Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Warning of Changing Maps

Amid unprecedented international support for Israel after the Al-Aqsa Flood operation, and a quintet of leaders from the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and Britain pledging to support “Israel’s ability to defend itself,” and affirming their “steadfast and united” backing for Israel, there must be extreme caution.

What is certain is that we are witnessing a situation similar to post-September 11 in the United States. But this time, it’s in Israel, where the strategic rule is madness, and where there is no place for the voice of reason. Things are going according to what George W. Bush said at the time: “Either with me or against me.”

Therefore, we must warn against changing the maps and returning to ground zero, and later negotiating on what was in our hands physically and geographically. The fear today is that Israel is seeking to conduct a ground operation in Gaza. This is not a fear for Hamas, but rather for the cause.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the growing consensus in Israel, including much of the opposition, is that unlike previous incursions, the current operation cannot end with a ceasefire that leaves Hamas in power in the Gaza Strip.

“There will be a strong temptation to conquer all of Gaza, root out Hamas... Islamic Jihad’s tens of thousands of rockets and even topple Hamas,” wrote Chuck Freilich, former Israeli deputy national security adviser, in Haaretz, adding: “The cost of doing so will be heavy, but the cost of not doing so even heavier. Iran, Hezbollah and others will be watching Israel’s response intently, weighing whether it justifies their joining the fray at this time,” or, on the contrary, constitutes a source of deterrence.

What we must remember is that Israel has always boasted about its ability to deter, and what is certain today is that it will seek to confirm this ability following Al-Aqsa Flood operation – a fact that Hamas and the factions did not realize, not only in this battle, but in all the senseless wars that amount to approximately seven or more.

Hamas and the factions have a habit of starting wars without thinking about the next day. Former US President Lyndon Johnson is credited with saying: “Never tell a man to go to hell unless you can send him there.” This is what Hamas did not understand with all its absurd wars.

The Egyptians are right as they warn of “the dangers of the repercussions of the current crisis on the constants of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian right,” and that some parties serve “the occupation plan and provide it with fait accompli justifications to endorse historically and politically corrupt propositions.”

The reason for the Egyptian warning is the calls for the mass exodus of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egyptian territory, which means a change in the maps and the reality on the ground. These fears are also justified if the Lebanon front explodes, especially with Netanyahu’s pledge that the repercussions of this battle will last for generations to come.

What is happening is dangerous, and may change the maps and reality on the ground. It may bring us back to negotiating what we had geographically, and is more dangerous than what “some” Arabs are preoccupied with, especially “some” academic theorists and emotional intellectuals, who have proven that in the school of the mind, in every crisis, not many succeeded!