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Why the Middle East Keeps Failing

Edward Campbell

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We have a (22 page long) thread on Europe's continuing failures but it is not the only region with problems. This article, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from The Economist suggests that the Arab Middle East is also in political trouble:

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21598718-americans-saudis-and-qataris-are-unusually-knotty-diplomatic-tangle-no-one
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Diplomacy in the Gulf
No one is happy
Americans, Saudis and Qataris are in an unusually knotty diplomatic tangle

Mar 8th 2014 | CAIRO | From the print edition

BARACK OBAMA already faced a long and tricky agenda for his visit to Saudi Arabia scheduled for later this month. Sixty-nine years after Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, the country’s founder, forged an alliance aboard an American cruiser in the Suez canal, the two nations find themselves at odds not only over such perennial irritants as Israel and human rights, but increasingly over newer issues, from Gulf security to the Syrian civil war and to post-revolutionary troubles in another prickly ally of America, Egypt.

Saudi Arabia has now added yet another complication. Along with its close allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the kingdom on March 5th abruptly recalled its ambassador to Qatar. That small emirate, which juts out of Saudi Arabia like a tiny thumb from a big fist, is not only a fellow member of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), a six-country club of oil-rich Arab monarchies. Qatar also happens to host the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre, the most critical of the constellation of American military bases around the Gulf, together serving some 35,000 American troops, that have long shielded the GCC and acted as a prod to their mutual foe, Iran.

This diplomatic tiff between Arabs may well be contained. After all, Saudi Arabia suspended ties with Qatar for several years in the 1990s in anger at the overthrow of a friendly emir by his son, Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, father of the current ruler, Sheikh Tamim. Qatar responded to the latest rebuke with mild “regret and surprise”, saying its own envoys would stay put in “brotherly” GCC capitals.

Cut them off?

But the row has been brewing for some time, and could get worse. Rumours suggest the Saudis have quietly threatened to seal their border with Qatar, the emirate’s sole land link to the outside world, as well as to close Saudi airspace to Qatar-bound flights. This would bother the Americans, who co-ordinate all their military activity in the air space between Syria and Afghanistan from their base in Qatar.

The reasons for Saudi fury are plain. Starting with the launch of Qatar’s noisy Al Jazeera satellite channel in 1996, the emirate’s openness to Arab political dissenters (except from within the emirate itself) has rubbed up against its autocratic neighbour. Anger grew with the outbreak of the Arab spring in 2011, not only because the Saudis (and most other Arab monarchies) saw the uprisings as a threat, but because Qatar has doggedly and generously backed the re-emergent Muslim Brotherhood in every ensuing contest, from Libya and Tunisia to Egypt and Syria. The Saudis, and perhaps even more so the UAE, have long viewed the Brotherhood as a subversive cult whose pan-Islamic ideology and secretive, cell-like structure pose a singular danger.

When the Brothers won elections in Egypt in 2012, Qatar poured in money to prop up their man, President Muhammad Morsi. Since Egypt’s generals overthrew him last year, the Saudis, Kuwaitis and other allies have sloshed in far more cash. Qatar, meanwhile, has served as a haven for fugitives from Egypt, including hardened jihadist extremists as well as besuited Brotherhood politicians. Al Jazeera’s Arabic channels, demonised in Egypt to the point that staff in its independently run English-language division are being tried as terrorists, have become lonely pulpits for the Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s star preacher, Yousef al-Qaradawi, rails against Arab regimes that he says were complicit in the “crimes” of Egypt’s coup leaders. Mr Qaradawi lives happily in Qatar.

An explanatory joint statement from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE accused Qatar of breaching a pledge, made by Sheikh Tamim in November, to tone down such invective and “abide by the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs”. Less officially they are said to be demanding the expulsion or extradition of Islamist exiles. On March 3rd a court in the UAE sentenced a Qatari doctor to seven years in prison for alleged conspiracy, in the latest of several trials targeting suspected Brotherhood cells. Saudi Arabia for its part recently banned Brotherhood works from the Riyadh Book Fair and blocked suspected members from preaching in mosques.

