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Gaza

Warren Kinsella has a good post about the spin that is coming out of Gaza.  I agree with what he is saying but I struggle with the strategy of what Israel is doing and if it is going to work.

First of all, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to live right beside a people group whose stated goal is your destruction.  When I am traveling in southern Saskatchewan, I am never worried about a missile strike from Montana or North Dakota.

In reading Thomas Rick’s excellent book, Fiasco, he speaks of the concept of honor among Arabs.  Many of the sniper attacks on American soldiers were in response to being assaulted a couple of hours/days/weeks before.  The reason they often missed was not because of poor marksmanship but because the Iraqi’s just didn’t feel like killing anyone but had to do something to restore their honor.  I can’t help but wonder that by attacking back with force that the Israeli’s are not just helping the Hamas instead of weakening them.  I am no terrorist strategist but I would assume that this is Hamas’ strategy, to irritate and anger Israel into acting, placing civilians in harm’s way, appealing to the west to make Israel stop, then proclaiming Israel’s weakness to anyone who will listen.  Of course if Israel doesn’t act, then the rockets get bolder and bolder and it’s people suffer more.

Of course the other side my thinking is drawn back to many of the books that I have read by Bernard Lewis on Islamic culture and the west and he maintains that Israel is too soft on the Palestinians therefore introducing the thought that they are weak.  Hamas comes from the rebellion in Hama under the Egyptian Brotherhood.  To deal with the rebellion, Syria surrounded, shelled, masacred, and then paved over Hama.  Thomas Friedman described Hama as a parking lot as the city no longer exists.

It has been suggested by giving aid and helping rebuild homes mistakenly hit by rockets, Israel is undermining its own show of force.   That being said, I don’t think the Israeli people or the western world has the stomach for the kind of war that would deliver the kind of blow to Hamas that Lewis is talking is necessary.

Despite what Jimmy Carter says, I don’t think Hamas wants peace now or in the near future, they want to destroy Israel.   Israel on the other hand is caught between needing to take drastic short term steps to survive right now that may actually be prolonging the conflict in the future.

It puts the struggles that our own countries are facing in perspective.

3 Comments

  1. Bob Cornwall says:

    Jordan,

    I would suggest reading beyond Bernard Lewis on the Middle East. His perspective is skewed against the Palestinians. I suggest reading Stephen Humphreys Between Memory and Desire (U of California Press).

    The story of Israel and Palestine is a complicated one, and our perspective is colored by history and by ideology (theology). The Palestinians feel a lot like the Native Americans did in the 19th century. In fact, Gaza is essentially an enclosed reservation. In this regard, take a look at the book by Anna Baltzer, a young Jewish American woman, who spent considerable time among the Palestinians in the West Bank, and took lots of pictures. http://www.annainthemiddleeast.com/

    Whether this offensive will undermine Hamas is unknown, but history suggests that it won’t. In fact, all it will do is harden a people with virtually no hope.

    One need not be anti-Israeli to support the rights of the Palestinians to have some self-determination.

    Does Hamas want peace? Probably not. At least not under the terms that have been offered them.

  2. Mike O says:

    There’s a certain amount of correlation between Israeli retaliation and the price of oil. Washington does not want any excitement when oil is at $120, but when it’s south of $40, Israel can get “permission”.

    Israel is determined to separate Palestine into a Hamas piece and a Fatah piece. And, like any nascent “democracy”, it takes a while for statesmanship to emerge from a dictatorship. Few people want an egalitarian society when the opportunity arrives when you can replace one totalitarian regime with another, that gives you benefits.

    Gaza has huge unemployment, but has a skilled workforce. And, it has too little land and water for agricultural self-sufficiency. However, if you have energy, you have water, and the natural gas field offshore will provide that energy.

    However, Israel will not allow that gas to provide money, only goods and services. However, using that energy to provide heat to greenhouses (look at google maps of Gaza) and to provide distilled water (or pressurized reverse osmosis for cheaper water), Gaza can raise valuable export crops such as flowers. This would provide foreign exchange.

    My guess is that Israel will look to occupy a strip along the Egyptian border, a mile, or so, wide. That way, they can listen for tunnel digging, and forestall smuggling of accurate rockets. There aren’t any good ways to block deep dunnels, unless they find a creative solution – like saturating the area with water from the Mediterranean (which would destroy any fresh water aquifer). In addition, a border zone would allow a secure surface border with Egypt, an outlet for commerce, and an inlet for food, medicines, etc. A mile border strip is easy, except for a crowded area near Rafah.

    As far as technology goes, shooting down small rockets and mortar fire sounds challenging, but doable. Pursuing that avenue might be a good technology for all.

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