Reasons for a Short-Term Truce with Hamas

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, the Israel Air Force struck at Palestinians who were apparently planting a bomb at the Gaza security fence; meanwhile, rioting continued along the Israel-Gaza border and a grenade, borne by a balloon from Gaza, landed in Israel. And this was but a single day of Hamas’s attacks, which have continued on and off since March. Yaakov Lappin notes that at several points Israel and Hamas have come close to all-out war, which remains a possibility. Since Hamas has no intention of desisting from its terrorist activities, Lappin asks, does Jerusalem have anything to gain form a short-term cease-fire with the terrorist group?

Hamas’s negotiation tactics have alternated between talks and mortar shells, but its short-term goal remains the same: to open up Gaza to the world while holding on to the terrorist army it has built. . . . Hamas’s efforts to break its isolation was a major factor behind the outbreak of the 2014 conflict with Israel. Today, the very same factor could spur a new war. . . .

Yet despite Hamas’s radical Islamist ideology, its leadership is keen to preserve its rule in Gaza, and it is aware that a new war with Israel would jeopardize that. [The head of the regime in Gaza, Yahya] Sinwar, seems to recognize the futility of any new war with Israel at this juncture, particularly in light of the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome air defenses and new anti-tunnel technology. . . . At the same time, Hamas’s rocket- and mortar shell-production efforts have been intensifying over the past year. . . .

Israel, [for its part], has its reasons for wishing to avoid a major Gaza conflict at this stage. One reason is that a full-scale conflict would mean fewer resources would be at Israel’s disposal against the bigger and significantly more dangerous threats that are developing in other arenas. . . . Stopping Iran’s takeover of Syria is Israel’s foremost immediate goal, and a Gaza conflict now would serve as a distraction from the more dangerous threat developing to the north.

In addition, it seems unlikely that Israel would be able to find viable substitute rulers to replace Hamas in Gaza. That means that containing and deterring Hamas, so long as this is possible, is preferable to any full-scale conflict. . . . The chances of a broad truce arrangement remain low, but a limited ceasefire that is still firmer than the current unstable setup might be within reach.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Yahya Sinwar

 

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror