Gaza: The tragically belated death of a “conception”

The political rationale of the Gaza conflict can be expressed in the inexorable logic of an almost mathematical algorithm—studiously ignored by Israel’s policy-making echelons

by Martin Sherman, IDSF October 15, 2023

“The enemy of …conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events”—John Kenneth Galbraith

Saturday 7th of October marked the demise of conventional wisdom and of “respectable” Establishment perceptions regarding the conflict over the Gaza Strip. Decades-old precepts were washed away in a deluge of blood. The idea of Palestinian self-rule (the two-state solution), along with the notion of “managing the conflict” (a.k.a. “mowing the lawn”, or “kicking the can down the road”) were swept away by the gory events of this week.

A delusionary pipe dream

This week’s assault proved definitively that the idea of a Hamas-governed Gaza, placated by economic well-being, is a hallucinatory pipe dream. Indeed, despite being the preferred illusion of much of the Israel decision-making echelons—particularly the military—it was, in fact, brusquely rejected by the Hamas leadership years ago.

Indeed, in 2017 then-defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, offered a seemingly alluring proposal. He proposed transforming Gaza “into the Singapore of the Middle East” by building a seaport and an airport and by creating industrial zones, that would help create 40,000 jobs—if Hamas would only agree to demilitarizing and to dismantling the tunnel and rocket systems it had built up.

The “Hamas response” was swift and acerbic. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official, dismissed it derisively, sneering, “If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves. We do not need favors from anyone.

His tart retort prompted a stark comment from Bassam Tawil a Palestinian scholar at the Gatestone Institute: “Why did Hamas reject an offer for a seaport, airport and tens of thousands of jobs for Palestinians? Because Hamas does not see its conflict with Israel as an economic issue. The dispute is not about improving the living conditions of Palestinians, as far as Hamas is concerned. Instead, it is about the very existence of Israel.”

Caustically Tawil added: “Hamas deserves credit for one thing: its honesty concerning its intentions to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Hamas does not want 40,000 new jobs for the poor unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It would rather see these unemployed Palestinians join its ranks and become soldiers in its quest to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.”

 Yet, our leaders clung fast to the idea of economic welfare as a panacean balm—allowing the flow of Qatari dollars to stream into the Islamist coffers of Hamas. On October 7, this defective doctrine of “dollars for dummy stability” collapsed—tragically and catastrophically.

 Why “mowing the lawn won’t cut it”

Another “mainstream” doctrine that been definitively disproved is that of “Conflict Management”—i.e. rather than Conflict Resolution. This is an approach—dubbed by some as mowing the lawn”—that entails Israel launching a new bout of fighting every time the Palestinian violence reaches levels it finds unacceptable. Thus, it essentially endorses a policy based on resignation to a reality of recurring rounds of violence, separated by intermittent periods of calm, whose length was determined by either the enemy’s willingness to engage, or by its desperation, making it impossible not to. However, in the past, I pointed out that:“…the periods of inter-bellum calm have been consistently used by the Palestinian terror groups to enhance their capabilities…After all, when Israel left Gaza (2005), the range of the Palestinian rockets was barely 5 km., and the explosive charge they carried, about 5 kg. Now their missiles have a range of over 100 km. and warheads of around 100 kg. When Israel left Gaza, only the sparse population in its immediate proximity was threatened by missiles. Now well over 5 million Israelis, well beyond Tel Aviv, are menaced by them.”

Thus, Hamas—and its more radical off-shoots—exploited the periods of calm to further advance and extend its infrastructures and other abilities, which were barely imaginable a decade ago.

Accordingly, it is clear that successive bouts of limited fighting did little to deter Hamas in the sense of breaking their will to engage in battle. Rather, after every round, they have been forced to regroup, redeploy, and rearm—only to re-emerge spoiling for a fight, ever bolder, with ever-greater (indeed, once inconceivable) capabilities.

Demilitarizing or deposing Hamas: Futile & foolish fetishes

Shortsighted proposals like disarming or deposing Hamas ignore the very problems that their implementation would inevitably raise.