Mr Obama will have to tread carefully. He must convince Iran that America’s Gulf alliance remains strong, while persuading fissiparous Arab doubters that America, hoping for a nuclear deal with Iran and simultaneously reducing its armed forces and seeking to “pivot” towards Asia, has not gone soft on what the Arabs see as a Persian threat. Mr Obama must also explain his reticence to help either Syrian rebels or Egypt’s generals, even as his Gulf allies press for a bigger commitment. Mr Roosevelt, by comparison, had it easy.


There are, I believe, other problems:

    1. Persistent worries about Arab banking, especially in the financing for the huge building projects undertaken by some free spending Gulf sheikhs; and

    2. Religious divisions, even amongst the predominantly Sunni Gulf Arabs. 

I sympathize, just a wee tiny bit, with President Obama; the Middle East is the an entry point into a quagmire that extends from Morocco through Egypt and the Gulf to the Caspian Sea region, West Asia, and down into Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. The so called Islamic Crescent is not monolithic, there are religious, social and (deep) cultural differences. (In fact, in my own, personal travels, I met East Asian Muslims who are very upset about what they see as the Arabization of their faith and attempts by both Egyptian and Saudi based (financed) imans to impose Arab cultural norms on e.g. Malaysians, who regard themselves as more enlightened than the Arabs.) The Asian pivot may allow the USA to help to counter (contain?) radical Islamic movements in Philippines, Malaysia/Thailand and so on. In this effort America would be allied with China.  ???

Gulf oil is, of course, strategically important vital to China, Europe and America.


 

FAL

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When I was in Dubai, I was privileged to talk to a person in the know who was a consultant to the military of the UAE, possibly just Dubai. He said that they have minor skirmishes with a neighboring country militarily occasionally. This surprised me, as I never saw this on the news, but, if it doesn't help sell Big Macs and Chevys or advance the anti-family agenda in the West, it won't necessarily make the news in the West.

The latest one, he said, was a naval confrontation which the Emiratis/Dubai had won handily. I apologize for not recalling which country it was, but I believe it was the Saudis.

It seems that the peoples of the region can bicker, like any family, and remain brothers. The Middle East is just not like the paleface world.

 

Edward Campbell

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The Economist, again, provides some historical perspective in this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from that journal:

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21606284-civilisation-used-lead-world-ruinsand-only-locals-can-rebuild-it
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The tragedy of the Arabs
A civilisation that used to lead the world is in ruins—and only the locals can rebuild it

Jul 5th 2014

A THOUSAND years ago, the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world. Islam and innovation were twins. The various Arab caliphates were dynamic superpowers—beacons of learning, tolerance and trade. Yet today the Arabs are in a wretched state. Even as Asia, Latin America and Africa advance, the Middle East is held back by despotism and convulsed by war.

Hopes soared three years ago, when a wave of unrest across the region led to the overthrow of four dictators—in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen—and to a clamour for change elsewhere, notably in Syria. But the Arab spring’s fruit has rotted into renewed autocracy and war. Both engender misery and fanaticism that today threaten the wider world.

Why Arab countries have so miserably failed to create democracy, happiness or (aside from the windfall of oil) wealth for their 350m people is one of the great questions of our time. What makes Arab society susceptible to vile regimes and fanatics bent on destroying them (and their perceived allies in the West)? No one suggests that the Arabs as a people lack talent or suffer from some pathological antipathy to democracy. But for the Arabs to wake from their nightmare, and for the world to feel safe, a great deal needs to change.

