Israel’s War Is Not Just Against Hamas

Israel has been isolating the Palestinian struggle from its regional context, writes Ramzy Baroud. Palestine must, once more, become an issue that concerns all Arabs.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, right, in the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, with Moshe Dayan and Uzi Narkiss, left, June 7, 1967. (Ilan Bruner, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Ramzy Baroud
MintPress News

At one time, the “Arab-Israeli Conflict” was Arab and Israeli. Over many years, however, it was rebranded. The media is now telling us it is a “Hamas-Israeli conflict.”

But what went wrong? Israel simply became too powerful.

The supposedly astounding Israeli victories over the years against Arab armies have emboldened Israel to the extent that it came to view itself not as a regional superpower but as a global power. Israel, per its own definition, became invincible.”

Such terminology was not a mere scare tactic aimed at breaking the spirit of Palestinians and Arabs alike. Israel believed this.

The “Israeli miracle victory” against Arab armies in 1967 was a watershed moment. Then, Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban, declared in a speech at the United Nations that “from the podium of the U.N., I proclaimed the glorious triumph of the IDF and the redemption of Jerusalem.”

In his thinking, this could only mean one thing: “Never before has Israel stood more honored and revered by the nations of the world.”

The sentiment in Eban’s words echoed throughout Israel. Even those who doubted their government’s ability to prevail over the Arabs completely joined the chorus: Israel is unvanquishable.

Little rational discussion took place back then about the actual reasons why Israel had won and if that victory would have been possible without Washington’s complete backing and the West’s willingness to support Israel at any cost.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban addressing U.N. General Assembly on June 19, 1967. (UN Photo)

Israel was never a graceful winner. As the size of territories controlled by the triumphant little state increased three-fold, Israel began entrenching its military occupation over whatever remained of historic Palestine. It even started building settlements in newly occupied Arab territories, in Sinai, the Golan Heights and all the rest.

Fifty years ago, in October 1973, Arab armies attempted to reverse Israel’s massive gains by launching a surprise attack. They initially succeeded, then failed when the U.S. moved quickly to bolster Israeli defenses and intelligence.

[Related: SCOTT RITTER: Israel’s Massive Intelligence Failure]

It was not a complete victory for the Arabs, nor a total defeat for Israel. The latter was severely bruised. But Tel Aviv remained convinced that the fundamental relationship it had established with the Arabs in 1967 had not been altered.

And, with time, the “conflict” became less Arab-Israeli and more Palestinian-Israeli. Other Arab countries, like Lebanon, paid a heavy price for the fragmentation of the Arab front.

[Related: THE ANGRY ARAB: Arafat, Nasrallah & Nasser]

This changing reality meant that Israel could invade South Lebanon in March 1978 and then sign the Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt six months later.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David in September 1978. (U.S. government, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

While the Israeli occupation of Palestine grew more violent, with an insatiable appetite for more land, the West turned the Palestinian struggle for freedom into a “conflict” to be managed by words, never by deeds.

Many Palestinian intellectuals argue that “this is not a conflict” and that military occupation is not a political dispute but governed by clearly defined international laws and boundaries. And that it must be resolved according to international justice.

That is yet to happen. Neither was justice delivered nor an inch of Palestine retrieved, despite the countless international conferences, resolutions, statements, investigations, recommendations, and special reports. Without actual enforcement, international law is mere ink.

But did the Arab people abandon Palestine? The anger, the anguish, and the passionate chants by endless streams of people who took to the streets throughout the Middle East to protest the annihilation of Gaza by the Israeli army did not seem to think that Palestine is alone — or, at least, should be left fighting on its own.

Disastrous Isolation

Palestinians in the ruins after an Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip on Oct. 8. (Mahmoud Fareed, Palestinian News & Information Agency or Wafa, in contract with APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The isolation of Palestine from its regional context has proven disastrous.

When the “conflict” is only with the Palestinians, Israel determines the context and scope of the so-called conflict, what is allowed at the “negotiations table,” and what is to be excluded. This is how the Oslo Accords squandered Palestinian rights.

