Friday, June 20, 2008

Welcome to Sderot

Here is a chilling formulation of something you already know to be true. It is from JINSA INFO Report #781.
“For Hamas, the key is to keep the rocket attacks below an understood threshold and Israel's response will be tolerable, precise and produce minimal collateral (Palestinian) damage. The Hamas pattern is to fire one, two or three rockets at Sderot. Wait a few days and do it again. Injure two, three, four Israelis. Kill one or two, but not more than that - this week. Increase the range and accuracy of the rockets incrementally. Hit Ashkelon, but just once. Then wait. Hit a shopping center, but if no one is killed, the Israeli response is unlikely to threaten Hamas rule. If Israel does retaliate, the world will probably be more annoyed by the "disproportionate response" than the original rocket attack.”

The report goes on with an interesting analysis of Israel’s military doctrine and how she is currently being forced by world opinion and the demopathic tactics of her enemies (internal and external) to fight outside the comfort level of her defensive doctrine. As I was reading, though, something was bothering me. I was still stuck on the seemingly more limited issue of the terror involved. Who are these people who are being killed by the rockets? How do they live knowing that, only if some, unspecified number of them of them are killed and maimed, will their government be moved to do something about the terror under which they live? This dangerous and painful situation is only partially a product of the Arab/Islamist dream of annihilation of Israel. It is made possible by a combination of ruthless internal enemies (e.g. the far left peace movement), clueless dupes (e.g. Olmert, Livni, et al) and shortsighted erstwhile foreign “friends” who do not understand the reality of the threat. This motley assortment of fools and instigators hold Israel’s defense establishment, her regard for her own citizens and, indeed, her very moral, civic, ethical and intellectual integrity hostage.

When Shirley Jackson's famous short story The Lottery was first published sixty years ago in the June 26, 1948 edition of The New Yorker magazine, it set off the most violent reaction the magazine had ever experienced. In the story, the reader is gradually drawn into a nightmare- as what seems to be a “normal” American farming village gathers for some sort of annual community gathering. There is a lottery involved and little by little it becomes apparent that it is a “selection process”. The reader’s curiosity gives way to bemusement as the author quietly seeds in ominous details that build a sense of foreboding. Then, near the end of the story there is a sudden shift to horror when we realize that the “slightly too” nonchalant dialogue and mysterious references have been leading up to the revelation of a sacrificial rite. One person in the community is chosen by lottery to be stoned to death- sacrificed for “the good of all”.

It is little wonder that the story caused the explosion of controversy that it did. A scant three years after World War II, the cataclysmic battle against totalitarianism, here was a story that hinted that the enemy was not dead, but could lie ever so close beneath the surface in the most unlikely of places. Is this lottery totalitarianism? I think it is. It is a society that holds itself hostage in a suicide pact. The eerily believable rationalization that the lottery must be carried out because the welfare of the group is everything- the individual is nothing- is the brutal signature of fascism.

The weird, unconvincing quality of the “reason” that stoning one member of the community to death is “for the good of all” is also a dead giveaway. It is true that an oblique reference to the sacrifice having a good effect on the corn is made but there is a dispiriting vagueness about it and nobody seems to endorse it convincingly. In fact, the agricultural pretext is really irrelevant. The central drama of The Lottery is the absence of individual human value. In my post about Islamofascism, I quoted Louis Menand (ironically, writing in the New Yorker), “official ideology can be, and usually is, absurd on its face, and known to be absurd by the leaders who preach it.” This is another hallmark of totalitarian systems. These lottery victims are the moral equivalent of suicide bombers, human shields and hostages. They have no power to achieve anything. Their own genuine emotions and aspirations are anathema to the system in which they live. Only their annihilation is of value. Every one of them is a martyr- most of them just aren’t dead yet. They are, in every sense imaginable, dead men walking.

I thought of this when I read JINSA report #781. The people of Sderot listen for the sirens all day and all night 365 days a year and all must wonder if today is the day that a rocket will come through the ceiling in a busy dining hall or a kindergarten classroom or a high school auditorium and finally be “enough” to force the government to use the power it has always had- but may not always retain- to eliminate the threat. They wait for the government to act. They pray for the rest of the world to recoil in horror. They face each day with bravery and hope. Just like the people in Jackson’s story, they are hostages.

Apologists, multiculturalists and advocates who try to convince themselves that the horror and savagery of Jihad is somehow lessened by pointing out the great (mostly ancient) achievements of Islamic culture are fond of pointing out that modern mathematics were made possible by the development of the concept of zero by Muslim mathematicians. This makes sense. It should be no surprise that one of Islam's last real contributions to human progress was the discovery of zero. It appears to me that, at least under the most fundamental application of their religion-as-political-system, zero is the human condition.

