Almost 24 hours after Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a Gaza ceasefire, it appears to be largely holding. All Israeli forces have withdrawn from Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas has deployed 13,000 security officers throughout the area to deter rocket attacks. This should silence those rightists who continually claim that Palestinians leaders have never done anything to enforce calm in their areas. While Prime Minister Haniye says that all militant groups agreed to the truce, a representative of Islamic Jihad, in explaining why his groups launched rockets after the ceasefire said his group was not party to it. Haniye immediately disputed this characterization. Haaretz claims that three rockets were fired after the ceasefire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad (NY Times claims nine).
The Israeli government appears guardedly optimistic and Olmert announced that he’d ordered the IDF not to fire on Palestinian rocket crews. He also announced that his goal was to create an atmosphere that would lead to peace talks with the Palestinians. All this is excellent news. Some of it is unprecedented as I noted above.
But apparently, there are elements of both the IDF and the far-right political scene who are gnashing their teeth and already mouthing the expected imprecations. What I find strange is that Haaretz notes that IDF officers in the Southern Command have objected to an explicit civilian order coming from no less than the prime minister:
In army circles, and particularly at IDF Southern Command, there is a great deal of skepticism about the agreement. Senior officers have warned that without enforcement and an end to the smuggling of weapons through tunnels from Sinai to Rafah, the cease-fire is a dangerous development.
The officers maintain that Hamas is making enormous efforts to arm itself. They add that when the organization thinks it is ready, its members will resume the violence and then its military capabilities will pose a greater threat to IDF troops.
Senior security sources in Israel pointed out Sunday that leaders in militant groups spoke of a cease-fire only in terms of the Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, and did not commit themselves to stopping other forms of attacks in other parts of the territories.
What is ridiculous about this statement is that Israel did not offer a West Bank ceasefire as far as I know. So why would you blame the militants for not observing a West Bank truce if you weren’t observing one yourself?
I think this IDF chuffing and puffing underlies the tenuous relationship between civilian and military authority. In reality, Israeli security policy is run by the IDF with very little control exercised by civilian officials. After all, can you imagine the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff telling the Washington Post that he objected to a policy initiative of his commander in chief? Douglas MacArthur tried that ploy with Truman and it didn’t work for him. There has rarely if ever been such a MacArthur moment in Israeli history because the IDF essentially gets its way on most matters.
The rightist political parties are performing their usual stalking horse role for the military by echoing its carping about the ceasefire:
[They] warned that the militant organizations would take advantage of this hiatus to grow stronger in advance of a renewal of violent actions against Israel.
MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said,…”We are playing make believe. The cease-fire is imaginary. It will give the Hamas time to get reorganized.” MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) called on the government to rescind its agreement to a cease-fire, saying: “Israel is missing a golden opportunity to carry out a Defensive Shield 2 [broad ground offensive] in the Gaza Strip, and is in essence enabling the creation of a threat, Hezbollah-style, in the south of the country.”
Imagine, if you will, George Bush announcing a peace initiative for Iraq and the Democrats immediately rejecting it and saying we should carry on till the bloody end. Even if there were such pro-war Democrats remaining, I doubt even they would dare to denounce presidential policy. They might if the policy were tried for a period and it failed. But for the denunciation to come within 12 hours of its initiation seems the height of chutzpah. You know, the right always accuses the left of treason. You could make a reasonable argument that in this case it is the right that is acting in a manner injurious to the interests of the State.
The Palestinians have already violated the ceae fire.
Richard Silverstein says
Oh my. Oh dear. A few rockets have landed causing no damage or injury. The Israelis publicly admit they don’t even know where some of them landed. That’s sufficient to seal Palestinian ‘perfidy,’ isn’t it? Get real.
I never said this was a piece of cake. I never said we couldn’t lose this ceasefire due to rejectionists on both sides seeking to do mischief. I’m not starry eyed about this. But what’s the alternative? Steinitz’s Final Solution to the Gaza problem–full-scale military assault & pummeling till the Palestinians cry “Uncle” (whcih they will NEVER do)? If this is yr. “solution” as well then your views are as bankrupt as his.
Haniye has reconfirmed the ceasefire. Another Palestinian leader admitted the truce breach & asked Israel to be patient (something neither side usually says of the other). Yet you’re ready to give up already. In fact, you gave up even before the ceasefire was announced. And you’ll be dragged screaming & kicking to a final peace agreement when that day comes. All along you’ll be screaming: “They’re liars! You can’t trust them! They only want to kill us!” What will you be screaming after peace actually comes & you’re proven dead wrong?
