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04 July 2010


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Mr. Whitman, Mr. Silverman,
Haaretz reports: Hamas and Hezbollah 'beginning to embrace non-violent tactics'

Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorist organizations known for their violence against Israel, have begun to embrace new strategies that incorporate non-violent tactics, including civil disobedience, protest marches, lawsuits and boycotts, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Hamas officials said that the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed showed that more can be gained by getting Israel to draw international condemnation through its own use of force than by carrying out violent attacks against Israel.

"When we use violence, we help Israel win international support," Aziz Dweik, a Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank told the Wall Street Journal. "The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets."... Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah have officially foresworn violence, however. Both organizations continue to stockpile weaponry and the Hamas charter still calls for Israel's destruction.
The report quoted a senior Israeli foreign ministry official saying that Israel was aware of the change in tactics of Hamas and other terrorist groups. The official said the groups remain committed to Israel's destruction but have realized that they are more likely to achieve that goal by isolating Israel internationally than through violent conflict.

That will certainly test the Israeli response. If they keep on with 'wog bashing' they'll only discredit themselves further.

It is an interesting question how COIN can be applied to that. Since COIN is: counter-guerilla operations + political action + economic development, and the Israelis don't do the latter two, how will they fare in face of counter-guerilla operations, when they have to direct them against non-violent protesters?

The Mavi Marmara episode showed that, even with some people resisting, that badly hurt Israel.

My hunch tells me that the Israelis, if only for lack of a better idea, will try to provoke the Palestinians into violence, to be able to denounce the non-violent efforts as hypocrisy and a fig leaf, in an effort to justify continuing their harsh response as 'self defence' against vicious terrorists.

That's at least the example of the Gaza flotilla suggests to me. Israel then denounced the people on the ship of having ties to "agents of international terror, international Islam, Hamas, al Qaeda and others." Never mind that putting actors as different as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda in the same basket is just silly.

R Whitman


I think it is not a good practice to lump Hesbollah and Hamas together. They are different organizations, different cultures, different theologies, citizens of different countries with different goals. The only things they have in common is "Israel is the enemy" and each has participated in and survived an electoral test within their own population.

Sidney O. Smith III


Phil Weiss -- America’s greatest newspaper man -- has had a long running discussion about the use of nonviolent tactics in Gaza and WB. Whether it exists and so on. One point that is continually made is that the IDF kills nonviolent protesters every week. It simply does not make it to the media or it is spun in such a way to “justify” the IDF actions. For nonviolent tactics to work, the media must not be as corrupt as what we have today.

Dr. Silverman

It doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the civilian world that at least a few of those at the Pentagon are representing the IDF does “COIN”. Either someone is lying or is profoundly stupid or both, all at the taxpayers’ expense. All you have to do spend one hour in Bethlehem and look around. Or, as a secondary source, read the book Deadly Embrace by Bard O’Neill (and Dr. Kass. Go figure). It was published in the mid 1990’s. This is an old story.

Whoever the penitent was in Ft. Leavenworth who made the representation that Israelis do “COIN” should be taken to that local penitentiary and sit for awhile. Word I have heard, from people who should know, is Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary is a rough place to be incarcerated.

On a different topic, I still am somewhat perplexed that you reflexively referred to HU-J as Hebrew University, Jerusalem instead of Hampton University in Virginia.

I just finished helping out someone on a minor problem who, as it turns out, is a student at Albany St.. That’s Albany GA not NY and no I am not talking about SUNY. I think they are called the Golden Rams.

At the completion of my task, which was successful, I sent him my essay, kindly posted at SST, that discusses Rep. Elijah Cummings’ stand on the USS Liberty. I asked him to show the essay to his friends and his professors. (Who knows if he will, I think he is just thankful I helped him out).

First a disclaimer. I need to rewrite part of that essay. Too much emphasis on Freud stuff. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have problems with awkward lead in paragraphs and probably should have just jumped right to Mahalia Jackson’s song, Elijah Rock.

But I do believe that Elijah was anti-Freud, at least the popular interpretations of Freud, and popular culture, including those in academia, imo, appear a bit too entrenched in Freud. I need to take out all that junk because the essay is not intended for those of intelligentsia who are intent on destroying all things patriarchal, including Elijah. Different target audience, as the experts say. Actually, now that I think about it, the essay is more for Albany St. and HU-J -USA.

But here is a link to the essay. And I certainly would appreciate any critique.


And with that background, here is a question made in honor of HU-J.

Was Rep. Elijah Cummings correct when he took a stand on the USS Liberty?

My impression is those at HU-J-USA would say yes. Dunno about the other HU-J.


