From the Oct. 10 letter by Secretary Suella Braverman (see also Reuters on the French bans on “pro-Palestinian protests”): You will be aware of, and no doubt share my disgust at, the barbaric terrorist attacks we’ve seen committed against Israel in recent days. Sadly, experience indicates that whenever Israel is attacked, Islamists and other racists,…

Max Abrahms headshot in front of orange square | Lex Villena

This is the audio version of The Reason Livestream, which takes place every Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

Hamas stunned the world last weekend by launching a brutal terrorist attack on Israeli civilians and posting their crimes on social media. Israel’s government responded with a sustained bombing campaign and a total blockade of the Gaza Strip. Why would Hamas provoke what was certain to be a devastating response from the powerful Israeli military? What is likely to happen next in an Israel-Hamas war that threatens to spill far beyond the region? And what, if anything, should be America’s involvement? 

To explore these questions, Reason‘s Liz Wolfe and I spoke with Max Abrahms, a political science professor at Northeastern University and author of Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History, a lengthy study of terrorism and insurgency. 

“The first thing smart militants do is recognize that civilian attacks are a recipe for political failure,” writes Abrahms. “You might say that the first rule for rebels is to not use terrorism at all.”

While he’s called Hamas’s attack a “major strategic mistake” for the Palestinian cause, he told Reason that their objective might not be to secure autonomy for Palestine at all in the near term but rather an attempt to position “itself as a leader in the larger global Sunni terrorist movement” by provoking a violent response that will galvanize jihadists from around the world to join them. 

We analyzed the likely outcomes of Israel’s response to the terrorist attack, reacted to statements from GOP politicians like Lindsey Graham who has called for America to bomb Iran if U.S. hostages are killed in Gaza, discussed the principle of US military noninterventionism as articulated by Ron Paul in clips that have circulated social media in the wake of the attack, and the, frankly, insane reactions from American leftists who celebrated Hamas’ violent attack as an act of “decolonization.”


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