Sometimes I plan to write a post, and then I read something similar elsewhere and abandon my plan. Today’s Jerusalem Post editorial tackled two topics that I wanted to cover, the nature of the Palestinian attacks on Sderot AFTER Israel evacuated every last Jewish civilian and soldier from Gaza, and the recent presentation by a UN diplomat attacking Israel for its actions and justifying Palestinian terrorism. Yes, an important UN employee explicitly justified Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians when “committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation… As long as there is occupation, there will be terrorism.”

The Jerusalem Post writes:

Led by Sharon, more than two years ago, Israel wrenched its settlers and withdrew its soldiers from the Gaza Strip. It left behind an unprecedented opportunity for Palestinian state-building and an international commitment to create a Singapore in the impoverished Strip, not to mention millions of dollars in farming equipment, including a world-famous complex of greenhouses. All these were wasted.

No other national liberation movement has ever garnered so much support and so much hard cash, nor been offered the opportunity to take major steps toward full independence by the unilateral withdrawal of the loathed “occupier” from a sizable proportion of its claimed territory. No other national liberation movement has ever spurned such opportunity with so determined an insistence on the terrorizing of neighboring civilians.

Israel is gone from Gaza. Yet Hamas has intensified its attacks on Israel. Palestinian refugees remain in their blighted camps. The notion of progress toward viable institutions of democratic governance is a bad joke.

The ruthless rocket attacks from civilian areas in Israel-free Gaza that have traumatized southern Israel and that claimed the life yesterday of Roni Yihye cannot be honestly construed as “acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation.” It is long past time for the learned diplomats of the UN, and all too many other international statespeople, to stop excusing the Islamist supremacists and ignoring their avowed and insatiable ambitions.

This newspaper recognizes that for Israel to remain at once Jewish in character and democratic, it must relinquish territory to which it claims a biblical and historic right and separate from the Palestinians. It looks forward to the day when the Palestinians will live peacefully, and independently, alongside Israel.

But Sharon’s “disengagement” did not advance that day. And the failure is that of the Palestinians. A mindset that loathes Israel more than it seeks its own freedom will not be remade by Israeli withdrawal or endless international funding and sympathy. A leadership inciting against Israel in its media, mosques and school system will not be rejected by the Palestinian public so long as much of that population is mired in a bigotry that inculcates permanent victimhood, refuses to recognize any shred of justice to Israel’s sovereign claims and extols the virtues of violence and death.

Perceived legitimization for such violence, furthermore, can only exacerbate the tendency. What the international community must do is show its abhorrence of the rocket attacks and other violence and incitement, eschew the Palestinian leadership that encourages them, and energetically support the faint voices of moderation and educational programs that offer the prospect of a changed Palestinian mindset.

The editorial concludes that Islamists wish to bleed Israel to death in the assumption that Israelis will pick up and leave. You know, shut down the country. The editors flatly state that Israelis aren’t planning to go anywhere.

Israeli bravado notwithstanding, the UN also criticized Israel on another front. First the good part:

“Despite statements of intent, Hamas has not acted with sufficient determination to bring about an end to rocket attacks by militant groups,” said Serry [the new UN special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Territories told the UN Security Council in his first report to them]. “Hamas itself also carries out periodic rocket firing and regular mortar fire, to say nothing of the recent suicide bombing.”

“Reports of smuggling continue to be of concern, as are reports of outside militant groups now gaining a foothold in Gaza,” Serry said. “We continue to call on Hamas to live up to the responsibilities it has taken on itself, and to choose the olive branch over the gun.”

…The UN “unreservedly condemns indiscriminate rocket and mortar firing towards civilian population centers and crossing points and suicide attacks against civilians, and calls for their immediate cessation.”

Ah yes, this sounds good. It’s not harsh criticism, but at least it is criticism and a nice contrast with the UN’s Human Rights Council rapporteur, John Dugard, who justifies terrorism. But of course, this being the UN with its history of stoking this conflict and singling Israel out in a manner that differentiates it from all other UN member nations, Serry expressed severe criticism of Israel as well.

“Israeli measures amounting to collective punishment are not acceptable. We call on Israel to meet its obligations toward the civilian population of Gaza under international law.”

