The Israel-Palestinian conflict is one of the great obsessions of the international diplomat set. For decades they argued that if one could just get Israel to make enough concessions, peace would flow over the region like a nice warm milk bath.
Of course this line of reasoning was completely at odds with the many ancient rivalries and sources of conflict, but hey, it did have the virtue of putting Jews at the center of the regions problems. Also, it put the only functioning democracy on the spot. Let’s face it – more suasion can only work on moral people. Everyone know that appealing to Iranian or Arab notions of human rights is a waste of time.
This fantasy world (which is shared by politicians of the left and right) has come crashing down in recent years. As I noted earlier, the question of Israel is no longer a pressing issue for the people dying in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya – and the ones afraid of the war spreading into their own countries.
That being said, Hamas no doubt figured that if they did what they’ve always done – indiscriminately try to kill Israelis while using their own civilians as cover – they might generate sufficient media attention to wring concessions from Israel and boost their standing in the region.
Unfortunately for them, the Arab Street doesn’t care and most Arab leaders hate Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood more than Israel.
In addition, the world is a rather eventful place at the moment, making it difficult even for a news junkie like me to keep up on things. The United States – the prime target of any media campaign against Israel – is currently embroiled in its own political theater and doesn’t have time for anything else.
The media environment itself has changed in the last few years – it is hard to keep “the world’s attention” when there are so many other causes clamoring for the world’s attention. Hamas made the news cycle for 48 hours and then everyone stopped caring.
Israel’s leaders I think understand this. Israel has the logistics and depth to pursue a campaign that will last several months. By then, fighting in Gaza will be “just another war” – like it is in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine (and Sudan, Congo and Nigeria etc.).
That was why this new cease fire was a critical moment for Hamas. Thanks to a feckless FAA, they had managed to temporarily close Ben Gurion International Airport, effectively severing Israel’s air link to the world. No mean feat, that.
But by immediately (and brutally) breaking the cease fire, Hamas has made the clear case that they simply cannot be trusted in any way. Even the eternal diplomats are upset. After all, what’s the point of negotiating a cease fire when it gets broken before they can even complete the photo op? Have these people no decency?
Remember – most of the career diplomatists are a bunch of ego-driven self-centered fame-seekers who want a Peace Prize. They take these slights personally.
Hamas has just made it possible to Israel to refuse any further calls for negotiation. “Why bother? Their assurances are worthless.” In fact, Netanyahu reportedly told the White House to never second guess him again on Hamas.
News reports indicate that Israel is rotating its troops out of the combat zone and bringing in fresh forces. This allows their troops to keep up their morale while further sapping Hamas’ will to fight and exhausting the civilians who may now wonder why they are letting themselves be used as ablative armor by lunatics.
The Middle East is awash with armed fanatics at the moment – the marketplace is chock full of radical Islamist organizations vying for support. Hamas may have just destroyed their brand. After all, who want to go with the losers?