With the bloody backdrop of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel – and Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes – an FIU professor who specializes in Middle Eastern politics says the solution lies in diplomacy, not war.
Eric Lob, an associate professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations, also said on the Anti-Social podcast the conflict presents numerous perils for the U.S.
“There’s going to be a lot of carnage and, sadly, the civilians have been paying and will continue to pay for this, for in my view a leadership deficit on all sides,” Lob said. “But in the end, it’s going to have to be some type of political solution.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas after 1,300 people were killed during rocket and raids by Hamas Oct. 7. Up to 150 Israelis were taken hostage. Israeli air strikes have killed more than 1,000 in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory.
It will be through diplomacy that Israel – along with its Western backers – will be able to forge a cease fire to obtain the release of the hostages. All indications, at this time, is that Israel plans a land invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Lob currently teaches courses on comparative politics and international relations of the Middle East and on political violence and revolution. He said Hamas acted in such a brutal fashion in response to the right-wing policies of Netanyahu and the lack of domestic support within Israel for some of his policies.
“It was an opportunity to exploit Israel’s vulnerabilities,” Lob said.
Israel was expanding settlements into Palestinian territory, talking about annexing the West Bank – another Palestinian territory – and taking “provocative actions” at religious sites, especially Jerusalem, Lob said. There were also efforts at a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“So the Hamas and the Palestinians felt like they were being forgotten and that they were under a lot of pressure and that they had to make a statement and it’s obviously not the statement we want to see,” Lob said. “But in their eyes they felt that the only thing that they can do with very limited options.”
The attack has allowed Netanyahu to consolidate power with an emergency wartime government when his policies, such as judicial reforms, were causing deep divides within Israel.
“But on the flip side, once these operations are done, he’s going to have to answer a lot of hard questions about this massive intelligence failure,” Lob said.
Eric Lob is an associate professor at Florida International University in the Department of Politics and International Relations. His research focuses on the intersection of development and politics in the Middle East.
For the United States, the latest Israel-Hamas conflict is political quicksand. It takes away focus – and resources – from the conflict in Ukraine and deterrence efforts against China in regards to Taiwan, Lob said. There is also valid concern that Hezzbolah terrorists on Israel’s northern border could attack, expanding the war.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Thursday that the U.S. will stand with Israel in its war on Hamas.
“Rhetorically, the US is going to make very strong statements supporting Israel and behind the scenes, they’re gonna try to de-escalate,” Lob said.
Melissa White, executive director of the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, also joined the podcast to talk about the vigil for Israel scheduled for Friday evening. She said it is important to separate the atrocities of Hamas from the political plight of the Palestinians.
“The Palestinian people are living under occupation by the Hamas terrorist organization, the same people that perpetrated the acts of war on October 7,” White said. “And the reason we’re having the vigil is to show support for Israel’s right to self defense, and to pray for peace in the region.”
White said the terrorist attack hit home with her, especially since Hamas targeted a music festival and other events attended by young Israelis on a religious holiday.”
“I have teenagers that like music festivals,” she said. “The fact that that can happen in a gathering of young adults, teenagers, that are gathering together for peace for joy. “
White said the Foundation is recommending to those who like to support the victims of terror in Israel to give to the Miami Jewish Federation.