March 23, 2011

Disproportionate Restraint - David Isaac

“Disproportionate force” is the accusation invariably hurled at Israel
when she does anything beyond lie down in response to Arab attack. In
Dec. 2008, for example, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in an
effort to reduce Hamas rocket fire coming in from the Gaza Strip ­
1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar bombs were hurled at Israel that year
alone. Less than a year passed before the UN Human Rights Council
Commission on Gaza led by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone
accused Israel of “a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed
at the civilian population.”

But if Israel is guilty of anything it’s of disproportionate restraint.

We see this most recently in the government’s feeble reaction to the
Fogel family murders, in which a mother, a father and their three
children were stabbed to death. The youngest, a 3-month-old baby girl,
had her throat slit to the point of decapitation. It appears that the
terrorists, who are still at large, fled to a nearby Arab village.

“They murder. We build,” was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s
remark to 12-year-old Tamar Fogel, the eldest daughter, who discovered
the slaughter after returning home from an evening out with her youth

The prime minister was referring to the government’s decision, in
light of the attack, to approve the building of some 400 new
apartments in places like Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Sefer and Gush

Notably absent from the list was Itamar, the town where the murders
actually took place. Itamar has been the site of many Arab terror
attacks ­ 15 Jews were murdered at the height of the post-Oslo
“peace”. It especially behooves Israel’s government to build in Itamar
as it bears some guilt for the attack, having failed to provide
adequate defense for the community.

According to Arutz Sheva, “the IDF refused to fund essential security
equipment around the Itamar fence because the government’s legal
department claimed that the fence was illegal…. The army also refused
to help fund technological upgrading and installation of advanced
capabilities for the surveillance camera … The upgrading would have
made it possible, through the use of thermal sensitive devices, to
differentiate between an animal touching the fence and someone going
over it.”

Those who have followed news of the murders may recall that a guard on
the night of the grisly crime was alerted by a fence alarm at the
point where the terrorists infiltrated. Inspecting the area, he saw
that the fence hadn’t been cut (the terrorists had jumped over), so he
assumed an animal had triggered the alarm and did not pursue the
incident further.

The ‘they murder, we build’ approach has not gone over well with the
residents of Judea and Samaria. “It was an insult, Yesha Council
officials said this week,” according to a op-ed. “Linking
construction to this murder is simply insulting. It felt like the PM
was offering us a deal: Here, you deserve 500 housing units for this
murder. And even that figure quickly turned into 400 homes. And then
we discovered that some 200 of those are apartments already approved a
month ago and earmarked for young haredi couples in Beitar Ilit.”

The Netanyahu government says that it will also pursue the murderers.
It may very well catch them. But unless the perpetrators are killed
while being taken, they will end up doing time in an Israeli prison,
perhaps eventually to be released in return for the bodies of some
Israeli soldiers, as happened in the case of Sami Kuntar, who in 1979
shot dead 28-year-old Danny Haran and then killed his 4-year-old
daughter, Einat, by smashing her skull with a rifle butt. No one would
have believed that such a monster would have been released but he was
set free in 2008 to be feted by Lebanon, Syria and Iran. In an
interview, he remarked, “God willing, I will get the chance to kill
more Israelis.”

Another group of terrorists who will probably enjoy relatively cushy
confinement courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer are the Hamas terrorists
who carried out an attack in September, killing four residents of Beit
Haggai, a Jewish town near Hebron. The Arabs ambushed the four when
they stopped their car at an intersection, shot them and then pulled
their bodies from the vehicle and shot them again at point-blank
range. One of the murdered was a woman nine months pregnant.

Just as with the murders in Itamar, the Israeli authorities share some
of the guilt. As Arutz Sheva reported back in September, “The Victims
of Arab Terror organization said it had begun initial steps into suing
the Government of Israel for ‘having taking away the gun of Yitzchak
Imas [one of the four killed at Beit Haggai], which might have been
able to save his life and that of the other victims.”

