By Intelligence Operative Jay Holmes* and Azad
Image by Edi Israel, wikimedia commons
Today, news watchers in the West are seeing reports about the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Some are wondering if this week’s events in Israel and Gaza are the start World War Three.
My best guess is that this conflict will not escalate to that point, but if you happen to live in Gaza, it might feel like World War Three this week. If you happen to live in southern Israel, where the rockets fall every week, it might feel like that all the time.
Before throwing one more opinion into what will certainly not be the bloodiest war, but likely the most mediated war, let’s take a moment to consider the children on both sides of the border. These children have no control over the relations between Gaza and Israel, but the one constant tragedy in Gaza and southern Israel is that the children always suffer.
Of course, when I use the term “mediated” I am referring to the fact that the world’s “media” will deliver fantastic volumes of information about the current phase of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It is sad how little of that information will be accurate or fairly presented. However, all of that information will likely generate revenue for the media industry.
To attempt to understand the current events in Gaza, we can help ourselves by considering a few of the less obvious facts. We in the West think of Hamas as being in control of Gaza. Hamas likes to think that, as well, but it is not altogether accurate. Hamas appears to be one more run-of-the-mill Islamic terror group marching happily in step with all the other Islamic terror groups. But terrorists wreak havoc. This leaves them unskilled at performing anything like government. As a result, Hamas cannot control what goes on in Gaza.
Hamas is not even able to march happily in step with itself, which seriously impairs its ability to influence other Islamic terrorists in the area. The chaotic conditions in Gaza allowed competing terror groups to vacation there, and some of those vacationers decided to stay. Those groups do not obey Hamas. They obey whoever provides them with cash, weapons, hash, hookers, etc. Usually Syria and Iran would be that somebody, but Saudi Arabia and Gulf states are sometimes soft touches for cute young terror groups.
We in the West are not supposed to believe such dastardly things about our Saudi “friends.” However, the New American Reality Dictionary defines “friends” as, “Anyone who ships oil to the US.”
Many Americans find that disgusting. Many of those same Americans drive gasoline-consuming cars every day while they are finding that disgusting. Yes. Even my own car runs on gasoline, not on peaceful thoughts or good will.
Regardless of where the cash and weapons come from, we know where many of them end up—on Israeli roof tops. The current Israeli leader is Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israelis call him something else. I call him Beny Buddy. He calls me nothing at all. He never even calls me. I am not his friend. I’m not sure Beny does the friendship thing much. Living in that region might do that to a man.
In any event, his name hardly matters since this conflict predates him. Netanyahu and Likud, his political party, cannot remain in power if hundreds of rockets and mortar rounds from Gaza continue to land in Israel every month. From the Israeli perspective, the motives for the looming Israeli operations in Gaza are simple. The Israeli people don’t like rockets and bombs falling on their heads, and the current Israeli leadership does not like losing elections. Also, with Iran increasing the potency and quality of its missiles, the Israeli intelligence services might be feeling less patient than usual about the Gaza launch base.
The Hamas motives are a little trickier to define. It takes a bit of guesswork, and that is because they are still guessing about it themselves. As long as Gaza remains in a state of chaos without any worthwhile government, and as long as start up terror groups are cutting their teeth in “Palestine,” anything can happen. And now it has.
While the Israelis love driving American tanks, they don’t always love American methods. Israel is not living on a giant Chinese credit card like the Pentagon is. If Israel calls up reservists, which it has, and it moves armor toward Gaza, it is NOT because Israelis think it is fun to waste fuel they cannot produce and can barely afford. Those tanks will end up in Gaza.
Hamas fully realizes this, and they are currently doing their best impersonation of innocent victims. They are not great actors, but they play for an easy audience—the Western media and Islamic-financed propaganda outlets. Hamas wants to generate “international outrage” as quickly as it can in order to give Israel as little time as possible to drive around Gaza blowing up rocket supplies with those cool tanks.
The Israeli lobbyists and propaganda outlets will seek the opposite. But Israelis are currently out of fad with a majority of Western voters so they will be looking rather frustrated if you see them prowling the halls of the capitol or sitting in for some attack journalism by CNN interviewers.
I can just imagine a call from Iran to Hamas . . . “Okay. We’re sending more rockets. Rockets are supposed to blow up on those Jews, NOT in Gaza. Rockets don’t grow on trees, you know. If you can’t learn to take care of the rockets we give you, maybe we need to give them to someone else.”
