A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo (New York Times Op Ed)

A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo


June 3, 2010


IN the last few days, Jerusalem has been blanketed by an unusual combination of humiliation and steely determination. How is it, people here wondered aloud, that the same country that tripled its size in three lightning days in June 1967 and then pulled off the rescue at Entebbe nine years later now seems to botch everything?

We lost the 2006 war in Lebanon, believing incorrectly that our venerated air force could win the war from the skies. The strikes on Gaza in December 2008 were a military success, but we have utterly failed to convince the world that it was a defensive effort precipitated by eight years of Hamas’ firing Qassam rockets at us, killing and maiming and destroying any semblance of a normal life for Israelis living near the border. And then came Monday’sattack on the flotilla trying to break through the naval blockade of Gaza.

Yet, despite widespread criticism at the way the raid was conducted, few here doubted that stopping the flotilla was the right thing to do. Life in Gaza is unquestionably oppressive; no one in his right mind would choose to live there. But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; if anyone goes without food, shelter or medicine, that is by the choice of the Hamas government, which puts garnering international sympathy above taking care of its citizens. Israel has readily agreed to send into Gaza all the food and humanitarian supplies on the boats after they had been inspected for weapons.

Thus this flotilla was no peace operation. It was intended to break the blockade or to increase international pressure to end it. Its leaders, with the connivance of the Turkish government, set a trap, and Israel blundered smack into it.

But that does not make the blockade wrong. Hamas is a terrorist organization that completed its takeover of Gaza through brute force. It executes its political enemies at will. It is one of the world’s most misogynist regimes, allowing the murder of women for the slightest infraction of family honor.

Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, from Israeli territory and has held him for four years without giving the Red Cross any access to him, in violation of the most basic international standards of conduct. And, of course, Hamas openly insists that it will countenance no long-term peace with Israel; the resistance will not end, it says, until Israel is destroyed.

Like every other country, Israel has as its foremost obligation the protection of its citizens. Given that, why should it have allowed the flotilla to enter without inspecting its goods? If the United States were to impose a blockade on Iran (which seems unlikely), and another country dispatched a string of ships in a similar operation, is there any chance the United States Navy would let them through without inspection?

Israel will, of course, endure tremendous international condemnation for this week’s events. Sadly, though, we Israelis are becoming somewhat inured to such criticism. And we know that we dare not capitulate now.

It is no accident that Turkey sent the flotilla at this time. It is clearly cozying up to Iran these days, even teaming with Brazil to offer Tehran a deal on atomic fuel that would allow the mullahs to maintain their effort to build a nuclear arsenal. Ankara’s warmongering talk this week was not intended for global consumption; it was meant to show Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that Turkey is playing a new role in the Middle East.

Iran finances Hezbollah and Hamas and does everything it can to weaken and marginalize Israel, inching toward its vision of a world without a Jewish state. The West has known of Iran’s nuclear intentions for well over a decade, but has effectively done nothing. Israelis understand that we and we alone will have to ensure our security and our survival.

The recent avalanche of international condemnation is very painful for Israelis, who remember the years in which we were seen as a beacon of democracy and sophistication in a repressive part of the world. Those days are gone, of course, because of the world’s impatience with the “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza.

Our problem is that though most Israelis want peace with two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, living side by side we cannot find anyone to make a deal with us. A decade ago, President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, tried, but Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, walked away. Now the supposedly moderate Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, refuses to negotiate, as of course does Hamas.

Israelis are resigned to the fact that reason will not shake the world’s blatant double standard. Our blockade of Gaza is “criminal”; yet nobody mentions that Egypt has had a blockade of Gaza in place since 2007, and has never hesitated to use lethal force against those trying to break it. Israel’s attempt to enforce a blockade becomes an international crisis, while most of the world shrugs when North Korea sinks a South Korean ship. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his willingness to sit with Fatah leaders any time, anywhere, but they insist on mere proximity talks, which they will probably now scuttle, using the flotilla as an excuse.

Israel’s geographic vulnerability means that we do not have the luxury of caving in to the world’s condemnation. We will have to gird ourselves for the long, dangerous and lonely road ahead, buoyed by hope that what ultimately prevails will be not what is momentarily popular, but rather what is just.

