Anti-Hamas Gazans, anti-Israelism, and de-Nazification
‘Al-Aqsa Flood,’ the name Hamas gave to their October 7th attack on Israel, has become a metaphor, firstly for the flooding of the Hamas tunnels in Gaza that Israel is reputedly considering. Secondly, for the changing tides in Hamas’s control of the Gazan population.
The hatred Hamas directs against Israel and Jews — and against their Palestinian Arab challengers for control of the Strip — has begun to turn against them. Arab affairs commentator and senior researcher at the Israel Defense and Security Forum, Baruch Yedid, says that not only is the Hamas militia falling apart, but the “barrier of fear” is falling and people are blaming them for the utter devastation wrought by this war. Here and there one can find social media posts in which easily identifiable individuals curse Hamas.
The hatred of at least one Gazan journalist, Ayman Alaloul, now living in Belgium, knows no bounds. While he opposed Hamas before Oct 7th, he now wants Yahya Sinwar dead for the catastrophe he has thrust upon the Gazan people.
However, anti-Hamas does not mean pro-Israel.
This is not a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
The closest that Alaloul came to expressing any remorse for what Hamas did on that horrid black Shabbat morning of Oct 7th was to say that had Hamas not infiltrated Israel and done what they did, it is doubtful that Israel would be thrashing Gaza now.
There was only one solitary voice I heard in a video on November 12 [Hebrew and Arabic only] in which a woman told Hamas to return the hostages and stop the war — one video of many I watched,. Other than that, cursing Hamas is accompanied neither by calling for the return of the hostages nor condemning Hamas for the torture and slaughter of Israelis. And there is no suggestion of a future in which an independent Gazan political entity lives peacefully (or any other way) alongside the Jewish state.
Therefore, there is no reason to take solace in the anti-Hamas curses. Anti-Israelism remains steadfast.
Former MK Einat Wilf suggests that an independent Palestinian state is inconceivable if it does not give up the dream of wiping out Israel. That would be possible only by de-Nazification of the entire population and she provides an example of one means by which this happened in Germany and Japan, suggesting it can also be used to de-Nazify the Palestinian Arabs. When talking about the day after the war, many bring up the de-Nazification of Germany and Japan as if these are applicable to Gaza.
However, de-Nazification was also tried in North Korea and China and it did not work there, according to Dr Tal Tovy, military history expert at Bar-Ilan University. In a Zoom conversation, Tovy suggests that the reason for this resides in the deep ideological indoctrination to which these people had been subjected.
Tovy explains that the Germans and the Japanese were both ready to take control of the means to work toward a different future. There were Germans who had been opposed to the Nazis throughout the war and were cooperative with the de-Nazification efforts. In Japan, Emperor Hirohito understood what had happened to his people and, under occupation, used this time as an opportunity to turn the country around. The Japanese, fiercely loyal to the Emperor and very disciplined, followed his lead.
If we look at their contemporary social and economic conditions, he adds, one could say that both Germany and Japan emerged from the war with a kind of victory. Furthermore, demilitarization was not a hardship since neither have experienced external threats from the end of the war until today.
This is the picture of prosperity Israel anticipated for Gaza when she withdrew every Jew from the territory. The fact this did not happen, despite all the resources provided over the decades, shows that unless the population rids itself of anti-Israelism, it will not happen after this war either.
Demilitarization is certainly the basic requirement to even begin de-Nazification in Gaza. However, Tovy asks, is there a leader who commands sufficient respect and authority to guide the population in this direction, whether that leader is, today, within Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, or in the Diaspora? Equally importantly, how can one change the attitude that says that the Palestinians must get everything back from the Jews? Palestinian Arabs are a hard-core religious population, he says, and Islam is fundamental to their perceptions. This is true even for so-called secular Palestinians, whether among the general population or the leadership.
Taking lessons learned from both the successful instances of de-Nazification and those that failed, a new model will have to be devised based on a deep understanding of Islam and Palestinian Arab culture. The latter is likely distinct from the culture of other Arab sectors of the Ummah because of the unique sociohistory of the Palestinians that diverged from that of their brethren with the emergence of the modern State of Israel. At the same time, the de-Nazification of Gaza may be best facilitated by interventions that only the Arab nations that are forming relationships with the Jewish state can provide.
Floods generally cause massive devastation. Al-Aqsa Flood was intended to inflict ruin upon Israel, which it certainly did to a degree. Hamas apparently did not anticipate the tide to turn and Gaza to be flattened physically, socially, and politically. The question remains whether or not Gazans can be helped to turn the disaster around in ten years, 100 years, or ever, and to achieve the kind of eventual victory enjoyed by Germany and Japan after they lost the war.
Feature Image Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit