In Gaza, the number of Salafi jihadis — austere militants willing to kill those they don’t consider true Muslims — has grown significantly since 2006. Many of them are former Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who see Hamas as caving to Israel while getting only blockades, closed border crossings and military incursions in return.
Five years of isolation have not dislodged Hamas, revived the peace process, strengthened Fatah or ensured Israel’s security. Most of the Gaza Strip’s imports now pass largely unimpeded through tunnels that are wide enough to carry cattle, cars, anti-tank missiles and foreign radicals.
Nor has isolating Hamas persuaded most Palestinians to embrace the alternative model in the West Bank, where undemocratic practices remain common, local leaders lack popular legitimacy, and tight security coordination with Israel is routinely denounced.
Instead, blockading Gaza and isolating Hamas have given rhetorical strength to militants who argue that the Islamist movement has erred by holding its fire against Israel and failing to impose Islamic law. As a result, Hamas is slowly losing members to more radical groups.
On Monday, Hamas self-defeatingly sought to bolster its flagging Islamist credentials by mourning the death of Osama bin Laden and praising him as an Arab holy warrior ...
Here's Thrall's bizarre train of thought: Hamas is losing members to more-extreme Salafist groups because it is viewed as not being radical enough by some.
So, according to Thrall, Israel must embrace Hamas, which would moderate its views to accommodate Israel's new friendship.
But according to his own words, this would make more radicals leave the group and strengthen the Salafists because they would look at Hamas as selling out!
On the one hand he is claiming that extreme radical Islamists are pushed there by the relative moderation of slightly less extreme radical Islamists. On the other hand he claims that by Israel embracing the slightly less extreme radical Islamists they will moderate and make peace with - which will again push their members towards extremism!
Thrall also fails to explain why (as he admits) even Islamic Jihad is losing members to the Salafist groups - when Islamic Jihad has not moderated one bit.
Not to mention his equally nonsensical assertion that the entire reason Hamas condemned Bin Laden's death was not because of its clear ideological affinity to Al Qaeda, but as a way to restore street cred among the Salafists.
This is, again, a willful blindness on the part of people who are so wed to the idea that peace with Hamas must be possible that logic and facts go out the window just to prove the unprovable. People to whom the "peace process" is a religion cannot lose their faith, so they must spin more and more crazy theories just to shore up their "flat Earth"-style beliefs.
Sorry. The earth is round, Obama was born in Hawaii, 9/11 wasn't an inside job and real peace between Israel and Islamic movements like Hamas is impossible. Hamas and other Islamist movements must be defeated, not embraced. While victory is difficult, as in any war, it is imperative.
Anyone who claims otherwise is simply ignoring reality and discarding facts for half-baked beliefs.
(h/t David G)