I listen to the Today programme in the mornings, and I’m struck at the way IDF or Israeli Government spokespeople and the way Hamas apologists are treated. One group is subjected to harsh, aggressive questioning, while the other is asked gentle probing questions and allowed time to develop their ideas.
A good contrast is this morning’s interview with (the excellent and calm!) Mark Regev, where he was aggressively attacked about “knowing that children were going to die” and with not a word about Hamas firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel (maybe they know that no Israeli children could possibly be harmed with those action?); and with this interview with Alistair Crooke yesterday as he defends Hamas, and blames Israel.
The question is, what does “victory” mean? And I think the Western ideas of broken houses, of headquarters destroyed, of lines of communication interrupted are one side of the picture, but the other side of the picture, one which will affect the whole region, is really of a more intangible sense of an image. Hamas, after all, is not just a group of armed men, it’s an idea, it’s a way of living, it’s a way of envisaging the future. It’s very hard to destroy that. It’s about ideas, not buildings.
Israel has made it plain that “victory” for them will not be the destroyed stuff – they’re not there to be vandals – it’s a cessation of the rocket attacks on Israel, and the damage to buildings and so on is to secure that aim. But Crooke is right about Hamas – it is an ideology, the ideology of Islamism (which is clearly laid out in its Charter. Now, there could be an interesting discussion here about the Islamist ideology of Hamas, with its hatred of Jews and it’s calls for the destruction of Israel and imposition by force of Islamic law on the whole world, but no. Apparently it’s all Israel’s fault:
Humphrys:So they’ll become, remain, a symbol of defiance in other words?
Crooke: No, I think it will be more than that, it will revert to an archetypal sort of image of Islam verses not only Israel, but Islam verses the West. It will become an iconic element of an attack first of all on Hamas, also on Gaza, also on the Palestinians and finally on Islam itself, and we see that in much of the imagery. So when people look at it, they will look at the region, the conflict, particularly the involvement of some Arab states, they will look at what has happened and they will say the uncontrolled, if you like, use of civilians in this, the uncontrolled collateral damage visited on civilians…
Crooke: Shows that this is unconstrained war. The implications are very serious because any Islamist will say, “Oh if we’re going down that route, if you can do this…
Crooke: Then we’re heading for a very bloody and protracted conflict over the future of this region. “If you’re uncompromising, then maybe we need to be uncompromising in our reaction, too”
So no mention of the compromises made by Israel – total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. No mention of the stand made publically by Hamas against compromise. No mention that if Hamas had not been firing rockets at Israel for YEARS then there would be no invasion. No, it’s all Israel’s fault for defending it’s people.