Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Israel Helped Hamas Extremists - Why Its NOT Good

Global American Series
November 27, 2012
How Israel Helped Hamas
Extremists Win over the Moderate Palestinians
-Why It Doesn’t Bode Well in the New Missile Age

The winds are pushing this giant ship around just as I write this somewhere in the waters south of Cuba, in waters that brought the U.S. to the brink of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union in the 1960’s. It struck me that the winds of war that once again swept over Israel and Gaza could bring Israel to the same point. The winds are equally ominous in Israel today, for one simple reason.

The Hamas extremists showed that violence yields immediate results from Israel whereas all the negotiations and peaceful waiting by Mr. Abbas in the West Bank has yielded absolutely nothing for the Palestinians. Here is what just happened. Hamas fired thousands of small rockets, which have no guidance system into Israel. Israel uses jets and drones to drop laser bombs on Hamas targets.

Days later there is a ceasefire. As part of the deal cut by Hamas, Gaza fishermen for the first time are allowed to fish twice as far from shore as before – six miles from shore instead of three.  Palestinian farmers who were being shot at by Israeli citizens if they approached within 1500 feet of the border fence can now farm their land to within of couple hundred feet of the border fence without being shot at.

This concession by Israel has strengthened the hand of the extremist Hamas, who refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist – while it weakened the hand of Mr. Abbas and his nonviolent approach, who year after year watches more Israeli settlements continuing to be built on Palestinian land. Palestinians can see that Mr. Abbas’ recognition of Israel failed to yield any improvement versus what Hamas just did by shooting its rockets.

The lesson of this latest flash war is that the more violent approach of Hamas yields results while the peaceful approach of Abbas and his Fatah party yields only stalemate for Palestinians.

In this new high tech space age of rapidly evolving missiles, that is the worst incentive Israel could be setting up for itself. It only encourages another round of violence by Hamas to get yet more concessions for their demands – concessions like allowing more construction materials into Gaza and reduction of the embargo that has crippled the economy since Hamas took political control. It is logical to conclude that it will take more violence to settle their land disputes since negotiations with Abbas have yielded nothing.

Had Israel not waited for a missile attack to allow Palestinian farmers access to their farm land and had allowed Gaza fisherman freedom to go beyond the limited three mile limit to practice their trade and given those rights in negotiations with Mr. Abbas, then the message would have been that talking works and violence doesn’t. 

In this case, the message Israel is sending to all Palestinians, and Arabs (as well as Persians like Iran) is the opposite – that violence works if they want concessions from Israel.  Only Mr. Netanyahu and the Israeli leadership has the power to change this situation. They could address the root of the problem by negotiating a two-state solution with someone like Abbas, and reward nonviolence.

If not, then Hamas has gotten the message -- violence works. And that sets up the next missile exchange somewhere down the road -- with more sophisticated weapons. 

Time is not on Israel’s side. Today it is the undisputed superpower in this exchange – its precision bombs, jets and drones are more than a match for the entire Middle East, especially against the simple rockets fired by Hamas that don’t even have guidance systems.

But what will happen if Israel fails to negotiate a two-state solution with leaders like Abbas until such time as Hamas has precision bombs, jets and drones – or its own “Iron Dome”? Can Israel afford to let it happen? 

Can Israel afford to continue on a path that rewards violence against it and punishes those who negotiate nonviolently?  My ship is in waters that almost led to a thermonuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia in the 1960’s.

Israel’s ship is in waters that could soon repeat what these Cuban waters experienced over 50 years ago unless it charts a new course.

Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD
Global American Series
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