By Ron Jager
As the world community watches images of Hamas rockets falling on southern Israel and the greater Tel Aviv area, I seriously doubt if they bother to consider that if Hamas had the ability to murder thousands of Jews, they would. And that if Israel didn’t have a strong army, Hamas would continue attacking Israel and murdering Jews unabated. Yet for the past 64 years, Jews have been fighting back. We’ve become pretty good at it. This has shocked our enemies and also our Jewish brethren, the limousine liberals, who find it impossible to identify with strong and tenacious Jews who fight back, having been transformed from weak, cowering, Holocaust-type Jews to fighting Jewish warriors.
For our enemies, the success of Israel in fighting off the combined efforts of the whole Arab world, which has never stopped its efforts to try to destroy the State of Israel, has been a source of immense frustration. The Arabs have been unable to understand why “they” the Arabs, the true chosen nation, with Allah on their side, has never been able to defeat the Jewish infidels, no matter how hard they have tried. For the limousine liberals, this success has created a lot of hand-wringing and intellectual agony: What shall we do with all this power? Are we using it responsibly? Will it corrupt us? Can we remain on a high moral ground? Will we be able to continue with our true purpose in this world, tikkun olam? The notion of a strong Jewish nation, fighting back with courageous Jewish soldiers using leading-edge technology “Made in Israel,” is the common thread that ties together much of the noise being heard today against Israel and the demand that Israel stop defending herself against Palestinian Arab aggression so vividly depicted by rocket and missile attacks by Hamas.
So as the Jews have fought back, signaling a new era in the Jewish narrative, why does Israel tolerate Hamas? Israel is currently assembling the IDF’s mass military machine, calling up over 75,000 reserve combat soldiers, able to turn Gaza into one big rubble. The Gaza Strip could be taken over in a number of days and Hamas totally destroyed, yet Israel refrains from doing this. Why?
Israel’s strategic decision not to destroy Hamas once and for all is simply a response to the changing geopolitical circumstances. Hamas doesn’t want a peaceful solution and only wants to keep the conflict going forever until somehow in their dreams they will have all of Israel. Israel’s political and military echelon has abandoned the illusion that a Jewish state will ever be broadly accepted by the Arabs. That means previously unquestioned strategic policies such as “land for peace” and the “two-state solution” have been proven impossible to implement. There is no possible solution in the foreseeable future.
In response to this emerging reality, and as Israel moves away from those discredited policies, Israel has adopted an operative metaphor that is often described as “cutting the grass,” meaning a task that must be performed regularly and has no end. There is no solution to Israel’s security challenges, only delays and being tougher in pursuit of deterrence. Periodically attacking Hamas, destroying her infrastructure, and limiting her ability to attack Israeli cities for the next three or four years is probably the most that can be achieved currently. This is also why the idea of one day attacking Iranian nuclear facilities, even though such an attack would set the nuclear program back only a few years, is widely discussed as a reasonable option.
For Israel, allowing Hamas to continue to exist serves an additional strategic goal based on the idea of what’s known in the game of chess as a “poison pawn” strategy. The poison pawn invites a willing opponent into an avoidable trap. The opponent grabs the poisoned pawn in favor of quick gains, which leads to a worse position, and it loses the chess match. Hamas is Israel’s poison pawn. This is how it works.
Israel enabled Hamas to come into existence upon disengaging from Gush Katif in 2005 and withdrawing to the 1967 international border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, withdrawing all civilians, soldiers, and settlements. Since Hamas’s inception, the leaders of Hamas have claimed to be the true leaders of the Palestinian Arabs and have done all they can to discredit and weaken Abu Mazen, the leader of the Palestinian Authority. This rivalry between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has weakened the Palestinian Arab movement to such an extent that today the Middle East has delegated the Palestinian issue to the back burner, dealing with more pressing issues such as Syria.
Israel has no negotiating partner; the Palestinians are too busy attacking one another and preventing any kind of negotiations on Judea and Samaria. Israel is able to claim, rightly so, that her presence in Judea and Samaria will prevent Hamas from taking over the Palestinian Authority and threatening Israel from the Samarian hills overlooking all of central Israel. Israel’s continued presence in Judea and Samaria will ensure the continued existence of the State of Israel. Hamas and the Arab world swallowed the poison pawn, enabling Israel to strengthen her position by surpassing 700,000 Jewish residents living in Judea and Samaria.
Hamas’s role as Israel’s poison pawn will continue to weaken the Palestinian movement, prevent a forced negotiation process of concessions and forfeiting land by Israel, and, most importantly, will enable the population in Judea and Samaria to reach one million Jewish residents within the coming decade. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic advisor to the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.ronjager.com.