No sooner had the guns fallen silent in Gaza than Hamas leaders, some emerging from Shifa Hospital, others from five-star Qatari hotels, proclaimed “victory” before a paid crowd of shills and an adoring media. Speaking from his plush surroundings in the pseudo country of Qatar, some 1,000 miles away from the battle, Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Mashaal comically noted that his terrorist group “dazzled the world with its victory and its endurance.” The perfunctory victory proclamation, following defeat at the hands of Israel, has become a cyclical, near ritualistic event in the Arab world.
Gamal Abdel Nasser did it in 1956 after Israel’s takeover of Sinai and routing of his forces stationed there. Anwar Sadat did it in 1973 following the encirclement of his armies by the Israel Defense Forces. Yasser Arafat did it in 1982 when his PLO gangsters were expelled from Lebanon and banished to different parts of the Mideast. Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah did it in 2006 when Lebanon was set back 10 years and Hamas has become proficient in these types of declarations, having performed identical victory rituals twice before, in 2009 and 2012.
Of course these silly, fantasy-like proclamations bare no rational resemblance to reality. In this current round, Hamas took a nasty beating. It lost at least 1,000 of its fighters and some 200 were taken prisoner. Its military leadership was decapitated in a series of punishing strikes. Its rockets were swatted out of the sky by Israel’s marvelous Iron Dome missile defense system and its rocket arsenal was severely depleted. Its command and control was left in tatters and its offensive tunnels, which took years to build and soaked up hundreds of millions of dollars, are no more. Most importantly, none of its demands, the creation of a seaport and an airport and the lifting of the blockade, were met.
The terms which Hamas had agreed to on day 49 of Operation Defensive Edge were precisely the same as those which the organization rejected during the initial days of conflict. To say that Hamas is back to square one would be inaccurate for Hamas emerges from this conflict with substantially less than what it had when it started.
Having been soundly defeated on the battlefield – 10 times since 1948 – Israel’s regressive enemies have adopted a new paradigm for victory – survival. As long as the aggressor survives the battle with his capital intact – more or less – he can declare victory over the Zionist infidels.
It is not a difficult threshold to meet given that the EU and other Western enablers will always seek to prevent Israel from effectuating complete and total victory. A former high level security official noted that had the Israel Defense Forces been unencumbered by political constraints, it could have conquered Gaza within a week and that assessment was echoed by others within the security establishment. Humanitarian concerns and negative world reaction foreclosed that option.
And so, as the brave Hamas groundhogs emerge from their underground shelters situated beneath Shifa hospital and scan the scale of destruction that surrounds them, they declare victory. For the average Westerner, this warped mindset is difficult to explain. But for those well versed in the convoluted machinations of the Arab Middle East, this mentality is a natural outcome of the negative influences that permeate the region.
The Arab world, fed on a steady diet of religious dogma, racist supremacism and xenophobia, where Jews are considered to be the descendants of apes and pigs and non-Muslims are deemed second class citizens, produces thought processes vastly different from those of more progressive societies. Reversals and setbacks, which in the West would produce cause for reflection and introspection, are routinely ignored in the Arab world. A cognitive dissonance of sorts has set in whereby every loss, no matter how complete or devastating, is explained as merely being the will of Allah and a bump on the road toward the path of victory over the infidels.
The guns have now fallen silent in Gaza. In Israel, things will quickly return to normal. Universities will impart knowledge, businesses will thrive and scientific innovation will continue apace. In Gaza too things will return to normal. Hamas will continue to divert humanitarian goods for war making and the Imams will continue preach hate and anti-Semitism, setting the stage for the eleventh round and yet another Arab defeat.
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