If Israel continues to decimate Hamas, gets its message out to the global public by circumventing and counter-acting AP, Reuters, the NY Times, Guardian, etc., and makes the case that there is a terrible, but moral connection between sending rockets into Jewish Kindergartens and not sleeping well in fortified compounds in Gaza City, then it may recapture much of its deterrence lost in the 2006 war where the opposite formula of talking loudly and carrying a small stick was the Israeli norm.
Note not just the relative silence of Fatah and the Arab community in general at the news of the settling up with Hamas, but the quiet from Hezbollah in Lebanon. One would think Hezbollah would now pile on by launching missiles in solidarity with their brothers in Hamas. For now almost everyone in the Middle East seems to be willing to forfeit their patronage of Hamas to Iran while hoping it is as costly for the cash-strapped mullahs as it is embarrassing.
When should Israel stop? When they think there is a good chance the rockets will stop — and not until then. That will happen only when the message seems to be getting through to Gazans that they might better jeer rather than cheer rockets launched from their empty lots and rooftops, given the retribution that will inevitably follow, despite the promulgation of phoney doctrines like proportionality and the tired old game of “hood on — I’m a scary rocket launcher”/ “hood off — I’m a scared civilian victim of Israeli aggression”.
Note likewise the growing silence from the incoming Obama administration and its supporters, who now have dropped much of the talk about the tragedy of not having an early ascension in November rather than January 20th. Gaza is a sore about which you cannot vote present, charm terrorists into disarmament, talk in platitudes of hoping and changing it, or simply keep blaming George Bush for not being “engaged.” Instead, Obama must face the hard choices of either alienating traditional liberal pro-Israel supporters, or the powerful anti-Israeli fringe groups that have galvanized much of the Obama candidacy, here and abroad. UNing an asymmetrical war with terrorists with ostensible blame for both sides as equally culpable won’t do either. The Middle East almost by definition requires an American President to be disliked as much as he is deemed necessary.
In such a context, it will be difficult for Obama, as many expected, to open no-preconditions negotiations with Iran, or start pressuring for surrendering Golan to Iranian-backed Syria. Instead, there are some atrocious scenarios on the horizon: Iran’s bomb, Arab counter-nuclear proliferation, a real Pakistan-India war at the outbreak of the next Mumbai, and Hezbollah’s next gambit to destroy constitutional Lebanon.