One can find absurd humor in all of this as long as one does not live in or have relatives living in the region. Then the humor begins to pale. The children of Israel and Gaza have little to laugh at this week. They won’t have much next week, either.
I am happy that today that I can include the opinions of a civilian working in Egypt this week. He is neither Palestinian nor Jewish; he is Lebanese. He is a respected and highly educated member of the business community. English is not his first language, nor his second or third. Piper and I prefer to leave his work unedited to avoid accidentally changing the meaning. I hope that he can shed some light on the current violence in the Gaza area.
Between his prayers for his family’s safety, our friend, Azad, sent the following statement.
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The never-ending conflict
Earlier this week, Israeli defense forces (IDF) launched operation Amud Anan (operation pillar of cloud) with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas. The Israeli government stated that the purpose behind this operation is to cut short the flow of missile attacks launched from the Gaza strip and to deteriorate the capabilities of militant organizations.
The escalation of the clashes is within the frame of the long-term Israeli Palestinian conflict, but different interpretations are emerging as the conflict parallels with the Middle Eastern turmoil. Until further reasons come into view, three different readings are on the table:
The Israeli election is around the corner and to ensure his win for another term Benjamin Netanyahu wants to settle Hamas’ issue once and for all. After the start of the Israeli operation, Palestinian militants further intensified their rocket attacks on Israel. Mortars hit Tel Aviv for the first time since 1991 and Jerusalem since 1970 subsequently. Halting these mortars will definitely guarantee the centre right Likud party for another term.
On the Palestinian side, Mahmoud Abbas is trying to harness Hamas in an effort to unite the Palestinian front once again after the split of Hamas from the Palestinian authority and bestowing an Islamic government in 2006, and the consequent ousting of Fatah. After the unification the Palestinian authority intended to petition for a UN vote to become a full member state in the worldwide organization, which the US and Israeli government condemned and stated that it will not serve the peaceful progress between the counterparts; hence, a conflict to defer the voting until further notice.
On another hand, the European Union, United States of America, and several western countries back Israel and express an explicit support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens; while Russia, Iran, and several Arabic countries being behind Hamas condemn the Israeli attack. This dichotomy instigates a nostalgic of the cold war between the East and the West. The post-soviet state coming into picture again should never be underestimated, especially since a Chinese and Russian coalition could change the equation on many levels.
Whether the conflict is for political gains, UN recognition, or a new divergence of power in the region the death toll rises from both sides while the United Nations Security Council remains at a dead end after holding an emergency session on the situation.
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Our profound thanks to Azad for his keen observations. Many prayers for his family, and for all of the families and children who are left scrambling for cover when the Giants dance.
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*‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.
© 2012 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.
Please thank Azad for his perspective. As with most conflicts, it is extremely helpful to get a view from all sides so that an objective opinion can be formed. Occasionally, there are glimmers of hope for resolution reported. Do you think there is actually any cause for optimism, or is it more likely that the entire region will blow up if, as Azad suggests, the Chinese and Russians use it as an opportunity for mischief? After all, the Russians make more money if the supply from the mideast is disrupted. Israel doesn’t have oil, but Iran does, and they sit on the Straits of Hormuz.
Hi Dave. My guess is that in the near future we will not see a major effort by the Russians to make a major impact in the region beyond their current involvement in Syria. For now the Chinese prefer to extend their influence in the south Pacific region and in Africa. The Chinese are also busy keeping their boot secure on the necks of Tibetans and on their own unhappy masses. I think that Azad is wondering about the longer term effects of Putin’s neostalinist state and the growing might of China. If Azad has time he might decide to post his own answer here but I am told that he is somewhat occupied with work and family matters.
Thanks for this excellent post. Azad’s perspective is the kind of viewpoint the media should be promoting in the hope more of the general public might become somewhat factually aware.
I have family in Israel and Syria. We speak often and I am constantly reminded of the dramatic changes that could occur in that part of the world if funds were spent on education and developing employment opportunities instead of weapons and propaganda. Sigh …
Thanks for a laugh-out-loud moment in the midst of the madness – ” However, the New American Reality Dictionary defines “friends” as, “Anyone who ships oil to the US.”
