Friday, January 05, 2024

De-Radicalizing the Radicals

The tweeter evidently believes Iran is governed by the philosophical descendants of Mahatma Gandhi.

Lindsey Graham is not depraved and probably not a warmonger. (And Iran is a major threat, and not only to Israel.)  Gay, probably, but that's off-topic. What is not off-topic, but probably misleading is the response to him by Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated

We're absolutely committed to achieving our war goals, that is destroying Hamas, releasing our hostages, making sure Gaza doesn't become a threat again, and also making sure that we can return our citizens in the north and in the south. For that we'll apply maximum power with maximum precision everywhere that's needed

I don't know what the Prime Minister of Israel meant by "return our citizens in the north and in the south." However, getting the hostages released, destroying Hamas, and making sure Gaza doesn't become a threat again are reasonable and righteous goals.

By contrast, in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Christmas and summarized by The Times of Israel, Netanyahu

laid out three “prerequisites for peace” in an op-ed published tonight in the Wall Street Journal.

They are to “destroy Hamas, demilitarize Gaza and deradicalize the whole of Palestinian society,” he says....

“The US, UK, France, Germany, and many other countries support Israel’s intention to demolish the terror group. To achieve that goal, its military capabilities must be dismantled and its political rule over Gaza must end,” writes the premier.

 Second, Israel must also ensure that Gaza is “never again used as a base to attack” Israel.

 “Among other things, this will require establishing a temporary security zone on the perimeter of Gaza and an inspection mechanism on the border between Gaza and Egypt that meets Israel’s security needs and prevents smuggling of weapons into the territory,” says Netanyahu.

Destroying Hamas and demilitarizing Gaza are not only righteous goals but critical to Mideast peace. Nonetheless, the Prime Minister veers into more questionable territory when

 In light of reported suggestions that the Palestinian Authority administer Gaza post-war, he says the “expectation that the Palestinian Authority will demilitarize Gaza is a pipe dream.”

It's a pipe dream because the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was unpopular before the attack of October 7 and commands the support of even fewer "Palestinians" now that Hamas has been shown to be much more proficient at killing Jews. Netanyahu himself is King of the Pipe Dream as

The PA, he accuses, “currently funds and glorifies terrorism in Judea and Samaria and educates Palestinian children to seek the destruction of Israel.”

Third, he says, “schools must teach children to cherish life rather than death, and imams must cease to preach for the murder of Jews.”

“Palestinian civil society needs to be transformed so that its people support fighting terrorism rather than funding it,” he writes.

This may never happen and if it does, it will be only as a result- not a cause- of normalization of relations between Israel and the Palestinians, which probably will require a Palestinian state. Nonetheless

“That will likely require courageous and moral leadership,” says Netanyahu, attacking PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who “can’t even bring himself to condemn the Oct. 7 atrocities.”

"Moral leadership" says the man who currently is under indictment for charges of corruption in three separate cases. Nevertheless

Netanyahu points to the “successful deradicalization” that took place “in Germany and Japan after the Allied victory in World War II,” and says that “today, both nations are great allies of the US and promote peace, stability and prosperity in Europe and Asia.” He also says that post 9/11, “visionary Arab leaders in the Gulf have led efforts to deradicalize their societies and transform their countries.”

“Once Hamas is destroyed, Gaza is demilitarized and Palestinian society begins a deradicalization process, Gaza can be rebuilt and the prospects of a broader peace in the Middle East will become a reality,” he concludes.

This is not 1945, not Europe or Asia, nor secularists running their respective governments. It is the Middle East, 2024, and the leaders of Hamas and Fatah are not partial to individuals or governments who don't share their religious perspective. 

Netanyahu's contention that "positive Arab leaders in the Gulf have led efforts to deradicalize their societies and transform their countries"  largely refutes his argument. Sure, the Abraham Accords did in fact normalize the relationship between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and other deals were consummated with Bahrain and Morocco. 

Yet Saudi Arabia was next, with Riyadh considering recognizing Israel in exchange for guarantees of security from the USA.  President Biden has stated "one of the reasons why they acted like they did, why Hamas moved on Israel, is because they knew I was about to sit down with the Saudis. Because the Saudis wanted to recognize Israel and that would in fact unite the Middle East." Netanyahu was on his way to freezing out the Palestinian Authority to relieve pressure on Israel to accept a Palestinian state. We saw on October 7 how his vision of a Middle East without that pesky Palestinian problem has worked out.

It didn't turn out well, and will not turn out well until people officially designated as "Palestinians" have either a homeland or are at least satisfactorily accommodated. That cannot take place without Gaza being demilitarized and should not take place without Hamas being weakened almost to the point of extinction. De-radicalization of the movement would be ideal, but is only a little more likely than someone parking a new BMW 3 Series vehicle adorned with a red bow in my driveway next Christmas. And I don't have a driveway. 

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