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Yale 62

War in the Middle East, 2023

Again, think about questions like: What was your reaction when you learned about the Hamas attack on Israel? How do you understand what’s happening now?  What reactions or feelings is it evoking for you? What’s the personal impact for you?  What hopes or fears do you have about what comes next? Are you concerned about the nexus between the conflicts in Israel and in Ukraine?

Please add your comments below.

13 comments to Israel War

  • Bill Weber

    Very clearly, this is nearing the world on fire in both the Middle East and Europe. With the confusion in Washington, we, as Americans, must hope our Government will get it together and do the right thing. I recall years ago one of our senior government officials said the USA was the Tugboat of Humanity and I wish we could prove this to be true.

    This is no time for partisan politics and name calling—Let us help both sides in the Israel conflict and hope the Russians come to their senses in the Ukrainian war.

  • Ken Merkey

    Silence and appeasement allowed the Holocaust to happen.
    We, as a nation, must pick sides. We need to identify who are the bad guys. Iran should be on the top of the list.

    Why would we not enforce sanctions on their oil exports? Since Biden took office, the Iranians enjoyed about $40 Billion in oil revenues. Why would we throw in $6 Billion as a bonus in a prisoner swap? They need to be ostracized from the league of nations.

    We have had an enormous intelligence failure . The CIA, the FBI, and the NSC all missed the evidence. Were they too busy chasing down noisy parents at school board meetings?

    Hamas needs to be destroyed. An invasion by Israel will kill a lot of innocent people. Of course, that suits Hamas. I am confident that the Israelis have a master plan that will minimize civilian casualties.

    Meanwhile, we need to close our southern border. In the first 2 weeks of October, we captured a dozen Iranians and many more Palestinians. How many more got away? How many terror cells are being formed in our country.

    Biden organized some military aircraft to fly Americans home from Israel. They were flown to Germany and then billed for the trip. DeSantis flew Americans to Florida free of charge.

    We are the greatest country on earth. We are the envy of the entire world. We are also the target for every hate group both within and outside of our borders. We need to focus on keeping America great.

    Appeasement is for the weak.

  • Lee Bolman

    As news filtered in about the horrors of the Hamas attack on Israel,, my feelings of sadness and disappointment were reminiscent of how I felt when I learned that Russia had invaded Ukraine. In both cases, it was clear immediately that this was only the beginning, and much more carnage was ahead.

    The viciousness of the Hamas attacks was presumably intended to enrage Israelis and evoke a military response leading to massive civilian casualties in Gaza, which Hamas believes will only make them stronger. Hamas is as much a religious as a political movement, with an original charter that calls for dismantling the state of Israel. Even though Hamas has at times made more pragmatic overtures in search of an accommodation, the two parties have never reached a point of trusting one another enough for peace initiatives to come to fruition.

    Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister for much of the last two decades has done much to alienate Palestinians and shown little interest in serious peace initiatives. Netanyahu’s recent push for changing the judicial system has produced deep conflict and polarization in Israeli politics, which many observers believe contributed to the military and intelligence failures that left Israel so vulnerable. (I don’t enjoy thinking about how much the US is similarly weakened by our own levels of polarization and chaos.)

    A crisis like this one is an ideal time for strong and wise leadership, but that’s not what Israel has right now. Israel has stated a goal of destroying Hamas, but they’ve tried that before without much success. Patience and nuance would have a better chance, but a pained and angry populace wants simplicity, not nuance.

    One of the students in my online Fall course is a 30-something Israeli. Along with all her siblings and many of her friends, she was mobilized last week. Amazingly, she somehow managed to dial into class Monday night from somewhere in the field in Israel. She embodies qualities of resilience, persistence, and can-do spirit that I like to think are part of Israeli character. I can only hope that she and thousands of others on all sides of this conflict can stay safe and survive to see a better more peaceful world.

  • Charles Merlis

    On Friday the 13th, I wrote on my Facebook page what should be done right away. First, we recognize Hamas is a nihilistic terrorist organization that should be destroyed. The current government of Israel screwed up with giant intelligence AND strategic failures. The Israeli government is going to ground invade Gaza City after a lengthy carpet bombing campaign. They have advised Civilians to get out and go south. Depraved Hamas has urged civilians to stay in place because it is part of their strategy to have Israelis kill Palestinian civilians. In Israeli retaliation so far many civilians have been killed and many more will follow. To minimize (can’t be eliminated) damage and do something positive for Gazans, Israel with the US should get Egypt, the UNITED NATIONS, the Abraham Accords Arab states and Saudi Arabia to form a coalition to help the Gaza Palestinians deal with the ongoing war. Egypt must open its border and allow civilians in while trying to vet them so Hamas members don’t escape. They should allow the Gazans to go to a nearby Refugee Camp in the Sinai set up on an emergency basis by the UN, which has plenty of experience at this. Along with the living facilities a Medical Area should be set up funded by the aforementioned Arab countries and Israel. Along with the Usual wonderful DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, the Arabs and Israelis should also provide medical personnel that will work together to personally provide assistance to the civilians. Aside from the help to the Gazans it will provide a chance for the Abraham Accord countries to interact with each other and help them overcome prejudices against each other. Saudi Arabia is trying to overcome the stigma of the Khoshoggi murder and start diplomatic relations with Israel for commercial reasons involving trade between Asia through India to Europe. This is a good incentive for the Saudis to contribute a lot of money to the effort. This is the best that can be done in a bad situation. Now somebody at Yale who knows Blinken get him behind this effort.

