Hamas knows one big thing, which it labels “resistance” or, for Western audiences, “ending the occupation.” Just what that means was made clear by Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita in a televised interview. “The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine,” he said, “is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine.”
This kind of genocidal incitement is more than idle ranting: Gigantic ambitions sustain political movements through hard times. Hamas is also sustained by the insight that Israel’s considerable military capabilities are unlikely to be matched by political will. It believes that whatever attacks come will be tempered by a host of humanitarian and diplomatic considerations. It believes that Israel wants to avoid a public relations debacle (so Hamas will do everything it can to engineer or fabricate one). It believes that the weight of international sympathy will be on its side. It believes, too, that the last thing Israel wants is to reoccupy Gaza, with all the costs and complications that entails.
Hamas believes, in short, that while Israel will do many things, and do them well, it will not do the main thing. And that, in turn, means that as Israel exhausts its target list, as eventually it will, the storm will pass. Then the green flag of the movement will fly defiantly over the tallest building left standing, its prestige hugely boosted — and Israel’s commensurately diminished — throughout the Muslim world.
This step recognizes that the battle in Gaza is also a battle for world opinion, and that Israel –and every other democratic state facing a terrorist threat– needs to provide accurate information about all operations in as timely and direct a fashion as operational security will allow. With Hamas enjoying the advantage of Arab television stations eager to broadcast pictures of the carnage, Israel needs to continue to convey the IDF’s attempt to minimize the death and injury to innocents.
Noah Pollack is reporting that YouTube is censoring the material, which is very troubling. How in the world is the world going to know what to believe when third parties attempt to referee competing claims via censorship?
The YouTube channel, even if uncensored, is still only raw data. Where to turn to for the sort of analysis that conveys how crucial this battle is, and how jumbled the alliances.
I’ve been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information.
Egypt is certainly hoping to see Hamas uprooted from Gaza. Anyone who favors peace in the region via a negotiated settlement has to hope for the same thing. This is the hardest thing for many in MSM to grasp –Hamas is al Qaeda with better pr. The American coverage I have been reading and hearing is not conveying the nature of Hamas or the desire of many of Israel’s Arab neighbors and potential peace partners to see Hamas routed from Gaza.
I’ll try and line-up Goldberg for when I get back. I missed his January, 2008 book Prisoners, or I’d have already had him onto discuss and included the conversation in The War Against the West. I’ll also try to find Robin Wright, whose Shadows and Dreams spent a lot of time delineating the divides among the Arab world that work both to empower and isolate Hamas. If Israel’s objective is to destroy Hamas so as to empower the PLA to return to Gaza and reunite the land over which a negotiated settlement can proceed, journalists and analysts like Wright and Goldberg, Michael Totten and Bret Stephens, and Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi will be as key as YouTube to explaining this to the American audience again confused by the strange alliances and brutal rules of the Middle East.
My new Townhall.com column covers my resolutions for 2009.
The Fetching Mrs. Hewitt suggests not posting while on vacation. Like that is going to work. Any suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to me on Twitter @hughhewitt or by using the hash tag #hhrs.
I note the Browns will be drafting fifth, which is part of the plan to make Cleveland and Ohio sports the center of the sports universe in the year 2009. First the Cavs, then the Tribe, then the Bucks and Brown. I think four national titles in a single year will greatly compensate for the frustrations of the past. Beating the Celtics and Lakers, the Yankees, and the Steelers and USC along the way will greatly add to the pleasure of the extraordinary year ahead.
Back to vacation mode.