Gaza's pugnacious plug-ugly features reflect with the most unassailable accuracy more than the current cheerless situation. Gaza is a mirror-cum-crystal ball. Not only does it reveal the gruesome image of Palestinian self-rule, but its stomach-churning credibility also crucially provides the most incisive, if chilling, insight into what's to come.
The macabre looking-glass may be unsettling, yet with piercing realism it alerts us to what the future holds. Hotshots, who obstinately overlook repulsive eye-openers, willfully jeopardize our continued physical survival.
Even those who until recently distorted what Gaza betokened and focused on its self-imposed misery - by way of accounting for its volatile caprices - at last disgustedly turn up their noses at it.
Nevertheless, they now energetically compensate for Gaza's ghastliness by dispensing optimistic kitsch about its Ramallah rival. Just as Gazans have come to embody "bad Palestinians," so Mahmoud Abbas's Ramallah gangsters - those who couldn't/wouldn't control Gaza - are suddenly extolled as "good Palestinians."
All-bad Gaza has become "our new opportunity," to borrow Ehud Olmert's phrase, to kid ourselves that Ramallah is home to real Oslo-issue "peace-partners," to whom we can cede more land - strategically far more vital than the Gaza we surrendered to this very bunch. Renascent "New Middle East" visions radiate from Ramallah (where two Israeli reservists, who took the wrong turn, were butchered and mutilated as their murderers dunked their hands ecstatically in the freshly spilled blood).
Kadima and Labor, eager to seize on any far-fetched excuse to salvage Oslo and its disengagement derivative, now concoct new giveaway schemes. First, however, they must convince memory-deficient Israelis that the folks in Ramallah are better-behaved and that, to keep Ramallah sweet, Abbas must be rewarded.
Concessions will enhance his standing and prevent a Gaza-like debacle in Judea and Samaria.
The minor omitted detail is that Hamas didn't govern pre-disengagement Gaza. Abbas did. Land relinquished during his tenure, rather than strengthen him, boosted Hamas. Appeasement didn't secure moderation - it fortified the fanatics.
The one real difference between Gaza and Ramallah is that there's no Israeli presence in Gaza, while Israel still maintains some access to Ramallah. The only guarantor against an outbreak of savagery is Israeli control.
Israeli retreats - both in Lebanon and Gaza - emboldened Iranian-backed Islamofascists - as forecast by withdrawal-opponents (dubbed "enemies of peace" by Osloite dream-merchants). Instead of admitting that these prescient critics were right, self-appointed diagnosticians of national sanity now advise we "try" in Judea and Samaria what failed in Gaza. "In the new circumstances," Olmert announced, "we can take more risks than in the past."
IF ANYTHING, disengagement's fiasco and subsequent Gazan bedlam should rule out any more gambling, certainly not encourage gambling for higher stakes. Yet not only doesn't our egocentric leadership learn from its own spectacular mistakes, it plans mega-scale reruns of its previous horror extravaganzas.
After the Gaza model is extended into the fully independent Palestine in Judea and Samaria, no Israeli city would escape missile monsoons. Terror tunnels breaching Gaza's perimeter security fence will be replicated with a vengeance along its convoluted counterpart on Israel's elongated super-vulnerable eastern flank.
The Green Line will be challenged by inflamed multitudes of "returning refugees" merely agitating to "go home" (i.e. inundate and eliminate the Jewish state). The already seditious ferment among Israel's own Arab minority will be colossally magnified by a sovereign Palestine.
Palestine, moreover, possesses growth potential - from a mini-monster to a giant ogre. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan - an artificial entity occupying 80% of original Palestine - mightn't survive. Greater Palestine will stretch all the way to the Iraq the Americans cannot control. Palestine's irredentist appetite for the leftover slivers of Israel will swell as it expands.
Wan overseas reaction to Gaza's present aggression is but a faint preview of what's in store from the spineless world community. The delegitimization of Israel's very existence will intensify.
Those who now promote the foreign-troops panacea for the Philadelphi Corridor will campaign for the same elsewhere, until the IDF is incurably crippled and the country is indefensible. At best we'd hope for temporary relief as a lowly UN protectorate - and anyone who still trusts the UN needs his/her head urgently examined.
THE SAME goes for those who, despite the Gazan example, keep on trusting Palestinian goodwill and inclination to do the right thing. The unchecked gunrunning that made Hamas a formidable force in Gaza predetermines the pattern along the Jordanian frontier. If Egypt and assorted international meddlers couldn't keep Gaza demilitarized, they surely wouldn't prevent the Islamic Arab Republic of Palestine from arming itself to the teeth.
Complex and thorny deals can be struck only with a partner predisposed to adhere to each letter of the small print. Never mind how Arafat and his successors treacherously welshed on everything they conned the pliable Yitzhak Rabin to fall for.
Gaza's mirror pitilessly reflects how undertakings are valued in the Palestinian milieu. After all, Gaza's internecine slaughter followed fraternal agreement on a national unity coalition!
Non-democratic societies are unlikely to honor commitments. Upper-crust Palestinians, boasting the gift of English gab, may be toasted by the elite of supercilious bon-ton abroad and stay sought-after guests in the halls of liberal academe. They may make mincemeat of Israel's pathetic PR, but they're hardly harbingers of change. They represent nobody. The mobs don't back them. As in Gaza, there are no sophisticated moderates in Ramallah.
It's not that we don't know this. It's just that we serially - over and over again - avoid the unsightly portents glaring at us through Gaza's merciless mirror. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results."