Successive Israeli governments have pursued an upside down policy,
failing to defend its citizens, even depriving them of the means to
defend themselves, while at the same time releasing terrorists who’ve
committed the most heinous crimes. This suicidal approach is
reminiscent of the policy pursued by the Jewish Agency during the
years of the 1936 Arab Revolt in the Mandate period.

As Shmuel Katz wrote in "Days of Fire" (W.H. Allen, 1968):

After a very brief period of hesitation the Agency decided on a policy
called havlaga (self-restraint). This did not mean passivity. The
Haganah was active, maintaining a twenty-four-hour protective guard on
institutions in the towns, and a constant lookout in the agricultural
settlements, and ready at any moment to repel attackers. But havlaga
forbade carrying the war back to the attackers. They drove the enemy
off (if he attacked in mass) but they did not pursue him; they did not
liquidate his bases, nor counterattack. …

Dr. Chaim Weizmann in his memoirs, published twelve years later,
wrote: “Violence paid political dividends to the Arabs while Jewish
havlaga was expected to be its own reward. It did not even win
official recognition.”

Even as late as 1947, with a full-scale Arab invasion imminent, the
Haganah found it difficult to shed pre-conceived notions. As Katz

Accidents and bad luck, even inefficiency in execution, are
understandable, even inevitable. What was disturbing throughout those
weeks was the strangely unreal political aspects of all Haganah
activity. They persisted in describing these reprisals as “punitive
operations” ­ an empty phrase which emphasized their failure to
recognize the fact that they were waging a war of life and death. But
the Jewish Agency’s official policy was still “moderation and
non-provocation.” …

The Agency’s subservience to the British remained unchanged, although
the latter were openly exerting themselves to arm the Arabs and to
disarm the Jews. A number of police armories in Arab centers were
“taken over” by the Arabs. Again and again British police patrols met
Haganah units and demanded the surrender of their arms. Haganah
soldiers, acting on standing orders, meekly complied.

Why did the Jewish Agency leadership adopt such a policy? Katz offers that:

They saw their pioneering efforts as the foundation on which Jewish
political existence could be built. But with their gaze turned inward,
they were not capable of making a realistic assessment of the forces
ranged against Zionism. Confronted by a clear-sighted, purposeful
antagonist determined to set bounds to Jewish regeneration, they did
not even identify the antagonist, let alone pause to recognize his

Moreover these settlers were under the spell of the illusion of
British sympathy with Zionism, and persuaded themselves that this
interest in Zionism was a moral one. They believed that their social
revolution had endeared itself to the British people, and that the
virtues they personified (if only they could be sufficiently
publicized) would cement British friendship.

It’s unlikely Netanyahu is motivated by similar illusions regarding
Obama’s friendship. What Netanyahu shares with the “elite” of the
Jewish Agency is the folly of his approach. With murder to the left of
him and murder to the right of him, he intends to propose a new peace
initiative. This plan will include more concessions to the PA. His
motive may be that he wishes to head off, in the words of Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, a “diplomatic tsunami” whereby the international
community will recognize a Palestinian State, but as others in the
cabinet say, such an approach is “delusional”.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon points out that even so-called
moderates like PA head Mahmud Abbas want Israel wiped off the map. It
has been documented ad infinitum how the PA incites violence,
indoctrinates children and celebrates the murder of Jews. The PA says
one thing in English and another in Arabic. In the case of the Beit
Haggai attack, the PA captured the terrorists responsible only to
release them a few months later. When Sami Kuntar was released, the PA
made him an honorary citizen.

What is remarkable about the PA’s reaction to the Fogel family murders
is that it condemned them at all. In the end, the PA’s official media
made up for this uncharacteristic condemnation when in the next breath
it held Israel ultimately responsible and suggested, according to
MEMRI, “that the attack could have been perpetrated by an Israeli

The Jewish Agency chose subservience to resistance. Netanyahu does the
same. But it was resistance (led by the Irgun and Lehi) that finally
drove the British from Palestine. It is resistance ­ not pre-emptive
surrender ­ that offers Israel its only chance to extricate itself
from the hangman’s noose.

Women For Israel's Tomorrow  (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380

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