[Credit: Both Text and Image from New York Times]

About Daniel Gordis

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, and a recent winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism.

48 Comments on "A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo (New York Times Op Ed)"

  • Zelda Dvoretzky says

    Bravo! Right on the money as usual. Alas, I am not hopeful that it will do much good in the present climate, but at least it made the pages of the Times.

  • Mark Albert says

    Agreed, but one point should perhaps be added. It seems that gone are the days of a forceful, capable and charismatic leader of Israael. Where is there Ben Gurion, Meir, Dayan or Rabin in the ranks of Israeli leaders? Where is there an Eban who can champion the cause at the UN? Where is there a military leader who can think as well as act in a manner that will not embarrass Israel?

    Somewhere, someone, somehow needs to come forward. Being an economic and military juggernaut is just not enough to stem the tide of worlwide condemnation these days regardless of whether the actions or reactions of Israel are right or wrong.

  • David Goshen says

    Everyone was quich to criticize the Israeli Army for using unproportional force and when the try to use unreasonable force their operation is described as bothed!
    The whole world is calling for lifting the
    partial boycott of Gaza ,a boycott which has never existed in this world between two sides who are officially at war.
    Sadly the world at large does not realise that removing the partial boycott will turn
    Gaza into a second Somalia as there are many
    waring Islamic groups who will penetrate the territory some of whom are more extreme than Hamas but want to unseat them.Gaza will be the hottest war zone in the region
    but when that happens Israel will be able to sut its borders with the territory,stop supplying electricity,water,medical services
    import /export services etc and those who pushed to end the boycott will have to police the eastern Medittranean to deal with the pirates as in the region around Somalia.Israel would be advised to stop propping arab regimes as it has done in the past a few times for Hussein ,Lebanon,Arafat & especially Abu Mazem whose regime is destined to fall to Hamas very soon.

  • William Freeman says

    Mr. Gordis,

    I am a long time reader of your columns and usually agree with most of what you have to say. I found your analysis of the flotilla incident, however, to be pretty unbalanced. I realize that this piece is intended for international consumption; had you been writing for an internal Israeli readership only, presumably you would have allowed yourself to be more critical of Barak/Bibi for authorizing this “botched raid.” But by being so monolithic in your support for Israel’s clearly irresponsible behavior, you weaken your credibility in the eyes of NY Times readers. You cannot be serious when you say that the reason that proximity talks are not moving ahead is only because of a lack of will on the part of Palestinians! What do you accomplish by putting the word occupation in scare quotes other than close the ears of your left-wing readers? The main problem I have with this column is that it does not distinguish between theory (Israel’s sovereignty, Israel’s right to defend its coastline, Israel’s obligation to impose a blockade on Gaza given who is in charge there) and practice (the wisdom of sending Marines onto a ship packed with a hungry mob of shahidim). Pity you did not use this column to talk about what your title says.

  • sholom eisenstat says

    Well said. All truly thinking people must agree.

  • Jens Jensen says

    Thank you for your article, Mr. Gordes.
    It is relevant and is founded on what I have learned to be facts.

    Two German female activist on the boarded boat, members of “Die Linke” (a political party and the successor of the East German communist party SED), “witnessed” to the press – after they were sent home by Israel – that they did not see any weapons in the hands of the activists. “Only a few wooden sticks” they claimed.

    The two ladies were, however, at the time of the battle locked up together with other women under deck. This was only mentioned in a few press reports. The press generally published their testimonies as if they were eye witnesses to the fight up on the deck without refering once to the video material already available. And this video material showed that the “activists” were well armed and determined for battle.

    The IDF had an impossible mission! No matter what they did, I am confident, Israel would be condemned by the world.

    The world is even upside down and full of hypocracy.

    My best greetings and respect to the men and women of IDF. Stand tall and never, ever give up.

  • Ed Yisroel Susskind says

    hat’s off ( kol hakavod)for your article. The unfortunate fact is that throughout history much of the world has viewed us with a gratuitous hostility. We need to do the best PR that we can, while still understanding that we will not get a fair shake from the world.

  • Kay Ohana says

    To Wm. Freeman: You seem not to fully grasp what is going on or else you are hoping the readers will agree with your twisted interpretation of Daniel Gordis’ article.

