This post has been in a state of mental composition for days, but is just now making it into solidified form. At this point, the war in Gaza has gone on for more than two weeks. I call it a war, although there is really only one side able to fight with any force. In truth, we are now two weeks past the point when Israel began bombing Gaza in response to a relative handful of rockets that killed a few Israelis. Rockets that have not been conclusively linked to Hamas, the governing body of Israel, although it is likely that they at some point at least funded those rockets arrival in Gaza. Not that any sanction they made of the rockets would matter, as neither we nor Israel recognize Hamas’ legitimacy as the government of the people of Gaza despite the fact that they were elected by the people they govern. It seems our desire to bring democracy to the people of Middle Eastern nations does not extend past the people electing governments of which we disapprove. But, this is digression…
The situation of the modern Israeli state could almost be said to redefine tenuous. As far as the majority of its neighbors are concerned, that is. I heard an Arab commentator mention on public radio this week that he thinks this conflict has finally convinced most Israelis and Palestinians that a two nation solution is the only solution. I hope this is so, but will Israel allow it? I mention Israel, because I think that they are every bit as aggressive as Hamas. (Before anyone raises the tired argument, let me just say that I in no way condone any rocket fire into Israeli territory, let alone civilian territory.) Israel has responded to the rockets that were fired with a massive display of military strength. Hundreds of Palestinians are dead, at least a quarter of whom are estimated to be civilians, and only a few Israelis. Of the Israeli soldiers killed so far, a number were killed by “friendly fire.” Human Rights Watch is now raising concerns that Israel is using white phosphorus in highly populated civilian areas. (If you are not familiar, go look it up. Truly horrifying…) The UN has passed a resolution ordering a ceasefire. Israel has ignored this resolution, and yes, as the aggressors, I feel it matters more that they have ignored it than that Hamas has done so. Incidentally, in case you missed the news, the US abstained from the vote.
I believe that Israel should pull back to its pre-1967 borders. I believe they should move any of their illegal settlers in the West Bank to land that is within those borders. I believe the US should cease any and all military funding to the nation of Israel unless it does these things, while also making it very clear to the rest of the world that any attacks against Israel within the above mentioned borders would be cause for action by not just Israel, but the remainder of the western world. I believe that the various Arab states should bring pressure on both Hamas & Fatah to come to an agreement, reunite, and ultimately agree to a two state solution. I believe there should be a Palestine. I believe there should never again be a situation where people in Gaza and the West Bank are blockaded, trapped, forced to rely on smuggled goods, if they can afford them, and so deprived that a terrorist group feeding them twisted versions of their religion would seem like the best option in an election.
Yes, Hamas is a terrorist organization. In a very real way though, so is Israel. Maybe not in the way we tend to think of terrorism these days, but I guarantee those people in Gaza are terrified. When you consider some of the assassinations attributed to Israel in recent years though, maybe it is not so different.
I think that much of the unique treatment Israel receives stems from guilt. It seems that much of Europe cannot escape the shadow of the Holocaust and preceding years of poor treatment of the Jewish people, when making decisions about the nation now. Not that that is often mentioned, of course. Still, it seems to be definitely present. And it would be difficult for anyone to say they do not receive special treatment.
Let us contrast the reaction of the world to Russia’s venture into Georgia in August and Israel’s venture into Gaza a few months later. Georgia started shelling regions of South Ossetia in response to what it claimed were mortar attacks on it. (These mortar attacks have never been independently verified.) Russia moved its troops into the area with great force. Many innocent people died. Russia is now rebuilding much of the area, having effectively gained control of what was once a Georgian state, albeit a separatist one. Russia was widely condemned for its actions at the time, with condemnation or questioning of Georgia coming later. Now, look to the current conflict in Gaza. A ceasefire ended, and approximately 60 rockets, over a period of time, were launched from within Gaza into Southern Israel. The Israeli army began bombing. At this point, there is a major ground offensive. It took two weeks for the UN to pass a resolution asking for a ceasefire, and the US is backing Israel, seemingly without qualification or question.
I realize the metaphor is inherently flawed, as no two nations are completely alike. I think it does highlight, however, that some nations receive far more favored treatment than others. I would also like to mention that I do not think Russia was entirely pure in its motivations, anymore than I think Hamas is honest in those it claims to hold. I just find the different reactions fascinating.
I know there are far better analyses of the crisis. In fact, this barely counts as one. Chalk it up to the thoughts of someone who spends a lot of time talking and thinking, and a little time talking about such ideas.