My Speculation About Israel’s RWC and Hamas

I’m referring to Israel’s Right-Wing Coalition (RWC).

I have a suspicion that the real conflict is not between Israel and Palestinians or Jews and Arabs, or even (god forbid) Jews and Gentiles.

I think the real conflict is between the extreme Right wing, in Israel, Iran, Palestine and everywhere else, and liberal democracy anywhere. It’s a conflict you see everywhere in the world. America, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa. Maybe China, I don’t know anything about that. Maybe not there.

Here’s my chain of events:

Israel’s RWC, like the extreme Right elsewhere, believes the population is too placid and comfortable. The extreme Right everywhere is frustrated that most people don’t see that nations should be either mono-ethnic or, if they are unlucky enough to have a pluralistic history, have a dominant ethnic group; others would be tolerated, though disarmed, taxed, and denied a voice in politics.

A model of this Right-wing vision is the Islamic Empire — in the Islamic Golden Age, minorities were tolerated and their contributions were valued (to the greater wealth and glory of all) but of course they paid a tax, were forbidden from carrying arms, and lived at the pleasure of the Islamic overlords. I see this as the model of the most liberal form of an illiberal society.

[NOTE: I’m no scholar of Islamic, or any, history.]

More, I think it is a characteristic of most people (source: my own life experience) to want peace, reasonable prosperity, stability, and good health. But there are people for whom this is shallow and base, who crave dominance and are willing to undergo extreme hardship to achieve it. We are, after all, hierarchical apes; we are happy when we perceive ourselves as doing better than others, and frustrated when we see others doing better than (or as well as!) us. I suspect this characteristic, this desire to advance, varies among individuals just like many other characteristics. For some, you can barely see it, and they are content. Others delight in competition, are rabid for dominance, and are miserable if they don’t see others below them. Maybe this a natural variance within all populations like height and eye color.

I think on the extremes of both right and left we see this love of dominance. Which side one joins to satisfy one’s need depends, I’m guessing, on chance and culture. By the way, I’m not blind that much of the patter on both sides is about equality, about lifting up those unfairly dominated. Whether that’s the working class and marginalized (on the left) or the hard-working member of a given ethnic group who is victimized by PC and Woke (on the right)… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The driving motivation of those who would lead either side is… to lead, and by leading, dominate.

It so happens right now in history (as opposed to maybe the early 20th century) that many of those who crave domination have clustered on the Right.

Under this speculative schema, Hamas and Israel’s RWC are perverse allies, opposing all innocents on both sides. If that seems counterintuitive, remember those videos about how Netanyahu and Smotrich each called Hamas an “Asset.” Remember how they fought, with Bush II, to remove Hamas from a terrorist list so they could run for office. The actual elections, and the representation scheme, were very complicated. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know what influence Israel had on them. If the Mossad is half the organization it is reputed to be, it had some influence on it. Fatah split its votes by running too many candidates and handed victory to Hamas.

My speculation is that the Israeli RWC wanted Hamas to win the election because the RWC wants to further radicalize the Israeli population. I speculate that the RWC sees most of Israel’s population as soft and overly attached to liberalism. The second Intifada did some of the heavy lifting of muting the Israeli Left and empowering the Right, but didn’t go far enough. The various Palestinian political parties and leaders were insufficiently terrifying. The RWC wanted an overtly Jihad-y, Islamist party, willing to call outright for the destruction of Israel. A real “Stones & Trees” political party, blatantly anti-Semitic and warlike.

I think it was weird that there was pretty specific intelligence about the attack that was given to the Israeli RWC, but they did nothing about it. It could be because any intelligence comes in a cloud of confusing information (see 9/11) and one can miss signals amid the noise. In retrospect, it’s easy to point out the signals and wonder how they could have been missed. Maybe that’s the case here. Or maybe it’s exactly what the RWC wanted. Maybe they felt that a good bloody war was what was needed to put some steel in the spines of the complacent Israeli population. See Ambrose Bierce, who may have been sarcastic, but voiced something many believe.

