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The Long-Term Implications of the Israel-Hamas Clash: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nov. 21, 2012 —This clash did not begin with rocket fire but with ramped-up terror activity on the Israel-Gaza border, including the detonation of an explosive-filled tunnel that had been dug into Israeli territory and the firing of an anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep on a border patrol.
The Children Given Life In The Midst Of War: Nicky Blackburn, Israel 21C, Nov. 20, 2012— Mohamed is from Betlahia in Gaza, and his operation is taking place in Israel in the midst of a bitter and dangerous conflict that has seen both sides bombing each other continually for seven days.
Hiding Jewish Origins is Futile and Pathetic: Rabbi Dov Marmur, Canadian Jewish News, Nov. 15, 2012—The formal notice of the passing of Walter Carsen, the renowned Canadian patron of the arts who died last month shortly after his 100th birthday, stated that he was “of German origin.”…In fact, he was Jewish, as are his two children, which they only found out from their mother when they were in their teens.
New Jewish Museum to Open Next Year in Warsaw: Dr. Catherine Chatterley, Winnipeg Jewish Review, Oct. 25, 2012
Why Was There War In Gaza?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2012
The Truth About Gaza: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 19, 2012
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi,
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, November 21, 2012
The current clash between Israel and Hamas has been continuing in a mode of static warfare, marked by ongoing missile fire at Israeli communities from Gaza and Israeli aerial attacks on terror targets….This clash did not begin with rocket fire but with ramped-up terror activity on the Israel-Gaza border, including the detonation of an explosive-filled tunnel that had been dug into Israeli territory and the firing of an anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep on a border patrol.
These attacks, part of a long series of shooting and explosive-charge incidents along the border, showed how Hamas’ strategy had changed over the past two years. In Hamas’ view, the Arab Spring, which has become an Islamic Spring in the Middle East, has altered the balance of power between the Arab world and Israel.
Egypt, in the past a close U.S. ally and supporter of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah led by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), is now Islamist and led by the Muslim Brotherhood movement, the parent-movement of Hamas. Egypt’s new Islamist government regards Hamas as a strategic partner in the struggle against Israel. It musters all its political power to help Hamas in the international arena, including harnessing the Arab League to this mission. Indeed, it is through Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime that Hamas now enjoys the possibility of dialogue with the United States and Europe.
Hamas has also drawn great encouragement from its political achievements. Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh was received as a head of state in visits to the Arab Spring countries and Iran, and the emir of Qatar made the first state visit to Gaza and bestowed Arab legitimacy on Hamas’ rule.
The power-drunk mood is evident in the statements of senior Hamas officials over the past two years. In the past, Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin predicted Israel’s destruction by the end of the third decade of this century, and other senior Hamas figures said the next generation would be the one to witness the liberation of Palestine. Today, though, the tune has totally changed. Liberating Palestine “from the river to the sea” is portrayed as a fully realistic goal for the present generation thanks to the Islamic Spring, which has redrawn the map of the Middle East, and in light of the decisive role of the jihad-ready Muslim masses in giving the region its character.
Conversely, Hamas views Israel as floundering in growing strategic distress as Turkey and Egypt become major, bitter enemies within the Arab world’s new vision of its struggle. The Hamas leadership sees Israel’s political and military options, including the exercise of its right to self-defense, as increasingly limited.
In the context of the new balance of power, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal asserted that Israel can neither swallow Gaza nor eject it; that is, it has no real way of coping with the challenge Hamas poses to its security and, in the long term, existence. It was this that led Hamas to adopt a new, bolder and provocative policy that seeks to substantially and systematically erode the “rules of the game” that prevailed in the informal ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas, whereby the Palestinian armed struggle was kept on a low flame.
Although, in hindsight, Hamas made a tactical error regarding Israeli policy, its basic approach has not changed: it views each round of armed conflict with Israel as a stage in a long-term war of attrition…At the same time, Hamas sees these armed clashes as a means of inflaming the West Bank, thereby opening a further front against Israel and wresting rule from the Palestinian Authority….
