07 January 2009 - The west gives up, just as it is winning
For once, I agree with an observation by Juan Cole--though I'm not as enthusiastic as he is about what is happening in the western media:
The Israeli propaganda blitz around their attack on Gaza has been greeted with uncharacteristic skepticism by the American public and even by some of the mainstream US press. Even the Jewish American community is uneasy about this one, in a way perhaps unparalelled since the 1982 Israeli attack on Lebanon and siege of Beirut. Jews for Peace in Los Angeles are actively protesting the Gaza atrocities, and newspaper articles from around the US on local protests held this weekend often mention mixed Arab-American and Jewish-American rallies.
Ironically, just as the west is giving up on Israel--in anticipation of Barack Obama's ascent, no doubt--the Arab media is beginning to show an unusual amount of skepticism and irritation towards Hamas (even though it continues to stoke hatred against Israel). To some extent this is the result of fear among "moderate" Arab governments that Shia Iran and the Sunni extremists pose a direct threat to them as well as Israel.
But there seems to be some grudging support for Israel among ordinary people in the region as well, under-reported though it may be. Even Iranian dissidents have caught the bug, and are condemning--at heavy cost--their own government's role in supporting Hamas:
Israel's current crimes in Gaza are strongly condemned - but it is equally [important] to condemn the terror organizations that use kindergartens and hospitals as a shield against the [Israeli] attacks. [Hamas's use of human shields] prepares the ground for intensified bombardment [by Israel] and for the killing of children and civilians, and [therefore] it is an inhuman act.
Unfortunately, we see that in Iran itself, a faction that outwardly pretends to be sympathetic to the Palestinians [actually] regards the [Gaza] tragedy as an opportunity to stifle the voices of the [Iranian] human rights [organizations]. [This faction] has launched harsh attacks against human rights activists and against political factions critical [of the regime].
It would be almost fitting for the west, having miscalculated at almost every turn in its relations with the Arab world, to give up on Israel just as the Middle East is coming to terms with the probability of its victory. We see signs of this in Obama's continued, mumbling equivocation; in Condeleeza Rice's support for a premature cease-fire; and in the various protests around the world, at which grim-faced lefties are marching arm-in-arm with determined Islamist radicals screaming religious slogans and calling for Palestinians to continue fighting.
The Gaza Strip is now the front line in the battle for civilization, a fact that has dawned on those in the Middle East who value their own civilization and realize it cannot survive in the possession of fanatics who send their children to die as suicide bombers and human shields but cower in hospital maternity wards rather than fight with courage or surrender with honor.