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Cohen: Gaza, the next Iraq

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  • Cohen: Gaza, the next Iraq

    Gaza: Tomorrow's Iraq

    By Richard Cohen
    Tuesday, August 16, 2005; A13

    It is the solemn obligation of a columnist to connect the dots. So let's call one dot Iraq and another the Gaza Strip, and note that while they are far different in history and circumstance, they are both places where Western democracies, the United States and Israel, are being defeated by a common enemy, terrorism. What is happening in Gaza today will happen in Iraq tomorrow.

    In both cases politicians will assert that it is not terrorism that has forced their hands. President Bush says this over and over again: denunciations of evil, vows to get the job done, fulsome praise for Iraq's remarkably brave democrats. But the fact remains that Iraq is coming apart -- the Kurds into their own state (with their own flag), the Sunnis into their own armed camps, and the dominant Shiites forming an Islamic republic that will in due course become our declared enemy.

    Similarly, Israeli politicians assert that it is not terrorism that has chased Israel from Gaza but the realization that a minority of Jews (about 8,500) cannot manage a majority of Arabs (more than 1 million), and this is surely the case. But it was terrorism that made that point so powerfully. After all, Israel took Gaza from Egypt in the 1967 war. It took 20 years for the Palestinians there to launch their first uprising. Without the violence, Israelis would still be farming in Gaza.

    Israel in Gaza, like America in Iraq, underestimated its enemy. Palestinians have been tenacious, not merely fighting but doing so in ways that elude our understanding. Since the 1993 Oslo accords, there have been more than 90 suicide bombings. Israel has responded wisely by erecting a security fence. It has not responded by pulling out of the West Bank. But what's true in Gaza is also true in the West Bank. For Israel, the numbers are all wrong -- too many Palestinians, too few Jews. Ultimately demographics will trump Zionism.

    The same holds for Iraq. There, suicide bombings are an almost daily occurrence -- more than 400 since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The guerrillas, the insurgents, the terrorists -- who are those guys, anyway? -- attack U.S. forces an average of 65 times a day. The insurgency is unrelenting, and so is the mayhem. Sunnis and Shiites are at each other's throats, killing and retaliating and killing some more. No one, it seems, can figure out who is allied with whom. The thing's a morass, a mess, a mystery and, unforgivably, a surprise. This was not supposed to happen. American troops would be greeted as liberators. Remember? There would be no insurgency. Where would it come from? What would be its purpose? Who would possibly die for such a cause?

    The smug ignorance is appalling. We understood so little about Iraq. We thought it was just another place where people wanted to be free and vote for the school board. Even today U.S. officials cling to their ethnocentric aspirations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice likened the Alabama of her youth -- racist, sometimes violently so -- to Iraq and Afghanistan. "I look at [our history] and I say what seemed impossible on one day now seems inevitable," she recently told Time magazine. "Well, that's the way great historical changes are [made]. And it's why I have enormous conviction that these people are going to make it."

    It's a nice sentiment, but it is, above all, sentiment. I don't think Rice is necessarily wrong, only that she has imposed her priorities on a people who have more urgent concerns and historical fears. More than democracy, Iraqis want security. And security is a tribal matter, a sectarian matter -- a matter that cannot be left in the hands of a government led by others. Any country can hold one election. It's the second that matters, the one in which losers become winners -- and the winners respect the rights of the losers. Can Iraq do that? It doesn't look like it.

    America and Israel are different. But both are Western democracies, with similar -- not identical -- cultures. It's impossible to conceive of American suicide bombers; it's just as impossible to conceive of Israeli ones. The Islamic world -- the Arab world in particular -- is fighting its own way, rejecting an alien culture the way the body rejects a foreign cell.

    Israel left southern Lebanon. Now it's leaving Gaza. America will leave Iraq -- not in success but in failure. These are all discrete events but they are linked by issues of culture and a willingness to use terrorism. Connect the dots. They lead, step by step, to the next exit.

    [email protected]

    © 2005 The Washington Post Company
    June 9, 1973 - The day athletic perfection was defined.