You said the cease fire held. It did not. It didn’t even last a day.
And I’m very glad that the Qassams are not that accurate and usually don’t kill. Tell that to the residents of Sderot who lost loved ones this past month.
I support peace efforts. But unlike you, I’m not a liar.
If the IDF and government feel that they are willing to give the Palestinians another chance, I don’t mind that. On the other hand, if they choose to take action against it, I won’t start whining about what warmongers they are.
Richard Silverstein says
And you’re such an expert on ceasefires?! You make me laugh. Do you mean to say that every successful ceasefire in history has never ever been broken from the first moment it was initiated? The Lebanon ceasefire has worked fairly well and Israel violated it in several ways during the first several days. I didn’t see Hezbollah pour rockets down on Israel in reply. Both sides gave it a chance & it has held.
Except for militants like you, bellicose rightist politicians, and mutinous IDF officers who publicly renounce their civilian leadership’s announced policy, this ceasefire could work too.
Last I checked, you weren’t ‘Prime Minster’ Parkhurst, but merely Citizen Parkhurst. I think I’ll prefer Ehud Olmert’s opinion about whether the ceasefire is holding & so far he disagrees w. you. If he agreed w. you the tanks would be rolling back into Gaza right now. Here’s what Israel’s defense minister has to say on the subject:
If Peretz & by extension Olmert are satisfied, that’s good enough for me.
While I grieve for the 2 killed there in the past month, unlike you I also unreservedly grieve for the 400 Gazans killed by Israel’s merciless assault on Gaza over the past 4 months.
Ah, but you are. Saying “you don’t mind” the ceasefire is not an expression of support. Rather it’s an expression of indifference or barely concealed contempt. You do not support the ceasefire, you don’t give a flying leap about it.
The truce was approved by an Israeli prime minister who states publicly that he agreed to one in order to advance the peace process (whether I believe him or not is another matter). If you supported peace efforts you’d support the ceasefire he approved. Since you don’t, you are a liar.
“And you’re such an expert on ceasefires?! You make me laugh. Do you mean to say that every successful ceasefire in history has never ever been broken from the first moment it was initiated?”
No, but I don’t say that a cease fire has held when only one side has upheld it.
“The Lebanon ceasefire has worked fairly well and Israel violated it in several ways during the first several days. I didn’t see Hezbollah pour rockets down on Israel in reply. Both sides gave it a chance & it has held.”
Many people, including myself, said the same thing about Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. Yet Hezbollah has used that period of calm to improve its armaments and install itself as an independent militia, now threatening to overthrow the Lebanese government. And current reports have indicated that Hezbollah has already, with the help of Iran, restocked its missles to the pre-war level. Not a peep from the UN.
“Except for militants like you, bellicose rightist politicians, and mutinous IDF officers who publicly renounce their civilian leadership’s announced policy, this ceasefire could work too.”
It could, but don’t lie. And despite what you say, I’m not a “militant.”
“I think I’ll prefer Ehud Olmert’s opinion about whether the ceasefire is holding & so far he disagrees w. you. If he agreed w. you the tanks would be rolling back into Gaza right now.”
Ok, so if and when Israel DOES resume military actions, presumably you’ll take the government’s word for it.
Tell that to the residents of Sderot who lost loved ones this past month.
“While I grieve for the 2 killed there in the past month, unlike you I also unreservedly grieve for the 400 Gazans killed by Israel’s merciless assault on Gaza over the past 4 months.”
I grieve for them too. But I place blame on those who fired the rockets which led to retaliation by Israel. All after Israel evacuated all of its settlements in Gaza.
“Ah, but you are. Saying “you don’t mind” the ceasefire is not an expression of support. Rather it’s an expression of indifference or barely concealed contempt. You do not support the ceasefire, you don’t give a flying leap about it.”
No, unlike you, I am straightforward about what I say. I don’t mind it, and if it works, fine. But I won’t pretend that the ceasefire is holding when it’s not. If anything, it’s appropriate to give high credit to Israel’s government and military, who have exercised restraint in the face of blatant provocation.
“The truce was approved by an Israeli prime minister who states publicly that he agreed to one in order to advance the peace process (whether I believe him or not is another matter). If you supported peace efforts you’d support the ceasefire he approved. Since you don’t, you are a liar. ”
Logic isn’t your strong suit, is it?
Richard, or anyone,
Wonder why Olmert is doing this. I’m glad that for a while Palestinian children will not be killed and maimed by Israeli forces. [Altho Palestinian civilians will continue to die of starvation and disease.] I’m no longer so naive as to think that Olmert wants peace. So there is another motive. It’s not like anyone internationally or internally is putting pressure on the Israeli government to seek peace. In all previous times, there have been other motives. Well, in time it shall be revealed.
