We have seen this movie before, it always moves along the same plot line. The West, in politically correct fashion, supports Israel’s right of self defense; but only so far. There is always a caveat; defend yourself, but only for a certain amount of time, only up to a certain number of casualties. The facts on the ground are replaced by carefully crafted media images of dead Palestinians who in some cases are not actually dead or Palestinian. We see the video of wailing mothers after an attack, but there is no reprise of the video showing Palestinian mothers hopeful that all of their children will become suicide bombers intent on killing Israelis. Hamas needs dead Palestinians; they will do what is necessary to produce them in sufficient numbers to generate the second act of this movie; international pressure and enshrinement of Palestinian victimhood.
The message to Israel is clear, defend yourself but don’t defeat your enemies; leave them to fight another day, leave them to resurrect their self declared goal of your extinction. This line of thinking thrust on the Israelis would never be accepted by those insisting that Israel accept it. And yet, Israel has accepted it in the past; under extreme pressure to be sure. Israel keeps trying, they maintain a degree of hope, nothing on the other side changes it can’t change, it’s Hamas’s reason for being.
Rational men and women who have know war will tell you to a person that it is to be avoided at all costs; ugly and tragic; When that is not possible the enemy must be fought with overwhelming force and ferocity. Israel is likely at that point within the context of the political climate. International pressure may not work this time albeit the predictable genesis of its crescendo has already begun. Here we do have American leadership, America is leading the way in delivering the message that Israel has had enough time and that Israel must be brought to heel. It’s that movie again; defend yourself but only so far.
Israel, unlike us, has a leader that is clear, unequivocal with a transparent moral center. Netanyahu has lived this movie. President Obama’s statement today could have been the trailer. He spoke to Israel’s right to self defense and in the next breath addressed Palestinian casualties with the implication clearly pointing to Israel as the guilty party; moral equivalency absent morality. Charles Krauthammer said it all in one sentence; “Israel uses rockets to protect its people, Hamas uses people to protect its rockets.”
The Arab world, of course engages in automatic anti Israeli rhetoric. The Arab world is, however, also engaged in deafening silence relative to aggressive support for Hamas; today, another 100 missiles. Why would Hamas pursue failed strategy? Hamas is engaged in political and military S&M.
To Israel I offer humble advice. Don’t stop until Hamas is taken off the board or severely minimized as a military threat. Do what you’re doing; get out the video, make the calls, drop the leaflets. That makes it a lot tougher militarily but it’s the right thing to do. I believe Israel does the right thing knowing there is a price, paid in blood. Israel must resist the global inertia calling for the abandonment of Israeli self interest and security. Hamas may be a PR titan, but militarily they can be essentially defeated given the time and space to do so. Take the time, create the space. This is not Lebanon, that lesson has been learned! The eventual willingness of Hamas to accept a cease fire is an admission of near defeat and should be exploited.
Israel must attack strategic threats in the future as well, as a prophylactic, without warning; find the tunnel, destroy the tunnel. Israel may or may not find them all, but the policy should be clear to Hamas, the Palestinians and everyone of interest. Hamas will, likely, make consistent, self destructive choices.
If you think about it rationally, in a Western context, you fail. The West becomes ever more secular and ever more unable to absorb, to comprehend, to understand, the emotional impact of blind faith, generational brain washing and hatred. As we move against hate crimes, hate speech and anything that is possibly hateful we fail to understand the actual power of hate. Palestinian cannon fodder has been conditioned to hate, taught hate in the context of religious extremism; human shields in support of leaders safely hidden in bunkers; the culture of glorious death. Those leaders knew well what they would bring to bear; they counted on it. It’s time for Israel to demonstrate the failure and the costs of this strategy. Israel should accept nothing that is not in their self interest as they alone define it.
Netanyahu is, I believe, correct. He contends that the average American, in large measure, knows who the bad guy is and who the good guy is. That is somewhat dependant on the collective American memory. Hopefully America recalls the video of Palestinians in Gaza dancing in the streets on 9/11 joyous of our pain and loss. Hopefully Americans will recall Israeli fortitude during the war in Iraq as Israel was targeted with Scud missiles reportedly capable of carrying chemical weapons. At our urging Israel stayed out of the game by not responding. Had Israel responded, the situation would have become geometrically more complicated. Israel put its citizens in jeopardy in support of our policy and goals. I hope Americans remember, it will help them identify the bad guy.
You see, this movie is the Middle East’s version of Rocky, lots of sequels; differences absent distinction.