Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thoughts on Israel

With all the news about the situation in Gaza, I thought I should post some thoughts on it all because the more I read, particularly reactions of some people, the more I'm convinced people just don't really understand the culture over there. Just today I saw a Facebook group that wants people to write to the US Congress to pressure Israel to stop the invasion and many of the protests directed at Israel ignore the underlying problems that led to this latest offensive

The most important thing to realize is that Islamic extremists, which Hamas is part of (Hamas is currently running Gaza), have as their goal not the defeat of Israel, but the eradication of Israel. This is a view shared by many in the Arab world; no peaceful coexistence. While I'm sure there are radical Jewish groups who feel the same way about the Palestinians, it has never been the policy of Israel to eradicate the Palestinians. Argue all you want about the policies of Israel and how they have affected the Palestinians, but in the end, if Israel wanted to simply eradicate the Palestinian nation, they could've easily done so on multiple occasions. That is why statements that "Israel needs to show restraint" demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of history and of perception of weakness in that area. The fact Israel hasn't eradicated Hamas shows a great deal of restraint given the history of Hamas' dealings with Israel. Hamas has been firing rockets into Israeli territory for some time now; not towards any specific targets mind you. Even more troubling is the fact that many of the rockets have been fired from civilian areas. How convenient! Fire them from civilian areas so that Israel either doesn't respond or, if they do, claim the murder of innocent civilians. So far, many in the world are buying this ploy. If anyone should be under fire for the deaths of civilians, it's Hamas, not Israel. How sad the world's media seem so gullible to fall for this disgusting and inhumane tactic.

I know a lot of people, particularly here in the United States, think Israel should take the "higher road" and not be what appears to us so reactionary and irrational. Unfortunately, as ideal as such a solution would be, it would be unlikely to achieve the goal of peace or satisfy Arab extremists. Again, those extremists want the eradication of Israel. Israel doing nothing about that simply makes it easier. For all those people calling on Israel to "show restraint" where were the calls before when Israel made it quite clear that the continued attacks from rockets would ultimately lead to this. I guess some of these guys in Hamas have the same mentality as many in Saddam Hussein's regime who were convinced no U.S.-led invasion could be successful in overthrowing the government. Not only was it successful, but it was done in a matter of months (it's the reconstruction that's taken so long). Seriously, one of the high-ranking Hamas officials was killed in his own home with 4 of his wives and 11 of his children. Obviously there's a cultural difference between us, but if it were me and I was the one being hunted, I certainly wouldn't be hanging around my family in our house; I'd go into hiding and send them somewhere else like out of the country. Maybe they all decided they'd face it together. Who knows? The main point is that while Israel is hardly blameless in the deaths of Palestinian civilians, there would be far less if Hamas didn't basically use civilians as shields and operate in heavy-civilian areas.

I have mixed feelings about the blockade that led Hamas to start firing in the first place and to not renew the ceasefire. While I understand their frustration as well as that of the civilian population, blockades, whether for good or for bad, are designed to strain a government by straining the population. It's also the result of the legitimate fear by Israel of Hamas using the open borders to acquire weapons, something Hamas has already demonstrated they have and will do. What's interesting is that Egypt-- a predominately Islamic country that also shares a small border with Gaza-- has also been blockading the border with Gaza, so it isn't just Israel. Now, could Egypt and Israel do a better job in letting humanitarian supplies get into Gaza to avoid a crisis? According to most humanitarian organizations the answer is yes. If that is true, I hope Israel does what it can to avert a major amount of civilian suffering, but as I already mentioned, Hamas operates right with the civilians, so it makes sorting the innocent from the bad guys difficult.

As much as anyone I'd love to see both sides be able to calmly sit down and work this out and just live together in peace. Unfortunately, such a thing is not possible given the current mentality in the region. Until both sides value compromise and respect of the other side, diplomacy is useless. Peace cannot exist as long as one or both sides do not value human life or respect the right of others to believe differently and as long as hatred is bred at such a young age. As Americans living in the 21st century, we need to be careful in our quest to understand and respect other cultures (both past and present) that we don't apply values and standards to other cultures who do not (or did not) hold them. Just because we value compromise and respect doesn't mean everyone does.


Unknown said...

Amen. Oh and did you think that when Hamas (and others with the same viewpoint) get done with Israel...they are going to attack the US? We either rank up there with the country they hate the most or a close second, or they hate us the most but Israel is more convienent to mess with. You cannot negotiate with people who only want to kill you and aren't interested in peace. I am very worried about our new president being able to handle all of this chaos. I am afraid he will be worried about how he or the country "appears" rather than taking care of buisness. Much like the girls in my high school gym class that stood in the game but didn't particiapate because they didn't want to get sweaty or dirty...yeah they wanted to win, but not put forth any effort.

Granny J said...

Book recommendation on subject:
From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine by Joan Peters.

This helped me understand what's happening over there. Unfortunately, this information isn't widely known and the misinformed seem to be the loudest voices.

Jon said...

Am I anywhere close to being correct?