The blame game

One problem is that the Arab countries’ troubles run so wide. Indeed, Syria and Iraq can nowadays barely be called countries at all. This week a brutal band of jihadists declared their boundaries void, heralding instead a new Islamic caliphate to embrace Iraq and Greater Syria (including Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and bits of Turkey) and—in due course—the whole world. Its leaders seek to kill non-Muslims not just in the Middle East but also in the streets of New York, London and Paris. Egypt is back under military rule. Libya, following the violent demise of Muammar Qaddafi, is at the mercy of unruly militias. Yemen is beset by insurrection, infighting and al-Qaeda. Palestine is still far from true statehood and peace: the murders of three young Israelis and ensuing reprisals threaten to set off yet another cycle of violence (see article). Even countries such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria, whose regimes are cushioned by wealth from oil and gas and propped up by an iron-fisted apparatus of state security, are more fragile than they look. Only Tunisia, which opened the Arabs’ bid for freedom three years ago, has the makings of a real democracy.

Islam, or at least modern reinterpretations of it, is at the core of some of the Arabs’ deep troubles. The faith’s claim, promoted by many of its leading lights, to combine spiritual and earthly authority, with no separation of mosque and state, has stunted the development of independent political institutions. A militant minority of Muslims are caught up in a search for legitimacy through ever more fanatical interpretations of the Koran. Other Muslims, threatened by militia violence and civil war, have sought refuge in their sect. In Iraq and Syria plenty of Shias and Sunnis used to marry each other; too often today they resort to maiming each other. And this violent perversion of Islam has spread to places as distant as northern Nigeria and northern England.

But religious extremism is a conduit for misery, not its fundamental cause (see article). While Islamic democracies elsewhere (such as Indonesia—see article) are doing fine, in the Arab world the very fabric of the state is weak. Few Arab countries have been nations for long. The dead hand of the Turks’ declining Ottoman empire was followed after the first world war by the humiliation of British and French rule. In much of the Arab world the colonial powers continued to control or influence events until the 1960s. Arab countries have not yet succeeded in fostering the institutional prerequisites of democracy—the give-and-take of parliamentary discourse, protection for minorities, the emancipation of women, a free press, independent courts and universities and trade unions.

The absence of a liberal state has been matched by the absence of a liberal economy. After independence, the prevailing orthodoxy was central planning, often Soviet-inspired. Anti-market, anti-trade, pro-subsidy and pro-regulation, Arab governments strangled their economies. The state pulled the levers of economic power—especially where oil was involved. Where the constraints of post-colonial socialism were lifted, capitalism of the crony, rent-seeking kind took hold, as it did in the later years of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Privatisation was for pals of the government. Virtually no markets were free, barely any world-class companies developed, and clever Arabs who wanted to excel in business or scholarship had to go to America or Europe to do so.

Economic stagnation bred dissatisfaction. Monarchs and presidents-for-life defended themselves with secret police and goons. The mosque became a source of public services and one of the few places where people could gather and hear speeches. Islam was radicalised and the angry men who loathed their rulers came to hate the Western states that backed them. Meanwhile a vast number of the young grew restless because of unemployment. Thanks to the electronic media, they were increasingly aware that the prospects of their cohort outside the Middle East were far more hopeful. The wonder is not that they took to the streets in the Arab spring, but that they did not do so sooner.

A lot of ruin

These wrongs cannot easily or rapidly be put right. Outsiders, who have often been drawn to the region as invaders and occupiers, cannot simply stamp out the jihadist cause or impose prosperity and democracy. That much, at least, should be clear after the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Military support—the supply of drones and of a small number of special forces—may help keep the jihadists in Iraq at bay. That help may have to be on permanent call. Even if the new caliphate is unlikely to become a recognisable state, it could for many years produce jihadists able to export terrorism.

But only the Arabs can reverse their civilisational decline, and right now there is little hope of that happening. The extremists offer none. The mantra of the monarchs and the military men is “stability”. In a time of chaos, its appeal is understandable, but repression and stagnation are not the solution. They did not work before; indeed they were at the root of the problem. Even if the Arab awakening is over for the moment, the powerful forces that gave rise to it are still present. The social media which stirred up a revolution in attitudes cannot be uninvented. The men in their palaces and their Western backers need to understand that stability requires reform.

