Friday, August 22, 2014

Jodi Rudoren Loves a Winner

On July 20, Gideon Levy of Haaretz—if current trends continue, Levy may be the last sane man in Israel—published an oped entitled “What Does Hamas Really Want?” He wrote:

“Last week 10 conditions were published in the name of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for a 10-year cease-fire. Hamas and Islamic Jihad demand freedom for Gaza. Is there a more understandable and just demand? Read the list of demands and judge honestly whether there is one unjust demand among them: withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops and allowing farmers to work their land up to the fence; release of all prisoners from the Gilad Shalit swap who have been rearrested; an end to the siege and opening of the crossings; opening of a port and airport under UN management; expansion of the fishing zone; international supervision of the Rafah crossing; an Israeli pledge to a 10-year cease-fire and closure of Gaza’s air space to Israeli aircraft; permits to Gaza residents to visit Jerusalem and pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque; and an Israeli pledge not to interfere in internal Palestinian politics such as the unity government; opening Gaza’s industrial zone.”

In the second lead story in this morning’s New York Times, “Israel Kills 3 Top Hamas Leaders As the Latest Fighting Turns Its Way,” Jodi Rudoren begins:

“Hamas is the party that keeps extending this summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly breaking temporary truces and vowing to endlessly fire rockets into Israel until its demands are met. But the latest round of fighting appears to have given Israel the upper hand in a conflict that has already outlasted all expectations and is increasingly becoming a war of attrition.”

Rudoren then interviews three prominent former Israeli officials, beginning with Michael Oren, a shameless propagandist for Netanyahu, an “historian” whose writing and public statements are invariably thoroughly disingenuous. Rudoren quotes him:

“There’s a longstanding conventional wisdom that Israel doesn’t do well in wars of attrition,” said Michael B. Oren, an Israeli historian and a former ambassador to the United States. “That overlooks a broader historical view that Israel’s entire existence has been a war of attrition, and we’ve won that war.”

Later in the story Rudoren interviews two other pillars of the Israeli military and intelligence establishment:

“These [the assassinated Hamas leaders] are senior people,” said Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli brigadier general and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “People in Gaza know exactly who they are, people in Israel know exactly who they are. In our bilateral context, it resonates strongly.”

“Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli chief of military intelligence [said]….We’re now going to a war of attrition that was a threat of Hamas. Israel basically turned it upside down and said, ‘You want attrition? You are welcome. …Our firepower and our intelligence and our capability to sustain more days is much bigger than yours.’ This is the strategy.”

“There are growing calls for a more aggressive ground invasion," Rudoren continues, "which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resisted, and intense opposition to the idea of making concessions in a cease-fire agreement that might seem to reward Hamas.”

Rudoren apparently did not interview any Israeli opponents of “Operation Protective Edge.”

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I have tried to imagine how Jodi Rudoren would have covered the French Resistance attacks on the Nazi German occupiers of Paris in June 1940. I’m assuming that after France surrendered and Paris was occupied, the primary reason that there wasn’t a “peace,” of sorts, is that the Resistance didn’t give up, “demanding” the end of the occupation.

So, in my imagined past this how Rudoren might have covered the ongoing battle in a lead New York Times news story dated August 22, 1940, “Germany Kills 3 Top Resistance Leaders As the Latest Fighting Turns Its Way.”

The story begins: “The Resistance is the party that keeps extending this summer’s bloody battle in Paris, repeatedly breaking temporary truces and vowing to endlessly attack Nazi Germany until its demands are met. But the latest round of fighting appears to have given Germany the upper hand in a conflict that has already outlasted all expectations and is increasingly becoming a war of attrition.”

“There’s a longstanding conventional wisdom that Germany doesn’t do well in wars of attrition,” said Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister of Germany. “That overlooks a broader historical view that Germany’s entire existence has been a war of attrition, and we’ve won that war.”

“These [Jean Moulin and other Resistance leaders killed by Germany] are senior people,” said Alfred Yodl, a leading German general: “People in France know exactly who they are, people in Germany know exactly who they are. In our bilateral context, it resonates strongly.”

“Reinhard Heydrich, a high official in German military intelligence said….We’re now going to a war of attrition that was a threat of the Resistance: Germany basically turned it upside down and said, ‘You want attrition? You are welcome. …Our firepower and our intelligence and our capability to sustain more days is much bigger than yours.’ This is the strategy.

“There are growing calls for a more aggressive ground invasion," Rudoren continued,  "which Chancellor Adolph Hitler has resisted, and intense opposition to the idea of making concessions in a cease-fire agreement that might seem to reward the Resistance.”

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Stepping back into the present:  For many years I have resisted drawing parallels between Nazi Germany's occupation and repression of European countries and Israel's occupation and repression of the Palestinians.  Lately, however, more and more Israeli and American critics (like, for example, Henry Siegman) have started to do so; and it is likely that such comparisons will increasingly be made. It ought to be blindingly obvious that anyone calling attention to some parallels are hardly suggesting that Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany--only idiots would think that. 

So, to make the obvious explicit, Israel is not Nazi Germany, and murder is not genocide.  What a relief!   That there should be any parallels between the Israeli and German occupations, however, is staggering, and proof of the moral collapse of Israel.  

2 comments:

Steve Kowit said...

There is no moral collapse of Israel. It was born as a settler-colonialist state that stole its land from another people and expelled them to lives of poverty. It has been a thoroughly racist, racially supremacist state from the beginning, ever expansionist, arrogant and sanctimonious to a fault. That land belongs to the Palestinian people. What on earth, given those origins and facts, could Israel's moral "collapse"
entail?

Anonymous said...

The demands do appear reasonable but Israel is not at all likely to accede to them if they appear to show Hamas has won the war or achieved a significant victory. Wouldn't it be much more legitimate to agree to a cease fire and allow later negotiations for these?

As far as comparisons to the Nazis, can you name one government that faced with a similar situation to Israel would act better or more humanely? Much of what Israel does is disgusting, but does it not just act as humans always do throughout history?