He then criticized Israel for not adhering to the Road Map with respect to its obligations and praised the PA for keeping their obligations – even though, in theory, Gaza and the missiles launched from there are part of their obligations to cease terrorism. He explicitly mentioned Israeli construction in east Jerusalem as violation of the Road Map, equivalent to any other “settlement” construction.

But the whopper is the continued criticism of Israel’s relatively mild response to the ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas. Serry said:

“While we are cognizant of Israel’s security concerns, Israel is obliged not to take disproportionate measures or to endanger civilians. The UN’s principled opposition to extra-judicial killings is compounded by the frequency with which such operations are carried out in densely populated civilian areas.”

So they can’t attack Gaza, they can’t enter Gaza, they can’t conduct extra-judicial killings (which are really killings in wartime and perfectly legitimate), cannot take “measures” like cutting off supplies or electricity or shutting down border crossings because they harm “civilians,” and cannot carry out operations in populated areas even if the terrorists set up their operations there (in an attack today on terrorists who were firing Qassem rockets, Israel injured bystanders – i.e., civilians – who were watching the rocket launchings. The UN envoy feels this is wrong and needs to be stopped.

In other words, when the UN isn’t justifying and excusing Palestinian terrorism or criticizing Israel beyond all other nations of the world, it is actively undermining any potential actions Israel might take to mitigate the attacks against its civilians.

Of course, the UN is also busy doing nothing about Iran and its nukes, not to mention its constant stream of threats against Israel’s existence.

What a shameless and shameful institution.

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  • This is a mixed picture. I don’t begrudge the UN its “principled opposition” to extrajudicial killings. I take “principled” to mean categorical, and it’s a position worthy of respect– even as Israel or the US shouldn’t hesitate to take out terrorists when they can. We can’t afford to countenance Kim Jong-Il and Putin doing the same thing.

    I don’t read the quoted passage to mean “they can’t attack Gaza.” To say Israel is “obliged not to take disproportionate measures” simply states its obligations under international law. The same applies to the US; if we had razed Falluja from the air, instead of forfeiting Marine lives to take the city, we’d have gotten
    criticism on this ground.

    Do these documents deny Israel’s right to self-defense?

    The real problem here is that Israel has failed to act effectively against the rockets. A truly good-faith argument can be made that measures like quarantining Gaza are “disproportionate” when they don’t work. If someone tries to break into my house, and I reach for my gun and fire wildly, missing the intruder and hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk, my actions will get greater scrutiny. There’s a basis in law and logic for that.

    So the efficacy of Israel’s actions necessarily shapes the legal analysis. For this and other, far more important reasons, the failure of Israel’s armed forces, on the heels of the failure in Lebanon, to eliminate this annoyance on its southern border is deeply disturbing.

  • The IDF hasn’t been able to stop the rockets from Gaza because they haven’t really tried. Capping a few guys on their way to or from a launch is not going to do it.

    They don’t need to re-occupy Gaza necessarily, but they need to engage Hamas and kill large numbers of them. And when I say “large numbers”, I mean in the high thousands, whatever it takes. They also need to immediately cut all supplies of fuel and power to Gaza, etc. Israel is obligated to allow supplies in for children and women, etc., but it is under no obligation to provide any food, fuel, or power for an enemy territory itself. Israel needs to cut Gaza loose completely and force Egypt and the rest of the world to care for them, if they want to.

    Hamas is an army and this is a war. Wars end when one side kills enough of the enemy that they lose their will and their ability to fight. This is going to be horrible, especially for the innocent civilians of Gaza (if there are any such people), but nothing else will end it.

    This will certainly ignite the Northern border as well. Israel needs to be prepared for that.

  • If this is what Israel contemplates, it’s got until President-elect Obama takes the oath of office to make it happen. Bush will sign off on it. His successor may not. After all, if Barack proposes to talk with Raul Castro without preconditions, and believes Iran’s waxing influence in Iraq requires a sit-down with Ahmadinejad, he’s likely to favor negotiations with Hamas.

  • President McCain will be cool with it, though.

    Israel should have landed on Gaza with all four feet the day after the first Kassam fell on Sderot. Olmert’s “restraint” has been nothing short of criminal.