If Barack Obama and John Kerry’s bizarre intervention on Hamas’ behalf against Israel over the weekend seems confusing, it’s because you’re talking their boilerplate rhetoric about being “friends to Israel” who respect her “right to defend herself” seriously. Obama regards Turkey as a more valuable ally than Israel. Turkey is run by an increasingly deranged Islamist who is very eager to keep Hamas in the game. Obama is also miffed at Egypt, which overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government Obama once celebrated as a triumph of his “Arab Spring” foreign policy. Egypt under the Brotherhood would have been helping Hamas right now; instead, they’re blowing up Hamas tunnels that protrude into their territory.
Obama personally dislikes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Secretary of State Kerry’s brain floats in a numbing stew of anti-Western ideology that led him to describe Israel as an “apartheid state” when he thought nobody who disagreed was listening. Both Obama and Kerry are keen for some sort of “win” in the burning world Obama’s reckless foreign policy has created, and they know they’re not going to get it by browbeating the homicidal lunatics who run Hamas – Obama’s “smart power” idea boils down to leaning on the civilized people who feel compelled to at least pretend they take him seriously, while letting savages get away with murder.
All of these influences combined to bring forth a “cease-fire” proposal that amounted to Israel surrendering to Hamas. The deal would have done more than reset things to the status quo that existed before three Israeli students were murdered in cold blood, the Israelis went into Gaza to arrest the perps, and Hamas responded with a shower of random rockets at Israeli civilian areas. Hamas would have been rewarded for its brutal terror attacks and evil human-shield tactics, with the lifting of the Gaza naval blockade. That would make it much easier for Hamas to take delivery on the North Korean weapons they’ve secretly purchased.
Getting that blockade lifted is a high priority for Obama’s true friend and ally in the Middle East, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. Turkey is getting ready to send another terror flotilla to run the blockade in support of Hamas, and this time it will supposedly have Turkish military support, which could lead to a naval battle, or perhaps even war between Turkey and Israel.
Obama and Kerry want to hand Turkey and its terrorist-supporting partners in Qatar a victory without putting them through all that unpleasantness. According to the Jerusalem Post, Obama is actually a bit peeved at Erdogan for throwing gasoline on an already incendiary situation, and his once-cordial relationship with the Turkish leader – by some accounts, one of the few world leaders who actually seems to like Obama personally – has cooled a bit:
Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser on Islamic affairs in the office of the American secretary of defense, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday that the real issue in the ongoing conflict is that Turkey and Qatar are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in their goals.
???[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood long before he was prime minister,??? Rhode said.
It should now be clear to all that Erdogan ???is now out of the bag,??? Rhode said, adding that US President Barack Obama does not speak to the Turkish leader anymore despite previously describing him as one of his closest friends among the world???s leaders.
???Erdogan is doing whatever he can to help Hamas,??? he said, asserting that it will only hurt the Palestinian people in the end.
Obama’s “smart power” means following the path of least resistance. He appeases and capitulates to get foreign crises off the radar screen, viewing them as annoying distractions from the “transforming America” project he prefers to focus on. That makes Obama the perfect patsy for “asymmetrical warfare,” which is all about becoming a bloody nuisance and annoying civilized people into making concessions. Hamas can’t defeat Israel, but they can keep making life miserable until they get what they want, piece by piece. Hamas has demonstrated that no amount of dead Palestinians will dissuade it, and they’re not going to recoil from a round of harsh newspaper editorials or finger-wagging from the United Nations or U.S. State Department, so the “smart power” calculus calls for going to work on Israel until they buckle under.