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The more Israel succeeds in isolating Palestinians from their regional environs, the more it invests in their division.

It is even more dangerous when the conflict becomes between Hamas and Israel. The outcome is a whole different conversation that is superimposed on the truly urgent understanding of what is taking place in Gaza, in the whole of Palestine at the moment.

In Israel’s version of events, the war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas fighters attacked Israeli military bases, settlements, and towns in the south of Israel.

No other date or event before the Hamas attack seems to matter to Israel, the West and corporate media covering the war with so much concern for the plight of Israelis and complete disregard for the Gaza inferno.

No other context is allowed to spoil the perfect Israeli narrative of ISIS-like Palestinians disturbing the peace and tranquility of Israel and its people.

Palestinian voices that insist on discussing the Gaza war within proper historical contexts — the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, the occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the siege on Gaza in 2007, all the bloody wars before and after — are denied platforms.

The pro-Israel media simply does not want to listen. Even if Israel did not make unfounded claims about decapitated babies, the media would have remained committed to the Israeli narrative, anyway.

Yet, suppose Israel continues to define the narratives of war, historical contexts of “conflicts,” and the political discourses that shape the West’s view of Palestine and the Middle East. In that case, it will continue to obtain all the blank checks necessary to remain committed to its military occupation of Palestine.

In turn, this will fuel yet more conflicts, more wars and more deception regarding the roots of the violence.

For this vicious cycle to break, Palestine must, once more, become an issue that concerns all Arabs, the whole region. The Israeli narrative must be countered, Western bias confronted, and a new, collective strategy formed.

In other words, Palestine cannot be left alone anymore.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out. His other books include My Father was a Freedom Fighter and The Last Earth. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). This is his website

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11 comments for “Israel’s War Is Not Just Against Hamas

  1. Miggs
    October 21, 2023 at 22:23

    After Hamas excursion outside it’s open-air prison in Gaza, Israel was successful in reestablishing the confinement of both Hamas and the Palestine people.

    Rather than the US and Israel accepting a ceasefire and avoiding further deaths, Biden allowed Israel to continue to continue bomb civilians in Gaza and for Israel ground forces invade Gaza. The later will surely draw other Israeli opponents such as Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria into the frey.

    President Biden is encouraging that to happen by proposing the US provide Israel with an additional $14 billion dollars for an expanded war.

    Biden speech did not seek peace, but rather is a recipe’ for an expansion that virtually guarantees far more Israeli and Palestinian deaths, as well as places American military men stationed abroad in harm’s way and opens the possibility of WW III.

    His speech should have sought peace and to reduce further casualties, not further escalation of the conflict. His speech can only be categorized as reckless.

  2. bardamu
    October 21, 2023 at 19:33

    To a large extent, the conflict in Palestine is part of a larger conflict between the remainders of Western European empire and the concerns of a large section of the Middle East that was, mostly, under direct British rule just over a century ago. These events feel ancient because those who remembered them personally have passed away. But the lines of force have remained much as they have, with many things only now perhaps changing.

    The responses of Muslim nations to the plight of Palestine has relatively little to do with any religious status of these states. It has to do with their relationship at any moment to the juggernaut of Western empire. To what extent are governments and magnates concerned to sell the west fuel? To what extent are they concerned to gather their bribes or avoid the thousand flavors of reprisal?

    We have yet to see what support Palestine may receive. But we appear to be drifting surely into an era in which the West cannot count on the paradoxical sorts of support that it enjoyed in the Muslim world. That eventually tilts the balance towards some measure of solidarity between Islamic states.

  3. mary-lou
    October 21, 2023 at 14:05

    the Arab nations are not a united political entity, mostly because that goes against the West’s interests. sadly and frustratingly ‘divide et impera’ has been and still is the West’s main policy. however, a tentative international peace summit is to take place in Cairo (31/10) – hxxps://

    • Mr David Coleman
      October 22, 2023 at 07:07

      Wake up, Uncle Sam: Is the US military ready to take on Russia and China?
      30 years after achieving total dominance, has the Ukraine conflict exposed the limits of American power?

