July 28, 2009

Culture War Replaces Missile War

In early 2006, shortly before the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, an Israeli intelligence officer predicted the future. “Missile war will replace terrorist war,” he told me when I spoke with him at the Ministry of Defense.

He was right. Just a few months later, Hizballah launched thousands of Katyusha rockets into Northern Israel and forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee south toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. South Lebanon was punished much more thoroughly than Northern Israel, but the Palestinians in Gaza nevertheless took Hizballah’s Baghdad Bob–style boasts of “divine victory” seriously. Hamas ramped up its own rocket war until fed-up Israelis gave Gaza the South Lebanon treatment this past December and January.

Hamas is a bit slower to learn than was Hizballah, but seven long months after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, the rockets out of Gaza have finally stopped. Israelis will no longer put up with indiscriminate attacks on their houses and schools. Many Palestinians in Gaza have likewise had their fill of Hamas’s self-destructive campaign of “resistance.”

The New York Times reports that Hamas has decided to wage a “culture war” instead of a rocket war because, as one leader put it, “the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break.”

Movies, plays, art exhibitions, and poems are Hamas’s new weapons. Hamas supporters, though, aren’t the only Palestinians in Gaza using art as a weapon. Said al-Bettar skewers Hamas every night at Gaza City’s Shawa cultural center in his popular play The Women of Gaza and the Patience of Job. “We were the victims of a big lie,” he says about the doctrine of armed “resistance.”

The Israeli intelligence official I spoke to deserves some credit for predicting the replacement of terrorist war with missile war. Hamas and Islamic Jihad had already fired rockets at Israel, but they hadn’t fired many, and neither the recent Gaza war nor the Second Lebanon War had yet started.

Since then a pattern has emerged that should be obvious to anybody with eyes to see, whether they’re an intelligence official or not. After Israeli soldiers withdraw from occupied territory, Israeli civilians are shot at with rockets from inside that territory. Another pattern has just been made clear. After Israelis shoot back, the rockets stop flying.

It has been years since Hizballah has dared to fire rockets at Israel or start anything else on the border. Hamas no longer dares to fire rockets at Israel either.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2009 10:05 AM
Comments

Put down the poem, and step away sloooowly....
Look out, he's got a couplet!

It should be fun watching them trying to rhyme with 'Zionist'.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at July 28, 2009 12:55 PM

I believe it is called "changing the incentives".

Posted by: Lorenzo Author Profile Page at July 28, 2009 1:18 PM

Are you sure it wasn't sweet words from Obugabe that did it?

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 12:17 AM

Lindsey, You made me laugh out loud (hard to do). Thanks!

Posted by: Gene Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 6:41 AM

Lindsey,

Here is Hamas's most obvious choice - Nazist.

Tell me it does not rhyme.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 7:09 AM

This will expose Hamas and their supporters quite quickly. If they attack with poems instead of terrorism, the war will end.

And if there is no war, what will Hamas' western supporters blame Israel for?

(They'll find something...)

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 7:37 AM

"We're the victims of the Zionists,
And that's why we're the cryin'-ists..."

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 8:12 AM

Another nice piece Michael

Posted by: ikez78 Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 8:45 AM

Interesting Michael as Hamas now wants Gazan women covered up while their children are educated in suicide bombing at local schools. I wouldn't be too quick to obit missiles however. Perhaps events in Iran figure into this equation.

Now if the Russians were helping Ahmadinejad, it doesn't seem to haven been much help for him at the moment. Show trials will further erode this situation.

What I still see in regard to the "culture war", is that Western Media is afraid to run stories about what leaders in Fatah and Hamas have been saying about "peace". If the Press would air these daily rants about their real intent, International reaction would follow. Americans would have some reservations about forcing a peace deal through with Arab partners quite open about their claims on "every inch" of Israel.

But then, that is what we have Spencer for......

Posted by: maxtrue Author Profile Page at July 29, 2009 12:22 PM

Yes, the party with more and better weapons can beat the part with fewer less-powerful weapons into submission. What a keen and valuable insight.