    Well said Daniel, and please keep informing the world of facts.

  • Joane Klein says

    This is a wonderful article, informative, substantive and comprehensive.

  • Joane Klein says

    This is a wonderful article – lucid, comprehensive and substantive.

  • Meir ben Avraham says

    This is a really superb statement of the problem, Danny. Mazeltov.

  • Edward Zinbarg says

    You are right to support the legitimate goals of the blockade, but wrong not to denounce the incompetent methods used to enforce it. The action need not have taken place in international waters (even if there was a legal right to do so) and the boats (which were, after all, just boats not warships)could have been disabled via Israel’s vaunted technology rather than dropping troops onto them.

  • Sandra L Cohen says

    Until such time as a complete investigation is made by a neutral agency (is that even possible?), I am reserving judgment, not that judgment is mine to render. There will be/has been a lot of ink spilled over this already–do I really need to add mine? The YouTube video that keeps turning up clearly shows bats being swung, but by whom and why? There is no context and I am not the first to point that out. Also, it’s DARK–people are in silhouette. With all my heart I want to believe Israel is just in the way it has responded in these last two horrific situations (Operation Lead Cast being the other). As much as I respect Dr. Gordis, he wasn’t there (on that flotilla boat) just like the rest of us. Speculate away if that’s what makes you feel better. I, for one, am so sad and so tired of trying to figure out what the truth is. I can’t begin to imagine how sad and tired the Israelis are. So, what IS the TRUTH?

  • Miriam Edelstein says

    Your op-ed was perfect, as usual. Wm. Freeman is totally confused (I’m being charitable!) This was a set up! If these people were truly humanitarian, they would have complied with Israel’s request to unload in Ashdod.Why did they not go through Egypt? Because then Egypt would use deadly force! And Israel could not be embarrassed. Why were there small children on board? (Again, hiding behind civilians and children). This was not a picnic excursion. No point in preaching to the converted…Please keep up your good work!

  • D. Bernard Hoenig says

    Kol Hakavod to you, Daniel Gordis.

    What you have written was honest and forthright.

    While you are probably right (as most of us feel) that the IDF “botched” its attempt at confronting the so called “humanitarian flotilla” (which was anything but humanitarian) I don’t think that we, here in America, have the right to criticize the Government for its handling of the situation. You, in Israel, have that right and I commend you for your honesty.

    Nevertheless, the bottom line is that this flotilla was clearly “prepped” for a violent confrontation with Israel. This is what Turkey and others wanted. Israel had no choice but to do what it did. No matter what was seen on the videos and despite all first hand reports, Israel will be condemned because of world hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to the Jewish people. What else is new?

    Israel must turn the tables and resolutely say “J’accuse” to Turkey, the United Nations and other terrorist sympathizers.

  • Ruth Farber says

    An excellent article that puts forth what is the real issue of the events. As always you clarify what is happening so that one can understand and appreciate what is going on.

  • Marjorie Kramer says

    An excellent op-ed. Hopefully the Times journalists will read it and lessen their one sided reporting on Israel, and understand the constant vigilence needed to defend and protect the Israeli people. Israel needs a more articulate and diplomatic government, a sophisticated and well prepared public relations section, and innovative responses to the constant barrage of provovative thrusts that allow its enemies to achieve a propaganda bonanza.

  • Thank you for this. While this operation does seem to have been tragically “botched,” I find the outrage toward Israel puzzling in light of the demands here in Arizona that the US military be sent to our border with Mexico to stop the influx of drugs and criminals (not to mention workers simply seeking employment). Border security by any means necessary seems to be the prevailing cry. But if Mexico’s stated goal was the destruction of the US and Mexico was lobbing rockets at Tucson, say, would Americans not expect the US military to stop a flotilla from landing in Baja California? Would we not want the contents to be inspected? The inability of so many to imagine being in Israel’s shoes, so to speak, is very disturbing.

  • Zvi Abells says

    To Sandra L. Cohen,

    You need not wonder who used iron bars (you called them “bats”,implying made of wood)and why they were used. The video is clear enough to see that the soldiers sliding down the ropes could not have carried iron rods. Also, they were attacked immediately on landing on deck. The why is obvious; to kill our boys.