Richard Silverstein says
And I say again you know nothing about the history of ceasefires. In even the most successful truce scenarios there is often failure at the beginning. That does not mean that the ceasefire itself will fail as you seem to expect & even anticipate.
It is also a lie to say that the Palestinian side has not “upheld” the ceasefire when 13,000 security officers are scurrying over hill & dale to prevent more rocket fire and when both the president and prime minister continuously urge militants to toe the line and give the hudna a chance. One could easily argue that the Israeli brutalism against Gaza in which every government institution and every piece of infrastructure has been blasted to kingdom come has contributed mightily to the inability to establish law & order. One can legitimately apportion blame to the Palestinians for not doing more until now to reign in terror. But in doing that, one must apportion blame on the opposing party for willfully turning Gaza society into a chaotic mess through privation and abject terror.
As I wrote above, neither the Gaza ceasefire nor any Lebanon ceasefire can work in the long-term unless there is political will to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict. Ceasefires are not permanent solutions. They are temporary fixes meant to allow pursuit of broader objectives like settling nettlesome ethnic conflicts.
I have written endlessly here about what’s needed from Israel: regarding Lebanon, a return of Shebaa Farms and the Golan; regarding Gaza & the broader Palestinian conflict, a return to 67 borders. If Olmert thinks the truce he’s agreed to is a long-term fix, then he’s sadly mistaken. While he’s a devious SOB, I don’t think he’s stupid enough to believe that. So either he’s willing to explore a long-term solution or else he’s just biding time till the international heat bearing down on Israel for its brutality in Gaza subsides, after which the war will resume. I hope it’s not the latter.
I’ll just let my readers be the judge of that. Someone who believes in eternal war bet. Israel & the Palestinians; who deliberately confuses the Hamas of five or ten years ago with the Hamas of today; who finds Israel never wrong and Palestinians never right; who upholds the Occupation and retention of settlements; who refuses to accept the idea that the conflict can be resolved equitably so that both sides get something of what they want and need in a final settlement; who justifies Gaza starvation and misery as reasonable price for Israel’s “alleged” security: this person is what any reasonable human being would call a “militant.” Call yourself whatever you like. I & the vast majority of my readers will know what you are.
That’s the problem with your absolutist world view. You either accept Olmert’s views 100% of the time or you reject them 100% of the time. Ehud Olmert has said & done some things I’ve approved of (& said so here). Not many, but some. This ceasefire is one & there have been a few others. But you seem to unaware of a basic democratic right to agree with a political leader when he does what you feel is right and to disagree when he does what you feel is wrong. So I’ll let Olmert act & then determine whether I agree or not, even though that’s a dangerously relativist political mode for someone like you.
You’re entirely disingenuous. You only say you grieve for them in response to my own comments on the subject. You’ve never once here said independently of your retorts to my arguments–& in an unprompted way–that you grieve for any Palestinian. And if you do grieve for a Palestinian would you let us read an actual passage you’ve written anywhere (with link if it was online) in which you’ve said a bit more than “I grieve for them too” so we can verify for ourselves the validity of this claim? Saying five words on this subject does not prove you care a whit for Palestinian suffering.
The truth is you only care about Israeli suffering. Actually, you don’t even really care for Israeli suffering since your policy prescriptions would only continue and increase such suffering into the far distance. To you, the Palestinians are an inconvenient bug that threatens what you value most (& only)–Israel. And just about any tactic is permitted the host body politic to rid itself of such bug. But there are cases in which killing the bug also ends up killing the host. And that is unfortunately a very real possibility in this situation.
And you do, you do–ad nauseum.
But snarkiness is yours, I see.
The Raccoon says
Peace is a pipedream in the ME. Olmert is doing this because he is desperate – clutching at straws, trying to drum up some domestic support from the extreme Left since everybody else knows him to be the despicable little worm that he is.
And the lip service to him from various international bodies also doesn’t hurt.
Dead Palestinians are good for Palesestinian terrorist leaders, BTW. Which is the only reason they are dying. Every dead Palestinian which can in any way be conceivably linked to Evil Jooz is a PR victory for the terrorists. But then again, so is every Israeli concession. They just can’t lose… they even win if they’re dead, because then they get the houris. The Palestinian socio-political structure is a recipe for eternal war and suffering… just the way it was originally planned.
Oh, and Israelis can want peace ’till they float. It won’t help one bit… this is but one reason among thousands for the futility.
