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Israel Redefines All Out War in Gaza

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak announced that Israel is engaged in an “all out war” with Hamas. He told reporters that the Israel Defense Forces will “deepen and widen” their assault on Hamas as needed, in order to halt the endless rocket fire to which Israel has been subjected since 2001.
For those who are counting, the total of Hamas shells which have fallen now stands at close to 11,000. But it’s Barak’s use of “all out war” that deserves attention – it is nothing less than paradigm shifting.
How often does a nation prosecute a so-called all out war while allowing humanitarian aid to cross its own borders facilitating medical care of the soldiers against whom they fight? How often does that nation place over one hundred thousand cell phone calls before it attacks, warning civilians to get out of harm’s way? And how often does a nation go to war while maintaining an ongoing commitment to avoiding civilian casualties even when doing so is likely to prolong the battle?
Not that such noble behavior automatically justifies the war. That conversation is ongoing around yesterday’s post examining both the justice and the wisdom of Israel’s actions in initiating this new level of conflict. But whatever conclusion one reaches about those questions, these are remarkable decisions for any army to make.
Israel’s definition of all out war is tellingly different from Hamas’ which called for a massive campaign of suicide bombings against any and all targets in Israel.


And this distinction in no way minimizes the suffering of Palestinians who have lost loved ones as a result of this war. Be they civilians or combatants, they were all somebody’s child. But these competing definitions do point to meaningful differences between these two governments and to what can be expected from each of them.
For years, Hamas has argued that it had no choice about its use of suicide bombers in cafes and on buses filled with civilians. They argued that such attacks were their only alternative against the the F-16′s, tanks and helicopters that Israel possessed.
But as the Israelis are now demonstrating, simply possessing a means of attacking one’s enemy, doesn’t grant immediate permission to employ that means. If it did, then there would not be 375 dead in Gaza, of whom 320 were active combatants. If it did, there would be 30,000 dead in Gaza and nobody would even care about their status.
I remain deeply troubled about this war, and still uncertain about its wisdom if not its justification, about which I have no doubts. But I am proud of any nation that defines an all out war the way Ehud Barak does and look forward to a time when all sides use that same definition. Ironically, if they did, I suspect there would be peace.



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Joshua Kitchen

posted December 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm


With all due respect sir, I’d like for you to walk in the Palestinians shoes for awhile. I am confident that not only will you be ashamed with your current attitude but will join the few but ever-growing awakening movement that is begining to see past the Aipac distorted propanganda you and others continue to speal. And at the cost of hundreds of lives, Isreals security and the soul and integrity of every jew and American on this planet.
Is anyone really reading what you just wrote and taking you seruouslly? The reality is that the IDF has killed hundreds of people, men women and children. How do you do that nicely? Your overtures of so-called compansion towards the Gazans are but flagrants attempts to asuarge your own guilt for these war crimes you support.
This is no war, but a massacre and the only reason Isreal is supported is because it has deceived the American public. All reading owe it tp both the suffering Gazans and Isreal to learn the truth. You will not find on American media. It is filtered by Aipac which serves also as a public relation propanganda machine designed to slant all the new coming from Isreal.
This is nothing short of deception a deception which is vital for continued American support without which Isreal could not get away and be sanctioned in its humanitarian crimes. Have no doubt these are war crimes paraleling the Warsaw Ghettos under the Nazi regime. Here are some links that reveal what Aipac is paid Millions of Dollars to repress, and discredit those who speak the truth such as Jimmy Carter.
This is one of the great evils of our day. Will the light of truth finally shine, and a desperate people finally find the peace and restitution they deserve?
Final, watch out for spin slants, especially ones that slant Isreal as the victems of Hamas rocket attacks, the truth is Isreal intentially provokes Hamas, Isreal has broken the ceasefire, and has blocked for medicine and food of months. Any human has the right to defend against such aggression I say that as a Jew who supports Jewish fidelity, just not at the expense of becoming a monster.
Love and peace. Please act.



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Robert

posted December 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm


While I applaud the measures you list, such as the cell phone calls, the humanitarian aid, all-out war is, what is the name for that again, holocaust? How appalling it is that the light to the world cannot come up with a better plan. Or maybe the Jews aren’t the light to the world any more.



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Scott R

posted December 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm


Well Robert, given that you vomited anti-Semitic crap that would make any Nazi proud on the Madoff thread, I’m sure we all know that you aren’t a friend of the Jews and would find a world that was judenrein much more pleasurable.
Trust me – you aren’t the light of anyone’s world either.
Joshua,
Two questions:
Can the Palestinians ever do anything wrong?
Is a Palestinian baby worth more than a Jewish one?



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Maria

posted December 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm


How can anyone call Israel a light for anything? This is an unfair war, and religion is stil used as a poor excuse to support this criminal actions. Israel keeps cashing with blood the white check of the Holocaust, a horrible crime not commited by arabs and not in the name of the Islam. Anyone who supports Israel´s actions is disconnected from his soul, from God and from anything called love. May the Universe have mercy on the american government and all the nations that decide to look the other way.



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Richard

posted December 30, 2008 at 10:42 pm


I am sorry Rabbi but this is not a war—this is a slaughter! I find it more than a little infuriating how you try to make Israel’s actions sound so noble. You say they let food & medicine in. What you fail to mention is that even prior to this “war” the Israeli’s had almost completely closed off Gaza by land and by sea. Hardly anything got in and next to nothing went out! According to many human rights groups and the UN most of the population of Gaza is barely subsisting and most children are suffering from malnutrition! Hospitals do not have supplies and people are dying! So please do not try to tell us how “humane” Israel is! A starving population has the right to defend itself and that is exactly the reason those rockets were fired by Hamas in the first place.
Face facts, the Palestinians have no real way of defending themselves. They have no air defenses, no heavy armor, no ships at sea. They just have poorly made rockets and small arms. They are fighting against a people who are armed with the latest weapons——–courtesy of US taxpayers–which they are using to slaughtering innocent men, women and children! (And if you truly believe that it is mostly Hamas militants that are being killed you are living in a dream world.) Gaza has 1.5 million people crammed into an area about twice the size of Washington DC and bombs are reigning down every day. Doesn’t it bother you that an entire population is being bombed for the actions of a few? It would be like someone bombing all of NYC to get rid of gang members.
This action by Israel is unjust and immoral and unfortunately our politicians don’t have the guts or moral decency to speak up. And the government of Israel has no humanity left in it so the killing continues. I think that no person of faith can condone such carnage and I think you should hang your head in shame.



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Liane

posted December 31, 2008 at 2:29 am


I am saddened by most of these comments. I live in Israel and believe me, when you live here, you experience a different reality — one that doesn’t appear on international news casts. Just a few years back, my family and I had to leave our homes in the North when Hizbullah bombed our quiet little town. Have any of you heard the sound of rockets slamming into the hillside just a few kms away from your home and had to calm your terrified children? Have you had to leave your homes because a terrorist organization was intent on annihilating you, just because you’re Jewish and you live in Israel?
It is all very well to preach at us when you are safe and sound and not in any danger. The people in the South have been going through hell for months on end, with constant rocket attacks on a daily basis. Israel is defending itself, pure and simple, from those who would wipe us from the face of the earth. My son is a soldier, guarding the border. He’d rather be home, or studying, or doing something else than shivering in the freezing cold, but he doesn’t have a choice.
Everything the Rabbi said is true. There are many recorded instances of Israel going out of its way not to injure civilians and this attack is no different. Why aren’t you criticizing Hamas for placing rocket launchers amongst civilian populations and then screaming Holocaust? They raise their children to hate, feed them on racist rhetoric, and demonize those who would make peace with them. Speaking for myself, I raise my children to have respect for everyone. But having said that, if someone is determined to wipe me off the face off the earth just because I’m Jewish, I will fight for my right to exist. And so would you.



