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Posts Tagged ‘Gaza war’

 

Some day it will end. The horrifying bloodshed of this Gaza war will end. The rocket fire will cease. Israeli strikes will stop. Israelis will heave a collective sigh of relief for the respite – whatever length it turns out to be. There will be appropriate congratulations over the discovery and destruction of the tunnels that very well could have led to indiscriminate slaughter of Israeli civilians. There will be the declarations of triumph by both sides. Netanyahu will declare that Hamas was dealt a crippling blow. Hamas will crow about its bravery in standing up to Israeli military might. After 5 or 6 weeks of brutal war, the springs that had been so tightly wound will be released. Then, they will begin to rewind once more; tightening ever so relentlessly to the point when violence will inexorably spring forth yet again. It is inevitable. Or is it?

Watching the deadly dance between Israel and Hamas is like watching a bloody version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” The day keeps repeating itself again and again. In the movie, the cycle does not end until Bill Murray’s character learns enough about itself to change his outlook and behavior. That is a great metaphor for what has to happen for both Israel and the Palestinians. They are doomed to repeating the same sequence again and again unless someone learns enough to change their outlook and behavior. What are the possibilities for change? What needs to be learned?

Israelis need to do an honest assessment of how they arrived in a situation of a Gaza being dominated by Hamas. It is a convenient narrative (and not without a measure of justification) to lay the full blame on Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization masquerading as a liberation movement. It has radical religious goals that reach far beyond the political goals of freedom for Palestinians. Hamas uses absolutely brutal methods, from employing children to dig the invasive tunnels into Israel (some reports indicate 200 children died doing this) to placing weapon sites in the midst of civilian populations, banking on high casualties from Israeli strikes; to its readiness to just kill Jews. Israelis, however, have to ask themselves: to what degree have their own policies fostered the growth of Hamas?

The blockade of Gaza was seen as a necessary measure to keep weapons out of Hamas’s hands – yet clearly it has failed. Hamas has all the weapons it needs and ever more sophisticated rockets. Instead, the blockade has impoverished the civilian Palestinian population, creating in essence a large, restricted refugee camp, while at the same time providing fuel for Hamas to garner Palestinian support. Further, by not working seriously for a two state solution, Israel has undercut the one Palestinian leader – Abbas – who has shown some willingness to come to the table. Israelis must ask themselves this question. Would a better strategy be to help facilitate a stable Palestinian state that would share an economic future with Israel?   Would it not be better to create some prosperity among Palestinians making it more profitable to focus on peace and growth rather than fostering the despair that leads to support for Hamas? Gideon Levy raises these and many more questions Israelis must face in this editorial in Ha’aretz http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.608118

As hard as it will be for Israelis to break their “Groundhog Day” tendencies, it will be even harder for the Palestinians, who must come to realize exactly what Hamas represents – death, destruction, and radical religious theocracy. However, at the very core of changing Palestinian attitudes is a turning away from the rampant anti Semitism embraced by so many in the Arab world. Arab anti-Judaism is so bad that it is spilling rapidly into Europe, where in France, Jewish stores are being vandalized and the Jewish population intimidated. I must ask the Arab and Muslim communities how Israel can be expected to act with more restraint in the face of such obvious hatred of Jews? The blatant anti-Semitism in the Arab world creates heightened fear not just in Israel, but among all Jews. We have no choice but to support Israel as a rampart against what seems to our community, a continuation of centuries of scapegoating of Jews for the world’s wrongs.

My friend, Dr. Parvez Ahmed has told me that the path for Palestinian freedom lies in the formation of a non-violent peace movement that aligns itself with like-minded Israelis. I totally agree. But in order for this to happen, the Arab world has to confront its anti-Semitism. This would result in a rejection of the radicalism of Hamas and give hope that there might be a path to a peaceful, more prosperous, and most importantly – a shared future.

And isn’t that really the central point? If there is to be any kind of decent, prosperous future, it must be a shared future. There is grand potential in a region that harvests the already successful economic and technical advances of Israel when paired with the creative potential of the Palestinians – one of the most educated groups in the Arab world. The aftermath of the Gaza war is not fated to be a continuation of “Groundhog Day.” Palestinians and Israelis can choose to accept each other –and the world would then indeed wake to a new day.

 

 

 

 

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