Monday, June 4, 2018

Hamas in the service of Israel

Hamas Rule in Gaza Isn’t the Enemy of the Israeli Right, It's the Loyal Servant...

Salman Masalha ||

Hamas in the service of Israel

Pundits say the government has no clear policy in the Gaza Strip. They’re wrong. It’s true that when Benjamin Netanyahu was in the opposition he declared, as the head of Likud, that if he came to power he would bring down the Hamas government; that Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, before becoming defense minister, said that within 48 hours on the job he would arrange for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to meet with 72 virgins in heaven; and that Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett issued hollow pronouncements. But all that was just lip service, for the sole purpose of appealing to Israel’s military machismo, which in the future will drive the ignorant Israeli masses to the polls in droves, to put the right ballot in the box.

Lest we forget: Hamas rule isn’t the enemy of the Israeli right. Au contraire, it’s the loyal servant of all the right-wing governments. Since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War, all Israeli governments have devoted all their time and energy to fighting the Palestinian national movement, which gained momentum due to the occupation. In that context it’s worth mentioning that since the late 1970s, on the advice of various Arabists, there have been several abortive attempts to create a local alternative to the PLO, in the form of the Village Leagues.

The Hamas movement, which now controls the Gaza Strip, was founded with the encouragement of Israeli governments as an Islamic counterweight to the nationalist movement led by the PLO. The Islamist golem that for years turned against its creator — that’s already another story.

Given that this is where things stand, the Israeli right would do well to find the silver lining in the cloud that is the Gaza Strip. It’s perfectly simple. The Hamas government is securing the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords are supposed to be a single political entity. As long as Hamas rules in the Strip, no Palestinian political entity exists that can conduct negotiations, that can pass binding resolutions decisions and impose them on the Palestinians living within the borders of the entity. As a result, the Israeli right can argue that there is no Palestinian partner with which it can negotiate an end to the conflict.

The Palestinians thus played straight into the hands of the Israeli right, giving birth to a two-headed creature that is increasingly entrenching itself without any hope of a normal life.

Recently, in the wake of the hospitalization of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the talk of a possible successor, some signs of the delegation of authority to a few individuals in the Palestinian Authority have emerged. If that does indeed happen, then that part of the Palestinian body — the West Bank — will also grow multiple heads. The Palestinians will find themselves in an impossible situation: Too many chiefs means too many pointless internal conflicts within the divided Palestinian creature.

In such circumstances, the Israeli right will go from victory to victory. It will continue down its ancient road. It will continue to steal Palestinian land for the settlements and to build roads for settlers that bypass Palestinian communities — until the complete blockage of the respiratory passages and the resultant death of the strange Palestinian creature.

If the Palestinians seek life, they must perform a quick operation and leave the Palestinian body, which in any case suffers from chronic illnesses, with a single head. A single head that will make decisions, give orders and confidently lead the Palestinian body.

Had the Palestinians been blessed with a fertile political imagination, they would have chosen Marwan Barghouti as the successor to the Palestinian president and Salam Fayyad as prime minister. If they do so, the entire world will support them. If not, their situation will go from bad to worse.
Haaretz, June 4, 2018

For Hebrew, press here

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Israel and Iran: War Games

As each side calls the other a Satan, Iran can continue to entrench its influence in the Arab world and Israel can continue to occupy Palestine unhampered

Salman Masalha ||

Israel and Iran: War Games 

The airstrikes attributed to Israel deep inside Syria, aimed at weapons shipments to Hezbollah or at Iranian bases and missile stocks, and the launching of an Iranian drone into Israel have been nothing but war games, with their boundaries set in advance. This is a cat-and-mouse game played by Iran and Israel.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which total war erupts between Iran and Israel. Such a war, if it broke out, would sow devastation and exact an intolerable toll in human lives.

It doesn’t seem likely that the ayatollahs in Tehran and their counterparts in Jerusalem are unaware of these destructive implications. Such a war could draw in other countries in the region and require the intervention of the big powers to stop the destruction. Therefore, the scuffle between Iran and Israel must be viewed as war games that serve the purposes of both sides. Israel and Iran need each other because each fulfills the other's goals.

Iran needs Israel in order to expand its sphere of influence across the Arab countries in the region, because as long as Israel maintains its occupation in Palestine, Iran can keep feeding the Arab world declarations about the Little Satan and the Zionist entity that must be annihilated. It well knows the intensity of anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab world.

Thus Tehran, without much effort, can show people in these countries that their leaders are incompetent. Iran continues to gain; it can send out its long tentacles and further entrench its influence in the Arab world.

Iran isn’t doing anything new. It learned these games from Arab leaders who have used the Palestinian issue to block any demand for freedom by their citizens. The Palestinian problem has helped perpetuate the rule of Arab tyrants.

Israel also needs Iran. Just as Iran calls Israel the Little Satan (compared to the great American one), Israel also portrays Iran as the devil incarnate.

Portraying Iran as the Great Satan fits the way some Arab leaders perceive the danger of the ayatollahs trying to undermine their regimes. This has also led to the prevailing view on the Israeli right that seeks a regional peace agreement that includes “moderate Sunni states” as defined by Israel. The big Iranian devil serves the interests of Israel’s right, letting it push aside dealing with the Palestinian problem, portraying it as less pressing. Israel can claim that the conflict with the Palestinians isn’t the main issue needing resolution on the road to establishing a new order in the Middle East.

Thus there’s some mutual back-scratching in these war games. Iran can continue to entrench its influence in the Arab world and Israel can continue to occupy Palestine unhampered and without international pressure to end the occupation. This in a nutshell is all there is to the game of conflict theory guiding Iran and Israel. The problem is that sometimes war games get out of control.

Haaretz, May 8, 2018

For Hebrew, press here

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  • الحلم

    أنّي في سجن جدران بيضاء
    حيث لا يعرفني أحدٌ، وأصواتٌ
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    جمجمتي اللّاهثة.
    تتمة الكلام

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