Why Hamas Forced Me to Leave Amherst College
Issue   |   Wed, 11/28/2012 - 01:03
Image courtesy The Christian Science Monitor
Hamas faithfuls gather in the Palestinian territories.

Amherst College is a small community, so I am sure that many of my fellow classmates already know that I left Amherst to join the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). I am sharing my experiences with you from this past week to illustrate two things to the Amherst community: why I took a leave of absence to serve in the Israeli Army and why Israel deserves an apology from her many critics on and off of our campus.

I have spent the last three days in Netivot, a small city of 30,000 people located less than 12 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip. I was volunteering there with a small non-profit. We were operating day care centers, teaching children in bomb-shelter-turned-classrooms and trying to restore a sense of normality to the children’s lives. For the over one million Israelis living within 40 kilometers of Gaza (the typical range of Hamas’s Qassam and Grad rockets), their children experienced the Israeli equivalent of a snow day there was no school here for over a week as the blizzard of rockets continued. It was too dangerous to travel to school and too dangerous to congregate under one roof, so the Israeli government spread out children in bomb shelters across southern Israel to minimize the likelihood of mass casualties. The young, old, sick and disabled must remain in these bomb shelters day and night because they cannot run to safety in time. The residents of Netivot have less than 12 seconds between siren and impact.

As I attempted to entertain the frightened children of Netivot, reading stories and playing games, I could hear the deep booms of rockets slamming into nearby cities and towns. Over 1,000 rockets were sent screaming toward Israel in the past week. If the rocket was within five kilometers, we could feel the vibrations of the impacts, watch books fall off of shelves, see windows shiver and sit helplessly wondering who was injured. If the predicted trajectory of the rocket was towards us in Netivot, an air-raid siren would alarm, and the 30,000 residents scrambled towards shelter. When the siren began to howl, the feeling was one of absolute panic. As I sprinted toward safety and grabbed any straggling children nearby, the idea of terror became a reality to me; it dawned on me that there are actually people, just a car-ride away, who are trying to kill me and those around me. On the night of November 20th a rocket leveled a house a block away from my bunker.

However terrorized we may feel in southern Israel, I realize the people of Gaza have it worse. Tragically, the people of Gaza have no shelters to run to and no sirens to warn them when Israel strikes back. Their government (since 2006 controlled by the internationally categorized terrorist group, Hamas) has chosen not to invest in these public safety measures despite waging a continuous war on Israel. This negligence is no accident. Hamas has decidedly tried (and succeeded) to take advantage of Western disdain for civilian casualties, choosing to play off of our sympathy for the pain and suffering of innocents. Hamas’s leaders know that by repeatedly firing rockets towards Israeli civilian areas from their civilian areas, Israel’s response will be one of impossible choices.

Defense and safety are the most fundamental duties of a functioning state. (It is sad that I feel the need to remind my readers of this.) Knowing that any state would eventually be forced to respond, Hamas leaders choose to house their rocket caches, launchers and training facilities within populated areas — all in an effort to maximize their own civilian casualties and thereby earn the sympathy of the international media. This is why whenever a Gazan child dies, he or she is quickly paraded in front of cameras for a photo op. This is why Hamas’s leadership hides in a bunker located underneath Gaza’s largest hospital. Israel will not strike the hospital. (This hospital was modernized by an Israeli relief project in the 1980s and is supplied by Israeli humanitarian aid.) This is why Hamas does not build bunkers for Gaza’s 1.6 million residents. (The bomb shelters that do exist are reserved for Hamas officials and fighters.) This is not because of a lack of finances. According to the Palestine Human Development Report, Palestinians are the largest per capita recipients of international development assistance in the world.

Criticizing Israel for the resulting deaths is not only an unfair and frustrating irony, but it encourages Hamas and makes life worse for Gazans. The U.S. State Department reaffirmed this irony, saying, “Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self-determination.” The international condemnation of Israel becomes laughable to many of us under fire. We understand that simultaneous to Hamas’s brutal tactics, our military goes through great lengths to avoid the very casualties that Hamas so aggressively seeks. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “When we hit civilians, we call it a failure. When they hit civilians, they call it a success.”

