As of the declaration of the humanitarian cease-fire last Friday, several things about the current conflict are clear, and none of them are to Israel’s benefit. Carpet bombing north Gaza with 2,000-pound bombs that destroy an entire block is creating a situation that looks more and more to the rest of the world like the Waffen SS destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. With the IDF playing the role of the Waffen SS.
I thought of Winston Churchill. He was right about One Big Thing, and he gave his all. But when the war ended, the British voted him out. Churchill didn't want a second front, but that wasn't because he wanted the war to continue.
Netanyahu may or may not be right about some things. But I cannot escape the thought that he knows that if and when this war ends, he's finished. And all he cares about is being prime minister. So ....
The further tragedy of the Israeli approach is that not only aren’t they finding command centers, et al., they can kill every Hamas member who participated in the October event and still not have Hamas’s head. The real leaders are in Qatar, while money and weapons flow from Iran, Russia, and other states. The only way they could really prevail is to win the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, difficult at best, and highly unlikely at this point.
"Carpet Bombing" is not about bombing a target -- this brutal air war is about pulverizing a grid. Who is going to remove the rubble, the debris in the "Kill Zones" and do the necessary Post Mortems?
I went back and re-read Jimmy Carter's books about peace in the Middle East, and even back at the time he was writing his books the Israeli settlers were already violating the Camp David Accords. The rise of the Haradim Jews (ultra-fundamentalist) and their ongoing battles with Palestinians in the West Bank, plus what Hamas and Hezbollah have been doing, truly show what a scourge religious fundamentalism is, regardless of the faith. Conditioning aid to Israel is long, long overdue, and I'm glad to see leadership on this issue.
Thank you. Clearly written. Some help please, though I know you’re not my Google. Tell me more about the West Bank interlopers. I wasn’t aware of their radical views. Second, how long will Netanyahu jettison humanity to stay out of jail? Sounds fucking familiar.
Perfectly reasoned and expressed—I couldn’t agree more. The Israeli right wingers are so full of rage they can’t think straight, and Hamas has been leading them around by the nose—a perfectly orchestrated terrorist action.
I agree with C. Towers here. The fog of this war obscures its causes and actual instigators with each passing day. But I think it is Putin who's derived the greatest benefit from it. He couldn't be more happy that support for Ukraine in the US is flagging, that his unity with Iran and its supply of drones is solidifying, that his influence in the ME is growing, that villain status has shifted to Netanyahu and Hamas, etc. I will not be surprised to see him leap in front of a peace parade and offer to broker a two-state agreement, as absurd as that sounds.
the first time I saw Netanyahu, I had the same sinking feeling in my gut I got the first time I saw Rudy. "high school bully," was my immediate, extremely visceral response.
he's been a terrible, terrible "leader," and entirely too dependent on the US providing him with whatever he's thought he needed.
the international response to these provisional cease-fires is heartening and if Bibi thinks he's gonna be able to finesse the current vibe, I sure hope he's wrong. even assuming Bibi might at one time have been an appropriate PM (which I am not prepared to grant), his sell-by date was a long time ago.
can be really be calculating that he's still supposed to "destroy Hamas?" what the fuck does that even MEAN at this point?
if there ever was an historical phenomenon that mirrored a piece of Greek mythology it's gotta be the Hydra (chop off one head, nine grow in its place) and Palestinian "leadership."
one little piece of history that needs to be more front-and-center is Bibi's deep involvement in keeping Hamas going, mostly because he thought he knew they were the cynical scumbags he could work with.
if the joke was just on him, no sweat. but there are all these dead people and obviously, it's very bad for everybody.
the one thing that mystifies me: if the people who are supposedly souring on Biden are doing so because of his pro-Israeli stance, I assume that nobody's stupid enough to worry that they're gonna turn into TFF's minions. this is what I assume, but who the fuck knows how much they don't know?
This is a military FUBAR.
Tom, you stated things clearly here:
"As of the declaration of the humanitarian cease-fire last Friday, several things about the current conflict are clear, and none of them are to Israel’s benefit. Carpet bombing north Gaza with 2,000-pound bombs that destroy an entire block is creating a situation that looks more and more to the rest of the world like the Waffen SS destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. With the IDF playing the role of the Waffen SS. Against 1,200 Israelis and others who were killed on October 7 by Hamas, the death toll in Gaza now approaches 16,000 according to informed estimates."
