THE BLOG

Maybe Hamas is Not so Stupid

Maybe Hamas isn't so stupid after all. People on both sides of the Gaza crisis have been shaking their heads, why would Hamas break the ceasefire and launch rockets into Israel? They had to know the Armageddon type response that would follow. Hamas had to know that the strikes would bring carnage to their own people. And that is precisely what has happened. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed, and there are upwards of 1600 wounded.

But this destruction has also been the fuse for worldwide demonstrations in support of the Palestinians. Until recently few in the west seemed to care much about conditions in Gaza. We care now. Judged as a piece of political theater, Hamas has succeeded in presenting Israel as the golem on the block. The fusillades from Israeli planes and warships have also had the effect of galvanizing Hamas' political base.

By all accounts, the vast majority of people in Gaza were averse to the rocket attacks and less than fervent in their support of Hamas. However, as Israeli planes hit mosques and image after image floats up of critically wounded Palestinian children being rushed to the hospital (whenever they can find a hospital!) Hamas receives a transfusion of support.

I believe that the Israeli response to the attacks has been disproportionate to the threat and so in violation of codes of conduct outlined by Just War Theory. There are, of course, many of the conviction that a country can do anything it deems necessary to defend itself against aggression. After all, there is nothing sacred about Just War theory. But even so, from a practical point of view, the Israeli military machine may have rumbled into the trap of triggering world attention and sympathy for the denizens of Gaza. Moreover, the bombings and invasion have accomplished another Hamas objective. They have rendered it more difficult for Arab leaders to advocate the olive branch.