Seeing this article on Sky News, I couldn’t help but start a new post reflecting my personal sentiments about the brewing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This is why: Israeli repression is ironically, turning more Palestinians against it, something which barely helps its cause in its quest for security.
This is an excerpt from the article which really struck me.
” Maha has already lived through three wars – she has learned how to be brave. She has also learned how to hate. “I would love the Israelis to die so I can stay alive,” she said. “So nobody else from our side would be killed. Because they killed and injured a lot of us.” Maha used to want to be a doctor when she grew up, now she wants to be in the resistance.”
How can little kids be indoctrinated into hating Israel? Because they have experienced the trauma of seeing their loved ones getting maimed or killed by Israel. Innocent civilians becoming part of the collateral damage in a war where rationality has been superceded by visceral hate and vengeance.
I have always maintained the position that both sides are equally at fault in this conflict, where visceral, deep seated hate and vengeance has superceded any form of logic. While Israel undoubtedly has the sovereign right to defend itself from Hamas rockets, which have extended their range to include cities like Tel Aviv, as well as to destroy Gazan tunnels that have been used to infiltrate Israel and kidnap civilians or soldiers to barter for the release of Palestinian prisoners, these aims, no matter how legitimate, seem to the world unjustified, as a result of Israel’s conduct. Yes, conduct. Israel must realise, war is not simply about aims, but also about conduct. The principle of ‘Jus in bello’ has been simply brushed aside by the Israelis. By striking Hamas military targets in Gaza, Israel must realise that in such a built up, concentrated area like the Gaza strip, civilian casualties are inevitable. Furthermore, the mounting death toll of civilians, and the horrific images of mutilated, maimed children and women are doing little to help Israel’s cause, and only advancing Hamas’ cause, by increasing anti semitism globally and providing moral legitimacy for the Palestinian struggle.
A resolution to this conflict won’t come easy; both sides will have to make painful concessions. Hamas must realise that it does its reputation no good by continuing to abjure any recognition of Israel as a state. By doing so, it has continually justified the tags of ‘terror group’ by the West, when in fact, it can function as a political entity that disavows violence. Hamas seemed to be on the track to moderation prior to the current conflict, being part of the Palestinian unity government under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas. Israel should be providing as much support as it could to the process of moderation Hamas was embarking on, instead of viewing the unity government with much hostility and unlike the West, refusing to recognise it.
On Israel’s part, I can only say, perhaps it is getting complacent, amidst the backdrop of Arab turmoil. Complacent because, despite all the military incursions it has conducted, international outcry at its actions is getting ‘old’. The rise of militant Islam, such as that of the terror crisis afflicting Syria and Iraq, and other radical Islamic groups in states like China’s Xinjiang or Russian Chechnya. Israel’s attacks on Hamas, widely perceived by the West as a terror group, perhaps seems justified in the midst of growing cognizance and trepidation towards the rise of global Islamic extremism. That shift, has perhaps helped to deflect criticism towards Israel. Furthermore, despite polls showing younger US citizens being less sympathetic to Israel compared to their predecessors, the US foreign policy stance is deeply entrenched, and any shifts will take years to take effect. Congress continues to show unanimous support for Israel; despite US condemnations that Israeli strikes on an UNRWA school was ‘indefensible’, Senate approved a bill with a majority approving continued aid to Israel.
Israel may benefit from such global changes in the short term. However, the prospects for Israel look ominous in the long run. Israel needs to practice foresight and exercise rationality and restraint in any talks it embarks on. The decline of US power and its reluctance to continue getting entangled in Middle Eastern quagmires heralds a dark future for Israel- it can no longer rely on the US as a dependable partner in ensuring its security. By continuing its repression against Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza,its settlement policy in the West Bank, and Mr Netanyahu’s preferred choice of dithering through peace talks rather than achieving anything substantial, no matter how incremental, the prospect of a two-state solution will become increasingly bleak. Israel will then need to occupy what remains of the Palestinian state (i.e. Gaza & West Bank). A one state solution is a possibility, but it would signal the end of a Jewish-majority state, given the greater Palestinian demography figures. The raison d etre of Israel’s existence as a Jewish homeland, would in effect, be null and void. Unless it embarks on a policy of apartheid, where there will not be universal suffrage, and a policy of discrimination towards Palestinians as ‘second class citizens’. Then again, such a policy would only serve to hurt Israel’s reputation and standing globally, something it does not want to see, given the repercussions apartheid had on South Africa prior to 1991.
For now, Israel’s security obsessed government is perhaps, dithering through the conflict by engaging in ‘lawnmower’ moves- keeping Hamas aggression under check every now and then, in order to achieve a temporary peace. That will not be a durable, long term solution in the long run. Israel can choose the prospect of peace and maintaining the integrity and character of the Jewish state by looking forward and exercising rationality and foresight. At present, right wing sentiments seem to have clouded Israeli judgement.