Work and Days

Surreal Gaza

The World Reacts

I spent today reading accounts of Gaza—NY Times, AP, Reuters, etc. There are no terrorists, just militants. Not much about past rocket attacks on Israel–most everything on the crowded conditions of Gaza. Iranian aid is rarely elaborated on; stories about quiet Arab support for defanging Hamas are likewise rare; common is the buzz about protests in Europe. In reaction, I jotted down the following random thoughts.

Gaza as Monte Carlo, perhaps Hong Kong, or is it to be Switzerland of the Mediterranean?

Gaza is a sort of lab experiment in the Middle East. Recall for a minute: the Israelis withdrew en masse, a so-called “retreat” that reverberated all over the Middle East. The West supported free and open elections that gave Hamas their legitimacy, such as it was. Gaza is strategically placed on the Mediterranean with a prime shoreline. It borders Egypt the traditional center of the Arab world. Hundreds of millions of dollars of Middle-East oil money, and Western relief donations have poured into the tiny state. Israeli clearly wants no more of it, and would love to let Gaza alone to be Dubai.

The result?

Hamas with its serial rocket attacks on Israel interprets all of the above not as an opportunity for prosperity, but as a stage one for the great accomplishment of its generation—the absolute destruction of the Jewish state. Its agenda is clear and unambiguous, and apparently shared by millions of elites in the West itself, without whose support Hamas could not exist. The common theme of Western press coverage is the misery of Gaza, never the misery of Gaza as a product of the garrison-state mentality of Hamas’s radical Islamic vows to wage perennial war against Israel.

The Enablers

Hamas counts on the fact that its own losses will be characterized as a “holocaust” and appear comparable in the Western media to something like Darfur or the slaughtering in Zimbabwe, or the usual carnage that we wake up to on the news. Take away Western press attention from Gaza, and Hamas is just another violent, illiberal regime that impoverishes its own people while seeking victim status in the West.

Is that too harsh? I don’t think so. Again, if it were to call a one-year truce with Israel, seek normal relations with Egypt, and swear off Iranian-Hezbollah terrorist aid while it sought to rebuild infrastructure, ensure security, and recruit foreign capital, then there would be no more world attention, and its cadres of hooded youth would lack the pizzazz of “militants.”

Jenin Redux

Meanwhile, we suffer through the Jenin reinvention of the rules of war: (1) proportionality: Hamas is allowed to keep trying to kill as many Jews as it can to “balance” those lost to far more lethal Israeli countermeasures. Rule I. War is a tit-for-tat game, where fairness is defined as killing no more than you lose.

(2) Civilians and warriors: there is no such difference. Hamas’s terrorists who shoot rockets against Israeli families burrow into their own civilian infrastructure. They are tragic innocents to the world when they are killed and heroes to their own if can they kill innocents Jews through their barrages. Rule II. The age of uniforms and battle lines is over, replaced by the civilian shield as the best mechanism of defense against Western mastery of traditional arms.

(3) War that is lost on the battlefield can be won through the international media. The Palestinians have counted on six truths in the international arena (a. the world remains largely anti-Semitic; b. the world appreciates the strategic calculus that Arabs are numerous with oil; and Israel is tiny without it; c. Westerners fear Islamic terrorists, not the IDF; d. The West is prone to self-loathing, and romanticizes any who best capture the mantel of victimhood; the Palestinians have brilliantly reinvented themselves by claiming a status akin to women, gays, Hispanics, and blacks—fellow victims of rich while male Westerners; e. Any culture abroad whose hospitals Westerners would not like to be operated in are idealized; any who emulate Western technological supremacy are shunned. Rule III: Just copy any group that sets up shop on an American campus free speech area, and the resulting sympathy is worth a division.

Incremental Victory

The Hamas way of thinking is that it has constantly redefined losses to such an extent that 300+ killed are now dubbed a “Holocaust.” Meanwhile the frequency and range of its rocketry are expanded and embedded into the “normalcy” of the Middle East. Hamas seeks to establish the principle that it can daily wear away the psyche of Israelis while carefully constraining Israeli responses. What a Westerner would call an Israeli “victory” (e.g., terrible destruction of Hamas infrastructure with far greater casualties inflicted than suffered), Hamas and others would call “progress” in a century-long war (e.g., the world now accepts that showering Israeli with rockets is not an act of war, and not deserving of serious retaliation).

A final note: some of the most vicious anti-Israeli sentiment comes from Europe, especially countries like Spain and Greece. Yet I remember Morocco and Spain nearly shooting at each other in 2002 in a dispute over an uninhabited rock in the Mediterranean, and Greece goes ballistic every time Turkey customarily overflies Aegean airspace. Israel alone is not supposed to respond to rocket barrages; our conclusions can only be that the world deems it an illegitimate state worthy of destruction, and will allow its enemies to keep trying until they succeed (Why else would a British television station invite Ahmadinejad to answer the Queen’s Christmas address—a thug who promised the destruction of Israel, is seeking the means to do it, and whose terrorists recently kidnapped British sailors?)

Meanwhile we await “Gaza, Gaza”—the anguished documentary movie as hundreds of filmakers have no doubt already descended to offer us by spring a must see movie on every American university campus.