    You also need not feel sad nor try to figure out the truth. Simply open your eyes.

  • Karen Ann says

    If Turkey is moving against Israel by cozying up to its enemies, then why is Israel willing to sell them planes and ammo?

  • Heni Weisfogel says

    One wonders how the U.S. would react if after giving Maine to Canada to settle a border issue , the Canadians began firing rockets on New york State demanding the U.S. relinquish that as well. Would the U.S. tolerate missiles being brought in? Of course not. Somehow the countries of the world including, I’m ashamed to say , the United States, have decided that peace in the region depends on Israel’s foregoing the right to defend itself from its enemies. I say to all Israelis,and Mr. Netanyahu in particular, ignore what others say. You have a right to live in peace and proect yourselves from your enemies. Sixty three percent of Americans ssupport Israel. For shame on the other thirty seven percent, including our President , who do not.

  • Ze'ev says

    Once again you miss the point.It being the utter incompetence of the current Israeli government and its Council of Seven “Sages”.
    Aside from the strictly tactical military bungle, Bibi is in Canada (who is steering the ship?), its the Memorial Day weekend in Washington DC (Let’s distract Obama during his Memorial Day ceremonies). But none of this is mattered to the imbeciles.

    Yes there should be a blockade . But, now it looks as though its only purpose was to give the Palestinians their own Exodus! Great!

  • John Jaffe says

    Many thanks for Mr. Gordis and his truthful, articulate, and courageous article–and very timely given all the amazing but mostly distorted anti-Israel invective out there.

    Daniel Gordis is a real asset to us all

  • Jim Tierney says

    You have it all wrong. First off, Istrael was successful in what it was trying to do. That is, to stop a violation of its borders. Additionally, it was successful in stopping this blatant provocation of this effort to break the blockade.

    Israel had two choices – To accept world criticism or to accept the beginnings of oblivion. The choice was easy.

  • Shelley List says

    Israel always seems to fall into these traps. To some extent that’s because we won’t sacrifice babies to the cause. But it’s possible to win the PR war if you set out to fight it. PR and military strategy need to work hand-in-hand.

  • Bravo once again. The hypocrisy/double standard of the nations is once again exposed, but who’s watching? Where is the criticism of America’s use of drones to target the assassination of those we call ‘terorists’? Where is the condemnation of N. Korea and its warlike behavior? Will we ever see the day when Iran’s m,ullahs and the dinner jacket puppet are called to task for their devotion to nuclear development? Of course not. The world really doesn’t care about fairness or justice or the need for a sovereign nation to defend its citizens and its borders from ‘activists’ who support the terrorist organization of Hamas if the defending nation is Israel. It’s Israel not right but always wrong.
    As to the writer who couldn’t identify who was yielding sttel rods et al, why would innocents have their faces masked so they could not be identified?

  • Len Bennett says

    Israel was suckered.
    Israeli intelligence should have known that this was a set-up. They know that Turkey has been cozying up with Iran, and Turkey and IHH were complicit in this venture.
    They should have been prepared to meet the terrorists.
    As for the world condemnation, what’s new?
    The Useless Nations are dominated by the 56-member Muslim block.
    Europe’s 50 million Muslims force the governments to condemn Israel of face riots.
    So Israel can defend either herself or commit suicide. The US, Canada, the Netherlands and Italy understand this.

  • Adina says

    On 6/2/20 I watched Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the subject on Israeli TV. That HASBARA video needs to be played on CNN and FOX in a loop, over, and over again, for the world to see as many times a day as possible.

    Netanyahu explained that there is no choice but to blockade Gaza, otherwise ships would smuggle missiles from Iran into Palestinian territory. If Israel lifts the embargo, Iran would be sitting freely in Gaza, aiming not only at Beer Sheva, but at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

    Netanyahu continued to explain: “If the blockade had been broken, it would have been followed by dozens, hundreds of boats,” he said. “Each boat could carry dozens of missiles.”

    Let me remind you: There is a real threat to Israel and there always has been. Israel has no choice but to defend itself from the enemy who declares death to Israel. This is really the issue at hand, the issue of survival of a small country called Israel. What was Israel to do? Allow any and all ships to enter its territorial waters as they please?… What other country in the world allows that?!

