Israel and Hamas have both lost
The Egyptian brokered cease-fire in Gaza may or may not hold, but this is an opportunity to assess who won what as a result of this carnage. Militarily speaking, “it is already clear that there have been no winners” according to the BBC’s defense correspondent Jonathan Marcus.
Given the sad predictability involved with this view only confirms what many said at the start of the Israeli operation. But is there a political winner? It is also clear that both Israel and Hamas have lost in this respect.
As usual, the West did its best to bend over backwards and allow Israel the leeway it needed against Hamas, despite the large number of women and children killed. But the Israeli slaughter of the innocents finally forced even the U.S., Israel’s staunchest supporter, into moral outrage.
Washington could not hold back in the end and referred to the deadly Israeli shelling of a U.N. school in Gaza, which was sheltering 3,000 displaced Palestinians, as “appalling” and “disgraceful.” This had a five megaton psychological effect on Israelis, showing them there is a limit beyond which they cannot push without serious condemnation from even those whose support they need.
Worse than this, however, Israeli actions, more than ever before, were likened across the world to those of Nazi Germany’s. This is unjustified of course, but few will be bothered about factual distinctions when they see Palestinian children killed with the same moral indifference among Israelis that Jewish children were killed under the Nazis.
Inhuman remarks about Palestinians uttered by some Israeli politicians, on the other hand, merely added grist to this mill. Israelis and Jews across the world supported this operation overwhelmingly, but there must be some who feel it is tragic to see the Jewish state being equated with Nazi Germany.
There must also be some concern that such analogies carry the germ of a revisionism, which may over time diminish the sense of historic horror over what befell the Jews in the past.
When it comes to Hamas, for all the sympathy it enjoys among radical Muslims, as well as Islamist governments like the one in Turkey, it too is a political loser in this crisis. It has ended up once again providing nothing but death and destruction to Palestinians and gaining little if anything in return.
Worst of all for Hamas is this conflict revealed just how isolated it is among Arab regimes. The simple fact is there is no sympathy for this group in Cairo, Amman, Riyadh or any other capital in the Middle East that matters, because of its radical Islamist outlook.
There must, therefore, be some in Gaza who regret having ever voted for it and who are wondering how much longer they can carry the burden that it has placed on them. There must be Palestinians who realize this group promises nothing unless it moves to a more reasonable track.
The main problem in this conflict remains injustices against the Palestinians in general and the siege of Gaza in particular. Hamas has failed thus far to have the siege lifted by militarily means. There is only the political track left and this can only be pursued under the Palestinian Authority, which the world accepts as its interlocutor, while Hamas takes a back seat.
Meanwhile Israelis have to realize they will never have peace until they meet the demands of the Palestinians, which the international community considers to be just. The prevalent right-wing mindset that has taken over Israel will reject this, of course.
But what is the alternative?
Horrible as it was to hear, we have even seen some right-wing Israelis suggesting what amounts to a kind of final solution to the Palestinian problem. That, however, is impossible. There is only one reasonable way out and Israelis have to realize this. Otherwise it will be more of the same down the line with little having been achieved, other than more bloodshed, in the end.