January 15, 2009

DOES ISRAEL HAVE ANY OPTIONS LEFT, OTHER THAN RETALIATION?

For the last few days, since the beginning of the Israeli military operations in Gaza, media – both print and television – has been riddled with scores of pictures of Palestinian kids, grievously injured in the air attacks by Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF. And every time I have seen those pictures, I have felt revulsion towards the blitzkrieg that has been launched by Israel to take the fangs out of Hamas. Yet, ironically, when I tried to think a little deeper about it, I was left wondering why the global media has not put forward the pictures of even Israeli kids who have got killed, injured or hit with impunity in the past due to a barrage of rockets and missiles, and even suicide attacks, that Hamas has made a habit of targeting on Israel.

In hindsight, if one looks at the happenings in Gaza in isolation, it goes without saying that every newly initiated observer would easily term Israel a bloodthirsty chauvinist country that knows nothing more than just blowing apart probably anything in the vicinity of Israel under the pretext of a terror threat. But having said that, one has to necessarily also look at it from the perspective of what this tiny nation has gone through since its inception; for then, the desperation of Israel to keep an edge over its adversaries might not seem that irrational. Right from the time Israel was formed, there has been a single-minded agenda to see its decimation in the quickest time possible. It was as if destroying every Jew and annihilation the Jewish state was the only way to attain salvation... something that has its footmarks in the 26/11 Mumbai carnage and the siege at Nariman House as well.

History is testimonial to the fact that within days of the formation of the State of Israel, it was attacked by six neighbouring states – namely Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This war, which later came to be known as the Israeli War of Independence, lasted for more than a year – probably no other country ever received a better welcome during its formation than what Israel got. This war was followed by the Sinai War in 1956, the Six Day War of 1967, War of Attrition in the late 1960s – in which Israel had to fight against Egypt and Palestine Liberation Organization – followed by the Yom Kippur War of 1973, in which Egypt and Syria spearheaded the war against Israel. This was followed by the First Lebanon War of 1982 and the second one in 2006. In each of the wars, the attention of the global media came on that region significantly only when Israel was hitting back and not particularly when Israel was getting hit. In each of the full scale wars that happened in the Middle East, the Arabs were defeated by the Israelis; and realizing this, the tactics of Middle East changed to low intensity conflicts through terror attacks. Can anybody forget what happened in Munich in 1972 when a considerable part of the Israeli contingent for the Munich Olympics was shot dead by Palestinian terrorists? In fact, living in the midst of terror attacks has become part and parcel of the life of an Israeli. More than a hundred of such suicide attacks have occurred in Israel since the 1993 Declaration of Principles; and the threat level all the time is to such an extent that Israel’s national carrier, El Al’s passenger planes are equipped with anti-missile systems and flares to thwart any rocket or missile attack.

The Arab world also has to take a considerable part of the blame for using organizations like Hamas to wage this low intensity conflict and using the Palestine cause as the perfect excuse to continue it. Surprisingly, for all the blame that Israel perennially takes for its actions in West Bank and Gaza, it is again Israel that has to take care of the Palestinians in terms of basic supply of food, essential medicines and electricity. While a significant part of Hamas funding comes from Arab donors, none in the Arab world have come forward and taken over the responsibility of the Palestinian civilians – the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East has gone on record in front of the Council of Ministers of the League of Arab States two years ago to show how Arab donations accounted for less than 2% of their basic fund requirements.

If the crisis of perennial terror threats from Hamas, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Al Qaida were not enough, the open declarations of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to wipe Israel out with nuclear weapons has only helped in complicating the matters even more in recent times. Even though India has had perennial problems with Pakistan, one has to accept that things could have been far worse if Pakistan were to have openly threatened our annihilation with the use of the nuclear option.

No war can be justified, whether by Israel or by Hamas. Yet, unfortunately, for Israel this time, the tirade is against those terrorists who hide in the localities of urban areas and use women and children as shields to continue their war against Israel. Hamas – whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel – would not dare to challenge IDF for an open confrontation but would always hit and run away in the crowd, the very reason why there is so much civilian casualty in the first place; because if the terrorists have to be killed, there would invariably be collateral damage. But to presume one-sidedly that Israel loves to undertake such attacks with merriment, would surely be being too harsh on those who have already faced near annihilation during the Holocaust and are trying to avoid a repeat of the same.

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26 comments:

Pinku said...

Options?? are there really any options in a world ruled by power mongers?

Omar said...

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V.Muthuswami said...

Of all Indian media editorials and op-eds, yours probably only one that sounds true to reality. Public images vs private thoughts of most Indians are always at variance. We seem to have great problem in accepting facts, and hence fail to see how best to address the challenges. If we continue to fail to grow in our maturity level as a sovereign nation even after 60+ yrs then we will be faced with a series of tragedies, big and small, thanks to the growing monsterous admixture of Hamas+Hazbollah+Al Qaida brewed unhindered in our back yard.

SHINU S said...

