Basim Naim is the Hamas minister of health in Gaza. Since our troops are arguing right now with the thugs of his side, I don't feel the need to argue with him nor to point out the various factual, chronological and logical weak spots of his argument. I'm mentioning it mostly to index for future use that the Guardian hosted him and its readers seem to have welcomed him, and also because youmight want to compare what he says with the next interpretations.
Jonathan Freedland is one of the less worst of the Guardian crop, generally speaking, and today's column fits the pattern. It's fundamentally wrong, it's informed by the man's understanding of the world not the facts, but it's neither as bad as Minister Naim nor as some of his own colleagues at the Guardian. Again, I'm indexing, not engaging. Life is too short to spend it arguing with the Guardian.
So, we move on to the New York Times. Some people I know can't stand them and get all worked up when they don't support Israeli ways of understanding reality; I also argue with them from time to time. But these arguments mostly fall deep within the lines of reasonable differences of opinion. The two columns from today's edition disagree with one another on the basics, but they're both interesting and thoughtful.
Thomas Friedman explains that the war really is (or should be) about the day after the day after the end of the shooting: what each side will have learned, and especially, if Hamas will be detered as Hezbollah has been:
That was the education of Hezbollah. Has Israel seen its last conflict with Hezbollah? I doubt it. But Hezbollah, which has done nothing for Hamas, will think three times next time. That is probably all Israel can achieve with a nonstate actor.
In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims. Now its focus, and the Obama team’s focus, should be on creating a clear choice for Hamas for the world to see: Are you about destroying Israel or building Gaza?
Finally, we've got Jeffrey Goldberg. I admit that for the moment I'm precariously close to becoming a Goldberg Fan, which would be bad: I've managed to get through decades of adulthood without long-term membership in anyone's fan club. So next week I'll have to make sure I find something he writes that really aggravates me. But that's next week.
Goldberg speaks Arabic, unlike Freedland and Friedman. Unlike Freedamn, he takes Hamas seriously, and probably unlike Freidman, he really wants to understand them by their own terms. That's why you need to read his findings:
There is a fixed idea among some Israeli leaders that Hamas can be bombed into moderation. This is a false and dangerous notion. It is true that Hamas can be deterred militarily for a time, but tanks cannot defeat deeply felt belief.
The reverse is also true: Hamas cannot be cajoled into moderation. Neither position credits Hamas with sincerity, or seriousness.
The only small chance for peace today is the same chance that existed before the Gaza invasion: The moderate Arab states, Europe, the United States and, mainly, Israel, must help Hamas’s enemy, Fatah, prepare the West Bank for real freedom, and then hope that the people of Gaza, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to Hamas, see the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Hassan Nasrallah and Nizar Rayyan.