      Perhaps if you have the basic intelligence to comprehend the Machiavellian criminal warmongering record of the USA & UK you will realise the “ARAB” contribution to the problems in the Middle East is miniscule!



  4. Gabriel
    October 21, 2023 at 11:38

    The comment could be true if one considers ‘the Arab nations’ to be the rulers of those nations. Those rulers are the ones who use the backs of the Palestinians as a pin cushion for their knives. But, when you consider ‘the Arab nations’ to be the people of those nations, what we are seeing today is that they are still allied to the Palestinians. While the Arab rulers, the Israelites, and Uncle Sam tried to sweep the Palestinians under the carpet for their corrupt deals, it turns out that those Palestinians still have the support of the people of those countries. The Palestinians still had faith that they had not been forgotten, and it turned out that the people had indeed not forgotten.

    Today, those same rulers are scrambling because of those crowds in the street. Many are trying to back away from Israel as fast as they can. Or, in the case of the military dictatorship in Egypt, as far as that American bayonet in their backs will let them back up.

    The lesson to learn …. If you forget about the people, you are forgetting a powerful potential ally.

  5. Gabriel
    October 21, 2023 at 11:29

    The war is trying to make an example of anyone who dares to resist. Against Israel. With the USA and Europe proclaiming loud support for that message, in the name of Freedom of course.

    But, what the bully has instead shown the world is that even the powerless have the power to resist if they will. In this case, the will of resistance, from the inmates of an open-air prison, appears to have put at least a long pause on the ‘normalization’ of relations with Israel. Which then means that ‘the west’ lost a carrot with which to lure the Saudis into a new marriage with a new pre-nup agreement. The resistance of people who appeared powerless may have just tilted the balance of power in west Asia.

    The KSA is forced to move towards Iran and China and away from USA-Israel, in large part because of the futile violence of the bully trying to show that resistance is futile. The plans of the bully appear to be in ruin, due to a burning will to continue to resist within a group of people.

    Meanwhile, today the Israelites are breaking the commandment about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. I’ve known members of that faith who would not ride in a car on the Sabbath. Apparently that doesn’t apply to jet bombers?

    What if what we are seeing is the God of the Israelites expelling them (again) from the Holy Land for a failure to keep the laws of God? The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    October 21, 2023 at 10:52

    But then Arab nations have shown time and again that they don’t care about Palestinians. Backstabbers!

  7. alhajjfazlur Rahman
    October 21, 2023 at 01:35

    Islamic prophecy predicted three biggest battle will held at the end time. One battle of India, it will held during WWII probably at end of WWIII. Battle Euphrates for gold mountain and will also held in the WWIII and probably the battle of Euphrates will be the ending point of WWIII. And MALHAMA or Armageddon or WWIII. Ongoing Israel Hamas i.e. Israel Palestine battle is face of the above three. Another battle field will establish at end of point of WWIII and that place is Bidah Valley, south border of Arabia north of Yemen. Google map marked that area specially. So there’s every possibility that ongoing Hamas Israel war will turn into WWIII the end of ongoing modern digital civilization.

  8. RWilson
    October 20, 2023 at 22:19

    The only explanation I can see for the entire corporate media pushing the same huge, blatant deceptions is that they are all owned behind the scenes by the same owners. We need a thorough anti-trust investigation. Such a vast, coordinated deception is obviously not in America’s interest. In fact, it looks to me like an enemy has captured America’s “mainstream” press.

  9. October 20, 2023 at 21:28

    Palestine is no longer alone.

    • Steve
      October 21, 2023 at 11:10

      Israel is the Abomination of Desolation.
      A liar, thief, and murderer.
      Every decent human being should recognise this, and stand for the oppressed and villified citizens of Palestine.

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