Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Long after the PLO had outlived its role as an even halfway plausible peace partner; Israel was forced to keep the terrorist group on life support as a bulwark against Hamas.
PLO leaders posture about having the UN declare a state, but not only would that state instantly be more bankrupt than ten Greek economies piled on top of each other, but its collection of terrorists who are great at running drugs and shaking down West Bank storekeepers for protection money would last all of 5 seconds in a grudge match with Hamas.
We know that last one is true because that was how it went when the PLO tried to take on Hamas in Gaza. The PLO had American weapons, training and support. Its illegal military slash police force had been nurtured by the United States and the European Union. They still lost fast and they lost hard.
The PLO’s crack troops, who were experts at sniper attacks on Jewish babies or drive-by attacks on Israeli families headed home from weddings, ran away faster than an Iraqi army division.
The billion dollars in security assistance lavished on the Palestinian Authority forces bought nothing except panicking PLO terrorists fleeing Gaza; some of whom had to be evacuated by Israel. That year, the US had promised around $50 million in security assistance to PLO boss Abbas’ 4,700 member elite “presidential guard”. $3 million was to be sent to terror boss Mohammed Dahlan who has been accused of trying to undermine Hamas by funding Al Qaeda groups in Gaza. Those groups are now turning to ISIS.
By trying to find moderate Islamic terrorists to fight extreme Islamic terrorists, the US helped create ISIS in Gaza. The second best way to stop Islamic terrorism is to stop supporting moderate terrorists.
The PLO pretended to run the first Palestinian state in the West Bank while disavowing such legal niceties as elections and Hamas ran its second Palestinian state in Gaza. Despite all the PLO’s rants about Israel, if Israel ever stepped aside, Hamas could take the West Bank with a few hundred gunmen. The PLO has gambled all along that Israel would never actually let Hamas win.
The PLO was the only alternative to Hamas. And Hamas’ terrorists were the real “extremists”.
Now with the rise of ISIS, Hamas is being passed off as the bulwark against the Islamic State and Iran. The old extremists are the new moderates. The Saudis and Egypt want to polish up Hamas, put it on a shelf and offer it a lot of goodies in exchange for cutting its ties with Iran. Israel is supposed to go along.
Hamas is committed to wiping out the Jews and taking over Egypt, but for the moment it’s a cheap way to keep ISIS out of Gaza. Just like the PLO was supposed to keep Hamas out of Gaza.
And even those who know better will mumble, ”What’s the alternative?” No one wants ISIS taking over Gaza do they? Just think, if ISIS controlled Gaza, it might fire rockets into major Israeli cities and drag opponents around main streets face down tethered to motorcycles.
You know, the sorts of things that Hamas does.
If Hamas, a genocidal terrorist group that is part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s world terror network bent on global conquest, is a reasonable moderate alternative to ISIS, then can’t ISIS one day come to seem like a reasonable alternative to some even more horrifying Islamic terror group?
ISIS is a chip of the old block of the Al Qaeda network and Al Qaeda is a splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A splinter group of ISIS that will be even more dementedly vicious than it is an almost certain development. One day we’ll look back on its beheadings, drowning and auto-da-fés as relics of a simpler time before terrorists from SuperDuperJihad or IslamAwayAllInfidels weren’t engaging in ritual cannibalism and child rape on camera. And that ISIS state in the Sinai will be considered moderate.
When it comes to terrorists, “moderate” and “extreme” are mostly meaningless terms. When the moderates are mass murderers, they don’t look any better just because the extremists are worse.
It’s not clear that the Islamic State taking over Gaza would be any worse for Israel. It might even be a good deal better if Gaza were run by an Islamic terrorist group that couldn’t count on weapons from Iran and support from the Democratic Party’s Code Pink donors. Even they might actually draw the line at ISIS, if only because the Free Gaza activists would be beheaded as soon as their boat landed.
Protecting the PLO from Hamas has improved Israel’s security situation in the short term, while worsening its overall situation in the long term as the PLO and Hamas trade off diplomatic and terrorist attacks. Protecting Hamas from ISIS would be an even bigger disaster. If this madness goes on, Israel will have to protect ISIS from SuperDuperJihad while absorbing terrorist attacks from the greater and lesser evils.
The Israeli strategy after the collapse of Oslo was to prove that the PLO does not want peace. That strategy has failed for the same reason that politicians won’t stop calling Islam the religion of peace or insisting that ISIS is un-Islamic. It’s easier to simplify and ‘niceify’ problems than to deal with reality.
Believing that you can prove a point to anyone using reason and logic is a notorious Jewish weakness. In the Talmud any issue can be resolved using a complex set of proofs. In real life most issues are resolved with fait accomplis. In one of the first diplomatic exchanges, the biblical judge Jephthah dispatched a missive to the King of Ammon laying out a claim to the land based on history, religion and logic tying reason and emotion together into an irrefutable argument. The King of Ammon invaded anyway.
If American liberals have a weakness for wishful thinking, Netanyahu has a weakness for reasoned argument. These arguments will fail because they lack the seductiveness of Obama’s promises.
The current efforts at drawing Hamas into some sort of anti-ISIS and anti-Iran coalition may be in the interests of the Saudis and Egypt, but they are not in Israel’s interests. And despite the unbridled enthusiasm among some in the pro-Israel camp over these new ties, both countries continue to consider Israel a useful enemy. This is the same old attitude that they have had before.
Israelis should know by now better than anyone else that Islamic terrorists cannot be defanged.
The Islamic State is a threat to Israel, but less so than Hamas or the PLO. ISIS is an opportunity because it is undisguised Islamic terrorism. ISIS not only refuses to deal with Israel, but with any of the enablers of Hamas and PLO terrorism in Europe and America. Whatever strengths it has, it is incapable of exploiting the greatest strategic weakness of its enemies for appeasement.
If ISIS were to take over Gaza, Israel would have no choice except to fight it. And no one in the world would be able to offer any other options. There would be no last minute diplomatic rescues for ISIS, the way that there were for Hamas and the PLO. Israel would not be forced to tolerate the bombing of its cities due to worthless accords rammed through by Washington D.C. and Cairo.
The destabilization of the Middle East threatens the rest of the region far more than it does Israel. The unweaving of tribal and religious ties among Muslims can’t take down Israel the way that it could Egypt, Syria and Jordan. While having terrorists on every border would be a serious threat, every one of Israel’s neighbors has already been providing sanctuary to terrorists targeting Israel.
If they want Israel’s help keeping ISIS away, then instead of letting them aid Hamas, Israel should make ending their support for terrorism into the price for its aid.
If they want secure borders, Israel should be able to expect secure borders in return.
Israel has spent too long protecting the PLO and Jordan from their neighbors. Expecting it to protect Hamas from ISIS is simply insane. It might be time for Israel to step back and let the natural course of terrorism have its way. The end result will be ugly, but it will end Israel’s obligation to nurture its foes.
The Jewish State has tried its best to find a middle ground that works. It’s time to let the “moderate” terrorists and their foreign appeasers live with the consequences of their terrorism.
When reason can’t win the argument, reality eventually wins the debate.