Monday, July 17, 2006

Toppling Hamas: Something to Lose, or Haniyeh's Exit Strategy? 

Let's play that popular punditry pass-time, Who's the Idiot.

The idea is we look at the opposing statements of various leaders in the spotlight and decide from our high and mighty throne of blogging wisdom which one is the idiot.

Today I've found some Israelis who disagree about something -- who knew THAT could happen? The subject is whether or not to topple Hamas as the government of the Palestinians.

First up, Israel's Prime Minister, and a frequent contestant on Who's the Idiot, Ehud Olmert:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel's Gaza incursion, now in its 13th day [ed-on July 10], isn't aimed at bringing down the Palestinian Authority's Hamas-led government.

"We have no particular desire to topple the Hamas government as a policy," Olmert said at a Jerusalem news conference today. "We have a particular desire to stop terrorists inflicting terror on the Israeli people. Whoever is involved with terror will have to pay for it."
Say it with me now, "What... an... idiot!" That felt good, didn't it? Well let's hold off on declaring a winner until we've heard from all our contestants first. Next up, another frequent guest of this show, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

Likud leaders attacked the government over its handling of the crisis in the wake of the Kerem Shalom attack.

“Unfortunately the prime minister hasn't learned anything,” said former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. "A change in direction is needed immediately, such as a massive reaction and the toppling of the Hamas government. The soldier can be freed. We need an aggressive approach and not the fawning of the government."
It's important not to rule out the possibility that they could both be idiots, so let's say it again, "What... an... idiot!" That's right, it's either idiotic to want to topple the Hamas government, or it's idiotic to not want to topple the Hamas government... or both.

Let's move on to the judging phase now, in which we decide... Who's... the... Idiot. First we review the ground rules for judging the blogging game of Who's the Idiot. When two positions disagree, there can be no tie -- one of them has got to be an idiot. Sure they might both have the best interests of the state of Israel at heart and yes the issue may be complicated and blah, blah, blah, but at the end of the game, we still must declare a winner in the game of "Who's the Idiot."

So, you might think I'm going to call Netanyahu an idiot because it can be habit forming. Then again, you might also expect me to declare Olmert the idiot because you believe I'm a militant hawk like Netanyahu. Well, in truth I'm actually not a total hawk, but I'm not a dove either -- I'm more like an angry pigeon flying over the political arena after a really big meal.

All right, here's the deal. I believe, and it is therefore true, that Hamas never expected to actually win last year's election outright and have thrust upon them the governmental responsibilities of trash collection, making payroll, and smuggling endless suitcases of diplomatic cash across the border. They just wanted a lot of their supporters elected to the Palestinian parliament so they could heckle and ridicule and demand more money to pay for velcro upgrades to their suicide vests.

But no, the Palestinian people in their great wisdom had to go and elect Hamas to actually lead them, and now Ismail Haniyeh is stuck with this job while his buddy Khaled Meshaal gets to sit over in Syria ordering the kidnappings and shootings and having all the fun. Haniyeh has presided over government coffers that are now below empty, as even the banks are trying to borrow money. Chaos rules the street as Hamas, Fatah and various and sundry other militant gangs interrupt their armed rivalries only to duck and cover when the Israeli missiles come in.

Do we honestly believe Haniyeh and his fellow Hamas ministers would be disappointed to be driven from office by the evil Israelis? It would put them right back in the lifestyle they were enjoying about a year ago at this time, only with the added title of "Government in Exile" to blame on the Zionists, and without any responsibilities. I can't say for sure that Haniyeh set this whole thing in motion just to get out of doing his chores, and to increase the popularity and even the legitimacy of Hamas, but it does seem possible to me.

Instead of "martyring" him (in the classical sense), I believe he should be left to stew in his own red ink until he is publicly begging to be removed from office and Hamas is clearly seen as an abject failure by the majority of Palestinians. I can dream can't I?

And you know what that means: Benjamin Netanyahu, you're our winner! Bibi, You're... an... Idiot! (Or at least I disagree with you this time, but I'd still prefer you as Minister of Defense instead of Amir "What, you mean the Army can't go on strike?" Peretz.)

So how about that? I agree with Olmert. Now let's leave him alone and see if he's right again in twelve hours.


Some other great reads:

Treppenwitz has an absolute must read, which I don't want to quote for fear you won't read the whole thing.

Atlas Shrugs has an amazing letter of support for Israel from a US Marine:

I just wanted to tell you that we, Marines, SUPPORT Israel in their war against Hamas and Hizbullah. I cannot express to you how many Marines I have talked to or have heard say how proud of Israel they are.
Read the rest, it'll do you good.

James Lileks, as always, is right on target with his usual fantastic sense of humor -- I certainly hope you read him every day. How many of you can identify with this these days:

I was in one of those news-hungry moods, and nothing helped; no matter how many times you reload a page, it’s not going to make anything happen.
And if you read all the way through, you won't believe the idiocy he found at the Huffington Post -- or maybe you will believe, if you've visited there often enough.

One more fantastic post, this time from Nushworld covering the pathetic history of UN peacekeepers and international buffer forces in maintaining agreements to protect Israel, concluding:

Before we agree to any such proposal by the UN, let's keep this history in mind. If the "peace keepers" will allow themselves to be bypassed at will, if their presence there is simply to act as a shield behind which Hezbollah can rearm at is leasure, and worst of all, if the physical presence of foreigners will force Israel to hold back from responding to Hezbollah attacks, then we would be foolish, in fact criminal, to repeat the mistake of 1956.
And if your memory doesn't extend back to 1956, and the many mistakes made between then and now, read the whole thing.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: