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Israel Can Let the Lights Go Out over Gaza

June 19 2017

In April, in order to punish Hamas for refusing to pay taxes, the Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to stop supplying the Gaza Strip with fuel for its sole power plant. The PA then also ceased its long-time custom of paying for 40 percent of the electricity Gaza imports from Israel. Unsurprisingly, Hamas has agreed neither to start paying its taxes nor to start paying for its own power imports. Israel, after supplying the electricity free of charge for six weeks, has now announced that it will pull the plug. Efraim Inbar comments:

The Hamas leadership in Gaza has threatened Israel with “an explosion” if it does not supply electricity to Gaza at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Blackmail is, of course, part of the Hamas repertoire. . . .

Voices in Israel and abroad are advocating “moderation”—meaning capitulation—and insisting that Israel has no interest in an escalation. While Israel naturally prefers quiet along its borders, giving in to Hamas’s demands and granting it a victory will only lead to further demands. Supplying electricity to Gaza in exchange for a promise that Gazans refrain from shooting at Israeli civilians is no different from paying protection money to the Mafia.

There is no strategic or moral reason why Israel should supply free electricity to Gaza. While Israel does not desire escalation, it has no reason to fear it. . . .

Hamas exploits the suffering of Gazans to extract humanitarian aid and sympathy for their cause. But Gazans cannot be exempted from responsibility for the consequences of Hamas’s actions.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority

A New Book Tries, and Fails, to Understand the West Bank’s Jews

Aug. 22 2017

In City on a Hilltop, Sara Yael Hirschhorn seeks to explain Israel’s settler movement, rejecting the common misconception that its members are fanatics uniformly motivated by religious zeal and ferocious nationalism. Nonetheless, writes Evelyn Gordon, Hirschhorn fails to look past her own political assumptions:

[R]eaders emerge from [the book] with no clear understanding of what drives the settlement movement. This isn’t surprising, since Hirschhorn admits in her conclusion that she herself has no such understanding: “After discussions with dozens of Jewish-American immigrants in the occupied territories, I still struggled to understand how they saw themselves and their role within the Israeli settlement enterprise.”

Consequently, she’s produced an entire book about settlers that virtually ignores the twin beliefs at the heart of their enterprise: Israel has a right to be in the territories, whether based on religious and historical ties, international law, or both, and Israel has a need to be there, whether for religious and historical reasons, security ones, or both.

This glaring omission seems to stem largely from her inability to take such beliefs seriously. In one noteworthy example, she writes, “While their religio-historical claims to the Gush Etzion area are highly contentious, many settler activists over the past 50 years have asserted Biblical ties to the region.” But what exactly is contentious about that assertion? No serious person would deny that many significant events in the Bible took place in what is now called the West Bank. . . . One could argue that this doesn’t justify Jews living there today, but if you can’t acknowledge that this area is Judaism’s religious and historical heartland, and that many Jews consequently believe that giving it up would tear the heart out of the Jewish state, you can’t understand a major driver of the settlement movement.

Similarly, Hirschhorn pays scant attention to the security arguments for retaining the West Bank, and none at all to Israel’s strong claim to the area under international law. . . . The result is that while most of her settlers don’t come off as fanatics, they often do come off as simpletons—people who became “colonialist occupiers” for no apparent reason, without ever really thinking about it.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Israel & Zionism, Settlements, West Bank