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January 07, 2009

Rosa Brooks Ignores Facts

Rosa Brooks' Los Angeles Times column "Israel can't bomb its way to peace" (Jan. 1) charges that Israel's military response to incessant Hamas terror was motivated by political rather than security considerations. To make her case, her column ignores several key facts.

First, the timing of the operation was dictated entirely by Hamas' terrorist actions and Israel's immediate security concerns. During the six-month-long (so-called) truce, Hamas fired "only" 300 rockets at Israel, an intolerable level of terror for any country to endure. However, after Hamas declared the truce over on Dec. 19, Hamas began firing as many as 80 rockets a day at Israeli civilians. No country could allow a situation like this to continue. Israel sought an extension of the cease-fire, knowing that Hamas would continue to violate it but hopeful that this would at least result in a decease in terror, but Hamas rejected Israel's pleas and called for Israel's destruction.

Brooks further suggests that the timing of the military operation reflected concern that when President-elect Barack Obama takes office later this month, he may be less supportive of Israel's actions than President Bush has been. But when Obama visited Israel in July 2008, he expressed support for Israel's plight in deeply personal terms, saying: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

No less troubling, Brooks dutifully notes the total number of Palestinian casualties, but she fails to acknowledge that many are combatants. She also takes no interest in the fact that Hamas fires missiles at Israeli civilians from the midst of Palestinian population centers -- a double war crime specifically intended by Hamas to manufacture Palestinian civilian casualties for public relations purposes whenever Israel tries to defend itself from Hamas terror. The result is an extension of the suicide-bomb metaphor to the entire population of the Gaza Strip: Hamas attacks Israel while "volunteering" the civilians it hides behind as de facto "martyrs." If Israel responds against the Hamas terrorists, and civilians in the vicinity are also killed, Hamas (and much of the world) can then cynically blame Israel for the civilian carnage that Hamas both provoked and intended.

Of course, Brooks does not bother to note that Israel goes to such lengths to avoid civilian casualties that it often gives up the element of surprise in order to warn Palestinian civilians who may be in harm's way before Israel targets nearby Hamas terrorists.

Finally, Brooks blames Israel for the failure of peace efforts in 2001. Perhaps she forgets that Israel offered the Palestinians a state born in peace on virtually all of the land in dispute, with a capital in Jerusalem, but the Palestinians rejected it in favor of a war of terror targeting Israeli civilians, especially children. Because the Palestinians could not get 100 percent of what they wanted at the negotiating table -- and note that their extreme demands included exclusive Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem's holiest Jewish sites, as well as a right to unlimited immigration into Israel designed to ensure that Israel itself became a majority-Arab state -- the Palestinians felt entitled to bomb and kill Israeli children en masse in school buses, pizzerias, discos, cafeterias, malls and ice cream parlors.

It is not Israel that needs to be prodded to make peace -- that failure lies entirely with the Palestinians and their culture of terror. It is a shame Ms. Brooks prefers to ignore relevant facts that would undermine her unfounded attack on Israel's morality and integrity.

- Stephen A. Silver

Posted by LG at January 7, 2009 02:23 PM

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