Friday, January 2, 2009

A Better Option

Daniel Larison disagrees with many in the "pro-Israel" camp (specifically Rod Dreher) who believe Israel is justified in the ongoing campaign against Hamas in Gaza because the Gazans voted for them, and thus deserve collective punishment (as though we are all responsible for George Bush's follies...) There are, Larison writes, other alternatives to all-out-war:
What else could the Israeli government have done? It could have lifted or ameliorated the siege, or better yet never imposed it. If we grant that cutting off Gaza was actually a blunder, remedying that blunder would be a first step. It is not certain that ending Gaza’s isolation would weaken Hamas, but its isolation has done nothing but strengthen Hamas’ position. Short of an extremely difficult and risky urban war aimed at destroying the organization entirely, which would cause massive dislocation and suffering, that seems the best means of weakening Hamas politically by forcing it to (mis)govern Gaza under relatively normal conditions. There will undoubtedly be a core of support for the group that will remain, but surely the political goal that Israel wants to reach is to have a majority of people in Gaza grow disillusioned with Hamas and to drive wedges between the group and most of the population.
I think this is very good advice, though I have one concern. If Hamas were to be pushed out, would it necessarily be Fatah who took their place? Or would Hamas 2.0 take over, much in the same way Hamas replaced Fatah?

The other possibility is that Hamas goes further mainstream, and actually does do a good enough job at actual governance--whereupon, can we expect a more radical element to simply replace them? Both options potentially lead to the same cyclical outcome, though that potentiality is not reason enough to dismiss Larison's argument.

Another outcome is Hamas becomes, over time, discredited and the two parties actually move toward reconciliation. In the current climate, reconciliation is impossible, and in fact has become less likely than ever. Hamas is responsible for provoking this response from Israel, but to invoke that argument is like saying of your younger sibling, "He hit me first!" and expecting that alone to be just cause or wisdom, or both...