Gaza conflict heads into Day 12 and the commentary keeps flowing ….
Ha’aretz (editorial): The pressure on Hamas is growing. Its leadership may be having second thoughts that may bring it to accede to Israel’s conditions. The mobilization and training of reserve forces is meant to prepare for another potential phase of fighting, without promising either the world or the Israeli public that this phase is indeed necessary and therefore must be implemented. Nevertheless, it would be better for both sides not to reach this stage. The cabinet and IDF General Staff must discuss ending the operation before it becomes pointlessly bogged down. Achieving the optimal result – a long-term, stable cease-fire with no rockets launched either from or at Gaza – will require a clear-headed evaluation of the operation’s progress and a serious examination of the various diplomatic proposals now on the table.
New York Times (editorial): Israel has made it clear that it is in no rush for a diplomatic solution, but there will have to be one. That will require compromises from Israel, including acceptance of international monitoring of a cease-fire and an increased flow of goods and people between Israel and Gaza. Accepting those conditions would help persuade skeptics that Israel’s goals are as narrowly defined as it says they are.
Aluf Benn (Ha’aretz): It is still not too late to correct this mistake. In 2006, Israel was dragged into five weeks of attrition that ended in a national trauma. In 2009, it should call it a day and get out of Gaza – before the glowing euphoria becomes a painful hangover.
Reuel Marc Gerecht (Wall Street Journal): It is entirely possible that Tehran could overplay its hand among the Palestinians as it overplayed its hand among Iraqi Shiites, turning sympathetic Muslims into deeply suspicious, nationalistic patriots. The Israeli army could deconstruct Hamas’s leadership sufficiently that Gaza will remain a fundamentalist mess that inspires more pity than the white-hot heat that comes when jihadists beat infidels in battle. But with a nuclear-armed Iran just around the corner, the mullahs will do their best to inspire.
Etgar Keret (L.A. Times): The motives of vengeance, which drive us to kill those who have killed people we love, are completely irrational, even if we try to wrap them in rational packaging. We exact vengeance because we hate and are hurting, not because we excel in mathematics and logic … The only equation I can wholeheartedly accept is one whereby zero bodies appear on either side of the equation. And until that time comes, I’ll choose outcry and protest that appeal solely to the heart. I shall reserve my appeals to the mind for better times.
Thomas Friedman (New York Times): Hamas’s overthrow of the more secular Fatah organization in Gaza in 2007 is part of a regionwide civil war between Islamists and modernists. In the week that Israel has been slicing through Gaza, Islamist suicide bombers have killed almost 100 Iraqis — first, a group of tribal sheikhs in Yusufiya, who were working on reconciliation between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, and, second, mostly women and children gathered at a Shiite shrine. These unprovoked mass murders have not stirred a single protest in Europe or the Middle East.
Anne Applebaum (Washington Post): Until then, there is no point in bemoaning the passivity of the Bush administration, the silence of Barack Obama, the powerlessness of Arab leaders or the weakness of Europe, as so many, predictably, have begun to do. It’s no outsider’s "fault" that the fighting continues, and pretending otherwise merely obscures the real issues. Diplomats might be able to slow its progress, but this war won’t be over until someone has won.
Robert Scheer (The Nation): Why is it that there is such widespread acceptance, beginning with the apologetic arguments of President Bush, that whatever Israel does is always justified as necessary to the survival of the Jewish state? It is not. While the Hamas rocket attacks are reprehensible, they are also an ineffectual challenge to Israel’s enormous security apparatus, and the severity of Israel’s response to them is counterproductive. Clearly, the very existence of Israel is not now, nor has it ever been, seriously challenged by anything the Palestinians did.
Richard Cohen (Washington Post): As the leaders of Hamas understand, the war in Gaza is about Israel’s incessant fight to be a normal country. Maybe that’s impossible. The war between Arab and Jew predates the founding of Israel in 1948. For the Palestinians, it is a fierce fight for Arab justice, for Arab pride, for Arab myth — for ancestral houses and orange groves that few living have ever seen. For Israel, it is so kids can swim in a lake.