When it comes to Hamas, we must let go of illusions
Op-ed: Israeli leaders' ceasefire declarations indicate that they see Hamas as a rational element. But Hamas' logic is similar to that ISIS: Havoc, destruction and an industry of death.
This war, which has yet to end, had three leaders: The prime minister, the defense minister and the IDF chief of staff. The three of them have exercised amazing restraint throughout the past weeks.
They were so restrained, that the usual accusers remained speechless. They were attacked by the far right, not by the left.
The only criticism voiced against them was that they failed to lash out at a handful of right-wing protestors who moved from the social networks to street violence, which mainly amounted to screams. It's really not okay that the leaders didn't find the time to come out of the command rooms and defend those shouting, "The murderers join the Air Force."
In the past few weeks they have clarified, each in his own way, that we must be patient.
They didn't overestimate the goals of the fighting. They were modest. They know that it's an asymmetric conflict. They know that what Russia failed to do in Chechnya for many months, with great destruction, without television cameras on every corner, Israel would not succeed in doing within days, with much smaller destruction, and with an even smaller number of casualties.
In this sense, they were much smarter than those who demanded one great stroke, which I doubt would have ended anything once and for all.
This doesn’t mean that they weren't wrong. Their biggest mistake was when the ceasefire took effect. And it was a mistake on an issue they hadn't failed in before: They called on the residents of the Gaza vicinity communities to return to their homes,
they promised that it would be quiet, and they promised that a ceasefire violation will be met with such a painful response that Hamas
would be surprised.
None of these things happened. Hamas violated the ceasefire, the southern residents' lives returned to the regular nightmare routine, and the Israeli response didn't even tickle Hamas.
Even Worse: In their ceasefire declarations, the war leaders made it clear that they are actually treating Hamas as a rational element. Excuse me? Why Hamas had 1,000 opportunities to prove that its actions are sane. That didn't happen.
Hamas' logic is much closer to ISIS's
logic: Havoc, destruction and mass death. That's the logic of radical Islam wherever it is. In Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Nigeria too, 99 percent of the Muslim jihadists' victims are Muslims. Not only does that not deter them; it's what leads them. It's an industry of death which, according to their logic, in the long run, will give them the rulership through terror.
It's unclear how this conflict will end. Similar conflicts are taking place these days in northeast Iraq, in Nigeria and in Afghanistan. It's true that there are experts here and there who say Hamas is different. I wish. We must listen to every opinion, but we must also listen to Hamas' joy of death to realize that some experts are wrong.
It's clear that there is no need for illusions or false promises about a calm and deterrence. When our trio adopted the rational paradigm, it also adopted the appeasing paradigm.
If Hamas is indeed using the carrot and stick approach, ,as the trio's comments indicated, and as the international community and part of the Israeli left claim, then Hamas should be given a carrot. Not one, many. Because only then, Hamas will savor the delicacy, maybe even become addicted, and the calm will come to Zion.
The problem is that Hamas has a different logic. The Hamas spokesman made it clear that every ceasefire is only a timeout for the purpose of arming. So the truth must be told: There is no such thing as "once and for all." There is a long and difficult battle.
Hamas can be defeated, but two more things are needed for that: The first is patience, a lot of patience. The second is letting go of illusions.