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About Second-Guessing Israel on Hamas

About Second-Guessing Israel on Hamas

Israel objected to Hamas running in 2006 and blockaded Gaza; Under pressure Israel relented and paid the price

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told the U.S. Ambassador to Israel “not to ever second guess me again” when it comes to Hamas, after Hamas’ refusal and eventual breach of ceasefire agreements.

Did he have a point?

The international community in its zeal to solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians makes plenty of suggestions about what needs to be done. One would think that with the number of suggestions it’s made that have backfired, it would learn a little humility and perhaps listen a little bit more to Israel when it comes to Hamas.

For example, in a recent column, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen called the Israel-Palestinian conflict an “obscenity.” At the end of the column he made a suggestion as to how to go about ending the conflict.

Real reconciliation can only come on the basis of an ironclad commitment to nonviolence and to holding of free and fair elections, the first since 2006. Good Palestinian governance, unity and nonviolence constitute the path to making a free state of Palestine irrefutable. The longer Hamas fights this, the greater its betrayal of its people.

What happened in those “free and fair elections” in 2006? Hamas won and established its political legitimacy among Palestinians. A year and a half later it violently forced Fatah out of Gaza and established a stranglehold on the territory. With its newly found freedom to operate it launched thousands of rockets into Israel forcing three wars.

But how and why did Hamas, a terrorist organization with a genocidal charter come to participate in those elections? International pressure, including pressure from the Bush administration, forced Israel to drop its objections to Hamas’ participation. In retrospect that pressure doesn’t look so good. After Fatah and Hamas announced their unity deal earlier this year, Elliott Abrams, who was a member of the administration, recalled:

The last parliamentary elections were held in 2006, and there was a major dispute about whether Hamas should be allowed to run. Abbas then argued strongly and successfully (in that he persuaded Washington to back off) that an election without Hamas would be illegitimate: He would be barring his only real opponent, in the manner of all Arab dictators. We in the Bush administration made the wrong call and sided with Abbas, over Israeli objections. As Condoleezza Rice wrote in her memoirs, “In retrospect, we should have insisted that every party disarm as a condition for participating in the vote.” She was right, for several reasons.

Subsequent developments have shown Israel’s objections to having Hamas run in those election to be valid.

In addition to supporting the events that led to Hamas’ gaining power, the United States and other allies pressured Israel to loosen its blockade of Gaza following the Mavi Marmara incident. When the boat, Mavi Marmara, captained by the terrorist organization IHH, tried to run the Israel blockade in 2010, Israeli commandos who stormed the ship were violently attacked. When they responded with force, nine of the attackers were killed. In response to Turkish outrage over the incident Israel was forced to relax the blockade. President Obama hailed the decision:

The President has described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable and has made clear that it demands fundamental change. On June 9, he announced that the United States was moving forward with $400 million in initiatives and commitments for the West Bank and Gaza. The President described these projects as a down payment on the U.S. commitment to the people of Gaza, who deserve a chance to take part in building a viable, independent state of Palestine, together with those who live in the West Bank. These announcements resulted from consultations with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Today, the United States welcomes the new policy towards Gaza announced by the Government of Israel, which responds to the calls of many in the international community. Once implemented, we believe these arrangements should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza, while preventing the entry of weapons. We will work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet, and other international partners to ensure these arrangements are implemented as quickly and effectively as possible and to explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, including greater freedom of movement and commerce between Gaza and the West Bank. There is more to be done, and the President looks forward to discussing this new policy, and additional steps, with Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit to Washington on July 6.

Barry Rubin criticized this announcement at the time:

Note that Obama did not mention the conditions for easing the blockade–that Hamas abandon terrorism and accept Israel’s existence–nor did he say that anything the Palestinian Authority or Hamas is doing is “unsustainable.” Only Western and Israeli policy are said to be unsustainable. In effect, Obama is saying that the policies of Hamas, Iran, Hizballah, and Syria, among others, are infinitely sustainable, especially because of his reluctance to do things to make them unsustainable.

And thus in Middle East terms, he’s saying: Your intransigence has won. We couldn’t move you so our policy has failed. We must give in.

Practically speaking the policies that the United States advocated weren’t just a surrender, but likely helped Hamas build its strategic capabilities.

It’s reasonable to ask if the relaxing of the blockade help Hamas smuggle the cement it needed to build its terror tunnels. Did the American aid abet Hamas in its efforts? By IDF estimates, the tunnels cost at least $90 million. How much of that was paid for by international aid? (How much of the aid went to building the fortunes of Hamas’ leaders?)

The international community will lament the violence in the Middle East and criticize Israeli self-defense measures. But when will it conclude that with the best of intentions it is encouraging terrorists by rewarding them for their violence and intransigence? Maybe it’s time to start taking Israel’s security concerns seriously.

[Photo: saifalislam2 / YouTube ]


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While I generally support Israel and oppose Hamas, I believe this latest fight was a mistake, mainly because Israel wasn’t willing to actually do what it takes to DEFEAT them for good.

Hamas is wounded but not finished. In a couple years this exact scenario is going to play out again.

Israel needs to FINISH the fight, not destroy some weapons and tunnels and call it a day.

    janitor in reply to Olinser. | August 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Problem is identifying who “is” Hamas. Is Hamas merely its leaders or obvious active fighters. Or is it a political party or organization with a passive supportive membership holding certain beliefs. Wipe out the leaders, wipe out the men identified as military (or militia, or whatever they are), while the mothers and wives and parents of the dead men, as well as the schools and mosques continue preaching the same ideology. In a few years, it’s another Hamas. The distinction between soldier and civilian becomes absurd and impossible. It’s why ancient conquering armies regularly slaughtered everyone but unmarried women and girls and young children, and assimilated those.