Is that a vain hope? Today the outlook is bloody. But ultimately fanatics devour themselves. Meanwhile, wherever possible, the moderate, secular Sunnis who comprise the majority of Arab Muslims need to make their voices heard. And when their moment comes, they need to cast their minds back to the values that once made the Arab world great. Education underpinned its primacy in medicine, mathematics, architecture and astronomy. Trade paid for its fabulous metropolises and their spices and silks. And, at its best, the Arab world was a cosmopolitan haven for Jews, Christians and Muslims of many sects, where tolerance fostered creativity and invention.

Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again. Today, as Sunnis and Shias tear out each others’ throats in Iraq and Syria and a former general settles onto his new throne in Egypt, they are tragically distant prospects. But for a people for whom so much has gone so wrong, such values still make up a vision of a better future.


We need to take the opening paragraph with a grain of salt ... yes, the Arabs were ahead of the West, but it wasn't, in the main, through their own efforts. What had happened was that the West, Europe, had fallen into its dark ages and Jews, yes, Jews, had brought Greek and Roman knowledge to "the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo." But that's a quibble. The article is, substantially correct in both its identification of causes and the effects and the only possible solution: local people, Arabs, must reform their societies, their cultures, or they must perish.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Further quibble, it was Persians, Greeks that did much of the heavy thinking and even their Crusade hero was a Kurd. I would not say that Isam was radicalized in the 60-80's The Whabbis have been hard at work trying to radicalize Islam since the 1700's. In fact Deobandism sprang forth from Whabbism (I was wrong in another thread thinking that both evolved concurrently) and helped aggravate the existing conditions leading to the Indian Mutiny. t was the advent of oil money that has allowed the Whabbis to expand their influence on the rest of the Islamic world, using bribes, threats, community conformists and mosque building to do so.

with the current king so near his deathbed I wonder if a mild form of paralysis has formed in the leadership?

 

Edward Campbell

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Kal, in The Economist, sums up Iraq:

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Source: http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/print-edition/20140705_WWD000_0.jpg
 

Edward Campbell

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The last sentences of this article, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from Foreign Affairs, strucke me:

          "The challenge for Israel is to maintain that state of readiness while at the same time making the humane and appropriate choices that ensure its security, enhance Israel’s attractiveness as a strategic and commercial partner
          for Western nations, and maintain its internal social cohesion over the long haul. This trifecta may seem impossible, but the first 19 years of Israel’s national existence suggest otherwise."

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141647/ariel-ilan-roth/how-hamas-won
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How Hamas Won
Israel's Tactical Success and Strategic Failure

By Ariel Ilan Roth

JULY 20, 2014

No matter how and when the conflict between Hamas and Israel ends, two things are certain. The first is that Israel will be able to claim a tactical victory. The second is that it will have suffered a strategic defeat.

At the tactical level, the success of the Iron Dome missile defense system has kept Israeli casualties near zero and significantly reduced the material damage from the rockets fired from Gaza. Israel’s ground invasion, launched on Thursday, will also reap rewards. Indeed, it already has: Israeli forces have exposed and destroyed several Hamas tunnels, including some that were intended to allow cross-border activity into Israel and others that facilitated the movement of goods, ammunition, and militants within Gaza itself.

Such tactical achievements should not be minimized. But they do not equal a strategic victory. War, as Clausewitz famously taught, is the continuation of politics by other means. Wars are fought to realign politics in a way that benefits the victor and is detrimental to the loser. But the Israelis have lost sight of this distinction.

In fact, Israel has a history of claiming victory when in fact it has suffered defeat; the October 1973 war is the best example. Israel claimed that it had won because its forces ended their war on the western side of the Suez Canal with Egyptian forces partially encircled behind them. The reality is that Egypt achieved the strategic victory. All along, Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s objective was to seize and hold some territory in order to dislodge stuck political negotiations and, ultimately, recover the occupied Sinai Peninsula for Egypt. Sadat got what he wanted.

