Debate Magazine

Tom Friedman Partially Gets It, Partially Doesn't

Posted on the 17 July 2014 by Mikelumish @IsraelThrives
Sar Shalom
In his most recent column, makes an important point and a point that is wildly off the mark. In discussing the current situation of rockets from Gaza, Friedman writes:
In my view, the only way Israel can truly curtail the Hamas rocket threat is if the Palestinians of Gaza demand that the rockets stop. Sure, Israel can inflict enough pain on all of Gaza to get a cease-fire, but it never lasts. The only sustainable way to do it is by Israel partnering with moderate Palestinians in the West Bank to build a thriving state there, so Gaza Palestinians wake up every day and say to the nihilistic Hamas: “We want what our West Bank cousins have.” The only sustainable controls are those that come from within.
That is how the U.S. military defeated the earlier version of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, when the jihadists largely took over Iraq’s Anbar Province in 2006-7. The U.S. partnered with the Sunni Muslim tribal leaders ...
This observation is entirely accurate, even from the narrow standpoint of eliminating Hamas and all other irhabist groups (note that eliminating Hamas would not be much of an improvement if the replacement is ISIL or a similar group, hence the expanded target). The only way to kill our way to eliminating all those groups is the Carthaginian way. To eliminate the irhab coalition without turning Gaza into Carthage, it will be necessary to convince a large enough portion of the remaining population to embrace an alternative regime.
The only issue in this approach becomes how to identify what constitutes a moderate movement that would constitute an acceptable alternative. It is on this front that Friedman is so wildly off with:
And the moderate, secular Palestinian leadership in the West Bank ...
There are moderates among the Palestinians. For instance, there's Sheikh Zaid al-Jabari of Hebron and there's the Wasatiya movement who's leader led a group of students to Auschwitz and had to resign his position at Al Quds University as a result. However, the international intelligentsia so dogmatic that there just has to be a moderate with influence among the Palestinians that they insist that Abbas is a moderate and systematically ignore all contradictory information.
What we have to do is press the case about the genuine moderates among the Palestinians so that some portion of the international intelligentsia will see what genuine moderation is. Then efforts could shift to making Jabari sovereign in Hebron or raising the public esteem of Wasatiya rather than pressuring Israel to accepts the demands of the pseudo-moderates due to blind acceptance of the notion that the pseudo-moderates' demands are what the Palestinian people need.

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