Note: This was written in 2008. It reads as current news in 2014. Expecting it will read as current news in 2020.
Listening to CNN tonight, I heard several Hamas apologists launching outraged, hyperbole-laden assaults on the Israeli government and armed forces, blasting Israel’s response to Hamas’ provocations. The Palestinian propaganda mill was in full dress tonight for their parade to the microphones. But whom in the West do they think they will persuade with such lameness?
I hope Israel handles this situation better than they did the Hezbollah provocations of 2006. Maybe this generation will have learned something from that first attempt. Iran is asserting hegemony in the region through their support for non-state actors to do their bidding, here proxy Shiite militant organizations. Israel must successfully deal with these proxies as part of their larger goal to keep Iran’s influence minimized. For this struggle, it is reported they have the off-the-record approval of some Arab states and the official sanction of much of the world.
I sense much is at stake for Israel. Poor success against Hamas will cost them credibility in the eyes of their supporters, as well as permanently weakening their security and bolstering Iran’s meddling tendencies. They have no choice but to accept the fight that Hamas has offered them, and they have no choice but to win convincingly, whatever that may come to mean. It is not at all clear what that means right now. Israel continues to invite conflict by the rigidity of the leadership they elect, through their irrepressible land grabs, through their continued granting of outsized influence to their Ultra-Orthodoxy, and through their lack of understanding of the depth of Palestinian distrust and resentment.
One can still try to put the best possible face on the conflict. Let’s assume that this is still a politically-motivated regional conflict, which seems true at least from the Israeli side. Then the Israeli thinking may be that if the Palestinians in Gaza experience enough pain, they may understand what calamity they invited when they elected the likes of Hamas for their leadership. With this realization, they may be persuaded to throw off Hamas and accept Fatah or some other more moderate leadership going forward. Regime change must be the goal of Israel in Gaza, as I see no other course that can admit a successful end game.
Hopefully to this end, the world will finally do more than merely express a sympathetic tone towards the Palestinian plight, but rather bring influence and actions to bear on their behalf. But unfortunately, I do not see this conflict going well for either side. Since Hamas is now indistinguishable from the majority of the Gaza population, and since Hamas is more than willing to invite its own destruction, this is going to go very badly for the residents of Gaza. And Israel will be assured at least another generation of terror and war on its border.
Hamas came courting the Palestinians, plying them with social services and support when the Palestinian plight was at its worst. The world should accept blame for letting the Palestinian plight go on without redress, to a point where Hamas could win over minds and souls and assert their endless jihad. With the jihadi government in Gaza, we now have a political struggle on the one side and an endless, quasi-religious struggle on the other. With jihad, reason, common sense, and self interest, the usual capital of political struggles, cease to operate. It is unfortunate for Gaza that Palestinians, in voting for Hamas and its jihadi noise machine, could no longer hear common sense whispering in their ear: “Be careful what you wish for.” Hence, on the Israeli side, peace is a fantasy wish for some future generation.