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August 15, 2014

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PAGE 4A By David Box.nsin There are always two sides We are taught from an early age that there are two sides to everything. Two ways to view any argument. Two different perspectives-- at least. Why then, when it comes to the Middle East, is it so hard for anyone to admit that there might be two sides to what's going on? Why must there be only the Palestinian's point of view, or only Israel's? I can see both sides, and I know one thing for sure. They're both wrong. Supporters of Palestinians hold protests and decry Israel's actions, and supporters of Israel hold rallies and speak against terrorism and Hamas. And I watch it all from a distance, from the soft, easy comfort of my living room and understand one thing: nothing has changed. Palestinians live in squalor, with an economy in shambles, and an unemployment rate of 30 percent. Roads, buildings, homes, public facilities can all be found in ruins around nearly every corner. Israelis live doing their best to ignore the skies, hoping the Iron Dome holds, wondering if the next missile bombardment will find a school, a bus stop, land so close to Ben Gurion Airport internationa! flights are temporarily cancelled, or a commercial plane is hit, and allflights cease indefinitely. Israel is blamed for human rights viola= tions, and some are surely accurate. Hamas is a human rights violation, an organization bent on murdering innocents and destroying Israel, and must be inherently changed or dismantled altogether. Tunnels are destroyed, and so are people's homes. Teenagers are murdered, soldiers die, revenge attacks occur. On Aug. 3, shortly after a 72-hour cease-fire fell apart after 90 minutes (after which both sides blamed the other for being the first to cause it to crumble), an Israeli airstrike killed 10 people reportedly waiting in line for food at a UN school in Gaza. Israel reported that it was targeting militants on a motorcycle near the school, and that it does not target either civilians or schools andwas investigating. And Israel cited, once again, Hamas' use of human shields to protect military facilities and hide weapons. But in the end, does it really matter if civilians die and schools are bombed? Of course, Israel has every right to defend itself, and there is no defense for terrorism, for the horrific, outlandish tactics of Hamas as they lob missiles intentionally toward civilian centers. And of course, Israel must and should protect its citizens and secure its borders. But if the end result is merely a temporary cessation in violence, if all Israel gains is two or three years of quiet, and then the hatred boils over and the hostilities begin again, has anything truly been accomplished? Or has it merely been postponed? I ask you, what happens when Israel bombs a hospital in Gaza to take out a military outpost? Yes, Israel can cite its efforts to warn people to leave the area. Israel does whatever it can to avoid civilian casualties. But then the bomb- ing occurs, and for whatever reason, doctors and nurses and the ill and infirmed and aged die. Whether they were afraid to move or not allowed to move or too weak to move, they die, and the hospital is destroyed. What do we read online or hear in the news? That Israel has bombed a hospital, and that depiction of Israel breaks my heart. And in the end, when the fighting ceases and quiet resumes, what The vanishing two-state solution By Ben Cohen Speaking to a British television network this week, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron la- mented that "facts on the ground" were on the verge of wrecking the prospects for a two -state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cameron, it should be said, has consistently supported Israel's right to defend itself from the stream of rocket attacks launched from Hamas-ruled Gaza. At the same time, he be- lieves that there is no substitute for a robust, lasting political solution. That is why his anxiety about the two-state solution is likely shared by other world lead- ers. What's so frustrating, the international community reasons, is that everyone knows what a final settlement will look like, yet no one is willing to take the steps necessary to get us there. Insofar as a negotiated two-state solution is essentially a pipe dream at the present time, I think Cameron is correct to be wor- ried. One of the reasons it's a pipe dream is because, especially on the Palestinian side, the consensus behind it isn't nearly as strong as Cameron and others would like us to think. Hamas rejects it outright, of course, because its g0al--as CBS's Charlie Rose confirmed when he recently interviewed Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal--is the elimination of the Jewish state. The Fatah movement of Palestinian Author- ity (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is formally committed to a two-state