The Buzz

Are Palestinians Winning the Long War?

Adam Shatz, writing in the London Review of Books, presents a convincing narrative suggesting that—to use a tired but apt cliché—Palestinians may have lost the last battle, but are winning the war:

[T]he price of war is higher for Israel than it was during Cast Lead [2008-09], and its room for manoeuvre more limited, because the Jewish state’s only real ally, the American government, has to maintain good relations with Egypt and other democratically elected Islamist governments. During the eight days of Pillar of Defence, Israel put on an impressive and deadly fireworks show, as it always does, lighting up the skies of Gaza and putting out menacing tweets straight from The Sopranos. But the killing of entire families and the destruction of government buildings and police stations, far from encouraging Palestinians to submit, will only fortify their resistance, something Israel might have learned by consulting the pages of recent Jewish history. The Palestinians understand that they are no longer facing Israel on their own: Israel, not Hamas, is the region’s pariah. The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behind Jabotinsky’s ‘iron wall’, deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won’t shield it from the future.

There is a danger in intimating that the Arab world is headed toward inexorable progress. But Shatz is right that the mainstreaming of Islamist politicians in places like Egypt brings new energy to Palestinian resistance.