The enemy you deserve

I will probably lose friends over this. But I have to say something.

There are dead kids on both sides of the war being fought between Israel and Hamas. But I think if you look at the totals you’ll see that the Israeli military out-kills Hamas and any of their predecessors by about 100 to 1.

What do you mean predecessors, Chris? Well I am glad you asked, dear reader.

See we are all pretty appalled by what Hamas has done in the last couple of weeks. Because, on the face of it, it’s pretty appalling. They are not Spiderman. They are pretty vicious and unforgiving in the targets they pick.

But I remember the PLO. The kind of mildly-nationalistic Palestinian coalition that was a jumble of groupings including Fatah, whose leader, Yassir Arafat went on to become the head of the Palestinian authority (the closest the Palestinians have ever come to a ‘state’) and the defacto leader of the Palestinian people.

The PLO had all kinds of problems, for sure, like any coalition of groups. But their main problem was that they were too conciliatory. With Israel as well as with their internal adversaries. So they were pushed aside. Enough Palestinians became frustrated with their inability to end their represssion by Israel and pledged their loyalty to Hamas instead.

And when Israel realized Fatah was no longer able to control Hamas and the other more militant factions of the PLO, they took it off the table — literally laying siege to the Palestinian authority headquarters until Arafat and his people fled.

Which left Hamas in charge. Not because they’re more conciliatory to Israel or accepting of the government’s ever-growing demands for land and concessions, but because they’re nastier. Better able to stay disciplined under fire. Able to hold ranks and stay quiet under torture. More willing to die to make a point.

As an aside, the Americans ran into the same problem in Vietnam. Their counter-terrorism efforts were able to pick off the democratic opposition — those who operated in the open, who espoused a negotiated settlement with the invaders, those who stood for election, had postal addresses etc etc. So that left the Viet Cong. And we know how that went for them.

So where does that leave Israel? They’ve been blockading Gaza and its 2 million people for more than a decade, depriving its people — Hamas supporters or no — of the basics of life. And the only kind of opposition that can survive that sort of brutality are the nastiest sort of people you can imagine. The rest they have already done away with. Either because they stuck their head up with a drone in range, or they’re so conciliatory as to be deemed irrelevant by citizens seeking an end to the occupation.

Now they have to negotiate with those who they vilify using all the racist tropes, misdirection lies and propaganda they have employed. The government will lose face with its more extreme — dare I say genocidal — constituents. They will take collateral damage. They may lose their jobs.

They have to end the blockade of Gaza and let the Palestinians live the sort of life they expect for Israeli citizens. Otherwise I can’t see how they’re ever going to be able to have neighbours they can talk to. That’s going to be a lot harder. But it is the enemy the Israeli government has made.

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