Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Nightmares, minor and major

I’m such a klutz (clumsy person) that I trip even in my dreams.  Fortunately, I always wake up before I dream that I’ve injured myself.  😊

I wish I could wake up from the nightmare that is this current Israel/Gaza conflict.  As an American, I can’t help seeing echoes of American history in this war.  The U.S. was in Vietnam for years, but the minute we withdrew, the Vietcong took control.  Much more recently, the U.S. was in Afghanistan for years, but the minute we withdrew, the Taliban took control.  What’s the point in risking the lives of all those Israeli soldiers and Gazan civilians if Israel can neither bring the hostages home nor prevent Hamas from lobbing rockets at Sderot (and anywhere else that their missiles can reach)? 

How did Israel end up in this impossible situation?

While we’re on the subject of Gaza, here’s a true story from the “People plan and G-d laughs” department—little did we know, when we planned our trip to Israel to see my now-deceased parents, that we’d be there during the Hitnatkut, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.  I remember riding a bus on which the driver was playing a radio nice and loud so that all the passengers could hear the news.  My Hebrew is dreadful, so I understood almost nothing, but I did hear what sounded like a list of names of communities being evacuated.  Since I’m a “Shabbat-morning ‘regular,’” attending synagogue almost every Saturday and hearing the Torah reading, I guess it’s not surprising that the only name I still remember to this day is Shirat HaYam.

Israel withdrew from Gaza at great expense:  military, financial, and emotional.  Thousands went overnight from living in nice homes and having good jobs to living in trailers and being unemployed.  Some got stuck for years paying off mortgages on houses that they would never see again.  And all of this was to give the Palestinians of Gaza a place to start a Palestinian state, however small, and put an end to the conflict once and for all.

But the Gazans elected Hamas, and, in the long run, Hamas turned Gaza into a weapons depot and rocket-launching site, digging a network of underground tunnels for troops and armament so extensive that it’s said to rival the London Underground in length.  Since there hasn’t been an election in Gaza for years, it’s hard to say whether or not this is the will of the people.  But Hamas doesn’t care anyway—they’ve long adopted the strategy of using the deaths of civilians as a public-relations weapon to make Israel look bad, which is why there are plenty of tunnels, but no bomb shelters, in Gaza.

Maybe I’m just too much of an American to understand this—why didn’t the Palestinians just take the gift of Gaza and make a state out of it?

On the other side of the border, there’s Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.  I’ve heard it said that Netanyahu deliberately played off Hamas against the Palestinian Authority to ensure that Israel would have no peace partner.  If that’s true, maybe I’m too much of an American to understand that, either.  Do Netanyahu and company really want power more than peace?

I read somewhere recently that Israel intends to continue this war until 2026.  I certainly hope that’s not true.  Israel is a small country.  It doesn’t have enough room for all those graves.  😢


Blogger X said...

Frankly, the best move for Israel would be to--under a future Israeli Prime Minister Benny Gantz--create a final-status peace deal with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, followed by massive Western and Gulf Arab investment into the West Bank, and watching the West Bank subsequently become a success story. Meanwhile, Israel can stay in Gaza as long as it takes to de-radicalize the Gazan population. If there will be enough prosperity in the West Bank and it will be perceived as a success story, then maybe, just maybe, enough Gazans will eventually turn on Hamas to allow Israel to eventually transfer control of Gaza back to the Palestinian Authority?

BTW, Iraq actually did work out somewhat better for the US/West. It currently has a government that it trying to play off the US/West and Iran against each other. De-Baathification did likely make the whole Iraq situation much bloodier than it would have otherwise been, though. If Israel wants to try de-Hamasifying Gaza, then it could likewise take a while and involve significant bloodshed even in the post-insurgency phase.

Of course, there is the possibility that Hamas will lay down its arms if a Palestinian state is actually established by Israel, including in the West Bank, but it's not guaranteed because it's possible that Hamas might view any deal as being insufficient, such as by, say, having no Palestinian right of return to Israel proper.

The one bright spot for Israel over the past couple of years, of course, is that it has apparently received slightly over 100,000 new immigrants from the former USSR, the young men among whom could become soldiers for Israel's military. And of course this post-Ukraine new ex-USSR aliyah influx does not appear to be stopping--merely slowing down. So, even more ex-USSR immigrants will arrive in Israel over the coming years and decades. Thankfully with the gigantic and atrocious tragedy of October 7 resulting in right-wing Israeli politicians mostly shutting up about repealing the Grandchild Clause of Israel's Law of Return, at least for a long time, there should be no significant obstacles in the way of future ex-USSR immigrants of Jewish descent who will want to move to Israel for a long time.

