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.