The Greatest Scam on Earth http://cafe.nfshost.com/?p=9150
The Canadian Red Ensign
Thursday, October 19, 2023
The Greatest Scam on Earth
As you are all most likely aware, the Israel-Palestinian conflict has flared up again. Like clockwork, the apologists for both sides have come crawling out of the woodworks insisting that we all take sides. Interestingly, this time around the apologists on each side are taking rather the same position with regards to the apologists of the other side that they insist the side they are cheering for in the Middle East take towards the other side, i.e., one of eradication and elimination. The pro-Israel side is calling for the pro-Palestinian side to be silenced, their protests shut down, and their views criminalized. Some on the pro-Israel side are capable of distinguishing between being pro-Palestinian, that is to say, someone who seeks to promote the basic human rights of the Palestinian Arab population, and being a supporter of the murderous terrorist organization Hamas, but it seems to me that they are outnumbered by those lacking this capacity. To be fair, this same incapacity characterizes the other side as well. On either side, it is most ugly in its manifestation. The pro-Israelis who fail to make the distinction have come close to calling for all expressions of humanitarian concern for the Palestinians to be outlawed as hate. They clearly have come dangerously unhinged because all rational, sensible, and decent people are categorically opposed to laws criminalizing hate qua hate. The other side, however, has made it difficult not to sympathize with them to some degree in that they have been openly cheering on the most vile and despicable sorts of behaviour on the part of Hamas.
Two and a half years ago, in an essay entitled “The Holy Land Returns to the Old Normal” I gave an overview of the Israel-Palestine conflict, rebutted a few common fallacies concerning it, offered an explanation of where the insistence that we all take sides comes from, and answered that demand. I do not intend to go over all of that material again, but I hope you will excuse my quoting myself here. At the end of the essay I pointed out the obvious real nature of the relationship between the Israeli government and Hamas:
The most ill-kept secret of the Middle East is that Likud Israeli governments and Hamas each rely upon the other to maintain their popular support among their own people. The Palestinians expect Hamas to keep on harassing Israel. The Israelis expect their government to brutally punish the Palestinians. Each, therefore, provides the other with the excuse to do what they need to do to play to their own crowds. So we come to May of this year. On the sixth the Palestinians hold a protest in East Jerusalem, on the seventh the Israelis crack down and storm the al-Aqsa mosque, on the tenth Hamas issues an ultimatum which Israel naturally ignores and the rockets start flying, on the eleventh the Israeli Air Force begin several days of bombing the hell out of Gaza. On the twentieth, having given their fans the show they were looking for, Netanyahu and Hamas agree to a ceasefire. Bada bing, bada boom, it is all over in a fortnight, mission accomplished, everyone is happy, high fives all around. Too bad about all the people who had to die, but didn’t someone somewhere at sometime say something about an omelet and eggs?
There is no good reason to think that any of this has changed in the present situation. Indeed, the current conflagration could be said to exemplify the point. The actions of the Israeli government and Hamas both clearly serve the interests of the other. Consider Hamas’ attack on 7 October. On top of the usual barrage of rockets, Hamas breached Israel’s supposedly impenetrable barrier and almost 3000 of their agents entered Israel, attacked towns, kibbutzim (collective farms), and even a weekend music festival. They murdered some 1500 people, and took about 150 hostages. The murder victims and hostages were mostly Israeli citizens, although there were a few soldiers and a number of people from other countries who were in Israel in various capacities – workers, students, attendees of the music festival – among both the dead and hostages. This was far better organized and co-ordinated than any previous Hamas attack and consequently far more lethal but it is difficult to see how it accomplished anything for Hamas other than the bloodshed itself. It did, however, clearly serve a purpose of Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, who had been ousted as Prime Minister of Israel in June of 2021, was re-elected in December of last year on a hard-line platform and needed to at least appear to be making good on his promises. Cracking down on Hamas is the easiest way of doing that and by carrying out an attack of this nature Hamas handed him an iron clad justification for doing so. On a side note, whatever else you might say about Benjamin Netanyahu, his political longevity is something to be marvelled at. I fully expect that sometime down the road we will be reading, a week or two after his funeral, that he has just won re-election as Prime Minister of Israel in a landslide.
Now some of you might be thinking “Aha, gotcha, there is a flaw in your argument. Hamas’s actions might serve Netanyahu’s ends, but in retaliating the Israeli government will wipe them out so there is no reciprocal benefit, it is a one-way street this time around”. This, however, very much remains to be seen. So far, apart from the rhetoric, Israel’s retaliatory actions have consisted of the same sort of aerial bombardment with which they have responded to past Hamas attacks, albeit on a larger scale. There has been talk of an imminent and massive ground incursion into Gaza for a week and a half now but if it ever materializes the IDF’s overwhelming military superiority does not guarantee Israel a quick and easy victory. Ask the Americans. Israel would be walking into the same sort of situation in which the United States found herself entangled in Vietnam and later Afghanistan. This is a long term operation and the longer it drags on the more it is to Hamas’ favour, because the longer such a conflict stretches out, the less international public sympathy will be with Israel, and it is in the arena of international public opinion that Hamas fights all its true battles.
It sounds crazy but it is nevertheless true that every time Hamas attacks Israel it is with the intention of provoking a retaliatory attack. The reason this seems crazy is because Israel is so much stronger than Hamas in terms of military might. It conjures up the picture of a chihuahua getting in the face of a big bruiser of a bull dog and yipping away annoyingly until the larger dog barks or bites its head off. One moral of the Old Testament account of David and Goliath, however, is that size isn’t everything. In this case, Hamas wants Israel to attack back because every time Israel does far more Palestinian civilians are killed than Hamas agents, enabling Hamas to run to the international news media, the General Assembly of the United Nations, the World Council of Churches, humanitarian organizations, university professors and student activists, and basically every group of self-important jackasses with a lot of money and power and not enough brain cells to fill a thimble, and whine and cry about how mean old Israel has been beating on them again, after which these groups wag their fingers in Israel’s face saying shame on you, shame on you, and dump tons of money in humanitarian relief into Hamas controlled Palestinian territory, keeping Hamas solvent, and freeing up other resources with which to buy more rockets.
