Remembering the mass Jewish suicides at Masada may give us insight into the willingness of Hamas to sacrifice the lives of Palestinians in a fanatical cause.
Masada was not a unique event of nationalistic, fanatical sacrifice. The use of suicide as tool to resist the Romans is very much the case for all modern anticolonial war fare.
McNamara told the (North) Vietnamese foreign minister that they could have had both their independence and their unity if they just gave up communism. But in the eyes of the Vietnamese, things looked completely different. As soon as they managed to drive out the French, in marched the Americans. Colonialism simply never stopped. The choice was between a corrupt U.S.-sponsored regime in the south and a horrific war with the north. The carnage in Vietnam, fighting the French and then the Americans was unimaginable. “A Hamas warrior who swears by the Quran is no different from a Vietcong reciting The Internationale before leaving for battle. (adapted from essay by Naom Sheifaz)
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has said he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying that Israel and a state of Palestine cannot coexist.
“When Israel practically commits itself to withdraw from Gaza completely and the West Bank without any settlements, and if we have Jerusalem as our capital and the return of the refugees is there, then we will reach peace,”
“Was (the American Revolution.peaceful? Did you not kick the British out? ………..we don’t like to kill our sons and daughters. But if you don’t have the peace then the resistance is legitimate. So the world has two choices: they need to help us peacefully reach [statehood] or we will expel this occupation from our land.”
Meshaal said Hamas has the conviction necessary to expel the Israelis from the West Bank and Gaza by force.
Meshaal is a fanatic, but he has precedents in Israel’s own founding. Emerging from the Shoah, every Jewish life was precious. That sacrifice created a grim determination that Jews should never again die in vain. Israel’s wars of independence continued even after one percent of the Israelis died in the 1948 war after the nascent state was invaded by the Arabs.
Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli writing in 72 magazine has exchanged emails with Gazas in the past few days. “These are people who don’t care much for Hamas in their everyday lives, whether due to its fundamentalist ideology, political oppression or other aspects of its rule. But they do support Hamas in its war against Israel; for them, fighting the siege is their war of independence. Or at least one part of it.” He quotes one Gazan, “If we had planes and tanks to fight the IDF, we wouldn’t need to fire rockets.”
Sheifaz obviously shares the pain of the Gazans, but he tries “to understand that bombing Gaza will not change their minds. …. Israelis, both left and right, are wrong to assume that Hamas is a dictatorship fighting Israel against its people’s will. Hamas is indeed a dictatorship, and there are many Palestinians who would gladly see it fall, but not at this moment in time. Right now I have no doubt that most Palestinians support the attacks on IDF soldiers entering Gaza; they support kidnapping as means to release their prisoners (whom they see as prisoners of war) and the unpleasant fact is that most of them, I believe, support firing rockets at Israel.”
So, this is the challenge. Unless Israel literally exterminates Hamas, this war will not end. A cease fire will be followed by more war. The near term end point is very difficult, Israel must literally replace Hamas by supporting a credible leadership that offers the Palestinians the same reward the Israelis themselves and the Vietnamese got after their wars for independence. The idea that an end to Hamas’ rockets and tunnels will bring freedom — is not trustworthy. Palestinian self rule simply never happens.
Sheifaz continues “Israelis are convinced they are fighting a terror organization driven by a fundamentalist Islamic ideology. Palestinians are convinced Israelis are looking to enslave them, and that as soon as the war is over the siege will be reinforced. Since this is exactly what Israel intends to do, as our government has repeatedly stated, they have no reason to stop fighting.”