‘This Time We Went Too Far’

‘This Time We Went Too Far’ – Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion – is Norman Finkelstein’s book about Israel’s 22-day Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (Dec ’08 – Jan ’09).

Finkelstein is controversial.  I suspect people either respect him or denigrate him as a self-hating Jew.   He was denied tenure at DePaul University in 2007.   When I first heard him debate Alan Dershowitz on the radio years ago, I thought Dershowitz had “won” because Finkelstein is not a very good public speaker.    He is a much better writer.

Finkelstein came to Albuquerque in December 2011 and spoke at the Unitarian Church.  The audience was generally supportive of his message that a two state solution is still possible.

There was some skepticism from the audience when he mentioned that American Jews are shifting their opinion about Israel, becoming critical of Israel’s actions and policies toward Palestine.

‘This Time We Went Too Far’  is how the Israeli columnist Gideon Levy responded to Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.  On the first day of the invasion (12-27-08) at least 225 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured, making it the bloodiest day in decades of the conflict.

By the time Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire (1-17-09) more than 1400 Palestinians were dead, most of them civilians, including more than 300 children.   More than 15,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving 100,000 Palestinians homeless.    Nearly half of Gaza’s 122 health facilities were damaged or destroyed.   During the same time, 3 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinian rockets.

The numbers are important.  Finkelstein shares a good many of them in his book, but nothing new that I hadn’t learned earlier in The Goldstone Report, which I read cover to cover.   What Finkelstein adds to our education about Operation Cast Lead is the context — the world opinion, and the justification and hasbara provided by Israel.

Israel’s supporters and apologists will undoubtedly dismiss this book  because Finkelstein doesn’t mince words.   But it will be difficult to discount the facts and statements because the author has liberally provided citations (nearly 1/4 of the book are footnotes.)  Finkelstein talked about the Gaza invasion and his book in 2010.

What happened in Gaza?   Not a war certainly.   According to the testimony of IDF soldiers, there were no combatants, no enemy in the field, but Israel was “using insane amounts of firepower in Gaza. ”

Operation Cast Lead will go down in history as Israel’s descent into Dante’s Inferno.   As much as it may hurt, friends and family who love Israel are advised to read Finkelstein’s book carefully.  You can’t save Israel without knowing the facts.

What happened in Gaza was a massacre.

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Filed under Israel Defense Forces, United Nations

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