R Whitman,

What path do you think that Hizbollah will take with Israel regarding the vast natural gas reservoirs just off Lebanon's coast in Lebanese coastal waters. The Israeli government has stated for all intents and purposes that they intend to rob the Lebanese of their natural gas wealth . How will Hizbollah respond, hence they have no navy.


Non-violence will not stop the Israeli theft of Lebanon's natural gas reservoirs, only through the use of 'deadly force' will Hizbollah be able to keep the Israeli monster at bay in this particular matter. Hizbollah cannot fight that battle alone, they will need the assistance of others who have standing naval forces. The 64 dollar question, which standing navy will be willing to help preserve Lebanon's ownership of their natural gas resources? Who?

Adam L Silverman

Confused Ponderer: The reporting is a bit misleading as both groups have been involved with this stuff for some time. While Hamas and Hezbullah are different in that one is driven by Sunni revivalist concerns for the Palestinians and the other Shi'a attempts to establish rule by the clerics in Lebanon, there are some similarities - and one of the major ones is their non-violent or normative activities that most folks don't pay attention to. While most people are paying attention to Hamas and Hezbullahs armed wings, the day to day work of both groups has centered around providing what we would call either essential services or social services. If you're sick in Lebanon you can go to the Hezbullah hospital. They have a tv station, provide housing assistance, run food banks and schools, and provide a framework for resolving disputes. Hamas does many of the same things in Gaza. The biggest mistake in dealing with these groups, as well as their relatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to make their extremist, violent terrorist behavior and make that representative of the movement and it's support. The best thing the Israelis could do is hold their noses, deal with Hamas's leadership, and just heal the responsibilities on them. Make then too busy and tired providing medical care, trash pickup, etc to blow anything up.

I used to see this all the time in Iraq. Someone would get all worked up because some local council somewhere was being run by the Jesh al Mehdi guys or their Sunni equivalents. They weren't running, or trying to run, the local government so they could blow stuff up, rather it was a way to control resources, which is what these disputed are usually all about. My recommendation was always the same: we need to just make them so responsible that they don't have time to be destructive or to engage in wholesale graft and corruption. By doing so you make it hard for them to either engage in political violence or allow it to happen as it undermines their now legitimate business. We should be doing more of that in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Smith: I went with Hebrew University of Jerusalem for HU-J based on context: what the comment was about, what it was in reference too, and the author of it's remarks about his being the only gentile in the class, but being treated just the same as everyone else by the professor.

As for the Liberty incident, my take on that is that most Americans really don't even know what it is, what happened, etc. I just saw a horrifying bit of data yesterday that a good chunk of Americans aren't sure who we won our independence from...

R Whitman


I have no idea how the govt of Lebanon or Hizbollah will respond to the so called natural gas theft but they will do their best to make life miserable for the Israelis.

I live in Texas where oil and natural gas theft is a way of life, so this concept is not new. The guys with the biggest guns and the most lawyers win every time.

You should also be aware that substantial rumors of a large offshore oil pool in shallow water is located off Gaza. These rumors have circulated through the oil industry exploration community for years.

Sidney O. Smith III

Dr. Silverman:

Trust me, the African American community knows what’s up with the I/P conflict. It is the undisputed truth. I recommend you take a listen. Pentagon needs to do the same when thinking of the OSP crowd -- Cheney, Addington, et al.


It is my opinion that any person who wears a US uniform as vocation should take a stand on the USS Liberty, one way or the other. Tied into taking the oath. Besides, too much at stake. But just my opinion.


Israeli "does" whatever the US does. Their COIN operation is merely a PR effort to make it appear that they are fighting the same war as the US is fighting and that they are using the same tactics.

I prefer to call it "wog bashing," but pogroms. IMHO much of Israeli behavior stems from retribution and vengeance. The term pogroms clearly frames it in that light.

confusedponderer--Palestinians have tried non-violence before. The Israelis respond by using provocateurs to join any protest and then use their violent behavior as justification to knock off a few Palestinians and reap the PR benefits of being victims to Palestinian violence.


I have to agree with Col. Lang and John H; Israel does "wog bashing" and nothing else.

I would dearly like to know who is suggesting that Israel does COIN, because either they are an Israeli stooge or not very bright.

As John suggests, I think Israel is trying to portray their tactics as a subset of Americas COIN tactics in Iraq and Iran and their conflict with the Palestinians as a subset of our conflicts in Iraq and Iran, instead of the primary driver of both those conflicts.

I think we can confidently predict that a set of Israeli talking points along those lines will appear in the next few weeks, to be dutifully repeated and embroidered by the Krauthammers, Kagans and the rest of the Kommentariat.

I'm waiting for one of them to say that Israel is our "virtual ally" in Afghanistan, and that they are their alongside us in spirit if not on the ground, providing critical intelligence and tactical advice, etc., etc.


