In this era, the most common way of dealing with radicalism, repression,
terrorism, and such things in the Third World is to blame it on democratic
states so often victimized by such things.
The latest contribution to
this genre comes from British ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips who said
Israel’s sanctions’ regime on the Gaza Strip “was breeding
He claimed it had driven “Gaza into a Hamas-controlled
tunnel economy, and the Palestinian Gaza private sector has been almost
completely destroyed….Young boys on the streets [have had] no role
from the Hamas guy in the black shiny uniform on the street corner...
in psychological terms, another generation of people that are not going
that friendly about Israel.”
The message is that the problem is
completely due to “us.” The other side doesn’t actually exist. It has no
history, no worldview, no ideology, and no goals. The “other side” is
blank screen or mirror, reflecting back what we do.
This is, of course, a
racist and imperialist vision. It denies the other any cultural or
mentality of its own.
If one is only a victim always, one has no
volition, higher intelligence, or ability to affect history.
look at the events. For instance, Islamist Iran is not radical because
been isolated; rather, it has been isolated because of its radical
In the case of the Gaza Strip, the publicly known facts should
Let’s count the number of times Hamas was treated
The participation of Hamas in Palestinian elections was
clearly illegal, since that group did not accept the Oslo Accords,
Israel, or cease using terrorism.
Yet despite all of this, the United
States actually urged, and Israel accepted, its participation. (1) When
won the elections, neither the United States nor Israel tried to
reverse the results. Again, they didn’t “drive” Hamas into radicalism.
the Palestinian Authority tried for a while to hang on, but in the end
a power-sharing agreement with Hamas. (3) Hamas then staged a coup,
fellow Palestinians, and seized power. Yet even then there was no move
or the United States to unseat the new regime. (4) After repeated Hamas
on Israel and Israeli retaliation, a ceasefire was signed.
restrictions on supplies but they regularly flowed into Gaza. (5) There
example, a border industrial area that provided jobs for Gazans from
companies until Hamas attacked it. Finally, near the end of 2008, Hamas
the ceasefire and launched a massive attack on Israel. Israel defended
and after the resulting war the sanctions’ regime we have seen until
went into effect by both Egypt (which feared Hamas’s revolutionary
status as an Iranian client) and Israel.
This is not a picture of Gazans
being driven to radicalism, it is a story of how the consequences of a
policy unfolded, forcing Israel to react.
THERE’S MORE. Ambassador
Phillips, and the many others who speak about events around the world in
terms, simply fail to comprehend how a dictatorship works. They think
you engage hardline ideological revolutionaries, they will moderate. If
offer to trade with them, a process of materialism will set in so that
fire-breathing radicals will be transformed into luxury-loving
Suppose Gaza didn’t have a “Hamascontrolled tunnel economy”
but merely a Hamas-controlled economy, would that be better? And why
believe that the economy wouldn’t be controlled by the dictatorship,
Western governments or companies were doing business there? But that is
true of Syria, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and ideological
other parts of the world. Has this turned them toward love and
Phillips-Pogo view also ignores the political mechanisms of ideological
dictatorships. Hamas doesn’t wait for young boys to see its cadre as
Here’s what it does: • Pays people with the money obtainable,
including that siphoned off from aid and trade, to recruit them and make
the arms of the regime.
• Arrests and intimidates opponents so they
cannot provide alternative role models. (In the Gaza Strip there aren’t
many moderate role models any way. Wealthy businessmen? These are the
figures who were in good with Fatah and against whom people voted for
Fatah gunmen? Maybe the dedicated UNRWA teacher offers an alternative
model?) • Control of all institutions including mosques, media, youth
organizations and schools which all actively and intensively preach the
The regime isn’t going to let external institutions or countries
that oppose its Islamist radicalism have an influence in its territory.
would rather sacrifice benefits to its people than give up authority to
knows want to overthrow the regime.
Phillips’ line that it is Israel’s
policy which is creating “another generation of people that are not
feel that friendly about Israel” is rather ludicrous in light of this
After all, the same thing is happening in the West Bank where there is
sanctions’ regime in place, Western aid flows lavishly, and supposed
are in control.
Here’s the truth: revolutionary forces that use
terrorism, preach a totalitarian ideology, create dictatorships, and
genocidal goals are responsible for war and conflict in the Middle
No matter how intensely Western democracies flagellate themselves,
no matter how much they appease and concede, that basic and deadly fact
change. No, let me correct the end of that sentence: the cost will
dangerous, bloody, and deadly.The writer is director of the Global
Research in International Affairs Center and editor of
International Affairs and Turkish Studies. He blogs at