Israel claims that it has learned from its 2006 disaster in Lebanon, but I suspect that any lessons it learned were tactical rather than ethical. Today I was interviewed by Radio Free Europe on the crisis in Gaza. The interview centered on three basic questions: the nature of the American reaction, whether the Israeli attacks will make things more difficult for the incoming Obama administration, and what the impact of Mahmoud Abbas’s reaction will be.
The reaction of the American government to Israel’s latest aggression was disappointing, but all too typical. Calling the winners of the last Palestinian election “thugs” places the U.S. administration in the position of (1) demonstrating a continuing contempt for democracy even as it professes to be aim at establishing it in the Middle East, (2) continuing to demonstrate an indifference to the apartheid nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in general and brutality of the seige on Gaza that provoked the Palestinian rocket fire the spokesman’s phrase was intended to condemn, and (3) demonstrating a complete indifference to the principle of proportionality that no doubt motivated condemnations of the Israeli attacks by others, including the U.N. Secretary General. Palestinian rocket fire provided the excuse for Israel’s violent rampage, but the rocket fIre killed one Israeli while the response has killed hundreds, making Napoleon’s creed of killing ten for one look like moderation, and Hamas’s creed of a life for a life look like pacifism in comparison.
The Obama administration is in for a hard time. The Palestinian-Zionist dispute is a chronically difficult issue that has now been put into crisis mode. Obama has tried to temper his enthusiastic support of Israel with notes of concern for the rights of Palestinians. During times of low violence this can be considered “diplomatic.” At a time of wholesale carnage it sounds hollow. He almost seemed to invite bloodshed with his recent comment, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.” Really? That comment reminded of the comment an American truck driver made to me years ago upon learning that I was a Palestinian. “If somebody took half of my house, I’d [do everything in my power] to get it back.” Do American truck drivers understand the situation better than the incoming president?
During the ceasefire, the feud between Fatah and Hamas was a power struggle that one could hope could be resolved by negotiation — and some attempts nearly succeeded. But now that Abbas has thrown in his lot with the Israelis as they massacre Gazans, negotiation between them seems like a dream. One should negotiate with one’s enemy, but has anyone ever shared power with a quisling?
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute