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International Condemnation Good for Israel

We can feel outrage at the ignorance and one-sidedness of Ban Ki-moon and his friends, but deep down, we should thank them: their outrage leads to our way out

My blood boiled when I read the headlines. I’m sure yours did too. Ban Ki-moon , Secretary-General of the UN, as well as an official European Union statement, and various other world officials and bodies, condemned Israel’s use of force in Gaza as "excessive and disproportionate."
Well, what do you expect us to do, I shouted at my computer screen. We left Gaza, we haven’t been occupying it for almost three years now, and still they’re shooting rockets at us! You try living in Sderot or Ashkelon and then see if you think it’s excessive and disproportionate!
Oh, how we love to hate the international outcries and uproars against us. It is somehow reassuring to know that anti-Semitism, that most potent of Jewish continuity agents, is still alive and kicking out there. But the truth is, international outrage is just about the only thing that can salvage this messy situation.
Let’s look at the options available to Israel – all of them are bad. A massive ground operation would result in massive Israeli casualties. Not doing anything will result in more rockets on Sderot and Ashkelon. A strongly worded letter by Ehud Olmert to Ismail Haniyeh might be worth trying, I guess, but I don’t think the Israeli post office delivers to Gaza any more.
Chill the boiling blood
So we are left with the default option: use the Israeli Air Force to bomb Gaza with varying degrees of intensity, attacking rocket-launching crews surgically, and general infrastructure more liberally, with the inevitable and unfortunate result that innocent Palestinian civilians will be killed along with Hamas guerillas and militants. And, of course, when this happens, we will be condemned by the rest of the world.
But we should stick an ice cube in our boiling blood. International condemnation is ultimately the only way that we can move forward. To understand this, we have to consider what our best-case outcome is with Gaza right now: a long-term stable situation that results in quiet on the ground in Sderot and Ashkelon. As a desired outcome, that is something that all Israelis, Left and Right, can agree on. The question is, how do we get there?
The only way that we are going to achieve that outcome is through a cease-fire with Hamas, either negotiated directly or imposed by the international community . It may appear like a defeat for Israel because we’ll feel that our hands have been tied by the United Nations – again – and a cease-fire with Hamas is always going to be a fragile affair.
It may be that the cycle will repeat itself: Hamas breaks the cease-fire, we respond "disproportionately and excessively," the world wakes up, and another cease-fire begins.
Resist the temptation 
The situations in Gaza and in Lebanon are getting increasingly similar, and they are both messy situations with no easy answers and no feel-good solutions. There is basically no way that we can disarm Hamas and Hizbullah or prevent them from gaining access to Kassams and katyushas, and there is basically no way that we can stop them from using them against us when they want.
The only long term way we can change the situation is by moving ahead more swiftly with our negotiations with the Fatah administration to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, so that the Gaza Palestinians see a genuine alternative. If and when that happens, there is a chance that in the next elections in Gaza, the Palestinians will realize their mistake and vote Hamas out. Until that time, in the short term, our only option is to react forcefully when we are attacked, without getting dragged into Vietnam-like quagmires.
We therefore need to resist the temptation to begin Ehud Barak’s "tangible" ground operation. It will not achieve the outcome we want, just as the ground operation in Lebanon did not achieve that outcome either. It will merely result in dozens of Israeli soldiers being killed for nothing, just as the ground operation in Lebanon did. And clearly, we can’t continue with the status quo wherein we are attacked and do nothing.
A response by air is the only way of responding to Hamas’s attacks while keeping our losses to a minimum and reaching a cease-fire most quickly. Air attacks will lead to international condemnation, but that condemnation will also lead to the cease-fire that we – and the Gaza Palestinians – need.
So, we can still feel outraged by the ignorance and one-sidedness of Ban Ki-moon and his friends. But deep down, we should thank them: their outrage leads to our way out.
Reprinted by permission from the Jerusalem Post

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