- The problem with pragmatism:
Today, people ask, why didn’t the Jews of Poland understand the Nazis were going to wipe them out, at least in the earlier period when escape or revolt was more possible? According to contemporary and later eyewitness testimony because they didn’t think Germans would act in such an unpragmatic manner.After all hundreds of thousands of Jews were involuntarily contributing to the German war effort. They were making clothes, repairing roads, growing food. Why should the Third Reich destroy a highly effective, very cheap, and low-problem labor force, thus crippling itself and helping to ensure that it lost the war?Answer: ideology. A doctrine and belief system will make people act in a way that doesn’t fit pragmatic expectations. Why should Hamas start a war against a stronger power? Due to believing itself to be stronger and needs to mobilize mass support. Why should Palestinian leaders reject a state even if it means the end of an increasingly small degree of “occupation”? Due to belief that total victory is inevitable, that compromise is treason, and that their enemies are satanic.
- The solvency of solutions:
The other big question asked is: what is the solution? How can, as some say, peace be attained; how can Israel, others say, eliminate Hamas? The presumption is that the first or the second is easy, or at least possible.Answer: Wrong. This is the Middle East we don’t do solutions. Hamas is not going to disappear, nor will it be moderate. Israel, for good reasons, has no interest in occupying the Gaza Strip. Fatah is incapable of retaking control there.This situation will go on and probably most likely end in some new ceasefire. Hamas will break the ceasefire a bit every week, and smash it altogether every six to eighteen months, repeating the current situation. That isn’t the ideal outcome but it is by far the most likely one.
- The unbearable lightness of gratitude:
No matter how much diplomatic aid, sympathy, or money the West gives Hamas–and it has saved Hamas and the PLO over and over from their own mistakes–they will not become grateful or pro-Western. Anti-Western and anti-American sentiment is too valuable and too widespread to disappear. The Palestinians–and Iran’s regime, and Syria’s government, and Hizballah, and other Islamists–need scapegoats. Who else are they going to blame for their problems, themselves?If you save the terrorists today, they will commit more terrorism tomorrow. If you let them escape the consequences of their own extremism, you can guarantee they will stay extremist and take a lot of the masses with them.
- The reality of reality:
In some ways, the most important–or at least second most important–thing to happen in the Middle East this week is that Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah went too far, calling for the overthrow of Egypt’s government.Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded, “They have actually declared war on Egypt….” And when he says “they” he means Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs are also drawing lines deeper than ever before. Publicly and loudly, they look at Gaza, and see Arabs and Muslims, and criticize Israel. More softly in public and loudly in private they look at Gaza and see the Iranian axis.