JINSA Report #781 concludes with this:
“It is hard to advocate large-scale military action against Hamas (or Hezbollah). The price will be high. But if Israel is waiting until a "Passover Massacre"-type terrorist attack and plans then to do what it knows it has to do, why wait? To wait is to give Hamas more time to import Iranian weapons, train its forces and build defenses - allowing the building a greater deterrent to IDF action out of fear of greater IDF losses completes the inversion of the defensive principles that have served Israel to well until now.”

Why wait, indeed. It is not just defensive principals that are inverted here; it is morality, integrity and simple logic. We know that Hamas has sworn to eradicate Israel. They say so freely.  

If there was outrage in 1948 over the publication of that short story, how could there not be outrage today when an Israeli government dares Hamas to kill one more Israeli and see what happens and when they do, dares them to kill another one. Over and over again the children of Sderot draw lots and when one of them is torn apart by ball bearings or has a leg blown off, what happens? Is it somehow “for the good of all” that they suffer?
Now the Israeli government has arranged a cease-fire insuring, not eventual peace but even more death and suffering. It is not even necessary to believe the predictions of JINSA on what a cease-fire means. Even if you refuse to see the Iranian shipments arriving and the burrowing and trenching of the fortification builders, there is no need to believe the analysts, only recall what has happened to every other cease-fire in that conflict. They have all been broken by the slaughter of innocent Israelis. It is as regular and relentless as the annual lottery in Jackson’s story. Who will be the first one to die when the cease-fire breaks? Is it worth it or is it as futile and empty as the annual sacrifice chosen by lot?

That answer must come from the Israeli government. When suffering appears endless and accelerating and you begin to doubt its value, the answer must provided out of action and dedication. Abraham Lincoln, speaking from Gettysburg a place of great violence and slaughter rededicated himself and his nation to a higher purpose when he said, “…we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” The Israeli government must reaffirm their purpose the same way, and they must not shrink from committing themselves to facing the realities and acting accordingly.

Do you believe that it is about The Nakba or The Occupation or The Settlements? Do you allow yourself the fantasy that there is a way to stop the madness- a sacrifice big enough to satisfy this ravenous cult?

Then what did the innocent victims die for on 9/11- or Madrid- or London- the Darfur? This is part of the same grotesque lottery that has been going on for 1500 years. In spite of the sacrifice of the innocent victims of 9/11, it is all too easy for us to deny that we are hostages too, but those “zero beings” from the Islamist void will not be happy to delete only Israel. They have "selected" them for annihilation first but it is nothing personal, you understand, just a sacrifice to prove there is no value to human life. There is no value to anything that does not affirm the spiritual vacuum of Islamism. It is not because they worship Allah, nor is it is that they believe Mohammed was a prophet. It is that they believe that he was the only prophet, that they know the absolute truth and that it is their mission to ignore (and destroy) all evidence to the contrary. If you believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they will not rest until they destroy you too.

The Jihadists are not interested in cease-fires or peace. They are happy to tell you what they want. They want the world to live under Shari’a law. They believe that anyone that doesn’t want that is sub-human and deserves to be killed. This is nothing less than another confrontation with the evil of fascist, totalitarianism, and that is a beast whose hunger cannot be sated with souls, nor can its thirst be slaked with blood. The lottery they are holding is to determine not if you will be destroyed but when you will be destroyed. We are all citizens of Sderot- its just that most of us don’t know it yet.


Anonymous said...

I think the analysis is correct. Hamas would have no problem getting katyusha rockets, which would inflict much greater damage.They want to keep it low grade because Israel will not retaliate and when they do it will be the Israelis who look like the aggressor.

Arius said...

Muslim mathematicians were not creative enough to develop the concept of zero. It came from the Indians and passed through the Middle East to Europe.

Almost all the supposed achievements of Islam should actually be credited to the Christian and Jewish dhimmis in the Islamic world. Once the dhimmis had been dissipated by oppression the Islamic majority turned inward against itself and became a cultural backwater.

Arius said...

Why don't the people of Sderot shoot rockets at Hamas?

Unknown said...

I understand your frustration. I have been posting about the decade-long presence of Hizbollah in Latin America for years now. Yesterday I even posted on how the Venezuelan government has Hezbolla-connected employees.

No one seems to pay attention. Americans think it's just not going to happen here, while we all live in Sderot, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov –

I don’t get it. These rockets are KILLING Israeli people. Why not make Hamas stop??

Line up 100 rockets on the Lebanese border and announce they will be fired the next time a rocket fires into Israel. Repeat as necessary.

What is preventing this action?

World opinion. Bush has sweated opinion polls, “Islam is the religion of peace” (smirk). What did it get him? He’s 28% in the polls and he got his party thrown out of the Congress.
World opinion II. Why worry about what the press thinks/says? Why give them the power to decide if Israelis live or die?

I’m an American Catholic so I am reticent about criticizing Israeli’s so-called leadership. But this situation doesn’t need negotiations, world opinion, the UN or catchy articles by you, Yaacov. It just needs the immediate resolve to stop this KILLING nonsense now.


