Baskin: What the $%#@* Was it All For?

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Are you ready to throw your head back and scream to the high heavens? Just read Gershon Baskin’s column in today’s J Post, in which he reveals that prior to Israel’s attack on Gaza, he met with a senior Hamas official in Europe to discuss possibilities for renewing the cease-fire. He returned to Israel ten days before Israel began the war and sent a letter to Olmert, Barak and Livni, informing them…

…that Hamas was willing to open a direct secret back channel for a package deal that would include the renewal of the cease-fire, the ending of the economic siege and the prisoner exchange for the release of (Gilad) Schalit. I further indicated that Hamas would be willing to implement the agreement on Rafah which included the stationing of Palestinian Authority personnel loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in Rafah and a return of the European monitors. I communicated the same message to (Gilad’s father) Noam Schalit and asked him to make sure that Ofer Dekel, who is charged with the Schalit file by the government, received the Hamas “offer.”

Olmert, et al chose to ignore this opportunity, preferring instead to “teach Hamas a lesson.”

Baskin’s final conclusions:

What did this war achieve? What has changed? Has Israel gained its military deterrence? Has Israel changed the security reality in the South? Is Gilad Schalit at home? Has Hamas reduced its basic demands for the release of Schalit? No, no and no! Israel is negotiating now for exactly what could have been achieved without going to war. Israel spent $1 billion on the war, caused some $2 billion worth of damage in Gaza, more than 1000 people have been killed, thousands of lives have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis lived through weeks of terror; millions of Palestinians suffered the bombardment of their towns, cities and refugee camps – what is the result? More hatred, more extremism and more support for fanatics and their ideas – on both sides of the Gaza border.

Read the whole article and weep…

4 thoughts on “Baskin: What the $%#@* Was it All For?

  1. This is pretty much in line with the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said after the Davos Summit a very short time ago:
    “On the night of December 23, just four days before Israel launched air offensive in Gaza, Erdogan said Israel and Syria were “very close” to moving to direct peace talks on the future of the Golan Heights. – Olmert’s last sentence was, ‘As soon as I get back I will consult with my colleagues and get back to you.’ As I (Erdogan) waited for his response,… on December 27, bombs started falling on Gaza,” Erdogan told the Washington Post. Olmert paid a visit to Ankara on Dec. 23 and held a 5.5-hours-long meeting with Erdogan. ”
    (taken from Turkish Weekly, but see also the Interview in Wash. Post on January 31st). Erdogan also mentioned it would be possible to free Shalit…

    Today’s elections will shift Israel still further to the right. The forced expulsion of innocent people for the simple reason that they are not of Jewish descent is becoming an option openly discussed in Israel. How can people be brought to the insight that force will only cause misery, and not peace???

    How can i, as a non-Jew, help to bring the message across? The two sides, those who back Israel, and those who back the Palestinians, do not listen to each other. In other words: how can your blog, Rabbi, become more public to those who a priori do not see that the horror in the Holy Land (which is holy to both sides!) must be stopped??

    “throw your head back and scream to the high heavens” — you made me think of O. Zadkin’s sculpture in Rotterdam “Destroyed City”
    (http://www.zadkine.com/search/?&name=&medium%5B1%5D=on&year%5B1950%5D=on&sentform=true&limit=1&page=6 and
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Zadkine_rb_I.jpg) ,

  2. Regarding Baskin’s article:

    For comparison, Michael Mandel’s article “Self-Defense against Peace”:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/mandel02052009.html

    I think it suffers from the common tendency to speak of nations as individuals (“Israel wants this,” “Israel does that”), but I bring it up here for a very specific purpose. In describing the nation’s actions in such stark terms, it shows how policies somehow override the actual efforts of people like Baskin … who, silly me, I thought it was their job to negotiate policy.

    To continue with that concept of the diversity of views and goals within Israel, and regarding Levy’s article:

    What frustrates me, or frustrates my understanding, is Meretz. I have read many books by Yehoshua, Grossman, and Oz … and I think there is some basic flaw in my perception of their lives and work which prevents me from seeing why they have thrown their (significant) verbal support toward the assault on Gaza, as well as the Lebanon strikes in 2006. These authors questioned the retention of the Occupied Territories, and they were criticized the 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. But what is going on with them now? Why have their voices contributed so greatly to the problem Levy outlines? Can anyone help me understand that?

    Best, Ron

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