Israel has finally struck back against the terrorist enclave of Gaza after having 120 rockets fired at it since Saturday and over 700 this year alone. For now, the Obama administration is rhetorically supporting Israel, but the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is doubling down on its support for Hamas, Gaza's ruling terrorist organization, and has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel. U.S.-based Islamists and their non-Muslim allies can be counted on in the ensuing days to pressure the administration to throw Israel under the bus in favor of the Islamist rulers of Egypt. If Egypt takes action, the administration will have to choose between its relationship with Israel or its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. There is no middle ground to straddle.
The Israeli Defense Forces struck 100 terrorist targets, and the Iron Dome missile defense system took out 28 rockets before they landed in Israel. The campaign began with a precision strike on a car carrying Hamas military chief Ahmad Jabari, the mastermind of the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Video of the strike shows it was designed to minimize civilian casualties. The IDF tweeted, “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leader, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.” Israel is also threatening a ground operation into the Gaza Strip.
Hamas says the initial strike “opened the gates of hell” and it will fight back. With about 35,000 fighters, that’s no idle threat. Senior Hamas leaders say they are considering firing long-range rockets at Rishon LeZion, a city 7 miles from Tel Aviv. They are also contemplating carrying out suicide bombings and assassinations and are in talks with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other Gaza-based terrorists like the Popular Resistance Committees and Palestinian Islamic Jihad about their response. The involvement of the latter is significant because its alliance with Iran remains solid. The relationship between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran has been strained because they are on opposite sides in Syria.
Egypt has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood warns that Israel will not go unchallenged like it did during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. It promises “swift Arab and international action to stop the massacres”—massacres that never happened. The Brotherhood said the situation is different now because of the Arab Spring and Egypt “will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past.”
Egyptian President Morsi will be under increasing pressure to take action and its political benefits will be tempting. The Brotherhood’s popularity in Egypt is declining but a new poll shows that 77% of the public favor dissolving the peace treaty with Israel, up from under 25% about three years ago.
Opponents of Israel will accuse it of destroying the non-existent peace process. On the contrary, the Israeli strikes, especially the one on Jabari, are necessary for progress towards peace to happen. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and in September 2010, Jabari threatened to torpedo peace talks by increasing attacks. The Hamas charter even says, “The time will not come until the Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
The political pressure on President Obama to demand a ceasefire will grow quickly. Anti-Israel forces on the left will make their voices heard. Muslim-Americans were a part of the coalition that won him re-election with over 85% voting for him, according to a survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Anti-Israel advisors to the administration, especially those with Islamist ties, will argue that the fighting is counter-productive. Already, Mohamed Elibiary, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Committee, is tweeting that Israel’s military tactics don’t work and it must “elect a peacemaker like Sadat.”
The Islamist networks in the U.S. will use their massive organizational capabilities to demand U.S. pressure on Israel, and they’ll make good use of their interfaith allies.
American Muslims for Palestine, an Islamist group that meets with State Department officials, quickly condemned Israel and demanded that the U.S. cut off aid. Its statement did not even mention the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel. It accused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of waging war for political gain ahead of his country’s January 22 election. The theme echoed the Brotherhood, which lashed out at “The Zionist war that is operating under electoral calculations for personal gain…”
The U.S.-based Islamists will undoubtedly use the American Muslims for Palestine conference on November 22-25 in Oak Brook Hills, Illinois to mobilize supporters against the Obama administration’s stance. A second blockbuster Islamist event is being held on December 21-25 in Chicago, the 11th annual Muslim American Society-Islamic Circle of North America convention. The power of these groups, especially when they coordinate, cannot be discounted.
The situation will dramatically escalate if the Palestinian Authority asks the United Nations to recognize it as a nonmember observer state. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has written a draft proposal to recognize a provisional Palestinian state with temporary borders if it abandons this course. If it does not, a Foreign Minister position paper argues for toppling Palestinian President Abbas and dismantling the Palestinian Authority.
The Islamists in the U.S. and their anti-Israel allies are about to move full force. President Obama said in March that the U.S. will “always have Israel’s back.” To honor that commitment, he will have to stand up to the Islamist network and international community. If Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood do indeed take action, he will have to abandon his faulty hope of an accommodation with them.
We’ve been told to ignore the fiery rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood because they are a “moderate” force. We’ve been told that the administration is a stalwart friend of Israel. Those two reassurances are about to be tested.
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