WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 3, 2021 – A new book by FDD Press by Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Vice President for Research Dr. Jonathan Schanzer explores the significant disconnect between events on the ground during the 11-day war in May between Hamas and Israel and how they were portrayed in Western media. The new book, "Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War" challenges and corrects a deeply flawed narrative prevalent in news reports during the conflict.
While some describe the Israel-Hamas conflict as periodic flare-ups in a "cycle of violence," Schanzer explains that there are more complex dynamics at play: the Iranian proxy war against Israel, an intense intra-Palestinian rivalry that is now more than a decade old, a determined effort by Hamas to procure more sophisticated weapons, and international organizations' support for maximalist Palestinian demands, which all but guarantee future rounds of violence. Schanzer explains how the May conflagration was part of a continuous tussle between Iran and Israel over the regional balance of power.
"Gaza Conflict 2021" also unearths a document that provides evidence that Hamas plans to draw Israel into a two-front war in a future conflict. The document is provided in full in the appendix of the book.
Schanzer, a Middle East scholar and former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, writes that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the biggest beneficiary of Hamas' attacks and Israel's responses. The book explains in great depth how Iran continues to fuel the conflict by supporting, arming, and funding Hamas. Looking back at sources from the 1990s, Schanzer documents how Hamas, in partnership with Iran, was able to destroy the Middle East peace process in the 1990s. Schanzer cautions that a return to the Iran nuclear deal and lifting sanctions on Iran would end up filling Hamas coffers to fund the next Hamas war against Israel.
A frequent traveler to the Middle East and author of three previous books on the region, Schanzer describes the implications of Hamas rule for Palestinians living in Gaza. He also unpacks the most contentious debates and political rhetoric emanating from the region leading up to, during, and immediately after the May conflict – the fourth on this scale between the foes.
Schanzer provides other important insights into several under-reported or unreported stories from the conflict. Using on-the-ground research; holding numerous conversations with officials in the United States, Israel, and several Arab governments, along with journalists who covered the conflict first-hand; and monitoring countless hours of broadcast and print media coverage in several languages, Schanzer addresses head-on where journalists, columnists, and pundits missed the mark in several areas, including:
- While Hamas' leadership may make decisions independently, the group is still a proxy of its patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which unabashedly seeks the destruction of Israel. Recognition of this should impact U.S. Iran policy.
- The Gaza conflict was directly influenced by events immediately preceding the war, in particular Iran's shadow war across the Middle East and the cancellation of Palestinian elections.
- One of the most controversial UN agencies in history, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), revealed how Hamas has engaged in war crimes. "After years of Israeli accusations that were repeatedly denied, UNRWA had finally admitted that one of its schools was being used as a human shield for Hamas military tunnels," Schanzer writes.
- The roles of the Islamist-leaning governments of Qatar, Turkey, and Malaysia in contributing to Hamas' malign conduct rather than to holding it accountable for it.
- Hamas' abuse of foreign assistance and diverting international aid to build its military infrastructure; the use of human shields to protect their fighters and military infrastructure; and Hamas' indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel. These are war crimes.
"Jon's book matters," said Clifford D. May, president of FDD. "Often, news reports are, at best, a rough draft of history. A deeper dive is required to establish accuracy and perspective, as well as to consider lessons that may be learned."
"During the 2021 Gaza war, too many media outlets republished too much Hamas propaganda. Jon's book is a must-read for all those who want to understand what really happened and what is really happening in the Middle East," May said.
"Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War" can be purchased on Amazon.
Gaza Conflict 2021 is a publication of FDD Press, a division of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
About Jonathan Schanzer
A prolific writer on Middle East issues, Schanzer has written hundreds of articles and more than a dozen monographs and chapters for edited volumes. His three books have made unique contributions to the field. State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) argues the main roadblock to Palestinian statehood is the Palestinian Authority's political dysfunction and mismanagement. Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (Palgrave Macmillan 2008) is still the only book on the market that analyzes the ongoing Palestinian civil war. Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror (Washington Institute for Near East Policy 2004) was the first to explore the al-Qaeda franchises of the Middle East. Follow him on twitter @JSchanzer. Track commentary about the book using #GazaConflict2021.
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