Beyond the Cusp

September 15, 2015

Who were the colonizers of MENA Pre-World War I?

 

We hear much talk by the mainstream media and especially the leftist editorialists about how the deprived victims the Arab populations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) who were subjugated beneath the imperial European (and presumably American) colonizers. Exactly who were these colonizers and for how long had they exploited the citizens of MENA’s lands? Well, according to the liberal and mainstream media story line as they infer, though never quite say outright, were England, France, Italy and Spain. Further, there will be implications of over a century to potentially many centuries these colonial powers ruled over most of the MENA nations with many remaining under colonial control after World War I and even after World War II with the old dynasties lasting through 1970 or even 1979, and the most brash might even claim that there is a colonial power still ruling in the Middle East to this very day, though this last claim is as big a lie as they come. Perhaps a closer look is in order to get an honest picture.

 

Let’s begin with when the nations in MENA first came under imperial control and were placed under the presumed onus of foreign rule. Colonial rule came to the MENA nations in an early period which many of us first heard referenced when we studied the Bible. Perhaps some of the earliest colonial powers are not exactly what many of us would ever consider to be colonial powers yet as these were rulers who conquered other nations and subjugated them, these were the original colonialists. Terms can be applied to situations which most of us never would have considered applicable but when you are weaving a lie it is easy to go overboard in your definitions and apply modern terms to ancient events. The Egyptians would have been the first of the colonial powers many of us knew about despite there were others close to the same age such as the Hittites, Minoans, Mesopotamian, Persian and even Israel under Kings David and Solomon. All of these predated the better known Greek and Roman Empires and dates back to the ancient beginnings of China and Mayan cultures. A handy little timeline can be seen below. For the purpose of choosing a start date, why not begin around the year five-hundred which is after the fall of Rome and the Western Roman Empire while the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire was limping into the future feebly.

 

 

Timeline of World Civilizations 3700 BCE through 1700 CE

Timeline of World Civilizations 3700 BCE through 1700 CE

 

 

All the most ancient empires have fallen and for the most part there was peace with each city moving forward loosely attached to Constantinople across the entirety of MENA though the farther west one went across northern Africa, which had less the ties to the Byzantine rule. This left this area ripe for the pickings and a harvester was about to enter the scene. Shortly before the year seven-hundred a new force emerged under the banner of Islam and began its spread heading initially into the heart of the former lands of Babylon, Persia and into Egypt. There was little resistance as the Byzantine Empire was crumbling and unable to field a credible defense. Jerusalem fell in April 637 to the forces of the Rashidun Caliphate. The conditions for the surrender were understood to be the conquering Islamic rulers would give guarantees of civil and religious freedoms for the Christians under the rule from Jerusalem in exchange for Jizya, a tax on non-Muslims given in exchange for their protections which also included the Christians acceptance of Dhimmitude, a form of subservient lower class citizenship which was to be protected and tolerated and condoned. The spread of Islam took place largely in three stages, the first during the life of Mohammad, Next under the first four Caliphs, and finally under Umayyad Rule which was the basis for the Caliphate (see map below).

 

 

Expansion of Islam Across MENA and threaten Europe before Ottoman Rule

Expansion of Islam Across MENA and threaten Europe before Ottoman Rule

 

 

After the spread of the Caliphate which continued what was technically an empire which implied colonization over territories beyond the initial founding under Mohammad which was centered around Medina, the beginnings of Mohammad’s power, and included the Mecca region which Mohammad took partially as it was the closes power base, the Meccan rulers denied Mohammad’s claim to rightful ruler and had chased the early Mohammad from their territories as they rejected his preaching and teachings and determined he was a corrupting influence. The Caliphate had followed particular lines of succession which had split early after Mohammad’s death which formed the duality which still splits Islam into competing camps of Sunnis and Shiites. For the largest part the Sunni Muslims outnumbered and were the stronger camp though never quite capable, or more likely never made an effort to unify belief as beliefs can be near impossible to be completely defeated thus any effort would eventually prove fruitless and not worth the efforts expended. Instead the Sunni simply kept expanding their empire and largely tolerated the Shiites unless attacked and given no choice. When the two sects did engage each other the Sunni proved superior defeating and often killing the Shiites and their rulers in battle. The Caliphate continued to rule their lands after and expanding conquering Spain and headed into Frankish territory, early France, where the Caliphate reached is furthest advance. After taking Granada they advanced to the next major city, Tours, where a decisive battle turned the tides in the year 732 CE finally having a definitive defeat of the Caliphate forces. The battle victory is credited to Charles Martellus (the Hammer) Martel, who lost a mere thousand to fifteen-hundred of his forces, would later in history be granted the title of savior of Christianity. The vanquished was Abd Ar-Rahman Al Ghafiqi who was slain during the battle along with an estimated twelve-thousand of his warriors.

