Will History Repeat Itself in Gaza?

Deal W. Hudson
January 8, 2009

Israel’s 13-day war in Gaza endeavors “to teach Hamas a lesson” and to defend southern Israel against its missiles. It’s highly unlikely the Israeli bombing and ground attack – which has resulted in nearly 700 dead, including 300 civilians – will achieve these objectives. Why? Because it has been tried before, and it failed.

In 2002, Israel undertook a campaign to assassinate Hamas leadership, which amounted to hundreds of individuals, according to Israeli defense forces. Among those assassinated was leading Hamas militant Raed Karmi on January 14, 2002. On July 24, Salah Shehada, a senior Hamas military leader, was killed by an air attack on a crowded apartment block in Gaza City. Those killed included 11 children. That same day, Hamas was expected to announce a unilateral cease-fire declaration.

Israel’s 2002 assassinations neither decreased the power of Hamas nor its popular support. Hamas went on to win a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament in the 2006 elections. The ascendancy of Hamas, which does not recognize the right of Israel to exist, over the Fatah party made further progress toward a two-state solution a practical impossibility.

Will the present offensive in Gaza create even more support for Hamas, perhaps even on the West Bank? If Hamas makes further inroads outside of Gaza, thus weakening the ability of Palestinian President Abbas to negotiate with Israel, any possibility of an end to the 40-year occupation will be destroyed. A window of opportunity will close – the window that opened in 1988 when Yasser Arafat, a Fatah founder, affirmed Israel’s right to exist by accepting UN Security Council Resolution 242.

The likelihood of creating broader support for Hamas was increased with the bombing of a United Nations school in Gaza, where 40 people taking refuge were killed, including many women and children. This attack is bound to strengthen extremists throughout the region, as have all previous assaults. With uncritical and unmitigated U.S. financial, military, and political support for Israel, we – along with Israel – will be dragged deeper into an unnecessary war that will endanger the security of both nations.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that foreign journalists have been completely barred from entering Gaza. An article by Ethan Bronner in the New York Times describes how the journalistic blockade is affecting coverage of the war, including the 40 deaths at the UN school:

And so for an 11th day of Israel’s war in Gaza, the several hundred journalists here to cover it waited in clusters away from direct contact with any fighting or Palestinian suffering, but with full access to Israeli political and military commentators eager to show them around southern Israel, where Hamas rockets have been terrorizing civilians.

One can imagine the popular outcry if the United States had similarly denied journalists access to observe the military operations in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

The issue isn’t whether Israel has a right to defend its citizens against Hamas missiles – of course, it does. The question is whether Israel recognizes the long-term consequences of its actions, which may well strengthen the presence of Hamas on the West Bank – just as its 2002 operation likely contributed to the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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