this which cause the pro-Israel crown to never look beyond their own preconceived notions. To perhaps consider that Israel is not always in the right.

No, the 80% men figure only shows that not all Israel’s victims are women and children.  But of these 80% men, how many were actually “terrorists” (which for the sake of the context we might define as “non-civilians).  I would challenge my critic to research this (perhaps he can start here).  One more problem results from our understanding of the nature of a terrorist. If an army of Israeli troops were marching through the streets and you were a man with a family in Gaza, if you picked up your gun to defend your family (we used to allow such things in the US, as protected under the second amendment), you would be labeled a terrorist for shooting at the Israeli army.  So even here the numbers are skewed.  Terrorism is a very politicized term intended to drum up support for the Western Governments war on dissidents. If you oppose the military fascism of Obama (or his friends –like the liberal Netanyahu), you might be a terrorist.

His fourth point:

Hamas themselves admitted and bragged about the kidnapping of the three Israeli even if the UN denies it.

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/…/hamas-admits…

Actually Hamas denies it.  My critic overstates the content of the blog he cited.  There is no instance of “admittance.”  Moreover, it has already been shown that the kidnappers were a rouge group from Hamas.  It would be like some American nut job throwing grenades into Mexico and the Mexican government stating that, because the grenade thrower was American, the American people had to pay.  Not only is it illogical, but it is inherently collectivist.  Rather than launch a full-fledged invasion in Gaza, Israel should have sent a group to seek out the actual kidnappers.

His fifth point:

Hamas has every reason to want to attack Israel. In fact, they have been doing just that… as captured terrorists have pointed out, there is a mega plan to launch an attack on a Jewish holiday in September where hundreds of Hamas soldiers would inflitrate and launch a huge assault on the civilian population… their entire tunnel network was dug for the purpose of attacking israel. So what do we mean by not having a reason to attack Israel? If Hamas really thought that firing of rockets do nothing to the Israeli, they would not be doing that now. Why are they doing that? Because they believe that they would be able to kill some Israeli… and even if the rockets do not kill… the rockets are cheap. Iron Dome missles however, are very expensive, and the rockets inflict a huge economic cause against Israel.

Let me quote from his point.  “Hamas has every reason to want to attack Israel.”  I agree. Israel threatens Palestine’s way of life. I wonder what reasons my critic would give. So what do we mean by not having a reason to attack Israel?”  I did not ever claim that Hamas did not have a reason to attack Israel. I said that Hamas would not have been stupid enough to initiate the kidnappings. If Hamas really thought that firing of rockets do nothing to the Israeli, they would not be doing that now.  I never claimed that Hamas thought that firing rockets would do nothing to Israel.  I think he misread my article here.  No worries, we all misread things.

His sixth point:

And rather than saying that Israel wanted this war, Israel has pointed out that Hamas has broken 13 cease fires so far! And it is Hamas themselves who said that there will be no cease fire in this conflict. So it is Hamas who started the war with the relentless rockets, and it is Hamas who is not allowing a ceasefire.

And Israel has broken around 87 cease fires.  Again, I’m not condoning the actions of either party. And again, I do think that for every ceasefire violation, we must look at whether the ceasefire was broken randomly or whether they were provoked.  And in the recent Hamas cease fire violation –I have yet to actually study in detail whether it was broken by them, there is a lot of media propaganda– but assuming it was, it is my position that Hamas was provoked and prodded until they finally gave in. Should they have given in?  Here is from my original article:

Now, I certainly agree that Hamas should not fire those rockets, and I do not condone such actions for two reasons.  First, innocent Israelis will die.  The Israeli people should not be held responsible for the misdeeds of their rulers. (This is an important point that we should remember in all world events.  The American people too should not be held responsible for the insanity of their rulers).

And second, on a practical level, Israel will without a doubt continue to respond fiercely to Hamas’ rockets.  Hamas should understand that nothing good can come of using force to defend themselves against Israel.

His seventh point:

The so called aid to Israel is for the Iron Dome development… which USA also benefits from in terms of technology. In contrast, this is a drop in the ocean compared to the USD$ 5 billion in money poured into Gaza by USA making those in Gaza among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid… much of which likely became used for terrorist activities rather than to build infrastructure for the people in gaza.

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS22967.pdf

I frankly don’t care what the aid is for.  Socialism is socialism. Taking money from one group of people to give to another group of people (perhaps especially if they are in a foreign land) is a monumental example of theft.  This is a moral argument.  Why should the American politicians take from America’s capital stock (which is barely hanging on as it is) and give it to the weapons developers of some other land.  To say that the “USA benefits from” this distribution of wealth is a failure to consider the fact that economic value is subjective.  While it may be beneficial for some, it is clearly not beneficial for others. If it were, it would not require tax money to fund it.  The free market and the free market alone puts wealth and capital where it is most beneficial.  And in our current economic crisis, the American taxpayers would rather buy food, pay their mortgages, pay down their debts, and other such necessities.

Moreover, there is no Constitutional authorization for the Federal Government to subsidize foreign powers.  Thus, it is illegal for the Federal Government to appropriate funds to foreign powers. For moral, economic, and Constitutional reasons, the “aid” (which is political speak for government handout) should not be appropriated.

And of course, according to the research of Jeremy Sharp, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.” (…) In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from FY2009 to FY2018.”

So what is really the drop in the bucket?  But that said, the $5 billion dollars given to Gaza my critic cited above, was actually in an effort to destabilize Hamas!  It was intended to provide security for –you guessed it –Israel by essentially buying off the Palestinian Authority.  This is why, please understand this, Hamas has arisen powerfully at a democratic level (I’m a big fan of Jeremy Hammond. Read his book on Palestine) in Palestine.  Because the Palestinians are sick and tire of the PA toting to the USA and Israel.  Hamas is seen as the organization who will actually stand up to Israel expansion and land theft. The $5billion to Gaza is to help PA and Israel work together, without the consideration of Hamas or the civilian population.  Like it does in most countries in the Middle East, the United States government is seeking to control, dominate, and intervene –sometimes for its own ends, and sometimes for Israel’s, but never for the American people.

Perhaps then, we really should eliminate all foreign aid (both to Israel and Gaza) whatsoever and take the Ron Paul/George Washington line of neutrality and no foreign entanglements!  No more Harry Reid/John McCain mentality on foreign affairs!

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com