    It is not merely tunnels and rockets or Hamas that is being fought here. It is an ideology of hate with tentacles across the globe that has been unyielding no matter how much humanitarian aid or argument to the contrary.

why do our politicians think they should have ANY say in how Israel runs its country anyways?
as far as I can tell there has been no benefit to Israel listening to us.
damned tired of people calling them occupiers too.
they need to really start killing people, rid the world of the huge problem that is hamas and palestines.

When a people decide to elect a government intent on waging war against their neighbor, and that neighbor decides that enough is enough, and fights back and won’t allow others to second guess their action, the people have no one but themselves to blame for the consequences of their vote.

So it is for the Palestinians who elected Hamas. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Paul. | August 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Well, their elections might not have been any more honest than our last two and the election in Egypt that put the Muz Bros in power.

Hamas still hopes for a victory in negotiations that they could not win through force of arms. If they can go to their people and show them something: an easing of the blockade; greater access to Egypt or Israel; a significant increase in foreign aid; they can then claim to have gained something from the death of their people. How long does it take Gazans to increase their population by 2,000? From Hamas’ perspective, that is the human cost of the war.

filiusdextris | August 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

My mom is a well-intentioned, naive leftist (God love her). She wrote me that she wants both sides to lay down their arms, whereupon she would sit down with them representing Jesus, that the Holy Spirit would be with her. I couldn’t get through to her that preaching Jesus to two sides that deny him as Lord would not be the best way to secure peace. It must be the koolaid.

    There is what I believe is an apocryphal story told about a United States legislator (not sure if he was in the House or Senate) who, when told about Israel’s 1948 war for independence,suggested that the two sides sit down like good Christians and settle the matter.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to MIK. | August 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Israel has tried sitting down with terrorists, giving them land for peace, etc. History has shown that trying to make peace with criminals and killers never works.

      Their sort must be banned, killed or jailed.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to filiusdextris. | August 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Your mother’s well-intentioned error is widespread in the West wherein too many westerners, applying western norms, values, and mores, look at conflict in the Middle East and pronounce it indecipherable, beyond logic and understanding. However, conflict in the Middle East, much of it because of or justified by proscriptions against infidels, primarily Jews and Christians, has been the norm for millenia.

    Palestinian Gaza looks at Israel as would Mississippi might look at Alabama if Alabama was controlled by Satanists. There is very little overlap in belief between Christians and Satanists on which to base compromise, and zero between jihadists and Jews.

    How does one deal with an enemy who openly states that the only acceptable outcome is your full capitulation and religious conversion or death?

      You put them under your control.

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Guy. | August 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm

        Guy, we are not bound to the limits of your ignorance, nor your inability to detect a rhetorical question.

        “You put them under your control.”

        That wouldn’t be a deal, would it? That would be subjugation. It is idiotic. Israel is to keep the entirety of Gaza under control? Forever?

        No. When the stakes are existential, you must kill such an enemy.

          Huh? You are stupid? If you think Israel is free to act to secure its interests then you clearly do not understand what is going on here and why it doesn’t/

          Re “Guy, we are not bound to the limits of your ignorance” No, we aren’t. Israel is bound by the limits of what it is willing to do.

          Re “That wouldn’t be a deal, would it? That would be subjugation. It is idiotic. Israel is to keep the entirety of Gaza under control? Forever? ”

          The answer is Israel needs to secure the appearance that they will. Then we take it from there.

          Let’s be clear. You are advocating sine between suck up, foolishness and defeat.

I have a teensy linguistic suggestion: Call the blockade of Gaza a “partial” blockade, or a “weapons” blockade or a “war material” blockade.

Hamas has been selling the lie that the blockade somehow restricts consumer goods. Remember, they claimed a “humanitarian crisis” as an excuse for the Flotilla caper, and even the OIC was willing to publicly state that there was no such humanitarian crisis.

Walker Evans | August 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm

The conflict between Israel and Hamas is quite simple to understand if one would only pick up and read the Qu’ran. An understanding of the principle of abrogation is needed for this, but that is easily acquired. Based on the Surahs that Allah left in place* his followers are to take over the entire planet; anyone who is not one of them is to be reverted, placed in dhimmitude with the jizyah, or killed. Period. If this is understood the entire conflict is easily fathomed.

As to this country’s official stance: “The President has described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable and has made clear that it demands fundamental change. On June 9, he announced that the United States was moving forward with $400 million in initiatives and commitments for the West Bank and Gaza.” Recommending countries be fundamentally changed seems to be Obama’s answer to everything, and he is succeeding here and in Israel. Sending Hamas $400 megabucks they can use for more weapons – and anyone who believes any money we send them is used for some other purpose is simply deluded – is surely “fundamentally changing” that entire region.

*Which brings up the question of Allah’s sentience. If he changes his mind as often as Mohamed said, or issues “what-I-really-meant-to-say” corrections to his previous instructions, it has to make a reasonably intelligent person doubt his omniscience, a major part of the Job Description for godhood.

This article is nothing short of amazing. Everything this web site exists for is shown to be a pettifogging fraud. Here it is – the website is saying that maybe what happened should not have.

Holy Cow. Maybe if we wish it, it won’t have happened. Maybe we only think it happened. Maybe if we “realize” our mistake, it will not have happened.

So here we have it. The solution to Hamas. I wish Hamas away! Now let everybody wish Hamas away and then Hamas will be gone.

Since Hamas is not gone, and since we do not want draconian solutions, then someone tell me what a solution is that does not involve Israel retaking Gaza.

Oh. Maybe you think it a solution and we just have to wish it.

You do realize that all the discussions on this website vis a vis self defense laws has just been shown wrong.