In the process, the basic argument of the terrorist is accepted, and their tactics are validated: we’ll keep hurting innocent people until we get what we want, and we can never be permanently defeated, so this only ends when we win. It’s a gruesome upgrade of the childish tactic of screaming until the grown-ups give you at least part of what you wanted. Indulging this tactic from children is bad parenting. Indulging it from brutal terrorists is an invitation to further bloodshed. The terrorists know their human-shield tactics will work, so they’ll redouble their efforts to put civilians in front of their rocket launchers, striking at Israel with impunity and howling bloody murder when retaliatory strikes kill the people Hamas has put in harm’s way. They’ll also have every reason to escalate their bloody atrocities in the future, knowing that no matter what they do, they’ll get a reset to the status quo afterward. Escalation is the logical conclusion when terrorists are satisfied their basic strategic model is sound.
Writing at Haaretz, Avi Shavit explains that Benjamin Netanyahu actually represents the more moderate elements among Israel’s defenders, looking for a big strategic victory over Hamas that would stop short of their total destruction. There are significant voices in the Israeli military who want to go further than that. Obama and Kerry’s ham-fisted intervention on Hamas’ behalf might tip the balance of this argument away from the moderates:
Until last weekend, the moderates held the upper hand. They felt the military achievements of Operation Protective Edge were rather good: The Iron Dome system intercepted the rocket attacks on Israel; the air force caused enormous and horrible damage in the Gaza Strip; and the ground forces destroyed 10 out of 12 offensive tunnels that threatened the Israeli communities near Gaza. At the same time, Hamas??? strategic capabilities were eroded somewhat, and the pressure on its leadership grew stronger. With proper management, the military success could have been translated to a certain extent into a significant diplomatic victory: The Egyptian initiative.
But over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything. Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a ???strategic terrorist attack.??? His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic. It put wind in the sails of Hamas??? political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want.
Another Haaretz piece by Chemi Shalev explains, “Nothing riles the White House more than the appearance that Israel is supplying ammo to Obama’s political enemies,” as it did by rejecting Kerry’s cease-fire proposal. This is personal for thin-skinned Obama now, and that’s enough to pull him away from his golf outings and fundraisers to make trouble for Israel.
The New York Times does its part to pitch in for Hamas by writing that they’re actually winning the current conflict. Notice that one of the Hamas victories the Times writes about, the cancellation of flights into Ben Gurion airport, was a gift from the Obama Administration:
Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that dominates theGaza Strip, has more to boast about in its current 20-day battle againstIsrael than ever before. Forty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed in fierce fighting. Gunmen infiltrated Israel through tunnels five times. Rockets repeatedly rained over Tel Aviv, and one even led most airlines to halt flights into Israel???s only international airport for two days.
As added leverage for cease-fire negotiations, Hamas seems to have at least the dog tags and perhaps remains of one of the Israelis killed in combat. Internationally, there is both mounting outrage over the hundreds of civilian Palestinians dead and growing consensus that any cease-fire deal should include Hamas???s demands for lifting trade and travel restrictions on Gaza and investing in its economy and infrastructure.
Yet Hamas shows little readiness to declare victory, as it did only 20 months ago, based largely on a single rocket hitting an apartment building in a Tel Aviv suburb. Analysts attributed this apparent intransigence to a fractured leadership, redrawn regional alliances, the sharp downturn in Gaza???s condition and a sense within Hamas that this time the fight is for its very existence.
The Times is unwittingly making the case for more aggressive Israeli action. In a conflict like this, terrorists win all ties. A return to the status quo is a victory for Hamas. At a minimum, Israel has to take that terror tunnel network down. The conflict escalated significantly after those tunnels were used to launch an aborted attack on an Israeli community. The Israeli military knew such escalation would come with casualties for their forces, as they switched from an air campaign to brutal close-quarters fighting. They went ahead anyway, because they know how dangerous those tunnels are… especially if they might soon be used to move some very special munitions from Iran or North Korea.
Hamas wasn’t all that interested in ceasing fire over the weekend, at least until the ass-kicking from Israel resumed, at which point a few Hamas shills started making noises about how it might be a good idea to take a break after all. (It’s grimly amusing to hear them bleating about violence on Muslim holidays when they were preparing to use their terror-tunnel network to launch bloody massacres on Jewish holidays.) It’s back to business in Gaza today, as Fox News reports:
Israeli jets resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas rocket fire hours after the United Nations Security Council ratified a draft statement early Monday calling for a cease-fire in the region.
