Why Great Palestinian Victories Are Worse than Defeats – Edward N. Luttwak
(dailyalert.org, Sept. 17, 2014)
As soon as the shooting stopped on Aug. 26, Hamas leaders came out of hiding to declare that they had won a great victory in the 2014 Gaza war, which had been preceded by the Gaza wars of 2008 and 2012, which they had also declared to be great victories. In each war, the martyrdom-seeking Islamic warriors of Hamas were badly outclassed in hand-to-hand combat by seriously trained Israeli conscripts, while its rockets were mostly ineffectual, unlike Israeli artillery and air power.
Israel’s superior strength in war presents a very personal problem for each believing Muslim. It all starts with Islam itself, as a faith originally validated by the immense conquests of the first Muslims. The Quran is replete with categorical promises of victory for true believers, and Islam as a religion still rests on those promises. Defeats inflicted by Jews are an even more acute problem, because in the Quran they are written off as weaklings, easily defeated. Hamas’ video re-enactments of the recent fighting, featuring pathetic Israeli soldiers bursting into tears before being killed or surrendering meekly to the noble warriors of Hamas, have been wildly popular.
Rioting demonstrators in Berlin and Paris in August 2014 comforted themselves with shouts of “Remember Khaibar!” evoking Muhammad’s conquest of the Jewish oasis of Khaibar in the year 629 – thus testifying to the dearth of notable Muslim victories over Jews over the last 1,385 years. The writer is senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Tablet)