solution, but its continued backing of the "right of return" for the descendants of Palestinian refugees, as well as its pursuit of unilateral recognition in international bodies, has left Israelis skeptical. As for the Israeli government, it's no secret that any willingness there may have been to make territorial concessions to the PA has been badly eroded by both the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and the renewed missile attacks from Gaza--after, remember, Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government of sorts. In this grim context, appeals for an immedi- ate, unconditional cease-fire in Gaza--a stance shared by the Obama administration, the U.N., and the Europeans--seem rather fanciful. Examined from the Israeli perspective, this demand is actually counter-productive. For if world leaders seriously think that the Israelis will return, when it comes to Gaza, to the status quo ante, then they either don't understand or don't care about Israel's strategic calculus. There are two big decisions facing Israel right now. The first one concerns the end Cohen on page 15A [THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. [   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Christine DeSouza HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ( $46.95 for the rest of the U.S. ) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, EO. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: I Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Lori Apple Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim 8hipley Ira Sharkansky David Bomstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 15, 2014 happens? With funds from Iran and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Hamas rebuilds the hospital and is touted as the sav- ior of its people, and Israel remains the hated enemy, the destroyer, the bomber, the killer... even as Hamas shoots hundreds of missiles willy nilly at Israeli population centers. Where does Israel win in this scenario? Where does anyone come out ahead? I come back again and again to the definition of insanity: doing something the same way over and over and expecting different results. On that basis, both sides are insane. Both sides need to change, or forever be trapped in the same cycle of bitterness and blood. Hamas has yet to rescind its vow to destroy Israel, and many say Israel cannotnegotiate with an organization that takes this stand. But lets face facts. Hamas cannot destroy Israel. It has tried for decades, and accomplished nothing more than hardening Israeli resolve. Hamas needs to wake up, shake off its own lunacy and realize this. And Israel needs to admit that Hamas' vow, ugly and shameful and evil as it is, is a lot of hot air. The ranting of radicals. Are both sides going to maintain the insanity, and avoid a peace process on that basis? I don't have any ready answers here. I'm not so sure of myself, so cocky to think I see the path to peace laid out clearly. I believe that behind the scenes, secret conversations take place between Israeli and Palestinian representatives searching for a way out. And I believe that more needs to be done. There are a few obvious steps that could be taken beyond a cease-fire. Instead of bombing homes, Israel could rebuild them, and hospi- tals, too, and schools and roads and public facilities in Gaza. Israel could reinvigorate the Gaza economy, and give its citizens fewer reasons to hate. At the same time Israel could make it clear that tunnels housing arms and terrorists will be destroyed, and any terror- ists who threaten Israel will be targeted and killed. Any expansion of settlements could cease for a specified period of time to take that controversial issue off the table and allow hot heads to cool. Relations between Israeli and Palestinian moderates could be strengthened, and public talks begin. On Hamas' side, there is so much to be done. Renounce the pledge to destroy Israel. Stop the missiles. Halt terrorist activities and allow a peace process to honestly, openly begin, or suffer the same results and force the people it supposedly represents to live in the same impoverished conditions they have for years. The first thing that has to take place, how- ever, is for both sides to admit that continuing along the same path is crazy. Right now, they're both in the wrong. It's a lose-lose situation, and only the certified insane continue in that direction for very long. And that's the good word. Send your thoughts, comments, and critiques to the Heritage or email dsb328@ Letter from Israel Current uncertainties By Ira Sharkansky Jews have been coping with uncertainty at least since those conversations between Moses and the Almighty concerning what should be done about getting the people out of Egypt. (See Exodus 3 ff) While the story of the Exodus may be mythic, there is no doubt about the ancient lineage of the Hebrew Bible, and its numerous stories about uncertainty. Dealing