Sunday, January 04, 2009

Israel, Hamas and the Blame Game.

Who is to blame for the current war between Hamas and Israel?
Of course, depending on who asks the question and who answers - an American, a European, a Muslim, a Jew, an Arab or a Palestian, you'll probably get a different answer.
One thing is certain, the Bush administration's simplistic view (that Israel, a plucky democracy threatened by Islamist extremism and terrorism, in a hostile region afflicted by dangerous autocracies is simply defending itself) is ideaological. It is my view that, as in most wars, the blame should fall on all the parties involved.
Hamas :
Obviously Hamas has a major responsibility in the the latest developments. On December 19, it declared that it was not renewing the cease-fire (tahadiya) and and it fired rockets again against Israel as a supposedly strategy for a "better cease-fire" from its point of view-- i.e. the lifting of the international blockade.
(and since its election in 2006, Hamas has persecuted journalists and closed donw newspapers, Fatah members have been assassinated and Christians have been assaulted.)
The Bush administration :
The current administration's naive belief in "democracy", no matter what the local conditions may be resulted in the American demand that Palestinian elections be held in January 2006, despite Israeli and Palestinian Authority reservations about the timing and possible outcome. What was feared just happened: the Hamas victory.
The tragic irony was that the United-States (along with Israel and its allies) then refused to recognize the democratic election of Hamas, which was a denial a the very values they had preached.
Hamas's victory was the result of the years of Israeli occupation and tough policy, as well as the disillusions over the Fatah's promises of peace and better living conditions (disillusions for which Israel bears a strong responsibility.
But Israel also failed to even try to engage directly with democratically elected Hamas government,. More importantly, Israel did not enforce the lifting of the blockade even though it was a part of the June cease-fire agreement.
The International community:
It failed to pressure Israel to enforce its legal commitment - the end of illegale settlements and more importantly to Gaza, the lifting of the blockade.

As far as this latest war is concerned, I don't see how Israel can win it. Even if they win it on the ground, they have probably already lost the image war. Thousands of protesters have held demonstrations in the world - the most important one in Paris. Global criticism will make it harder for moderate Arab leaders to have any credibility.
Obviously, Israel is aware they're fighting a PR war as well :
In the hours preceding the ground operation, The Washington Post reported: "Israel dropped leaflets over northern Gaza urging residents to leave their homes. The leaflets read: 'Area resident, as result of the acts undertaken by terror activists in your area against Israel, the IDF is forced to respond immediately and operate in this area. For your own safety, you are asked to leave the area immediately'." (The National Newspaper)
But where are they supposed to go in this tiny sealed land, home to 1.5 million people.
Israel may destroy much and kill many in Hamas, but that is not the solution. Violence breeds violence and for every Hamas leader killed, another one will come, one day or another, born out of anger with the violence.
In fact, the Israeli attack may have actually revived Hamas. In the Washington Post, Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab wrote :
In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.
This is a natural rally-round-the-flag phenomenon : give people a common enemy and they'll forget their division for a while.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home