The fetish with the demilitarization of Gaza is both timeworn and futile. Indeed, it has ostensibly been part and parcel of the noxious Oslowian “peace-process” since its inception.

However, those who until October 7th, persisted in suggesting demilitarization of Gaza, were apparently oblivious to the fact that Gaza was already supposed to be demilitarized under the Oslo Accords, “and they gave little clue as to why future demilitarization is likely to be any more effective than it was in the past—or by whom it might be enforced and how such enforcement is to be effected.

But even if Hamas were effectively disarmed, how could it impose law and order on any more radical opponents or heavily armed criminal elements that permeate the Strip? Moreover, beyond day-to-day challenges to law and order, how was a defanged Hamas supposed to contend with attempts to overthrow it by more radical opponents both from within the Gaza Strip and from within the adjacent Sinai Peninsula? If a demilitarized Hamas—or any disarmed successor regime—were faced with a significant challenge to its rule, whether from domestic or foreign sources, would Israel be called upon to defend it? Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of a more Kafkaesque prospect than one in which IDF forces need to be mobilized to prop up a virulently Judeophobic Islamist regime, against even more virulently Judeophobic Islamist adversaries.




October 16, 2023 | 14 Comments »

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14 Comments / 14 Comments

  1. @ketzel2 I did and I agreed with the point you were making even if I took issue with Azerbaijan being defamed. It’s an ally, you know and facts matter.

  2. @Sebastien

    Sometimes I agree with bad people. China is excessive and gross, but not wrong. If a restive minority is a threat to everyone else, they should be suppressed. Abbas probably likes kebab, and so do I.

    Another data point: Azerbaijan has oil, Armenia doesn’t.

    Also: you nitpick too much. Are you really going to prove something about something I said casually, as an example? Never mind the Armenians, there are so many other contested territories that don’t get attention, because they’re not in Israel. That’s all.

    I don’t want to have a silly debate about Armenia. I should have said Kosovo.

    I am genuinely interested in Armenia and Georgia and am so disappointed that Covid travel restrictions prevented me from living in those places, literally weeks before I was about to go to Batumi from Burgas, Bulgaria. If only I had, I would have a lot more to say about Georgia and Armenia, but history prevented me from knowing as much as I should. That said, I will read books, not partisan articles recommended to win a completely ridiculous one sided debate. You know a lot of details but miss the point. This is not about Armenia, but Israel. Did you get that at all?

  3. @Sebastien I will definitely read more on all that, I’m interested in the subject. I will read old books, not recent internet articles, which are likely to have this or that agenda.

    I know different people in that area are Turkic, not Turkish. However, Azeris and Turks can understand each other’s language, and have other cultural simiilarities. The uighurs, however awful their situation, are not innocent bunnies, they were doing the usual terrorist thing against China, which doesn’t tolerate that stuff.

    I use a recent event as an example, and it turns into a pointless debate about he said she said? Fine, the Armenians don’t even exist, they are total squatters from Mars, agreed. My point is that whatever Israel does, the world will object to, but the Azeris can do the same thing without consequences. And you know very well it’s not because everyone in the world is an authority on Armenian history, but because the world doesn’t care what anyone does, unless it’s Israel.

  4. @ketzel2

    After six years of separatist fighting ended in 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia, turning about 1 million of its Azerbaijani residents into refugees. After a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan took back back parts of the region in the south Caucasus Mountains, along with surrounding territory that Armenian forces had captured earlier.

    Azerbaijanis are Turkic not Turkish. As are the Huighurs, incidentally.

  5. @Sebastien It depends on what version of history you read. Armenians have been in that area for longer than anyone else. I’ll look into it more. I wouldn’t believe anything Turk adjacent people say about any subject, you know Turkey wants part of Georgia and have threatened to invade the part of it near eastern Turkey, for years. Some day they’ll do it, maybe soon.

    I don’t discuss Armenia because I think they’re friendlies or anything. I have known for a while that antisemitism is a major feature of Armenian culture, individual Armenian internet pundits are grossly antisemitic, Armenian Jews are now blamed for Israel selling weapons to Azerbaijan, etc. I know all that.

