Diplomacy and Other Times to Lie

JJ Goldberg wrote an article for the Jewish Daily Forward in which he implies that the Netanyahu government lied its way into forcing Israel into an unneeded conflict. Goldberg argues that the Israeli government sat on the information that the three Israeli teens were likely dead in order to exacerbate the situation and that it wrongly blamed Hamas for the murders. Even agreeing with Goldberg that Israel did indeed keep details about the fact that the three students were likely killed and understanding that their murderers may not have had orders to commit the atrocity from Hamas leaders, it is simply not true that the most reasonable explanation of the Israeli government’s actions are as Goldberg describes them.

Let’s begin with the issue of withholding the fact that the tape of the call seems to record gunshots and that the car when found contained eight bullet holes. That information would have certainly resulted in outrage and potentially in revenge attacks the moment it was released. Would Israel have been better off releasing it immediately without substantial preparation for the fallout stemming from the outrageous murder by Hamas affiliated terrorists of three students? Or would it have been better to wait to put into place plans to address the situation? That the world, including the families of these students, didn’t know their fate until the bodies were recovered was certainly painful. However, it would not have been substantially better to have believed them dead, but not had their bodies to bury.

Regarding those Hamas members who killed Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, it does not matter at all that they did or did not receive orders from Hamas’ leadership. Why? Because Hamas came out in support of the action after the fact. Anyone remember the three finger solute campaign in support of the kidnapping/murder of the students? There is little difference between organized campaigning for others do copy the action and supporting the original action. I’m sorry, but it is ridiculous to argue otherwise.

It was ultimately the rocket fire that spun the situation out of control, not anything related to the murders of teenagers as despicable as those murders were. As the range of the rockets in particular came to be apparent, Israel ceased to have any choice. Hamas’ ability to strike the heart of Israel has left Israel no choice but to take substantial military action. Leaving this situation such that it could flare next week, next month, or even next year would be unconscionable.

Meanwhile, Hamas use of human shields, along with the bunkers and tunnels, prevents Israel from conducting a simple air campaign. Thus we’re looking at a ground invasion in the near future that can limit civilian casualties. Even then there will be many.

Goldberg is right that this is a war that perhaps no one wants. Yet it is a war that Israel has no choice but to fight.

May it be over swiftly and with as few casualties as possible, but more than anything, may it result in a long period of peace.

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May it come soon.

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4 Responses to Diplomacy and Other Times to Lie

  1. I agree with much of this, but I wonder if you’re also being overly simplistic with the chain of events. When, towards the end, you argue that Israel had no choice but to answer rocket attacks with a strong, military response, that is undeniably true, in my opinion. Nothing that was, or could have been done by Israel could possibly justify those deliberate attacks on Israel, and Israel was justified in responding as they did. Once the rockets flew, the die was cast. No question in my mind.

    But, saying that Israel is not to blame for the fighting is not the same as saying that Israel didn’t do *anything* to bring this about. Some of what I’ve been reading of late has accused the current government of passing up opportunities to build bridges, rather than incite more anger towards the Palestinians (see http://goo.gl/NMxefz, for example). Of creating an environment in which tensions build, in which violence is more likely, and in which the more radical elements in the Palestinian world have an easier time gaining support.

    I am absolutely *not* saying that this violence is, ultimately, Israel’s fault. Ultimately, Hamas is the one which launched attacks on civilians. The moral blame goes to them. But, I do worry about the possibility that the current leaders of Israel made this situation much more likely to happen. And so, while they may not be to blame, they might be partially responsible.

    Thoughts?

    • This article is mostly about the anti – Arab sentiments in certain segments of Israeli society that led to the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. I agree that the Israeli government could have made an attempt to address that before the murder. That is not however the situation with Hamas which realistically would have blown up sooner rather than later if not now, simply because Hamas wanted it to.

  2. it is important to stress that Hamas officials and various Muslim preachers were calling for kidnappings of Jews/Israelis back in May of this year. When the kidnapping took place, Hamas denied responsibility but endorsed and praised the action.

  3. yisraelmedad says:

    I think the withholding of the full contents of the tape have been mis-portrayed by all, even here. Besides the fact that without confirmation, Jews always assume a person is alive, even in this type of situation, the two murderers were heard later talking to a third Arab, in Arabic, saying “we are bringing three to you”. In other words, this was a better planned operation and indeed, the IDF did not want the world – and Hamas – to know what they knew from the tape and so they kept it under warps so they could track down that third (if not more) party.

    and as for JJ’s silly claim that Bibi exploited this to go after Hamas, well, good for Bibi (but bad that he needed this ‘cover’). If Hamas (and Salafists) are organizing in Judea&Samaria, we need to get at them anytime.

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