While Hamas purposely puts civilians in harm’s way in order win a cheap media campaign, Israel carries out arguably the most humane military response in the history of warfare. While I do wish that more could accomplished on the diplomatic front, Israel’s handling of the barrage of rockets itself is wholly impressive. Complex international politics, a broken peace process and the lack of earnest peace partners in Gaza force the status quo to continue. This is, however, a separate issue. Israel’s military and humanitarian response to the continuous rocket fire is probably unmatched by any nation. Israel has been delivering continuous aid to Gaza even during wartime. Israeli citizens’ tax money helps feed the same people who voted Hamas into power in 2006. Furthermore, Gaza’s electricity comes from Israel — which if Israel chooses to, it could simply shut off. Unlike Hamas, all IDF strikes in Gaza are carried out with surgical precision by laser guided missiles, purposely avoiding civilian casualties. In fact, Israel drops warning pamphlets, makes telephone calls and sends out text messages to all residents near potential targets so that civilians can stay far away before a strike occurs. Moreover, Gazans are transported to Israeli hospitals for advanced medical treatment on Israel’s dime.

However, Israel’s moral upper hand does not stop there. While in Netivot, I witnessed firsthand Israel’s rocket defense system, Iron Dome, at work. Israeli- designed and partly funded by the United States, this program costs an average $50 million for one battery and over $30,000 per missile. This price tag shows our value for human life. It goes without saying that Israelis have access to bomb shelters unlike their Gazan counterparts. All these reasons make it senseless to look at “disproportional death rates.” Hamas wants death for their own citizens as well as Israel’s, while Israel seeks to protect all lives, Gazan or Israeli. While in bomb shelters in the south, it was not only Jews who took refuge alongside me, but also Bedouin Arabs. Caravans of the still semi-nomadic people arrived to hide in our shelters. Not a single person was turned away because of their race or religion. Meanwhile, the rockets fired into Israel have no specific aim. These rockets don’t discriminate between men or women, Jew or Arab, soldier or civilian, children or the elderly. In fact, several of these rockets landed in Israeli-Arab villages, killing one man. Of course, that is a price the fanatics of Hamas are at peace with, given that he is now a “martyr of the cause” whether willing or unwilling.

What is their cause? End the occupation? Israel already pulled out of Gaza seven years ago and has only been rewarded with more terror. The remaining restrictions on the Gaza Strip are only in place to impede the smuggling of weapons. (Gaza is already one of the most heavily armed places on earth per-square mile.) The Hamas Charter proudly pronounces their cause to anyone who is unsure: “Israel…will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors….The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them.” Those on the left who claim to be champions of human rights do not realize the stark contrast between Israel and Gaza or any of our neighbors for that matter. You cannot be openly gay in Gaza. Women there can be arrested for their own rape. How about life for children? I am not sure if there is a worse form of child abuse than using your child as a human shield. Yet, Israel is framed as the human rights abuser. Still, the greatest tragedy in this conflict may be from those on the left, who in their confusion, support a totalitarian ideology that hurts the very people they claim to support.

The best way to support the people of Gaza, and indeed the entire Arab world, is to support Israel in its struggle against Islamic extremism. For Israel is the only viable model of a country with religious tolerance, multiparty democracy, independent judiciary and free press in a diverse, war-torn region. Israel is an imperfect democracy, as all democracies are, but the governing ideology is one of Western, secular liberalism.

I left Netivot the morning of November 21st for a placement interview with the IDF. About six blocks north of where I was, a bomb tore through a city bus, forever changing the lives of 23 innocent passengers. That same day, Israel pushed ahead toward peace, agreeing to a ceasefire. After the ceasefire began, five more rockets hit southern Israel. Israel chose not to respond. Sadly, it looks like the rocket fire will continue until the world demands more from Hamas. Until that time, Israel will continue to need to defend herself.

It is this past week that reaffirmed my decision to leave the comforts of study at Amherst College. I am drafting into the Israeli army to help defend the Jewish people, to defend the democratic and diverse people of Israel, to ensure the phrase “never again” remains true and because defending Israel is not just a Jewish cause, an Israeli cause or Western cause but a humane cause.

