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The Palestinians' last chance

With the triumph of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections, the question is now between whether a final war between the Palestinians and Israel is inevitable, or merely virtually inevitable.

I, for absolutely no rational reason but based on sheerest optimism, think there is one last chance for peace in the Middle East. But it's going to require a huge effort on Hamas' behalf, and to surmount a nigh-impossible psychological barrier:

The need to look to the Jews for inspiration.

At the founding of Israel, numerous groups, factions, and gangs that had fought against the British struggled for control and to preserve their relevancy. One of the leading groups was called Irgun, led by a firebrand named Menachem Begin. Irgun wanted to be taken whole into the Israeli Defense Force as an "army within an army." The Israeli government differed, and the disagreement came to a head when a ship -- the Altalena -- arrived in Israel with nearly a thousand Irgun fighters and a LOT of weapons -- 5,000 rifles, 5 MILLION bullets, bazookas, machine guns, armored vehicles, and the like. The nascent Israeli government demanded Irgun surrender the weapons. Irgun stalled, negotiating to keep roughly 80% of the arms for their own units.

And then Jew fought Jew.

The Israeli Defense Force attacked the Altalena, setting her afire. The Irgun fighters fled the ship, fearing her cargo of ammunition could explode at any moment. When the dust settled, nearly 200 Irgun were arrested (although most were released in a short time).

And nearly 20 Jews were dead, at the hands of Jews. 16 Irgun and 3 IDF men were killed.

Menachem Begin, leader of Irgun, eventually became a peacemaker. Nearly 30 years later, he became Prime Minister of Israel, and signed the Camp David Accords with Egypt, the first peace treaty between Israel and any of her Arab neighbors. And in an ironic twist, the man he succeeded as Prime Minister was none other than his opponent at the Altalena battle, Yitzhak Rabin.

The Palestinians not only have to follow the example of the hated Jews, but they need to condense 30 years of work into a matter of months -- which is probably a very optimistic estimate of how much time Hamas will have. They need to demonstrate to the world that they are THE government of Palestine, and they will not tolerate any other parties taking on the rights and responsibilities of a government -- much like Israel did with the Altalena. And they need to publicly acknowledge Israel's right to exist and renounce their charter-enshrined vow to destroy it.

But I fear they won't. I strongly suspect that Hamas will be feeling their oats with their great victory, and make grandiose pronouncements about "continuing the struggle" and "obliterating the Zionist entity" and "reclaiming all the land stolen by the Jews" and the like.

And then, after one final terrorist attack, whether directly traceable to Hamas or not, Israel will state that the government of the Palestinians has committed one too many acts of war against Israel, and declare war on Palestine. At that point Hamas will be confronted with the inescapable fact that if one exercises the powers of a government, then one can be expected to take the responsibilities of a government -- and allowing people to wage war in your name, from your lands, with your support, will bring down the severest of consequences.

One of the lessons I learned from the game "Risk" is that it is far easier to take territory than to hold it, and great victories can sometimes lead to greater defeats if one overextends oneself. That was the mistake Israel made before -- they crushed their enemies militarily, then occupied them. Now, with Israel having pulled out of Gaza, the Palestinians have been deprived of that ready pool of potential hostages. Israel can strike with impunity, destroying military targets and what little infrastructure exists, then pull back and say "if you give us cause, we will do that again. Don't give us cause." Israel can spend years playing "bounce the rubble" until the Palestinians finally accept reality -- Israel is here to stay.

I really, deeply, sincerely hope that the nigh-impossible happens, and Hamas comes to sanity. But I wouldn't bet a dime on it actually happening.


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Comments (15)

Hamas & sanity in the same ... (Below threshold)

Hamas & sanity in the same sentance makes me twitch & short out like the fembots in the Trek episode "Mudd's Women"...

at first i was worried abou... (Below threshold)

at first i was worried about all these democracies in the middle east sprouting up. what if these american-hating arabs actually elect an american-hating arab? but then i realized what dubya's plan was all along -- let them have their fancy elections and if the results are less than favorable, bomb the living shit out of 'em! so you see, it doesn't really matter who wins. they go with fatah? bomb 'em. they go with hamas? bomb 'em. and look, everybody wins -- the palestians get a fair election and we get to bomb the crap out of them. so just relax and savor the moment.

Wow, Teddy is an administra... (Below threshold)

Wow, Teddy is an administration insider who just broke W's secret plan to bomb the Palestinians!

Just remember folks, you heard it first on WIZBANG!

Wes Clark said on error ame... (Below threshold)

Wes Clark said on error america radio yesterday that it was Bush's fault that Hamas is now in power...moonbats are the same everywhere, sheesh!

My question is, why should ... (Below threshold)

My question is, why should Israel pull back once the fighting starts? If you kill your enemies, then they can't come back to attack you again.

Interesting...... (Below threshold)


Hamas will never change the... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Hamas will never change their goals and objectives. It is bred into them from birth that all the bad things in their lives exist because of Israel. Ultimately, the situation will revert back to what it has been in the past: attack, response, and condemnation. Hamas will attack, Israel will respond, and the UN will condemn Israel for destroying the peace process.

