Israel: Week Ending May 14th
War with Gaza, Unrest in Israel, Netanyahu Gets a New Lease on Life
Social Media is responsible for many evils in this world, primarily for enflaming and expanding hatred. Still, when the history of this period is written, this may go down as the first time social media helped cause a war. While the latest battle with Gaza was directly caused by only one thing the Hamas missile fire on Israel, which I will go into in a minute, the latest series of events began with a series of Tik Tok videos which Arab Youth posted at the beginning of the Ramadan, showing them attacking Jews leaving the Old City of Jerusalem. The youth tried to outdo each other in showing how they could attack unarmed Jews by having their attacks which included pouring hot coffee on unsuspecting Yeshiva students. The police responded by closing off the area immediately outside the Damascus Gate, a popular place for Arab youth to hang especially during Ramadan. This resulted in clashes between the police and the Arab Youth, in which the police repeatedly used stun grenades to gain control.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the racist elements of the Jewish society began taking things into their own hands. On the evening of April 20th, groups of Jewish youths marched through downtown Jerusalem chanting death to the Arabs and attacking any Arab they could find. Buoyed by now having one of their own Itamar ben Gvir in Knesset, they felt they could do whatever they wanted in Jerusalem.
A sideshow in this drama is events in Sheikh Jarrah. The attempt to evict a few Arab families is neither a small real estate dispute as some defenders of Israel claim, nor is it a massive attempt to evict thousands of families as Israel's critics claim. What is involved is a few buildings in the overwhelmingly Arab section of Seik Jarrah that were owned by Yemenite Jews during the mandate but were abandoned during the Arab riots of 36-38. The descendants of the original owners were able to prove their ownership in court. As part of a compromise, the course stated that if the current residents who have been squatting for 70 years paid rent, they could stay. They were encouraged not to, and thus the attempt at eviction. This would be a simple case of real estate law if the law were at all equitable. Our defenders will not say that our laws provide for Jews to reestablish ownership on properties in East Jerusalem while giving Arabs who fled West Jerusalem no equivalent recourse. In addition, the reacquisition of the homes in Sheik Jarrah is part of a long-term strategy by religious rightest in Israel to encourage Jews to move into East Jerusalem. However, what is not going on is a massive human rights violation, or for that matter, a violation of international law. Currently, the issue rests with the Israeli Supreme Court, which will not take up the case for another month.
The next main event took place on the Temple Mount. The protests centered around the Damascus Gate spread, and on Friday, May 7th, reached a pitch when police were attacked around the Temple Mounts' outskirts, and stones were thrown at Jewish worshipers. Under the command of a new police commissioner whose background as the head of Magav is the use of force, the police stormed the Temple Mount using stun grenades inside the Al Aqsa Mosque. While the assault may have been justified, it was stupid. The temple mount has been a flashpoint since 1928 and probably before, and the police actions are unforgivable. On the other hand, their efforts to gain control of rioting represent no attempt at changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, as Israel's critics claim
Things went from bad to worse on Monday ( May 10th) afternoon when Hamas gave Israel two hours to remove all police from the Temple Mount and Sheikh Jarrah, something Hamas knew Israel would not do. Israel had earlier ignored a few missile firings believing that Hamas had no interest in confrontation. Most of Israel was expecting a missile attack on Tel Aviv. To everyone's surprise, Hamas fired a round of seven missiles at Jerusalem.
Israel had no choice but to respond. An unprovoked attack on Israel's capital is not something that could be ignored, especially as that attack was combined with attacks on the cities closer to the Gaza border. Since then, there have been four days of the unrelenting fire, mainly aimed around the Gaza border and large barrages aimed at the Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport. The firing at the airport worked with almost all foreign airlines canceling their flights to Israel and Israel diverting all incoming flights to Ramon near Eilat. While Hamas has shown that it has been spending its efforts building an amazing
Israel has hit Hamas hard. It has done so with an amazing lack of civilian deaths. Some civilians have no doubt died, but almost all the dead seem to be Hamas and Jihad fighters, as well as some casualties from failed launches. Considering the amount of ordinance launched on Gaza, there have been very few civilian casualties.
The bigger question is what are all the Israeli attacks accomplishing, and what is the strategy? We seem to be continuing the dead-end strategy of mowing the weeds. Allowing them to grow in strength for several years and then when they think they might have some tactical advantage over us, they strike and we push them back. Hamas has produced many missiles since the last major confrontation in 2014, but it turned out that Iron Dome also has advanced. While it is not 100% effective against all rockets, it seems quite capable of dealing with barrages of 50-60 missiles at a time. But what next? I genuinely do not know. As long as Hamas is in power, there is no chance of reaching long-term peace. However, the Israeli public does not want to pay the price in the blood it would take to remove them. In addition, much of the Israeli right does not wish to have any serious negotiations with the Palestinian it's convenient to leave them in power.
I have been disturbed but not surprised by the reaction of the progressives in the Democratic Party. They have accused Israel of terror by taking means to defend themselves. During the first day of this mini-war, I was so disturbed that I wrote a Newsweek article about some of the comments. I also spoke about it on ILTV. However, there is a more significant problem that I can only describe as simple thinking by too many, especially the young in the U.S. A segment done by Trevor North on the Daily Show best summarizes the problem. He said that there is no historic right or wrong between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict according to North is like when his four-year-old cousins would bother him as a teenager- His mother would say ignore him even if he punches he cannot do any harm. Hamas is a four-year-old who cannot destroy Israel; thus, we are to ignore them. Tell that to the people in Ashkelon or Sderot, where missiles have gotten through our defenses and killed people. We have become the bad guys because we are stronger. I supported the pull-out for Gaza, saying once we pulled out, if they fired missiles, we could flatten them- I was wrong.
The most disturbing part of the week has been the violence between Israeli Arabs and Jews. The hatred on both sides is scary, and it would seem that all of the progress we seemed to have made in the last few years has been wiped away. There have been attacks on Jews by Arabs, including burning of a synagogue in Lod, and attacks by Jews against Arabs the most notable one by a mob of Jew youth in Bat Yam who went on a rampage attacking any business that they thought was Arab owned and then pulling and Arab out of a cab and beating him severely. The police did not respond in time or at all to many of the incidence. The police spokesman Micky Levi stated time and time that the problem was with Arab leaders not stopping the violence and then saying that they had not expected violence from Jews. I was furious with those comments, and after Owen Alterman, one of the reporters of I24News who was on the panel with me, lit into Levi about the policy failures in the past two days, I joined in as said the Levi that I thought part of the problem was first of all blaming the Arab leadership for the problem and the police not taking responsibility and second I wanted to know how after I heard the Mayor of Bat Yam state that they had known hours in advance of the plans of the rightwing Israeli to attack Arabs and had communicated the plans to the police why were there no police there in time to protect lives and property of Arabs- he had no answer.
Finally, on a different note, tangentially related. I run an extensive history website historycentral.com with a YouTube Channel with hundreds of historical videos, some I created by most Universal Newsreels. Someone left the below comment on one unrelated to Jews and the conflict ( on Governor Wallace and desegregation).