The luck of Hamas

David Horovitz is a middle-of-the-road editor running a middle-of-the-road Israeli news site, so I am not only struck by the despairing tone of his latest column, I am completely in sympathy with it. “After the abandonment of Israel by the UK, with its promise to limit arms sales to Israel if Hamas restarts its attacks on our civilians,” Horovitz writes, “we now learn that the US is already restricting arms sales to Israel, having halted a planned supply of the Hellfire precision missiles that enable Israel to strike at the rocket launchers set up by Hamas in the heart of Gaza’s residential areas.” Horovitz comments:

It becomes ever harder to understand what the US administration thinks it is doing in the Middle East. Its influence is waning across the region. It appears insufficiently robust — to put it mildly — when dealing with the region’s most dangerous regimes, notably Iran. Its ill-judged lack of enthusiasm for Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — apparently blamed by Washington for ending an elected Muslim Brotherhood presidency, even though president Mohammed Morsi would likely have ensured no further elections — is pushing Egypt ever closer to Russia. And now ties with the region’s only democracy are fraying.

Some in the administration appear to labor under the delusion that if only Benjamin Netanyahu — described by some US officials in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal as “reckless and untrustworthy” — could be weakened and eased aside, Israelis might elect a leadership more inclined to follow its thinking and consider territorial compromise in the cause of a rejuvenated peace process with the Palestinians. The fact is, of course, that an Israel attempting to de-fang Hamas, concerned at the possibility of rising tensions in the West Bank, aware that Hezbollah in Lebanon is many times more powerful than Hamas is, and watching Iran working to outwit the West on its route to nuclear weapons, is as likely to veer left as Hamas is to voluntarily disarm. Far from being the most obdurate prime minister, Netanyahu is the most moderate that Israel can be expected to choose in the foreseeable future.

It is frankly astounding to the overwhelming majority of Israelis that Israel is being blamed for and pressured to end a war it manifestly sought to avoid — against a terrorist-government sworn to its destruction that repeatedly breaches the ceasefire efforts Israel consistently accepts. That the conflict is widely misrepresented, and that hostile governments are critical, is bad enough for Israel. Far, far graver is that key allies, to one degree or another, are turning upon it….

Horovitz’s sagging morael causes him to falter at the end of his column:

All it needs to do, Hamas can only conclude, is keep firing at Israel’s towns and villages, forcing Israel to respond, confident that this will bring still more criticism down on Israel as well as growing restrictions on Israel’s ability to defend itself. Wow, the Hamas leaders must be thinking, the free world is just so dumb.

Stupidity is of course the charitable explanation. Indeed, there is something to it, but there is a good deal more than stupidity to account for where are now. Stupidity combined with malice and misjudgment would only get us a little closer to the necessary understanding, but stupidity is at least a good start.

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