Israelis might believe that, even though they are not likely to see a political realignment at the end of this war, at least Hamas won’t have achieved its own strategic objectives. The absence of large numbers of Israeli fatalities, the thinking goes, is a mark of Hamas’ failure. But Israelis are wrong there, too. Killing large numbers of Israelis would be a treat for Hamas, but it is not vital to the group’s definition of strategic success.

Hamas’ strategic objective is to shatter Israel’s sense of normalcy. It is only possible for Israel to exist as a flourishing and prosperous democracy under the garrisoned conditions of persistent conflict when its citizens are able to maintain the illusion that their lives are more or less similar to what they would aspire to have in London, Paris, or New York. With that illusion destroyed, several outcomes are possible, none of which are good for Israel. Despairing of the possibility of peace, small numbers of Israeli Jews may decide to emigrate. More likely is that disagreements over how to handle the Palestinian problem will depend, sowing discord within Israeli society and undermining the core Israeli narrative based on the justice of Zionism. Cohesion around that narrative has been a key motivating force for making the sacrifices and facing the dangers that life in Israel often entails, including the long, compulsory military service that is a fact of life for most Israeli Jews. Although these internal fissures will not bring Israel to its knees, any erosion of Israeli power -- including the power of the population’s will -- is a win for Hamas.

Israel has long been eager to thwart the expansion of the influence of Islamist resistance organizations that they see as determinedly more implacable foes. Consider that the first Intifada, from 1987­ to 1993, led to the weakening of the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and to the rise of dangerous and militant organizations such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The threat of these Islamist organizations motivated Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to bolster the failing fortunes of PLO leader Yasir Arafat and embark on the Oslo peace process, which, had it succeeded, would have been a dead end for Hamas.

Indeed it was the violence of the second Intifada, which destroyed nearly 1,000 Israeli lives between 2001 and 2004 through wave upon wave of suicide attacks in the heart of Israel’s major cities, which caused Israeli citizens’ confidence to buckle and ultimately persuaded them to support a unilateral withdrawal of citizens and settlements from Gaza. They hoped the move would appease Palestinian wrath. It did not.

The persistent, low level rocketing of Israel’s southern cities since Israel withdrew from Gaza has not caused enough disruption in the rest of Israel to bring Hamas any strategic benefits. In other words, Hamas’ attacks on the border cities have not stopped most Israelis from going about their daily business in near-total obliviousness to the political and humanitarian condition of the Palestinians in Gaza.

This new round of violence, on the other hand, has caused enormous disruption. Rockets fired from Gaza have triggered warning sirens in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva -- all of Israel’s major cities -- and points in between as well. Those rockets haven’t killed any people thus far, but they have sent almost everyone scrambling for shelter several times a day and shattered the illusion that what happens “there” does not affect life “here.”

That would be enough for Hamas to declare victory. But the group has been racking up additional strategic benefits as well. First, the disproportionate number of casualties in Israel and Gaza has made Israel appear, at least to many Western eyes, as the aggressor, even though Hamas shot first this time around. Second, the Iron Dome has made covering the story within Israel boring for outside journalists. “Rocket goes off, rocket gets intercepted, life goes on” is not an exciting story. Israel’s retaliations, which level Gaza’s unreinforced buildings and leave behind mangled bodies, sell more newspapers. And so, the world has focused on Gaza. Israel’s friends may bemoan that as unfair -- Israel is being punished for successfully defending its citizens, while Hamas leaves its own vulnerable. But that misses the point. War is not an exercise in fairness, but in the attainment of strategic objectives.

