A replay of Operation Cast Lead would be stupidity squared
By MOSHE GIT
Reportedly, Judge Richard Goldstone, the person who headed up the commission that investigated Israel’s Cast Lead campaign in the Gaza Strip more than two years ago, became agitated when he heard Eli Yishai, Israel’s Interior Minister, declare that Goldstone would himself withdraw the report he undertook for the United Nations. Goldstone threatened that if Yishai didn’t retract his statement, he would take action to actively affirm the controversial report.
All this commotion was triggered by Goldstone’s recent article in the Washington Post, in which he expressed reservations about some of the report’s conclusions.
Although Goldstone’s op-ed did not completely disown the report that bears his name, Israel’s politicians and statesmen became elated: they were vindicated. Some Israelis read Goldstone’s article and concluded that Cast Lead was proper; the international condemnation of Israel that followed the Gaza war was unwarranted. This is a big mistake.
It is not the alleged war crimes allegations that render Israel deserving of censure, but the taking of civilian lives, for which Israel is not absolved in Goldstone’s Washington Post article.
For lack of a better word, Operation Cast Lead can’t be described in any way other than as stupid. For this stupidity hundreds of innocent civilians, including children, lost their lives. This was in addition to the loss suffered by fighters on both sides. What makes it even worse is that the futility of the operation could be envisioned ahead of time. (This is precisely what I contended in an opinion article, “Israel’s onslaught in Gaza is a step backward,” in the Feb. 2, 2009, edition of the American Jewish World.)
Nothing of value has been achieved. The abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit isn’t any closer to being released than he was prior to the operation. In fact, Israel didn’t so much as make its withdrawal from the swath of Gaza land it occupied during the operation conditional on his release. Apparently it realized the futility of such a demand, and the further disgrace the Palestinian rejection of it would cause.
On the international front, Israel’s conduct in executing Operation Cast Lead has greatly damaged her standing. Israel lost the backing of Turkey, a key power in the region. Foreign artists boycott Israel. The U.N., overwhelmingly and with an unprecedented majority, votes against Israel.
On the military front, the outcome has been just as damaging. The bombardment of Israel with Kassam rockets wasn’t halted, even during the operation, and after awhile even intensified. The Gaza Palestinians haven’t stopped arming themselves, now with more sophisticated weapons. Israel is witnessing now a daily barrage of Kassam and longer-range Grad rockets, mortar shells and the use of advanced anti-armor weaponry, such as the missile that last week hit a school bus. Recently Ashkelon and Be’er Sheba were hit. According to Israeli intelligence, Hamas now possesses missiles that can strike as far north as Tel Aviv. Just compare that with the six-mile range missiles that Hamas had in its arsenal prior to Operation Cast Lead.
Voices in Israel are now calling for launching Cast Lead II. This would be stupidity squared. The solution to the tragic impasse is for Israel to recognize and welcome the Hamas government (which rose to power in a free and democratic elections), to stop boycotting its leaders and to call for a genuine dialogue with them. An Israeli columnist just wrote that Israel never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Let’s hope he will be proven wrong this time.
Moshe Git lives in Minnetonka.
(American Jewish World, 4.15.11)