Looking back at Gaza and ahead to Iran

Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post notices that, from Israel’s perspective, the December invasion of Gaza has proved to be a huge success. During a seven and a half period ending in December 2008, more than 4,000 rockets and more than 4,000 missile shells were fired into Israel from Gaza. They killed 14 Israelis, wounded more than 400, and made life in Southern Israel miserable at times.
Since April of this year, there have been just 24 rocket or missile attacks, less than occurred on many days before the invasion. No one has died or been seriously injured. Meanwhile life in and around the formerly embattled town of Sderot is virtually normal, according to Diehl.
Israel came in for criticism for the invasion, of course, and that criticism has been renewed following issuance of the Goldstone report. However, as Diehl notes, the Goldstone report will soon be forgotten and was discredited before it was written because of its appointment by the “grotesquely politicized U.N. Human Rights Council.” The real diplomatic impact (or lack thereof) of the action in Gaza is evident from the fact that no Arab country toughened its approach to Israel as a result.
Diehl speculates that the success of the Gaza operation, and lack of collateral damage to Israel, is factoring into the Israeli government’s calculus as it considers whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. An attack on Iran obviously raises many issues not presented by the Gaza invasion. I imagine that Israel’s read on President Obama, who was only just taking office as the Gaza action wound down, will weigh more heavily in the decision whether to attack Iran than the lessons of Gaza.
To the extent Obama does not want Israel to attack Iran, he has done his cause no favors with his amateurish conduct of foreign policy generally and his heavy-handed approach to Israel specifically. Surely, the Israelis take him less seriously — both as a friend whose advice should be heeded and (given his lack of popularity in Israel) as a potential adversary whose disapproval can loosen the government’s hold on power — than they did any past American president.


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