And, on that score, Hamas has already won. It has shattered the necessary illusion for Israelis that a political stalemate with the Palestinians is cost-free for Israel. It has shown Israelis that, even if the Palestinians cannot kill them, they can extract a heavy psychological price. It has also raised the profile of the Palestinian cause and reinforced the perception that the Palestinians are weak victims standing against a powerful aggressor. Down the road, that feeling is sure to be translated into pressure on Israel, perhaps by politicians and certainly by social movements whose objective is to isolate Israel politically and damage it through economic boycotts.

There are still those who will fantasize that this defeat will come with the same silver lining as Israel’s loss in 1973. Although Sadat’s attacks on Israelis in the Sinai shattered the feeling of invincibility that Israelis had nurtured since the end of the 1967 war, the war at least resulted in the Camp David accords and a durable, if cold, peace that has underwritten Israel’s regional security since the late 1970s. Perhaps Hamas’ strategic victory in this conflict will yield similar dividends for Israel down the road. However, such an outcome seems quite unlikely. Sadat had concrete objectives, namely the re-opening of the Suez Canal and the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt -- objectives that were reconcilable with Israel’s own needs. Hamas, on the other hand, calls for Israel’s elimination, an objective that leaves scant room for negotiation.

In the end, this round will go to the Palestinians, as did the previous major round of fighting in 2008. Focusing on tactical success should not blind Israel to the dangers it faces from these repeated strategic defeats. There is not much that Israel can do to change Hamas’ behavior. What it must do, however, to prevent Hamas from capitalizing on its strategic success is to remind contemporary Israelis of what their early leaders knew all too well. As Moshe Dayan, an Israeli army chief of staff and later defense minister, said, ‘‘We know that in order for their [the Arab] hope of annihilating us to die away, it is incumbent on us -- morning and night -- to be armed and ready.” The challenge for Israel is to maintain that state of readiness while at the same time making the humane and appropriate choices that ensure its security, enhance Israel’s attractiveness as a strategic and commercial partner for Western nations, and maintain its internal social cohesion over the long haul. This trifecta may seem impossible, but the first 19 years of Israel’s national existence suggest otherwise.


My sense is that Israel could and should be a a good, productive, neighbour and trading partner, even friend to other Middle Eastern countries. But I think it is clear that some (not all) Arabs and others (Persians, etc) disagree.

In the 1960s the Israelis waged and won a classic PR campaign. The Arabs learned and they hired the very best New York PR firms to burnish their image ... and they have, in my opinion, won the PR war now. And I think that PR war - the global "hearts and minds"/public opinion thing - matters more than all the tactical victories.

Israel must, as the old saying goes, win every battle, while the Arabs, Hamas, only need to get lucky once. I really doubt that Israel can survive in the Middle East, and I think that's a shame, for the Middle East.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Hmm E.R.
I think that article makes a leap of faith that there were other options for Israel to choose. Perhaps for Lebanon, but not for Gaza other than not withdrawing. I think the writer was looking through a straw at a quote from Clausewitz.
 

Edward Campbell

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Colin P said:
Hmm E.R.
I think that article makes a leap of faith that there were other options for Israel to choose. Perhaps for Lebanon, but not for Gaza other than not withdrawing. I think the writer was looking through a straw at a quote from Clausewitz.


I don't disagree, but I think Hamas has found a great tactic and I think they are wining the global PR war. American radicals like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin proposed a doctrine of provocation; experience says that the "forces of law and order" (Israel with respect to Gaza) must respond to increasingly outrageous provocation by taking increasingly strong measures against the "innocent" kids, the radicals. Eventually Hoffman, Rubin, et al suggested the people, until then disinterested or pro "law and order," will be repulsed by the police (etc) actions and will turn their sympathy towards the kids/radicals. It works on a national scale, too, and Hamas knows it ... Israel knows it, too, but, as you say, what else can they do?
 

Colin Parkinson

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Considering the way the world is moving right now, Hamas PR moves may have little effect for the costs to themselves. They to have tactical and strategic limits and cannot maintain the status quo forever.
 

