Beginning the Assessment
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
As the Israel troops withdrew from Gaza and the region appeared to be moving towards an effective cease-fire, Jews throughout the world observed the saddest day on their calendar commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the Romans in 70 CE. In Gaza, it appears that both sides have had enough; at least for the moment. Whether all parties gathering now in Cairo can make the ceasefire hold remains to be seen, but it appears to be the direction toward which things are moving.
There are several important observations that already can be made about the Gaza War and which may affect the Middle East much sooner than is anticipated. These are considerations which many direct and indirect parties to the conflict do not want to hear but, nevertheless, are necessary outcomes of the war.
- The success of the Iron Dome defense system, if accurately reported, suggests that it indeed may be possible to create a totally effective, foolproof anti-missile system. While Hamas’s rockets were not the most sophisticated on the market, given some time there is reason to assume that a system can be put in place to protect against any type of weapons; conceivably including nuclear ones.
- Iran took note of Iran Dome’s capabilities and understood where Israeli-U.S. technology must be moving.
- Democracy is the best and optimal form of government, but it is time to give up the dream that Obama suggested in Cairo in June 2009 that the Arab world is ready for democracy. This might be the case in Tunisia or Morocco—at least in limited forms—but no more deluding ourselves about democracy. The U.S. must support rulers who are in America’s own interests, and accept that the likelihood of Muslim countries moving to adopt democracy seriously is illusory.
- The Palestinian Authority and Hamas and even Islamic Jihad may well need to be accepted as the combined unit for the Palestinian people; but they must accept the fact that the PA must lead and that it will be a demilitarized country.
- Hamas’s principled hatred of Jews as well as Israelis is doctrinaire and will not disappear, certainly for the foreseeable future. It will up to the Palestinians to change this mindset, not Israel. It will be for the world to expose the truth about Hamas genocidal aspirations.
- Israeli political leaders cannot afford ever to have as sour a personal relationship with the United States as Netanyahu has with Obama. Israel needs the U.S. Both leaders may not like each other, but Bibi needs to suck it up and learn how to conduct relations with Israel’s vital and singular reliable friend in the world.
- The explosion of world-wide anti-Semitism is the most dangerous outgrowth of the entire last month. Particularly in Europe the demonstrations, the protests, the political statements, and the physical attacks were wide spread. From France to Germany to Italy to Holland to Britain the anti-Israel language was the broadest and most intense expressions of feelings against Jews seen since the days of Nazis. It came from the streets, from political leaders, and from intellectuals. It could take time to repair, if that ever can be accomplished.