Wed May 22, 01:20:00 AM 2024  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always good to have Americans who don't know anything about Israel weighing in. Move here, pay taxes, go to the cemetaries and weep with your friends when they lose a kid, then maybe we should listen to you.

I get it, you're good liberal Jews so you don't like Bibi. You don't get a vote. The problem none of you get, is that you don't seem to understand that the Palestinians don't want peace or a state. They want all of Israel.

And Gantz is so freaking weak and indecisive that he'd be awful. But I get to make that decision, not you.

Just because you're Jewish doesn't mean you have a say. The Muslim woman who drew my blood this morning at my kupah has more of a right to a say in Israel than you do.

Wed May 22, 07:41:00 AM 2024  
Blogger X said...

I am actually a dual Israeli-US citizen and lived in Israel for the first eight (almost nine) years of my life, so my views aren't completely irrelevant--but Yeah, I don't actually get to vote in Israel because I don't live there.

And unfortunately, even though I consider myself to be Jewish, Israeli right-wingers don't consider me as such and actually want to prohibit people similar to myself from immigrating to Israel by repealing the Grandchild Clause of Israel's Law of Return (an effort that has thankfully been indefinitely shelved after October 7) because they don't consider such people to be sufficiently Jewish. Personally, I have just one Jewish paternal grandfather (enough for me to have his Jewish last name) and three gentile grandparents. And yet Israeli right-wingers view people similar to myself to be goyim! Very sad!

Wed May 22, 04:37:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

And Hamas is the one that wants all of Israel. With the PA, it's much less clear-cut. I was always under the impression that Olmert could have secured a peace deal with Abbas had he not been forced to leave office in early 2009 due to corruption allegations, for instance.

Wed May 22, 04:38:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

And to clarify: I don't care if the future Palestinian state will be a de-militarized Israeli puppet/satellite state, especially if that is the only way to secure Palestinian independence. I would be quite content with this future Palestinian state to have an arrangement with Israel similar to what early 20th century Cuba had with the US in the form of the Platt Amendment. Might be unfair to the Palestinians, but might perhaps be the only way that they can actually get a state of their own. And would also certainly ensure Israel's security.

I think that a future Palestinian state led by relative moderates such as the PLO should also be tightly integrated in the regional US-led alliance/security system, which also consists of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey.

Wed May 22, 04:47:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

FWIW, the red line for me in regards to Bibi wasn't over the Palestinian issue, but rather him allying with those right-wing Jewish chauvinist Israeli political forces who wanted to repeal the Grandchild Clause of Israel's Law of Return after the late 2022 election in Israel. The fact that this effort--along with their attempted judicial overhaul--was halted after October 7 was pretty much the only "silver living" in the extraordinarily vile and atrocious tragedy and war crime that was October 7.

Thu May 23, 06:47:00 PM 2024  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Israeli right wingers aren't the ones saying you're not Jewish (which is irrelevant to the points you were making). Halacha says you're not Jewish. It's the wrong grandparent. If it was your maternal grandmother and everyone else was non-Jewish, you'd be Jewish. Doesn't mean you're not Israeli, just means you're not Jewish. Literally nobody except Reform and Reconstructionist would recognize you as halachically Jewish.

I do agree that changing the rules would be foolish. There are plenty of non-Jews who live here and love and support the state of Israel and they have the right to have more of a say than our hostess here as an American Jew.

Fri May 24, 05:53:00 AM 2024  
Blogger X said...

Well, Yeah, I think that in an ideal world more Jewish movements would embrace bilinear descent. But this would be less relevant if the existing halakha wasn't used by right-wing Israeli Jewish politicians to justify their bigotry, such as by having them push to alter Israel's Law of Return to make it more restrictive.

Thank you very much for opposing any changes to the Grandchild Clause of Israel's Law of Return. I really appreciate it.

Back to the topic of a Palestinian state, though, Yeah, have Israel aim to make it an Israeli puppet/satellite/vassal state but still give them independence. Just make sure that they are ruled by the PLO and not by Hamas, and be willing to prop up the PLO by whatever it takes.