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E.R. Campbell said:
I don't disagree, but I think Hamas has found a great tactic and I think they are wining the global PR war. American radicals like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin proposed a doctrine of provocation; experience says that the "forces of law and order" (Israel with respect to Gaza) must respond to increasingly outrageous provocation by taking increasingly strong measures against the "innocent" kids, the radicals. Eventually Hoffman, Rubin, et al suggested the people, until then disinterested or pro "law and order," will be repulsed by the police (etc) actions and will turn their sympathy towards the kids/radicals. It works on a national scale, too, and Hamas knows it ... Israel knows it, too, but, as you say, what else can they do?

Even Hoffman wasn't original, the tactic of provocation was promoted in the "Mini Manual of the Urban Guerrilla" - Carlos Marighella's 1969 terrorism manual for Latin American revolutionaries. The tactic failed in Latin America because ultimately the State could raise the bar far higher that any revolutionary group could go (having far more resources), and if the "revolutionaries" went too far in their provocations, the local population would turn against them in revulsion rather than against the police.

The situation in Gaza is different, Hamas commits terrorism against Isreal, so Western observers are not in the same boat as the hapless populations of South American civilians caught between the depredations of the terrorists/revolutionaries and the Police. Hamas and the Arab world has also spent decades and hundreds of millions of dollars in their PR campaign, thus creating this moral inversion of the events in Gaza. Just watch any Canadian news broadcast and make a time chart: how much time is spent on the civilian "victims" vs the actions of Hamas? Is there even discussion of the fact that Hamas uses the population and nominally protected sites like schools, hospitals and mosques to store and fire weapons? Is there ever discussion on the fact Hamas encourages people top stay in targeted buildings even after a clear warning is given?

For that matter, on the other side, is Israel ever given credit for humanitarian pauses, or the policy of warning civilians in target buildings? When was the last time you saw gun camera footage of secondary explosions coming from a target during or after an Isreali strike (confirming there were weapons there?). Is there ever any expression of sympathy for Israeli victims of rocket attacks or the disruption of Israeli society from constant terror attacks in these reports?

I have a feeling that some sort of threshold has been crossed in Israeli society, however, and they are not going to stop fighting whenever the US or EU puts the pressure on them. They will be working very hard to inflict as much damage on the military and C2 infrastructure of Hamas, and to kill as many Hamas "fighters" as they possibly can, and only stop when they are ready to stop.
 

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It really is all about culture. No matter what we say or do, this is how these people really behave:

http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/01/what-happens-when-a-palestinian-doesnt-hate-israel-enough/

FOREIGN POLICY
What Happens When A Palestinian Doesn’t Hate Israel Enough?
By Luke Moon
MAY 1, 2014

A video was uploaded onto YouTube which featured a young Palestinian Christian woman describing what it was like to live under Israel military occupation. If that was all the video was about, it would have simply been added to the thousands of other YouTube videos which describe the same thing.  What made Christy Anastas’ video unique was that she bravely revealed how Palestinian Christians have and are being treated by Palestinian Muslims and nationalists.

Breaking through the silence and fear faced by so many Palestinians, Christy described how her uncle, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem, had to pay the al-jizyah, protection money that is often levied against non-Muslims.  After some time her uncle refused to pay the protection money because he noticed the militants would shoot and launch rockets near the Christian homes so that the retaliation would come on the Christians. Because of his refusal to pay up he was murdered in front of his house.

She painfully describes the sexual harassment she faced as a young woman, “I used to get sexually harassed while walking to university. I used to get to university and turn around feeling so disgusted.”

She wondered why it is that the Palestinian Christians are fleeing traditionally Christian areas like Bethlehem, whose Christian population has fallen from 85 to 7 percent in the last two decades, for supposedly economic reasons, but they have been replaced by Muslims.

While still in the Palestinian Territories, Christy was encouraged to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum.  She also visited a popular Christian church in Jerusalem where Jews and Palestinians worship together. Learning more about Jewish history and the Bible she began to speak about her rejection of dhimmitude (second class status for non-Muslims) and her right for the Jews to have a nation.