Despite the military blows it has suffered, Hamas is coming out stronger from this round of conflict with Israel. Neither Egypt nor Turkey, nor any of the Arab League countries, has condemned Hamas’ rocket fire on Israeli communities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as a war crime. On the contrary, Hamas enjoys wall-to-wall backing in the Arab world, and the current crisis has highlighted Egypt as Hamas’ new patron since the closing of the group’s offices in Damascus. The financial aid that will flow into Gaza will enable Hamas to rebuild and even further develop its military infrastructure for the next round.
“Blockaded” Gaza is not blockaded at all. Its border with Egypt is open, for all intents and purposes. Hundreds of thousands of people pass through it, along with commodities at a rate of millions of dollars annually, together with enormous quantities of weapons, as the latest clash has made evident. This de facto open border with Egypt gives Hamas an important advantage in rehabilitating its capabilities and developing its military infrastructure.
The new Middle East has not brought tidings of democracy with Western values of human rights. Instead democracy has provided a one-time means for the Muslim Brotherhood and other movements to take the reins of power. The real aim is to institute shari’a law in stages – in the view of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood movement, the only real form that democratic values can take….
Although Hamas has tried to conceal Iran’s role in building the military infrastructure in Gaza, that role has been confirmed and officially acknowledged by Islamic Jihad. Fajr-5 missiles and other weapons have been ferried from Iran and Hizbullah to Hamas and the Palestinian terror organizations, and Iran has given much assistance in training the Palestinian forces for battle.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are prepared to cooperate with Iran even though it is actively supporting the Assad regime in Syria – which, over the past two years, has been committing war crimes against the Sunni population that reach the level of crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Iranian role reveals more than anything else the supreme common denominator between radical Shiite Islam and radical Sunni Islam. The two sides are able to overcome their profound differences and cooperate on the basis of a shared sphere of interests: the struggle against Israel, the continuation of the revolutions of the Islamic Spring, and the ejection of Western influence from the region.
Gaza’s transformation into a terror entity, with an extensive military infrastructure and advanced weaponry, removes the basis for any claim that territory is no longer important in the missile era, and demonstrates the vital need for continued Israeli control of key areas of the West Bank that, under any scenario, would give it even minimally defensible borders. A withdrawal to the 1967 lines would likely result in Israel facing yet another military and terrorist front that could, by linking up with regional actors such as Iran, Egypt, and Hizbullah, threaten Israel’s continued existence….
Once again, radical leftist organizations have come out in support of Hamas. In Toronto, for example, Canadian leftist activists have upheld Hamas’ “right of resistance” as evidenced in the current hostilities, ignoring the fact that international human rights organizations define such tactics as war crimes. The unwritten alliance between the radical left and Hamas rests on common demands that the West change its policy in the Middle East, stop supporting “illegitimate” Israel, and instead opt for cooperation with the rising Islamic forces.
Israel21C, November 20, 2012
Mohamed Ashgar is bored. The 11-year-old, who suffers from rheumatic heart disease, has been at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for a week waiting for surgery, but it was delayed because of poor blood test results. Now he just wants to have the operation and get back home quickly to his parents and his four brothers and sisters. His dream when he is finally well again – to go back to school. Ill health has kept him out of class for over a year already.
Sitting on the end of his bed in hospital pajamas, Mohamed has a cheeky face and a sweet, wide grin. He tells ISRAEL21c that he’d like to be prime minister when he grows up – maybe. It’s all so completely normal, except for one thing: Mohamed is from Betlahia in Gaza, and his operation is taking place in Israel in the midst of a bitter and dangerous conflict that has seen both sides bombing each other continually for seven days.
On Sunday, Mohamed and his grandfather Dahud, 58, who accompanied him into Israel, were in the hospital when a siren went off. They and the other children on the ward – many of them crying and scared — were hurried to the shelter, a room at the end of the corridor that doubles as a nurses’ cupboard with boxes of stationery and spare pajamas on the shelves.
The missile from Gaza was intercepted by the Iron Dome, but fragments of it fell a few meters from the hospital, causing a car to burst into flames. Another part of the shell was later found inside the hospital.
Mohamed is in Israel thanks to the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), a non-profit organization based at Wolfson that provides children from developing countries, often those ravaged by war, with heart surgery and follow-up care.
