Willfully attacking civilians is off-limits.Full stop. But can we stop pretending that Hamas has somehow “taken the Gaza Strip hostage”? It’s just not true:
Hamas… had been legitimized by the Palestinian citizenry in a series of local election triumphs and… in its overwhelming success in the 2006 elections… The Palestinian public understandably saw the Fatah establishment as corrupt, and sought an alternative. But in choosing Hamas, it was plainly not deterred by the Islamists’ commitment to the destruction of neighboring Israel, and their determined use of unthinkable means, including horrific suicide bombings, in pursuit of its goals. In the 2006 elections, Hamas won over 65 percent of the vote in the Gaza Strip, including five out of eight PLC seats in Gaza City, three out of five in Khan Yunis and all five seats in Jabalya.
That last part is a good point. We constantly hear about how Hamas won the 2006 election not because they advocated unending war against Israel but because the Palestinians were fed up with Fatah corruption. That’s not true of course. But even if it was – so what? The Palestinian public was distraught about stolen EU funds so they embraced pathological genocidal lunatics? That’s something people get to do now?
Let’s imagine that a coalition of genocidal Jewish extremists presented themselves as an “alternative” to the undeniably corrupt Olmert government. Now let’s imagine that they won. International media outlets would be howling about Greater Israel and Apartheid and Jewish Nazism. They certainly wouldn’t be searching for the nuance in those parties’ anti-corruption platforms. And they’d be right – voters don’t get to excuse genocidal nutjobs just because they also appreciate the virtues of clean government. You don’t get to vote for the KKK because you’re upset with bipartisan support for earmarks. I mean – you do if you’re the Palestinians. But still.
The last rally that Hamas held before Operation Cast Lead – the quite literally barbaric one where they mocked Shalit – was attended by 10% of the Gaza population. So I’m thinking that maybe there’s genuine support for Hamas in the area. And that there are real costs to pretending otherwise:
[P]ity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral. To pity the people of Gaza is to patronize them, in essence implying that they do not control their fate, the state of their government, or their own actions. It is to assume one of two things: Either that Gazans are too stupid to oust the cancerous Hamas presence in their midst, or that they are unable to do so… Hamas’ ultimate defeat must not be at the hands of the IDF, but rather, it is an endeavor that must be undertaken by Gaza residents themselves. After all, Hamas is the true reason for their misery. Those who believe that Gazans are capable of this should do away with their pity.
To be clear – again – none of this justifies attacking civilians. Even Hamas’s civilian supporters get to be somewhat insulated from the disastrous consequences of their moral and electoral choices. That’s just how civilized countries are supposed to conduct warfare. But to blame Israel while piteously maintaining that the Gaza population are merely victims of Hamas’s machinations – come on.
References and previously after the jump…
* Analysis: Hamas could not be deterred [JPost]
* Times Online: These Hamas Guys Are Actually OK Dudes, “Gaza Is A Secular Society” [MR]
* Hamas Mocks Shalit During Gigantic Rally: “I Miss My Mom And Dad” [MR]
* Don’t pity the Palestinians [YNet]
* Diplomatic Pressure Means The IDF Has Less Than A Week To Win [MR]
* Mere Rhetoric Evaluates Palestinian Opinion Poll, Walks Away Unsurprised
* Hamas Now Doing Everything Humanly Possible To Generate Gaza Civilian Casualties
* Hamas Smuggles Katyushas Into Gaza, Fires Them At Israeli Schools And Hospitals (Plus: Eight Mortars Fired At Israeli Civilians, One Scores Direct Hit)