A great illustration of the Hamas strategy can be found in the 1959 film The Mouse That Roared. In the movie, a small European country, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, has built its entire economy on a single export product, the wine Pinot Grand Fenwick. When a California wine company produces a cheap knockoff, and the country is threatened with insolvency, Duchess Gloriana (Peter Sellers) and her Prime Minister, Count Mountjoy (Peter Sellers) hatch a scheme to attack the United States, lose, and then reap the rewards of losing to the United States, which pours plenty of money into rebuilding the countries it has defeated in war. So they send the United States a declaration of war and then put their game warden, Tully (guess who), in charge of their small army of soldiers, mail-clad and armed with bows and arrows, and send him over. The scheme goes awry when Tully accidentally wins the war – watch the movie to find out how. The point of course, is that Hamas’ strategy is essentially that of Grand Fenwick. It is a darker version that involves much more bloodshed including the sacrifice of large numbers of their own and the payoff is expected more from third parties than from the victorious attackee, but it is the same basic scam.
Israel is running a big scam too, of course. In her case it is not the gullible “international community” that is the mark so much as the equally gullible United States of America. Israel, which paid for the creation of Hamas – see my previous essay alluded to earlier – has long been the single largest recipient of American foreign aid, in part because the various pro-Israel lobby groups in the United States make the National Rifle Association look like rank amateurs in comparison, but also because Israel knows how to play on the United States’ national mythology by presenting herself as the only liberal democracy in her region, surrounded and besieged by anti-Semitic autocrats, just like those that the United States likes to imagine herself as having single-handedly defeated in the Second World War. Of course there is some truth in that depiction. When did you ever hear of a successful scam that consisted completely of falsehoods?
This is why it is best for the rest of the world to stay out of this conflict and refuse to give in to this demand that we pick sides. Our involvement, whichever side we end up supporting, however well-intentioned, ends up facilitating the worst sort of behaviour of both sides.
We need to stop looking at the conflict in the Middle East through the lens of the “good guys” versus “bad guys” dichotomy, rooted in the heresy of Mani that has permeated Western popular culture through the pernicious influence of Hollywood movies and the comic book industry. There are no “good guys” in this conflict although there are a lot of innocent victims, both Israeli and Palestinian Arab.
If someone were to point a gun to my head and demand that I choose sides I would chose Israel, although I would be sure to hold my nose while doing so. Israel is a legitimate state, or at least the closest thing to a legitimate state that a modern democratic government without a king can be, which isn’t very close. Hamas is a criminal organization of lawless thugs and murderers. Israel has spent the last three quarters of a century trying to build up a civilized society for herself and her people. Hamas are destroyers not builders. I am a life-long Tory by instinct and as the late Sir Roger Scruton wisely put it “Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.” I will never side with those who only ever walk the easy path of destroying what others have labouriously built. Not Year Zero, Cultural Maoist, groups like Black Lives Matter and Every Child Matters in North America. Not Hamas in the Middle East. Finally, while both sides value the lives of civilians on the other side extremely cheap, there is a huge difference in that Hamas places no higher a value on the lives of their own civilians. Indeed, Hamas arguably values the lives of civilian Palestinian Arabs less than Israel. Hamas, when it attacks Israel, targets the civilian population, but prior to 7 October, its attacks have been largely ineffective. It fires tons of rockets at Israel, almost all of which are taken down by the Iron Dome, and the few that make it past are not guaranteed to hit anything or anyone. Its rocket launchers, however, Hamas deliberately places in residential neighbourhoods, mosques, hospitals, schools, and other similar locations where a retaliatory strike to take out the rocket launcher will have maximum civilian casualties. The same is true of anything else Hamas has that would be considered a legitimate military target by the rules that most countries, nominally at least, support for the conduct of warfare. Therefore, Israel must either stand there and allow herself to be attacked, the sort of thing someone whose soul has been killed and brain rotted from training in public relations and/or human resources might recommend, (1) or take out Hamas’ attack bases and in the process destroy the civilian and humanitarian infrastructure within which those bases are hid and kill the countless numbers of Palestinians that Hamas uses as human shields, handing Hamas plenty of ammunition in the form of bad press to use against her..
That having been said, the reasons for refusing the choice, for not taking sides are solid. It is in the mutual interests of Israel and Hamas to keep this conflict going forever, but this is not in the interests of the civilians on both sides, nor is it in the interests of the rest of the world which both sides expect to pay for their lethal and destructive activities. It is in the best interests of everybody, that the rest of the world refuse to be dragged into this any longer, and tell the two sides they both need to grow up.
I shall, Lord willing, follow up this essay with two others. The first will demonstrate that the Christian Zionist position that we are required by the Scriptures to take Israel’s side in Middle-East conflicts is rank heresy. The second will look at the neoconservative claim that the pro-Palestinian Left’s unhinged support of Hamas comes from anti-Semitism and demonstrate that it comes from a different source.
(1) Contrary to what the Anabaptist heresy teaches, Jesus said nothing of this sort in Matthew 5:39. This verse is best understood as forbidding revenge rather than self-defence but even if taken as forbidding self-defence it says nothing about how governments, responsible for the security of those they govern, are to act, as evident from the fact that before this section of the Sermon, Jesus gave a disclaimer that it is not to be taken as abrogating the Law. — Gerry T. Neal