    However, when I read and discuss anything, there are 2 ways to look at it, and both are important. First, what do I think really happened, what is the objective truth. Then, how does that affect Israel, America, the world in general, are they nice to animals, women, etc. I think the latter consideration is what’s called Realpolitik.

    Scum like Kissinger only used the second way, and never cared about objective right and wrong. And the irony is that what is objectively true and moral, often lasts longer than expediency.

    If I use Armenia as an example of a recent ethnic cleansing that the perpetrator has gotten away with, that doesn’t mean I think Armenians are philosemites. Of course they aren’t. However, the situation over there illustrates my point: if Israel deports Gazans, the entire world will react and not forget. Azerbaijan, not so much. Being Muslim means not having to say you’re sorry.

    Oh I just remembered, didn’t Blinken recently say it was possible Azerbaijan would invade Armenia proper soon? I don’t know how true that is, but it’s something to watch.

  6. The reason to give is they have proved incurable of Antisemitism and so they must be separated from Jews. We have not the time anymore for this Antisemitism. It is simply a human reaction to Antisemitism. We have to thereby explain the history.

  7. @ketzel2 My understanding is that Armenia conquered Nagorno-Karabakh and ethnically cleansed a million Azeris and replaced them with Armenians from land internationally recognized as Azeri and now Armenian settlers are fleeingf rom the land Azerbaijan recovered..

    By the way, Azerbaijan is, to my knowledge, the only Muslim majority country that has condemned Hamas and offered solidarity and condolences to Israel.

  8. @Felix, there is no nice way to deport a large group of people. In this case, it would be righteous, whereas the one in Nagorno-Karabakh wasn’t. But I’m not a fan of euphemisms. What would you call pushing them into Egypt, a vacation? As for enemies reading this blog, of course they do. So? I don’t live in a Polish ghetto.

  9. According to Martin Sherman the role of ideology is secondary to spontaneity.

    He quotes someone

    ““The enemy of …conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events”

    The whole of Marxism is opposed to a Galbraith worship of spontaneity

    There is a whole literature in the left of how to handle Fascism aka Antisemitism

    But Sherman decries socialist history

    Sherman like so many was silent on NATO v Russia

  10. Ketzel2

    Why choose these phrases such as “ethnic cleansing”?

    Is it your actual intention to do harm to the Jews?

    Or do you get some kind of kick out of armchair radical sounding…

    Do you think this blog is not read and quoted.

    Rather than helping Jews you provide the Antisemitism with ammunition.

    Maybe you live in your own mind only…

  11. @ketzel2
    A more geographically relevant example could be found throughout Arabia, during the 1940-50’s when the Arab nations of the Middle East ethnically cleansed itself of its Jewish citizens who had lived in the respective Arab localities for millennia.

    Similarly, a more politically relelevant example could be found in Kaliningrad, formerly known as Königsberg, having been purged of its Nazi Germans and made into a Russian oblast, despite this territory having been German since the age of the Teutonic Knights. Indeed, the Gazan Nazi’s which occupy the land of Gaza, like their German role models, have placed themselves beyond the pale of humanity, by any definition of that term which might be relevantly useful.

    Whatever basis we might choose to be most relevant, however, these genocidal freaks of nature stand as a genocidal cleft within the nation of Israel, and they must be de-clefted of their present holdings and placated with an environment in which they might be less capable of exercising their genocidal desires on the Jews.

    All of Arabia owes the Jews a debt for their having forced our people from their homelands. Let that debt to our people finally be paid by accepting in place of the relevant Jewish communities, these Gazan Nazis with whom the Arabs communities who established their Judenfrei utopias.

    In any event, whatever example is chosen to motivate their parting, and no matter the destination to which these savages might be ultimately destined, THEY MUST GO!

  12. Ethnic cleansing is the only answer. The world is using the Freudian defense of hysterical blindness and/or amnesia. How long ago was it, a few weeks at most, that Azerbaijan ethnically cleansed Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, and these Armenians had much more claim to that territory than the random Arab and Balkan squatters in Gaza. But despite being on the internet almost all the time nowadays, I have yet to see anyone but me point that out.