Sir,
So you don't mind the genocide acts taking place in Gaza in the name of attacking terrorists?!! You don't mind about the casualties!!! You want the world media to hide the death toll of more than 1000 among half were kids and children and more than 5000 injured!!! You want world media to focus on what Israel kill in the war!(But media won't because it's less than 30!!)

SHINU S said...

Sir,
The so called civilized people supported by the west are attacking the terrorists among civilians.
In their opinions. . .
They are only attacking the terrorists
who hide in market places...
They are only attacking the terrorists
who hide in hospitals...
They are only attacking the terrorists
who hide in schools...(even in kindergarten!!!)
They are only attacking the terrorists
who hide behind young kids...
They are only attacking the terrorists
who hide behind women...

SHINU S said...

Sir,
In their point of view...
They are preventing the future attacks particulary from terrorists...
By killing the civilians who may one day become a terrorist!!!
By killing the young children who MAY one day become a terrorist!!!
By killing the women who MAY one day CONCEIVE children who MAY one day become a terrorist!!!
Right??!!
And what happening there is not a GENOCIDE ACT!!!

cherag said...

Wonderful. Israel is facing threat, and it is obvious that she has to defend herself at any cost. I think Palastinians can leave peacefully with Israel, but because of fundamentalism, perverse ideology all these attacks and terrorism are going on.

SHINU S said...

We Indians are also facing threats from Pakistan and Bangladesh. So is it right to kill all people in Pakistan and Bangladesh?!!

Uma said...

well said, shinu s!

Uma said...

Frankly I can't see far enough into the future to see if Israel is making the best choice.

SHINU S said...

Thank Uma,

Thanks for sharing what common men feel.
When speaking about the genocide acts of Israel, many people are trying to highlight the wars Israel won, the number of Nobel Prizes Jews got, the war strategies they are using etc!!! Do all these things are justification for what they are doing now?!!
I don't know why they do so! The value of lives is same everywhere, in Israel, Palestine and in our own India. No one can accept terrorists act of any kind, killing innocent people etc.

Moses said...

I completely disagree with Mr. Shinu.Hamas has been launching thousands of rockets and missiles into southern Israel for the last 7 years.nearly a million people are in danger every single day.although the casualties from these rocket attacks are not high,every single one of those rockets was designed to kill as many CIVILIANS as possible.civilians are the primary target of hamas.

Moses said...

Gaza is one of the world's most densely populated areas.it is absolutely impossible to avoid civilian casualties.whenever terrorists come under attack,they hide among civilians.this results in the loss of a lot of innocent lives.the terrorists later use these incidents to fuel anger among the people against 'the enemy'.

Moses said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moses said...

There was a video on CNN which showed an Israeli fighter jet destroy a mosque in Gaza.they suspected that it was used by hamas to store rockets and missiles.there was a primary explosion when the missile hit the mosque and a fraction of a second later there was a secondary explosion which proved beyond any doubt that THE MOSQUE WAS INDEED USED TO STORE ROCKETS AND MISSILES.many people around the world condemned the attack.let me ask Mr.shinu one question-what kind of people store rockets in a place of worship when they claim to be Allah's servants?

Vajra said...

I used to be like Shinu asking questions about Isareli occupation of Palestinian territory etc.,

But, after living in Israel for 3 years and witnessing first hand the kind of life there in Israel, my earlier stands on this conflict looked to me meaningless.

Israelis want to live in peace. The terrorists want to kill and die. Given a choice to choose between the two, i choose to live.

pankaj said...

i agree with u but u have mentioned that palestinine terrorist killed all israeli sportsmen in munich i tell u that after it isrraeli secret agency found all terrorist involved and killed them and one of them escaped and started living in cuba as a farmer after 17 yrs they found him and killed him that is israel for u

pankaj kamra said...

i agree with u but u have mentioned that palestinine terrorist killed all israeli sportsmen in munich i tell u that after it isrraeli secret agency found all terrorist involved and killed them and one of them escaped and started living in cuba as a farmer after 17 yrs they found him and killed him that is israel for u

pankaj kamra said...

i agree with u but u have mentioned that palestinine terrorist killed all israeli sportsmen in munich i tell u that after it isrraeli secret agency found all terrorist involved and killed them and one of them escaped and started living in cuba as a farmer after 17 yrs they found him and killed him that is israel for u

pankaj kamra said...

i agree with u but u have mentioned that palestinine terrorist killed all israeli sportsmen in munich i tell u that after it isrraeli secret agency found all terrorist involved and killed them and one of them escaped and started living in cuba as a farmer after 17 yrs they found him and killed him that is israel for u

Prabhu said...

this one is very incisively written. isarelis have been time and again bombarded by muslim states and retaliation is the only for the isarelis to safeguard their interests. but, unfortunately, this side of the coin is not well received in the world. you have done justice to the isareli perspective!

nikhil said...

Just to give a true picture of wat happened in the gaza war.. some guy comes to your home, takes it over, gives a a tiny portion, controls all supplies to you and your family, now living in the tiny space that is available to you. One day, in anger you throw a pebble at the opresser, which misses him. he decides it is an act of war, stops suplies and start killing your family, obsentaily to catch that idiot stone thrower. Subsuit yourselves for the gaza strip and the opressing force and you will get the real picture. the situation that we face and Israel faces is very different.....

