Tuesday, March 04, 2008

4-Mar-08: Uri Orbach and the draining of the Gaza swamp

The Israeli columnist and broadcaster Uri Orbach, writing on the YNet website today, delivers some home truths about what it means to have a full-fledged jihadist regime on our southern border. We have long appreciated Orbach's sane take on events, and this piece really gets it right.
Draining the Gaza swamp: Catchy proverbs are nice but the Gaza problem can only be resolved by action
Uri Orbach

Once upon a time, members of the peace camp came up with a nice proverb regarding the war on terror. “Instead of catching each fish separately,” they said, “it would be better to drain the entire swamp.” Or in other words: Instead of engaging in a Sisyphean war and pursuing each terrorist separately, it would be better to make peace and change the state of the region so that there is no reason for terror attacks to begin with.

This was a very nice proverb. To our misfortune, it was not tried on fish but rather on people – on us.

The years that followed the Oslo agreements were the testing grounds of this proverb: we had meetings and endless discussions. We even handed over territory to the terrorists’ control based on the assumption that this way we shall dry up the terror swamp and the fish will proceed to find another job.

As it turned out, the fish were not quite familiar with this proverb. The Israeli withdrawal process not only failed to bring about calm but instead led to a huge wave of Palestinian terrorism.

The Arafat gangs arrived here from Tunisia and the more this murderous partner established itself in the region, the higher the casualty toll became. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was a bit more realistic, realized that there will be no peace forthcoming, and that the terror swamp will not be dried up. He too approached reality as a murky swamp and decided to disengage from Gaza and pull Israel, its army, and its communities from that muck. The most popular proverb at the time was “we have nothing to look for in the Gaza swamp.”

That experiment also crashed with a loud bang. The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which was accompanied by the uprooting of Jewish communities there, did not bring any quiet, but rather only made things worse.

Hamas took over the Strip and the residents of Sderot and Gaza-region communities have been increasingly suffering since then from Hamas attacks. The swamp did not calm even for a moment. The withdrawal attempts and the proverbs only made the swamp deeper.

So what is to come? Fewer proverbs and more action. The solution for the Gaza problem, assuming there even is such solution, would be a regional one, along with the Egyptians in the Sinai. It may be a solution that is forced upon the Palestinians, with the half-hearted acquiescence of their political forces. In the meantime, Israel would have to continue to eliminate, thwart, occupy, withdraw, and occupy again. The terror fish do not want to see their swamp drained and if we disengage from the swamp, they keep on chasing us on the shore.

The sad thing is that there are many proverbs that are appropriate for life, but life does not always abide by the proverbs.
It wasn't always a swamp down there. And it need not have remained one. With the phenomenal amounts of foreign aid poured into it by European governments and a host of other major donors, Gaza ought to have been turned long ago into a place of fertility and productivity and life. If nation-building is what the Gazans sought, they have been astonishingly unsuccessful at every single aspect of it. The problem is it's not only fish you find in the swamps. There are also leeches, blood-sucking parasites, snakes and slimy creatures. In Gaza's swamp, the weak and poor have long been the victims of the strong and thuggish. And relief has often come from places you might not expect. Read today's account of Israel admitting dozens of trucks packed with aid and medical supplies into Gaza for confirmation that life doesn't always abide by the proverbs as Uri Orbach says.

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