Anchor
Comments
Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 02:52

While people will inevitably agree or disagree with what you are doing, I believe I speak for the entire Amherst community when I say stay safe, Michael.

Joe Savrosky (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:36

have fun killing palestinian babies!

Jack (not verified) says:
Mon, 12/03/2012 - 02:23

back up your statment! your a witless coward because if you had any wits you would choose a stance which you could defend.

Sara (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 07:07

So many people aren't aware of the true threat that Hamas poses to Israel and to the West at large. Thanks for raising awareness of this issue. Hopefully others will be inspired to do the same!

Haviv Vazana (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 08:12

Thank you for this michael.

May you go through the army service unharmed.

Vito Simone (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 08:24

Michael,
Your comments are right on target and your experience while in Israel is important to share. My wife and I recently spent 2 weeks in Israel visiting our son who is a Lone Soldier in the Tzanchanim 202. He lives in Kibbutz Saad only minutes from Sderot. He has a Blog about his experiences in Israel that you might find interesting: http://www.Bonedaq.com

Our trip to the south - Ashkelon, Sderot, Ashodod, BeerSheva, etc. left us feeling like it was heaven on earth. A beautiful place with beautiful people. We met many Israeli's, both Arab and Jews and felt their warmth and love for Israel....by the time we got back to the US, it was only a week later that the rocket bombardment escalated and our son was called to the Gaza border area.

The world does need to understand how hard Israel works to address the terrorists and not the Arab civilians. I think those Arab civilians know this on some level and I just cannot understand how or why educated, intelligent people in the international community (and the Media) who must know this as well, continue to promote the lies and propaganda of Hamas and other terrorist groups. They do so at the peril of the very people - Palestinians, Gazans, etc. It is not only illogical, it borders criminal.

We were very nervous about our son making Aliyah and joining the IDF, but after seeing his personal growth and being with him in Israel, we are filled wth more pride, joy and Blessings as a result of his decision. We wish you and your family all the best, much happiness and pray for you safety and the safety and success of all of Israel.

Thank you for your service and your message.
Shalom,

Gail and Vito Simone

M (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 09:02

Great article. On point.

Mordechai-IDF R... (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 09:47

I was lucky enough to choose to enlist before college, but its never too late. Make the most of it! This is the best decision you could ever make!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 10:04

Thank you for sharing this story and good luck in the IDF!!!

Alex (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 10:09

Wow Mike, great article. Our thoughts and prayers have been with you. God bless and thank you for defending peace and democracy abroad.

Boris Revsin (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 10:43

Excellent article and well articulated. Stay safe, and let's hope we can put an end to this once and for all.

Anon (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 11:31

As a fellow ex-Pioneer Valley student (MHC) and Israel supporter, I thank you for your honest words and for your strength of spirit. To leave the comfort and safety of Amherst College in liu of a place within the IDF is most certainly commendable.
It pains me deeply to hear the American extreme left (especially my fellow college students) criticize Israel, while supporting a terrorist organization that repeatedly calls for the genocide of the Jewish people and ensuring that their own citizens will die for that cause. I never cease to wonder how those who champion for the fair and equal treatment of women, the handicapped, LGBT, etc, can repeatedly condemn the only country in the middle east that share that world view. I am amazed at how blind the world can be, when it is clear that Hamas intends to put its people in direct harm's way, parading the injured and dead before every camera they can [and even sometimes the same body twice, using different names]. I myself have been confronted with this blindness during my time at MHC, though one expects that a school that promotes critical thinking would have a majority of students that are able to see passed the media bias and analyze the conflict both fairly and critically. I was shocked and appalled when a fellow student called for a "third intifada" on their Facebook profile, repeatedly spewing hate speech both in the virtual world and the real one. Several of my old friends think of me as some militant, child-murdering zionist, stating Gazan casualties as if they were the intention of Israel and not the consequence of Hamas fundamentalism.

