Israel's War on Hamas: A Dozen Thoughts
By Daniel Pipes
December 30, 2008
1) Arab-Israeli warfare is not the conventional battle to control territory of old. Since 1982, the primary goal in this theater is to persuade the world of the righteousness of one's cause. (I.e., who has the more affecting casualties?)
2) Palestinians have proven themselves more competent at the p.r. battle than the Israeli government, winning public support everywhere — with the lone but decisive exceptions of Israel and the United States.
3) Secondarily, Hamas's defiance should be seen in light of Iranian ambitions to wear down the Israeli body politic.
4) Most Arab regimes so fear Tehran that they can barely bestir themselves to denounce Israel's war on Hamas, much less do anything.
5) The PLO's Mahmoud Abbas condemns Israeli actions as intensely as he roots for the Israel Defense Forces to destroy Hamas.
6) The moral opprobrium for Palestinian rockets raining down on Israeli towns falls entirely on the Palestinians and their enablers.
7) Israel has made astounding tactical mistakes, including the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, long years of passively enduring rockets, and tacit acceptance of elaborate smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza.
8) The IDF has learned from tactical mistakes made in 2006.
9) Still, the Israeli war effort remains problematic. For example, an unnamed Israeli defense official was quoted saying "Hamas knows our demands, and there's no use to talking about them publicly." Since when does one signal military intentions to the enemy and hide them from one's own population?
10) The Israeli goal should be victory, not ending terrorism.
11) The Bush administration must not save Hamas.
12) Nor should the Obama administration save Hamas.
Dec.. 31, 2008 update: Readers have correctly noted that the Australian and Canadian publics have also resisted the Palestinian p.r. effort. They are right and I should have noted this above, though it remains true that the Israeli and American publics most stand out as exceptions.