During the Gulf War, Iraqi army units were, in many cases, eager to put down their arms. Frequently, they were looking for someone to surrender to. I believe there was a case when an Iraqi platoon surrendered to a jeep full of journalists. Another time, a group of Iraqis were seen trying, unsuccessfully, to surrender to an unmanned drone that was circling overhead.
This has always struck me as a metaphor for the policy that the U.S. State Department has been pressing on Israel for some decades now: try to find someone to surrender to. Of late, though, it’s been getting harder and harder. The Palestinians can’t come up with a representative capable of receiving the white flag.
Scott wrote this morning about the violence now going on in Gaza. It poses something of a moral conundrum: how are we to respond to the murder of a Palestinian who, just before having his head blown off, pleads for mercy–or perhaps tries to suggest that it’s all a misunderstanding–by pointing out that he isn’t a Jew?
The violence going on now in Gaza is horrific. What is striking, of course, is how little anyone seems to care. If Israelis were murdering Fatah members with the gusto now being shown by Hamas, the U.N. Security Council would be in special session, cranking out resolutions. It would be an international crisis, on which events in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Afghanistan would be blamed for decades to come. But no one seems to get too exercised about Palestinians killing one another.
In today’s Jerusalem Post, columnist Calev Ben Dor argues that what seems to be happening–Hamas taking Gaza while Fatah remains in control of the West Bank–may be good for Israel:
Despite Israel’s natural inclination to view Hamas’s military victory over Fatah forces in Gaza with despair, the movement’s complete control over the Gaza Strip might not be as bad as we fear. In fact, it may offer the best opportunity in years to break the current political stalemate by facilitating the creation of an effective address in the West Bank with which Israel can promote a political process.
Since 2000, the biggest obstacle to any progress between Israel and the Palestinians has been the absence of either a partner or an “address” on the Palestinian side.
This new scenario would, in effect, create two separate political-territorial units alongside Israel – a Gaza Hamastan and a West Bank Fatah-land.
Instead of Israel being faced with no Palestinian address, it would suddenly be able to deal with two.
Well, maybe. I wouldn’t presume to instruct those who are on the firing line in Israel, but this strikes me as uncomfortably close to looking for someone to surrender to.
Meanwhile, the ever-helpful Reuters has come into possession of a “report” that may make everything clear. This is a recent photo of what Reuters calls “female Palestinian would-be suicide bombers” in Gaza:
What’s notable, for those who are connoisseurs of this particular form of insanity, is Reuters’ caption:
Female Palestinian would-be suicide bombers attend a news conference in Gaza May 21, 2007. Violent Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremists invoke the same rhetoric of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and the best way to fight them is to tackle the problems that drive people to extremism, according to a report obtained by Reuters. (Mohammed Sale/Reuters)
Yes, it all makes perfect sense: you have to watch out for those dangerous wackos who talk about “good” and “evil.” Meanwhile, Reuters is looking for photos of Christian and Jewish suicide bombers and will publish them as soon as they can find them in their archives.
It’s hard to be positive about the chaos that is now raging in Gaza, and, apparently, spreading to the West Bank. But perhaps it’s just as well that, for the time being at least, there is no Palestinian authority to which the Israelis can be pressured to surrender.
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