And while the left-wing American university community criticizes Israel from their warm, comfortable dorms, filled with abundant food and the opportunity for free speech and education, you have taken the path less travelled. Thank you for you selflessness and devotion to peace and defense.

Lucy (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 11:53

You're making some pretty extreme claims about Israeli warfare here. Not that Israel is not being attacked and shouldn't defend itself, but your examples or the humane nature of Israeli warfare smacks of propaganda. For instance, WHY does Israel own all the electricity in Gaza? Is that fair?

Also, you say the Israeli military warns people with phone calls and pamphlets that they are about to be bombed, something I've never heard before. I'm not saying you're lying, I'm just saying if you're going to make radical claims, you really need to cite your sources.

Hamas is definitely bad news, but there have been awful atrocities committed by the Israeli military as well.

You claim that more Palestinian children die than Israeli because Hamas does not protect them, but attacks on Palestinian children have gone back before the time of Hamas. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/children.html

In fact, some historians trace the killing of Israelis be Palestinians back more than fifty years, in what is called a "slow genocide." http://www.baltimorechronicle.com/2008/112608Lendman.shtml

I'm not saying you're wrong in your decision, particularly in the humanitarian end. But, if you are going to go beyond that to make political claims, you should really back up your claims with research.

Adam (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 13:07

While sources are important, it's more important that those sources are accurate.
I'm not going to get into all your other comments, but the accusation of genocide on the part of the Israelis is completely untrue. If there is a genocide going on, it's the only genocide I've heard of where the population is actually growing. The Gaza Strip has a population growth rate of about 3.1%, making them the 6th-fastest-growing population in the entire world (see www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gz.html).
So, next time you want to talk about sources, you should fact-check the ones you are going to use.

o (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 13:23

You know why Israel owns the electricity for Gaza? The reason is that if israel did not supply the electricity to them there would be no electricity. They are not capable and dependant enough to be able to be self sufficient. Hamas' priority is terror not in supplying electricity to its people. It isnt that israel "owns" the Gazan electricity the reality of it is that Israel uses its own Isrseli plant to supply electricity to Gaza on israels own expense.

Moe (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:49

First of all, whatever Israel supplies to Gaza is all paid for by the Palestinian Authority. So no, it is not charity; an occupier does not give charity to the occupied, remember?
Second, there are a couple of power plants in Gaza, but guess what? Israel targeted them multiple times in the past. Some still need maintenance, but they cannot bring the required parts because Israel does not allow them to.
Third, they need oil to run these plants, Israel allows very, very limited amount of oil to come to these plants, because they want Gaza to be dependent on Israel's electricity. They get paid for that electricity after all. (Each house in Gaza gets at least 40 hours of no electricity every week, because of the oil shortage).
Conclusion: I have no clue what are you talking about.

bethany (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 13:44
Sources (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 13:55

Before criticizing the author for not "backing up" his claims with research, some really quick Google-ing could really back up the "radical claims" that he is making...

Google (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:03

Before criticizing the author for not backing up his claims with research, some REALLY quick Google-ing could really back up the "radical claims" that he is making...
On droping warning leaflets:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/11/15/israeli-arm...
On Phone calls:
http://abcnews.go.com/International/israel-palestinian-conflict-phone-ca...

Jon (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:08
Todd (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 17:47

Lucy, if you've never heard that Israel spams Gaza with telephone calls and leaflets, then I do not know if you are even qualified to state your opinion on this issue. It is not a radical claim- it is presented in mass media outlets such as CNN and Fox News.

Your slow genocide claim is disgusting. The Jews are the largest victims of genocide in the modern era, and Hamas even claims for the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people in its charter.

Perhaps you should do some research before writing an ignorant post.

alex (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 17:51

Israel doesn't own the electricity in Gaza, it supplies it. Gaza gets all of its aid, electricity, water, food, everything paid for by the Israeli government and brought in.

just because you haven't heard of something does not make it false. Its not radical claims. Its a certified fact that Israel warns Palestinians EVERY SINGLE TIME before a bombing. Israel has no interest in murdering civilians.
http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-leader-cease-fire-israel-close-175507719.html
http://www.itv.com/news/update/2012-11-20/israel-drops-leaflets-over-gaza/
http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/16/world/meast/gaza-israel-strike/index.html

His larger point is that Palestinian governments don't protect civilians and your right children dying is absolutely a tragedy and can't solely be blamed on Hamas.