 

Beginning at the beginning of the fourteenth century the Ottoman Empire began to make its presence felt which would eventually lead to their conquering the entirety of the Caliphate at their most powerful. Until this point the Caliphate ruled over the near entirety of MENA and had spread into Spain and southeastern Europe. The map below shows the advances and periods of the Ottoman Empire conquering the Caliphate, bringing an end to the successions of Caliphs and temporarily ending the violence between Shiite and Sunni camps. The Ottoman succession follows the lineage of Ottoman Beylik who initiated the spread and domain of his family tribe in the year 1300 as his aim was likely like everybody before them, to conquer the known world. The expansions continued from his death in 1359 through 1451 when the next ruler of the Ottomans who expanded the borders notably during his rule through 1481 was Medmed II. He was followed by Selim I (1512-1520) and Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). There was expansion beyond this period where the Ottoman Empire reached its apex before its fortunes began to wane.

 

 

Ottoman Empire Ascending from 1300 through 1683 includes Golden Age of Islam

Ottoman Empire Ascending from 1300 through 1683 includes Golden Age of Islam

 

 

The Ottoman Empire caught the Caliphate as it was in retreat after having lost Spain (Andalusia) during the Christian Reconquista which was part of the campaign to rid Spain of its Moorish Muslims as well as the Jews and any other group which was not Catholic and sworn fealty to the crown. This period of the Christian Reconquista was a logical following from the victory at Tours by Charles (the Hammer) Martel and spanned an area of time stretching from its earliest uprisings in the north and northwest in the Battle of Covadonga in the summer of 722, a full decade before the battle of Tours, but this revolt was the very beginning of the end of Islamic rule in Spain (Andalusia). The battles continued until finally the signing of the Treaty of Granada on November 25, 1491. This was the end of the fighting with the turning over of the city of the final southern coastal towns of Granada. It was during the final push that King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile that the infamous Spanish Inquisition was initiated. The Spanish Inquisition lasted from November 1, 1478 through to July 15, 1834. The Inquisition was the attempt, a rather thorough and successful attempt, to convert, drive out or otherwise deal with any residual Moorish or Islamic followers remaining in Spain along with ridding Spain of its Jews who either fled with the Muslims or were chased eventually across all of Europe ending up in Russia and Poland for a while until the Czar’s pogroms drove them into Poland and Germany which set the stage for the Shoah, the Holocaust.

 

There were other adventures which came from Europe somewhat as a response to Islamic Caliphate advances leading up to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. These were known as the Crusades which were an attempt to retake the Holy Land after the initial fall of Jerusalem in April 637. There were four separate crusades which took separate routes reaching the Holy Lands and gathered the troops from various countries, kingdoms and City-States they passed through and could find willing, or sometimes less than willing, forces to join in their ‘holy’ missions. The Crusader routes and periods of duration (shown below on map) began in 1095 with the First Crusade which continued until 1099. The Second Crusade began in 1147 and lasted until 1149. The Third Crusade was initiated in 1189 going into 1192. The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 and terminated in 1204. They had limited success and resulted in making some groups and individuals very wealthy, so much so that they remained in the Middle East despite having to live under Islamic rule. As far as having a definitive effect on the course of history, it is doubtful and at best might be credited with a residual effect of engaging forces which otherwise could have assisted with the attacks on Constantinople but not on events thereafter.