    Netanyahu accused pro-Palestinian activists of supporting terrorism. To that I add that this “peace-mission” ship was well orchestrated to provoke and smear the face of Israel around the world. Its only purpose was to trigger anti-Israeli emotions, and ignite the hate. Nothing is new here. They always called death to Israel, but now they are doing it in the name of peace!…

    Don’t be fooled. The Marmara was not bringing peace to Gaza, not even humanitarian items. If the activists were really worried about the people of Gaza, there would be more humanitarian items on the ship than activists! There would be a pigeon with an olive branch, not attackers with knives and metal objects, prepared well in advance for attacking Israeli soldiers. Netanyahu summed it this way: “That was not a ‘Love Boat”… the six ships constituted a flotilla of terror supporters.”

    The world has a very short memory. Does anyone remember the ship Karin that was stopped by Israel carrying massive ammunition to Gaza? What was it for? Peace?… And what humanitarian aspect was it covering?…

    One can argue many things but never the validity of the operation. In my book, an unauthorized ship that is asked many times to stop, and yet it continues to enter the territorial waters of that nation, is committing an act of war. Acts of war are met with a different set of rules, so why is everybody trying to explain and reason with this terror?

    Nothing has changed from 1948 to this date. The destruction of Israel is always on the mind of our enemies and IF ISRAEL DOES NOT DEFEND ITSELF – NO ONE WILL!!!!!

    With love of a strong and a beautiful Israel,


  • Nurit Greenger says

    In 1962, the United States imposed a naval blockade — a “quarantine” — on Cuba. Ask the temporary resident in the White House what would the USA have done to a “humanitarian” flotilla determined to help Fidel Castro place Soviet missiles 90 miles from Florida? Much worse than what Israel has done in this, hate, not peace, flotilla case!

  • Adina says

    Flotilla Choir presents: We Con the World — You must watch this:

  • ADLIN says


  • Rachel Fischer says

    There’s a small, perhaps irrational, piece of me that wishes the Israelis let the flotilla through to Gaza–and then keep them there. How much sympathy would the residents of Gaza give all of their supporters? Would they welcome them? ALL of them? I think not.

  • Brian Greenberg says

    One should wonder how the American navy would have responded had they been similarly attacked when we tried to enforce a blockade of Cuba to prevent the placement of nuclear missiles in the early 1960s. I suspect we would have sunk the boats.

    Perhaps a more compelling comparison would be Britain’s enforcement of their blockade of Palestine in the 1930s and 40s. They did not hesitate to sink ships audacious enough to try smuggling in human cargo – refugees from Nazi Germany.

    It’s hard to look at the current situation and not be reminded of a 1960s edition of the Superman comic book, “The Bizarro World” where everything was so backward that even Superman was bad.

  • Ruthie says

    We know that no matter how Israel responds or doesn’t respond, it will be deemed wrong. I believe no more excuses are needed when israel does what it must for survival. Yes, perhaps they could have had better intelligence regarding this ‘harmada,’ but who are we to judge when we have ‘no skin in the game?’

  • I believe that it was Mao Tze Tung who said that to a man with a hammer, every problem seems like a nail. Unfortunately Bibi, Barak, and Lieberman are not men with cool heads capable of weighing each situation, gathering information, and acting in a manner that will diminish the problem and not exacerbate it. They are truly men with hammers who resort to brute force with all the planning, thought, and strategy of a playground bully.
    The most frightening aspect of this raid is not that it was botched, but that it is yet another expression of the total lack of tactics, thought, and planning that characterizes all of our military actions since 2006. Our so-called leaders are incapable of weighing the threat at hand and offering a proportionate response, but go the whole hog each time. And when the world rises up in fury, as it inevitably does, the pathetic response is to bend over backwards and justify the disproportionate response as self-defense.
    It is time to stop believing that wielding hammers will keep us safe. The occupation must not be in quotation marks, Dr. Gordis. It is the bane of our moral existence today. Israel would be in a far better position to face the world’s criticism if we ended the occupation rather than expanded it, and the pathetic adventurers that call themselves activists who were aboard those ships would have no wind to fill their sails.

