ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Unlikely Allies 21.5.05

Unlikely Allies

21 May 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

A quiet and orderly Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip is the worst case scenario for the Hamas. On the surface the Hamas needs the continuing Israeli entanglement in Gaza to justify its never ending katuysha and mortar attacks against Israeli settlements both in the Strip and the western Negev. Of greater significance is the desire to scuttle PM Ariel Sharon's Disengagement and the two-state solution.

When scanning Israel's media, condemnations of the Disengagement range from the supposedly non-democratic nature of the decision (Sharon's party objected, the government and Knesset approved), to the inhumanity of uprooting people from their homes and the encouragement the Hamas terrorists receive by seeing the Israeli evacuation take place under fire. Even Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon testified before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, saying the disengagement can be expected to increase terror activities. Others say something must be received in return such as the end of Palestinian terrorism or a territorial concession in the Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

The objections contain a great deal of logic for the moment but in the end they are irrelevant. An Israeli non-withdrawal will only lead the demise of the Jewish State.

In such efforts the Hamas has an unwitting and foolish Israeli ally. The new Israeli hero comes in the form of the anti-Disengagement orange clad youth from the National Religious movement. Last week thousands blocked intersections throughout the country, crippling transport and aggravating the average motorist. They even refuse to let emergency vehicles through. Life saving takes a back seat when one is blocking traffic in the name of the Land of Israel. Hundreds were arrested and many even refused to identify themselves to the police and court authorities. They hope to paralyze the criminal justice system as well. Their parents and right wing advocates justify their behavior and laud their idealism. The kids were sent forward in their youthful enthusiasm while the adults cheer them on from the sidelines. In their efforts to halt any withdrawal from the Land of Israel these idealistic youth have expressed a willingness to sacrifice their own lives.

The Hamas thinks in the long term, hoping to entangle Israel forever in Gaza and the West Bank. The settler movement and their even more extreme Messianic right wing youth activists are the answer to the Hamas dream. And if that is not enough the Islamic fundamentalists are in a Win-Win situation when they open fire on the Gaza settlements. Either they win the tactical media victory by declaring "Israel withdrew under fire" or they may force a cancellation of the Disengagement, leaving Israel caught up in the over all Hamas strategy of a final solution to what they view as the "Jewish problem" in Palestine.

The Israeli public is less than resolute in supporting the withdrawal from Gaza. As the Hamas violence continues (and the Palestinian Authority collaborates in its failure to ensure quiet) and the "orange kids" block the roads many Israelis are willing to throw up their hands in surrender. Last week's polls showed only 52% supporting the Disengagement.

But Sharon is a long term strategist, understanding the Hamas objectives. He is a leader and not a follower. He will persevere in his battle against the Hamas on the one hand and the internal opposition (Messianic or otherwise). Frustrated, the Palestinians and the Hamas in particular, can be expected to continue their violence after having failed to strangle the Jewish People in a bi-national catastrophe.