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The New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof can’t find any fault with the Palestinians — with everyone else he can find faults but not Hamas and the Palestinians. He writes in his latest opinion piece, Obama’s Long Shot for Peace, from Davos, Switzerland where the World Economic Forum was recently held that the Obama administration is now faced with a historic opportunity to move the MidEast peace process forward. He blames President Bush for failing in this initiative, and rightly so. He noted that President Bush

embraced Israeli leaders even when they responded to provocations by killing more than 1,300 people in Gaza, according to Gaza health officials — in retaliation for shelling that had killed fewer than 30 Israelis since it began in 2001.

(Kristof, Nicholas D., “Obama’s Long Shot for Peace“, The New York Times, January 31, 2009)

Mr. Kristof completely ignores the impact and terror that the past 7 years of continual rocket fire have had on the population of Israel’s southern cities.

Only 30 Israelis have died because Israel has done all it can to harden the buildings in those cities against rocket strikes and has built an early warning system to give residents time to find shelter. In the nearly 4 years that the Palestinians have been in full control of Gaza they have done little to nothing to build the economy, to rebuild it’s infrastructure, to improve the lives of their citizens. Rather they have used it as a launching pad to strike at Israel.

In his opinion piece Mr. Kristof notes that the Obama administration needs to move the two major parties — Israel and the Palestinians — in two major ways. First,

it must push to reduce the misery in Palestinian territories. A peace deal with the Palestinians is not possible today, partly because the Palestinians themselves are bitterly divided between Fatah and Hamas. But nothing can be done anywhere as long as scenes of Gaza suffering are unfolding on television screens.

That means that Israel must lift the siege of Gaza, completely opening the crossings.

(Kristof, Nicholas D., “Obama’s Long Shot for Peace“, The New York Times, January 31, 2009)

Once again, according to Mr. Kristof, the onus is on Israel alone. Never mind the fact that this was tried and the results ended up being the recent conflict in Gaza. Never mind the fact that the Palestinians have used every opening and relaxation of security measures to send homicide bombers into Israel to attack the civilian population — mothers, brothers, fathers, children. Sure, let’s open up the borders with Gaza, let’s remove the checkpoints — hell, let’s take down the whole security fence and see what happens. I can easily predict what will happen. The Palestinian Authority (not them directly but one of the militias), Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all the other terrorists will send a wave of homicide bombers into Israel that will result in the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Israeli civilians. Additionally, Hamas will likely resume it’s incessant rocket attacks against Israeli cities — perhaps hitting Tel-Aviv even. But, Mr. Kristof notes

If Hamas resumes its unconscionable rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, then bomb the tunnels or strike Hamas targets in a proportional way, but don’t escalate.

(Kristof, Nicholas D., “Obama’s Long Shot for Peace“, The New York Times, January 31, 2009)

Now if Israel, according to Mr. Kristof’s suggestion to the Obama administration, opens the crossings completely, what value is there in striking tunnels? With the crossings opened completely, Hamas will be able to bring in more and bigger rockets. Striking the tunnels when the crossings are open would achieve nothing. What about striking Hamas targets “in a proportional way”? Perhaps Israel should simply fire its own rockets back at Gaza just like Hamas does with their rockets against Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod. But then the world community would cry foul when Israeli rockets hit a house or a school and claim that Israel is committing war crimes. There would be calls for “restraint”.

Mr. Kristof suggests that Israel strike “Hamas targets” — what exactly are those targets? Police stations? Government buildings? According to the NGOs and the UN those targets are not “Hamas targets”. Hamas does not have military bases like any other army does. They use houses, schools, and other buildings as their staging and launching areas. In the video below the Al-Arabiya reporter laughs when she discovers that Hamas was launching rockets from directly underneath her news channel’s building during the latest conflict in Gaza.

Is that a legitimate Hamas target? Please Mr. Kristof, help the world define what is a legitimate “Hamas target”.

In addition to easing the Gaza seige by opening all the crossings, Mr. Kristof suggests that

Mr. Obama should also insist on a complete halt of settlement activity on the West Bank, and on an easing of the West Bank checkpoints that make life wretched for Palestinians. All that would also bolster moderates in the Palestinian Authority, making an eventual deal more likely.

(Kristof, Nicholas D., “Obama’s Long Shot for Peace“, The New York Times, January 31, 2009)

What Mr. Kristof appears to be advocating is a rollback to the Oslo Accord agreements state with Israel making all the concessions and no tangible responsibility on the part of the Palestinian Authority. I’ll grant him the idea that stopping the settlements and removing the roadblocks will be seen as a sign of good will on the part of Israel but during the time of the Oslo Accords such gestures usually resulted in increased terrorist attacks originating from the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

Mr. Kristof’s second suggestion to the Obama administration is to restart the Israeli-Syrian peace talks that have been going on for the past year mediated by Turkey. These talks have fallen apart because of the recent conflict in Gaza. However, this effort seems contradictory given that Mr. Kristof, earlier in his opinion piece, noted that “nothing can be done anywhere as long as scenes of Gaza suffering are unfolding on television screens” (Kristof, Nicholas D., “Obama’s Long Shot for Peace“, The New York Times, January 31, 2009).

It seems that according to Mr. Kristof Israel must again make all the concessions, take all the risks, and assume all of the responsibility in the MidEast peace process. In his calculus, Israelis must also assume any of the consequences and all of the blame should it fail. The Palestinians, in his opinion, are as innocent as babies. Tell that to the families of the 30 who died from Qassam attacks and the hundreds of others who died at the hands of Palestinian terrorists while Israel made great efforts to achieve peace with them.

August 2020

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