DRJG said...

Fighting terorists today is not easy for any state agency, since the very nature of today's terrorist tactics consists of being hidden in plain sight amongst families, women and children and old and so on, denying their own acts except in media and not identifying their own fighting personnel to the enemy.

Ancient India had other ethics, where not only a war was fought away from the civil society, but there were very strong ethics of a stronger person and a fighter not raising a weapon or arm against someone weak, old, unarmed, too young to fight, or even simply unwilling to fight; there was no question of anyone getting away with harming a woman or a child or anyone weak and unarmed, and even a fighter would not attack another one without fair warning of an attack and an acceptance to the effect, a shown readiness.

India was later invaded by another sort of ethics that was prevalent elsewhere, and some time ago a European colleague from a country in central Europe remarked that he "could not understand the ethical injunction against soldiers who were victorious in a war availing themselves of the opportunity of taking every possible advantage of the women of the defeated society, in fact (he said) he would definitely have done so". And a look at the way the two world wars were fought shows the fact of the matter - allies kept the ethics, at least US and UK did, about not attacking the civilians of the defeated enemy in Europe; the other side did not.

The war being waged today with terrorist organisations is waged most often against civilians of the nations and people that the terrorist organisations wish to destroy, and fighting the terrorists with scruples about their civilian populations can be afforded perhaps by large nations with huge populations where a few hundred or even a few hundred thousand suffering at the hands of terrorists are glossed over, forgotten, taken in stride, whatever, as the train and bus and market blasts in India have been (until the rich were attacked in their very own den at the luxury hotels); a little nation not retaliating with adequate measures will only be complying with their enemies' promise of "pushing them into the ocean" as they promised a half century ago.

A couple of decades ago the terrorism in Delhi was beign waged in a way that had an eery similarity to that happening for last few decades in Israel, with no function of joy be it a wedding or a child's party remain without a threat of attack with several dead. The agenda in either case is simple, the population under attack must be made unable to forget terror for life and to enjoy life in any way.

Fighting this and hunting terrorists down is no simple task, and their beign able to argue civil ethics in their favour - notably as has been recently employed by another nation refuting or confounding every attempt by India to track down the source of terrorism and the masterminds hiding amongst the population there - merely amounts to enabling the terrorists not only continue with impunity but with glee about the attacked being no good at fighting back.

A few years ago Atlantic Monthly carried a long article, well researched, about a video that until then was in circulation, depicting a young boy hiding behind his father dying in crossfire. It ought to be easy enough to find and go through. The arguments are almost scientific and if there were any possibility of a refutation it would have made headlines in most media. Instead the story died down. Similar two stories have also met the same fate, when questioned by investigative agencies of various global organisations, one in Kashmir against Indian military, '90 or '91, and another very famous in Lebanon, early eighties.

And genocide of sikh population, known innocent, has met with no investigation or uproar of the sort that is raised against happenings in western states of India - for that matter, Bhagalpur remains forgotten as does Calcutta of '46. This shows agenda of the terrorism - attack any society or part thereof that is prosperous, with a relatively well functioning society with civil structure. Destroy their happiness and peace. Claims about such a society being bad to minorities are never raised much less acted upon in case of a totaliatarian regime or a poor society where similar things happen in far more horrible way - which shows that the agenda of terrorists has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting injustice anywhere, only to shout injustice against anyone prosperous, happy, progressing and maintaining a reasonably good civil structure.

Ariel.com said...

Sir, your editorial “Is Israel have any options left, other than retaliation?” (TSI,, Jan 19-25) brought out the great truth of disparity and isolation faced by this nation from all the sections of the world. Whether it is media or the authorities, from the beginning of her existence, Israel has been set apart from the nations, locked up into a unique and awesome destiny. The hireling prophet, Balaam, called Israel ‘a people who dwell alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.’ (Book of Numbers chapter 23: verse 9). That uniqueness is no less apparent today, as Israel fights for survival in the midst of an increasingly hostile world. Why does this tiny nation of over a five million people, occupying less than 1% of the earth’s surface, regularly call for the media attention? Why are they a major stumbling block in the international affairs? Why is this nation a fiercely contested piece of real estate in the world? Jerusalem may not qualify as the biggest or the best city in the world. But, it possesses a splendor and glory that is unparallel among world's other cities. The God chose this city to be the capital of His kingdom. There is a wonderful promise of prosperity to those who share God’s love for Jerusalem; the Bible says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you… (Psalm 122:6).—Philip Verghese, Secunderabad
To Read more:
Pl. visit: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/153819/pv_ariel.html

manjeet said...

Actually I am a great fan of Arindam Chaudhuri. He is Honorary Director of the IIPM Think Tank and Editor in Chief of The Sunday Indian.
http://www.profile.arindamchaudhuri.com

Unknown said...

sir i agree with u

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