Monday, January 05, 2009
Victor Davis Hanson: Surreal Gaza
The World Reacts
I spent today reading accounts of Gaza—NY Times, AP, Reuters, etc. There are no terrorists, just militants. Not much about past rocket attacks on Israel–most everything on the crowded conditions of Gaza. Iranian aid is rarely elaborated on; stories about quiet Arab support for defanging Hamas are likewise rare; common is the buzz about protests in Europe. In reaction, I jotted down the following random thoughts.
Gaza as Monte Carlo, perhaps Hong Kong, or is it to be Switzerland of the Mediterranean?
Gaza is a sort of lab experiment in the Middle East. Recall for a minute: the Israelis withdrew en masse, a so-called “retreat” that reverberated all over the Middle East. The West supported free and open elections that gave Hamas their legitimacy, such as it was. Gaza is strategically placed on the Mediterranean with a prime shoreline. It borders Egypt the traditional center of the Arab world. Hundreds of millions of dollars of Middle-East oil money, and Western relief donations have poured into the tiny state. Israeli clearly wants no more of it, and would love to let Gaza alone to be Dubai.
Hamas with its serial rocket attacks on Israel interprets all of the above not as an opportunity for prosperity, but as a stage one for the great accomplishment of its generation—the absolute destruction of the Jewish state. Its agenda is clear and unambiguous, and apparently shared by millions of elites in the West itself, without whose support Hamas could not exist. The common theme of Western press coverage is the misery of Gaza, never the misery of Gaza as a product of the garrison-state mentality of Hamas’s radical Islamic vows to wage perennial war against Israel.
Hamas counts on the fact that its own losses will be characterized as a “holocaust” and appear comparable in the Western media to something like Darfur or the slaughtering in Zimbabwe, or the usual carnage that we wake up to on the news. Take away Western press attention from Gaza, and Hamas is just another violent, illiberal regime that impoverishes its own people while seeking victim status in the West.
Is that too harsh? I don’t think so. Again, if it were to call a one-year truce with Israel, seek normal relations with Egypt, and swear off Iranian-Hezbollah terrorist aid while it sought to rebuild infrastructure, ensure security, and recruit foreign capital, then there would be no more world attention, and its cadres of hooded youth would lack the pizzazz of “militants.”