He’s not the only child at the clinic from Gaza right now. There are also two baby girls – Remas, and Leen, who has Down syndrome — and a six-year-old boy, Salah, who arrived with his mother on Sunday during the siren. In the midst of some of the fiercest fighting, they managed to come by car from Khan Yunis to Gaza City, and then by ambulance to the Erez crossing, where they were met by Israelis and brought to Wolfson.
There are Palestinians from the West Bank too, including six-month-old Losen, who was in surgery when the sirens went off. Her father, Ahmad Faygan, 30, a municipality worker from Tul Karem, said the only thing he could think about as the sirens blared was whether the surgeons would abandon his daughter to take to the shelters. They didn’t. There are five Iraqi children, and 18 others from Kosovo, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zanzibar – all mixed in together.
SACH is the largest program of its kind in the world. Aside from bringing children to Israel for lifesaving surgery, the organization trains physicians, goes on missions abroad to operate on kids, and has a weekly clinic on Tuesdays for children in the West Bank and Gaza. The 70 to 80 medical staff involved in the program all work voluntarily. All medical costs for most of the patients are covered by SACH.
The organization was conceived by US immigrant Dr. Amram Cohen, and founded in 1995 by Cohen and Dr. Sion Houri, now head of the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson. It began with Ethiopian children and broadened to include children from 44 countries. Cohen died in 2001 in a climbing accident on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Some 3,000 children have had surgery at Wolfson through SACH, of which about half are Palestinian, and 70 percent of these from Gaza. SACH also sends Israeli doctors to train cardiologists and treat patients in the developing world. In addition, SACH personnel at Wolfson train medical practitioners from developing countries — so far, nearly 80 doctors, including about 20 Palestinians – and work intensively with doctors in Tanzania and Ethiopia….
Does being in a conflict with Gaza make a difference to the staff? “From outside it might look strange, but here it’s routine,” says Houri, as he walks the wards of the pediatric department greeting patients, parents and nursing staff in a mix of Hebrew, Arabic and English. “It’s Middle East logic: At the same time we are bombing each other, a mother comes with her son from Gaza for surgery. Missiles are falling, but we carry on as usual. For us it’s normal to be so abnormal….
For the parents and children from Gaza right now, it’s no doubt a surreal experience. Their leadership is at war with Israel, militants are firing hundreds of missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and their own families are sheltering from Israeli retaliation. But here in Israel they are treated warmly and compassionately, and – most important of all – their children are being given vital surgery. “We are very glad to be here for the operation, but we really feel for our family back home,” says Dahud. “We aren’t frightened for ourselves; we’re frightened for them in Gaza. We feel more protected here.”
“We have family in Gaza and we’re very much afraid of what’s happening there, but we aren’t nervous about being here in Israel,” says 26-year-old Anfam Faygan, mother of Losen. “We have some anxieties about being hit by a missile, but we don’t feel any different from the other parents in the hospital. They treat our daughter as they would their own.” It’s her daughter’s second operation at Wolfson. Her first was at the age of 10 days. Her final corrective surgery was on Sunday. “The parents and children feel very safe in Israel,” remarks Houri, whose son is now serving in the Israel Defense Forces. “You can see they feel good, by their smiles.”
He remembers an incident some years ago when two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah were lynched by a mob of Palestinians. At the same time a Palestinian mother was at Wolfson with her child. “She was sitting outside the ward and she was completely white,” says Houri. “I had to calm her down. Here, now, people don’t seem to be in much anxiety. Their main concern is that people at home might get hurt, not that they are here amongst Israelis.”
Does all this work with Gaza have an impact on the situation? “Judging by the amount of missiles that have fallen on Israel, it doesn’t seem to,” says Houri ruefully. “We just have to do what we can. People know the reality. It’s not just one child from Gaza that we’ve operated on, it’s not something that can be hidden away. We’ve operated on hundreds of children. We’ve had all kinds of reactions over the years. At Wolfson, Palestinian and Israeli mothers sit down and talk to each other for the first time.”…
In the meantime, Mohamed is still anxiously waiting for his turn. If his blood tests improve, the operation should go ahead next week. His grandfather, who worked for 40 years in Israel, hopes that one day the situation between Gaza and Israel will improve.