Baron Bodissey said...

I'm not sure that people aren't aware of all this. I think that they are just accustomed to the idea that killing Jews in Israel is not that big a crime, not particularly comparable with (say) killing Kosovars or Miskito Indians.

The leadership of Israel is hypnotized by the opinion of people -- in the USA and and elswhere -- who do not wish the Jews well.

Better that Israel take muscular action in its own defense than wait for approval from the likes of Condi Rice.

I, for one, support a "scorched earth" policy towards the Palestinians in Gaza, as well as in Judaea and Samaria.

But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

Dear BOTB,

Great piece, empirical and urgent, like right now. You are correct and we are so infected and more every day in Australia.

Our local rep for Islam apologia, blame shifting and denial is one Waleed Aly. A very slim customer. Some say God help us all, I say George S. Patton, Churchill or similiar within ourselves save ourselves. Again, many excellent and quotable lines. Bravo.

Colonel Neville.

Jewish Odysseus said...

General MacArthur said: "There is no substitute for victory." Today it is crystal clear, there is no substitute for leadership. Guts. Courage. The wisdom to know what is the right thing to do and the determination and decisiveness to do it.

It is a sad fact that, since the early 90's, the only real determined effort Israel put into its security was for about 21 months (3/02 to 12/03)--and it paid fantastic dividends, effectively destroying the PLO. If insanity is redoubling the same techniques that brought failure, then what is abandoning techniques that brought success?

What really gets me in the kischkes about Sderot is that it is a 24/7/365 reproach and reversal of the most basic, elementary and dare I say sacred promise of Zionism: that the reborn Israel would be a place where Jewish life was not cheap. Where Jews could feel free that in going about their normal lives they would not suddenly be set upon by some lynch mob or Cossack or imam and have their lives snuffed out with impunity.

For centuries Arabs amused themselves by throwing sticks, stones, and other nasty objects at Jews on the streets when the spirit moved them. Today they have upgraded to small-scale rockets. The idea is the same, to impress upon the Jews that the Muslims--even just ordinary kid
Muslims-- can and will kill them with impunity.

Sorry, I just don't believe "a simple Jew" like Menachem Begin would be engaging in tit-for-tat strikes in the face of this long-term strategy by Hamas. He said in 1982: "There will be no more Katyushas in Kiryat Shemona" (this was when the Soviets were heavily invested in Syria and the PLO, so a strike into Lebanon truly had international repercussions). He had enough, and that was the end of the PLO until Rabin and Peres revived it in 1993.

I'm sorry, a city full of Jews that is shelled every day by giggling Arabs while Arab cities a few miles away are living normal lives, where Israel has total air and ground superiority...This is not a picture the early Zionists wd ever have recognized. It betrays a horrendous lack of solidarity and responsibility on the part of Olmert, his Manchurian Cabinet, and all their slimy enablers.

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

I thought that a principal function of government was to protect its citizens... Israel's government has a DUTY to protect its citizens from known hazards (this includes Hamas!), and to retaliate on their behalf if deterrence doesn't work.

PS- President Bush and Condoleezza Rice should butt out of Israel's affairs, should stop pressuring Israel for appeasement and capitulation, and should instead offer to supply some of the new bunker-busters "for research purposes only"...

April Gavaza said...

I kind of feel like the western world just does not get it when it comes to Israel. We hear the reports from Sderot and Tel Aviv and think "2 or 3 casualties? At least it wasn't bad." I think we feel that it is remote enough to not ever happen here--even though it already has! I mean, half of the voting population seems to accept the hard Left's argument that there is no terrorist threat whatsoever. Madness. We seem incapable of accepting the truth that the Islamists will not stop at the destruction of Israel--they are after all who believe in individual rights and freedom.

Great post.

April Gavaza said...

Oh, and I agree with commenter "A Nonny Mouse", who said, "President Bush and Condoleezza Rice should butt out of Israel's affairs, should stop pressuring Israel for appeasement and capitulation, and should instead offer to supply some of the new bunker-busters 'for research purposes only'..." While the President has done much to support Israel, Condi has been less than helpful.

It's my opinion, as an American, that it is our duty to support the free societies of the world, since there are so few of us.

Anonymous said...

why don't the Israelis fire back? Because whether they hit their target or not, their response will be cast as "disproportionate". So, instead, they send the IDF in to close smuggling tunnels or clear out the rocket launchers from their locations in the Gaza, West Bank and south Lebanon. And then they are accused of being invaders.

The Palestinian propaganda machine has been so effective, that even Muslim writers writing articles decrying the tendency to blame others still go ahead and blame Israel for the fighting between Fatah and Hamas. Or the world gets taken in by the stage shows of how bad the deprivation is, when, in fact, the deprivation is not as bad as shown, or directly caused by Hamas hijacking fuel deliveries intended for civilian use.