Because of this, a member of her family said to her, “I have a gun, I have a bullet, I will put it in your head and end your life. You’re playing with big fire you’re going to burn your family before you burn yourself and I was sent to stop you.”  Under significant pressure she fled to the UK where she received political asylum.

So what happened when the YouTube video began to go viral?

In the first video released by Christy on April 16th which featured the presentation she gave at a university in Sweden. In the video Christy described where she grew up in the Palestinian Territories and the unique position of her family’s home in that it is surrounded on three sides by the separation barrier.  It did not take long before people began to identify who her family was.

Almost immediately Christy’s family began to receive death threats and visits by security and intelligence officials from the Palestinian Authority.  Even the churches in her home town asked for the video to be pulled down because of fear of attacks from Muslims.

After a week of intense pressure and just 6500 views the video was pulled off YouTube.

But it was too late.  Word had spread that the daughter of the Anastas family was a traitor to the Palestinian cause. Christy’s sister was afraid to go to school.  Christy even received death threats in the UK.  Tragically the only option left for the Anastas family was to publicly disown Christy.  The family went on Palestinian radio stating:

We as a family reject fully and completely and remove ourselves from any word that has rolled off of Christy’s tongue in her speech. We denounce and express disapproval of what she has done and believe that what has happened is a result of direct duress currently imposed upon her. We were surprised, as we heard what she said just as you have heard it, and we have no connection to what she has said. We consider what has happened to Christy to be an act of entrapment and exploitation perpetrated by the Israeli occupation in an attempt to weaken us and remove us from our home, which has been targeted ever since the apartheid wall has been built. The occupation has exploited Christy in an attempt to grab us by the hand and cause us further pain. We plea with all of you to understand our point of view, as we are trying to follow up on this issue and learn more on what is happening to her in Britain.

Following the release of this statement by her parents, Christy released a second video that includes a promise made to her by Dr. Saed Erekat, Chief Negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, on Al Jazeera, that he would protect human rights, freedom of speech, and the rights of women.

Sadly, what has happened to Christy is not limited to Palestinian Christians.  It is becoming increasingly evident that anyone who speaks out in a way contrary to the party line will be publicly reprimanded and disowned.  Just last week, Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs, was disowned by his family for stating that Palestinian blood is like Israeli blood.

According to Khaled Abu Toameh, from the Gatestone Institute, al-Habbash was speaking to journalist about the killing of a, Israeli police officer in Hebron. al-Habbash said, “We reject all forms for violence, whether they are directed against Israelis or Palestinians. Palestinian blood is like Israeli blood. It is human blood and precious and no one wants anyone killed.”

For equating Palestinian and Israel blood al-Habbash’s family issued a statement, “We are proud of the heroic operation in Hebron and of every man and child fighting against the occupation. We disown him and anyone who embraces the despicable Israeli enemy.”

Fatah leader Mansour al-Sa’di blasted al-Habbah, “We call for lifting his diplomatic immunity and for prosecuting him for administrative, financial and political corruption. We also call on President Abbas to fire him immediately from the Palestinian cabinet.”

During the recent Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem there was a breakout session where student delegations from the US and Europe could interact with students from Bethlehem Bible College. One of the foreign students asked how the Palestinian Christians were treated by the Muslims.  One student began to describe how he and his fellow Christians were treated as second class citizens, but before he could expound further he was silenced by one of the professors.

It seems rather clear that whether a Palestinian supports Israel or doesn’t hate Israel enough the outcome is the same. Last week’s reconciliation between Fatah and the terrorist organization, Hamas, should not be seen as a move towards a unified Palestinian state where democracy and basic human rights, like freedom of speech, flourish. Instead, it seems more likely that if a Palestinian state were established tomorrow it would just be another hard-fisted autocracy–one that we helped create.
 
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