Cui Bono? Putin.
A month after the horrific Hamas attacks, the primary beneficiary has been the Russian strongman.
Today marks one month since the horrific Hamas atrocities of October 7. On that day, the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, some 2,900 Hamas terrorists breached the barrier between Gaza and Israel, slaughtering 1,400 Israelis—including entire families, the elderly, women, and children—in the most savage and heartless ways they could devise. In addition, some 200 hostages were kidnapped and dragged back to the tunnels beneath Gaza, where most of them remain. The stories from that day are horrifying, as they were intended to be.
Three days after the attacks—in a piece exposing Vladimir Putin as the common denominator in, if not the author of, the sudden spate of global chaos regions: Kherson and Eastern Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Israel and Gaza, and, significantly, Washington, where Republicans in the House could not be bothered to elect a Speaker, and Republicans in the Senate were holding up key military (Tommy Tuberville) and diplomatic (Rand Paul) appointments—I wrote that it was too early to answer some of the questions about October 7:
What does Hamas think this will achieve? How exactly does this help advance the cause of Palestinian statehood? Have these hateful zealots considered how this erodes Western sympathy to their cause? Why do this now?
A month later, we can revisit these questions:
What does Hamas think this will achieve?
The explicit mission of Hamas is to eradicate the state of Israel—to remove every last Jew from the country, whether through expulsion or extermination. This is obviously a non-starter in any serious negotiation between Israel and Palestine, so Hamas seeks to create an environment so hostile that serious negotiation cannot take place. It wants chaos, and there is no chaos like war.
How exactly does this help advance the cause of Palestinian statehood?
It doesn’t. But then, if Hamas actually cared about the Gazan people it rules with an iron fist, it would not embed its leadership with civilians, transport operatives in ambulances, or shoot at Palestinians trying to flee from north to south. As Jason Pack put it on last week’s PREVAIL podcast, Hamas are disorderers.
Have these hateful zealots considered how this erodes Western sympathy to their cause?
Alas, yes. The odious perpetrators gave the October 7 attacks the codename Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. And Hamas and its allies in Russia and on Elon Musk’s X platform have indeed flooded the media, both traditional and social, with disinformation, misinformation, and deceptively giftwrapped propaganda, to the degree that students at highly prestigious American colleges are participating in protests where they chant the catchy but hideously anti-Semitic slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Israel may be making great inroads in the war on the ground, but so far, Hamas is winning the information war.
Why do this now?
Short answer: Moscow. The attacks of October 7 were acts of war, but they were also crimes. When crimes of this nature are committed, prosecutors ask the question Cui bono? Who benefits from these crimes? The answer here is obvious: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
For almost two years, the Russian strongman has been getting his ass kicked in humiliating fashion in Ukraine. His ill-conceived war of aggression has destroyed his legacy, hurt his nation’s economy, curtailed his and his oligarchs’ ability to travel to non-shithole countries, and ruined the lives of an entire generation of Russian nationals. It is the biggest military disaster in that country since Japan kicked Russia’s ass in Manchuria in 1904-05. To have any chance of saving face, Putin needs the West to stop giving aid to Ukraine. With Western weapons, Ukraine will eventually prevail. Without Western weapons, Russia has a fighting chance. Thus, Putin wants to curb Western enthusiasm for Ukraine and to disrupt NATO alliances.
The Hamas attacks help him achieve both of those objectives. If we survey what has happened in the last month as a direct result of the attacks—and Bibi’s predictable response to the attacks—we see that all of these things benefit Putin:
The West now has to worry about two wars, not just one.
Aid that was going entirely to Ukraine is now being split, with some being funneled to Tel Aviv. The fewer Western weapons that make their way to Ukraine, the better Russia’s chances to win the war.
The war in Ukraine has been pushed off the front page.
President Zelenskyy is rightly nervous, fearing that the fickle populations of the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and etc. will no longer be as ardent about his cause. Israel trumps Ukraine in the headlines if not in strategic importance, and will likely continue to do so for as long as the Hamas war lasts.
Ukraine is a victim of the false equivalency between Russian aggression and Israel’s counterattack.
Russia invaded Ukraine, therefore Ukraine has a right to defend itself: anyone not an obvious useful idiot can see this. The Hamas leadership of Gaza attacked Israel, therefore Israel has a right to defend itself: this isn’t clicking for far too many well-intentioned people in the West.
Hamas propaganda seeks to falsely equate heinous Russian war crimes in Ukraine with Israel’s attempts to eradicate the Hamas terror organization. Sadly, Bibi Netanyahu’s execution of the war thus far—with its big explosions and its thousands of civilian casualties, a number that includes plenty of Gazan children, journalists, doctors, and aid workers—has played into Hamas’ false narrative that Israel is, like Russia, a brutal occupation force in Gaza: “How can you support Ukraine but not Palestine? Russia and Israel are both blowing up hospitals and killing children!” Thanks in no small part to Bibi, this deceptive Kremlin-sanctioned messaging, unfortunately, has been very successful.
Bibi remains in power.
Netanyahu is a disgusting crook, the Trump of Tel Aviv. Israelis have had mass protests all year calling for him to resign. Because of his support of the settlements, the bulk of the Israeli defense forces were in the West Bank on October 7, leaving Gaza vulnerable. Bibi was apparently warned that something was imminent—he insists he wasn’t and blames his intelligence chiefs—but did nothing. And the attacks happened on his watch. Now, the plan is for him to remain in power until the war is over. That creates incentive for him to prolong the war, as remaining in power is his top priority. Bibi, incidentally, has in the past eagerly sought good relations with Putin.
President Biden’s poll numbers among young voters have plummeted.
Biden has handled this as well as a U.S. president possibly could, given the circumstances. He traveled to Israel—to a war zone!—where he met with the families of the hostages, expressed his full support, gave an excellent speech, cleared up the “Israel blew up the hospital on purpose” rumor, and convinced Bibi to take a few breaths before blundering into the Gazan tunnels. Nevertheless, the optics of Israel’s counterattack are so damaging that young Americans—exactly the demographic Biden needs to crush Trump a year from now—have turned on POTUS for what they wrongly perceive is unconditional support for Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza. Poll numbers 12 months before an election are meaningless, but even so, this is a concerning trend if it continues.
There are other ramifications as well, none of them good: The Israeli trade agreement with Saudi Arabia, in which the Kingdom was supposed to recognize the Jewish state, has been scuttled. The Palestinians, meanwhile, pawns in the Hamas chess game, are no closer to achieving statehood. Disgracefully, anti-Semitic incidents have skyrocketed in the United States, with swastikas spray-painted on houses and driveways, and Jewish people being menaced, attacked, and murdered.
Hamas does not exist in a vacuum. Its leadership met this month with senior officials in Moscow. The weapons they use are of Russian manufacture. The “journalists” who were granted access two years ago to the elaborate warren of tunnels beneath the Strip—financed, incidentally, with money given to Gaza and earmarked for food, fuel, and medicine—work for RT, the Russian state news agency. Russian and Iran have both continued to publicly support the Hamas butchers.
I don’t know if Putin had advance knowledge of the attacks, much less gave Hamas the green light, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he, more than anyone, is the beneficiary of Hamas’ brutality. It’s not a stretch to say that the attacks were a gift to the Russian strongman—which makes perfect sense when you consider that Putin’s birthday is October 7.
Photo credit: the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who has come to Russia on a short working visit, January 30, 2020.