Two observations about the Hamas-Israel hostilities that began on Nov. 10:
(1) The old Arab-Israeli wars were military clashes, the recent ones are political clashes. The wars of 1948-49, 1967, and 1973 were life-and-death struggles for the Jewish state. But the wars of 2006, 2008-09, and now 2012 are media events in which Israeli victory on the military battlefield is foreordained and the struggle is to win public opinion. Opeds have replaced bullets, social media have replaced tanks. Will Israel prevail in arguing that its enemy initiated offensive action? Or will those enemies, Hamas or Hezbollah, convince observers that Israel is an illegitimate regime whose recourse to force is criminal? The war must be fought primarily as a media event.
(2) If Hamas knows it cannot defeat the Israel Defense Forces and will get a bloody nose for its efforts, it obviously has motives other than victory in mind. What might those be? Several come to mind:
- Test the waters in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s reelection.
- Rouse public opinion against Israel and make it pay a price internationally.
- Refute accusations by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it has abandoned “resistance.”
- Remind the Palestinian Authority, as it seeks statehood at the United Nations, who controls Gaza.
- Rile up Israeli Arabs.
- Pre-empt Egyptian plans to destroy Gaza tunnels, as Cairo cannot be seen helping Israel in a time of crisis.
This article was originally published by National Review Online.