Daniel Pipes: Israel's War on Hamas ... A Dozen Thoughts





1) Arab-Israeli warfare is not the conventional battle to control territory of old. Since 1982, the primary goal in this theater is to persuade the world of the righteousness of one's cause. (I.e., who has the more affecting casualties?)

2) Palestinians have proven themselves more competent at the p.r. battle than the Israeli government, winning public support everywhere — with the lone but decisive exceptions of Israel and the United States.

3) Secondarily, Hamas's defiance should be seen in light of Iranian ambitions to wear down the Israeli body politic.

4) Most Arab regimes so fear Tehran that they can barely bestir themselves to denounce Israel's war on Hamas, much less do anything.

5) The PLO's Mahmoud Abbas condemns Israeli actions as intensely as he roots for the Israel Defense Forces to destroy Hamas.

6) The moral opprobrium for Palestinian rockets raining down on Israeli towns falls entirely on the Palestinians and their enablers.

7) Israel has made astounding tactical mistakes, including the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, long years of passively enduring rockets, and tacit acceptance of elaborate smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza.

8) The IDF has learned from tactical mistakes made in 2006.

9) Still, the Israeli war effort remains problematic. For example, an unnamed Israeli defense official was quoted saying "Hamas knows our demands, and there's no use to talking about them publicly." Since when does one signal military intentions to the enemy and hide them from one's own population?

10) The Israeli goal should be victory, not ending terrorism.

11) The Bush administration must not save Hamas.

12) Nor should the Obama administration save Hamas.


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art eckstein - 1/5/2009

Clinton WAS THERE, AS. And he's given his opinion.

And according to an interview Arafat gave to Geraldo Riviera in 2002 ARAFAT agreed with CLINTON: it was HE who scotched the possible deal with Israel in 2000, and--ARAFAT said--he was sorry now (in 2002) that he HAD NOT TAKEN THE DEAL.

So, AS-- now we have both CLINTON and ARAFAT, both of them, saying that it was the Palestinians' fault at Camp David and Tabah.

Formidable witnesses, AS: both of the principals at the negotiations, in agreement! And guess what? They don't agree with YOU.





Arnold Shcherban - 1/5/2009

Clinton (or any US President for that matter) is a "formidable witness", especially in Middle-Eastern affairs?

Please, don't crack a crowd up they can die of laughter attack...
What do you get your awards for, Professor? For being so naive, or so foolish, or so intellectually fraudulent?


art eckstein - 1/3/2009

AS, all I did was note that the Palestinians rejected Camp David and Taba, the Israelis accepted it, and that Clinton blames the Palestinians for the failure. Surely Clinton is a formidable witness. He blamed Yasser Arafat personally in the last telephone conversation they had. More generally? My position is that everyone has to share some of the responsibility. So this is simply another lying accusation on your part.

AS, I think you're ending this colloquy for no other reason than because you have no response to my FACTS.


Arnold Shcherban - 1/3/2009

Professor,
Just one fact in your description and interpretation of the origins and many decades of development of Israeli-Palestinian crisis versus mine
and others clearly shows that your
version is severely skewed ideologically and therefore cannot be accepted by any unbiased observer: your total and permanent rejection to recognize ANY considerable degree of Israeli responsibility for the failure of peaceful resolution of the conflict, placing entire responsibility on Palestinains (and derivatively on Turks, Germans, Russians, etc.)
Since I commonly get tired and bored fast debating against ideological zealots, I end this one as well.


art eckstein - 1/2/2009

I suggest you read Benny Morris's book 1948, Mr. S., before gassing off. He's the latest scholar to work on this subject. The book received excellent reviews in the NY Times and the Washington Post.

What occurred was that between 1880 and 1948, Jews bought land from willing Arab buyers at inflated prices. Then in 1948 the Arabs (including the Palestinians) rejected the UN resolution creating a Jewish state and attacked, with the aim of genocide. THEY LOST. In the process of attacking, they lost. Many Palestinians fled, some were kicked out. If they hadn't attacked, they wouldn't have needed to flee, or become security problem. They lost a war, PF.

The Palestinians are where they are because in WWI they backed Turkey and Germany, in WWII they backed the Nazis, in the Cold War they backed the USSR, in the First Gulf War they backed Saddam Hussein (one result was that 300,000 Palestinians were kicked out of Kuwait),
they refused the Camp David Accords (ask President Clinton about it), in the Second Gulf War they backed Saddam Hussein, and now they back the genocidal religious fanatics Hamas. It is a sorry, sorry record. And THAT is why they are in the position they are in.

And is nihilistic genocidal terrorism a natural response to what occurred to the Palestinians (because of their own mistakes) in 1948, as you seem to believe, PF? In the disordered period 1945-1960 many millions people were made refugees:

12 million Germans were kicked out of E. Europe where they'd lived for centuries; one million died; one million women were raped. But you don't see Germans blowing up kindergartens in Danzig.