Not to mention, the websites you cite are not reputable sources in the slightest.

R (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 04:08

Just because you've "never heard before" doesn't mean it's not true. Maybe you can do some of your own research.

http://www.idf.il/1283-17597-en/Dover.aspx

Alex (From Eshkol ) (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 06:06

> WHY does Israel own all the electricity in Gaza?

the government of Gaza didn't build power station, as such a project would be civilian and under the PA no block on materials would be on.

> Also, you say the Israeli military warns people with phone calls and pamphlets that they are about to be bombed, something I've never heard before

example from www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKISNqEmG&b=1313923&ct...

dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls

The number of dead doesn't refelect anything except that less Israelis died from woundes in that attacks and less Israelies had been wounded becouse early warning system.

for more info :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_terrorism

I don't addess the second part of your post as one is a map with lies and half truths.

J (not verified) says:
Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:07

You are disseminating propaganda by saying taat Palestinian children have been killed before the time of Hamas, and that you don't understand why Gaza has to buy electricity from Israel. First of all, Hamas has always been around, but under different names...Palestinian, muslim brotherhood.... and have been murdering Jews since the inception of the country and actually, for the past 4000 years, give or take. Regarding electricity, one would expect a country, or state to generate their own electricity, but they don't invest time or energy into any progressive development other than weapons of killing. They don't have to get their electricity from Israel, in fact it costs Israel way too much to provide the electricity to Gaza and all the Palestinians. Perhaps they should ask Egypt for energy. Regarding the flyers...it's true, Israel does send flyers over Gaza, in Arabic to tell the citizens to seek cover, however Hamas wants causalities of citizens to have something to cry to the world about and that's why they send missiles from populated areas. They value death more than life, or their own children. So, before you cry "Propaganda" do a little research yourself and you will find the truth.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Sat, 12/08/2012 - 18:28

You could try doing your own research, Lucy. A good place to start would be Joan Peters' book, 'From Time Immemorial'. Why am I not surprised that you haven't heard that the IDF warns Gazan civilians before they retaliate to Hamas' bombing of Israeli cities and civilians? You should understand, Lucy, that the biggest cowards are also the biggest bullies. Hamas and its cohorts are a perfect example of that truth.

Moe (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 13:05

Your article is full of lies and propaganda, it makes me want to puke! Have you no shame?? Lying to people?? Palestinians using their children as human shields? Are you freaking kidding me?? Do I need to mention Al-Dalou Family that Israel massacred?? They bombed their house and killed 11 members of their family! Their WHOLE family was wiped out, including 4 children??? WHAT A HUMANE ARMY THE IDF IS! *clap clap*

Ruth (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:09

When a population is subjected to ethnic cleansing and/or genocide, the numbers inevitably decrease.

The populations of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, on the other hand, are increasing. The population growth rate of the West Bank stands at 2.063% (49th in the world) while Gaza is at 3.11% (6th in the world). The figure for the US is 0.90% (124th in the world).

Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2002....

There is NO genocide, slow or otherwise, being committed by Israel against Palestinians.

Bostonian (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:14

Its a shame you're leaving school before you learned how to research, think logically, and write a piece that doesn't resemble a highschool essay based on Hasbara. It's ok, I'm sure it's a much more important life skill to understand the most effective way to murder people and get away with it.

Sarah (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:15

Peopke die in war.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:26

All of your empty imagery of how scary 1,000's of rockets (which have a less than 1% lethality rate, I might add) does not undo the fact that it was Israeli MISSILES killed 5 OF MY PROFESSOR'S RELATIVES. That's as many people as died on the Israeli side in total. Don't try and cover up the blatant violation of proportionality in law with trivial exposition about life in Israel.

As for the rest of the comments here, I had no idea how literal critical thinking they taught at Amherst.