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Sad Israeli

posted December 31, 2008 at 8:00 am


I totally agree with Lian. I am sure that if one small city in the States would suffer 1 bomb from Hamas – They would retaliate immediately – bombing the crap out of those who were responsible.
The Southern cities of Israel have been enduring as much as 100 rockets a day on their schools, homes for 7 years now ! Now, be honest with yourself – could you have endured 7 years of being bombarded day in day out without retaliating and making sure these terrorist couldn’t do that anymore? I don’t think so.
You know, as Liane said, it’s very easy to sit from afar and critisize Israel for its behaviour. It’s much more difficult to be at home and suddenly hear the sirene that alarms you that you have between 15 to 45 seconds to get to a safe place before a bomb will hit your town/school/house….
Israel didn’t start bombing Gaza on a daily basis just for “fun”. Israel warned Hamas for weeks in advance that if they were going to continue to send rockets into the southern cities – Israel would retaliate. And what did Hamas do? They upped the amount of bombs !
The Hamas terrorists are very smart in their ways – they hide in the middle of innocent quarters, in schools,hospitals, residential areas so when the Israeli armies bombs them- lots of innocent people are killed and hurt in the process. And then they show the world how cruel and bad Israel is for having killed children,women and old people who were totally innocent. What they don’t show are the arsenals of bombmaking facilities they also distroyed in the process and the fact this was all planned in such way that these innocent people were collateral and very effective propaganda for their cause.
They purposefully hide within the population to enhance casualties if ever they are caught. Now – if they would really care about life and their people – do you really think they would endanger the whole population? Do you really think they would send people, children out in the country to kill themselves with suicide attacks? Who in their right minds sends their children into streets where men are fighting ? People who are driven by ingrained hate,extrememism and with only one goal in life – anhialate the State of Israel and all Jews,Christians and all other religious believers…No matter what the cost ! Don’t you understand – it won’t stop with Israel… If ever they succeed (which they wont)to kill all the Jews, the Christians are next ! Then the Budhists, the gays,the Protestants and all the other non-Muslims in the world. We are heritics in their mind !
I feel very sad for the Palestinian people who have no choice but to endure the extreme and cowardly approach of the Hamas terrorists. I know they don’t want war, they want to be safe and live a peacefull life. But this is not Hamas’s agenda. And unfortunately for all involved – this means ….war – untill they stop attacking us with their bombs.



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windbender

posted December 31, 2008 at 11:08 am


Well put, rabbi. Very well put.



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Ruvain

posted December 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm


Dear Jo Jo
As Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” We know Hamas are vile terrorists beyond help, but our real problem is with our own weak corrupt ineffectual myopic leaders, and whom do we have to blame for that? Did Hamas elect Olmert?
The sole reason any Western Country supports Israel is the belief that Israel is a strong ally who can protect the West. (Believe me, it is a one way street. The West expects Israel to protect it. If we cannot, then “Bye Bye Jews.” We Jews are still expendable; it just isn’t supposed to be said in public.) But this is not 1982 when we took out Saddam’s nuclear reactor. This is 2 and 1/2 years after the fiasco of the summer of 2006 and Jews are still dithering over which corrupt incompetents should lead us into more disasters.
Obama’s history has already shown that his modus operanti is to shove yesterday’s friends under the bus, and he is gearing up to do the same to Israel. This Gaza folly was Israel’s last chance before Obama takes over and the war is being fumbled once again.
I recently spoke with a group of young Israelis who had moved to the United States. They explained that the Arabs weren’t the problem (“We can handle them.”) It was the corrupt Israeli leadership in business and politics which made their lives intolerable in Israel. Although it is Hamas’ policy to make southern Israel uninhabitable due to constant rocket attacks, Olmert and his ilk are making Israel uninhabitable due to endless corruption and incompetence.



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Your Name

posted December 31, 2008 at 4:34 pm


It continues to amaze me how blinded most people who are posting here are. Israel has been starving the Palestinians in Gaza ever since they had the audacity to pick a government that was not approved by Israel and the US.
It never seems to occur to anyone here that the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. I guess you all think they should just all starve quietly.
Israel has degenerated into a immoral racist state. You talk about Hamas teaching Palestinian children to hate. Well the Israeli’s do the same thing with their kids. They are told that Palestinians are animals and have no rights.
And Israel does NOT got out of the way to avoid civilian casualties! They happily slaughter at will. Then they lie and say that Hamas fighters “hide” in hospitals, schools, etc. That is all complete BS but I do give the propagandists credit for trying to place the blame for their slaughter on the victims.
If we lived in a sane, moral country we would demand that Israel stop it’s immoral carnage and then we should cut off ALL defense funding for their war machine until they come up with a REAL peace accord with the Palestinians!
Zionism is a form of racism and that is the truth. We should treat the Israeli regime like we did the apartheid government in South Africa.