  • #2
    Israel wants another $2 billion annually (on top of the $2 billion they already get from us each year) just to help pay for the resettlement of those being evicted from Gaza.



    • #3
      We need to quit giving money to Israel and pull out of the Middle East.

      Of course, the risk is then that the terrorists will blow up all the oil wells, supply will contract, we will go into a depression and then be as poor as the Arabs.
      Go Cards ...12 in 13.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Moon Man@Aug 16 2005, 06:55 AM
        Israel wants another $2 billion annually (on top of the $2 billion they already get from us each year) just to help pay for the resettlement of those being evicted from Gaza.

        I really don't think that US taxpayers should foot the bill for new houses for the squatters.
        Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law ~



        • #5
          Originally posted by tallahassee blues fan@Aug 16 2005, 05:51 AM
          It's impossible to conceive of American suicide bombers
          That's a remarkably moronic statement. We've had our share of homegrown terrorists: Kaczynski (sp?), McVeigh, Rudolph. Not at all difficult to imagine a fundamentalist nut in this country trying a different tactic.

          Re: the actual topic--Israel is very smart to get out of Gaza and if they had any sense they'd get out of the West Bank too. Their presence there is a needless provocation.
          Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

          "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011


          • #6
            Originally posted by bombay+Aug 16 2005, 01:22 PM-->
            QUOTE(bombay @ Aug 16 2005, 01:22 PM)

          • #7
            in other news

            Gaza Pullout Opponents Boost Resistance

            By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer 59 minutes ago

            NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip - The Jewish settlements of Gaza, a focus of deadly Israeli-Palestinian contention for decades, were thinning out Tuesday, hours ahead of a midnight deadline before a military eviction. Hundreds of withdrawal opponents escalated their resistance in a possible harbinger of violence.

            Army commanders prepared final plans to break into the first batch of Gaza's 21 settlements around daybreak Wednesday to drag out any settlers who defied orders to leave their homes. On Tuesday evening, dozens of troops were seen walking into the largest settlement, Neve Dekalim, apparently in preparation for the evacuation.

            Israeli authorities said once Gaza is cleared of civilians — in at most three weeks — it will take several weeks more before
            Israel finishes dismantling its military installations and relinquishes the coastal strip to Palestinian control, under Prime Minister
            Ariel Sharon's historic plan to "disengage" from the Palestinians.

            Demonstrators hurled stones, eggs and empty bottles Tuesday at soldiers and tried to block moving trucks sent by the army to help settlers who wanted to leave voluntarily. Smoke from burning tires blackened the air above Neve Dekalim, Gaza's largest settlement and the epicenter of defiance.

            Settlers in several farming communities, in a final protest, burned their greenhouses and homes rather than leave them behind.

            The fiercest resistance came from some 5,000 Jewish nationalists who slipped into the
            Gaza Strip over the past few weeks to reinforce the anti-withdrawal camp. Sharon has said giving up any territory and taking down settlements is very painful, and this week's confrontations could help his argument that Israel is making a huge concession that deserves international recognition.

            By nightfall, three settlements — Dugit, Peat Sadeh and Rafiah Yam — were abandoned, and most residents had left three others. Several others were thinning out.

            Israeli media, citing army estimates, said some 600 families among the 1,600 who lived in the Gaza settlements were expected to remain after midnight.

            Hundreds of die-hard opponents continued trying to reach Gaza, trampling over Israeli cropland near the border to circumvent army roadblocks. About 1,000 more protesters camped outside Sharon's Jerusalem residence.

            The military commander of the Gaza sector, Brig. Gen. Dan Harel, said the army had been working with the
            Palestinian Authority on the evacuation and the "cooperation is very good." At Israel's request, Palestinian police dispersed several marches that were threatening to move toward Israeli positions, he said.

            The level of Palestinian attacks had fallen sharply, he said, with only three incidents recorded since the evacuation began on Monday. No one was hurt in any of those.

            Disclosing the first details of the army's intentions, Harel told reporters that Neve Dekalim would be among the first settlements to be targeted by the evacuation troops. He said the soldiers "will ask them to leave" and try to avoid using strong-arm force.

            Palestinians held noisy demonstrations in Gaza City to celebrate the Israeli pullout. Young men cruised the city in open cars, some firing rifles into the air and brandishing rocket launchers.

            Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called a meeting of leaders from the mainstream
            Fatah faction and the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups to coordinate their plans once the Israelis leave.

            The departure marks a historic point in the Mideast conflict. Although Israel relinquished land to Egypt captured in 1967 in exchange for a peace treaty, it is the first time Israel is withdrawing from territory claimed by the Palestinians for their own state.

            Sharon's critics say he's giving away Gaza without getting anything in return. Some say it's part of the Jews' biblical heritage and Sharon has no right to abandon it.

            British Prime Minister
            Tony Blair sent Sharon a message of support. "I greatly admire the courage with which you have developed and implemented this policy," he wrote.

            Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he was determined to complete the withdrawal "in as little time as possible."

            Mofaz also told the Palestinians that it was too early to celebrate. He said that after the last settler is evacuated, it would take at least another month before Israel hands them the settlement areas. "We have told them this at every meeting, but I believe they still haven't grasped that," he told a news conference.

            On the last day in Gaza for most of them, settlers held tearful ceremonies of farewell to farms and gardens they had fashioned from sand and scrub. Religious settlers called it a "funeral."

            Some settlers, especially those threatening to resist eviction, maintained a normal routine until the end.

            Settlers and thousands of supporters at Neve Dekalim inaugurated a mikvah, or ritual bath, with joyous songs of prayer and dancing with the Torah, the hand-scripted five books of Moses, in a celebration deliberately timed to snub the eviction orders.

            "Even if realistically the evacuation can be seen on the horizon, we are trying to continue our lives," said Lior Kalfer, the community leader.

            Stewart Tucker, a former Ohio biology teacher who was among the founders of the first Gaza settlement in 1975, harvested celery stalks with box cutters as he would on a normal day. "I don't know if we will get paid for it but at least we are picking," he said.

            Day One of the evacuation on Monday went with little trouble as troops refrained from forcing their way into settlements to distribute eviction notices, warning settlers that anyone left in Gaza after midnight Tuesday would be evicted and could lose part of their government-promised compensation often amounting to several hundred thousand dollars.

            The army signaled a tougher line after daybreak Tuesday when they burst into Neve Dekalim and toppled the main entrance gate to clear the way for some 120 moving trucks to enter. Officers cut the electric gate with a saw, then dragged the metal barrier away and threw it on the side of a road.

            Within hours, a crowd of predominantly young people blocked the entrance to the settlement and refused to let the trucks enter. When security forces tried to push back the crowd, scuffles erupted.

            Protesters set fire to two large garbage bins and white paint splattered in the road. They also pelted police with eggs, stones and plastic water bottles while a water cannon put out the fire. One policeman had burning acid thrown at his face and several people had bloody faces. Four officers were hurt, police said.

            fuck Israel


            • #8
              Quite a "Nixon goes to China" moment for Sharon, who was always with the hard-liners in the past. He needs to stick to his guns. Oh, and as far as the torch-like "fuck Israel" comment above, Israeli public opinion is strongly behind getting out of Gaza. It's the hard-liners that are resisting.
              Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

              "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011


              • #9
                Serious question: how can this cost $2 billion annually? We're only talking about 8500 people. That's over $235,000 per person, every year.


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Airshark@Aug 16 2005, 12:45 PM
                  Serious question: how can this cost $2 billion annually? We're only talking about 8500 people. That's over $235,000 per person, every year.
                  A permanent military presence anywhere costs a lot of money.
                  Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

                  "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by kah+Aug 16 2005, 01:47 PM-->
                    QUOTE(kah @ Aug 16 2005, 01:47 PM)

                  • #12
                    Leaving Gaza reduces their Military appropriations. They don't have to have their entire army basically protecting 8500 people.

                    Israeli public opinoin may be behind the gaza pullout but unfortunately the hardliners, ie zionists are and always have been in charge of the government. These Isralis also vote these hardliners in every year. A little hypocritical. If they wanted real change they could have it. Instead a war criminal is the pm.