Fri May 24, 05:40:00 PM 2024  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon, we'll split the difference--you get a say because Israel is your country, and I get a say because this is my blog. :) My opinions may not be relevant, but I'm going to post them anyway. You're certainly entitled to comment that my opinion doesn't matter, since I don't have boots on the ground. I respect that. And I do think it's a sad possibility that "Palestinians don't want peace or a state. They want all of Israel." That may be a result of history--if the world treats people as refugees for 75 years instead of insisting that their brethren find places to resettle them, that'll happen.

Fri May 24, 07:41:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

BTW, might it not be a good idea for Israel to halt its Rafah offensive after this ruling?


But to also make it crystal-clear to the Palestinians that they're not getting northern Gaza back unless and until a two-state solution is actually negotiated upon and Hamas fully disarms and renounces violence?

Fri May 24, 07:42:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

@Shira Salamone: Arab countries want Palestinian refugees to be Israel's problem, not their own, which is why they're been refusing to integrate them, with the exception of Jordan. It's very sad but unfortunately it is what it is.

Palestinian refugees can be resettled in a future Palestinian state, if one will ever be created--hopefully! I hope that the Jordan Valley can support and sustain a much larger population, both Palestinian refugees and Gaza's surplus population (Gaza's population is still rapidly growing and Gaza is rapidly running out of space).

Fri May 24, 07:47:00 PM 2024  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

X, you're probably correct about Arabs wanting Palestinian "refugees" to be Israel's problem." :(

I certainly hope that a future Palestinian state can absorb all "refugees," but that assumes that Israel's neighbors would agree to establish a Palestinian state in lieu of destroying the State of Israel.

Sat May 25, 11:08:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

I don't think that Israel's neighbors are very eager to destroy Israel, actually, other than possibly Iran and its Axis of Resistance. The rest of Israel's neighbors are US allies and can easily be made to accept Israel's existence if a Palestinian state will be created. They don't want to solve the Palestinian issue for Israel, but if Israel and the Palestinians will agree to deal, then they would almost certainly likewise accept this deal. They're much more focused on containing Iran and its Axis of Resistance than worrying about Israel, after all. This isn't 1948 or 1967 or even 1973 any longer.

Sat May 25, 11:36:00 PM 2024  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

X, I hope you're right.

Tue May 28, 11:15:00 AM 2024  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't think that Israel's neighbors are very eager to destroy Israel,"

I think the dictatorships that rule our neighbors are not eager to destroy Israel, because we serve as a counterweight to Iran. However, the Arab Street? Yeah, they want to destroy Israel. Every Muslim Brotherhood related group that exists underground or openly in pretty much every Muslim country? Turkey under Erdogan? Syria? Iraq? yeah, they want us destroyed.

Jordan is ambivalent, Egypt is growing increasingly hostile, Lebanon is a complete mess but they won't do anything about Hezbollah. So again, it's cute that you read the NYT and Washington Post and say "ah, Israel's neighbors aren't very eager to destroy Israel" and I can tell you that it's a damn good thing we have the strongest army and nuclear weapons in the area. Because I'm not trusting the goodwill of a dictatorship the next Arab Spring. Democracy in this region leads to Islamist rule. Strongman dictators are the only solution.

Wed May 29, 07:38:00 AM 2024  
Blogger X said...

The Arab street could also become significantly less hostile towards Israel if a viable Palestinian state will actually be created. Something along the lines of the 2003 Geneva Initiative, but slightly more pro-Israel. Israel would, of course, not be able to keep the Jordan Valley since keeping it would make a viable Palestinian state astronomically harder and ensure that the Palestinians will never actually agree to any peace deal.

I'm of course thinking of a peace deal made with the PA/PLO, not with Hamas. I don't trust Hamas. Especially after October 7.

Wed May 29, 04:14:00 PM 2024  
Blogger X said...

As a side note, @Anonymous, back to my previous point here: Do you think that after this war will be over, right-wing Israeli Jewish politicians are once again going to talk about repealing or at least amending the Grandchild Clause of Israel's Law of Return? Or would they genuinely *permanently* shut up about this, at least to a huge extent, even after the end of the current war?

Good relations between religious and secular Israelis will be impossible for so long as religious Israelis will continue pushing for a repeal or amendment of the Grandchild Clause of Israel's Law of Return, and of course also for so long as the Ultra-Orthodox will refuse to serve in the Israeli military and have their men continue refusing to work (in contrast to their ancestors in pre-Holocaust Europe, where they had to work because no one back then ever gave them a free handout).

Wed May 29, 06:27:00 PM 2024  

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