 

 

Crusader Routes I through IV spanning 1095 through 1289

Crusader Routes I through IV spanning 1095 through 1289

 

 

The Ottoman Empire final began to weaken while the European powers were feeling the results of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and soon the industrial revolution. While these events were transforming Europe the Ottoman Empire mostly rested on their laurels and stagnated which would cost them as they began to be surpassed by Western technology and discoveries and inventions which led to superior weapons of war. There were three stages of decline for the Ottoman Empire as indicated on the map below. Parts of the Ottoman Empire were held by them for just over a half century, and were under Islamic Caliphate before that for another seven-hundred to almost a thousand years. The final areas of the Ottoman Empire finally fell during World War I and became the Mandate lands from which Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan (currently Jordan), Syria and Israel were formed. The European colonialists held lands which were formerly under either Ottoman or Caliphate colonial rule for well over a century while the Europeans held these lands for periods of merely a decade or less to the longest being at most a century and those are the exceptions.

 

 

Ottoman Empire in Decline 1800 through 1914 and Start of World War I

Ottoman Empire in Decline 1800 through 1914 and Start of World War I

 

 

The next map depicts the lands as they were held by European nations after World War I had established their claims in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The area outlined in red depicts the mandate lands decided by the San Remo Conference in 1922. These demarcations were proposed initially by the Allied Powers of Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Russia. The United States observed the negotiations but was not a direct signatory as the United States desires no holdings, colonial states, mandate responsibilities and was hopeful that they could have assisted in ending this horrific war and had already made their feelings known concerning the restructuring of Europe and the redrawing of boundaries, founding independent states out of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. Eventually the United States was coerced into adding their approval of the Mandate System which many viewed as the most tenuous of the treaties despite the signature of King Faisal signing as the representative for the Arab League.

 

 

Colonial Structure Post World War I defined by Treaties from initial surrender in 1919 through the San Remo Conference setting up the Mandate System in 1922 plus Sykes-Picot redrawing of much of the Middle East

Colonial Structure Post World War I defined by Treaties from initial surrender in 1919 through the San Remo Conference setting up the Mandate System in 1922 plus Sykes-Picot redrawing of much of the Middle East

 

 

The final map below depicts the independent states and their dates when their current governments or their freedom from European colonial rule came about. These dates are meaningful as it puts to a lie the claims you will likely hear about how these nations were under colonial rule and only recently gained their independence. There will be other lies which will be half-truths or misinformation by giving one impressions knowing the reality is totally different.

 

 

Dates that the MENA nations received their independence after colonial rule many since the times of the Persians or even earlier

Dates that the MENA nations received their independence after colonial rule many since the times of the Persians or even earlier

 

 

The actual history which needs to be remembered is that many of these nations have been ruled by outside forces since the very early ages of civilizations while others were once inhabited by a nation which either was destroyed in history or faced a natural disaster which placed their population, that which survived, within another culture where they assimilated and disappeared from history though they often brought skills with them which benefited their host nation which likely made them more welcome. One example of the last occurrence was the Minoan civilization which resided on the Isle of Santorini in the Mediterranean Sea. Everything was going along really great as they had their religion and held their sacrifices, one of which is of interest if you know your Hebrew Bible. The Minoans had a spring ritual which was intended to bring fertility to their crops, their herds, their people and to benefit all parts of their society. In this sacrifice they had to prepare a feast using newly born calf boiled and then roasted and brushed with a preparation made from the calf’s mother’s milk. Anyway, the Minoans were happily fishing and enjoying the wonderful Mediterranean weather until the ground rumbled and the caldera erupted all but destroying the entire Island which has slowly resurfaced in the ensuing years. Santorini is located between the Greek mainland and Cyprus in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea (see picture with map insert below). Santorini is still a dangerous place and potentially threatened with another eruption. Like most volcanoes, it is not a matter of if but of when the next devastating eruption pours forth and erases all traces of human development or existence as the Island may be blown completely apart only to rise from the Mediterranean depths with a whole new look and geography just as it has done throughout all of history. The homes and island is beautiful and a jewel glittering in the Mediterranean Sea and we can only hope it continues to glitter from the lights on the porches of the homes and not from lava belching forth from out of the sea.

