Commentary Magazine


Why Hamas Isn’t Falling

As I noted earlier today, much of the debate about who won or lost the lingering conflict in Gaza centers on the question of whether Palestinians in Gaza are ready to shuck off the despotic and destructive rule of Hamas. The assumption is that Gazans will draw the only logical conclusion from the Islamist terrorists’ mad decision to launch a war that only increased their suffering. But as in much else that characterizes the Middle East, logic doesn’t necessarily apply here.

We’ve heard a great deal recently about the likelihood that Hamas’s weakened military state due to Israel’s successful military action must mean that the group’s hold on Gaza must be slipping. Given that Hamas has achieved none of the principle goals it stated for the conflict, including the release of terrorist prisoners and the end of the international blockade of Gaza, it stands to reason that Palestinians must be thinking seriously about replacing the movement that has ruled over them since taking power in a 2007 coup.

But despite all the talk about the imminent demise of Hamasistan, there is actually no sign whatsoever that its grip on power is slipping. The reasons for that have every thing to do with the peculiar dynamic of Palestinian politics and a basic rule of history. As the Times of Israel notes in a feature today, support for Hamas’s goals and fear of dissent provides the terror group with a strong insurance policy.

Though no one in Gaza had to like the results of the fighting, Hamas’s political stock may actually have gone up due to the perverse culture of Palestinian life. Throughout the last century Palestinians have always given the bulk of their support to whichever faction proved to be the most violent. That dynamic kept Yasir Arafat at the top of the Palestinian pyramid and has inspired the ongoing competition between Hamas and Fatah in the last generation. Since Palestinian national identity has always been inextricably linked to their war on Zionism, peacemaking has always been political poison. Instead of concentrating on development or providing services for their backers, Hamas and Fatah have both concentrated on demonstrating their belligerence, with even moderates like Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas understanding that agreeing to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state is simply impossible. That’s why no matter what Hamas does it appears that Gazans will blame their suffering on Israel.

As for possible dissent, it should be noted that the one demonstration held in Gaza against Hamas was met with a stern response. Those involved were executed. That is where the iron rule comes in.

Throughout history, tyrannies have only fallen when they are ready to liberalize, not when they are still prepared to spill the blood of their people. The French revolution happened during the reign of the least tyrannical of the Bourbon kings, not under that of the most bloodthirsty. The Soviet Union fell after glasnost and perestroika, not during the era of Stalin’s bloody purges that took the lives of millions.

Hamas is isolated, militarily defeated, and bankrupt. But so long as it is prepared to use its weapons to suppress possible dissent, intimidate the press, and/or to ensure that Fatah is not in a position to retake Gaza, the odds of it losing power are slim and none.

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6 Responses to “Why Hamas Isn’t Falling”


    Jonathan Tobin writes:”… no matter what Hamas does it appears that Gazans will blame their suffering on Israel.”

    So what! Their congenital hatred can’t be changed. What matters is that Gazans see a direct correlation between their plight and Hamas’ actions. Regardless of whom they consider ultimately responsible, they must see their present and their future endangered by Hamas.

    That can be achieved via a thin No Man’s Land, sliced at Gaza’s expense, around all or part of their 51 km common border.

    With every new rocket of mortar attack into Israel from Gaza, that NML would widen a few meters, the depth depending on the severity of the attack.

    ▪ Israel would have a bloodless way to respond.
    ▪ Gazans, even the most patriotic, would have to recognize the direct link between Hamas’ heroics, and their diminution.
    ▪ The world would have the proportionality it demands.
    ▪ Hamas would have to choose between fighting Israel and retaining power.


    More than use its weapons to suppress possible dissent, Hamas implements Arafat’s maxim, “All Palestinians are martyrs.” That is the Palestinians’ most potent weapon, the suffering of its own people. And that is a powerful weapon, indeed. The international community, by means of its demonization of Israel, is complicit in Hamas’ cynical ploy and the continued suffering of civilians. Unless the international community comes to its senses – of which there is scant chance – the violence will continue.


    “Israel may also allow Gaza Strip to have a seaport at some time in the future, in return for the territory’s demilitarization.”
    Israel has given Hamas a victory! Crazy!
    How can you negotiate with people who not only want to destroy you but are congenital liars!
    And what timing. Just when the world has turned its attention to another bunch of radical jihadists, ISIS, and their attempts at genocide, Israel scores an own goal!
    And as for the Children’s Crusade have a look at this 7 year old with the head of a Syrian soldier!
    I think the scales are falling from the eyes of a lot of people.

  4. SHEYA STERN says:

    It’s actually quite logical that Hamas suffers no recriminations or consequences—if one simply dispenses with the false image—so popular with their apologists around the world—of the Palestinians as helpless pawns, and Gaza as “occupied” by Hamas. It all requires more than a suspension of disbelief; it’s built on ignoring facts.

    Palestinians, too, are complicit in their own suffering—they voted Hamas into power. If Hamas were succeeding, actually winning the struggle against Israel, does anyone seriously think the Palestinians would be saying, “No—we want peace, not more war!”?

    So, while they may not be enjoying the results of this latest misadventure, there’s no reason to expect much revulsion and anger at Hamas for starting this war; it’s not like it goes against the privately held principles of most Palestinians, at least not based on any evidence we’ve seen.


    If there is a failure to define the problem accurately, then one applies the wrong solution.
    Many in the West have abandoned the use of force as immoral since WWII. It’s not. The defense of one’s nation and its people is the moral obligation of its leaders, which is exactly what Israel has been doing.
    As Trotsky once said, “You may not want War, but War wants you.” Democratic nations need to be better prepared for such eventualities. As it is, they are demilitarizing unilaterally.

  6. EMILE TUBIANA says:

    Since 1948, over 66 years ago, when the armies of the Arab countries attacked Israel, the Arabs in Israel were told by these Arab countries to evacuate in the meantime, with the goal to go back after those armies would have won the victory over Israel. They were promised they would get all the houses of the Jews. But the Arab armies did not win. However, since then they have been educating their children to be ready for the day when they would conquer Israel. The Arabs listened to their leaders and have been dwelling in the refugee camps for all this time. Actually, those who fled are for the most part no longer around. The Arab countries had no intention to assimilate the refugees, so they let them suffer, without pity for their brothers..
    During the same time, the Jewish refugees who lost their livelihood because of WWII and those who were expelled from the Arab countries were cared for by the American Jewish Organization and were processed in France, in the city of Marseille, in Camp Arenas and Camp David, which previously had been American army camps and were leased by the Jewish Organization. The refugees were fed and housed and they received medical care. Then they were sent to various countries of their choice. The Jews found ways to settle, to find work and to enhance their standard of living. There are no more Jewish refugee camps. Meanwhile, the so-called Palestinians are still living in refugee camps with all their misery and heartbreak. At the same time, those who did not listen to the Arab leaders and remained in Israel, are enjoying a good standard of living and good jobs and higher education are available for them.
    As long as Qatar and other Arab countries finance and support Hamas, and the UN feeds them and collaborates with them through the UNWRA, there is no chance that Hamas would relinquish the grip it has on the population.

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