This is certainly gone way beyond a proportional response. Time for Netanyahu to go.
The level of losses in civilian life and the David and Goliath feelings that have generated protest and abhorrence of this war have been effective. Hamas is not a nation or government. It is like ISIS. It has initiated a war, but not with expectation to win or take down Goliath and release the victims, in my opinion. I fear, that like so many things, it seems, Hamas is about performance, disruption, influencing, and creation of chaos in the ordering of power and nations. Yes, they are Palestinians and share the issues facing other Palestinians or suppressed people or minorities held in captivity. But, I think, their objective is performance on behalf of creating not governance but power outside the order of nations from among the rabble and impoverished and disaffected. A new strategy, not unlike street gangs and warlords across the world. They will not create anything, whether in the arts or science or medicine or governance because, like other borderless examples, the numbers, the gain, the brilliance is in how their acts play off the fears and paranoia of the supposed victims, nations or an identifiable people, Jews in this case and their supporters, the U.S., democratic countries, peoples with those who feel the pain of the child and are steeped in the history of the Middle-east and Europe in the 20th century. In the short term, it has achieved a disproportionate, not measured response from Israel and Israel's friends, revenge without compassion for those trapped on the field of retribution. I sense a stain growing where out of the blood of children and non-combatants a loss of empathy may form in which the world becomes weary in looking out for the persecuted, whether Jew or Palestinian or Ukrainian or Afhghanstanie or oppressed and forgotten people, perchance in our own country gets lost. Let the mob perform and we cheer the excitement, the battle of strong and weak, while we munch on pretzels and our beer, bereft of the facts or consequences for our way of of life and values once fought for. This war just might be one war too many, for some of us, as war seems to be the script endlessly rewritten to elongate a popular dystopian series only satisfying and followed by cliff-hangers and plot twists.
Thank you, TC.
Sensible essay. Especially the observation that a ceasefire works to the long term detriment of the two forces that prolong the suffering, and that’s the key to resolution.
Curious, TC, but may we ask you to draw upon your military historian’s framework to assess this bombing campaign? Considering the tunnels are the key to Hamas’ tactical strength, and that the Israelis aren’t dropping anything like a GBU-43/B MOAB, are the Israelis just delaying an inevitable small unit tunnel crawl?
Anthony Blinken is on his
way, or has already arrived
in Israel. Let's hope he's laying it down for Bibi, what
will happen to U.S. support
if any bombs fall on south Gaza.
Tom, with your extensive war
knowledge, do you have any
insight on the tunnels in Vietnam? Remember the
tunnel system under CuChi?
Were they ever cleared out?
I had read "The Tunnel Rats"
many years ago, about the
U.S. soldiers who went down
into the tunnels to clear out
VC strongholds. These were
mud tunnels, nothing as
sophisticated as Hamas has
built. My impressions, after
reading about the Hamas
tunnels, is it will take a
specialized bomb team to
destroy the network.
Who would enforce the ceasefire, who hasn’t failed before?
Who would assure aid would get to the people, who hasn’t failed before?
It is necessary to hold possibly contradictory thoughts at the same time to have any hope of understanding what is going on.
Example: clearly there are many people dying in Gaza, and even one is too many; also, the "Health Ministry" that provides Gaza casualty estimates is an arm of Hamas, who have a propaganda interest in high numbers.
Example: Netanyahu failed on many dimensions - corrupt, authoritarian, etc etc; and most of the country wants him gone; *and* the only way Israel has a chance of continuing to exist is if Hamas, which is openly dedicated to the brutal murder of all Jews and getting better at it, is destroyed.
Example: tragedy in Gaza (see example one) *and* the hostages of all ages (babies to eighties) must be returned, why is there not an international outcry insisting on letting the Red Cross deliver medecine to hostages and check on them? *and* the deliberately brutal rapes and murders of more than 1200 civilians in Israel by Hamas on October 7 were massive war crimes on behalf of genocide.