Ten ways Israel keeps Hamas afloat
If Gazans are forbidden from working in Israel, you can be certain their only impressions of Israelis will be those broadcast by Hamas.
Say you really want Hamas to win the current installment of the 60-Year War between Israelis and Palestinians. What's the most direct, efficacious way to go about this?
Simple. Just do exactly as Israel does.
1. If Hamas governance is untenable, act to make it work.
Prior to Israel's aid embargo, Gazans had begun grumbling aloud about the corruption of the new Hamas-led Palestinian government. Hamas officials had begun diverting critical aid to their own people, a habit that when practiced by the Fatah regime, its predecessor, had led directly to its downfall.
As soon as Israel began curtailing its supply of electrical power to Gaza, however, Hamas was off the hook. The anger did not lessen, but Israel was now taking the heat.
The aim of the Israeli move was to prod Gazans to rise up and topple the Hamas government. The result of the Israeli move was to shore up Hamas at a time when nothing else would help it.
2. If West Bank Arabs lean toward Fatah, undermine Fatah in any way possible.
If there is a lull in terrorism, and if Palestinian Authority police begin to arrest Hamas and Jihad operatives - and have begun to restore a semblance of civilian order - then launch high-profile, guns-drawn, often lethal Israel Defense Forces commando raids in the same areas, to underscore who's really in charge.
If there are glimmers of peace progress in places like Annapolis, announce new housing construction in especially sensitive areas, like Har Homa.
If you have pledged to remove illegal outposts and freeze new settlement construction in many areas of the West Bank, renege.
If there is relative calm in the West Bank, make certain that all roadblocks stay in place, regardless of the security role they may or may not serve.
3. If the Quartet supports a plan to shore up the PA, stonewall it.
The Quartet backs a plan to place Israel-Gaza border crossings under the responsibility of the PA, and you're not in a position to say no to its members? Easy. Fail to say yes.
4. Do everything humanly possible to keep Gazans out of work.
This benefits Hamas in a number of ways. On a political level, if Gazans are forbidden from working in Israel, you can be certain that their only impressions of Israelis will be those processed and broadcast by Hamas: Israelis are bloodthirsty reincarnations of the Nazis. Israelis are monstrous defilers of Muslim shrines, ravenous thieves of Arab property, money-grubbing, international power-brokering genocidal usurpers of Arab land. Israel is what stands between Palestinians and the glorious future of prosperity that is their birthright.
Certainly, this makes it easier for Gazans to support the concept of rocket attacks against Israeli towns, and the recent massacre at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
On a financial level, if Israel bars Gazans from entering for work, and if Israel keeps raw materials and subcontracted goods from crossing the border, forcing Gaza industries to close, the deepening despair plays directly into Hamas' hands.
5. Make threats.
Promise to invade Gaza. Promise to bring a "holocaust" down upon them. Promise to dismantle Hamas, topple Hamas, annihilate the terror infrastructure. Promise to "clean" Gaza of Hamas terrorists, "purify" it of the lesion of Hamas, once and for all.
In other words:
6. Make heroes of Hamas.
7. If you do invade, lie about it.
On the last day of the recent IDF incursion into Gaza, Israel's state radio quoted army spokesmen as saying that in five days of fighting, "some 100 terrorists have been killed."
That was the word on casualties. No mention of the fact that independent observers determined that of the some 120 total dead, about half were unarmed civilians, and that about a third of the noncombatant dead were children.
8. Do not press for international peacekeepers in Gaza.
There is reason to believe that peacekeepers in northern Gaza could have an influence on curtailing Qassam fire, thus helping protect the Gaza population as well as the people of Sderot and the western Negev.
9. Leave the media battle to Al Jazeera and Hamas TV.
Media expert Nachman Shai, IDF chief spokesman during the Gulf War, has argued cogently that Israel must mount a strong media advocacy effort aimed at the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims, broadcasting by satellite and Internet in Arabic, and presenting Israel's side in a way to which the Muslim world has no present access.
10. Isolate Gaza no matter what.
Doesn't seem to be working? Stay the course. Polls show Palestinian support for violence increasing? Keep on keeping on. Is the international embargo making Iran and Hezbollah more influential in Gaza? No change indicated.
There was a time when Israel fostered Gaza fundamentalists as a counterweight to Marx-mouthing Palestinian gunmen. The result was Hamas. It's been well over 20 years now. Long enough to forget. Long enough for Israel to stumble onto new ways to keep Hamas above water.