Iyed (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 21:42

It is easy to understand your outrage at the death of relatives of someone you know and respect. When you have a connection to people who die in violence, and it becomes a personal experience, statistics and dry news stories fade in comparison. I am sorry for your pain, and the pain of your professor.

Of course, everyone involved in the conflict, on both sides, have similar experiences, and would like nothing better than to rage against their opponents. And to the extent that this affects the respective leaders and their decision-making, it is nothing but destructive and self-perpetuating, and those who advocate for it on nothing better than warmongers.

I am an Arab, I lived for years in the West Bank AND in Israel. I have family still living in both places, and good friends in Gaza, too. I know too many people who have suffered and died in this conflict, and for all of the comments here I have two unequivocal responses.

First, I believe that war, by its very nature, is an atrocity. Combatants die, civilians die, and the dehumanizing effects on the rest of the population are felt for generations. Unfortunately, in a world of violent disagreements, war is, and has always been, a necessity, and anyone who thinks otherwise is either a pampered fool who has never lived under mortal threat, or is so out of touch with reality that they are certifiably insane.

Second, anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity, and any real understanding of the history of the Palestinian people, would have to admit that the vast majority of our suffering has come at the hands of our "brother" Arabs, and our own corrupt and failed leadership. No population in the world is held imprisoned as refugees for generations. No leadership who actually cared about the welfare of their people would fight a perpetual, ineffectual war for six decades.

As our leaders, when they're not stealing it to put it in their Zürich bank accounts, spend billions of dollars in foreign aid on rockets and weaponry, our society is stagnant, our people are unemployed, and our children have no hope for the future. We Palestinians are pawns in the hands of brutal, rapacious, and uncaring powers. Given the slightest opportunity, we could compete with Israel, or any other nation in the world, yet repeatedly, those opportunities have been squandered away.

If the West truly wants to protect the Palestinians, they should protect us against our real enemies, the Arab world that has held us down for our entire existence.

Peter (not verified) says:
Fri, 12/07/2012 - 00:57

Iyed has now explained why Gaza has to depend on Israel for power, their own leaders are more interested in persecuting their own people than in building power stations. By the way Iyed are you a Christian? They suffer at Arab hands more than the Muslims. And for the record what are Hamas' plans for the next election? I think it is at least six years since the last one? And Gaza is a democracy?

truth (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:42

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKa9L073VKw
Oren, Michael, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern
Middle East. NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 253.
Times of Israel (November 14, 2012); (November 14, 2012); (November
15, 2012); (November 16, 2012);
IDF Blog (November 15, 2012); (November 20, 2012)
Jerusalem Post (June 15, 2011);
U.S. State Department Press Release (November 14, 2012);
CNN interview with Mark Regev (November 15, 2012);
GovTrack;
Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (November 15, 2012);
White House

source (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:45

The Hamas Charter (or Covenant), issued in 1988, outlined the organization's position on many issues at the time, identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories,[36] and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.

Steve Brown (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:46

OK, let's assume that the IDF bombed a house and 11 family members were killed.
If in fact the IDF had INTENTIONALLY targets families, women and children, why stop at just one house?
If the IDF is as inhumane as Moe strongly suggests why aren't there numerous examples of such supposed callous disregard for innocent people? Hell, Israel has the ability to level Gaza many times over if it chooses to do so, yet it didn't this time nor did it in 2008/09. It makes no logical sense that an army as inhumane as Moe makes the IDF out to be would stop at just one house full of Gazan civilians.
Which is why the more plausible explanation is that as much as the IDF is more adept than any other army (other than possibly the US army) at surgical strikes that kill targeted combatants with few if any noncombatants, to expect the IDF to be perfect is simply impossible. Tragic mistakes sometimes happen during times of war. The deaths of 11 members of the Al-Dalou family (assuming their deaths AND the way they were reportedly killed, namely by bombing by the IDF, are verified by credible sources - recall the supposed Mohammed Al-Dura killing widely reported by MSM at the time as perpetrated by the IDF only to be exposed as a hoax by French TV years later, or the alleged "Jenin Massacre", which also was revealed to be a lie long after the fact) would be an unfortunate example of such a mistake.
Or, perhaps it wasn't a mistake. Perhaps the IDF intentionally bombed the house based on the honest belief that the inhabitants of that house at the time of the bombing were in fact combatants, but unfortunately unbeknownst to the IDF women and children were also in the house at the same time.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 15:26
concerned (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 15:31