Posted by: Big Jilm Author Profile Page at July 31, 2009 10:28 AM

Big Jilm,

Cannot agree with you more, Strong is always stronger than Weak.

The only question remains to answer is why Weak keeps attacking Strong.

What you missed in the article however is not the obvious conclusion that Strong is always stronger than Weak, but hope that Weak finally got this simple truth.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at July 31, 2009 2:36 PM

On the subject of culture war and how Hamas is doing it:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3754965,00.html

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at August 1, 2009 7:17 AM

Michael, congratulations. This article in Commentary was linked at the Daily Alert Web site (Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs).

http://www.dailyalert.org/archive/2009-07/2009-07-30.html

Posted by: Petunia Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 6:02 PM

Another pattern has just been made clear. After Israelis shoot back, the rockets stop flying.

This would almost make sense, except for the seven months after the bombardment where the rockets were still flying. It's equally plausible to suggest that the rockets have stopped in response to an actual truce - you know, the kind where not only does Hamas stop firing rockets, but - a behavior we also haven't seen in years - Israel stoppes blowing up Hamas figures. You left that little detail out of this dipshit mythology of force wiping our problems away.

There have also been a steady flow of token and only semi-token concessions on the infinite near-total blockade of Gaza.

Other contributing factors include the absence of Fatah, giving Hamas no one else's negotiations to spoil for domestic political gain, the serious weakening of Arab consenus in demanding Palestinian resistance, and - last but in no way least - the replacement of the Bush Administration with someone prepared to act like some sort of deal other than "strip naked and lie facedown in the dirt, and maybe we won't shoot you", is possible. It's just human nature to prefer that. This is a direct result of Barack Obama's pressure on Israeli settlements as much as it is on anything dropped out of a plane by Israel.

In short, please avoid this stupid maevolence. This conflict has seen an endless supply of pain dished out to Palestinians since 2000. Hamas is on its fourth or fifth man in charge. The low-level operatives (um, remember the suicide bomber?), the civilians, and even the higher-ups have all been willing to allow themselves and their fellow Palestinians to eat a lot of missiles, tank shells, and bullets for almost a decade, all the while continuing to try to kill Israelis in return.

Whenever they keep fighting despite incentives not to in the form of blowing shit up, you get all pessimistic and violently rhetorical. But as soon as they show signs of changing, you go right back to triumphing the big stick.

The big stick is covering your eyes. There's more than Israel's scorched-earth air campaign at work here.

Days like this I'm glad that leechblock has begun to make it hard to get over here.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 7, 2009 6:24 AM

"It's equally plausible to suggest that the rockets have stopped in response to an actual truce - you know, the kind where not only does Hamas stop firing rockets, but - a behavior we also haven't seen in years - Israel stoppes blowing up Hamas figures. You left that little detail out of this dipshit mythology of force wiping our problems away."

I don't think he "left it out". He just didn't use it because it's a lie.

Hamas never stopped firing rockets until this year, and neither did Hizbullah before 2006. So we can scrap any scenario where the terrorists didn't fire but Israel did. It simply didn't happen.

Michael was and is right. Force did solve the problem.

Force is the only thing that works with the little Nazis.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 9, 2009 11:21 AM

I don't think he "left it out". He just didn't use it because it's a lie.

Hamas never stopped firing rockets until this year, and neither did Hizbullah before 2006.

You are ignorant. How the fuck do you know the truth or falsity of either of these statements? What does 'never stopped' mean? Is rocket firing a continous wavefront? Do you even know when either of these organizations started firing rockets? Please go run a google scholar search on "Hamas truce", then come back.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 11, 2009 11:28 AM

"You are ignorant. How the fuck do you know the truth or falsity of either of these statements?"

I was there.

I was one of the people Hizbullah fired rockets at before 2006.

How do YOU know the truth or falsity of your statements?

"What does 'never stopped' mean? Is rocket firing a continuous wavefront?"

Felt like it.

"Do you even know when either of these organizations started firing rockets?"

Yes.

"Please go run a google scholar search on 'Hamas truce', then come back."

You can do your own Google searches.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 12, 2009 5:35 AM
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