In Gaza Conflict 2021, Schanzer has produced a useful, informative, and unpretentious work, with insightful analysis that avoids the temptation to prescribe a solution to one of the most intractable conflicts in recent decades—one that stubbornly eludes any semblance of resolution.
Schanzer sets the Gaza predicament in a broad context. Rather than confine his analysis to a bilateral dual between Hamas and Israel, he widens the scope to include multiple extraneous influences—both malign and benign—that mold the conduct and outcome of the conflict.
Among the malign actors are the "usual suspects": Iran, Turkey, and Qatar. To these, he adds a rarely mentioned and underreported protagonist, Malaysia, which, according to Schanzer, "has long been an important jurisdiction for Hamas" to which its operatives traveled to develop operational tactics, cyber capabilities, and weapons procurement and production, such as rocket technology.
Among the more benign actors, he identifies the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sisi's Egypt, whose interests in Sinai, Gaza, and beyond he sees as increasingly aligning with those of Israel.
The author deftly sidesteps most of the many politically-correct pitfalls of conventional wisdom. He takes the media, particularly the American media, to task for shoddy and shallow coverage of Hamas: downplaying its brutality, its massive squandering of international aid, its diversion of funds from their original humanitarian purposes to the development of offensive military capabilities, and its commission of serial war crimes.
Schanzer sees the Biden White House and U.S. State Department as being generally understanding and supportive of Israel during the May 2021 campaign. Only the Israeli bombing of al-Jalaah Tower, which housed the offices of Associated Press and Aljazeera, precipitated some U.S. disapproval. This occurred despite intelligence corroborating Israel's claims that the building was used for terrorist activity. Indeed, in Schanzer's view, "America's policy should be one of support for an embattled ally that has consistently gone out of its way both to shorten the length of its conflicts with a brutal terrorist organization and to minimize [civilian] casualties."
However, he foresees that as the "United States looks to pivot toward a policy of countering revisionist powers such as Russia and China, putting the war against terrorism in the rearview mirror, the Gaza problem will remain."
Indeed, Schanzer leaves the reader with no illusions as to where the fault for the recent—and inevitable future—violence lies: squarely on the shoulders of the Islamist Hamas, whose "raison d'etre [is] the destruction of Israel." He predicts that as "Hamas exists to fight Israel ... [and its] patrons provide funds and other assistance for exactly that reason ... [w]ar will unfortunately come again."