It appears that this COIN fascination traces back to the British experience in Malaysia and Kenya, neither of which was like the situation we are now dealing with. In the first case, the insurgents were essentially local Chinese Communist Party followers not even necessarily sympathized with by the indigenous Malay population. And according to one source, In Kenya , the armed enemy numbered 1,500 with personal weapons, and no source of external support.  Still it took 56,000 security forces four years to substantially defeat the Mau Mau. Our limited experience with the Surge in Iraq did not provide the ultimate solution for Iraq, which now awaits the efforts by the Iraqi's not us, and the situation in Afghanistan defies solution barring close to total annihilation of the Taliban and a miraculous transformation of Afghan society. Have we really been carrying out COIN more effectively that the Israelis?


I want to see the movie,

"The USS Liberty"

Adam L Silverman

JohnH and Walrus: I think there is something more going on here, both in Israel and the US. I don't think the professionals in Israel are purposefully blurring the lines. However, it is clear that their understanding of various irregular warfare operations have always been different than ours. What concerns me is that we've written and are now training, teaching, inculcating, and implementing a doctrine that blurs the same lines, that is imprecise, and that is going to lead to all sorts of policy drift. Here too, I don't think the blurring, at least initially, was done intentionally - I think whoever did JP 1-04, 1-05, and 3-05 just got it wrong; either they didn't know any better or they didn't see any distinction in the forms of political violence other than interstate war. Certainly the 3-24 authors were constrained by the earlier doctrine and that is what has resulted in the current error. But to get back to the real concern, an overly broad understanding of insurgency, leading to a similarly overly broad understanding of counterinsurgency, combined with the fact that what we're doing only vaguely resembles the COIN that COL Lang, some other folks who hang out on SST, and the classic stuff the Brits did, is a way to get lots of people killed, spend a ton of money, and not accomplish very much.


Does anyone know more about this? "US drops charges to expluse Israeli spy".


Patrick Lang

"But to get back to the real concern, an overly broad understanding of insurgency, leading to a similarly overly broad understanding of counterinsurgency, combined with the fact that what we're doing only vaguely resembles the COIN that COL Lang, some other folks who hang out on SST, and the classic stuff the Brits did, is a way to get lots of people killed,"

What are you trying to say? pl

Adam L Silverman

That our concept is wrong and costing us lived and money.

FB Ali

It may strictly be a bit off-topic, but is quite relevant to the discussion that has developed.

Paul Woodward, on his blog War in Context, today quotes an excerpt from an article by Rami Khouri in The Daily Star (of Lebanon) entitled It's obvious, go talk to the Islamists. The full article is available at:


In it Khouri refers to a recent Red Team report produced at CENTCOM by a group of senior intelligence officers entitled Managing Hizbullah and Hamas that “questions the current US policy of isolating and marginalizing these movements, and instead suggests a variety of approaches that would integrate them into their Lebanese and Palestinian mainstreams”.

Khouri bases his article on a write-up by Mark Perry on the Red Team report in Foreign Policy, available at:



Clearly the Israelis clear and some hold, but no build. Maybe it is because they don't want to, or maybe it is because it would not be accepted by the Palestinians. There has to be a willing population to engage with COIN. Although many Iraqis and Afghans would like to see us leave, there are many that prefer our efforts to AQI's or the Taleban's. Not sure Israel could say the same about the Palestinians. Having said that, they should try COIN before rejecting it.


In looking for examples of the Israeli practice of counterinsurgency I would look not to the present day, but to operations in Gaza during the early 70s. Seem to recall a brief treatment of this in Sharon's biography. Doubtless there's an IDF literature on this.


Afghanistan annual GDP: $12 billion.
Iranian annual defense budget: $9 billion
US expenditure in Afghanistan : PRICELESS (now $7 billion per month)

Or, as Adam Silverman said, it's "a way to get lots of people killed, spend a ton of money, and not accomplish very much."

Meanwhile, politicians scratch there heads, totally mystified at why we have gaping budget deficits...

Patrick Lang


They don't "clear." They have not succeeded in breaking the allegiance of the Palestinians to their national organizations anywhere that I know of. pl

Patrick Lang


And a lot of that money is being recycled into American pockets. pl

Adam L Silverman

Charles: to follow on what COL Lang said - not only have the Israelis not been able to break or reorient Palestinians from the various secular and religious national groups, and to be honest I'm not sure how one would do this as both occupier and supposed counterinsurgent, the Israelis have also managed to alienate the few prominent Arab Israeli politicians, elites, and notables. This is exactly the opposite of what they wanted, or should have wanted, to do.


And a lot of that money is being recycled into the coffers of the two party duopoly.


Has anyone brought up how our new COIN fascination has turned the US Army into SWAT teams on steroids?

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