“I used to travel all over the country for work and then go home afterwards,” he says passionately. “I’m hoping that these days will come again.”
Rabbi Dov Marmur
Canadian Jewish News, November 15, 2012
The formal notice of the passing of Walter Carsen, the renowned Canadian patron of the arts who died last month shortly after his 100th birthday, stated that he was “of German origin.” He’s said to have described himself as “European.” In fact, he was Jewish, as are his two children, which they only found out from their mother when they were in their teens. Carsen’s parents were murdered in Auschwitz. For much of his life, he was estranged from his brother who had escaped to South America, perhaps because the latter had affirmed his Jewishness.
In a lengthy obituary by Paula Citron in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 13, , we read that Carsen was born in Cologne into a family of assimilated Jews, fled to England to escape the Nazis and was deported to Canada as “an enemy alien” together with other Jews, many of whom came to play and important role in this country.
But when another deportee, Eric Koch, was preparing his book about the deportation, Carsen refused to be interviewed. Citron remarks, echoing a statement by Carsen’s daughter, that “his inability to come to terms with the Holocaust continued throughout his life.”
Like for so many assimilated Jews, “kultur” seems to have become for Carsen a substitute for religion. The universal nature of the arts may have appealed to him as a tool in his delusion that patronage would submerge his Jewish identity. Even his real surname, in the words of the obituary, “became part of his lost history.”
The story of Walter Carsen brings to mind countless others, among them Robert Maxwell, the British politician and media baron. He was born in what later became Czechoslovakia into a Yiddish-speaking family. Virtually all of its members perished in the Shoah. For a long time, he tried to conceal his Jewish origins and was even said to read the Lesson in the Anglican Church close to his stately home.
Encouraged by his non-Jewish wife and probably provoked by antisemitic slurs as his business empire began to unravel, he came to acknowledge his roots by promoting Holocaust education and supporting Israel. He was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. One of the eulogies was delivered by then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, in which he hinted at Maxwell’s services to Israeli intelligence….
Unlike Carsen, who by all accounts was a very successful and highly respected businessman, Maxwell turned out to have stolen countless millions from his company. This and his alleged involvement with Israeli intelligence gave rise to many speculations about how he died.
In her memoir, A Mind of My Own, his wife, Elizabeth, explores the complexity of her husband’s character and his burning desire for acceptance. She seeks to fathom what it does for a person’s identity when it’s coupled with an insatiable urge for wealth and recognition, and manifest in the mistaken – in Maxwell’s case – the belief that having survived Hitler makes you invincible….
The late Chaim Bermant, a distinguished British-Jewi8sh journalist and author, wrote about Maxwell: “The fact that he had fought in the war and been decorated for valour by Montgomery, that he had a stately home in Oxford, was a member of Parliament and was married to a Christian woman who was every inch a lady, did not, however, make him an English gentleman.”
Canada is more accommodating to ambitious immigrants. The fact that Carsen had given away most of his fortune to the arts, that he was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Canada, and that several institutions and funds bear his name did make him the Canadian equivalent to a British gentleman.
But it’s tragic that in the process he should have tried to conceal his Jewishness. Had he acknowledged his origins with pride, it’s very likely that he would have died no less honoured but very much happier. Carsen and his ilk remind us that hiding one’s Jewishness is both futile and pathetic.
New Jewish Museum to Open Next Year in Warsaw: Dr. Catherine Chatterley, Winnipeg Jewish Review, Oct. 25, 2012 —The new Museum of the History of Polish Jews is scheduled to open in Warsaw in early 2013. Designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki …the museum is built on the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto facing the famous Rappaport monument depicting the Ghetto Fighters.
Why Was There War In Gaza?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2012—Why was there an Israel-Gaza war in the first place? Resistance to the occupation, say Hamas and many in the international media. What occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza.
The Truth About Gaza: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 19, 2012—I was wrong to support Israel's 'disengagement' from the Strip in 2005. The diplomatic and public-relations benefit Israel derives from being able to defend itself from across a "border" and without having to get into an argument about settlements isn't worth the price Israelis have had to pay in lives and terror.
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