Fawaz A. Gerges
The Los Angeles Times
Now that the guns have fallen silent and the dust is settling over Gaza, it is time to revisit the received wisdom in Israel, the United States and some European quarters that Hamas is a monolithic, Al Qaeda-like terrorist organization bent on Israel's destruction and that, therefore, Israel has no choice but to isolate Hamas and use overwhelming force to overcome it.
In fact, there is substantial evidence to the contrary. Far from a monolith, there are multiple clashing viewpoints and narratives within Hamas. Over the years, I have interviewed more than a dozen Hamas leaders inside and outside the Palestinian territories. Although, on the whole, Hamas' public rhetoric calls for the liberation of all historic Palestine, not only the territories occupied in 1967, a healthier debate occurs within.
Huge freshly-printed posters were beginning to appear on billboards around Gaza City. The banners depicted masked fighters firing heavy machine guns or red-tipped rockets.
The war had ended just three or four days before. These were signs Gaza's fighting factions were still very much in business and keen to portray their campaign of the last three weeks as a victory against Israel.
CNN's producer in Gaza had been working his contacts. He's well acquainted with Gaza's underbelly.
The Smart Set
Say what you like about Israelis, they know how to play the game. I'm speaking of the humanity game. It's a game with specific rules and expectations in Western civilization. Its centerpiece, the very core of the game, is self-reflection. Demonstrating your humanity (since the Enlightenment, at least, but the roots go back to the beginning) is less about doing and more about reflecting on what you've done. The basic formula is already there at the Delphic Oracle: Know thyself. The trick of it, the reason that the humanity game is hard to play, is that the quest for self-knowledge does not lead to clarity, but down ever deeper into the muck. Knowledge, in the Western tradition, is very much about its limits. Knowing ourselves is thus partly about knowing the infinity of an enigma.
Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir is a “know thyself” kind of movie. It is obsessed with memory, and memory is the thread around which a self is built. You can't know yourself without memory. The problem is that Folman doesn't remember. Crucially, he doesn't remember anything from his youthful days in the Israeli army when he was part of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. He decides that he needs to remember, and tracks down a number of his fellow soldiers in order to reconstruct that past. The story is told in animated form. It's a nice move. It creates a distance from the reality of lived experience. It is like drifting through someone else's dream.
Stephen M. Walt
Many supporters of Israel will not criticize its behavior, even when it is engaged in brutal and misguided operations like the recent onslaught on Gaza. In addition to their understandable reluctance to say anything that might aid Israel's enemies, this tendency is based in part on the belief that Israel's political and military leaders are exceptionally smart and thoughtful strategists who understand their threat environment and have a history of success against their adversaries. If so, then it makes little sense for outsiders to second-guess them.
This image of Israeli strategic genius has been nurtured by Israelis over the years and seems to be an article of faith among neoconservatives and other hardline supporters of Israel in the United States. It also fits nicely with the wrongheaded but still popular image of Israel as the perennial David facing a looming Arab Goliath; in this view, only brilliant strategic thinkers could have consistently overcome the supposedly formidable Arab forces arrayed against them.
Program Note: Be sure to tune in for the latest on the situation in Gaza tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.
It is noon and things have really started to deteriorate. I just found out some bad news about our staff in Gaza and the events that are unfolding there now.
We just heard from the director of the Mercy Corps office in Gaza City. She told us that Hazar, one of our field coordinators, and her family are stuck in their apartment in Gaza City. Their building is surrounded by Israeli tanks and there is plenty of shooting going on in their area. They are seeking cover in their corridor from the bullets; the shelling of nearby targets blew out the windows in their apartment.
They are anxiously waiting for the cease-fire to take effect which was announced for today from 11:00 to 15:00 to seek refuge elsewhere. It is just past noon and the shooting has not stopped.
Editor’s Note: Osama Damo is deputy Gaza program manager with Save the Children. He, his wife and mother have now been displaced three times since the conflict began. They moved this week during to another three-bedroom apartment, where they now live with 15 other people, including five children.
Save the Children
We dread nightfall. That’s when it really begins. And the last few nights have been something else.
The bombing has been so loud — though fortunately not as close as it was to our last refuge. It continues all night long.
Last night the center of Gaza City was the target — including a large public park and the cemetery. The joke around town is that even the dead are not safe.
We sleep when we can. If one child awakes, they are all up, screaming for the rest of the night. Their mothers try desperately to calm them.
Editor's note: Watch Nic Robertson's report from the Israeli/Gaza border tonight at 10p.
The Daily Beast
Would the war in Gaza still be happening if we'd listened to George Bush? The Daily Beast's Reza Aslan on why Bush has every right to say "I told you so" when it comes to the Middle East.
The devastating war in Gaza between Hamas militants and the mighty Israeli army has once again raised a chorus of criticism about the foolishness of George W. Bush’s democracy agenda in the Middle East. “Another pillar in his crusade to spread democracy” is how Margaret Carlson, writing for Bloomberg, describes the rise of Hamas. But the truth is that whatever violence or instability may have resulted from the push to promote democracy in the Middle East, the solution to lasting peace, prosperity, and sociopolitical reform throughout the region, and especially in Palestine, is more democracy, not less.
It was four years ago that a bumptious George W. Bush, fresh from his stunning re-election, took the podium on a cold January morning in Washington, D.C., and laid out an audacious—some would say foolhardy—vision for his second term as president.
The Los Angeles Times
How to be stupid Hamas style:
Refuse to recognize Israel. Remind the world that the establishment of Israel in 1948 was accompanied by the often violent displacement of 700,000 Palestinians, but ignore the fact that more than 60 years have gone by, making it a bit late for a do-over. Ignore the fact that most Israelis weren't even born in 1948, and that Israel is recognized as legitimate by an overwhelming majority of the world's states. Keep insisting on its destruction.
Use suicide bombings and rocket attacks on civilian targets as a method of warfare. Don't stick to military targets. Instead, blow up civilians on buses and in cafes. Adopting a deliberate policy of war crimes and crimes against humanity helps ensure that few of the world's governments will want to go anywhere near you.
Get into vicious factional battles with fellow Palestinians. Why present a united front when you can fight with each other? Constant infighting gives the Israelis yet another reason to consider you a worthless interlocutor. And by driving rival party Fatah out of town, you can drive a wedge between Palestinians and give many Arab governments another reason to hope you fail.
Keep that cycle of violence going! The Israelis killed a Palestinian? Quick, fire a barrage of rockets toward Israel. You know they'll respond with even greater force. Be stubborn and keep up those rocket attacks! Israeli bombs can't tell the difference between your fighters and Gaza's schoolchildren. Let the civilians pay the price for your "brave" resistance.
How to be stupid Israel style:
Never pass up a chance to rub salt in open wounds. Keep on building settlements in occupied territory. Stuff like that. Ya know?
Undermine and isolate potential interlocutors who might be able to represent the Palestinians. First, destroy Palestinian Authority infrastructure and withhold funds and supplies needed for critical social services, thus helping to push ordinary Palestinians into the arms of Hamas, with its ample social services programs funded by Iran and private Arab donors. Then, when Hamas wins Palestinian elections, isolate Gaza and undermine Hamas.