Richard Silverstein says
In Raccoon we’ve discovered someone for whom even Ehud Olmert is a leftist. That tells you where to place him/her in the Israeli political spectrum. Somewhere right of Benny Elon and Avigdor Lieberman, no doubt.
No, peace is a very real prospect. If it truly becomes a pipedream it will only be because of those, like you, who want to fight till the very last drop of someone else’s blood to defend yr perverted notion of Jewish/Israeli national honor. On 2nd thought, I see fr. yr ISP domain that you are in Israel which means you’re willing to shed yr own blood in yr doomed triumphalist march for Israeli supremacy. But that doesn’t mean that like Samson you should be allowed to pull the pillars down on the heads of all yr fellow Israelis & take them with you.
If I were as much an extremist as you I would reverse this statement to read: “Dead Israelis are good for Israeli terrorist leaders.” Phrased in such a way you can see just how hateful & extremist this odious individual is. BTW, I don’t believe that Israeli leaders are terrorists any more than I believe that Abbas or Haniye are.
No, they’re dying because of cynical people like you & cynical political leaders like Olmert & cynical Palestinian leaders like Meshal. You all deserve ea. other. I’d like to throw you in a locked cell together & give ea. of you a switchblade & may the worst gutter fighter win.
Again let’s reverse yr phrasing to see how similar it would be to an extreme Palestinian rejectionist like Meshal: The Israeli militarist/national security state is a recipe for eternal war & suffering.
Go & link to the Hamas covenant all you wish. It just proves how out of date yr notions about the Palestinians are. It is dated 1988. In 1988, Israel didn’t even recognize the PLO, let alone Hamas. The NYT ran a story in which it interviewed leaders of Hamas who didn’t know about the worst anti-Semitic epithets in this document and when told the document contained them denied it could be true. No one in Hamas pays a whit of attention to this nearly 20 yr old document.
And I could point to the passages from the Israeli Declaration of Independence which promise full freedom, opportunity & liberty to all citizens of Israel including Arabs. That’s been a pipe dream too. Because a single founding document of the State has been betrayed by Israel over the past 60 yrs. does this mean that I throw the entire State out with the bath water?? Of course not.
Hamas is no one’s ideal of a perfect interlocutor for peace. But fr. the Palestinian perspective, none of Israel’s leaders or parties are either. So what does it prove? Merely that ea. side will make peace w. individuals it finds odious to varying degrees. That by no means means that peace is impossible as you falsely claim.
Further, Israel will not be negotiating w. Hamas for peace if the national unity government is ever formed. Hamas has already ceded the right to negotiate on its behalf to Abbas. I haven’t heard you try to blemish Abbas record by calling him a terrorist though no doubt you do. But the key isn’t what you think because nobody here gives 2 shits about that–the key is what Ehud Olmert and the senior leaders of his coalition government think. If they have enough vision to see a peace process through till the end, then they will earn the accolades of future generations. The fact that they will earn a raspberry from you will only make yr discomfort all the more pleasing to the rest of us.
The Raccoon says
Richard… I have a dozen different replies to you, starting with pointing out that you apparently believe that you can read minds. It’s nice to know. And then we have misplaced moral equivalence, ad hominem, etc. Really an impressive collection for such a short text.
I won’t bother, though. Your rabid and baseless attack on me in conjunction with the rest of your reply show, unfortunatly, that
you might be somewhat unbalanced, so to speak. So please, enjoy your strange fantasy world. Pity it infringes on the real one.
It is always good to be reminded just how psychotic the adherents of the far left are.
Richard Silverstein says
Oh God no–anything but that!
I can’t tell you how many times pro-Israel rightsts here, when they don’t win the debate on pts resort to the feeble trick of attempting to insinuate I’m imbalanced in some way. When you’ve lost the argument, question yr opponents mental faculties. Man, are you people lame!
I’d say it’s you & your fellow zealots who live in a strange fantasy world–one in which Israel triumphs solely through its brutal military dominance over an entire hostile Arab Middle East; one in which Arabs have been extirpated fr. the precincts of the Jewish State; one in which the Palestinians have seen the virtue & true superiority of Zionism and sing Hatikva every day to start their legislative sessions, etc.
Im tirzu, eyn zo agada (‘If you will it it is no dream’). What is fantasy to you is a dream of peaceful co-existence that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians will will into existence over the carping objections of you, the Netanyahus, Liebermans, and the Meshals of the world.
For you to call me, a garden variety progressive Zionist, a “psychotic adherent of the far left” shows just how far off the deep right end of the pool you are.