Lessons for the World From a New Gaza War
Instead, the newspaper and like-minded people present the following list:
-- Israel should negotiate with Hamas.
Great idea but an impossible one because of a factor Western leaders, academics, and journalists often do not take seriously nowadays: ideology. Hamas means what it says, intends to continue the violence for years in the belief it can win total victory, and is indifferent to the sacrifice of its own people. So in this case, negotiations are not an option.
-- If there is a comprehensive Israel-Palestinian peace there would be no more war.
Actually, even if such an agreement were to be reached -- which is impossible because the PA won’t make one -- Hamas would step up attacks in an attempt to destroy the agreement.
The PA could not make a deal that would include the 40 percent of the Palestinians who live in Gaza. And Hamas would try to overthrow the PA in the West Bank, and might even succeed. Then Hamas, perhaps with the Fatah people who allied with it, would have a fully sovereign state to use as a platform for an intended war of genocide against Israel.
Part of the problem is that the West is not psychologically prepared to deal with fanatics, people who don’t measure the balance of forces before entering a war and are indifferent to the suffering of their own civilians. Westerners tend to use a materialistic yardstick: holding elections, having to govern themselves, a higher living standard, and more education will make people moderate. The problem is that this has been tried out in the Middle East -- as it is being tried now -- and it doesn’t work.
-- Israel should just shut up and let Hamas attack it whenever that group so chooses or at most respond with only minimal force.
This concept is often implicit in coverage of the issue, as in the one prestigious newspaper whose main article explained that Israel’s killing of the military chief of Hamas, whose main job was to plan terrorist attacks on Israelis, threatened to create a regional crisis.
An acquaintance of mine bragged that nobody in her European country supported Israel. That means, of course, that they all supported Hamas. But what if they say that they actually just supported the people of Gaza? That would be like saying during World War Two bombing raids that one opposed them out of support for the people of Germany. The sympathy for civilians is understandable; the violence and casualties are a tragedy. Yet the root cause is a regime that both oppresses the people and sets off a war.
So given the fact that it does not want to reoccupy and govern Gaza (though one of the accusations thrown against Israel is that it still occupies Gaza!), Israel has limited choices. The best of the lot is to limit any material that gets into Gaza that can be used for war, and to retaliate as necessary to obtain several years of relative peace. That means, in the Times’ euphemism, that Hamas often observes a ceasefire -- that is, in the minutes between rocket, mortar, and cross-border attacks by itself or the small groups it uses as an excuse for aggression.