The cultures, mindset, and concepts of conflict resolution, victory and loss that inform this tale are so divergent that they baffle most Westerners and leave them dumbstruck, especially Americans. And this most recent conflict between Israel and Gaza is a prime example of misunderstanding and miscomprehension.
The United States wants Israel to stop the air strikes. Plain, simple, stop! Sign on to a ceasefire, they advise, and that will stop the conflict. More than a thousand rockets were lofted from Gaza into Israel with the specific intent of killing, maiming and frightening as many Israelis as possible and Israel should stop? I call that diplomatic naivete.
The US expects Israel to just stop without achieving the goals and strategies put in place to keep citizens safe and the country intact. Israel is not indiscriminately bombing the Gaza Strip in anger or even in retaliation, as that would be immoral. Israel’s strategies and goals have been called into action because of the hundreds and hundreds of indiscriminate rockets from the Gaza Strip that are terrorizing Israelis. I call that strategic naivete.
Israel’s objective is to degrade the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), its leadership, its munitions and its ability to strike Israel. Not Hamas, the PIJ. Israel warned Hamas not to get involved and to stay out of the fray of rocket attacks, and for the most part, they have. And so, Israel has limited the targeting to the PIJ.
For these terrorists, frightening hundreds of thousands of Israelis over and over is a huge success. Even rockets that land in open fields are considered successful. It should go without saying that the terrorists gain much more satisfaction when Israelis are injured or killed by their rocket attacks.
The goals of terrorists in Gaza
Gaza’s terrorists truly believe that frightening Israelis will make Israel capitulate. They believe in their hearts and souls that their acts of terror will force Israelis to leave Israel and Israel will be gone, wiped off the map. It is their raison d’etre. In their eyes, it is an all-or-nothing scenario.
And that is why the PIJ and Hamas terrorist leadership alike have condemned everyone who has accepted Israel as an entity. They condemn Palestinians. They condemn the Gazans. They even condemn the Palestinian Authority as collaborators in need of punishment – even death – because they have accepted the de facto reality of Israel, the Jewish state.
THE WEST cannot comprehend this mindset. And a recent announcement from Hamas demonstrated once again the synapse between Western thinking and the behavior of those out to destroy Israel. The announcement, as phrased in a tweet by Elior Levy, reveals how simple it is for terrorist leadership to forsake their own citizens for their ultimate goal.
Elior Levy, the Palestinian affairs correspondent for Israeli Kan TV 11, tweeted: “Gaza’s citizens between hammer and anvil. Israeli army practice is to give civilians advance warning before their buildings are bombed. But Hamas has just announced that anyone who heeds Israeli warnings will be punished.
“Israel warns the people of Gaza before an air strike. Now, Hamas has threatened that anyone who leaves their homes after the warning will be killed as Israeli collaborators.”
This directive – this command – from the terrorist leadership up on high offers crystal clear insight into the diabolical nature of the mindset of those whose life’s work is the destruction of Israel. If Gaza residents do not leave their homes and seek shelter, they will be killed by the Israeli air strike, and Israel will be blamed for their deaths.
To the Western mindset, these things do not make sense. Game Theory does not factor into the analysis. The objective here is not win-win. For the terrorist it is the principle of all or nothing with an added component: If I cannot win, you cannot win, with the addendum that I will do everything to make certain that the situation is a gargantuan mess. And the US wants Israel to stop.
Israelis are terrorized, but not packing up and leaving. If anything, terrorists have successfully moved the Israeli political dial significantly in the other direction. The Israeli Left, formerly known as the peace camp, has totally imploded and all but disappeared from the political map. The Center-Center Right is the real political force and they will not bow to terror threats.
I do not foresee the PIJ or Hamas changing their strategy. I do hope that Palestinians on the street, the masses, will create a groundswell large and forceful enough to topple these extremists, gain power and insert a strategy that embraces win-win.
That’s something the West can understand.
The writer is a social and political commentator. Watch his TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS.