Sometime in 1989, Terry Bisson was driving his daughter to college in upstate New York when an idea for a short story came to him. Glancing toward the highway median, he had a vision: animals sitting together, in their own world, talking to one other. The vision became a title: “Bears Discover Fire.”
The story that resulted is strange and funny, yet oddly realistic. It takes place in Kentucky, where Bisson grew up, but is set in “unclaimed land” that could stand in for any exurban wilderness, and follows an uncle and nephew during an odd season in which bears stop hibernating and discover fire. “They make a fire and keep it going all winter,” a character explains. No one knows what to make of this development. The uncle and his nephew, Wallace Jr., follow the story on TV, but grow frustrated that the news mainly shows “guys talking about bears” rather than the bears themselves. They decide to go looking for the genuine article.
After supper, they head into the back yard and through a fence. “Across the interstate and through the trees we could see the light of the bears’ fire,” Bisson writes. “Wallace Jr. wanted to go back to the house and get his .22 and go shoot one, and I explained why that would be wrong.” Also, the uncle points out, “a .22 wouldn’t do much more to a bear than make it mad.” Later, Wallace Jr.’s ornery grandma escapes her nursing home and disappears into the dark wilderness; they find her with the bears, enjoying their campfire in silence. “My imagination ran wild,” the uncle recalls. “I looked around the circle at the bears and wondered what they saw.”
“Bears Discover Fire” evokes climate change and the otherness of nature. It captures the mix of blitheness and curiosity with which we often apprehend the world shifting around us. It’s not quite sci-fi; it’s more like a parable. When Bisson wrote it, he sent it to Asimov’s, one of the top magazines in science fiction; the editor wrote back to say that though the story wasn’t sci-fi, he wanted it anyway. In 1990 and 1991, “Bears Discover Fire” won almost every award in science fiction and fantasy.
And yet Bisson hasn’t sold a story in years. Instead, since the early two-thousands, or perhaps the late nineties—he can no longer recall—he’s been writing what may be the longest-running monthly fiction feature ever. Each month, for the Bay Area sci-fi trade magazine Locus, Bisson drafts four short paragraphs about future events. The paragraphs, with brief headlines (“Pope weds,” “Apple buys Estée Lauder,” “Suez Canal closes”) appear in little boxes under the title “This Month in History,” and are each associated with specific dates (July 16, 2049; May 26, 2105; and June 7, 2255, respectively). The sci-fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson, who is a longtime friend of Bisson’s, told me that he sees each vignette as the opening of a novel, or a whole novel compressed. He urged me to get my hands on the whole archive, which contains more than a thousand entries. I borrowed some old issues of Locus:
March 22, 2099. Amazon buys Amazon. In what critics deem an environmental “Hail Mary,” the 8 million square km carbon sink is purchased for the retail giant’s Prime Preserve, which also includes wetlands in New Jersey and Sudan.
February 11, 2114. “Crap gas” ban. Overriding a joint US/Israel veto, the World Congress prohibits civilian use of C-330, the military assault gas that renders crowds incontinent.
November 9, 2176. First dog on Mars. Yeolhan, one of the 94 Nureongi on Hyundai’s colonization fleet, escaped through a galley vent shortly after touchdown, and died while trying valiantly to bark, but at what was never revealed.
In science fiction, what counts as plausible or as serious? What comes across as silly—and what is just outlandish enough to be believable? Your views on these questions depend on your ideas about the future. We live in an era of prestige sci-fi, in which many writers aim for seriousness, and yet seriousness can be a kind of constraint, since the world is so often absurd. “This Month in History” is from an earlier, looser, raunchier, zanier sci-fi era. The genre’s longest-running joke, it raises an unsettling possibility: What if pulpy absurdity is a good way to predict the future?
Bisson, who was born in 1942, discovered science fiction by reading the novels he could find in the drugstore. At thirteen, he read “Surface Tension,” a novella by James Blish about humans who genetically engineer their descendants in order to colonize a new planet. At that time, he liked to sneak cigarettes from his parents and smoke while walking along the tobacco fields at night; he looked up at the stars and thought, of Blish’s novel, “Nobody else around here even knows it’s there.” Later, in the sixties, he discovered the Beats and moved to New York, hoping to publish his first novel, “Diamond Jim.” J. D. Salinger’s agent took it on, but couldn’t get it published. “I thought I was teetering on the brink of a career,” Bisson recalled. Instead, he made a living washing dishes and writing jacket copy.
In 1969, Bisson quit writing for a decade and left New York for “hippie commune” work in the South and Southwest. He met his wife, Judy Jensen, in a commune, and they became involved in the May 19th Communist Organization, a group created by former members of the Weather Underground. In 1975, the couple moved back to New York to organize for May 19th, and Bisson worked as an auto mechanic in taxi garages and a copywriter. He sold his first science-fiction novel, “Wylrdmaker,” to the publisher David Hartwell in 1981, for fifteen hundred dollars. The novel was pulp: it told the story of Kemen of Pastryn, a satirical futuristic version of Conan the Barbarian. It wasn’t the book Bisson wanted to write, he told me, but “it was the smartest thing I ever did. That’s when I discovered you didn’t have to be fucking Hemingway or Fitzgerald to write a novel.” His second novel, “The Talking Man,” was more of a passion project—it was a fantasy novel set in the rural South, with junkyards instead of castles. “There was a sense of science fiction as a very urban literature and the future as a very urban place,” the writer Karen Joy Fowler told me. “Terry’s perspective was more land-based, regional, and populist.”
If May 19th had asked him to do anything risky, Bisson would have. But he was always suspected of being a “petit-bourgeois intellectual” and thus was kept on the sidelines. In 1985, he was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury, to identify friends who had gone into hiding, and who were suspected for bombings at the Capitol and three military bases nearby. He refused to comply, and spent three months in prison—a short stint, he notes, compared with those of his friends. There, Bisson started his third novel, “Fire on The Mountain,” an alternative history in which the abolitionist John Brown’s revolt at Harper’s Ferry succeeded. When it was published, in 1988, Bisson dedicated the book to Kuwasi Balagoon and the Black Liberation Army.
Bisson was never very successful as a novelist, but he got a lot of work as a writer. He produced nonfiction and young-adult fiction under pen names, and wrote novelizations for films such as “Johnny Mnemonic,” “The Fifth Element,” and “Alien Resurrection.” He adapted William Gibson, Greg Bear, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Roger Zelazny, and Anne McCaffrey into comics. He wrote copy for Consumer Reports, and a book with the mechanics on NPR’s “Car Talk.” He edited the writings of political prisoners, most notably “Love and Struggle,” the memoir of David Gilbert of the Weather Underground, who spent a commuted sentence of forty years in prison for robbery and murder. All the while, he and Jensen operated Jacobin Books, a mail-order book service for prisoners.
Bisson was forty-eight in 1990, when “Bears Discover Fire” briefly made him a star. The next year, he published his most famous story, “They’re Made Out of Meat,” in Omni. The story—essentially a dialogue between two aliens who have discovered the existence of humanity—was “one of the great pre-digital memes of all time,” the writer Jonathan Lethem told me. “They’re made out of meat,” one alien says. “Meat?” the other replies, incredulously. “There’s no doubt about it,” the first says. “We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.” They continue:
“Oh, there is a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat!”
“So . . . what does the thinking?”
“You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.”
“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”
“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?”
“They’re Made Out of Meat” has been produced as a radio play, adapted for two films, and quoted by Stephen Pinker, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and other scientists to evoke the philosophical conundrum of how consciousness could have emerged from material stuff. Bisson received a small payment for it from Omni, but earned most of his money from it through reprints in E.S.L. textbooks. In the wake of the story, his fifth novel, “Pirates of the Universe,” became the most reviewed sci-fi novel of 1996, but he earned the most from publishing stories in Playboy. With Alice Turner, an editor at Playboy, and others, he created and ran a celebrated New York City reading series for established and new writers, at KGB Bar.
In 2002, after a few more novels, Bisson and Jensen left New York for San Francisco. He started a reading series there—SF in SF—and began writing “This Month in History.” In 2012, he published one last novel, “Any Day Now,” an alternative history of the last days of the Beats, which Robinson described to me as “the great novel of the sixties.” Otherwise, he has concentrated entirely on his future headlines. “I asked about what else he was writing,” Liza Trombi, the editor-in-chief of Locus, told me. “He said to me, ‘Ly-zuh’—you know, in that accent—‘Don’t you see? I’m done.’ ”
The Bisson-Jensen home, in Oakland, is a small suburban bungalow with a beautifully landscaped front garden. Bisson answered the door in gray jeans and a gray plaid shirt. Now in his eighth decade, he is stocky, short-waisted, and long-legged, like a jockey. We’d met once before, by e-mail, in 2005. I’d asked him to write an afterword to a book I was editing. To my politely crafted “Dear Mr. Bisson” letter, he had responded with one sentence: “Is there any dough?” He walked with a cane, but with his free hand offered me a firm handshake and pulled me in for a hug.
In the back garden, Bisson drank chicory coffee and chewed tobacco while reminiscing about his career. He remembers exactly what every job paid. (Among the highest-paying was a series of children’s books he wrote for Nascar.) He recalled writing a series of “Star Wars” novels about a character he’d never heard of named Boba Fett. “That didn’t last long,” he said. “They could tell I didn’t give a shit about ‘Star Wars.’ ”
I asked to see where he worked, and we moved indoors, past handmade quilts, mismatched hand-painted china, and rustic wood furniture. “We call this look country hippie,” Bisson said. A deconstructed portrait of Elvis by one of their grandchildren, Ocean, hung over the mantle; the King was so pixelated as to have no features, but was still clearly himself. Bisson sat on a couch in the sunny corner of the living room. “This is it,” he said. He loves Victorian literature, and a stack of books on the ottoman included Trollope and Austen. (“June 23, 2042. Janeite jamboree. Traffic jam on Hollywood & Vine as an estimated 1750 quietly applaud new Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.”) He removed a tattered copy of Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson” from the pile. (“March 4, 2109. Willa Johnson dies. The acclaimed scholar whose research upended centuries of literary history by establishing that ‘Samuel Johnson’ was a fictional creation of James Boswell, is found dead in her cubicle at Clarion Community College.”) He loves Boswell, he said, not just for the writing but for the fact that you can start reading on any page.
Jensen’s sewing machine hummed in another part of the house. Next to the Victorian novels lay a few svelte volumes from Outspoken Authors, a series he edits for the anarchist publisher PM Press. Each volume contains an interview by Bisson. (“Ever been down the Gowanus Canal in a canoe?” he asked Jonathan Lethem. “I have.”) For his own book in the series, Bisson interviewed himself.
Back when Bisson discovered sci-fi, writers seemed interested only in a space-based future. “What happens when we get off this planet—that’s when shit really starts to happen,” he said, recalling those days. But he’d always been fascinated by apparently mundane changes here on Earth. “Robots and space travel, that’s not nearly as interesting as the Internet, the highway system, or air-conditioning,” he said. He likes Amazon even though he’s “not supposed to.” On his Web site, Bisson once quoted the Surrealist and communist Paul Eluard: “There is another world, but it is in this one.” When asked about it, he said, gently, “That’s the world I want to be in.”
On the drive home, I wondered about the future of “This Month in History.” Bisson was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. He worries that he won’t find the right writer to take over the feature; he doesn’t want it to devolve into “stupid comedy.” He has compiled all of it into a book, which will be published under the title “Tomorrowing” as part of the Practices series I edit at Duke University Press. Meanwhile, he continues to write the column, turning it in every month on the fifteenth. He calls it his day job.
The time line portrayed in “This Month in History” is equal parts fascinating and familiar. We might colonize Mars, or Amazon might buy the Amazon, but we, who must learn to absorb these events into our everyday lives, will remain our everyday selves. Just as the uncle in “Bears Discover Fire” wonders what the bears see, so Bisson wonders not just what the future will bring but how we will see it. Calamities are coming, just as they’ve always come, but, in his world, we deal with them not as heroes saving the day but as generous observers, open to possibilities and encounters. When we mess up—and we will—we’ll deserve patience and a chuckle at ourselves. We might even deserve forgiveness. I mean, look at us. We’re made out of meat. ♦
Sonnenfeld is senior associate dean and Lester Crown professor in management practice at Yale School of Management and president of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute. He helped advise the development of the Abraham Accords and helped organize and produce the 2019 Peace Through Prosperity Conference in Bahrain, which served as a foundation for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab nations. Tian is the research director of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute.
Raviv was a CBS News national and international correspondent for over 40 years. He is the author of several books on Israeli intelligence, including the bestseller “Every Spy a Prince: The Complete History of Israel’s Intelligence Community” as well as “Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars” and “Friends In Deed: Inside the U.S.-Israel Alliance.”
Exactly 50 years ago, two authors of this commentary raced out of Yom Kippur prayer services to cover the last surprise attack on Israel for news radio. Now we see Israel taken by surprise once again. The radical Palestinians of Hamas, governing the Gaza Strip since Israel’s withdrawal in 2005, managed to carry out an unprecedented and unprovoked attack by land, sea, and air—and the results that prompted Israel to declare all-out war included massacres of hundreds of innocent civilians of all ages in their homes, at children’s parties, and at concerts. Scores more were taken hostage. President Biden and leading U.S. Republican voices alike are vowing to stand strongly behind Israel.
History again echoes, as the predicate for Hamas’ attack had less to do with anything that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have done—now is not the moment to blame the victim. Rather, the trigger to the attack was likely that the prospect of a wider Mideast peace was almost at hand through an impending deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Hamas’ sabotage parallels the disruption of the prospective Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in 2000 on the heels of a Camp David Summit when the devastation of the Second Intifada ruined any dreams of normalization and resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.
This time, by all accounts, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States were inching closer towards a transformative three-way deal, which would have seen Israel and Saudi formally recognize each other within a security, defense, and economic partnership with the U.S. Just a week ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that “every day we get closer” to a deal, while Netanyahu similarly stated that he was confident of forging “a historic peace” between his country and Saudi Arabia, with Israeli cabinet ministers already landing in Riyadh to “nurture blossoming ties.”
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Saturday’s invasion of Israel by Hamas seems to derail that in the near term, just as Hamas intended. But by sabotaging imminent peace, Hamas sadly derails the transformation of the region which had started with the Abraham Accords shepherded by Jared Kushner, which the first author helped advise and participated in, and the worst loser in all this is the Palestinian people, who will lose out on the promise of economic and security revitalization that just days ago seemed so possible.
Below, are ten questions drawing out the strategic context of how history has been repeated, and what it means moving forward.
1. Do the statements put out by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, blaming Israel for the Hamas invasion, jeopardize normalization of diplomatic relations between Saudi and Israel?
Clearly that was the intent by Hamas; and indeed it now appears very unlikely there will be any near-term normalization of diplomatic relations as was expected. When there is a major Palestinian crisis, it becomes impossible for the leadership of Saudi Arabia to publicly break ranks from the Islamic and Arabic camp, and it is even more unlikely to think Qatar might break ranks.
During moments like this, across the entire region, voices of hardline Islamic clerics gain preeminence over more progressive voices such as that of Mohamed Allabar, founder of Emmar Properties and one of the world’s largest commercial builders, who told the first author of this article, during private talks leading up to the Abraham Accords, that “the younger generation will not let us continue to be trapped by our past. Palestinian people are our people. We get up every morning positive, and we want to do more….by generating jobs, income opportunities and filling gaps in delivering basic services, the private sector can help build momentum behind a fragile economy and instill hope in the people of the region.” But now that opportunity seems lost for the time being.
However, privately, Saudi leaders are likely celebrating the reality that Iran will face increased global rejection for funding Hamas, and that the U.S. especially, and Israel, will be even more motivated and mobilized to engage Iran as their single largest regional threat. It is possible that the prospects for diplomatic normalization in the longer term remain promising, as Iran remains the single largest common security threat in the region and Israel and Saudi are clearly stronger standing together against Iran than individually.
2. What is the role of Iran and how will the country respond moving forward?
Iran’s biggest rival in the region is Saudi Arabia with military, diplomatic, cultural, and religious hostilities dividing them. The prospect of Saudi recognition of Israeli sovereignty after 75 years of statehood would have undercut Iran’s voice in the Islamic world while uniting two of Iran’s foes. Iran has always been Hamas’ single largest sponsor, providing 70% of the financing for Hamas including upwards of $100 million in military aid every year in addition to military training and humanitarian assistance. It is highly unlikely that Hamas’ invasion of Israel could have happened without at least tacit support from Iran, whose regime was celebrating the attacks on Israel openly on Saturday with impromptu fireworks and festivals.
