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Sunday Reads: Is Hamas the Lesser Evil?, Gaza & the Six Day War, Fasting from Social Media

by Shmuel Rosner

July 13, 2014 | 4:10 am

A Hamas Supporter, photo by Reuters

US

James Jeffrey explains why the US did not ‘lose Iraq’ like some commentators have suggested –

The problem was less any one politician and more that Iraq is thin soil for a full-bodied constitutional democracy. But the remedy is not to use our soldiers to dictate constitutional and parliamentary outcomes, thus challenging the very constitutional order we fought so hard to establish. That was not our military’s mandate in the 2008 security agreement with Iraq, and the idea runs counter to the views of majorities of Americans and Iraqis. The term for all that is not “nation-building” but “imperialism,” which sees nations and populations as pawns to be “won” or “lost.”

Jessica T. Matthews takes on some misconceptions about what the US could have done for Iraq –

Had the US been willing to stay longer, might the artificial peace its troops imposed have turned into a real one? Perhaps it might have, if American forces had continued to occupy Iraq for another decade or two. But it is unlikely that Iraq or its neighbors would have been willing to tolerate our presence for that long, and people can nurse a political dream or a desire for revenge for far longer even than that. Iraqis knew that someday we’d be gone and they would remain. They could afford to wait.

Israel

Michael J. Totten examines the disturbing idea that Hamas might be the lesser of two evils at this point –

So Hamas is the “lid,” and the Israelis won’t even try to get rid of it. Right now they only want to put a stop to the rocket fire. It makes sense considering what’s happening in Syria and Iraq, but think of the long-term ramifications: Hamas is indispensable even while making an end to the conflict impossible. What does that say about the prospects for peace in the near term?

According to Eitan Haber, Israel’s security establishment is still guided by a six day war mindset –

Even today, there are senior political and military officials in Israel (mostly retired) who still live the memory of the seventh day of the Six-Day War. The military victory was so big at the time that senior IDF commanders parking on the banks of the Suez Canal couldn't understand and believe their eyes: A week or two after the humiliating defeat in that war, the defeated Egyptian army opened a heavy bombardment on IDF soldiers and killed them. How is it possible? They asked, surprised. And until they came to their senses, the IDF paid with a lot of blood.

This is the source of the calls voiced by different officials – to destroy, to exterminate, to shatter, to ruin, to recapture the Gaza Strip and crush the terror infrastructures. But what will happen on the day after?

Middle East

Zachary Keck believes that Iran is actually against Arab sectarianism –

Given Iran’s inability to project military power, and its limited economic weight compared to Sunni powers, soft power is Iran’s most potent means of projecting influence throughout the region. And a prerequisite for Iranian soft power in the Arab Sunni world is reduced sectarian tensions. Long before the onset of the Arab Spring, Iranian leaders like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeatedly preached about the importance of Muslim unity.

Bruce Riedel thinks that the war in Gaza is a great recruitment tool for global Jihad –

There is one big winner from the latest Gaza war — the global jihad. The televised imagery of war, violence and casualties fuels recruitment for al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS) and other jihadist movements.

The Palestinian ideologue of the modern global jihad, Abdallah Azzam, author of "The Defense Of Muslim Lands," argued that all jihads against Islam's enemies, like the 1980s war against Russia in Afghanistan he fought in, were the necessary preliminary for the ultimate battle to destroy Israel. Azzam was Osama bin Laden's first partner in jihad and has aptly been labeled by a former head of the Mossad as "the godfather of jihadism." Azzam put Israel at the center of the jihad's narrative and ideology, where it remains today.

Jewish World

Yehudah Kurtzer has an intriguing idea: fasting from social media for a day –

So, I want to publicly propose an idea developed together with my colleague Rabbi Joanna Samuels: that as the deterioration of Jewish civil discourse is so visible in our social media, we use the day of 17 Tammuz for a widespread ta’anit dibur – a silent fast – in which we commit to keep quiet on these platforms, and strain ourselves to choose introspection over their corrosive capabilities.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink reminds Jews all around the world to thank President Obama for Iron Dome –

Calling Obama anti-Israel and borderline anti-Jewish is more anti-Jewish than anything Obama has ever done. It is not just striking the Nile that saved us once. It is striking the Nile repeatedly after it saved us innumerable times. A cornerstone of Judaism is gratitude. The people of Israel and Jews all over the world should be thanking President Obama, not slandering the president with rank speculation and dismissive cynicism. Feel free to disagree with a million things Obama has done that you don’t like. When he does something just and moral and good, just say thank you.

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