In my opinion part of Assad’s trouble in Syria stems from education. From the outside it’s easy to view all “Islamic” countries as being completely ignorant and neolithic but that is an over-simplified view. The vast majority of Syrians are now too educated and sophisticated to accept anything like the Assad regime. They need and want more education but they already have too much education to happily accept abuse. That situation is similar to what Qaddafi faced in Libya. He allowed enough education to occur to the point that too many Libyans weren’t buying the old party line any more.
There is an old French saying. “How do you get the boy back to the farm once he has been to Paris?”
The great challenge for Syrians today is for the most able and highly educated Syrians to form a working coalition that can keep power from the well funded and well armed outsiders that are backing that small minority of radical Syrians.
My best hope for Syria is that the most qualified Syrians come to power. If that happens Syria will develop a “pro-Syrian” agenda and will be able to improve life for Syrians while leaving Lebanon to the Lebanese. Of course I’m still holding out that same best hope for us here in the USA. What can I say? I’m an incurable optimist.
May your loved ones in Syria and Israel be allowed to live securely in peace.
It seems to me that Israel is spoiling for a fight. The people sacrificed are just a chip in a high stakes “Let’s see if we can blow this sucker up” game. Buddy Benny is as much a terrorist as the suicide bomber who detonates himself in a market. He’ll sacrifice as many reservists as necessary to elict world sympathy. It’s time the people of the region stopped being conned by their respective governments and the theocrats that inhabit them and begin to install governments that will operate in the interest of the people not some dogma.
Hi tomwisk. “It’s time the people of the region stopped being conned by their respective governments and the theocrats that inhabit them and begin to install governments that will operate in the interest of the people not some dogma.”
I think that you described the basic governmental issue of all nations.
Sadly Gaza does not come close to having a workable government and the people of Gaza live in misery. If we look to the West Bank for comparison Fatah and the Israeli Government have managed to forge a less violent relationship. The people in that area might not be living in ideal conditions but it is a definite improvement over life in Gaza.
Hamas is not going to easily back down other than to agree to a ceasefire to gain space and time to rearm. It’s just my guess but the looming Israeli invasion of Gaza may be more intrusive and destructive than the last one.
Thank you for your thoughtful article on the struggle between the people of Gaza and Israel. What the public doesn’t know is that Sderot, Israel on the other side of the border from Gaza, has been dealing with rockets shot from the Gaza side for a few years now. The provocation has been intense. Much of Israel lives in fear. It’s been standard for new buildings to have mandatory bomb shelters. Israel, the size of Vancouver Island, is surrounded by 22 Arab states. Of those, a good many would like Israel obliterated. I’ve been to Egypt, Israel and Jordan. I found the Israelis highly tolerant with large Arab communities living within their borders in peace. Are there any Jewish communities within Arab countries? It’s a sad and complex situation, but as long as you have people who want to annihilate another group based on their religion or ethnic identity, we will continue to have senseless wars. And yes, innocent children from both sides will suffer as will their families.
Thank you for your perspective.
It does not surprise me that the Western press almost completely ignores the almost daily rocket/mortar/ and suicide attacks originating in Gaza. At one time it would have disgusted me but I can no longer be disappointed by the media’s lack of ethical conduct. I have come to accept them as well paid advertising agencies and nothing more.
I begin to lose hope that there will ever be a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because of the length of time and multitude of “peace plans.” But, being an optimist — I hold out hope that someday…
This is the first time I’ve read anything about Netanyahu’s potential political agenda in timing for this escalation. Regardless of timing, wasn’t it something that had to happen? Israel sits alone geographically in a hostile region. What havoc might Hamas bring to bear on Israel should Iran cross the “red line” Netanyahu clearly stated in his address to the not-so-United Nations? Is it time to quell one enemy should it become necessary to focus on another?
(Another topic, perhaps? Is our ongoing involvement in and financial aid to the U.N. money and time well spent? It seems we’re captive to Russia and China in all Security Council decisions made in that once-noble-intentioned collaboration.)
Please add my thanks to Azad for his balanced and informed opinion. I never forget the children on both side of this and all conflicts.
Russia? Azad’s statement about Putin’s agenda hit nerves of fear already wound tight. And, we gave up our missile defense system in negotiations with him? Oh, yeah. That makes sense.
“I have no plans to fire missiles at you or your allies, but please remove those pesky interceptors…”
Hi Gloria. Thank you for not giving up hope.
As for the UN I guess we show up to be ready to veto whatever China and Russia would propose in our absence. The UN world health organization has done some good but for the most part the UN is a financial black hole for Western nations and a great place for the relatives and friends of third world despots to hang out.