As Iranian-American author-journalist Roya Hakakian noted to us, “Iran needed this conflict very badly, as the hardline regime has been facing its fair share of domestic challenges, especially since the killing of Mahsa Amini last year. It has lost legitimacy in the eyes of many of its own people amidst domestic discontent, economic woes, and international isolation, and its survival depends to a large degree on symbiotic relationships with other extremists who will do Iran’s bidding.”
As Israel focuses on neutralizing Hamas’ ability to carry out terrorist attacks, there will be elevated scrutiny on Iran from the international community in the days ahead; and Iran will likely come under increasing pressure, especially through the potential withholding of the sanctions relief that Iran so desperately needs.
3. How will Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank/Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, and other Arab nations respond?
So far, thanks in large part to President Biden’s strong deterrence, it appears other Arabic nations, especially Egypt and Jordan, are not rushing to support Hamas in any substantive ways, rhetorical flourishes aside. These nations along with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco have increased peaceful trade and economic cooperation with Israel over the last few years.
So, it appears a repeat of the Yom Kippur War scenario fifty years ago today, in which the Arab nations joined into a unified military coalition against Israel, is unlikely. Surely Islamic hardliners and extremist clerics across the region who believe Israel has been an unjust occupier are celebrating that Hamas has been able to hit mighty Israel so hard. But the leadership of these countries are practicing restraint, and it appears Hezbollah in Lebanon did not exploit Saturday’s chaos to launch a much-feared simultaneous attack of Israel from the north even as the Iran-backed Shi’ite militia continues to have thousands of rockets aimed towards Israel.
4. How will the U.S. respond?
President Biden and GOP leaders are expressing total, bipartisan support for Israel and endorsing Israel’s right to respond—what Israel calls “restoring deterrence," which requires Israelis to prove they are much stronger than Hamas and any Palestinian factions. There will likely be domestic pressure from some Democratic Party progressives as well as possibly Republican isolationists to limit Israel’s response in the weeks ahead, with some already calling for de-escalation. It appears that for now, those voices are confined to the fringe. An immediate bipartisan consensus appeared, supporting Israel in whatever response it chooses, with some voices calling for the full-scale destruction of Hamas.
The U.S. provides over $3 billion in defense assistance to Israel annually, with Israel the single largest recipient, and that number could conceivably increase—because otherwise, any regional vacuum left by the U.S. will clearly be filled by a stronger Iran, and potentially by China and Russia, both of whom have remained relatively quiet so far in response to Hamas’ attack. But the bipartisan consensus appears to agree that the U.S. cannot afford to draw back its support for Israel now; if Hamas and Iran are not sufficiently punished for this round of violence, there are likely only larger provocations ahead. Even isolationist Republican voices such as Vivek Ramaswamy and Marjorie Taylor Greene have come out in strong support of Israel, suggesting that at least for now the U.S. stands united behind restoring Israeli deterrence through a strong response.
However, another key lesson of the Yom Kippur War bears remembering moving forward. The last surprise invasion of Israel fifty years ago made an accidental winner out of Saudi Arabia through U.S. mistakes, even though Israel recovered from the initial setbacks in that war and triumphed over Egypt and Syria.
As the Israelis say, “Hamas started this war, and now Israel has to win it,” which is already engendering strong support from across fractious political divides with Netanyahu adding leading opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz to an emergency cabinet.
Many in Israel are calling for the destruction of Hamas and the full neutralization of its ability to engage in terrorist attacks against Israel—although this is complicated by the fact there are now Israelis being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, including dozens seized Saturday, according to reports. To “restore deterrence,” and to prove Israel’s overwhelming force would require a lot of destruction within the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has thoroughly embedded its operations within civilian infrastructure. That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu is already declaring that Israel is prepared for a “long and challenging” conflict.
Hamas is not and has never been interested in compromise, unlike their rival, the Palestinian Authority run by Mahmound Abbas which governs much of the West Bank but not in Gaza. Many in the Palestinian Authority were said to welcome a Saudi peace plan as well the offer of financial assistance to improve the lives of Palestinians before Hamas sabotaged those plans Saturday.
6. In terms of Israel's access to weaponry, will the U.S. be torn about allowing access to caches of weapons, reminiscent of the U.S. domestic debates 50 years ago amidst the Yom Kippur War?
