How to think about the missiles that terrorize Sderot, by Adam Horowitz, who’s been there

on 13 Comments

Adam Horowitz writes:

Today the Christian Science Monitor has a piece by Alan Dershowitz defending Israel's actions. I could respond to his article point by point, but it's really just the same justifications for collective punishment that he and other Jewish luminaries have been offering for decades. In a tired tradition, Dershowitz tries to blame the Palestinians for making Israel
kill them – "The firing of rockets at civilians from densely populated
civilian areas is the newest tactic in the war between terrorists who
love death and democracies that love life." Golda Meir
articulated this sentiment most famously and succinctly after the 1967
war: "When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the
for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for
having forced us to kill their sons."

The one piece of the
Dershowitz article that is worth responding to is his comments on
Sderot: "The residents of Sderot were demanding that
their nation take action to protect them," which he takes as a demand
that Israel obliterate Gaza.

Dershowitz I've been to Sderot: a year ago in November, 2007.
Like him, I saw the devastating effect of the missiles from Gaza.
Even though there had not been deaths from these rockets in recent
memory at that time, it was clear that the missiles had inflicted an
incredible mental impact, as I am sure you can imagine. The people of
Sderot who I met wanted an end to the missiles, and an end to the
conflict–as much as any Israeli I met–but they also understood that
militarism will not protect them.

Unlike Dershowitz, the people I met with were not calling for war,
they were calling for negotiation. They knew that they would be the
ones to catch the brunt of an attach on Gaza, not Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. Even an IDF
commander I met told me, off the record, "The Qassams are like stones,
there is no way to stop them. The only way is negotiation." My
experience has been affirmed by the people of Sderot itself. Read the
text of this petition signed by hundreds of Sderot's residents at jews sans frontieres. From the petition:

The period of calm changed the lives of the people of Sderot, Ashkelon
and the region beyond recognition, allowing all of us to experience
again a life that is more normal and sane. The continuation of this
calm is essential and critical to the residents of the region from
every possible aspect: physical, mental, spiritual and economic.

Another round of escalation may break our already brittle spirit,
and take us all to another round of self-destruction and pointless
bloodshed. It is not certain that we will survive. And you must be
aware of that, if you indeed care about the residents of this area.
We've been through this movie too many years–and results speak for
themselves: feeling trapped, abandonment, and hopelessness for us and
our children!

the petition continues:

On the other side of the border live
a million and a half Palestinians under unbearable conditions, and most
of them want, like we do, calm and the opportunity of a future for
themselves and their families.

We live in the feeling that you have wasted that period of calm,
instead of using it to advance understandings and begin negotiations,
as well as for fortifying the houses of residents as promised.

call on the Prime Minister and the Defense minister not to listen to
the voices of incitement and do everything they can to avoid another
round of escalation, to secure the continuation of the calm and to
work…towards direct or indirect negotiations with the Palestinian
leadership in Gaza in order to reach long term understandings.

We prefer a cold war without a single rocket to a hot war with dozens of victims and innocent fatalities on both sides.

We ask you to offer us the possibility of political arrangement and hope and not an endless cycle of blood.

Clearly not all people in Sderot agree with these views, as has been shown. But it's also clear that Dershowitz and other proponents of the endless war will always use the people of Sderot as the cannon fodder they need in the moment. The residents of Sderot are primarily Mizrahi Jews, poor and working class, who have been settled on the periphery to play exactly this role. As much as Dershowitz might want to fight to the finish, those in the crossfire just want an end to the shooting.

13 Responses

  1. anon
    December 31, 2008, 1:49 pm

    Would anyone want Dershi in a foxhole with them?

  2. jesus reyes
    December 31, 2008, 1:54 pm

    Who is Adam Horowitz? Just asking.

  3. Jim Haygood
    December 31, 2008, 2:01 pm

    'The residents of Sderot are primarily Mizrahi Jews, poor and working class, who have been settled on the periphery to play exactly this role.'

    Interesting … few of the Ashkenazi Jews who wave Sderot as a bloody shirt ever get round to mentioning that.

    'In a tired tradition, Dershowitz tries to blame the Palestinians for making Israel kill them.'