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LAURA MUSHKAT

posted December 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm


It is so easy but for some reason the Arabs need others to get rid of their problems.
The man who gave the US govt realistic lies about hidden arms of destruction in Iraq admitted he did it so we would get rid of Sadam.
Now we have to get rid of Hamas for them.
When are they gonna learn they must sometimes go after people who are just like them but cause them horrors upon horrors! Meanwhile Israel get condemed by many.
Thats life in the middle east I guess and they wonder why all Jews arent just comming there to live in droves!
hugs
Laura



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Scott

posted December 31, 2008 at 8:27 pm


How many rockets could the City of Santa Monica fire into Beverly Hills, before they were stopped?
How many rockets could Mexico fire into San Diego before the United States would respond?
The only problem with Israel’s response is that it is too timid. Olmert is a dithering, corrupt fool.
The Palies know we are after the tunnels — the Gazans can move away from the tunnels in a few hours so we can destroy them. Instead, the dumb sheep that they are, they sit on top of the targets. When you know the missiles are coming and you refuse to move, that’s suicide.
The concept is simple enough for even a Palestinian to comprehend: MOVE away from the targets!



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windbender

posted January 1, 2009 at 9:10 am


While we all recognize the plight of those in need of medical supplies who are victimized by the restrictions on their availability, any balanced view of this requires some consideration of why this is the case. Seemingly, the ability to acquire and use Chinese rockets against Israeli civilian populations is a higher priority for the leadership within Gaza than medical supplies for their own citizens, much less and end to the fighting that would assure their ready availability.
Seemingly, the ability for those of a certain bent to decry the civilian status of 25% (by UN estimates) of those killed by the recent Israeli strikes aimed at halting attacks against Israel also imparts an ability to ignore both the percentage of Israeli civilians who die at the hands of Hamas and others, as well as the clear and obvious intent being to continue, rather than end, the conflict.
Blinders are remarkable things.



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Your Name

posted January 1, 2009 at 9:28 am


Friend Ruvian,
Obama’s clear and considtent message and method reflect a emphasis on the responsibility we all share to make things better. Wright didn’t get thrown under the bus, he got set off on the curb with a sign around his neck that read “please add forward vision”. Wright demonstrated the kinds of self-centric views of victimhood that are today entrenched in the propoganda the Palestinians of Gaza have been fed for a generation.
Obama’s forceful call will be for both sides to show respect for the value of cooperation and that both sides accept responsibility for long overdue change. For the Palestinians of Gaza, if they have the good judgement to recognize it, that effort can become a foray into the very new territory they so desperately need.



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Ruvain

posted January 1, 2009 at 1:01 pm


Dear Your Name,
Although I voted for Obama, I did it with my eyes open. He lied when he said he did not know about Rev. Wright’s social political views. That is like a member of Rick Warren’s church thinking Warren supported Gay Marriage, Obama sought out that Church for the specific reason that its Revolutionary Preaching and Victimization Philosophy would give him street creds in Chicago — a place where he was a complete stranger. When his mentor became a liability, he threw him under the bus.
Read about Obama’s early political connections in Chicago and Illinois politics and you will see that when people become a liability, they’re shoved aside.
Obama threw the Gays under the bus by needlessly inviting the most famous anti-Gay Thumper to give the inaugural invocation. It was akin to asking David Duke to the inauguration and wondering why Jews are upset.
Jews are not as powerless as Gays. Despite the fact that the Israeli leadership has been dominated by dithering fools for years, Israel is still militarily vital to US interests. The Jewish concern is whether Obama understands Israel’s importance to the USA or whether he sees us Jews as another expendable pawn in his coalition building. Machiavelli or Chamberlain? Neither is good for Israel.



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