One common theme among government detractors is the accusation that the current administration is engineering a foreign conflict for the sole purpose of distracting the populace from domestic concerns. Nothing unites a people and gets them to overlook problems at home like a nice, juicy external threat.
It’s a non-partisan theme, too. It’s being used against George W. Bush over Iraq; it was used against Bill Clinton over the Balkans, Mogadishu, and various strikes against Al Qaeda; it was used against the first President Bush over the first Gulf War; and it was used against Ronald Reagan and his moves in Grenada — and those are just the administrations I personally recall clearly.
But never in history do I know of a government using this tactic so openly, so brazenly, so flagrantly, as the Palestinian Authority.
In the elections last year, the Palestinian people had a choice between Terrorists A (Fatah, a bunch of corrupt, stealing terrorists) and Terrorists B (Hamas, a bunch if Islamist terrorists). They’d given Fatah a chance, and they’d failed miserably to achieve much of anything besides persuading the world that they were “moderate” terrorists (and lining their own pockets), so they figured what the hell, let’s give Hamas a try.
In most civilized countries, when a party loses an election, they lick their wounds and prepare for the next race. Or they contest the election in the courts.
But when the political parties are also terrorists, they tend to react like terrorists: a low-grade civil war emerged, with in-fighting between the two killing Palestinians by the score — occasionally each other, frequently innocent bystanders.
Then someone (I think it was Hamas, but I’m not sure) got the bright idea: “Hey, why are we killing each other? We should find some common ground where we both agree — let’s go back to killing the Jews!” This is the one unifying element in Palestinian culture.
Well, “go back to killing Jews” is a bit inaccurate. Despite the frequently-touted “cease fires” and “truces” and the like, neither side had ever really stopped in the first place. It was just shuffled down as a priority.
Hamas, then, decided the best thing they could do to end the infighting was to resume the large-scale attacks on Israel. They figured that if they poked at Israel enough (translation: killed, wounded, or kidnapped enough Israelis), sooner or later the Israelis would hit back — hard — and then they could rally the Palestinian people to set aside their internecine squabbling and unite against the common enemy (translation: stop killing each other and go back to killing Jews).
So we have the current situation: an escalation of the rocket attacks on southern Israel, especially Sderot (which hasn’t stopped in years, despite all the truces and cease-fires), increased attempts at terrorist attacks, and in general going through the books for definitions of “casus belli” and giving ’em all a try.
So, what is the world’s response? Do they condemn Hamas for this cynical play? Do they state that the world will never reward such open aggression?
Nah. These are the Palestinians, after all. They can’t be held to the same standard as we do civilized people. They act that way because they can’t do any better.
It’s the Israelis that we can make demands of. So we have the situation now where the rest of the world that urges them to “show restraint,” to “avoid escalating the situation,” to “respond proportionally.”
I guess the theory is that if the Israelis just sit there and take it, eventually the Palestinians will grow bored with killing Jews and go back to trying to kill each other. Or, perhaps, the world prefers dead Israeli civilians over dead Palestinian terrorists.
When Israel pulled out of Gaza completely, it was an opportunity for the Palestinians to show just what they would do if left to their own devices. And they took it for that — the Gaza strip became the new front line for terrorist attacks against Israel, as they beat their plowshares into swords while demanding the rest of the world give them the food they were no longer reaping (as well as more swords).
“Restraint” and “proportionality” are nice, pleasant, civilized words. But they are more honestly translated as “let them kill you more slowly” when applied to Israel. And they certainly have not worked so far — unless the goal is to maintain a certain level of Jew-killing.
And the longer I watch the whole situation, the more I think that just might be the goal of a large part of the world.