    Jimi Hendrix was decades ahead of Dersh … and a lot more lyrical to boot (from 'Machine Gun,' inspired by Vietnam):

    Evil man make me kill ya
    Evil man make you kill me
    Evil man make me kill you
    Even though we're only families apart

  4. anon
    December 31, 2008, 3:00 pm

    "The Jew cries out in pain as he strikes you" — old Polish proverb.

  5. common human
    December 31, 2008, 3:27 pm

    israel is by design a seemingly complex state. it's structure is weak but the maintenance crew is clever and eager to keep the rot away. you know like whenever there is a pipe break termites are to be blamed etc.

  6. raBBI kook
    December 31, 2008, 3:42 pm

    Sderot cannon fodder speak up: link to

  7. Richard Witty
    December 31, 2008, 4:41 pm

    A rational post from Adam Horowitz.

    Oh how wonderful it would be to hear similarly from Gaza Palestinians. "We don't want aggression. We don't want harrassment of our neighbors. We want negotiation and reconciliation."

  8. Richard Witty
    December 31, 2008, 4:43 pm

    The thing that is ironic, is that Dershowitz himself likely agrees with the urge to negotiate, rather than aggress or agitate.

  9. Joshua
    December 31, 2008, 4:46 pm

    I hate to note this but this latest escalation has only made me even more pessimistic that something can be done to bring this to a halt until the price paid (by the Palestinians predominatly) is too severe to forgive. There are reports and indications that this operation by Israel was planned right when Hamas blew open the Rafah wall, essentially making it almost one year ago for a "shock and awe" campaign. Also more cynically interesting is the fact that Mubarak is all too complicit in this murder. Naturally all sides cannot be absolved of blame but surely Mubarak is even more vile by encasing fleeing Palestinians in the cage for more slaughter. Would anyone ever connect him as a US/Israeli satrap? Can the Muslim Brotherhood take more punishment at his hands when their offshoot brothers are being massacred north of the border?

    We all know that the Gazans are entombed here for pure political posturing. Lebanese can attest to this (over and over) and they know more than anyone what it feels like to be carpet bombed by Israel.

    A year or so back before Israel observed the "ceasefire" with Hamas, residents of Sderot and Ashkelon were very irate at their own government for giving a pittance of protection and aide to the communities. Given their PR concern over their daily lives under the threat of Qassam rockets, the Israeli government provided little to no shelters and the Sderot citizens were outraged. They know, as Adam has stated, that they are the ones who pay the price for any incursion into Gaza.

    Maybe Hamas can reverse the rhetoric and tell Sderot residents "stop making us kill (which they do a very poor job of [4 just this week but the only 4 fatalities all year long]) your children". Would that be appropriate?

  10. common human
    December 31, 2008, 6:23 pm

    looking from space at this blue precious sphere one can't seem to escape the feeling of a calming peace. only after landing on the surface does it become apparent that hostility is and always was a vital ingredient of countless nation building projects. architects of various philosophies sweated the details while ground troops burned their way in. israel is no exception, therefore criticism is only fair but at this point quite pointless. wishing that palestinian freedom movement was more like that of ghandi's (no suicide bombers)is only but a wish. after all irgun and haganah fought with blunt violent techniques. just how were these two organizations peaceful? people should not expect peace just more carnage. the way we are going, time is going to run out rather sooner than later(5 years instead of five billion years). in the end our earth stripped of it's atmosphere lifeless and barren. no more blue, no more people, no more violence.

  11. Duscany
    December 31, 2008, 7:39 pm

    Dershowitz's problem is that he identifies far more strongly with Israel's problems than he does with those of ordinary Americans. He is this country's leading tenured fifth-columnist.

  12. Richard Witty
    January 1, 2009, 12:44 pm

    Its "ironic" that in a post about Sderot residents, Phil would turn it to a rant about Dershowitz.

  13. Vic Rosenthal
    July 12, 2009, 1:54 am

    "taken and imprisoned by the Israeli military for protesting the Wall" Well, in this case they were trying to physically destroy it. Is that 'protesting'? All the apartheid crap is to distract attention from the fact that the barrier (wall, fence, whatever) prevents Arab terrorists from killing Jews. The Palestinians started screaming bloody murder (so to speak) as soon as construction started, because they realized that their best weapon was being taken away.

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