Operation "Pillar of Cloud" compels all Arab countries to rally around Hamas, or at least pretend to. It discredits the claim of the more extreme organizations in Gaza that Hamas has gone soft and lazy, enjoying the fruits of government. In the battle for Palestinian opinion, Hamas has gained another victory over Mahmoud Abbas, whose security cooperation with Israel will look even more despicable.
All in all, nothing basic will change. Just another superfluous war.
IT IS, of course, a highly political event.
Like Cast Lead, it takes place on the eve of Israeli elections. (So, by the way, did the Yom Kippur war, but that was decided by the other side.)
One of the more miserable sights of the last few days has been the TV appearances of Shelly Yachimovich and Ya'ir Lapid. The two shining new stars in Israel's political firmament looked like petty politicians, parroting Netanyahu's propaganda, approving everything done.
Both had hitched their wagons to the social protest, expecting that social issues would displace subjects like war, occupation and settlements from the agenda. When the public is occupied with the price of cottage cheese, who cares about national policy?
I said at the time that one whiff of military action would blow away all economic and social issues as frivolous and irrelevant. This has happened now.
Netanyahu and Barak appear many times a day on the screen. They look responsible, sober, determined, experienced. Real he-men, commanding troops, shaping events, saving the nation, routing the enemies of Israel and the entire Jewish people. As Lapid volunteered on live television: "Hamas is an anti-Semitic terrorist organization and must be crushed."
Netanyahu is doing it. Adieu, Lapid. Adieu Shelly. Adieu Olmert. Adieu Tzipi. Was nice seeing you.
WAS THERE an alternative? Obviously, the situation along the Gaza Strip had become intolerable. One cannot send an entire population to the shelters every two or three weeks. Except hitting Hamas on the head, what can you do?
First of all, you can abstain from "reacting." Just cut the chain.
Then, you can talk with Hamas as the de facto government of Gaza. You did, actually, when negotiating the release of Shalit. So why not look for a permanent modus vivendi, with the involvement of Egypt?
A hudna can be achieved. In Arab culture, a hudna is a binding truce, sanctified by Allah, which can go on for many years. A hudna cannot be violated. Even the Crusaders concluded hudnas with their Muslim enemies.
The day after the assassination, Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who had been involved in mediating Shalit's release, disclosed that he had been in contact with Ja'abari up to the last moment. Ja'abari had been interested in a long-term cease-fire. The Israeli authorities had been informed.
But the real remedy is peace. Peace with the Palestinian people. Hamas has already solemnly declared that it would respect a peace agreement concluded by the PLO -- i.e. Mahmoud Abbas -- that would establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, provided this agreement were confirmed in a Palestinian referendum.