...Of course, might it not also be possible that Israel deploys "human shield" tactics of its own -- in the statewide, regularized army service it requires of many of its own citizens? State power on both sides is abused, Jews and Muslims should never have to pay with their lives.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 17:51

Israel required a draft because all its neighbors call for its annihilation. If you see that as a human shield then perhaps the Vietnam draft was a human shield as well. How you even make the human shield connection to a mandatory service is beyond me. The fact that 18 year old Israelis are proud to serve their country is a testament to their love for their land.

DAvid (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 15:16

Let me get this straight--what you're saying is that Israel requires all it's citizens to serve in the military, and therefore Israel is guilty of using its citizens as human shields? What the %^&*^$ are they shielding??!! That has to be one of the stupidest comments I have ever read anywhere, hands down. I pray to God that you are not a student at Amherst College.

david kaufman (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 15:37

This article hit the nail on the head. Absolutely great overview of what is going on from someone who is actually in Israel. Keep up what you are doing and G-d bless

Tom (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 15:50

Mr. Flaster has essentially provided a list of tired, oft repeated talking points which may as well have come from an IDF spokesperson. If he has nothing new to contribute to the conversation but unquestioning support for Israeli actions, he might as well just stay quiet. Articles like this contribute nothing to discourse on the conflict.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 21:16

Actually, I thought Mr. Flaster's essay did bring something new to the conversation. He provided an American's perspective...descriptions of terrified children in bomb shelters, for example. It was your comment that added nothing useful to the discourse.

Michael Briggs (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 16:14

While I completely respect your opinion and choice, no one is ever truly "forced" to war. The fact that both sides are in a war of reprisal is saddening. However, to play Israel off as the victim in this conflict is sickening. To take a leaf from your own religious works, Gaza is a classic David and Goliath situation, except that Goliath carries out human rights violations every day. While people are dancing it up in Tel-Aviv, Israel is literally and purposefully keeping Palestine as a 3rd world state. So did Hamas really force you to leave your quiet life at Amherst? While your story sounds quite heroic, Hamas, regardless of what tactics they are using are fighting for their lives. If you want a true perspective, wander out of Netivot and into Palestine. Both parties are hypocritical, but that fact that Israel is displayed as the sufferer is farcical. I am truly respectful for your decision to go and defend your homeland, but when I read stories like this, I almost feel compelled to go to Palestine and join the real freedom fighters.

Steve Brown (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 17:51

"No one is ever truly 'forced' to war". If one is content to literally lay down and die this is true, but other than those who have no reason for living Mr Briggs' statement ignores just this past century's history of war alone which illustrates through countless examples that sometimes people actually are 'forced' to war, that is if they don't wish to die.

"Goliath [Israel] carries out human rights violations every day". "Hamas...are fighting for their lives"

Oh really? You mean the "violations" of making sure food and medical supplies make it from Israel to Gaza even during times of heavy fighting? Or were you referring to the "violations" even before the most recent fighting began that allowed Gaza's population to increase by 30% from 1997 to 2007?
http://www.unrwa.org/userfiles/2010012035949.pdf

According to the UN (http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Sorting-Tables/tab-sorting_mortality.htm):

The crude death rate for the "Occupied Palestinian Territory" ("OPT") is 3.6/1000
For Israel it's 5.7/1000

Average Life Expectancy is 70.6/73.8 for men and women, respectively, in the OPT
Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan are 70.5/74.3, 69.9/74.2 & 71.7/74.3, respectively.
Israel is 78.4/82.9

Infant Mortality Rate is 22/1000 for OPT
Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan are 26, 23, 21
Israel is 4.

What to make of these stats?

