Monday, May 21, 2007

Chutzpa, Hamas Style

Chutzpa can be defined loosely as and act of unbridled nerve, brazen behavior, sometimes but not always accompanied by an outrageous statement or statement. defines it as
chutz·pa [khoo t-spuh, hoo t-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun Slang.
1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall.
2. audacity; nerve.
[Origin: 1890–95; < Yiddish khutspa < Aram ḥūṣpā ]

The classic example of chutzpa is the man who killed both his parents then asked the court for leniency because he was an orphan.

Hamas, after shelling, or allowing the shelling, or encouraging the shelling, of over a hundred Qassam rockets into southern Israel, yelled for international intervention once Israel began retaliating following months of the army sitting on their hands while towns like Sderot were bombed.

This was classic Chutzpa by Hamas. It is a ploy they’ve used many times in the past. It’s part of their playbook. Do the dirty to Israel and the Jews, then once Israel starts hitting back, turn to the International Community for protection.

No one cares much about Hamas bombing Israeli towns with Qassam rockets. After all, they’re little buggers, can’t kill more than a few people at a time. Sort of like an overgrown hand grenade attached to a pipe filled with gunpowder and aimed in a general direction of “over there.”

At one point during the War in Lebanon, when Hamas was lobbing rockets over by the score on a daily basis, they defended their actions by saying that no one was really getting hurt; at least not compared to the damage an Israeli helicopter firing really accurate and powerful missiles was hurt.

How can a few guys hauling these airborne pipe-bombs threaten a big slob of a country like Israel? How can a Qassam, made in some metal shop with money from who knows where, compare to a F-16 jet fighter dropping half-ton bombs?
How can a guy with a Kalatchnikov automatic rifle be put in the same class as four Israeli soldiers in an advanced Merkava IV tank. (We’ll put aside for the moment that a Russian developed WWII weapon called the RPG for Rocket Propelled Grenade, succeeds in disabling these steel monsters with uncanny success.)

The trick is to get the public at large to make the comparison between the Tank and the lone fighter with the gun; between the pipe bomb on wings and the Apache helicopter armed with Hellfire missiles.

The tactics are to play to the press, not to beat the Israeli army. The Hamas taunting of Israel is meant to garner public sympathy for the Palestinian cause. It is meant to keep Hamas and their people in the news, near page one, or the opening headlines of the TV news.

Haniyeh, the Hamas chieftain, said on Monday that he would not stop fighting Israel until Hamas had recaptured all of Israel’s land. Actually, he said all of Palestine, but they are, in Hamas’ mind, one in the same.

Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet morning news show ran an interview with a nice lady, a professor who has been studying Moslem suicide bombers for a decade. She told the interviewer that she’d asked Haniyeh’s wife if the young Haniyeh would be a suicide bomber. Mrs Hamas chieftain replied that her son was too busy at University studying for exams, but that she whole-heartedly supported those who became ‘shaidiem’, or martyrs. In other words, said the good professor, suicide bombing is good, as long as it isn’t the Prime Minister’s own children.

This exchange was relevant because Hamas is again threatening to use suicide bombers against Israel. Back in 1996 Hamas was sending in saps to blow themselves up on a daily basis. Women are now the preferred weapons of choice because they are not as easily searched by the Israeli troops and more frequently sneak their bombs in through the checkpoint undetected.

Israel has threatened to strike Hamas leaders if such moves are made. In the past Israeli warplanes and helicopters carried out ‘targeted’ attacks against specific Hamas leaders, like Sheik Yassin, and Dr. Rantisi. The death of these men didn’t stop Hamas, but did slow them down a bit. These “assassinations” made the acts themselves distasteful in the minds of most Israelis, left a bad taste in their mouths. The negative press was a byproduct, but one which Hamas used to the fullest.

Chutzpa. Suicide bombers killed hundreds of Israelis, warplanes wiped out two leaders, and it was the Israeli who felt guilty, and the Media who beat up on Israel. Israel is now apparently faced with the same situation again. The fact that Hamas is the legitimate government of the (as yet Stateless) Palestinian people, means that Israel could probably declare war on Hamas, march in with a well-organized campaign, assuming Israel is still capable of such a thing given the block-headedness of the leadership and the fat old stubborn generals.

When a political party, elected by the majority, runs a government, and actively and aggressively attacks a neighboring country, this is the grounds for war. Hamas, the elected government, attacks Israel, verbally and physically, and should be held accountable.

The original sin , an article in the Haaretz on Monday, Danny Rubenstein, the Arab Affairs Correspondent, Danny Rubinstein dissected Hamas’ rise to power, and determined that the mistake was Fatah leader Abu Mazen’s, who was not capable of filling Arafat’s “big shoes.” Abu Mazen, according to the article, agreed to hold general elections, something that Arafat would never have done because he knew he’d lose.

The leaders of the Fatah movement, according to the article, are all in their 70’s and the only thing they care about is keeping their power (and probably the money they can embezzle along the way.) The Palestinian street doesn’t like these guys, and no one can get rid of them. So as a protest the street votes for Hamas, or so the pro-Fatah public relations goes. Should these old corrupt geezers step aside and let the young guard in (men in their fifties already) things might change for the better. Hamas might be unseated.

But meanwhile, Hamas is in power. And they are making de facto war against Israel. And when Israel retaliates, modestly at this stage, what does Hamas do? Call on the Europeans to stop Israel. Yell, and stamp their feet. Chutzpa!

But this is not unusual. Big countries fighting wars all tried to reach their maximum objective before the Peacemakers stepped in. Alliances and axis of power and partnerships are part of the life of any nation. Hamas has found that hollering for help once Israel rises to the bait and attacks, has worked in the past. And will probably work again.

Had Israel done better against Hezbollah last summer, perhaps the army would have had the confidence to simply say, ‘Hamas is making war on us. We’re going to go in, wipe them out, occupy Gaza until Hamas is eradicated, or exiled to Tripoli, as Israel exiled Arafat from Lebanon in 1981, and then see if Gaza can find someone else to run the country.”

But Israel won’t invade. Hamas has only approximately 15,000 men with arms, but Gaza is a teeming cesspool of nearly two million people. Occupying Gaza, again, would be a huge drain, morally, physically, and economically. That’s if Israel is still capable of the task.

Meanwhile, Hamas is yelling for help. Firing twenty rockets a day at Israel, boasting that they’ve succeeded in forcing the evacuation of Sderot. Zeev Shiff, writing in Haaretz, says that Sderot’s evacuation of 5,000 residents is the worst and most humiliating event in Israel’s history since a similar evacuation of another village back in 1948. And Hamas is bragging to the press that. soon the rockets will land in Israel’s southern city of Ashkelon .causing the evacuation of the 100,000 Israelis living there.

And maybe they will. Maybe the rockets will drive out the Israelis. Maybe the key to success is really just well planned Chutzpa after all.