One unfunny joke making the rounds as a result of the civil war in the Gaza Strip is that Hamas has now accepted a two-state solution: one in Gaza and the other in the West Bank. A line that I’ve come up with, although I’m surely not the only one, is that the Palestinians have finally had their “Altalena” moment — but this time, it’s the Irgun that has won.
To those who need an explanation: the Altalena was a ship that was running arms in 1948 to the hardline Irgun militia, commanded by Menachem Begin. Independence having been declared, however, David Ben-Gurion, the head of Israel’s provisional government, ordered that all militias be dissolved into the new national army. Begin refused, Ben-Gurion ordered an army force under a junior officer named Yitzhak Rabin to open fire. Men were killed on both sides (but mostly from the Irgun), the Altalena sank and Begin ordered the Irgun to stand down and be incorporated into the army.
I have two commentaries I wish to share in connection with recent events in Gaza. One is M. J. Rosenberg’s latest column from the Israel Policy Forum, “A Hamas-Run Gaza; We Can Thank Ourselves”:
Gaza has fallen to Hamas. Abbas’ Fatah is on the run. Unless a United Nations force (like UNIFIL) steps in, a sliver of territory with a population of 1.4 million, a short drive from Tel Aviv, will become a dagger aimed at Israel’s heart and perhaps even an Al Qaeda staging ground. A humanitarian crisis of horrific proportions is a near-certainty.
Whose fault is it? The Palestinians’, of course. But hardly theirs alone. As Nahum Barnea, Israel’s finest journalist, puts it in today’s Yediot Ahronoth, “The US and Israel had a decisive contribution to this failure. The Americans, in their lack of understanding of the processes of Islamization in the territories, pressured [the Palestinians] to hold democratic elections and brought Hamas to power with their own hands…. Since the elections, Israel, like the US, declared over and over that ‘Abu Mazen must be strengthened,’ but in practice, zero was done for this to happen. The meetings with him turned into an Israeli political tool, and Olmert’s kisses and backslapping turned Abbas into a collaborator and a source of jokes on the Palestinian street.”
The second is from our long-time khaver, Hillel Schenker. He writes with urgency but also hope in the UK Guardian’s Weblog, “Comment is free” on having just attended a conference in Italy, in his capacity as co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal. Click here to read his entire piece.