To be tediously clear, I don’t think the RWC gave orders to Hamas. I think what might have happened is they successfully arranged things such that Hamas would have power and would do what comes naturally to a Jihadist, Islamist, authoritarian group. The RWC just had to sit back and watch Hamas be Hamas. And when it became clear they were going to attack, to let it happen when they could have prevented it.

How is Hamas their ally? I believe Hamas’s leaders are sitting comfortably in Qatar or Pyongyang, rolling, Scrooge McDuck-like, in their bags of €500 notes. I don’t think they are RWC cat’s-paws, but I do think the situation satisfies them because it keeps the euros and dollars rolling in, and it satisfies the RWC because it gets them closer to their goal of full annexation of Gaza and the West Bank, along with subjugation of the resident non-Jewish populations and assignment to non-citizen resident status of some kind. The only things standing in the RWC’s way are the Israeli judicial system and the reluctance of a lot of Israeli citizens.

The Israeli RWC and Hamas have similar visions of the good society — one in which they are dominant and others are subordinated. Maybe there was, once upon a time, a chance to develop a pluralist, democratic country with liberal ideals on an Islamic base; maybe CIA-backed coups in Egypt and Iran put paid to that. But they have had plenty of chances since then. And I don’t believe the scars of colonialism can forever be blamed for a society’s oppressiveness any more than we can credibly blame our parents for our problems for our whole lives.

In the sense that the situation rewards them both and that they have similar visions of society, Hamas and the RWC are allies.

As a die-hard (if maybe live-easy) Liberal, what is my solution? I would pull out all settlements, everywhere, leaving only a thin belt of IDF around Israel. Then I would tuck that back within the borders. I don’t believe Israel has the power or the right to keep a cordon sanitaire outside its borders, as much as it might want to. Even Russia is having trouble keeping its cordon sanitaire intact, though it is willing to threaten the entire world to do so. Most countries can’t engineer it such that they can interpose some third country and people between outside threats and their own territory. Even if they could, it is ethically dubious, to say the least. Israel has no greater obligation than any other country to behave ethically, but I wish it would. Giving a two-week warning to people that they’re about to destroy their homes is often touted as a truly wonderful thing, but I think they can and should do better.

Israel’s has every right to exist and to defend itself. I do not think it has the right to defend itself from within their neighbor’s territory, even armed with legalistic word-clouds about how their neighbor never accepted the borders or the nation offered them. No partner for peace? Fine, make peace without a partner. And if attacked, defend from within your borders. And if their neighbor disagrees about what those borders are, Israel should decide them unilaterally and make them close to what we expect they are. Let the Palestinians be oppressed, like many Arabs, by their own governments only.

How do you know if you’re an anti-Semite?

I have been seeing many posts on Reddit, indignant angry posts, that if you criticize Israel, people say you’re an anti-Semite! I responded in my (hopefully annoying) measured, calm tone that while I’m sure people do say that, it’s not true. You can certainly criticize Israel from many directions — you can criticize the existence of the settlements, the behavior of the settlers, the support of the IDF for the settler’s vicious anti-Palestinian actions. You can criticize Israel’s support for its Haredi community, subsidized housing, exemption from national service (is that still true?). You can criticize the ultra-Orthodox community’s behavior toward woman praying at the Western Wall.

I think all of that, and more, is fair game and doesn’t make you an anti-Semite.

Of course, you might make those criticisms and also be an anti-Semite.

How can you know?

I will take the example of your (fictional) Uncle Wayne at Thanksgiving. Uncle Wayne watches Fox News and constantly harps on Black-on-Black violence in Chicago. You talk to your cousins about him and agree, the guy is just an out-and-out bigot. Maybe you get a little high out back, and at the dinner table, unwisely (in my opinion) tell him he’s a racist. Uncle Wayne is shocked, insulted and appalled! He is just telling the truth! He trots out some web site and, sure enough, the statistics are as he reports them.

