Sunday, July 20, 2014


"We don't have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and we will see how this procedure will work out. For now, it works out. Let's say the truth. We want peace. If there is no peace, we will maintain military rule and we will have four to five military compounds on the mountains, and they will sit ten years under the Israeli military regime."

-Moshe Dyan (c. 1967)

"The Palestinian Health Ministry said that at least 271 Gaza residents have died and more than 2,000 have been injured in the territory since Israel began its military campaign against Hamas last week. At least 24 of the deaths occurred since the ground offensive started late Thursday, the ministry said.

Most of the casualties have been civilians, according to the United Nations.

The IDF said early Friday that one Israeli soldier was killed overnight in northern Gaza, the second Israeli fatality of the conflict."

-from this recent CNN article

When a terrorist group is launching missiles and mortar shells into your nation, it's a legitimate security issue. I don't think anybody with half a brain could blame Israel for being concerned about this, for taking actions in order to defend itself. But really, is a nearly three hundred to two death ratio the best way for Israel to go about defending itself? Absolutely not. The astonishing lopsidedness of the US ally's response, which has been fairly typical for decades, does nothing but perpetuate the conflict. Such carnage, in comparison, makes Hamas appear to be a legitimate force in the eyes of moderate Palestinians. Indeed, this is very likely what these terrorists want, and Israel always plays into their hands.

Or is it the reverse? Is Hamas, as did the PLO before them, instead playing into Israel's hands?

I've been trying to get a handle on the absurd cycle of violence in Israel/Palestine since I was a teenager. The usual mainstream news sources' reports have really never made any sense to me. It's difficult to tell what the Palestinian people are thinking about the situation because they're simply not organized into a stable nation state in the way we traditionally understand the concept. So it's not easy to see what consensus, if any, exists within the Occupied Territories. That's probably why American news coverage seemingly makes them out just to be crazy.

Israel, on the other hand, is a traditional nation state, which ought to make discerning their position much easier. Nonetheless, as our biggest ally in the region, perhaps the world, news coverage here tends to cast that nation in the victim role. So it's the crazy jihadists versus the sane and normal people who are Westerners just like us. But what the news tells us simply doesn't add up as far as that narrative goes. Israel, the beleaguered Middle Eastern state surrounded by enemies, is always searching for peace with Palestine, according to the US establishment story line.

If that's the case, however, why the settlements? I mean, we ought to call these "settlements" what they are, colonies, designed expressly to crowd out the Palestinians already living there, taking the best land and resources away from the people already using them. That's peace? And why won't Israel allow Palestine contiguity of territory during their periodic attempts at negotiation? Sure, it's unreasonable to suggest allowing a geographic connection between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but if Israel really wants peace, it makes no sense at all to carve these areas up into what amount to Indian Reservations or South African Bantustans.

For that matter, if you follow the mainstream Israel/Palestine narrative, it seems as though the last forty years haven't happened, as though the entire Arab world is still lined up in violent opposition to Israel, that they really are surrounded by malevolent states who want to eradicate our ally from the face of the earth. But that simply hasn't been the case for many, many years. Sure, the rhetoric continues in some places, death to Israel and all that, but it has no teeth. We bought off the Saudis. Egypt hated all the recurring wars, and got out with the Camp David agreement. Syria is now involved in a multi-year civil war. Iraq is a joke. It's just not 1973 anymore, and the Israel/Palestine conflict now takes place in an entirely different geopolitical context. But you'd never know that following American discourse on the topic. It's always about how Israel is up against a wall, how the Palestinians totally undermine Israel's security against the bad Arabs.

The bottom line, for me, is that Israel is today in a much better position to put an end to all this than it ever has in its modern history. Israel could conceivably, with US aid, of course, concoct a Marshall Plan for the Occupied Territories. They could build schools and hospitals and infrastructure. They could build desalination plants. They could plant orange and fig trees. They could make life there comfortable instead of intolerable. They could send love instead of bombs and soldiers. Doing so would remove all doubt as to where Israel stands on all this. It would show that they really do want peace. No mixed messages, no contradictions, their money would be where their mouths are. Hamas would lose a great deal of their legitimacy among Palestinians, with Israel sending help in response to the terrorist group's actions, instead of devastation.

Then there would be some real opportunities for cooperation between Palestine and Israel. They could use actual police work to take out these criminals. There would be no need to send in the tanks and bombers every few years, which perpetuates the conflict by fertilizing Palestinian resentment with their children's blood.

Why isn't this happening already?