Compared with the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when Israel was taken by surprise and was running low on ammunition and airplanes, Israel’s arms industry and storehouses are more advanced today and much larger. It is doubtful Israel will run out of munitions, with one major exception—the Tamir missiles with their brilliant compact radar, which chases incoming rockets across the skies. Raytheon makes a version of that Iron Dome interceptor, and the Israelis may need more supply soon. But regardless, it appears that munitions supply or capabilities limitations will not constrain Israel’s response today the way they did fifty years ago.
7. Was Russia involved in seeking to distract from its conflict in Ukraine?
Russia has a long history of being involved in Middle East conflicts, such as when Putin essentially single-handedly propped up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2014. Russia has also nurtured extremely close ties to Iran in addition to Hamas—including with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosting top Hamas political leadership in Moscow just a few weeks ago. There is still much about the coordination of Saturday’s surprise attack that is not known, including to what degree Russia was involved or knew about the attack in advance. It seems plausible that Russia, at a minimum, did not disapprove of Hamas fostering chaos in the Middle East, perhaps to divert U.S. and international attention away from Putin’s struggles in Ukraine.
8. Did the attack catch Netanyahu’s government off guard due to an Israeli intelligence failure or does it speak to a lack of Israeli preparation?
Israel invests huge resources in monitoring Gaza, and for years seemed to know what Hamas and other militant groups were planning—and where they were located. But in this case, Israel was taken by surprise. The key intelligence agency within Israel is Aman—the Military Intelligence Directorate, of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)—with tons of technology and Arabic-speaking experts. Hamas appears to have plainly fooled them by relying on old-fashioned human-to-human planning sans technology, making use of its hundreds of miles of extensive underground tunnels including those as deep as 230 feet, and leaving no traceable footprint detectable to technology.
But it may be too simple to call it an intelligence failure, as the scale and scope of Hamas’ boldness were truly unprecedented. The IDF evidently did not believe this kind of attack was even possible. The Gaza border has a long security fence, but Palestinian fighters were able to poke holes in it and find areas that Israel does not monitor thoroughly with sufficient manpower to deter a sudden large-scale attack. Israelis living in civilian towns nearby, such as Sderot, close to the Gaza Strip, thought that they were OK—living with the ever-present danger of Palestinian rockets and mortar-shells fired from Gaza, but they were relying on the Iron Dome missile-defense system to protect them. The Iron Dome was plainly overwhelmed with thousands of incoming rockets, and that was just “cover” for the Hamas special forces who swarmed into Israeli towns, murdering hundreds of civilians in the streets in broad daylight, reportedly massacring 20 cops during a siege of a police station and stuffing hostages into vans. Israel has never had to cope with this multi-level assault.
9. Did the Biden Administration’s decision to release $6 billion in frozen funds to Iran play any role in the Hamas invasion?
Already, the Biden Administration is coming under attack for its decision to release $6 billion in oil revenues frozen in overseas escrow accounts to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages, with some Republican voices arguing that this money is being used to fund Hamas’ invasion of Israel.
At the same time, there is no doubt Iran provides significant financial support to Hamas. It is hard for some to see how this does not encourage Iran’s radical aspirations and could well trigger the seizing of more hostages. Perhaps the greater tragedy is that had the Saudi-Israel normalization been better managed and more expedited, it is possible that the regional power balance within the Middle East would have already been sufficiently different to deter Iranian and Hamas aggression of the scale we have tragically just witnessed.
10. Was it a misstep to allow hardline Israeli supporters of Netanyahu into crucial security decision-making?
The tough aura of Netanyahu’s leadership coalition is as the most right-wing ever in the history of Israel, with key ministers who want to keep the West Bank forever and want to block any hopes of an independent State of Palestine, yet their bravado did little to protect Israel with greater vigilance and preparation along the Gaza border. While those right-wing ministers may have aggravated peace-seeking parties among Israelis and Palestinians, Hamas is a group dedicated to wiping out the Jewish State of Israel and refuses to recognize Israel’s legitimacy. Blaming the victim does not work here since the predicate for Hamas’ attack had less to do with anything Netanyahu did or did not do, and everything to do with Hamas and Iran intending to sabotage the potential normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This is a bloody, murderous way of saying, “Don’t forget us, we are Hamas. We’re still here, and we’re still angry.”
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