In a 2004 Israel TV interview on their newly published book about the Second Intifada, co-authors Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel recounted the purpose of the joint endeavor and what their research uncovered. Expressing amazement at their findings, show host Meni Pe’er (who died a decade later) pointed in particular to their research on suicide bombings.
“Yes,” said Issacharoff. “In The Seventh War: How We Won and Why We Lost the War with the Palestinians, we tried to examine the thinking of Hamas, not merely that of the Palestinian mainstream.”
To do this, the two Israeli correspondents and commentators on Arab and Middle East affairs spoke to senior Hamas officials. Among these was Sheikh Hassan Yousef.
Yousef, a co-founder and spiritual leader of the terrorist organization, spent several stints in Israeli prisons. Today, he is in charge of the group’s West Bank (Judea and Samaria) operations.
According to Issacharoff, Yousef explained that one of Hamas’s goals in its overall pursuit of the Jewish state’s ultimate destruction had been to foment and enhance internecine Israeli strife. Evidence of a schism on which the organization could build, Yousef told the authors, lay in calls on the part of the Israeli Left for a complete withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and for IDF soldiers and reservists to refuse to serve in those territories.
It was the latter, above all, he said, that buoyed Hamas to keep up its suicide attacks on Israelis.
A revelation that has eluded all trying to boycott IDF service to protest judicial reforms
THIS REVELATION, which is just as pertinent now as it was then, must have eluded all those defending current ultimatums by “conscientious objectors” to boycott military duty if the government reforms the judicial system. Furthermore, the argument that such threats aren’t emanating solely from the Left, but are voiced from a cross-section of concerned patriots, is as irrelevant as the claims that Israel is on the verge of becoming a theocratic dictatorship are false.
Ditto for the assertion that the judicial reform process is responsible for Israel’s appearing weak in the eyes of its enemies. In fact, it’s the well-oiled protest movement – commandeered by formerly prominent figures promoting the demonization of the powers-that-be in Jerusalem – that’s been signaling instability.
And Hamas, like its patrons in Iran, is paying close attention to what it perceives, or at least hopes, is Israel’s imminent implosion. The timing of its rocket barrages last weekend from launchers in Gaza and Lebanon, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, wasn’t accidental. The terror masters observed with glee as the Israeli “resistance” reacted to this move by shutting down the economy.
They were undoubtedly even more pleased to see Netanyahu resolve the problem by pausing judicial-reform legislation to enable dialogue and compromise with the opposition. Not that Hamas gives a hoot about the balance of power among the three branches of government in a democracy.
Nor does it distinguish between one Jewish defense minister, or political party, and another. Yet it definitely grasps the benefits of a deeply divided “Zionist entity,” which is why the demonstrations spurred it to test Israeli resolve and IDF strength in the face of salvos from different directions.
Issacharoff – who created the hit Netflix series, Fauda, along with its star, Lior Raz – might agree with this assessment if his antipathy for Netanyahu’s ruling coalition weren’t so great. The same applies to Harel, with whom he also wrote the 2008 book, 34 Days: Israel, Hezbollah, and the War in Lebanon.
NEITHER ANALYST seems to consider the way in which the vilification of Netanyahu, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee MK Simcha Rothman contributes to the sense on the part of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic that Israel won’t make it much past its upcoming 75th birthday.
An April 2 post by Issacharoff on social media is a perfect example. Following the government’s authorization that day of a national guard – proposed by Ben-Gvir to combat rampant crime, illegal weapons and protection rackets in Israel’s Arab sector – he tweeted that the whole situation reminded him of former Syrian president Hafez Assad and his successor son, Bashar.
“Every time that a real protest against the regime began, they would (and still do) call to raise the flag of the shabiha [state-sponsored mercenaries loyal to the Assad family], gangs of thugs employed to terrorize and use violence against opponents of the regime,” he shared with his followers. “Our shabiha has a name: La Familia. They used to be a small [fringe] group. Now the minister of national security is establishing a militia for them.”
Not outrageous, but immoral
The analogy isn’t simply outrageous; it’s immoral. In the first place, Israel isn’t Syria, and Netanyahu never was, nor ever will be, an evil authoritarian who commits atrocities against anyone who defies him. On the contrary, his detractors go after him publicly with a vengeance – and impunity.
Secondly, La Familia, a club of fanatical Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans notorious for anti-Arab chants during matches, isn’t deployed to beat up demonstrators. Finally, the national guard isn’t going to be a “militia” for Ben-Gvir; it will act as an auxiliary police force of the kind that the previous government, led by Yair Lapid, was preparing to institute.
It is inexcusable for the likes of Issacharoff – renowned for his fluency in Arabic and in the cultural-political-social language of the Middle East – to be mendaciously flippant in this manner. As he himself has emphasized, Israel’s ill-wishers are taking note.
THIS DIDN’T stop him from deriding the “full, full, right-wing government” for its “decision to settle for a very limited response” to the escalation of Palestinian aggression on all fronts.
“Hamas’s activity from Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, and the assumption that Hezbollah turned a blind eye to the fire, illustrates the erosion of Israeli deterrence,” he wrote on April 7 in Yediot Aharonot. “The heads of the Iranian regime and Hezbollah are watching from the sidelines and understand that this faltering policy of Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers stems from weakness. Or, as Yair Netanyahu wrote in the past about the [Naftali] Bennett-Lapid government, ‘They smell blood.’”
Issacharoff’s snide reference to the premier’s son was his segue to stating that “today, they smell hesitation.” This, he concluded, “is not how deterrence is built; it’s the way that the road to the next war is paved.”
Ironically, this very view is held by many on the Right, whose dismay at the mild reaction to Hamas’s casus belli is accompanied by apprehension over the fate of judicial reform. Bullying by the “resistance” already caused Netanyahu to backtrack on Gallant’s dismissal. There’s no guarantee, therefore, that the legislation “timeout” won’t drag on indefinitely.
If Issacharoff and his ilk don’t realize that the mullahs in Tehran and their proxies inside and along Israel’s borders consider the above a sign of vulnerability, they’re due for a refresher course in Mideast mentality. Perhaps a fresh round of conversations with Hamas honchos, who are happy to enlighten them, is in order.