World View: Mideast War or Peace? Depends on What Hamas Wants

World View: Mideast War or Peace? Depends on What Hamas Wants

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Hamas says that all Israelis are now targets
  • Hamas will decide whether it’s war or peace

Hamas says that all Israelis are now targets

Several Palestinian spokesmen that I heard on Tuesday on the BBC andal-Jazeera said that any Israeli, man, woman, or child, is now a targetof Hamas, since Israel has been “illegally” occupying Palestinianterritory since 1948. 

Hamas has been trying, in fact, to make every Israeli citizena target by launching hundreds of missiles into Israel fromGaza. Some of these are Syrian-made M302 rockets thatcan reach as far as Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, much farther thanHamas’s capability in the past. 

This has resulted in a war of air attacks. Israel is retaliatingwith its warplanes by attacking hundreds of suspected rocketlaunch sites in Gaza. 

Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) called up 1,500 reservists on Monday andon Tuesday announced that it would begin calling up 40,000 morereservists in preparation for a possible ground invasioninto Gaza. 

This does not imply that a ground invasion is imminent. It will takea number of days or several weeks to make all the preparationsnecessary for a ground invasion. In fact, Israeli officials havesuggested that they’re proceeding slowly in order to give Hamas room tostand down. Jerusalem Post and BBC andJerusalem Post

Hamas will decide whether it’s war or peace

First, I have to remind long-term Generational Dynamics readers thatthe very first major analysis that I wrote was in May 2003, whenPresident George Bush issued his “Mideast Roadmap to Peace,” which called for aPalestinian state by 2005, side-by-side with Israel. In thatanalysis, I wrote that the Mideast Roadmap would fail, and that infact the Mideast was going to re-fight the 1948 war between the Arabsand the Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and thecreation of the state of Israel. I said that this war would bedelayed as long as the survivors of the 1948 war, particularly YassirArafat and Ariel Sharon, were alive, because they remembered thehorrors of that war and would do everything possible to keep thosehorrors from being repeated. 

There have been four wars since then: the war between Israelis andHezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon’s soil in 2006; the war betweenPalestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008 which led toHamas controlling Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel andHamas in Gaza early in 2009; and the war between Israel and Hamas inGaza in November 2012. 

However, none of these wars spiraled out of control because, as thesaying goes, cooler heads prevailed. And those cooler heads wouldmost likely be survivors of the 1948 war. 

But cooler heads are disappearing as the years go by and thesurvivors die off. More and more, younger generations are determiningpolicy, and these are not cool heads. In the last weeks, we’ve seenyoung Israelis call for “Death to Arabs” on social networking sites,and we’ve seen what are undoubtedly younger generations ofPalestinians rioting in the West Bank and shooting off rockets inGaza. 

More and more, you hear Palestinian leaders say that they haveno desire or motivation to seek peace. (The major exceptionis Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who isalso a 1948 war survivor.) 

This is especially true in Gaza. Hamas used to have a friend inEgypt, but the new government under Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi considersthe Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist group and sees Hamas, whichis an offshoot of the Brotherhood, in the same way. Hamas used tohave a friend in Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Erdogan has toomany of his own problems, especially with Syria. Hamas used to havefriends in Syria and Iran, but those friendships became diminishedwhen Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad began his “industrial strength” campaign against Sunni Muslims. Hamas just became part of aclearly a partner in name only, with little real influence in thejoint government. 

So Hamas really has no friends left, and Gazans deeply resentthe “Gaza prison” that they live in. So there’s little or nodesire, especially among young people, to show restraint inattacking Israel. 

Undoubtedly many Gazans want a war with Israel, and undoubtedly manyfeel that they can win a war with Israel, when it becomes a warbetween Jews and all Arabs. If all Arabs join in, then thosesentiments are undoubtedly right, as you can see by comparing populations. Israel has a population of 7.8 million. The Arabnations and territories that adjoin Israel include Gaza – 1.8 million; West Bank – 2.7 million; Lebanon – 5.9 million; Jordan – 7.9 million; Syria – 18.0 million; and Egypt – 86.9 million. 

So that’s Israel’s 7.8 million versus 123.2 million Arabs in theadjoining countries. There’s little doubt who would win that war.And when one of the Palestinian television commentators said onTuesday that Israel had no right to exist because it was onPalestinian land, he was saying that the 1948 war would be re-fought, andthat this time the Arabs would win. 

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that the Mideast isheaded for a major war, refighting the 1948 war between Arabs andJews, is 100% certain. I said this in 2003 in commenting on PresidentBush’s Mideast Roadmap to Peace, and I’ve said it repeatedly sincethen, especially during the recent farcical “peace process” engineeredby John Kerry and the Obama administration. 

So now Israel and Hamas are headed for some kind of imminent conflict.Will it spiral into a full-scale war between Arabs and Jews? TheIsraelis don’t want that, because they know they would almostcertainly lose. The Israelis can only hope that some of the Arabsturn against each other. So whether it’s war or peace is really up toHamas and the Palestinians. The groups launching the rockets intoIsrael certainly want war, but there are still a few cooler headsaround, even in Gaza. These full-scale wars have to come in their owntime, and it may not yet be the time. 

A full-scale war between Arabs and Jews is coming with absolute 100%certainty. But whether it happens “this time” or “the next time” orwill happen. Times of Israel and International Middle East Media Center (Gaza)

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