World View: Egypt Rushes to Mediate Truce in Israel-Gaza War

World View: Egypt Rushes to Mediate Truce in Israel-Gaza War

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Hamas and Israel each demand retribution as conflict escalates
  • Egypt rushes in to mediate between Hamas and Israel
  • Greek protesters attack German official after slur on Greek workers

Hamas and Israel each demand retribution as conflict escalates

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a war doesn’t juststart on the day that somebody officially declares war. Thepreliminaries can go on for decades, with periods of low-levelconflict intermixed with periods of truce. But each period of truceis followed by another period of conflict more violent than theprevious one.

This alternation of truce and escalated conflict continues, until oneor both sides crosses a “red line” during a generational Crisis era, atime of heightened nationalism, anxiety and xenophobia. Such redlines are called “regeneracy events” in generational theory, becausethey serve to unite the country and regenerate civic unity for thefirst time since the end of the preceding crisis war. (“Basics of Generational Dynamics”)

Once enough of these regeneracy events occur, a full-scalegenerational crisis war begins. The level of nationalism andgenocidal violence continues to escalate on both sides, until the warends months or years later in an explosive climax.

In the last 24 hours, there have been two major regeneracy events inthe Gaza vs Israel conflict:

  • Israeli warplanes on Wednesday killed a top level Hamas official, Ahmed Jabari, the commander of Hamas’s military wing, as we reported in detail yesterday.
  • On Thursday, Hamas struck deep inside Israel with Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets. These rockets carry large payloads and can destroy a lot of property and kill a lot of people, but they have no guidance systems, and so they can’t be used to destroy a specific target. However, they have much longer range — 70-75 km — than the Russian-made Grad rockets, which can only go 40-45 km. Thus, the best targets for the Fajr-5 missiles are large dense areas, like big cities, where they can cause maximal damage and casualties. The missiles launched on Thursday targeted the sprawling city of Tel Aviv, but even with that large a target, they landed in the sea off the Tel Aviv coast.

My focus today is not the military aspects of this conflict, but thegenerational Crisis era, with extremely high nationalism, anxiety andxenophobia.

As long as Israeli warplanes were only targeting weapons stores, theGazans were prepared to live with it. As soon as it appeared thatIsrael has the capability to target and kill a high-level Hamasofficial, nationalism kicked in big time, and demands for revenge havebeen surging.

As long as Hamas’s Grad rockets were targeting small villages near theGazan border, with lots of empty spaces, Israelis were prepared tolive with it. But as soon as it appeared that Hamas has thecapability to strike the city of Tel Aviv, making millions of peoplevulnerable to attack, nationalism and anxiety have kicked in big time,and demands to put a stop to the attack have been surging.

Whether Hamas and Israel can somehow reach a truce before going to afull-scale crisis war remains to be seen. But if there is a truce,then it will be a temporary one, and at some point there will be newregeneracy events that will lead to full-scale war.

In the meantime, the rhetoric has become extremely belligerent.Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel takes pains toavoid civilians, while:

“It is important to understand one simple point: thereis no moral symmetry between the terrorists in Gaza and Israel.

They are committing double war crimes: they fire at Israelicivilians and hide behind Palestinian civilians.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas’sGaza government, has been trying to pressure Egypt to come into thewar on the side of Hamas:

“We call on our Arab brothers, and especially Egypt… and the new Egyptian presidency, to suppress this barbariccampaign in defense of Gaza and its people.”

Reuters and Al-Jazeera

Egypt rushes in to mediate between Hamas and Israel

President Barack Obama’s strategy during the last four years ofblaming President George Bush for failing to resolve the Mideastproblem, and then giving speeches that appear to reward Hamas’sintransigence while ignoring Israel, appears to have backfired.President Bush was respected by both sides, though hated by one side,because he made it clear that he would defend Israel while working fora two-state solution. President Obama, as far as I can tell fromreading the Mideast press, seems to be neither respected nor liked byeither side, with a statement like “he’s worse than Bush” appearingoften in opinion columns.

Similarly, there’s little respect on either side for the United Nations,Ban Ki-moon, or Kofi Annan. The latter was particularly ridiculed for hispointless farcical six point plan to end the Syria conflict.

Now, there is someone almost completely unexpected preparing tofulfill that role. Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi, a member of theMuslim Brotherhood, has gained credibility in the Mideast because ofhis willingness and ability, so far, to play a conciliatory role inhis own government and in the region. In his own government, heappears to have taken a number of shrewd steps to regain power fromthe military junta that took over after Hosni Mubarak was deposed, andthe demonstrations and violence in Tahrir Square seem to have cooledoff.

On Wednesday, he condemned Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari, buthe took the weakest possible diplomatic action that he could possiblytake, short of doing nothing: He recalled Egypt’s ambassador toIsrael. One can imagine much more confrontational steps — closingembassies, completely breaking diplomatic relations, moving troopsinto the Sinai — but none of those happened.

Furthermore, when the Chief of Morsi’s presidential cabinet was asked whetherMorsi planned to repudiate Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the responsewas as follows:

“No, not at all. Not at all, because we have declaredseveral times and repeatedly that we abide by our internationalcommitments. But respecting the peace treaty does not meanthey’re idle or indifferent to what is going on along our bordersand what is touching our brothers. And we cannot be indifferentto human sufferings. So we are abiding by our legal obligations,but we are active to help establishing real peace in thearea.”

Morsi is sending a high-level Egyptian delegation to Gaza on Friday,and has already spoken to both Hamas and Israel in phone calls. Morsihas a great deal of credibility right now, and it’s quite possiblethat Morsi will succeed, and that he will find a way to bring about atemporary truce before the conflict spirals into full-scale war.Al-Ahram (Cairo) and CNN

Greek protesters attack German official after slur on Greek workers

Greek protesters in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki physicallyattacked a German official attending a meeting on Greek-Germanrelations, forcing riot police to step in for protection. The attackwas apparently triggered by Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, a Labor official inChancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, who said that Greek cities shouldtry to cut back on employees, because it takes three Greeks to do thesame job as one German. After the incident Fuchtel issued an apology,saying that he had great respect for Greek workers. Deutsche-Welle and Kathimerini

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