James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Posts Tagged ‘hamas

Better off Gazan … the humanitarian non-crisis.

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Yemini Ben-Dror brings us some impressive observations over at Maariv (Hebrew).  The Gaza Strip has a higher life expectancy and a lower infant mortality than Iran, Turkey, and many Arab countries.  Moreover, in part because of high fertility and a young population, it has one of the lowest death rates in the world.  Indeed, the Gaza Strip has a booming population growth that outpaces almost every other country.

These facts would not be possible if Israel were cutting off needed food and medicine.  The simple reality is that Gazans are better off than most of their Arab and Muslim neighbors.  There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Israel’s blockade is in place for security reasons and these facts conclusively prove that allegations to the contrary are completely unsupported by data.


Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Soner Cagaptay on Turkish Islamism.

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Soner Cagaptay from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy offers this observation at the top of his recent article:

At home, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has promoted the Islamist mindset of “us Muslims” in conflict with “the bad others” through the media and also by spreading Hamas’ views throughout Turkey, whether through official Hamas visits to Turkey or through AKP-supported conferences and fundraisers.

via WINEP – The AKP’s Hamas Policy: “Us vs. Them”.

While Cagaptay’s article goes on into other details, this observation is a core observation that many defenders of liberalism fail to make. Many people like to cast the war on terrorism as part of a clash of civilizations. That narrative serves only those who seek war.  Al Qaeda pushes this narrative for this very reason. If the war is between Al Qaeda and other extremist groups on one hand, and moderate Muslims on the other hand, then they will lose. But, if it is between Islam and the West, they have a chance of winning.

Whatever you think of the political ideology of extremist Islamism, you should want to defeat it. Defeating it means rejecting the divisive narrative pushed by these extremists. It is important, therefore, that we always make sure that our language is focused on those extremists who seek to do us harm and not on Muslims generally.

Written by JamesEJ

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 7:21 pm

The vicious barbarians of Hamas.

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My friend, Adam, is safe. The reason why that is newsworthy is that he is pursuing his rabbinical studies in Jerusalem right now.

When I saw the news of the terror attack on a yeshiva (a Jewish religious school) in Jerusalem today, I was immediately concerned for my friend. Fortunately, just seconds later, when I read that the shooting took place at Mercaz HaRav, I felt the guilty relief that my friend was not likely among the dead. When my wife and I saw him in Jerusalem last summer, he told us about the places where he studied. Mercaz HaRav was not one of them and it would have been extremely unlikely that he would have been studying there. Not long thereafter, I saw that his Gmail status said he was safe and at home.

It did not take long, however, before my guilty relief was washed away. Gaza’s streets had turned into spontaneous celebrations at the news. Hamas announced, “We bless the [Jerusalem] operation. It will not be the last.” This is the difference between the dominant cultures in Israel and in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Just last week, Israelis held rallies calling for restraint in Israel’s Gaza operations. When Palestinian Arabs die, Israelis do not celebrate. Even when we find it necessary to go to war, we lament the deaths of our enemies. When Jews are murdered, Palestinian Arab militants and their supporters cheer. Most likely, these events will only bring tougher security measures on Palestinian Arabs, and yet the militants and enemies of peace among them celebrate.

Some people complain often about Israel’s security measures and military operations. Their arguments rely heavily on the assymetry of power between Israel and, say, Hamas. My simple response is that we should thank God that Israel is far more powerful. Because, what underlies this power assymetry is a deep morality assymetry. Israelis care about Jewish lives and Arab lives enough to seek to minimize deaths on both sides. Palestinian Arab militants hate life so much that they seek to maximize innocent deaths on both sides. Where Israel takes precautions to avoid killing innocent bystanders, Palestinian Arab militants target innocents like they did today and like they do every day when they launch rockets into Israeli population centers. Where Israel tries to protect its population from the ravages of war, Palestinian Arab militants shelter themselves behind human shields drawn from their own population. Where Israel protects accused Palestinian Arab militants with rights under domestic and international law, Palestinian Arab militants either torture and kill Israeli military personnel upon capture or hold them for ransom in violation of all laws regarding the treatment of POWs.

There is no comparison in the morality of these two sides. Israelis suffer grievous harm because of the disgusting immorality of Palestinian Arab militants. But, even moreso, the innocents who are simply trying to live in Gaza and the West Bank suffer the some of the most terrible inhumanities because they must live at the vicious whims of Palestinian Arab militants.

If you doubt this, consider these facts and the sources that lie behind them:

Israel takes care to minimize risks to Palestinian Arab civilians and ensure that responses are proportionate (pdf).

Israel gives terror suspects many rights – considerably more rights than terror suspects have in the US – even in spite of the greater risk from terror in Israel (pdf).

Palestinian Arab militants, particularly Hamas, make extensive use of Palestinian Arab civilians as human shields.

Written by JamesEJ

Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Posted in israel

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