Monday, January 19, 2009

Tanks and beliefs

Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas

Very interesting and insightful piece in of all things the New York Times.

At the end, though, we find this mystifying assertion:

'There is a fixed idea among some Israeli leaders that Hamas can be bombed into moderation. This is a false and dangerous notion. It is true that Hamas can be deterred militarily for a time, but tanks cannot defeat deeply felt belief.

The reverse is also true: Hamas cannot be cajoled into moderation. Neither position credits Hamas with sincerity, or seriousness.'

There is a mix of ideas there, many dubious in nature. Is there a fixed idea among Israeli leaders that Hamas can be bombed to moderation, or to oblivion? Even if the 'bombed to moderation' idea is held by actual Israeli leaders, is it so obviously false? I'm not so sure. The Soviets and the British and the Americans had a fixed idea that the Germans could be bombed, blasted, machine-gunned into moderation. That worked out pretty well, by the time hundreds of thousands had gone to meet their long-term host down under. Even in the last sixty years, many many groups of homicidal thugs have been smashed to pieces, killed, wiped out (Sierra Leone anyone?). What makes Hamas so different, one wonders? 'Tanks cannot defeat deeply held beliefs'? What a crock. Tell that to the people of Tibet, who watch as every passing year, their religion and culture are systematically destroyed by the people with the tanks, ie the Chinese. Tell that to the people of northern Ceylon, who are now going to be ruled by Sinhalese whether they like it or not, and whether their religion and culture are respected or not.

Bismarks comment about 'God is on the side with the most divisions' is a swipe at the sentimentalists and those who believe that evil can never triumph over good. If we want to protect our values and our ideas, we have to have tanks, aircraft carriers and missiles and use them against murderous thugs who hate our values and ideas. The US just got done doing a whole load of that in Iraq, and Israel has just got through three weeks of doing that in Gaza.

I think what Mr Goldberg is saying is not that you CAN'T defeat deeply held belief with tanks; but that you musn't. Its a liberal cri-de-coeur, an insistence that we behave in a 'civilised' way. His further statement about Hamas's imperviousness to verbal blandishments is honest and truthful, but then he goes on to spoil that. 'Neither position credits Hamas with sincerity, or seriousness.' So, let me work out what he's saying: the idea that Hamas can be bombed to moderation does not credit Hamas with sincerity or seriousness. What bollocks. It is precisely because the Knesset believe that Hamas are sincere and serious that they are willing to expend huge sums of money, political capital and the lives of its precious IDF soldiers in the attempt to destroy it utterly. Its either that, or wait while Hamas produce tens of thousands of young fanatic wannabee shahids in Gazas schools, arm them with effective modern weapons, and launch them upon southern Israel.

Only the most laggardly and stupid government would allow that to gestate on its borders. And Israel has some pretty good leaders, even now.

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