A new Pew Research Center poll shows that 40 percent of all Americans blame Hamas for the Gaza war. However, the survey also shows that more than half of African-Americans, Hispanics and young Americans in general see Israel as the perpetrator.
If this poll reflects real trends, it means that within a decade or so a majority of Americans will support the Palestinian cause and back claims that Israel is to blame for the continuing Middle East crisis. In other words, most Americans will join the majority of Europeans who already question Israel’s right to exist.
A clear sign of this disturbing trend appeared in the form of an article by former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren. “In Defense of Zionism” was published in last Friday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal. But it’s not so much the content of the article as it is the need to publish it that highlights the growing discomfort with the Zionist project.
The reason for this shift, many would claim, is Israel’s morality, or lack thereof. The deaths of some 1,800 combatant and non-combatant Gazans, the massive destruction and the 300,000 displaced persons all project a powerful image of a ruthless Israeli attack on a largely innocent people.
On August 3rd, following the deaths of 10 people outside a UN-run school in Rafah, US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted that “the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians … we once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”
Earlier, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest referred to a similar incident as “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible,” never mind the fact that most of UN employees in Gaza are Hamas people.
For 14 years now, many have questioned why Hamas is annoying Israel with constant barrages of rockets. Though Hamas has never hidden the fact that its ultimate purpose is to destroy Israel, it has nevertheless managed to convince Western hearts and minds that it fights Israel because of the “occupation” and the “blockade” on Gaza.
By deliberately creating a constant human crisis in Gaza by converting the coastal enclave into a military base where civilians and terrorists become completely indistinguishable, Hamas has succeeded in making people around the world believe that it is a humanitarian organization that justly “resists” the evil, colonial and racist State of Israel.
Hamas’ strategy of pulling Israel into never-ending cycles of violence, each more destructive than the previous, is turning out to be a success beyond measure.
Ever since its full withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Israel has been repeatedly drawn into wars it can’t win. Restricted by Western moral codes applied only to Israel, Operations Cast Lead (2009), Pillar of Cloud (2012) and now Protective Edge have done little to help Israel in the long run.
Between each round, Hamas has improved its military arsenal, which in turn forces Israel to be even more aggressive. Hamas knows full well that it can’t defeat Israel on the battlefield, and instead turns to winning the war for hearts and minds. Hamas is counting on the Western bleeding hearts turning against Israel.
This anomaly whereby terror begins to be perceived as some kind of benevolence is partially Israel’s fault. By restricting itself to moral criteria no other country in the world would accept, Israel opens itself up to criticism such that leveled by Psaki, who stressed that “Israel must do more to meet its own standards.”
But, no matter what, Israel will never be able to stand up to its own moral codes, simply because her enemies will never allow her to.
Operation Protective Edge demonstrated that Hamas booby-traps every conceivable thing, including homes, animals and people. It is in this light that the massive destruction of the Gaza City suburb of Shejaiya should be perceived. The fate of this town is a testimony not to the brutality of the IDF, but to the number of civilian structures cynically used by Hamas. Shejaiya was a military post protected not with machine guns and canons, but with human beings, most of whom willingly helpe to achieve this grand deception.
Hamas’ astounding success at reducing Israel’s struggle for survival to a crime scene where “innocents” are constantly being victimized by a criminal state is rapidly becoming Israel’s most potent threat.
The Palestinians have realized by now that “catastrophes” (“nakba” in Arabic) are their best chance of achieving their dream of wiping Israel off the Middle East map. Though their first “nakba” in 1948 was unplanned, their most recent one is a self-imposed catastrophe designed to turn Israel into a pariah state.
If allowed to continue, this strategy that is captivating a gullible international audience will lead not to Israel’s destruction, but rather to a grand “catastrophe ”Nakba" against which all previous will pale in comparison.
If the world cares anything for the Palestinians, it should do its utmost to stop these dangerous cycles of violence. And the way to do that is not endlessly attempting to drag Israel before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, but instead by exposing Hamas’ strategy of self-imposed catastrophes.
The alternative is taking a chance that Israel will eventually be forced into a level of brutality previously unseen in order to secure its survival, and in so doing risk the final loss of all legitimacy in the eyes of the world.
This conflict can only truly end by ending the Muslim dream of annexing the Holy Land to a grand Islamic caliphate. Only when the world will understand this and act accordingly can it truly begin to advance peace in this region.