A few days ago, I noted that, if history is any guide, a post-Hamas Gaza could wind up under the sway of even more radical factions. Sadly, I’m not the only one who thinks this (italics mine):
Bringing Hamas to power is one of the most horrific legacies of the Bush administration. In retrospect, the decision to oust Arafat (who had demonstrated the ability to thwart terrorism, and had reduced it to almost zero between 1997 and 2000) was a blunder. The administration’s subsequent stingy support for Mahmoud Abbas was incomprehensible and its decision to force the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to power–and which Israel and Abbas opposed–was about as benighted a foreign policy move as any in history.
Nonetheless, Hamas’ possible successors as rulers of Gaza would likely be worse. Forget about the idea of Abu Mazen riding in triumph back into Gaza following the Israeli troops. One, he wouldn’t do it. Two, if he did, he would be viewed as an Israeli stooge.
No, Hamas’ likely successors would be Al Qaeda–and its allies–which already have cells in Gaza. Hamas and Al Qaeda hate each other for many reasons, most of which are of interest only to students of Islam. The one that matters to us is that Hamas is willing to compromise with its enemies….
Writing in the London Jewish Chronicle, reporter Jonathan Freedland predicts, “Gaza could become a vacuum, rapidly descending into Somalia, a lawless badland of warlords and clans. . . . And from the rubble of Gaza, the attacks on Israel will surely resume.”
He then quotes Mideast expert Rashid Khalidi, “There would be no Hamas leadership–with undeniable discipline over its forces and the pragmatism to see the benefits of a ceasefire–to rein in these new, angry fighters. The great irony is that Israel may well decapitate Hamas–only to regret the passing of a Palestinian administration with sufficient stature to bring order.”
That is another reason for a ceasefire now. The first is to stop the killing. The second is to ensure that a year or two from now we are not all wishing that Hamas was still in charge.
After all, who would think that we would miss Arafat?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: anyone who thinks things can’t get worse is showing a lack of imagination.
Get a cease fire, and lift the embargo.
Note: Inevitably, someone will ask (actually, make a statement in the form of a question) “What should Israel have done?” What Israel should have done during the ceasefire is to have lifted the naval blockade of Gaza as Israel was required to do under the terms of the ceasefire. Ironically, Israel, in the past, has declared that a blockade is an act of war.