  • Tim Hall

    The horror and suffering there are unimaginable. Attacking civilians as pre-planned strategy is evil. I blame Putin and his strategy in Ukraine for setting this example. I don’t know what it will take to end this endless cycle of escalation. I have my hopes on the diplomatic efforts.

    Our next door neighbors are Israelis, and the husband and father, Eyal, stopped by this morning, looking pale, and he said, “I can’t even think about it.”

  • “For the victim, terror is about what it is. For the terrorist, it is about what happens next.
    “Terror can be a weapon of the weak, designed to get the strong to use their strength against themselves. Terrorists know what they are going to do, and have an idea what will follow. They mean to create an emotional situation where self-destructive action seems like the urgent and only choice.”

    Once again, Tim Snyder offers salient observations: Terror and counter-terror: A reflection on Hamas and Israel

  • Ken Merkey

    Biden may not be able to carry on a conversation or negotiate a flight of stairs, but he is really good at spending taxpayer dollars. Below is a schedule of the next proposed spending package. I can understand sending military equipment but no troops (never!). Sending economic assistance, especially to any Eastern European country, is like sending funds down a rathole. There is no ability to audit those funds. $14 Billion for immigration enforcement is simply stupid. $9 Billion for humanitarian assistance makes no sense. We can never cure all of the world’s problems; certainly not simply by throwing dollars at it.

    Biden’s $106 billion foreign aid request to Congress

    $61.4 billion Ukraine military and economic assistance
    $14.3 billion Israel military assistance
    $14 billion Immigration enforcement
    $9.15 billion Humanitarian assistance
    $4 billion Countering China’s influence in developing countries and Indo-Pacific
    $3.4 billion Submarine industrial base

  • Ken Merkey

    And here it is, Monday morning. Where is Biden? In Delaware in his beach house. He did have a long airplane ride last week.

  • Ken Merkey

    If you want to gain a sense of reality, listen to Mike Johnson’s acceptance speech for speaker of the house. This is a refreshing departure from the jaded dinosaurs and bigots that populate our Congress such as McConnell, Schumer, Pelosi, and the squad members.

    He is focused on American superiority, border enforcement, support for Israel, reduction in the deficit, getting rid of wackos who want to teach our children a mis-guided agenda, and freedom of religion.

    I have a renewed faith in our leadership. Let’s hope the Democrats can support him.

  • Here’s a comment I posted yesterday in response to the role of Universities like Penn in supporting Israel in its Gaza War.

    Here’s the actual text but the supportive replies are worth reading:

    Paul Wortman
    ProvidenceOct. 26

    As a Jewish-American, grandson of a Holocaust family, Ivy League graduate, and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, I would urge every university to focus on the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and side with the United Nations in calling for a cease-fire that will save countless lives and allow negotiations to free American and other hostages. No side has the moral high ground now as Israel continues to obliterate the Gaza ghetto. It’s time for all American universities to live up to the higher moral ideal of human dignity and the sanctity of life and not to enter the morass of choosing sides and blaming the other. That is a recipe for continued death, destruction, and a widening of the war throughout the region. Jews should never, ever contemplate committing a holocaust on innocent civilians trapped inside a ghetto–especially one that they’ve created.

  • Lee Bolman

    Paul Wortman makes the moral case compellingly. It’s worth checking out the link to his comment in the New York Times, which generated many supportive responses and was recommended by more than 700 Times readers.

    Meanwhile, I was also struck by Phillips O’Brien’s comments on the pragmatic and strategic situation. O’Brien studies war and has been strongly supportive of Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself from Russia. But in his Substack blog, he had nothing good to say about the wisdom of invading Gaza: “The prospect of a full-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza makes me feel ill, for both Israelis and Gazans. I can see nothing good and huge ill coming from it strategically and for the populations involved. I don’t see how a full-scale invasion destroys Hamas (the leadership, funding and logistics support are all outside of Gaza). It literally would see the best Israeli units fighting those Hamas is willing to lose. It will also occur in terrain that would magnify the horror—full of ruined buildings and civilians. I can’t think of a more terrible place to fight.

    “Then what happens—does Israel go for another long-term occupation? That’s a nightmare too. I know people say for political reasons or because there are no good options, an invasion will occur. Neither of those makes any sense to me. A military operation should almost always be the last choice taken, because the odds of it screwing up and going disastrously wrong are so high.”

  • Ken Merkey

    Take it as a given, Hamas will not never negotiate or stop the terror until the last Jew leaves Jerusalem. 20 years ago, Yasir Arafat would not accept a 2-state solution. A ground offensive will only kill civilians and will not harm Hamas.

    We need to financially starve Hamas out of existence. We need to stop the funding of Hamas from every source, including the UN. The UN needs to put a peace-keeping force in Gaza and make sure that the funds and supplies intended for the Palestinians get there without a tax taken by Hamas. We need to eradicate the Hamas leadership that are located in many places, other than Gaza. We need to cut off the supply of arms and armament to Hamas. Significant and heavy sanctions need to be made against any and every supplier.

    The Obama/Biden appeasement approach has failed miserably.

  • Ken Merkey

    Now we have put a fox in the hen house. Jack Lew, one of Obama’s architects of appeasment, is now the Ambassador to Israel. What are they thinking?