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By Michael J. Smith on Friday January 2, 2009 02:22 PM

Here's a cogent comment on an earlier post:

Michael: you may be mistaking the final objective of Greater Israel with the partial objective of the current invasion of hurting Hamas, destroying its policing and aid-delivering abilities, deligitimizing it and reducing it to a complicit organization like Fatah. This is a hypothesis, and the strategy may not work, but it's not just a liberal delusion. See [Uri Avnery's] lead article on Counterpunch today.
Uri Avnery is a lot more sensible than Wally Shawn, and probably is in fact more intelligent than Ehud Olmert. And the piece is well worth reading. But there's still an odd line of reasoning in it:
Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in Israel almost as a branch of the Zionist organization. The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace would have been to make wide-ranging concessions to the Fatah leadership: ending of the occupation, signing of a peace treaty, foundation of the State of Palestine, withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, release of all Palestinian prisoners. That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure.

But logic has little influence on politics.

"The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace" -- but they're not seeking peace. They're seeking victory on the classical Zionist terms, whether that means actual expulsion and/or slaughter of the Palestinians, or their subjugation into the complete powerlessness and non-resistance that characterizes an Indian reservation here at home (one of Benny Morris' favorite points of reference, by the way).

Avnery apparently thinks they may be sowing the wind and will reap the whirlwind, which may be true or may not. What, after all, would happen if they did frogmarch all the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians into Jordan and Egypt respectively? Would there actually be a price to pay, sooner or even later? One would hope so; but they might well get away with it. They've gotten away with a lot. Who's to say that won't continue?

Avnery also suggests that the Gaza campaign will turn into a repeat of the recent Lebanon debacle. Again, it might or it might not. Gaza's a lot smaller than Lebanon and Hamas, with all respect, is not yet on a par with Hezbollah. Taking calculated risks is what politicians and generals do for a living.

Avnery also points out -- correctly, I'm sure -- that this Gaza stunt is partly driven by the upcoming Israeli elections. But given the chauvinistic and bloody-minded theater of cruelty that constitutes Israeli political culture, this too is anything but illogical.

The point that seems important to me is that behavior like this, far from being illogical, is ineluctable. It's absolutely implicit in the whole Zionist project. What's illogical is the yesbutnik stance: Yes to the basic Zionist undertaking, but but but -- play nice!

* * * * *

By the way, that's Vladimir Jabotinsky shown above on an Israeli banknote. Benny Morris might say -- and he'd have a point -- that this is much like us Amurricans putting Indian exterminator Andrew Jackson on ours.

Comments (5)

I thought Jonathan Cook's piece was less addled and a bit clearer on the thesis that this anschluss is aimed at crippling Hamas enough to put it in the PLO's old spot. Maybe seneca was thinking of that, rather than Avneri?

Of course, we know Hamas was Israel-encouraged, as a drain on the PLO, back in the day...

How many liberals are mentioning that little factoid?


Indeed. Cook's piece was very shrewd and obviously well-informed.

The idea that Hamas might be "tame-able", as Fatah was, might seem far-fetched -- but after all, what worked once might work twice, no? Hey, since when is optimism irrational?

Peter Ward:

Well, I think that the objective is insane, whereas the methods used to obtain that objective are probably about as reasonable as organized human action gets. Israel is in effect choosing not to have a viable future. They can certainly destroy the Palestinians, the only thing preventing them (to the extent it does) is public pressure. But it is unlikely they could survive a major war, and starting one seems to their destiny. Furthermore, continued US support is not guaranteed--if the US looses interest in conquering the Middle East or if the public become sufficiently moralized, what then? How will they react when their neighbors decide to settle the scores?


"That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure." Yes, as Michael Dawson mentions above, Hamas was an Israeli creation (see Raimondo's superb article on this "Hamas: Son of Israel".

There is a reason, however, for why Avnery fails to (or perhaps chooses not to) understand this: he's a Zionst. But the man at least has a conscious and possesses the basic human ability to empathize.

By the way, a Haaretz commentator likewise suggested that the Israelis might actually have had PLO and Abbas' political fortunes in mind when they began planning the attack.

But the Palestinians' very presence in the slums and refugee camps on the margins of Israel is a living, organic memory of that nation's bloody, colonial origins. It's no suprise therefore, that they are trying to repress those shameful memories...

tim d:

MJS - Ilan Pappe shares your opinion on this:


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