Why I’m Not at the Gilad Shalit Demonstration

Haim Watzman

Downtown is closed off, and it looks like half the country is there. So’s my wife, Ilana, who as a soldier’s mother identifies completely with Shalit’s mother. Give Hamas whatever they want, just get the boy home.

Gilad Shalit
As much empathy as I feel for the Shalit family, I can’t agree with that call. As the father of a soldier (two, as of the end of this month), I fear that these well-meaning demonstrators are unwittingly placing my boys in danger. Caving in to Hamas’s demands will reinforce an incentive to kidnap soldiers that, following previous deals, is already too strong. The message is: got demands? Kidnap an IDF serviceman and we’ll give you whatever you want (eventually, after talking tough for a few years).

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Commandoes against Demonstrators? Israel Shoots Itself in the Leg–Again

Haim Watzman

Why send a crack naval commando unit to quell a political demonstration? We don’t know all the facts yet, but on the face of it Israel has again overreacted and, in doing so, gotten itself into a situation much worse than it would have been in had it not responded to this pr gimmick at all.

The IDF’s Shayetet 13 is a legendary unit staffed with tough, sharp fighters. They undergo tough training and operate under the harshest of conditions. But they do not learn how to disperse demonstrations or engage in diplomacy. If the so-called Gaza rescue mission boats were carrying heavy arms and torpedoes, the commandos would have been the men for the job. But if the boats were carrying food, medicine, and several dozen deluded liberals, then the decision to send in the commandos is totally incomprehensible.

Israel has a right to protect its territorial waters. Not responding to the boats at all would have been problematic, and could have been seen as a precedent under which Israel gave up its right to supervise shipping to Gaza. And given that arms are shipped to the repressive Hamas regime by sea , Israel cannot allow free access to Gaza.

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Gilad Shalit’s Plight, And Israel’s Dilemma–The Forward

Haim Watzman There are many beautiful theories about how to bring Gilad Shalit home, but it’s an ugly fact that he now has been a captive for three years. And it’s an ugly fact that a series of Israeli governments have been unable to free him. Both diplomatic and military means have failed so far. … Read moreGilad Shalit’s Plight, And Israel’s Dilemma–The Forward

The Missing Mahatma: Searching for a Palestinian Gandhi

Gershom Gorenberg

If Palestinians adopted a Gandhian nonviolent strategy, could they reshape the entire conflict with Israel and finally realize a two-state solution? If so, why haven’t they done so? Or perhaps they really have at certain times and places, and Israel has broken that form of resistance as well?

Those questions have been asked for years, in variations of tone and wording, by moderate Israelis and Palestinians and by concerned outsiders. A while back, a colleague suggested that I investigate the issue in depth.

The question lead to a intellectual journey. My essay on that journey of exploration has at last appeared.

Here’s the opening:

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Tough Love: The Moral Choices in the Gaza War

Haim Watzman One series of questions posed to Israeli soldiers in discussions of war ethics goes something like this: If you were ordered to blow up a house where a terrorist commander was hiding, and you had reason to believe that enemy civilians were in the house, should the order be refused? If you were … Read moreTough Love: The Moral Choices in the Gaza War

No Wimps in SoJo

Haim Watzman

I would really like to punch Ismail Hanieh, the Hamas prime minister of the Gaza Strip, in the face. I would derive great pleasure from seeing every Hamas facility in Gaza reduced to rubble and every fanatical Islamic Jew-hater there blown to smithereens.

I just want to put that on the record for the readers of this left-wing accommodationist blog. Because, as always, some readers who disagree with me seem to think I’m a wimp. That rankles. I mean, I have nothing against wimps. Wimps can be fine people to know, especially if they are standing in front of you in a long line at the bank or have just picked the juiciest, finest-looking apple out of the pile at the supermarket. They’re so deferential, so anxious to please.

But that’s not me. In my guts, I’m as eager to bomb Gaza into the stone age as your average kindergarten bully is to push little Yoram off the sliding board. No cease fires for Yoram. Not even for a minute.

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No Happy Endings in Gaza

Haim Watzman I’ve got war refugees in my home today. I mean my daughter’s fellow second-year students from the animation program at Sapir College, located right next to Sderot. The campus is under fire and has shut its gates, so these budding cartoonists are unable to work on their projects or attend their classes. The … Read moreNo Happy Endings in Gaza

Obama in Israel: Political Implications

Gershom Gorenberg

Obama stopped through for two nights and a day, as if he were writing one of the New York Times travel pieces about how to spend 36 hours in some locale. At first glance, the trip was purely about photo-ops, gathering footage for later campaign ads that will air in south Florida. But there were some hints of real political content, as I explain in my new article at The American Prospect. Here’s one piece:

Hamas Walks It Back: On Wednesday morning, Israel Radio reported responses to Obama’s arrival, including this one: “A Hamas spokesman said, ‘The American senator is trying to reach the White House via Tel Aviv, at the expense of the Palestinians.'”

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Golan On The Table, Gaza In The Sights

In the past, when the press has reported that Israel’s leaders were talking to Syria about returning the Golan Heights for peace, I was skeptical. First Yitzhak Rabin, then Binyamin Netanyahu, then Ehud Barak signalled to Syria that they were willing to contemplate a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement. Yet, when I compared the price to be paid with the possible benefits, it wasn’t clear to me that the deal was a good one. What were we losing by holding on to the Golan, and what would we gain by giving it up?

In contrast, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was clearly debilitating our country, and we obviously stood to gain much by leaving them and allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Today, Ehud Olmert’s government is talking, indirectly, with Syria about returning the Golan Heights in the framework of a peace agreement, and with Hamas about a cease fire in the Gaza Strip. Now the benefits of an agreement with Syria seem obvious to me, while I’m skeptical about a possible agreement with Hamas.

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