I support the ideal of a functioning “UN”. We don’t have one.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein (1947)
Hi Rob. Albert was a pretty smart fellow.
Good write-up Holmes, by you and your friend Azad. Given Israel’s location and its neighbors, it’s hard to see that any solution is really going to last. If the neighbors were stable there might be some hope, but with porous borders and the political churn over the years it’s hard to see that kind of stability occurring in the region. The media in the US and many other major powers around the world don’t help as they all want to boil down centuries of complex interactions into a couple of cool sound-bites.
Hi Nigel. I think you are right about the situation in Israel and Gaza. You are also right about the media. Its seems as though modern news hours are all about the marketing and the news is trimmed and tailored to support the products being marketed.
A few random thoughts:
1) I hope the shale oil discoveries in the US/Canada/Europe truly live up to the hype. Having the long term price of oil drop and with it the leverage that both OPEC and the Russians yield upon the rest of the world would be a wonderful thing. At least there would be less $ available for them to use to create mischief. And with us not being dependent on non-North American oil, I hope we’d choose better ‘friends’ – though I wouldn’t advise anyone hold their breath.
2) I tire of the false equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians presented by (most of) the media. If Israel were to lay down their arms, what would happen? What if the Palestinians (and their ‘friends’) did? In the first case, all the Jews, most of the Christians, and many of the Muslims in Israel would be killed. In the latter, the 2-state solution would eventually come to pass and the Arab states would have to find a different way to direct the anger and frustration of their populations. Israel has already shown that it will forcibly pull ‘settlers’ from territory they return.
3) Much of the negative media coverage for Israel comes down to the non-pervasiveness of Jacksonian thought (simplified in Sean Connery’s “bring a gun to a knife fight” monologue). It is ‘unfair’ to some people that one side has high-tech bombs while the other one has exploding ‘rockets’ made from ammonia and yak poop. Moral culpability should not be offset by possessing lower technology.
A fascinating, but very long, explanation of Jacksonian thought can be found here: http://denbeste.nu/external/Mead01.html
Hi Jay. Thanks for the link to the excellent article and thank you for your thoughtful response.
I have a history degree, and I find that when media and pundits start spouting off about current events, they are rarely informed about the whole story. This land has unfortunately been in conflict for centuries. I think Jay’s #2 point is excellent. However, the long-term work we need to do in the Middle East is to introduce better values and culture into these violent areas. I am NOT talking about “nation-building,” but rather the influence that comes through interaction, diplomacy, intentional communications, etc.
Great article, Holmes and Azad. The perspective I find here is always insightful.
Hi Julie. Thank you for your perspective and thanks for adding an important point about positive influence,
We have the nasty habit of using diplomacy to buy influence for a short term issue without working on the long term relationship. I don’t blame this on the State Department. Most diplomatic staff members come to their work with an instinct to try to understand the people, culture and government of their assigned nation but often their best work is ignored as one administration after another falls into the habit of concentrating completely on the crisis of the day.
I am not an Obama fan but I am pleased that he did manage to make a trip to Myanmar for the simple fact that it is somewhat active rather than completely momentary and reactive diplomacy.
An excellent well-balanced piece! Thanks for this… 🙂
Hello David. I just read your article on self publishing. it was useful for me and I think it will be useful for any writer, or as in my case any lazy skaters that let their writing partner (Piper Bayard) do most of the work.
Our visitors might wish to link to your page (from your name) and read that article. I will ask Piper to add a link to your article to her Friday posting.
We will be out from Wednesday until Monday for the holiday, but I would be happy to do that in the November 30 mashup. 🙂
Thanks to you and your friend Azad for the articles, Holmes.
That’s about as far as I can go on this topic before I start to throw verbal lead, so will shut off now.
Hi Texanne. it’s always OK for you to express yourself here.
I can’t promise that I will always agree but I can promise that I’ll defend your right to say what you need to within the bounds of decency. Seeing as how you are a touch more decent than I am, fire away! 🙂
We never want readers to feel as though they have to agree with some “party line” here. I love that in the USA we still get to disagree.
“I love that in the USA we still get to disagree.”
Are you sure? I think that was removed in Section 6, Sub-Chapter 11. Look at page 2146 / paragraph 2, of the “Banshees Against Denmark” bill – aka the “BAD” bill.
Don’t give them any ideas. Please.