November 20, 2023
“The Agony of Impossible Decisions!!”
This is a posting that calls for careful consideration and extensive sharing.
There is clarity in Israel’s war with Hamas, just as there was clarity in the war waged by the West against the Nazis: we are dealing with a black and white situation. Hamas – which has decapitated innocent Jews and burned others alive, in total killing more than 1,200 innocent Israelis on October 7 – is pure evil and must be taken down.
Israel has a legal and moral right to defend herself, which in this instance means eradicating the jihadist entity dedicated to our destruction.
But in spite of this clarity, there is very little that is simple and a thousand decisions that must be made going forward to achieve our necessary goals within an extraordinarily complex environment.
The first situation I want to touch upon here is our very complex relationship with America. It is complex because Biden is playing a double game. I have had people ask me, “What do you want from the US? Look how they are supporting us – sending military equipment, defending us in the UN, etc., etc.”
Big sigh. Of course, it is true that we are receiving critical American support. But this is only part of the story. An op-ed – “The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas” – that Biden wrote or, much more likely, that was written for him, appeared in the Washington Post on Saturday. It sheds a bright light on the other side of the story.
From that opinion piece (emphasis added):
“This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever.
“A two-state solution — two peoples living side by side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity — is where the road to peace must lead. Reaching it will take commitments from Israelis and Palestinians, as well as from the United States and our allies and partners. That work must start now.
“To that end, the United States has proposed basic principles for how to move forward from this crisis, to give the world a foundation on which to build.
“To start, Gaza must never again be used as a platform for terrorism. There must be no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, and no reduction in territory. And after this war is over, the voices of Palestinian people and their aspirations must be at the center of post-crisis governance in Gaza.”
He has been singing this ill-conceived song, about two states for two people, for some time. But here he says the work to make this happen must start now. And he wants “commitments” from Israel in this regard. It is a commitment he is not going to get, and I look at what Prime Minister Netanyahu had to say about this below.
Biden wants to put the voices of Palestinian people and their aspirations at the center of post-crisis governance. But first we must ask what the aspirations of the “Palestinian people” truly are.
To shed light on this question, I share a brief interview of Marcus Sheff, the CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education. Under discussion are the startling results a recent survey that indicates that 86% of the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority support what was done during the October 7 massacre. And 98% of these Arabs feel more pride since the massacre.
Marcus attributes these attitudes to the education young people have received for generations now via UNRWA, which supplies textbooks and curricula. The young people of the PA receive the same education as the students of Hamas. Thus are their violent, hateful attitudes towards Israel the same. Thus are they similarly encouraged to act with extreme violence towards the Jews of Israel.
You will do a great service for Israel, my friends, if you distribute the link above, to the Sheff interview, in every possible venue. People must understand what the Palestinian Authority truly is and Sheff makes it very clear.
Marcus does not deal with this, but I will note here that Mahmoud Abbas has not condemned the October 7 massacre. If it is so widely approved among his people, he could not, could he?
Now Prime Minister Netanyahu has put out a video indicating that it’s worse than the failure of the PA to condemn the massacre:
“Today, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said something utterly preposterous. It denied that it was Hamas that carried out the horrible massacre at the nature festival near Gaza. It actually accused Israel of carrying out that massacre. This is a complete reversal of truth.”
He makes it very clear that placing the PA in charge of Gaza will not be acceptable to Israel. It is, in fact, a ludicrous notion, Biden and Blinken’s fantasies on the matter notwithstanding.
And so, it appears that our government is standing strong on this issue, as we absolutely must. We cannot allow gratitude towards the US or a sense of obligation to Biden influence our stance here in the slightest.
What I must note is a charge made by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that there are elements within the Ministry of Defense working to strengthen the PA with an eye to preparing it to take over in Gaza.
The political echelon makes decisions on this matter, not military or security personnel. But if Smotrich is correct, it is important to expose this delusional thinking and prevent it from influencing decisions going forward.
Why is Biden promoting the PA? Because, with his eye on re-election, he caters to the left. And, I suspect, because he is eager to show a “balance” concerning the situation in Gaza that will be satisfactory to a number of Muslim countries.
The game is politics, and it has nothing to do with being Israel’s friend.
At the beginning of the war with Hamas, Defense Minister Gallant, backed by the War Cabinet, had declared that no fuel would be permitted into Gaza. But at the end of last week, the War Cabinet decided to reverse this position and allow two trucks of fuel to enter Gaza daily.
And here we see an instance of an agonizing decision. In truth, there was no good solution here, only choices between various bad alternatives.
The fuel would go to UN trucks so that humanitarian goods might be delivered, and to allow sewer and water systems to operate in order to prevent disease. An outbreak of disease would severely interfere with our ability to continue fighting.
Officials are noting that the amount of fuel would be very minimal – some 2-4% of what would normally come in daily.
And we are being reassured that the use of the fuel will be monitored so that it is not taken by Hamas.
Not for a second do I believe none of it will come into the hands of Hamas.
And so, there is an impulse to yell stop! Don’t go this route. It is certainly my impulse. But in the end, I understand why this decision was made.
An unnamed Israeli official is cited by Times of Israel on this: The move “will offer Israel the necessary diplomatic maneuvering room to eliminate Hamas.” Netanyahu made comments to this effect as well.
The bottom line is that we are fighting this war in an environment of enormous and shocking international criticism. Unjustly and unreasonably, we are being accused of war crimes and deliberately harming the civilians of Gaza. There is regular discussion here about how much time we have before the world closes in on us. I have not written about this to any considerable degree but am keenly aware of it. Yes, we can, we must, continue to act, but the price we may have to pay might be considerable – loss of economic ties, sanctions against us, etc.
Enormous pressure is being put on Biden to act to shut down the war. The US requested that we allow these fuel trucks to come in. In this case, I suspect that acceding to that request was the right thing to do. This is not the same as agreeing to a PA presence in Gaza because the US wants it. This decision allows the US to respond to international pressure by pointing out that American efforts have achieved an improvement in the situation for the civilians. It buys time and provides us with the breathing room we need to continue our fight.
We must not, however, allow this to be a slippery slope, in which we accede to ever more requests/demands by the US until we get to the point of allowing the PA some presence in Gaza!
The accusation from members of the right here in Israel (and from conservative thinkers outside of Israel such as Daniel Pipes) is that Israel is falling back into her old, unfortunate pattern of making concessions – back to a time when we thought we could mollify Hamas by improving living conditions in Gaza. But I don’t see this as an apt comparison.
We are not trying to moderate Hamas positions. We do not imagine that Hamas will be more cooperative in any regard because of this fuel. If anything, it will be quite the contrary.
We are as committed as ever to the destruction of Hamas and making splendid progress.
I will follow shortly with a look at that progress, and perhaps more on the agony of these impossible decisions.
Pray to Heaven for Israel, my friends. Pray for the safety of our boys and the rescue of our hostages, and the strength and wisdom of our leaders. Pray with a heart filled with hope, not fear.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.