 

 

Volcano Thera Caldera Santorini Island Ancient Home of the Minoan Civilization until Eruption just ruined their day

Volcano Thera Caldera Santorini Island Ancient Home of the Minoan Civilization until Eruption just ruined their day

 

 

When we look at the history of MENA nations one need remember that much of the area was also the cradle of civilization and as such had a distressing habit of spawning great civilizations which came, expanded as far as they could reach, overreached or had a number of bad years or the next great civilization either defeated and overran their empire or the two had a merger of sorts as exampled by the Greeks being subsumed by the Roman Empire which did not exactly destroy the four Greek sub-Empires as much as they incorporated as the Greeks saw an advantage of being the center of education and philosophy while the Romans knew of the Greek intellect and their ability to fashion weapons. That is not to say there were not conflicts, but somehow both civilizations influenced each other for the better. But even before Rome, before the Greeks, before the Persians there were the Babylonians, the Israelite Kingdom, the Hittite, the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian Empires. Each ruled and the areas of MENA can be said to have survived as best the individual tribes, city-states, empires, nations and peoples could be expected. There were the Ancient Empires which lasted from prehistory through the Greeks of Alexander. Alexander the Great was the last of the ancient empire builders and his would be the first of the new age empires, the actual colonialists of history. From here many empires claimed to be setting out to conquer the world but they also knew that dream could not be realized in one’s lifetime. Even here the states of MENA faced the Greeks followed by the Romans then the Byzantines as Rome broke into two Empires, the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine; and the western Roman or what became the Holy Roman Empire. Even European nations became colonized as there were the intra-European empires such as the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Charlemagne, Napoleon and eventually the Nazis. After the Byzantine Empire collapsed there was the Caliphate followed by the Ottoman Empire, the two main Islamic Empires. During their time in power there were still the Mongols who came to conquer the world and instead converted to Islam by in large. China and India had their effect on the nations of the Middle East and also set up that area for who could take control of the trade routes. It was because of lack of access to these very trade routes which launched the European age of colonization which is the final or modern stage. Where the age of European conquest began in the late fifteenth century with Columbus and the other explorers heading to lay claim to the new lands in the Americas, then started an age of conquest as the natives were not as advanced when it came to warfare. The one advantage of living in the most contested lands in the world is you build up some formidable weaponry and tactics which the native tribes of the Americas were of no match.

 

The lands which form MENA were already colonized by the Ottomans who had a number of other cultures which also fought with their colonizers as all had a common bond which was Islam. This made these lands too much of a threat plus the Europeans had learned to have a healthy respect for the Ottomans and the followers of Islam through the Crusades and the wars which were barely able to constrain the Ottomans from sweeping across Europe. Much of that was due to the King of Poland and Lithuania John III Sobieski who came and relieved the city of Vienna from the Ottoman siege and brought that offensive to a conclusive end. Still, there was little attempt until into the nineteenth century before any assaults were waged on a by then weakened and almost backward sclerotic empire. Taking fair stock on the years of actual colonialization we see that the MENA nations, of which Syria is no exception except like Israel there was an Assyrian Empire which did not extend to anywhere near as vast an area as the more well-known colonizing empires, otherwise Syria has been a colony of somebody for a very long time. The ancient Empires spanned a good three-thousand years or more depending on sources. The middle empires which include the Roman, Byzantine, the Caliphate and the Ottoman Empires lasted almost two-thousand years. The final age was the European age of colonization of the MENA area which lasted less than two hundred years and when we speak of the Middle East itself it is even shorter barely making a century with Syria being far less and Iran almost untouched by the European colonizers. So, when the news reports tell of how these poor nations have been colonies for near an inestimable time and have not tasted freedom until only the most recent of times and even then most were brutal dictatorships, there is some truth. The problem is for the vast majority we were talking of Biblical era and pre Biblical times all the way through the Greeks and to the Roman Empire after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire these lands were ruled by Muslims for the majority of the modern ages.

 

 

Mandate of San Remo for French and British including actual treaty demarcations for each nation

Mandate of San Remo for French and British including actual treaty demarcations for each nation

 

 

