Over at Human Events, Ben Shapiro has an article about how Israel will lose the conflict in Gaza again. His initial premise states that we keep seeing an essentially endless cycle repeated: Hamas strikes Israel, Israel retaliates, the world comes down hard on Israel, Israel retreats and gives Hamas another chance to strike Israel. Elsewhere, the debate about how justified Israel is in its current cycle of retaliations continues heatedly and almost unanimously denounces Israel’s actions.
As a personal opinion, I believe that Hamas, despite claims to the contrary, is directly responsible for its strikes into Israel. I believe that Hamas deliberately hides behind civilian shields in order to protect themselves from retaliation and to milk the public for sympathy when Israeli attacks kill those civilian shields. I believe that Hamas is single-mindedly dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and that Israel is justified in trying to defend herself against Hamas’ attacks.
Like many others, I am disquited by the civilian death toll. However, whether each civilian death stems from cold calculation willing to sacrifice the innocent in a “kill-em-all-and-let-God-sort-em-out” mentality, or from complete accident as a missile goes off target or an institution is mistakenly labelled a military base, I feel is besides the point. Even if every civilian death is justified, the war itself is unjustified for the following reasons. First, Shapiro is right. Soon we’ll see a cease-fire declared and Israel going to the conference table in an effort to establish peace with Hamas and Gaza. In a few months, we’ll see Hamas renew its agression, and the cycle will continue. Thus, because of factors like popular opinion and worldwide condemnation, there isn’t a reasonable chance of success. Second, and more importantly, the lasting harm caused by Israeli efforts outweighs the benefit gained, and that is because Israel insists on playing into Hamas’ hands.
Shapiro states that Israel can’t fight a military war and a PR war at the same time, which is true. So perhaps Israel should fight the PR war, instead. Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be geared towards the world, but towards the Gazans. I personally believe that while Hamas wants to destroy Israel, the majority of Gazans–even if they approve of Hamas’ efforts–really want nothing more than to live normal, peaceful lives. So what I believe Israel should do, for the time being, is cease its military efforts and go on a devil-may-care spending spree in the Gaza strip.
The political possibility of my suggestion nonewithstanding, Israel should flood Gaza not just with relief supplies, but with all the tools, materials, and money that Gazans need to rebuild their ailing infrastructure. Whether or not Israeli teams could physically enter Gaza and aid in the construction could be a crucial question here. But Israel should fund Gazan construction crews to build schools, to repair roads, to build new power plants and water sanitation systems. The new rally cry should be “Subsidize Gaza!”
Hamas is winning because they can continually depict Israel as the greatest force of evil in the ordinary Gazan’s life. Israel needs to overturn that sentiment. If she can accomplish for Gaza what Hamas promised to do, but as of yet has failed to do, she spark an inclination in the minds of the 1.5 million Gazans as to who the real enemy is. Furthermore, there are two military potentials involved here. First, if Hamas keeps up its offensive, in light of the mass humanitarian aid their attacks will eventually be seen for what they are. Second, if Hamas targets the Israeli-funded projects in Gaza, they’ll end up self-destructing. Terrorists in Iraq found out that they could only target Iraqi civilians for so long before the civilians themselves learned that the problem, even if it was exacerbated by American presence, really lay with the terrorists themselves.
For those who would object, saying that my plan ignores history and similar attempts in the past, I will counter by saying that supporting Israel’s military efforts currently ignores history and similar attempts, as well. In the 60 years of its current incarnation, Israel has been almost constantly at war. Her populace is growing tired of the fight, especially since in recent years Israel has been continually portrayed as the aggressor, the ruthless supressor, even the instigator of genocide. The fight must continue, true, but Israel needs new strategies, new tactics.
Essentially, half-measures no longer suffice. Since a full-scale military conquest and lockdown of the Gaza would probably trigger a widespread war in the Middle East, the only other full-scale operation would have to be humanitarian. Of course, intelligence would need to be involved. For example, making sure that money is channelled directly into projects and not through Hamas, or ensuring that materials aren’t hawked or traded for arms.
If Hamas wants to portray Israel as the greatest evil to Gazans, then maybe Israel should stop willingly stepping into that mold. Israel needs to stop playing Hamas’ game. And on the off chance Israel can actually paint herself as the greatest good (besides Allah and His prophet Mohammed) in Gaza, she might just manage to buy herself some peace.
Hamas is a group of barbarian thugs, but even so, even barbarian thugs are human. Unless they are all complete psychopaths, it is always possible that they, too, can be touched by grace, especially in the willingness of an enemy to lay down his life for the very barbarian thugs fighting against him.