Israel’s military said it struck two rocket launchers and a rocket manufacturing facility in central and northern Gaza after a rocket hit southern Israel. The rocket caused no damage or injuries.
Earlier, the Israeli military said it had not carried out any attacks in Gaza since 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, but that troops on the ground were pressing on with efforts to destroy the cross-border tunnels constructed by Hamas for attacks inside Israel.
The military said it opened artillery fire on Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza in response to the rocket fired at Ashkelon, said the office of Israel’s military spokesman. “Quiet will be met with quiet,” the office statement said.
The United Nations is pushing for a cease-fire on much less obnoxious terms than what Obama and Kerry wanted:
In New York, the Security Council adopted the presidential statement calling for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” as Muslims began celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
The statement calls for both Israel and Hamas “to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond.” It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.
The statement also called on both sides to begin to “engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire,” based on a proposal previously put forward by Egypt. Hamas has rejected previous Egyptian proposals for a truce in the region and insisted that any cease-fire agreement must include the lifting of a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.
The resolution was drafted by Jordan, the Arab League’s representative on the Security Council. The text “expresses grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties,” though it does not call for the Israeli military to pull out of the territory.
By the way, U.N. inspectors discovered a second school built by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stuffed full of Hamas rockets. “How many more schools will have to be abused by Hamas missile squads before the international community will intervene?” asked an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman. “How many times can it turn its head the other way and pretend that it just doesn’t see?”
Given that the missiles from the first Hamas School of Rockets were effectively returned to Hamas by the U.N., I think those are rhetorical questions. Statements from the Obama White House in support of Israel’s right to defend herself are likewise rhetorical. Team Obama just wants this to be over, and they know there’s no point in asking the Palestinian terrorists to end it.
Update: Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas’ founder, defected from the group to work with Israeli security services and became a tireless critic of the terrorist organization. Here he is on CNN, making many of the same points I raised above. The most chilling part of the interview comes when Yousef says Hamas sees the destruction of Israel as but one large step toward its true ultimate goal.
Update: Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri claims Israel has only been able to destroy a “fraction” of the terror gang’s tunnel network, in a statement translated by MEMRI and published by the Jerusalem Post:
“We are convinced that our people are on the brink of liberation,” Masri said.
He continued by saying, “The Zionist enemy declared its ground war to destroy the tunnels but [we], the thousands of mujahideen from the al-Kassam Brigades (Hamas military wing) who dug these tunnels with their fingernails say that the Zionist enemy has reached only a fraction of these tunnels – [and we] will dig many more God willing.”
Regarding the heavy toll inflicted on Hamas and the Gaza Strip so far by the fighting, Masri claimed, “Even while the battle is being waged, the resistance is recuperating its military losses.”
Triumphalist rhetoric aside, I’m inclined to believe him. If Barack Obama gets his way, that marvelous tunnel network will be preserved for use in future terrorist attacks. Too bad all that money and effort was poured into digging these tunnels and stocking them with weapons, instead of doing something positive for the Palestinian people. Reportedly Hamas stretched its tunnel-digging dollars by employing child labor, leading to the deaths of at least 160 children during their big “public works” project. I guess if enough children get killed building terrorist infrastructure and shielding missile sites, you don’t have to worry about building schools. You can even take some of the schools other people built for you, and turn them into munitions dumps.
Update: The horrible deeds of Hamas are not without some comic relief. Israeli leftists staging a big “anti-war” rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night had to disperse when their pals in Hamas “unilaterally ended a humanitarian truce” and showered them with rockets. A Sky News reporter got a little surprise when Hamas cut loose with a rocket from right behind her during a live shot:
Rest assured that no matter how hard Hamas makes it to ignore what they really are, their active sympathizers and befuddled Western journalists will still rise to the challenge.