The Europeans only poured in at the end of the Ottoman Empire as it fell with the final areas which included Syria not falling until World War I thus not becoming a colony of the Europeans until around 1920 and with the areas of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel they were not colonies as much as protectorates being held secure from invasions by the British and the French starting in 1922 with the enactment of the San Remo Conference. The above map shows the League of Nations proposed British and French Mandates with the demarcations for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan and Israel. This mandate was carved from the remains of the Ottoman Empire where the nation of Turkey was what would remain as the originator of the entire Ottoman Empire while these areas above plus Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman were brought into being and Saudi Arabia gained complete and uncontested control over Mecca and Medina. These maps and dates should arm those wishing to have the truth behind their arguments readily available to speak to what exactly Europe owes the refugees and victims of colonial rule when in reality it is the Arabian Peninsula, the originator of the Caliphate, and Turkey as the original source for the Ottoman Turks who founded the Ottoman Empire. The Europeans as far as Syria is concerned were a brief caretaker that lasted barely twenty-six years, exactly the same as it did for Israel and Israel has only had to take in over one million Jewish refugees from across the lands that make up MENA as many of them drove their Jews from their lands during the late 1940s and through the 1950s with some from Ethiopia and Russia coming even later and still taking in the Bnei Menashe from India and Israel will continue to take in Jewish refugees from the world over and has also taken in other refugees including but not limited to the Vietnamese boat people and Christians seeking refuge from persecutions. It makes one wonder how many refugees have been taken in by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (who after the Gulf War which freed them from Saddam Hussein thanked the Palestinian workers for the support which Yasser Arafat lauded on Saddam Hussein and flew every last one back to the Palestinian Occupied areas of Judea and Samaria), Qatar (whose Al-Jazeera news service so gallantly praised and supported the uprisings in the hopes of placing the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of as many nations as possible and almost won Egypt and really urged on the war in Syria until it turned so very ugly) or Bahrain. One might expect these wealthy nations to assist their Arab brothers and sisters but nary a word from them except to demand that Europe do their part because the Europeans had colonies in the area for an average of fifty years compared to the one thousand year rule of Islam as the Caliphate and the Ottoman Empires. Europe should offer to take in refugees one for every twenty that the nations of the Arabian Peninsula give refuge to, that would be fair and proportional but don’t hold your breath.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 5, 2014

The Lessons of Carthage, a Teaching Moment for Israel

Filed under: 1949 Armistice Line,Absolutism,Act of War,Administration,Advanced Weapions Systems,Air Strike,al-Qaeda in Gaza,Amalekites,Anti Missile System,Anti-Israel,Anti-Semitism,Anti-Zionist,Appease Islamic Interests,Appeasement,Appointment,Arab Appeasement,Arab League,Arab World,Arabs,Armed Services,Armistice,Ballot Access,Blood Libel,Bombing,Cabinet,Carthage,Ceasefire,Civilization,Code Red Warning System,Condemning Israel,Conflict Avoidnce,Defend Israel,Domestic NGOs,Elections,Europe,European Governments,European Pressure,European Union,Executive Order,Fatah,Fatah Charter,Forced Solution,Foreign Funding,Foreign NGOs,Gaza,Gaza Blockade,Government,Green Line,Hamas,Hamas Charter,Haniyeh of Hamas,Hannibal,Hate,History,IAF,IDF,IDF,Infiltration Tunnels,Inteligence Report,Internal Pressures,International Politics,Intifada,Iron Dome,Islam,Islamic Jihad,Islamic Pressure,Israel,Israeli Interests,Jewish Home,Jewish Leadership,Jewish State,Jihad,Jihad,Khaled Mashaal,Kidnap Soldier,Legal Blockade,Mahmoud Abbas,Mainstream Media,Meaning of Peace,Media Bias,Media Censorship,Media Intimidation,Mediterranean Sea,Middle East,Military Intervention,Misreporting,Muslim Brotherhood,Muslim World,Muslims,Netanyahu,Numidia,Omission,One State Solution,Palestinian,Palestinian Authority,Palestinian Legislative Committee,Palestinian Pressures,Peace Process,Pillar of Defense,Pillar of Smoke,Politics,Pre-Conditions,Prime Minister,Promised Land,Punic Wars,Quintus Maximus,Rafah Crossing,Ramallah,Recognize Israel,Register to Vote,Response to Terrorism,Rock Throwing,Rocket Attacks,Rome,San Remo Conference,Sderot,Secular Interests,Smuggling Tunnels,Support Israel,Terror,Terrorist Release,Threat of War,Two State Solution,United Nations Presures,United States,United States Pressure,Validate Elections,Voting,West Bank,World Opinion,World Pressures,Zionism,Zionist — qwertster @ 2:25 AM
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Any serious study of military history will include the Punic Wars and the lessons which should be taken from the entire series of events and their resultant outcomes and ramifications into the future. The first peculiarity of the Punic Wars is the fact that there were three wars between two of the greatest powers of their time and definitely the strongest forces around the Mediterranean Sea. The initial Punic War was fought as Rome attempted to settle islands in the Mediterranean Sea which were already part of the Carthaginian Empire which was largely based on trade with a strong emphasis on water based trade routes. This resulted in Carthage having a very powerful naval forces which was capable of placing superior numbers of ships with skillful and experienced crews against superior ships of Rome which were only defeated due to their lesser numbers and less experienced crews. Still the Romans managed to severely damage the Carthaginian naval power. Much of the First Punic War was fought in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea with negligible land based fighting except for the battles for control of Sicily which resulted in a Roman crushing land based victory. In the interim period between the first two wars, the Romans seized the opportunity of the troubles and violent conflicts within Cartage taking not only Sicily but also seizing Sardinia and Corsica.

