Opinion | The Great Deception on Gaza’s Border

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By Noah Beck

What would the United States do if 30,000 Mexicans, organized by a known terrorist group, marched toward the Texas border, demanding to return to their ancestors’ homes, with many of the protesters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, carrying fence cutters, launching burning kites that set ablaze U.S. territory near the border, igniting tires and even shooting guns at U.S. agents across the border?

If the United States used force to protect its border against such a “peaceful protest,” what percent of the 30,000 Mexicans would end up dead or injured? Would it be more or less than 40 (about .13 percent)? And how would the global media and human rights organizations react to these incidents?


Now consider the reaction to Israel’s defense against precisely this kind of assault on its sovereign border, dubbed the “Great Return March” and organized by Hamas, a State Department-designated-terrorist organization. Hamas has acknowledged that its members were among those killed in the march back in May. This month, Hamas resorted to firing hundreds of rockets at Israel’s southern communities.

If the Great Return March had any truth to it, the Hamas-organized propaganda offensive would have been called the “Great Deception March,” because it was entirely founded upon deception.

Incredibly, on April 6, an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, himself highlighted the deceptive nature of the march, accusing Hamas of “only selling illusions, trading in suffering and blood.”

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Abbas’ adviser on Islamic affairs and Supreme Sharia Judge, delivered a sermon, broadcast on official PA TV in the presence of Abbas, in which Al-Habbash accused Hamas of intentionally sending Palestinians in Gaza to “go and die,” only so that Hamas has stories of dead Palestinians for “the TV and media.”

Hamas has a long history of using human shields to maximize Gazan casualties and thereby smear Israel’s image. As each of the last three Gaza wars has shown, the more Gazan victims Hamas can produce, the more easily Israel can be tarnished by the media and its consumers. Such demonization supports the broader goal of delegitimizing Israel legally, with law-fare attacks in international forums, and economically, with boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Hamas knows that most observers will simply focus on images of injured and killed Gazans, rather than blame Hamas for sending children toward a militarized border. Obviously, there would be no risk of provoking any forceful reaction from Israel’s border protection forces if the protests were peacefully held at a distance of at least 500 meters from the border. But instead, the protesters actively tried to damage the border fence itself, while threatening Israelis on the other side of it. Were they expecting hugs and flowers in response?

But the biggest deception of all behind the so-called Great Return March is deceiving the Palestinians themselves into thinking that they have any hope of returning to any homes or territory in present-day Israel that their ancestors might have occupied before 1948.

Have Israeli Jews ever demanded a return to the millions of homes their ancestors lost in Europe, during the Holocaust, or in the Arab and Muslim world, from which roughly a million persecuted Jews were displaced between the 1940s and the 1970s? Instead, the Jews accepted the cruelty of history and focused their energies on building a vibrant state in the tiny sliver of land they were given the chance to develop in 1948.

By contrast, when Gazans received a historic opportunity, after Israel’s 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, to prove that they could engage in responsible and peaceful state-building, they opted to turn the territory into a Somalia rather than a Singapore. Instead of choosing coexistence and cooperation, Hamas has promoted a culture of anti-Israel hatred, while diverting Gaza’s resources to terrorist rockets and attack tunnels, even after launching and losing three wars against Israel in the span of seven years (2008, 2012 and 2014).

Poor governance has consequences, as Gazans have painfully learned from a shortage of jobs, electricity, sanitation and other basic goods that Hamas has failed to deliver.

Yet global reaction shows just how much the Great Deception March succeeded in deceiving so many, who end up blaming Israel while ignoring Hamas’ role in the violence and, more generally, giving Hamas a pass on its cruelty, corruption and disastrous policies.

The human rights organization Amnesty International recently called for an arms embargo against Israel, arguing that Israel has been “killing and wounding of civilians demonstrating in Gaza by the Israeli forces, despite the fact that they don’t pose any immediate threat.” If even Palestinian leaders see through the Hamas ruse, why do Amnesty, the United Nations, The New York Times, Sen. Bernie Sanders and so many others have such a hard time understanding what’s really going on?

Their reactions show no regard for history or context, and demonstrate how little Israelis can rely on the assurances of those pressuring them to make concessions to Israel’s sworn enemies.

It has been an article of faith among European and U.S. progressives that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians could be resolved if only Israel withdrew from territory that it conquered in 1967 — after surrounding Arab armies threatened to annihilate the New Jersey-sized country. In 2005, to test that idea and hopefully promote better relations with Gazans, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Israelis on the right argued that such a move would be perceived as a surrender out of weakness, and the power vacuum created by the Disengagement, as Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal was called, would be quickly filled by extremists who would exploit their newfound freedom to attack Israel.

Recent events have proved how much the right was right.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

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