  • ENE says

    It was a complete and utter mess.
    Where is the strategic IDF that led the Entebbe raid and countless tactical, well-planned military operations? That bothers me far more than any international media image.
    There was the intelligence miscalculation already stated, causing soldiers to be unprepared for the actual situation.
    Noisy helicopter, lowering soldiers one by one to be “received” by mobs. Didn’t they see what was on deck?
    The Navy is an elitist corps, taking only the best – ask any Israeli kid, and here they were made to look like fools.
    A lose-lose situation whatever they did.
    How about waiting for the ships to reach Israeli waters, in which stopping them would be legitimate by any fair person – in this case, there would be more freedom to act. How about engaging our excellent Navy frogmen to quietly approach the ships from beneath and to have the surprise element on our side?
    How about letting the ships almost reach the border,and just letting them stew there for a week or two, as ex-Navy TV journalist Gadi Sukenik suggested?

    World media would have something to say whatever we did, but we didn’t really have to blunder in like utter imbeciles.

  • Monty Reitzik says

    While admitting small mistakes were made, remember the big picture -the Trojan Horse was stopped outside the gates.

  • Kay Ohana says

    The Trojan Horse may have been stopped outside the gate but then some dumb jerk open the gate and let it in. History records what happened next.

  • Robert F. says

    Memo to ADLIN:


    You might want to take your own advice. For example, take a look at the years 70 through 1948 C.E. Then reread Devarim and the prophets. Get the message? Hashem is not our own personal bouncer and bodyguard. “Chosen” doesn’t mean invulnerable and able to act with impunity; it means marked as the means by which Hashem gets his point across. If that means giving us the land of Israel, Hashem gives us the land of Israel. If it means expelling us because of our bad behavior, Hashem kicks us out. Don’t make the mistake of telling Hashem what to do.

  • Ellen Levy says

    As we know Israel’s sustained well being and strength effects not just a small strip of land in the desert..it impacts Jews everywhere! The Israeli response to flotilla incident not only was justified, it was necessary. As the tea party, Sarah Palin and hatred dominate the social and poltical scene in the U.S.The energy to make America a White Christian country grows. The Isreali government and people make loud statements and take decisive action. One can only hope that Americans open their mouths and start screaming (like the Latinos do)and close their purses to all factions of our society that condemn Israel!

    How can one faction negotiate with another faction that is dedidcated to the annihilation of Israel? The annihlation of Israel means the annihlation of Jews everywhere.

    We must be cognizant that when Israeli blood spills in Israel, It surly will follow throughout the diaspora. America is not exempt! Not any more.We have a population of home grown terrorists. They are multiplying like rabbits. Furthermore we have the radical right.

    What can we do? We scream loudly..not to blogs of the converted but to the general public. Share your experience of anti semtism. Comments that marginalize us..are beyond ignorance they warrant a response. The remarks are not innocuous they are seeds of poison! Let’s respond peacefully,loudly,and clearly to the perpetrators of hate speech. I have had enough and I am not going to be silent anymore.The internet diseminates poison of hatred effectively, efficienately,with spit firie rapidity. Didn’t Nazi Germany teach us that silence is not golden it kills Jews!

  • Sally Abrams says

    Dr. Gordis- I heard you speak last night in Mpls. and your talk was one of the most moving and articulate I have heard. Are you being filmed for You Tube? If not, you must! Your words need to reach the widest possible audience. Please!

  • anty violence says

    the minor violent details of the battle on the Mavi Marmara maybe less important than the daily violence, which is the standard policy of the HAMAS/MB/PLO leadership.

    israeli and the other civilized nations must support the liberation of the ordinary Palestinian citizens from the grip of their brutal leaders.

    A few ordinary israelis feel empathy and responsibility for the close neighbor. The majority of Israelis r

  • Sarah Borenstein says

    As a Jew, I was expulsed from Nasser’s Egypt in 1956. Who remembers the Suez Canal crisis, or our second exodus? Yet, as Jews we’ve been in the land of the Pharaohs since biblical times.