The death rate for Israelis is higher than for Palestinians living under Israeli rule or, in the case of Gaze, not living under Israeli rule since 2005 when all Israelis were forcibly evicted from Gaza by the Israeli government.

Men and women in neighbouring countries (which Israel has NEVER occupied), namely people with the same or smilar ethnic backgrounds to Palestinians live more or less the same amount of time.

Babies in neighbouring countries (which Israel has NEVER occupied), namely babies with the same or smilar ethnic backgrounds to Palestinians die more or less as frequently as Palestinian babies.

Bottom line: Michael Briggs' assertions that Israel is a daily human rights violator and that Hamas are fighting for their lives simply isn't supported by UN statistics.

DAvid (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 15:21

Mr. Briggs (if indeed you are a grown man), don't blow smoke. You're talking smack to a guy who put his life on the line for what he believes. I think you are a coward for pretending that you would ever have the balls to make that same decision. You won't go to Palestine; you'll go crawling back to your coward cave or ivory tower.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 21:43

I disagree with much of your comments, Mr. Briggs.

First, as to whether anyone is truly *forced* to war: Hamas launched thousands of missiles at Israeli citizens. There's no country in the world that would not feel forced by thousands of missiles to protect its citizens.

Second, as to dancing, please keep in mind that immediately after 9/11, it was the Arab street that danced in the streets, celebrating the terror attack on the U.S. That said, it is not Israel that is keeping Gaza as a third-world state. Check out Iyed's comments, which included "anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity, and any real understanding of the history of the Palestinian people, would have to admit that the vast majority of our suffering has come at the hands of our "brother" Arabs, and our own corrupt and failed leadership. No population in the world is held imprisoned as refugees for generations. No leadership who actually cared about the welfare of their people would fight a perpetual, ineffectual war for six decades."

Third, to say "Hamas, regardless of what tactics they are using," condones terrorism. Hamas terrorists are not "freedom fighters." They are terrorists.

Fourth, you have it wrong when talking about who is fighting for their life. Hamas' goal is not merely to establish its own state -- Hamas' charter calls for the obliteration of Israel. That's important to emphasize: Hamas seeks to eliminate the country of Israel. Because it is surrounded on three sides by Arab countries, it is Israel that is fighting for its life, and seeks to protect its people.

I don't actually expect that I will have been able to convince you, Mr. Briggs. Your perspective appears to be too entrenched for that. But I felt I could not let your baseless comments stand without a response.

Cailey (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 16:24

Amazingly well written. I wish I had the courage that you do to join the IDF...I have several friends who are there and I am in awe every day by their bravery. Thank you for sharing your perspective...I hope some people will read this and change their views because it is truly heartbreaking to see people around me believe the biased news outlets.

Hampshire Student (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 16:32

Generally Op-ed pieces do not include sourcing. It is not in the style of opinion articles. News articles, Opinion pieces and Research papers and composed differently with different guidelines. I have never seen a Op-ed with sources. Michael, you are in the clear!

Steve Brown (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/28/2012 - 16:54

"Concerned" is right that "Jews and Muslims should never have to pay with their lives".

The basic difference is that whereas Jews (and Christians) are taught to treat others as they'd like others to treat them and to sanctify ALL human life, and the IDF by extension walks this walk by taking great pains to avoid killing noncombatants Muslims are taught quite the reverse. This explains why countless members of the "religion of peace" think the best use of their lives is to end them while self- detonating in buses and other places where innocent civilians congregate. Moreover, 95% of the time those innocent civilians happen to be other Muslims located in places throughout the Muslim world where there isn't an Israeli, let alone a Jew, for thousands of miles!

"Concerned" should try and come up with a more plausible moral equivalency argument.
Here's a suggestion: look just across the border to Syria where 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have already died in the past two years (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories...)

Syria's a place where "Concerned" could legitimately claim that "State power on both sides is abused", albeit one side is a state and the other is generally a collection of state-spondored (Saudi, Qatari, Egyptian, Turk) mercenaries and volunteers who belong to Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamic supremacist/Sharia-espousing organizations.

But of course when Muslims kill other Muslims people like "Concerned" are never too concerned...

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