betrayal of self-interest II

via Jonathan, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have grasped the nettle first. Thankfully, not a car bomb or bus attack, but a single death is as much a tragedy as a busload of children, and deserving of the same condemnation.

Tacitus characterized my ealier post as blind to the nature of the terror groups - I respectfully disagree, and will underline appropriate passages in that post to demonstrate. I also disagree that the Al-Aqsa refusal to join the hudna means that the truce is DOA, because what is important is whether the larger groups (especially Islamic Jihad and Hamas) - which have demonstrated the organizational "skill" (sneer quotes) to exact a far greater price in Israeli blood - remain committed to the hudna (Al-Aqsa is "affiliated" with Fatah in the same way that the Christian Identity folks are "affiliated" with the GOP. But that doesn't mean that they haven't been used as "plausible deniability" brigades by Fatah in the past. It's difficult to tell which are teh pawns and which are the... pawns, in this grim game).

My earlier post was about the (puzzling) willingness of Hamas and IJ especially to adopt the language of hudna with respect to the cease fire. As organizations whose self-proclaimed legitimacy is derived solely from an Islamic context (unlike Fatah and Al-Aqsa and the old PLO itself, all strictly secular nationalist movements), their personal commitment to Islam is irrelevant. If they break the hudna without cause, then they sacrifice their own Islamic credentials in the eyes of the general populace. I might think that those credentials are a total mockery, but what I think is not relevant.

If Israel responds to this provocation by Al Aqsa with a massive onslaught, that would however give IJ and Hamas therationalization they need to break the hudna. It's anyone's guess as to whether (secular) Al-Aqsa was acting as a plausible deniability brigade for (religious) Hamas and/or IJ solely in order to provoke such a reaction from Sharon. I'm sure that there are plenty of people willing to believe that the root of all such machinations lie with one side or the other.

Let's assume that this is entirely a plot by Hamas or IJ to pretend to a truce, and then find a way around it. What then makes me completely confused is, again, why bother with a formal hudna? Maybe they are just masochists by proxy, I don't know.

anyway, it's clear that Al Aqsa is either a pawn or just terminally (I hope) clueless. The question is whether there is any subtlety and cleverness on the Sharon side of things to respond the way that the nutjobs want them to, or whether Sharon can look beyond this cycle and deal with Hamas and IJ on the basis of their actions, not Al-Aqsa. The temptation to lump all Palestinian groups into one common morass of motives is tempting, but ultimately exactly what the radicals on the Palestinian side are counting on.

I should clarify that I do think Sharon is a rational actor. But I also think that from his perspective, increasing settlement activity, building the wall, and rejecting the road map all fall into his perception of "self interest". I doubt he sees it as putting the settlers above the rest of Israel's needs - in fact, I wager that he sincerely believes that what is good for teh settlers will ultimately benefit Israel. Such is the problem of mixing religious belief with policy - hardly unique to the Islamic world.

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