First, happy new year to all my readers (no matter how few you may be). I hope the holidays were good to you.
As you no doubt are aware, Israel has once again attacked with missiles, bombs, artillery, tanks and ground troops one of the most densely populated areas in the world: the Gaza Strip.
Ostensibly, this was done to stop the rocket attacks from Gaza. Only the most apologistic of Israel's supporters really believe this. These attacks have been going on sporadically for years, with very few casualties (though every single death is awful and anyone authorizing the firing of those rockets against civilian targets should be considered a war criminal and brought to the Hague for a trial).
Now with Israel's latest application of the fifth most powerful military force in the world, not only have over 100 Palestinian women and children been killed, but more Israels have been killed in the last ten days than in the several years previous.
And does anyone really think this will stop the rocket attacks? I don't think there is a chance of that happening as long as Israel continues to treat Gaza as the world's largest open air prison, controlling (and greatly restricting) access to food, medical supplies, energy, etc.
Anyway, most seasoned observers think this invasion has more to do with upcoming Israeli elections, and the need for Labor (whose head is now the Minister of Defense - Ehud Barak, who is in my mind another war criminal who should be sent to the Hague) to show that it can be as tough on the Palestinians as the most right-wing Likudnik.
I am sure that is at least partly true. I believe, however, that the invasion and destruction of Gaza is first and foremost intended as a message for incoming President Obama. Israel (its civilian and military leaders, in any case) is showing that it controls events when it comes its own sphere of dominance. It is saying to Obama "We decide what happens around here, not you."
It is, really, quite a big and obnoxious "f#%k you" from Israel to Obama.
Think about it. With this invasion, Israel has forced a change in the agenda for the incoming President. Obama must (and intended to) focus on the economy and spend political capital immediately to get a recovery plan in place (one that helps more than financiers).
Yet now he must address the violence in Gaza, and what will he do? Is he going to do or say anything that is critical of Israel, thereby risking a firestorm of criticism in his first days in office? The Israel apologists will go ballistic: "See, we told you! He is no friend of Israel." No way. He is going to eat it, all of it. He is going to acquiesce to Israel's terrible and terrifying destruction and killing of innocents. He will join the chorus blaming Hamas entirely. And in doing so, he will send a clear message to the Arab world: expect nothing different from me when it comes to Israel.
Leaving Israel (its screwed-up, "kill now and kill later" leadership, in any case) to go further down the path to stoking flames of hatred, ensuring war, and diminishing its chances of survival as a Jewish state.
Poor Israel. Just when it most needs a real friend, it will force that potential friend to become merely another servant to the cause of Jewish extremists.