Surprising Support for Israel, not Hamastags: Israel, Palestine, Hamas
The current Hamas assault on Israel has lured the predictable coven of Palestinian nationalists, Islamists, Leftists, and antisemites from the woodwork to bash the Jewish state. But, more surprisingly, Israel is getting support, or at least restraint and fairness, from unexpected sources:
- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "Today we face the risk of an all out escalation in Israel and Gaza with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing."
- The Lebanese Internal Security Forces detained two persons for having fired rockets into Israel.
- Egyptian security forces seized 20 rockets on their to being smuggled from Gaza.
- Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, attended a Ha'aretz "peace conference" in Israel the day the current fighting began* and has infuriated Hamas by his willingness to continue to work with the Government of Israel.
- Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh demanded that Israel "stop its escalation immediately," but balanced this with calls for "the restoration of complete calm and avoidance of targeting civilians" and "the return to direct negotiations."
- François Hollande, president of France, gave Netanyahu the most vervent backing of any foreign leader when he assured the Israeli leader that "France firmly condemns the attacks" against Israel and expressed "the solidarity of France against the rockets being fired from Gaza. The Israeli government must take all necessary measures to protect its population against threats."
Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
The media too is displaying an unwonted fairness to Israel.
- The BBC published an article, "Are #GazaUnderAttack images accurate?" about pictures claiming to show the effects of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and found that "Some of the images are of the current situation in Gaza, but a #BBCtrending analysis has found that some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq."
- CNN's Jake Tapper asked former PLO legal advisor Diana Buttu about a tape of Hamas spokesmen encouraging civilians in Gaza to protect homes of Hamas' leaders with their bodies. When Buttu retorted by calling this a racist accusation, Tapper replied, "It's not racist, we have video … That's not racist, it's a fact."
Tapper and Buttu on CNN.
Overshadowing all these indications, but less surprising, Rasmussen reports that likely American voters by a nearly 3-to-1 margin (42 to 15 percent) blame Palestinians more for the conflict in Gaza than they blame Israel (according to a survey conducted on July 7-8, just as hostilities began). This is perhaps the single most important statistic about the conflict from outside the Middle East, certainly more so than Security Council votes.
Comments: (1) In large part the coolness toward Hamas results from the belated realization that Islamists pose a greater threat than Zionists. But media sobriety suggests that, in part, it also follows from a weariness of Hamas' vile tactics and revulsion against its hideous goal of destroying Israel. (2) As Hamas' goal in this war is political, this lesser support is of supreme importance to it. (July 11, 2014)
*July 12, 2014 update: My information about Abbas attending the Ha'aretz conference came from the Al-Monitor article linked to above, where it says that "At the height of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza early July 8, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas surprised the Palestinians by giving a speech at a peace conference organized by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz." But journalist Adi Schwartz has corrected this, writing me that Abbas did not appear at the event: "all Palestinian delegates who were supposed to attend, decided to boycott the conference. He wrote an op-ed for the paper."
July 13, 2014 update: "Egyptians Hoping Israel Will Destroy Hamas" reports Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute. Some quotes:
Azza Sami, Al-Ahram: "Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more like you to destroy Hamas."
Amr Mustafa, actor, addressing Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: "You must get rid of Hamas and we will help you." Hamas should stop meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries: "Pull your men out of Egypt, Syria and Libya. In Egypt, we are today fighting poverty that was caused by wars. We have enough of our own problems. Don't expect the Egyptians to give more than what they have already given. We've had enough of what you did to our country."
Al-Bashayer newspaper: "The standard of living for a Gazan citizen is much higher than that of an Egyptian citizen. The poor in Egypt are more in need than the poor in the Gaza Strip. Let Qatar spend as much as it wants on the Gaza Strip. We should not send anything that Egyptians are in need of."
When Amr Adeeb, a famous television presenter and journalist criticized Sisi's "silence" toward the war in the Gaza Strip, many Egyptians told him to shut up. One example: "Hamas is responsible for the killing of Egyptian soldiers."
Hamdi Bakhit, a former general: Israel should re-occupy the Gaza Strip because "this would be better than Hamas rule."
Amany al-Khayat, a television presenter, accused Hamas of depicting itself as a victim of an Israeli attack to get Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. "They just want us to open the Rafah border crossing. Hamas is prepared to make all the residents of the Gaza Strip pay a heavy price in order to rid itself of its crisis. We must not forget that Hamas is the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist movement."
Ahmed Qandeel, head of the Energy Studies Program at the Al-Ahram Strategic Studies think-tank, denounced the targeting of Israel's nuclear facility in Dimona as "idiotic" and warned this endangers the lives of Egyptians and Arabs: "Egypt must take precautionary measures." In response to this comment, an Egyptian wrote: "May God make the State of Israel victorious in its war against the terrorist movement Hamas during this holy month of Ramadan."
Mustafa Shardi, journalist: "No Arab country has done for the Palestinians as Egypt did. Why doesn't Hamas go to [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan? Where is Erdoğan when you need him? Why is he silent? If he opens his mouth they [Israel and the US] will hit him with a shoe. The Egyptian people are asking: Where are our people who were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip? Hamas should apologize for the 1,000 tunnels that were used to smuggle the resources of Egypt. They all have their own planes and accounts in Swiss banks."
Mohamed Dahlan, a former Palestinian Authority security commander, predicts the Egyptians will do nothing to save Hamas: "Egypt won't intervene to stop the war on the Gaza Strip because Hamas was conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt. Hamas was working with Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian army."
After Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Sisi to urge him to work for an "immediate ceasefire" between Israel and Hamas, he admitted that his appeal to Sisi had failed. According to Abu Toameh, Sisi (like many Egyptians) seems "to be delighted that Hamas is being badly hurt."
Khaled Abu Toameh's caption: "An uncomfortable moment during an April 2014 meeting between PA President Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi."
Hamas has remarked on the Egyptian attitude. A spokesman noted: "It's disgraceful to see that some Egyptians are publicly supporting the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip while Westerners are expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning Israel." Hamas leaders are using words like "betrayal" and "collusion."
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