Belmont Club

The Seven Gambit

Just as soon as Israel accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire Hamas fired 47 rockets killing one Israeli citizen.  Anyone who has followed the conflict could have predicted this with certainty; the point of a ceasefire — for a terrorist organization — is to break it for exactly the same reason it purposely attacks women and children.

Dr. Anna Geifman tried to explain that the reason why innocents are selected as terror targets is because “children are the last consecrated absolute”. That is just why they must be killed in the cruelest way possible. For “militant nihilism strives to ruin first and foremost what their contemporaries hold sacred”.

Nihilism isn’t the absence of a belief. It is something subtly different: it is the belief in nothing. The most powerful weapon of terrorism is therefore the unyielding No. “No I will not give up. No I will not tell the truth. No I will not play fair. No I will not spare children. No I will not stop even if you surrender to me; I will not cease even if you give me everything you have, up to and including your children’s lives. Nothing short of destroying me absolutely can make me stop. And therefore I will defeat you even if you kill me. Because I will make you pay the price in guilt for annihilating me.”

It’s an extremely powerful weapon.  The Absolute No is a devastating attack on the self-image and esteem of civilization.  Hamas will demonstrate the No, the Nothing. It will show that deep down inside Israelis — and Americans — are animals like them.  This can be called the Seven Gambit, from a 1995 film which explores this exact theme. It depicts two detectives versus the devil in the shape of nameless man, who kills people not by attacking them directly, but by creating situations where they kill themselves by yielding to one of the seven deadly sins: sloth, gluttony, vanity — and finally vengeance and wrath.

His final victim is the detective. In the final scene the devil provokes Detective David Mills into unlawfully shooting him by showing him the head of his pregnant wife. The devil wins by making the point that murder lies dormant, waiting to be awakened, even within the bosom of the law.

The power of Hamas lies in that they will never stop hating. No ceasefire, concession, negotiation or entreaty will move them. That is their inhuman strength. The Jews can even exterminate them, but only at the cost of destroying all the ideals they hold dear.  If the last Hamas activist could speak he would say this:

“Shoot! I am the last. Carry out your ethnic cleansing, just as the Nazis tried with you. You will never be able to look yourself in the mirror again.  The price of victory is to win  on our terms. Nothing will remain of your precious Jewish self-esteem, of the illusion that you are a civilization dedicated to morality. What will you do after you kill me? Go to your synagogue and a hymn of praise to your God?

“At that moment your faith will desert you. For you claim your God does not desire blood, that yours is a God of love and I say therefore He is false. The only real Gods are those of Hate. A God that does not live by blood does not exist as my God who lives by blood exists; and when you pull the trigger you will be worshipping at my altar!  I have won at last. Come to prayer. Come to Islam.”

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And it would be so easy wouldn’t it? Just line up the M-109 howitzers to load up and fire for effect. Playing the nice guy only wins you insults even from — or most especially from — Amnesty International. “Israeli military’s ‘knock on roof’ warnings criticized by rights groups”.

The “knock on the roof” is the Israeli military’s warning for civilians before it fires on a building and is being used extensively as Israeli airstrikes target Hamas sites in Operation Protective Edge.

The Israeli Air Force developed the technique in 2009 as a way to warn civilians in Gaza to leave buildings it has identified as locations where Hamas keeps ammunition, a rocket stash or command post. But it is a controversial policy that has been criticized by human rights groups.

The Absolute No wins again. They reject your attempts to be humane, they utterly deny your pretense at humanity. So why not fire for effect? Do it. You want to, don’t you?

Wars through history have exacted an irreparable spiritual price from its combatants. And all who have fought them know it. In the movie of the same name, Michael Collins laments the price of his struggle against the British:

I hate them. Not for their race or their brutality. I hate them for leaving us no way out. I hate whoever put a gun in Vinny’s hand. I know it’s me and I hate myself for it. I hate them for making hate necessary.

“But did you really Michael?’ the Hamas activist can ask, ‘or did you enjoy it, as I did?’

It’s not an original thought. William Tecumseh Sherman knew before Collins that War is Hell; that the only excuse for it was the belief that you could in the subsequent peace, chain up the devils. He wrote in his letters, “you cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it … If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.”

Nor has its character changed much. Curtis LeMay, during what we remember as the Good War, shared his formula for defeating the enemy. “If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.”

Human beings are remarkably good at calling up the devil in their fellow human beings. They start out Christian enough, but give them time. In the first Christmas of the Great War, when fighting was but a few months old, there enough fellow-feeling among the combatants remained to spontaneously create what is now remembered as the Christmas Truce.

Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches; on occasion, the tension was reduced to the point that individuals would walk across to talk to their opposite numbers bearing gifts. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many soldiers from both sides—as well as, to a lesser degree, from French units—independently ventured into “no man’s land”, where they mingled, exchanging food and souvenirs. As well as joint burial ceremonies, several meetings ended in carol-singing. Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play games of football with one another.

By the next year they were modifying their bayonets so it would hurt more when you stabbed the enemy. When we look at Hamas we are looking at some very old and ancient. Does the devil win in Seven? For that matter does he win on earth?

Say no if you can. For Hamas is determined to prove that you too are like them. Just like them.

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