So, is Uncle Wayne a racist? Or is he “just” pointing out the truth? You won’t find out by asking him, because people usually don’t feel they are racist, bigoted, or anti-Semitic (and wouldn’t admit it if they did!). They feel that they are “just” noticing what “those” people are doing, while you are blinding yourself to the truth!

Simple fact about human nature, by and large: an impatient person doesn’t feel impatient, they feel other people are too slow. Cranky people don’t feel cranky, they feel like everyone else is a pain in the ass and they are “just” responding appropriately. Depressed people often don’t feel that they have an illness called Depression, they feel that the world is terrible and nobody cares about them. Anxious people… you get the point. It takes careful, painful introspection to learn that the problem (or part of it) is inside, not the rest of the world. And there is rarely enough incentive to take the trouble of going into therapy. And of course it’s expensive. And even in therapy, one can resist. A complicating factor is that sometimes the problem is other people. Terrible disappointments do happen to depressed people, people do pay with a check at the grocery and an impatient person might be behind them. It can be tricky to tease apart.

So how do we decide if our fictional Uncle Wayne is a racist? We look at his other opinions, the way he lives his life, who his friends and colleagues are. What else bothers him? We look at context. Is he appalled by violence everywhere or does it only bother him when it’s committed by Black people? Does he make excuses for it in other contexts? Are some of his actual best friends actually Black?

Side note — let’s say you decide he’s an actual racist. Ask yourself why would he be that way? There could well be an element of fitting in, of peer group pressure. The peer group could be that artificial group of “friends” we believe we know through TV (Fox News, in this case), and social media. Maybe Wayne is trying to fit in with the cool kids. Might seem nuts (they’re not really cool), but people do strange things to fit in.

We’re talking about bias. Some forms of bias are commendable, such as the bias we feel toward our family. When our teenage kid Jonah gets a C, maybe we argue with the teacher. We might look for reasons that it’s unfair. Maybe that teacher doesn’t like Jonah because he’s a little rambunctious. When the neighbor’s kid Melvin gets a C, my god that kid’s just a lazy good-for-nothing who spends all night playing that dumb video game. Lucky to get a C! Speaking for myself, I want my family to get somewhat more than they deserve, while I want other people to get exactly what they deserve. Fair? Of course not. Understandable? I think so. I try to keep in mind that I need to be objective about what they actually deserve. In other words, I try not to delude myself about how smart, kind, or deserving they are. I try to be objective, and I acknowledge that I’m being unfair in wanting them to receive rewards greater than those qualities might warrant.

I want the same for myself! I’m no genius, I’m a little wanting in the “grit” department, I’m not all that hard-working, but I want high pay for my work. I want a little more than I strictly deserve. To be perfectly honest, I have received quite a bit more than I deserve. I’m hoping that continues!

So, bias: everyone has it. The trick is not to expect to be completely objective and unbiased, that’s impossible. The trick is to be aware of one’s biases and try not to be blinded by them. Be aware of them and try to correct, like if your car pulls to the left a little, you have to steer to the right a little to keep going straight.

So let’s go to Israel and Gaza. Can you criticize Israel and not be an anti-Semite? Sure, but of course you might still be an anti-Semite. How do you know? What else in the world bothers you? If you’re picketing on behalf of Palestinians, are you also picketing on behalf of, say, Ukrainians or Albanians or Indian Muslims. Are you horrified that Palestinians in the West Bank don’t get to vote in Israeli elections despite Israel having control over many aspects of their life, but it doesn’t bother you that Saudis, Emiratis, and Qataris don’t get to vote on anything at all, despite their government controlling every aspect of their civil and religious lives?

If what bothers you is lack of democracy anywhere in the world, good for you. If it only bothers you when the lack of democracy is under Israeli control, well, you might be an anti-Semite.