Saturday, July 19, 2014

No Amount Of Death Is Enough

Demonstrating the danger in a Twitter account, Bill Maher has tweeted "Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who's trying to kill u - u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her."

Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams notes "Hamas is not a crazy lady who needs to be bitch-slapped;" Slate's Amanda Marcotte argues Maher" is making light of the serious problem of domestic violence."

Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars takes a slightly different tack, claiming the comedian is an "a_ _ _ _ _ _" who "ridicules religious extremism but sounds like the most extreme neocon nutjobs when it comes to Israel, because 9/11, etc. and all Muslims are evil and violent."

But Maher never has maintained all Muslims are evil and violent, though he does recognize that some Muslims, as with some Christians, are prone to hatred, bigotry, and homophobia. Maher always has managed to incite enemies on both the left and the right, the latter because of his aversion to Christianity, the former because he acknowledges that Muslims are not immune to the faults some progressives ascribe to Christians. He consistently has been, as advertised, politically incorrect

Were a  label of evil or violent  to apply accuraely to any Muslims, it would surely apply to Hamas. It is telling that the group has never denied the IDF's contention "Hamas places weapons and missile launchers in densely populated areas. They also send men, woman and children to act as human shields for terrorists." As a terrorist organization, Hamas is pleased their enemies know that its lust for blood is insatiable.

Similarly, while Hamas was rejecting Egyptian calls for a cease-fire, one of its spokesmen proudly declared "all Israelis have now become legitimate targets."  And turning on its head the aphorism of Finley Peter Dunne's fictional Mr. Dooley, on July 15

A Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mushir al-Masri, dismissed reports of efforts to calm the situation, and derided Egypt for proposing a ceasefire.

"Those who ignore the Palestinian resistance should not be dealt with. "The sections calling for calm are offering a free service to the Israeli enemy," al- Masri said, adding that the decision by Jerusalem to accept the initiative was, "indicative of Israel's weakness."

The following day, The New York Times reported

Israeli leaflets dropped in northern Gaza and some neighborhoods of Gaza City this week warned, “Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families.”

It was unclear how many Gaza residents were heeding the call; Hamas has urged people to stay put, calling the warnings “psychological warfare.

Recognizing that Arab terrorists resemble other terrorists (as Madrak avoids acknowledging) in being evil and violent, Slate's William Saletan generously remarks

The fundamental problem is that Hamas doesn’t think like a government. It thinks like a militia. It likes to tinker with drones, show off rocket launchers disguised as bread carts, and announce missile attacks pegged to the evening news hour in Tel Aviv. It treats these childish displays as victories. And it doesn’t care who dies.

But Hamas does care who dies- and not only as many Israelis as possible (video from IDF below), but as many Gazans as possible. Maher's error was in comparing Hamas to a crazy woman, for it is not likely a crazy woman or man, but rather something demonstrably, terrifyingly, much worse.

While it has become almost de rigeur for the far left, whose passion for liberation movements appears to end where Israel begins, to find fault with Israeli actions as immoral or unethical, there is a far more valid criticism to level at the nation's foreign policy under Benjamin Netanyahu.  Fred Kaplan of Slate writes

In the abstract, it’s shrewd to play Gaza’s radical Hamas against the West Bank’s more moderate Palestinian Authority, but at the moment, Israel is offering the latter no rewards. Abbas would like to play along with this game — he has in the past — but Israel has called off peace talks, continues expanding its settlements and has not remotely backed away from its humiliating fences and checkpoints. In short, Israel has provided nothing that might lead Gaza residents to envy a West Banker’s life to the point of pressuring or toppling their own leaders. Or, to put it another way: Israel has done nothing that might equate the weakening of Hamas to the strengthening of Abbas.

Seeing his leverage slip away, Abbas took steps in late May to form a unity government joining the West Bank and Gaza. The idea was to co-opt and thus weaken Hamas. But Netanyahu, fearing that Hamas would exploit the arrangement to its advantage, condemned the move and shut down diplomatic forums with Abbas. Netanyahu’s fears might be valid, but by cutting Abbas off (thus making it harder for Abbas to offer his people an alternative to Hamas), he’s helping to make the worst fears come true.

The tendency of the Netanyahu government to treat Mahmoud Abbas like Hamas and to act as if it wants to drive the PA into the arms of Hamas should be a matter of grave concern to some of the critics of  Israel, especially as they would be expected to be sympathetic to the more accomodating, less radical and violent elements of the Palestianian establishment.  Alas, it is not, and Bill Maher's remark, though intemperate and technically inaccurate, reminds us of the one party in the conflict for which the shedding of blood is an unmitigated blessing.

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