Condemning the Hamas rocketing against Sderot and Ashkelon is a no-brainer, let’s make that clear. But the Israeli retaliatory responses are, in my judgment, excessively heavy-handed and counter-productive. Taking my cue from news reports from several sources, the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli dead on this front is about 100 to one (over the past several months of fighting since the Hamas victory in January 2006). It is now almost beyond dispute that Israeli policy is, in effect, a collective punishment of the Gazan population, and that’s despicable as a general principle.
Although I have no military background, I think it’s fair to observe that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) strategy seems to be that by exercising intermittent displays of force instead of a full-out invasion, terrible enough in terms of the human impact but more cost-effective, Hamas will be incrementally weakened but not destroyed. In other words, destroying Hamas — and to be real, I’d like to see the organization eradicated — would probably totally destroy Gaza and its 1.5 million people. Not a pretty public relations picture. So now we also have this lovely statement by Matan Vilnai, the Deputy Minister of Defense:
“Palestinians will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”*
Anyone who honestly cares about the future of Israeli society and its wonderful people would surely see at once the obscenity of those words, and join me in calling for his immediate shit-canning and dismissal. (Hamas “spokesmen” predictably dubbed their foe “new Nazis,” according to a report in Yediot Aharonot.) So what to do, when uncontested sovereign territory undergoes near-constant attack? I wish I had an easy answer because I do not; but I hope it’s not naïve or unreasonable of me to declare that threatening annihilation is not the best choice — nor is it anything other than an insult to the Jewish people and a defamation of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Period.
*Min. Vilnai used the word ‘shoah,’ connotative of disaster or calamity — but unmistakably a direct reference to, and unconscionable exploitation of, the Nazi Holocaust.