The Second Punic War included the one item almost everyone remembers, the crossing of the Alps with elephants by the Carthaginian General Hannibal. Hannibal’s victories across the northern lands leading to Rome were brilliant victory after victory for his forces defeating the Roman legions. The cost of these battles and the loss of his elephants and almost all of his siege equipment meant that Hannibal was unable to execute the coup de grâce by taking Rome itself. The eventual defeat of Hannibal’s armies came when the Roman Commander Quintus Fabius Maximus utilized a strategy of engagement without fighting. He would position his forces as if preparing to engage Hannibal who would organize his forces and attempt to engage at which point Quintus Fabius Maximus would retreat with his legions into the countryside. The main actual engagement by Quintus Maximus forces were reserved to inhibit and prevent any scrounging by Hannibal’s skirmishers denying Hannibal of the necessities to feed and resupply his troops with necessities which eventually forced Hannibal to retreat. Also forcing Hannibal to retreat home was an offensive by Rome by sea placing troops in Africa threatening Hannibal’s capital and homelands which assisted in his decision to give up his conquest of Rome after fifteen years of mostly success against Roman forces but never quite being able to score that final knockout as the Romans continued to field legion after legion as they were able to replace lost troops seemingly without end. Before peace was finally agreed Hannibal had fallen in battle leading to a void in the leadership of Carthage and a power struggle which forced their suing for peace which Rome accepted also being weary of war and the necessity for tending the homelands and the demands of the people for peace and restoration of order and infrastructure.

Then we come to the Third Punic and final Punic War. This was the most unequal engagement as Carthage not only never recovered fully from the Second Punic War and had also faced skirmishes with Numidian raiders during the intermediate years. Rome, in keeping the peace, was assigned by treaty as the enforcer for resolving any conflicts and had been favoring Numidia over Carthage which alienated the people of Carthage. Rome also desired to avoid any potential for conflict in the future and when it became obvious that Carthage was again building military capabilities, Rome started making increasingly difficult demands under threat of war. The final demand was for the Carthaginians to destroy Carthage the city and move it inland and away from the coast ending their naval capabilities. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and Carthage refused and Rome had their war to end all Carthage wars. Rome defeated Carthage after a three year siege of the city of Carthage before finally breaching the city walls. The reputed result according to some descriptions from poetic history described the ruins or the city of Carthage was there was no stone or brick left standing upon another and the lands surrounding the city for miles was salted and unable to be productive for the future. Needless to say, the destruction of Carthage was complete and Carthage remained silent through the rest of history and is a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia.

