A rocket launched from Gaza heads towards Sderot, Israel. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP
I mostly feel hopeless right now…and a bit numb. My facebook page is exploding with hatred, ignorance, and even bigotry from people on both sides of the widening chasm. I just want to scream and swear and say “how the &$!#! can you be so unbelievably stupid to actually believe the old slogans that EVERY (with a big emphasis on every) Muslim wants to push Israel into the Sea,” or the opposite, that “Israel deliberately targets civilian areas in order to kill Palestinian children?”
The fact is that the Gazans live in a hellhole. Although Hamas is certainly partly to blame the truth is that they have lived in a hellhole long before Hamas took over the government. Yes, it’s true; Hamas is also responsible for this escalation, as they were for the escalation that led to Operation Cast Led. It’s also true that giving up Gaza in 2005 did not help Israel, but in many ways only made it worse. It emboldened Hamas and obviously made it more difficult for the IDF to keep track of weapons, bomb making, rocket labs, and tunnel smuggling. But it’s also true that except for a few years of economic upswing in anticipation of the Oslo agreement (a time during which support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad was at an all-time low), Gaza is a living hell and the only country that has the power to instigate a change is Israel.
Don’t tell me that the Gaza Palestinians can choose to go to any Arab state; you know that’s not true. Don’t tell me they were recent immigrants to Palestine anyways before 1948 so they are not really refugees anyways; it just shows you are bigoted and ignorant. Many of the refugees from Haifa and Jaffa had lived there for generations and probably even have Jewish genealogy. Somebody should check their DNA just for the heck of it. Could be funny – it would set off a firestorm on both sides.
Don’t tell me I am being anti-Israel, anti-Zionist or pro-Palestinian – seriously, what do you think happens if a million people are locked up in a big prison for over 60 years lacking even the most basic supplies and amenities, including access to adequate education? They may get a bit restless, and angry, and then somebody comes along and brainwashes them. At that point, deterrence does not work because they really have nothing to loose, especially if someone guarantees them 77 virgins in heaven. Most of them can’t double-check the facts anyways, as they have no computers.
I have no passion for Hamas or Islamic terrorists and I agree that they still have no right to shoot rockets into Israel and that something has to be done to stop it quickly – no country can live under a constant barrage of random missiles that are hitting civilians in apartment buildings, schools, and nurseries. I also agree that there is very little coverage in the international press about this constant barrage. But I am also a political scientist who studies world events and analyses the cause and effect. And, as Washington Post Jerusalem bureau chief Janine Zacharia asks in Slate: What is Israel’s long-term strategy for Gaza to try to change this situation?
An Israeli child seen through a window of a building in the Southern Israeli town of Netivot that was hit by a Gaza rocket. southern town of Netivot. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Haaretz: A breakdown of the Fighting between Israel and Gaza
In fact, except for “cutting the grass” – in other words, “bomb them back to the Middle Ages” every ten years, the current government has NO STRATEGY. Why? Because “they are never going to stop hating us,” so why bother to make their lives better?
I do agree with Zacharia’s assessment when she says: “It’s time to declare Israel’s policy toward Gaza and Hamas a failure. This is not an anti-Israel statement. Rather, it is an honest acknowledgment of the facts, which are simply too numerous to avoid.”
Regardless of who was there first, who shot first, who hates whom, and who’s God is right, if Israel really wants to stop this from recurring it has to figure out a way to get rid of the problem. If the preferred outcome is to move the Gaza Palestinians to Arab states, then negotiate with those Arab states to allow them to emigrate. Bribe them, do whatever it takes! I am sure that at least 50% of Gazans would happily leave. If the preferred outcome involves leaving them where they are ask what can be done to educate the next generation of Gazans in order to prevent the indoctrination they are currently getting.
But most importantly, for Israel’s sake, look around the region. “Cutting the grass” and “bombing them back to the middle Ages” with impunity may leave them with a smaller stockpile of weapons for the next few years but it is not going to work for that much longer as Israel’s neighborhood is drastically changing. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta noted last year: “The question you have to ask: Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you’re isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena? Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to protect your military strength.’’
Instead, Israel assassinates the guy who apparently was just about to put his signature on a cease-fire agreement. True, he had a lot of blood on his hands, but are his followers going to be more accommodating? And how about the kids and the grand kids?
Some sources for latest information and opinion:
The rocket count on IDF’s blog
LA Times: Israel attack on Gaza: Familiar tension, new circumstances
Live blog from Haaretz
Slate: Why Israel’s Gaza Campaign is Doomed, by Janine Zacharia
BBC blog/tweet page
NY Times, Nov 16th: As Battlefield Changes, Israel Takes Tougher Approach
The Daily Beast, Daniel Levy, Nov 16th: “Living By the Sword”
Filed under: Middle East, Peace and Conflict, Religion and Politics, Gaza, Gaza refugees, Gaza-Israel escalation, Gazans, Hamas, Israel, Israel Defense Force, Operation Pillar of Defense, Rocket attack on Israel