7 million Hindus were kicked out of what became Pakistan in 1947, where they had lived from time immemorial. But you don't see Hindus blowing up busses filled with civilians in Karachi. (Religious minorities in Pakistan now constitute less than 1% of the almost-totally Muslim population; by contrast, Muslims in India re 14% of the population--care to guess WHY?)

850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab/Muslim lands between 1948 and 1960, losing everything and arriving penniless in Israel, or Britain, or the U.S. That is 100,000 MORE people than Palestinians who became refugees in 1948. But you don't see Jews blowing up supermarkets in Tunis.

As we speak, some Muslim is enjoying all this property stolen from the Jews when they were expelled. Yet this is never ever an issue to be discussed, when "stolen lands" comes up.

300,000 Greeks were expelled from Egypt in 1955-1957 as a result of a classic ethnic and religious cleansing by the Nasser regime. Some had lived there for hundreds of years, some for thousands. Some Muslim is enjoying the confiscated property of all these Greeks as we speak. But you don't see Greeks blowing up discoteques in Cairo.

50,000 more Greeks were expelled from northern Turkey in the mid-1950s, after living there for 3,000 years. They arrived in Greece penniless (like the people from Egypt), and some Turk is enjoying their confiscated property as we speak. But you don't see Greeks blowing up universities in Ankara.

Get the point? As one Palestinian interlocutor explained to me when I brought up these parallels, "This is because they are not as noble as the Palestinian People." GET THE POINT? The genocidal terrorism of the Palestinians is no "natural reaction" to trauma--a traum that many others have suffered, and in larger numbers than the Palestinians. It is a CULTURAL CHOICE.



Arnold Shcherban - 1/2/2009

The dreams and actual plans of creating so-called Great Israel have been in Zionist (not in Jewish, in general) minds since the preorigins of the Israeli state in 1947.
New studies on the issue tell the following: "David Ben Gurion, who proclaimed the State of Israel on May 14th 1948, refused to comply with the borders as defined by the 1947 UN Partition Plan. He sought to expand the territory allocated to the Jewish state and also to secure a minimum 80% Jewish population. This implied a military strategy of driving out
500,000 to 800,000 Arabs from their towns and cities. On May 15th, war was declared by the neighbouring Arab states opposing the Partition Plan. Contrary to the accepted Israeli narrative (of the desperate battle against overwhelming Arab forces, A.S.), the armed forces of the surrounding Arab States were on an equal footing only in the first three weeks of the war; Israeli troops gained superiority quite rapidly."
"A handful of persons in Israel have been working for some years to bring about an Israeli acknowledgement of the Palestinian narrative of the nakba, the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians in 1948: ZOCHROT is one of the oldest and most respected one. According to Eitan Bronstein, “we believe that knowing this narrative is essential in order to acknowledge the loss imposed on the Palestinians by Israeli Jews, and this recognition is an essential step for any future reconciliation. Even if we have peace tomorrow, real reconciliation between the two peoples will not happen until the Israelis recognise the Palestinian loss.” (While the respective Israeli loss has been well-known and recognised by all European and American world, which currently is a virtual cultural, economic, and military equivalent of the whole world, A. S.)
One has not to become a professor to recognise bitter irony in the quoted words of Palestinain poet (that you, sir, did not or refuse to recognise): Palestinians and their cause are only famous (to the world) because of the Jews and their cause, not because of their own.

Let me put it another way for you, Professor: if Palestinians had been treated as they did by Israel, by any other nation(s) non-aligned with the Western(mainly - US/UK) coalition, say by Russia, then Russia, not Palestinians, would have been the culprit/evil, and therefore had to be severely punished (at the very least -with all kinds of sanctions) in the eyes of the West and Israel.
Since it is Israel - loyal US/UK Mid-Eastern ally and beneficiary - the perpetrator and evil, as well as the one to be severely punished must (by traditional Western definition) be Palestinians. End of story.


art eckstein - 1/1/2009

The Israelis withdrew from Gaza, as a gesture to bring peace. We see the result--it was taken as an indication of weakness, which has been the case with every Israeli gesture towards peace. Israel never has claimed Gaza as part of Israel.

Egypt, however, did--and there was NO protest then from the international community. Mr. S is simply fantasizing.

The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish pointed to the real crux of the situation:

"Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because YOU Jews are our enemy. The
interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you,
not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy, [because of
its power]. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because
the Jews are always the center of attention."

Darwish has it exactly right.


Arnold Shcherban - 12/31/2008

or Abbas, but the Palestians, as a potential nation, giving up on claiming Gaza strip as a future territory of Palestinian state, thus legalizing the Israel's illegal occupation of the territory.

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