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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Now Israel's Actions Must Match Its Rhetoric

With about three weeks left in my final year of college, a few of my fraternity buddies decided to spend a Sunday afternoon drinking on our fraternity's roof. As the alcohol began to take hold, they began to engage in some good natured ribbing with some fraternity members, also drinking on their roof, of the fraternity across the street. One thing lead to another and good natured ribbing turned into a verbal confrontation. The more the confrontation escalated, the more the rhetoric became sensationalized. Soon, each fraternity was promising total destruction of the other. As the rhetoric escalated, finally, one of the fraternity members of the fraternity across the street threw a beer bottle the shattered one of our windows. Now, we were ready to brawl but for reasons I still don't know our side eventually backed down. 'We dared the other side for a full out fraternity war, they obliged, and once we got it, we backed down. We allowed our window to be broken with impunity. We spent the last three weeks of my senior year being the laughingstock of our Greek system.

I believe this story has much relation to the situation in Gaza. That's because, much like own fraternity, Israel has now made bold proclamations. Here is what Israel's Defense Minister said in describing the current conflict with Hamas.

Israel obliterated symbols of Hamas power on the third day of what the defense minister described Monday as a "war to the bitter end," striking next to the Hamas premier's home, and devastating a security compound and a university building.

Here is how their U.S. Ambassador described the conflict.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations says the goal of the current offensive in the Gaza Strip is much broader than ending Palestinian rocket attacks. She says Israel wants to destroy Gaza's ruling Hamas movement.

In an interview Tuesday, Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said Israel's main goal is to "destroy completely" what she called a "terrorist gang."

Here is how a Senior Defense official characterized the military action.

A senior Israeli military officer says Israel is striking at the entire Hamas Government in the Gaza Strip, not just terrorists and people who launch rockets into Israel.


Israeli military's deputy chief of staff Brigadier General Dan Harel says there will not be a single Hamas building left standing in Gaza when the attack is over.

"After this operation there will not be a single Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game," he told the YNet News website.

"We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas Government and all its wings."

Make no mistake, the message from Israel is clear and unmistakable. This is no limited military incursion. This no tit for tat operation. The top officials of the Israeli government see this offensive as one final all out war in which they intend to destroy and eliminate Hamas.

Our fraternity made similar bold proclamations in our own confrontation and we were humiliated when we didn't back those proclamations up. In the case of Israel, the stakes are exponentially higher. If Hamas retains any capability whatsoever after this confrontation, this will undeniably be seen as a loss for Israel. Following a similar loss against Hezbollah two years ago, Israel's military might will be seen as weakening. Her enemies will be emboldened, and so, anything short of a total annihilation of Hamas now will have disastrous results for Israel.

Israel has just performed the war version of going all in, and so they had better be ready to back it up. If Israel doesn't back up its rhetoric with serious military might, they will invite each and every one of their enemies to attack at will. The only thing that Israel cannot afford at all costs is to look weak. Now that they have made very bold proclamations, they must back those up with military action that accomplishes their bold rhetoric. Anything less, and they will suffer a humiliation much worse than my fraternity and with much more serious consequences.

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