Israel could be said just fought the Third Gaza War against and answering to Hamas aggressions. The First Gaza War from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009 was also referred to as Operation Cast Lead in Israel and as the Gaza Massacre in the Arab world and by Hamas as the Battle of al-Furqan. The war was preceded by steadily increasing rocket fire into southern Israel reaching the major cities of Beersheba and Ashdod for the first time during the conflict. The war ended with an agreement partially arranged with outside assistance which included the United States. The Second Gaza War from November 14, 2012 to November 21, 2012 was called Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud is the literal translation) by Israel. The initial launch of the war was in response to the launch of over 100 rockets at Israel from within Gaza during a 24-hour period along with an ambush of an Israeli Jeep on the Israeli side of the Gaza fence. In both of these wars Israel was determined to have gained through military success and resulting from their military victory the Israelis gained a period of quiet from the rocket fire from within Gaza. The victory for Hamas was in media reports and propaganda war damaging Israel’s reputation across the globe. The main difference between the two sides is most stark when you understand what their respective goals are and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to attain those goals. Israel simply desires peace and quiet and an end to rockets launched into their civilian areas and attempts on infiltrations in order to murder and kidnap Israelis, either civilian or military personnel, with the kidnappings to be used to trade for the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons with emphasis on the release of those whose crimes included the largest numbers of Israelis murdered, almost universally the Israeli casualties are civilians from these attacks which are almost never launched against the IDF. Hamas desires media coverage which paints Israel as monsters that kill indiscriminately and are willing to place as many Gazan civilians in compromised locations in order to maximize the numbers of Gazans injured and killed so that the media has pictures to transmit to the world and they complement these with press releases claiming Israelis target only civilians. The Hamas accusations ring hollow and are closer to projection of their acts onto the Israelis than it is valid and truthful but the media is largely glad to paint Israel in the worst light possible. Further, media in Gaza are subjected to censoring by Hamas minders and often threaten journalists who report damaging truths sometimes ejecting them and placing them on a ban lists never permitted to report from within Gaza in the future.

The recent conflict which actually could reignite at any moment as no peace has been signed and the two sides agreed ceasefire has recently been extended for an additional thirty days until the end of October in order that a peace can be negotiated, theoretically. The reason that such is highly unlikely is because the two sides have only been able to agree to meet towards the end of October and past performance has not indicated any great degree of agreement or cooperation between the two sides. Eventually an agreement will hopefully be reached and signed at a ceremony probably held on the East Lawn of the White House, with President Obama looming over the proceedings grinning like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland and Vice President Biden wandering around trying to decide where best to stand, while the two parties, who are to sign the agreement, taking positions as far apart as possible without appearing too obvious, eyeing each other warily wondering whether the signing can be pulled off before a disagreement or wrong move is misinterpreted and the entire signing blows up into a shouting match with both sides accusing the other of perfidy and subversion. In the present Hamas threatens repeatedly to return to firing rockets if Israel continues to refuse to meet their every demand, but at least they utilize differing intervals which makes it less predictable and removes any chance for overwhelming boredom. This also is why there are many who hold doubts as to whether the ceasefire can ever lead to an actual armistice or will we wake overly early one morning in the darkness to the sound of the Code Red sirens and the raining of rockets upon our cities renewed. We can ponder on our way to the shelters, as long as it does not interfere with our hopefully quick enough haste as we all have a varying amount of time but all of them measured in seconds, whether the resumption was something an Israeli leader or IDF commander made to the press or did Hamas’s leaders Mashal or Haniyeh just have indigestion during the night and really did not wish to suffer alone. Such a situation is just one more reason that the Israeli leadership, both the military and the politicians though it is difficult to know which should garner the majority of the blame, could and should have taken the lessons of the Punic Wars and the additional carnage, deaths, and destruction heaped on the Roman populace all because their politicians and military leaders were unwilling to take the reins and saddle up and finish what had been started once and for all as they eventually were forced to do after two additional, unnecessary and extremely destructive wars.