And they need to publicl... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

And they need to publicly acknowledge Israel's right to exist and renounce their charter-enshrined vow to destroy it. Actually Hamas "has in fact observed a more or less effective truce for about a year"- I wouldn't be quite as pessimistic as Jay but as John Cole goes on to say, Bush is partly at fault because he confuses democracy with elections without helping to provide the proper legitimacy for the governing party, in this case the Fatah and now he is boxed himself in a corner because he has vowed to hunt down 'terrorists' of which the winning party Hamas is certainly an umbrella group. If there had been lasting peace in the Holy Land, I'm sure Bush and Rice would not have hesitated to accept some of the credit...From last year's State of the Union address."The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure..The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, is within reach -- and America will help them achieve that goal. (Applause.)".. I'm sure we would welcome simply paralysis now, without the applause.

I think Israel should bomb ... (Below threshold)

I think Israel should bomb the palestinian territories til there is no infrastructure left....watch the people flee to Jordan and Egypt during the ensuring choas...then incorporate those territores back to Israel Proper. AND THEN rebuild the Wall around the new territories.

Steve -Hamas can p... (Below threshold)

Steve -

Hamas can play the "We have a cease fire!" card all they want when they actually, you know, cease firing. And bombing, and rocketing, and so on. Until then, it's just a catch-phrase that they use right after they light off a few bombers and rockets, to get the Euroweenies on their side when Israel takes out the ones responsible.

Many of the above commenter... (Below threshold)
Moon Monkey:

Many of the above commenters have weighed in with levity and well intended remkarks. There is, IMHO, a consideration that everyone seems to overlook,and in the absence of this consideration no amount of mental masturbation will evolve into peaceful resolution.
How can anyone expect any positive results from most of the Sand People? THEY ARE UNREASONABLE!
Further, in order for there to be reason within a society, there should be another given. INTELLIGENCE! I'm not condemning the Sand People for their lack of intelligence, but there is little of it to go around in their territory.
Consequently, it's hard to get off the mark when you-don't-know-what-you-don't-know, and are blinded by religious zeal. You might say that the Sand People can't get out of their own way, and wind up time-after-time shooting themselves in the foot (or each other as they shoot blindly in jubilant moments).
I have a solution! Since most of those people lack an education...and if you accept the fact that with some book learnin' their thought process might be a little better...then let's send them millions of packs of matches! This way they could fill out the info requested on the inside covers and send it in for a correspondence course! Hey, don't laugh. Maybe they could sign up for HVAC or accounting or something. Maybe they could get their GED! Seems to me that almost anything is better than demonstrating every day and parading placards or hoping you'll get chosen to get blown-up in the Virgin Lottery!
Other than that; how 'bout them Steelers!

Good post jaytea. It's a li... (Below threshold)

Good post jaytea. It's a little pessimistic but given the history of Hamas, I don't see why we should see the glass half-full. Thinking that Hamas will change their platform seems quite idealistic to me. As you said, "I wouldn't bet a dime on it actually happening." I hope it could happen - I wish it could happen - but realistically nothing in Hamas points that way. It would be the outlier in any model considered for changing the future.

The one troubling thing about forecasting the future for the Palestinians is the constant, continuous reference to "bombing them into oblivion." An option? Yes. A solution? Never. If it happens it will be the spark to re-ignite WW3 - which has almost started several times. Stopped only by peacekeeping interludes which never held up. Israel and Palestine have been on the brink of war almost as long as I've been an adult (I'm 55). Israel can certainly go after Palestine and run an operation much like you said
"Israel can strike with impunity, destroying military targets and what little infrastructure exists, then pull back and say "if you give us cause, we will do that again. Don't give us cause."

And I think that is a fair prediction of what will happen.

The Arabs have figured out ... (Below threshold)

The Arabs have figured out that ( from their perspective) that it is reasonable to be unreasonable. And frankly they so far have been proven right. The only way for them to reconsider their position is for them to finally suffer a complete and utter defeat. one they cannot rationalize away. The Hamas victory is actually a good thing. it brings clarity to the situation, no more of this nonsense of the "good" Palestinian people and the "bad" Fatah leadership. as if there is such a thing as a "moderate" terrorist versus a "radical" terrorist. It is entirely up to them to choose either a real peace or a final war. If war is their choice, then let them suffer the full consequences of loosing. The US,EU and UN must step aside and not pull their chestnuts out of the fire. The price the Palestinians must pay for loosing is utter defeat and expulsion. they must be made to understand that they cannot win, they can only choose between a real peace or utter expulsion; the fate they propose for the Jews.
If the oil ticks use the oil weapon, blow up their water wells and blockade their ports. make it crystal clear to them that they exist at our sufferance, not the other way around. the parasite needs to be reminded it needs the host far more than the host needs to tolerate the parasite.

Hamas's win might not be ba... (Below threshold)

Hamas's win might not be bad news for the peace process. There is a reason that the Hamas political leaders are saying they did not intend to win the election, they only wanted to be an opposition party. Now that Hamas, the known terrorist organization, is the "Government", there needs to be no restraint from Israel in retaliating to terrorist attacks. Hamas leadership understands this.

Prior to the election the "Palestinian" "Government" could hide behind plausible deniability. Now they cannot. Before, Israel had to find and target just terrorist hideouts and vehicles. Now, the entire governmental infrastructure is a valid target. I expect Hamas will try to reign in their terrorist activities, at least for a little while. Otherwise they will likely find themselves on the receiving end of the Israeli military's full capabilities.

An attack by Hamas is now an act of war.

So you admit then that Isre... (Below threshold)

So you admit then that Isreal was created through terrorism, with plots such as the assisnation of the current British Queen....interesting the difference in language used to describe the Zionist terrorist from the creation of Isreal and Hamas






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