-- Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Sept. 12, 1864
Marty Peretz describes the Israeli attack on Hamas in blunt terms:
So at 11:30 on Saturday morning, according to both the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, as well as the New York Times, 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters demolished some 40 to 50 sites in just about three minutes, maybe five. Message: do not fuck with the Jews.This, says Glenn Greenwald, is a "uniquely despicable view" and Peretz is a "psychopath" for expressing it, because the Israeli attack will result in "the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinians" and "several hundred Palestinian dead -- including numerous children."
Greenwald correctly asserts: "Opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are so entrenched that any single outbreak of violence is automatically evaluated through a pre-existing lens, shaped by one's typically immovable beliefs about which side bears most of the blame for the conflict." And he is certainly not exempted from the effects of entrenched opinion and immovable belief, unequivocally placing himself in the Blame Israel First camp.
Are there no innocent Israelis, no "numerous children" imperiled by the haphazard Hamas rocket and mortar attacks of recent days? Did not Israel warn Hamas that a continuation of the attacks would not be tolerated? It seems to me that one must either justify the Hamas attacks or else admit Israel's right to act in self-defense. Greenwald and other critics might argue that Israel had a right to act, but has overreacted. However, in doing so they seek to make themselves arbiters of Israeli defense policy.
Sherman's sober words about the "terrible hardships of war" were written to the mayor of Atlanta, who had complained about the cruelty of the Union commander's order for the evacuation of the civilian population of the city. Sherman's merciless attitude was motivated by his belief that the South bore responsibility for starting the war, and thus had no legitimate grounds to complain about the consequences of war. Sherman furthermore believed that by devastating the interior of the Confederacy, destroying its infrastructure and resources, he would hasten the end of the war and thereby end its attendant misery:
We must have peace , not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies . . .Understand that I am a native of Atlanta, taught from the cradle to hate Sherman as a wicked instrument of the War of Northern Aggression. Nevertheless, he had a point: Those who inaugurate war must be prepared to accept the consequences. Hamas decided to begin bombarding Israel, and continued that bombardment despite warnings. Surely Hamas has no right to complain of the predictable consequences.
Beyond that, it is rather odd of Greenwald to speak of "innocent" Palestinians. Did not the Palestinian people themselves elect Hamas by a landslide majority? And haven't the Palestinians overwhelmingly supported every atrocity of this Islamicist fanatic group?
I would remind Glenn Greenwald of the words of Barack Obama's spiritual mentor, who declared that the 9/11 attacks represented "chickens coming home to roost" for America. Is it not possible, by the same standard, to see the Israeli attacks on Gaza as "chickens coming home to roost" for the Palestinians? Or how about we apply the standard of progressive hero Ward Churchill and view the allegedly innocent Palestinians as "little Eichmanns"?
Instead of imprecating Israel for its "brutal" and "grotesquely inhumane" policies, perhaps Greenwald and the rest of the Blame Israel First crowd ought to be grateful for the relative restraint Israel has shown in its response to the Hamas attacks. If the IDF had a Sherman in command, he would no doubt vow to "make Gaza howl" with a March to the Sea.
(BTW, it's worth noting that Sherman's attitude toward the media was ahead of its time: "I hate newspapermen. . . . I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.")
UPDATE: Donald Douglas has a roundup of reaction to the IDF attacks.
UPDATE II: A fatwa against Israel:
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on Sunday, ordering them to defend Palestinians against Israel's attacks on Gaza, state television said.The familiar denunciations of the "Zionist regime," the rote call for "martyrs" -- old times there are not forgotten, eh? Minor quibble: Do Palestinians qualify for "martyrdom" when they're gunned down by Egyptian border guards?
"All Palestinian combatants and all the Islamic world's pious people are obliged to defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible. Whoever is killed in this legitimate defense is considered a martyr," state television quoted Khamenei as saying in a statement outlining the fatwa.
Khamenei also criticized some Arab governments for their "encouraging silence" towards the Israel's raids on Gaza. "The Zionist regime must by held accountable by Islamic governments. The heads of this regime must be held personally accountable for these crimes and the ongoing siege," the religious leader said.
UPDATE III: Ed Morrissey:
Hamas insists on a war of annihilation and won't accept any other solution. Let them have it.Guess the "uniquely despicable" views of Marty Peretz aren't quite so unique after all. We await Greenwald's denunciation of Ed Morrissey.
UPDATE IV: A very thoughtful analysis of the motivations of Hamas at HuffPo, which is not where one usually goes in search of thoughtful analysis.
UPDATE V: Welcome, Instapundit readers.
UPDATE VI: Oh, classic. Greenwald accuses Reynolds and myself of "swaggering around," because we recognize that . . . well, war is a terrible thing, and Hamas bears the onus of provoking it. Note well the double standard: Greenwald believes that the Iraq war is a terrible thing, and does not hesitate to condemn Bush for the invasion, but Hamas can shell Israeli civilians without deserving criticism.
Furthermore, hypothetically suppose that Israel's attacks on Gaza result in negative consequences for Israel. Suppose, for example, that Hamas succeeds in a major suicide-bomb attack. Greenwald would "swagger around" and say Israel has sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. So whatever happens, Greenwald's response is the same: Blame Israel First. It's formulaic.
Here is the thing: The leaders of Israel must surely be aware that this attack on Hamas will incite a violent response, and have taken that fact into consideration in the cost-benefit analysis of their military offensive in Gaza. But is there any better alternative? Hamas was already doing everything in its power to kill Israelis.
You cannot negotiate with a shark. To the extent that Hamas represents any coherent political philosophy, that philosophy can be summed up in two words: Kill Jews. So long as there remains a single Jew alive in the Middle East, Hamas will call for that Jew's violent death, and once they've slaughtered or driven out all the Jews in the Middle East, Hamas will then go abroad in search of Jews to kill elsewhere.
It is only because Hamas believes they can find useful-idiot sympathizers in the West, to intervene and compel Israel to engage in suicidal negotiations, that their murderous fanaticism has any hope of success. And how does Hamas define success? Kill Jews.
If American Jews like Greenwald are willing to serve as apologists for Hamas, they've got much worse problems than the "swaggering" of a few conservative critics. Problem Number One: How do you sleep?