    In Europe we have been pogrommed out of every little shtettle. Just 3 generations ago, my own paternal grandmother’s Russian village was totally destroyed. My paternal grandfather’s village in Romania, same thing. In Leghorn, Italy, my maternal grandmother’s family was shipped to Nazi camps, courtesy of Mussolini’s regime.

    Anybody read Golda Meier’s autobiography – her childhood memory of Cossack hoofs thundering terror.

    As far as international criticism for this botched up raid is concerned, we as Jews are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Nu, what’s new here? It is also easy to criticize Israel from the distance, comfort and security of America the beautiful, the land of the free and the brave.

    If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…

    Thank you Mr. Gordis not only for your thoughtful writings, but for being an American in Israel.

  • Cookie Gonik says

    Mr. Gordis, thank you for a voice of reason. Your article clearly states Israel’s dilemma. Israel’s allies need to support her and not cower to international pressure created by terrorists with good PR.

  • Jack says

    Armchair quarterbacking is so very easy. Sure, it is easy now to see and say that it was a trap. Not a big deal to say so.

    But how many of you would have known for certain that it was. And assuming that you did what would you have done.

    The movies are great because magically the hero finds a way to overcome all odds, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

    The arab world believes that they chased us out of Lebanon with our tales between our legs. They look at Cast Lead and see another victory there.

    If we don’t end the blockade on terms that make it look like we gained the upper hand than what have we to show for ourselves. Not much.

    In the interim you stop the ships because that is just what has to be done, the world be damned.

    And to those who are dumb enough to say that iron bars aren’t really dangerous weapons, well try hitting yourself in the head two or three times and see how you feel.

    No soldier/policeman in any nation will allow a person to beat them with anything, fist, sticks or more. They will defend themselves and they should.

    It is narishkeit of the highest order.

  • What I like about Saving Israel is that Daniel brings up delicate, almost undiscussable issues and puts them on the table for review.

    Unfortunately, statements like the one in this article on Camp David: A decade ago, President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, tried, but Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, walked away. Now the supposedly moderate Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, refuses to negotiate, as of course does Hamas.

    Juxtapose that comment against that of Shlomo Ben-Ami and one quickly gets the sense that this is not a black and white, good guy, bad guy matter.

    In 2006, Shlomo Ben-Ami stated on Democracy Now! that “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well. This is something I put in the book. But Taba is the problem. The Clinton parameters are the problem” referring to his 2001 book Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy. .[23]

    Daniel certainly favors Israel, but peace will not be achieved without entering into the point of view of the “enemy”. I would suggest that Saving Israel would be better achieved following Martin Buber’s recommendations for authentic dialogue. Had that been done a long time ago – he pointed out in the 1920’s that the Arab question would be the moral litmus test for Zionism – today’s tragic realities would not have occurred.

  • Louis Lipsky says

    I think the nature of the Turkish connection here has been ignored. A May poll, reported in Israel Today, shows Turkish Prime Minister Erdouan’s Islamic party trailing neck-to-neck with the previous majority secular party, both with a little less than 40% of the legislature. Erdouan needs to rally support for his party, and what better mechanism than anti-semitism? This month, the Turkish Army was rocked this month by widespread accusations of corruption and prosecution of numerous senior brass. The Turkish army is considered the centurion of democracy and secularism in Turkey, in the spirit of their revered leader Ataturk, and has deposed governments there 4 times when it felt that the government was too close to suspending democracy or to imposing Islamic law. Amazingly, it has always reinstated democracy within a short time. Erdouan’s move on the army should probably be interpreted as a threat made to dissuade the army from contemplating any action against him.
    Erdouan’s sudden ferocious animosity towards Israel certainly reflects his own anti-Semitism as a Moslem, and his desire to reinstate the Ottoman Empire and be the unchallenged leader of the Moslem world. All in all, however, his timing and his choice of specific actions should, I think, be seen as a desperate campaign ploy.
    If his ploy succeeds, it is bad news for NATO, the US and Europe more than for Israel, and concerned citizens of NATO countries should tell the Turks that the implications of deserting Ataturk’s legacy in favor of the Sultans’ would be a tragic mistake, primarily for them.
    Israel should equip all the tourists who [depite everything still] go to Turkey with suitcase-side stickers in Turkish reading: “Erdouan, don’t use Israel for your campaign!”


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