Monday, November 15, 2021

In Gaza Conflict 2021:  Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War, Jonathan Schanzer provides what the mainstream media avoided during reporting on the May conflict: Context.

Schanzer, who is senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has written a short but essential book that describes not only the mini-war itself, but also why it was inevitable and why the next one cannot be avoided.

Unlike most analysis that was in the mainstream media, Schanzer points out the events that preceded the fighting. The Palestinian Authority had announced elections for March and then, after it was apparent that Hamas would win, canceled them. Hamas took advantage of Palestinian disappointment at being let down yet again by Mahmoud Abbas and positioned itself as the real leader of the people, taking advantage of the Sheikh Jarrah unrest to pretend to "defend Jerusalem" by shooting rockets at Israel. Yet, he notes, Hamas had been preparing for this war for weeks before Sheikh Jarrah.

As with the visit by Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in 2000, the machinery for attacking Jews was already prepared and in place, just waiting for an excuse to trigger. The "spark" is not the reason for these wars, they are excuses that the media is too happy to use to blame Israeli actions for Palestinian attacks.

The book travels back and forth from the events of May to how we got there. He describes the founding of Hamas during the first intifada and how the PLO leaders, then exiled in Tunisia, had to embrace the myth of peacemaking to remain relevant and to return to the region. He shows how the PLO threw away the chances of peace and embraced terror itself in the second intifada. 

Most of all, Schanzer describes how Iran is using Hamas and Islamic Jihad as their proxies against Israel. The May war must be seen in context of the constant tug of war between Israel and Iran in the region: Iran strengthening its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, and Israel attacking hundreds of targets in Syria, Iraq, the high seas and Iran itself to slow down Iranian nuclear weapons and Iranian transfers of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas. 

Iran wants a Shiite Crescent that stretches to the Mediterranean. Israel is in its way. Gaza terror groups are Iranian tools, and it is naive to think that the May conflict was about Sheikh Jarrah and part of Iran's strategy to prod Israel and prompt the world media to claim war crimes.

Schanzer's context goes even beyond Iran. He notes the importance of Russia in limiting or permitting what Israel can do in Syria.  also notes that Turkey and Qatar compete with Iran on influence in Gaza, and even Malaysia has helped train Palestinian jihadists. He describes the drama behind US-Israel tensions on the Iran nuclear deal. He has a chapter on how UNRWA keeps the artificial "refugee" crisis alive to continuously pressure Israel. All of these impact the regular flare ups of fighting by Gaza terror groups against Israel. 

This is the sort of analysis that is woefully lacking in the media. 

Every reporter should read this book before writing another facile story that takes the claims of terrorists seriously. 


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