There was unity, well as close to unity as is possible in Israel, as over 80% of Israelis in most polls desired, many demanded, the retaking of Gaza and putting an end once and for all with Hamas and Islamic Jihad ending the raining of rockets and wars fought every two or three years. The military was tasked with drawing up sets of plans and their relative cost, projected losses, estimates of Gazan deaths, time frame for length of each scenario and whatever other particulars the Prime Minister and his inner cabinet (war cabinet) had requested or desired. The leadership of the IDF had whomever is tasked with such planning to give them their estimates and the other particulars and also a briefing on the overall strategies and conceivable ramifications likely including reactions by the United Nations, United States, European Union and the rest of the alphabet of NGOs, alliances, compacts and even individual countries and gave them a short time frame, as it is expected by the Command level officers that such plans and their respective costs and eventualities have all been worked out and hashed and rehashed a million times adjusting them to the most recent intelligence and thus all that was required was the summation briefing to be prepared. This all happened in relative quiet and without alarming the public and the briefing for the Prime Minister and his Inner Cabinet was held and everything was probably ignored as I doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu ever actually desired or would permit the retaking of Gaza as such would cause him extreme discomfort wherever he would travel after Israel did such an, as the rest of the world believes, unthinkable act of cruelty, wretchedness and inhuman brutality. The exercise of having the IDF command work up the briefing was to be able to use that as a balm to soothe the anger and grating disbelief when the backlash came from a public that is sick to death of the repeated wars and the incessant rockets raining down in ever increasing numbers and over increasing range culminating in timeframes measured more in months than years in a crescendo of thousand rockets per week before the leadership finally releases the IDF to take the offensive and silence the rockets at least temporarily. The decision reached was that the cost in lives, equipment, world image, reputation, perception and treasure was too great to bear. The cost analysis considered by the Israeli leadership very probably did not do a cost comparison which included on the ledgers in favor of ending this revolving door of off and on wars the cost of the future wars which if the government continues to balk from responsibility and retake Gaza will continue endlessly at ever shorter intervals of calm and have costs of which eventually will come the cost we cannot bear, the end of Israel under a rain of rockets no amount of Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 1, 2, 3 or whatever and any other defensive systems. Sometimes the only real defense is a completed offense and if it makes Israel unpopular and denounced, at least we will remain alive which comes before what the idiots around the world think.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad et al refuse to take the responsibility for bringing devastation down on Gaza, making the lives of innocent Gazans horridly difficult. The only crime one can hold the Gazan civilians responsible for was electing Hamas to govern their lives. They may refuse any accusation that they knowingly elected a leadership which would bring these wars down upon them with all the destruction and misery they entail, but because they continue to allow the Hamas government to rule and have not taken any actions to demand new governance they have brought this upon themselves. Where that may sound cruel, it is not as cruel as the actions of the Gazans erupting with joy whenever Hamas realizes and murders Jews to feed the overarching and wanton desire of both Hamas and the rest of the terrorists as well as the majority of Gazans to murder Jews. For Hamas this desire goes further and aims at all of the Jews wherever they reside in their desire to eradicate them starting with Israel and then to continue on that path even if it costs the lives of every civilian who has not picked up a weapon and joined Hamas or Islamic Jihad. The responsibility is as Prime Minister Netanyahu has attempted to explain to a world which does not care to listen; it is the fault of Hamas and the rest of the rocket firing terrorist entities which control Gaza by threat of death. This was demonstrated perfectly and clearly after the first lengthy ceasefire was agreed upon when Hamas executed dozens of Gazans without any trial and without making or proving any charges simply claiming that these were Gazans guilty of not supporting Hamas by collaborating with Israel. Does anybody in the world, let alone in Gaza, honestly believe that the approximately dozen members from Fatah actually were guilty of collaborating with Israel? These were victims of Hamas chosen because they chose to side with Abbas and were no more guilty of whatever crime Hamas claimed than are the Hamas members who are arrested and at times executed in the West Bank in Ramallah by Abbas and Fatah which he commands. There can never be fair and open elections as long as the only candidates running must be vetted and approved by terrorist organizations which includes the West Bank as much as it does Gaza. The last elections which were held under international supervision had Hamas receiving the majority of the votes while Fatah, or the Palestinian Authority, coming in a distant second. This was part of the reasons for the eventual coup by Hamas taking control over Gaza from the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas blocked election for the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority as he knew he would lose the election to Haniyeh and Hamas would take control and never relent and all future elections would result in larger Hamas victories. The same situation exists currently and simply because of the conflict Hamas brought down on Gaza. Where the destruction in Gaza should and would cost Hamas votes, Hamas controls Gaza and would control the vote counting, thus they win. In the West Bank Hamas is favored easily over Fatah as Hamas is now viewed as strong and Abbas as weak as he appeared to make statements which were seemingly controlled out of Washington DC and he appeared swayed by the United States and their pressures. This is partly true as his government depends on the billions of dollars they receive every year which originates in the United States though much of it takes circuitous routes to reach the Palestinian Authority while Hamas receives only indirect monies from the United States and will continue receiving these funds as they are actually diverted from UNRWA by Hamas. This is the unfortunate truth and we can expect that before any elections are held for the leadership of the Palestinian Authority either Hamas will be disallowed the right to have a candidate or Abbas will have retired to the French Riviera living comfortably on the billions he has stashed away and having a great view of the Mediterranean, something he has been denied seeing from his office in Ramallah. Just for truth in reporting, Haniyeh is a multi-millionaire and Mashal is a multi-billionaire; and who says terrorism doesn’t pay.

Beyond the Cusp

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