with uncertainty is part of the Jewish DNA. Now we're back to an Egyptian issue, and the chances of any simple plans being real- ized as desired are just as doubtful as in that Biblical episode. Among the problems are the extreme nature of Hamas' demands, some of which (a sea port and air port) the Egyptians have already said will have no place at the table they are managing. The betting is that Hamas may get a larger area from the coast for its fisher- men, and some assurance of aid and supplies flowing from Egypt and Israel, but not much more. Whether this leads to another round of fighting is anybody's guess. Increasing signs of governments, some of which Israel would like to consider as its friends, condemning Israel's actions. We hear about Israel's criminal and barbaric lack of concern for civilians. Yet from Israelis and those supporting it, we hear of an appropriate mode of fighting against Hamas aggression, and Hamas' exploitation of civilians and civil- ian factilities to protect their munitions and the positions from which they fired on Israel. Some of the explosions that killed civilians came from poorly aimed or poorly engineered missiles fired by Hamas, or perhaps from mis- siles intentionally firedagainst its own civilians in order to reap international support. An increasing number of actors wanting a role in discussions. Israel's preference is to manage this with Egypt alone, but there are others aspiring to gain credit and shape the outcome. The too many cooks will have their impact, perhaps only on the noise meaning nothing, or confoundingwhat might otherwise have been possible. Among the busybodies are the U.S., various European governments" and officials of the EU, plus Qatar, and Turkey firmly in Hamas' camp. Especially problematic is the promotion ofMahmoudAbbas byvarious parties, including Israelis. The old man is cor- rupt, has limited influence in the West Bank and much less in Gaza, but may be the most respectable Palestinian available. Renewed calls for his role says a lot, not especially en- couraging, about the capacity of Palestinians to shape their own future in positive directions. Against the condemnation of others, in- cluding governments that claim to be our friends, there is an unprecedented unanimity among Israels justifying what the IDF did, and demanding that Hamas not be allowed anything like its previous capacity. There are intense pressures from Israelis south and westward toward Gaza from Ashdod across to Beer Sheva. The theme is to prevent Hamas and its allies from returning those Israelis to the chronic threat of missiles experienced over the previous decade. While some of Israel's demands are unlikely to be realized (e.g., the de-militarization of Gaza), more likely are demands to impose controls over what is imported to Gaza and how construction materials will be used, i.e., for civilian but not military purposes. Also uncertain is the willingness of Israel's political leadership to implement draconian threats against the prospect of any Hamas return to violence. How quickly--if at all--will Israel escalate to attack areas used by Hamas to fire its rockets, including the schools, clinics, mosques, markets, or residential neighborhoods where Hamas chooses to hide its weapons and fire them. Among the proposals heard by various participants in the international discussion is the imposition of a two-state solution, or some other accomplishment of the aspirations associated by Barack Obama, John Kerry, and advocates for Palestine. Against this is Israel's fatigue or distrust of such aspirations, and the capacity of Israel to resist. Involved here is the military and economic weight of Israel, the lack of unity among western governments, and Israel's political capacity to convince the doubters or simply to reject what the Israeli leadership perceives as of doubtful value. On this and all else touched above, Israel's politicians and members of its government will not speak with one voice. This will pro- vide its own input into the larger picture of uncertainty. One guess is that nothing more will come out of the talks about to begin in Cairo than came from the inflated aspirations of Barack Obama and John Kerry concerned with the West Bank More likely is a fuzzy kind of agreement, per- haps not coming from any direct talks between Israel and Hamas, leaving things uncertain. Israel will be left to rely on its control of one border, Egypt's control of another, plus Egypt's animosity to Hamas and its parent Muslim Brotherhood to minimize the subsequent re- armament of Hamas. Israel will also be left to rely on th e death and destruction achieved, and the possibility of more death and destruction to dissuade Hamas from another adventure anytime soon. Hamas may be declaring its victory and its certainty of achieving great ends, but no one should take that blather seriously. Ira Sharkansky is a professor (Emeritus) of the Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.