Your Eye For My Tooth
Violence has broken out again between Hamas and Israel. The prospects for a quick settlement look dim. In other words a lot of people will need to die, a lot of munitions will have to be expended, and much more of Gaza will have to be laid waste. For what good purpose?
Following the last blood bath in 2008, Gaza was reduced to ruins. Four years have passed without much overt violence. Now for reasons not entirely clear, Hamas considers it timely to hurl new and larger rockets into Israel.
Gazan Palestinians can be understood to be justifiably frustrated with their lot in life. Embargoes have ruined the economy and Gaza has been reduced to beggar status among Arab nations. But what have they done with the money they have received?
Estimates are that Hamas possess some 12,000 rockets which have been amassed over the past 4 years. The rockets are large weapons and the thought of them being smuggled into Gaza strikes of a fairly organized operation.
The rockets are alleged to be Iranian designed and produced. Hmmm.
Without a doubt Israel has done little to find a peace (with honor) with Hamas. With even less doubt, Hamas has not sought peace (without retribution to Israel) with Israel. The third player, Iran, has nothing to lose and everything to gain buggering Israel via Hamas. Sounds like a rat hole with no bottom.
In 1948 the establishment of an Israeli State meant almost by definition there would be winners (Israel) and losers (those Arabs living within the new boundaries of Israel). Many Arabs still cling to the notion that they can return and reclaim the land their ancestors held. This is not going to happen and everyone would be better off realizing that. Since the establishment of Israel, however, there have been several wars where Arab land fell to Israel. You can’t blame Israel for occupying captured land when the aggressors were Arabs.
So in this way it is understandable why many Arabs still deny Israel’s right to exist. Otherwise how could they recover the occupied lands and if documentable, how could they obtain compensation for the original property lost in Israel’s founding? Both parties seem to be saying “I want your eye for my tooth”.
Now on top of this intricate fabric, we have Israel’s West Bank broad daylight land grab. There is no defense other than “might makes right” to justify this. Jewish religious leaders’ claim that this land is theirs from Biblical times is rubbish. Worse than rubbish, the continued settlement building complicates any potential solution many times over. It also gives credence to the Hamas radicals who so foolishly spent money on rockets while their citizens went without schools and hospitals.
The burden of breaking this cycle of dysfunctional behaviors lies with Israel. This is not an inditement of Israel but rather recognition that their country is far more mature and sophisticated than its Arab neighbors. A land in abject poverty is fertile ground for radicals and extremists. The poor have little to give other than their blood.
It might be worthwhile for Israel to give serious consideration to the idea of a Palestinian State on the West Bank separate and distinct from Gaza. Divide and conquer, maybe.
Israel would need to evacuate many settlements but not necessarily all. Land swaps could provide a sense of fairness.
With respect to Gaza, Israel might consider reoccupation, a lifting of all embargoes, and Israeli taking control of ports and land entry points. It might be expensive and of course, may not work either. Never the less the current status quo is only building resentment and providing bad actors like Iran an opportunity to create confusion in order to shore up its own State.
Doing nothing, other than sending in Israeli ground forces again, killing thousands and leaving Gaza agin in ruin, will most likely lead to Hamas obtaining even more powerful weapons in subsequent years. If Israel worries about an nuclear armed Iran today, what are they going to do with nukes next door?