Quite a few “bubbles” have been burst by the recent Israel-Hamas
More than a few political myths have been shredded, usefully
The “Tel Aviv bubble” was the first to go. After Hamas slammed its
nasty airborne calling cards into Gush Dan, it’s no longer that easy to preach
pretty Palestinian statehood from the porches of Kadima and Meretz headquarters
in Tel Aviv. Residents of the south, of the settlements, and of the sushi bars
of Tel Aviv are all in the same boat. This helps dispel the myth that Tel Aviv
(the “bubble”) would be safer if more territories were handed over to the
The second burst bubble was the belief that Israel would
and could clobber the Palestinians with impunity the minute they used violence
and terrorism against us.
Remember prime minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza
disengagement bravado? “If they use Gaza as a launching pad for terrorism after
Israel withdraws, Israel will respond with no-holds-barred, and have
international legitimacy for doing so” – or something to that
Poppycock. Eight thousand rocket strikes later, The New York
Times gave us sanction to retaliate by bombing “empty Hamas training sites” (yes
– that’s what a Times editorial actually suggested!). The world community let us
get away with a few days of pinpoint terrorist targeting. But we had and have no
international sanction for truly disarming the Iranian vassal state established
by the Palestinians in Gaza bunker by bunker.
We have no international
legitimacy for completely clobbering Hamas or dismantling the terrorist
infrastructures that have been built across our southern border. That’s one of
the reasons why Jerusalem stopped short of a ground offensive.
to the third bubble that has been burst: The notion that there ever can be
something called a “demilitarized Palestinian state.”
demilitarization is nonsense, a complete fairy tale. The Gaza experience has
shown that if given a state (or in the case of the Hamas, when they grab a
state), the Palestinians inevitably develop their own foreign and defense
relationships and arm that state to the teeth. All international guarantees
against this, and so-called “security arrangements” to prevent this, amount to
Nobody has stopped Gaza from becoming a client of Iran and part
of the Iranian army. Nobody has prevented Hamas from developing strategic
partnerships with the radical Islamic governments of Egypt and Turkey. Few
serious analysts really believe that Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood Egypt is
going to guarantee Israel’s security for the long term by preventing the
rearmament of Hamas (although Egypt may interdict a few high-profile shipments
of weapons from Iran in the short term to make a good impression on
A fourth myth that should be put to rest is that Mahmoud
Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has a legitimate, serious claim for international
recognition at the United Nations as a state representing “the Palestinian
People in the West Bank and Gaza.”
There already is an independent
Palestinian state in Gaza, in all but name. That state is not under the control
of the PA in any way, shape or form; it is not peaceful; and Abbas has no
realistic plans for making it so.
It is also good to be able to burst the
bubble and belie the myth, propagated by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, that
Israelis are exhausted and have no strength for continued struggle. Not
Operation Pillar of Defense showed that even when civilian areas
are under intense missile fire, Israel’s national resilience and spirit are
strong. Almost all reservists showed up for military duty, and they were ready
and willing for a tough ground fight.
But not all bubbles burst so
Some political myths die hard.
One such whimsy is the
inane argument that religiously-extreme, anti-Semitic radical movements like the
Hamas can be drafted into cooperation by giving them power.
This is the
illusory “co-option” theory, a favorite among some Western leftist intellectuals.
In our case, it’s the fable that sovereign power and the assumption of day-to-day responsibility for the welfare of their people will willy-nilly moderate
Hamas; that Western recognition, Israeli respect, economic aid and open borders
can massage jihadists into pragmatists.
Everything in Hamas’ record and
current posture indicates this is utter hogwash. The evidence shows that
jihadists like Hamas are willing to sacrifice all of the above benefits on the
altar of permanent holy war against Israel.
Nevertheless, Peter Beinart,
Roger Cohen, Tom Friedman and other liberal journalists are pumping the
dangerous argument that Hamas is obstructionist and violent only because it
hasn’t been fairly and properly “engaged.”
Inverting cause and effect,
these “intellectuals” assert that poor Hamas has never been given an “incentive”
to abide by a cease-fire or come to terms with Israel.
In fact, these
sages argue that America and Israel are responsible for radicalizing Hamas by
blockading Gaza and by insisting on “nonessential” things like the Quartet
principles (recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept past peace
agreements). Thus Washington and Jerusalem should shape a political strategy
that maximizes the chances of Hamas eventually accepting the two-state solution,
by allowing Hamas, for example, to compete for political power in the West
This advice is doubly appalling: It asks Israel to go down the same
colossally mistaken path we took with Oslo, and it manufactures hints of
non-existent Hamas moderation to justify this. It seeks to duplicate in the West
Bank the Islamic army and open-air prison that Hamas has built in
Appeasement is an age-old disease, and it immunizes the brain
against logic and clear vision. As a result, some political myths seem to have a
life of their own, impervious to reality. Unfortunately, not all bubbles burst
the same way.
The writer is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat
Center for Strategic Studies. He blogs at www.davidmweinberg.com