When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, the casualties were terrible. When the U.S. attacked Iraq, the casualties were terrible. When Russia moved into Georgia, the casualties were terrible. In the Balkans, the casualties were terrible, in Lebanon, the casualties were terrible, in the Sudan, the casualties were terrible, etc., etc., etc. In war, the casualties are terrible.
So it is in Gaza. But what if Israel can destroy the Hamas infrastructure? What if the result of all of this is the ability of Gazans and Israelis to live in peace side by side and even cooperate economically and perhaps culturally?
Is that impossibly wishful thinking? I believe that from the perspective of Israel, it would be possible (once large segments of Israeli society were able to put behind them the fear of possible duplicity on the Arab side), and I think that from the perspective of Gazans, it should be possible (perhaps for now only because they would have little choice).
But what about Hamas? Hamas, as long as it is in charge in Gaza, will obstruct that process, namely because it is part of their core position that they will never live with Israel in peace, and that their entire movement is based on the destruction of the state of Israel, and that they will continue to provoke towards that end.
For that reason, the destruction of Hamas is a necessity. Is it possible? That is another question, and it is a question because of the nature of Hamas itself. Hamas does not appear to act like a normal governing organization – it has been able to accomplish virtually nothing for its population, in part because of its refusal to deal with Israel. It would appear that Hamas would want the Gazans to suffer (OK, not to be killed, but to suffer) to increase their hatred of Israel, blaming all of their suffering on Israel’s economic blockade, while doing nothing at all about it. And it is easy for Hamas leadership to take this position, because Hamas leadership is not in Gaza, but in Syria. Safe and secure and able to concentrate on increasing its economic strength with the help of its Iranian friends. What kind of state leadership is this? One thing is clear, though. It does not put any pressure on Hamas to say: Enough, we’ll stop the rockets, let’s talk about a solution. The Hamas leadership is unaffected by any of the fighting and may assume that the longer it goes on, the more allies it will gain.
In the meantime, in Gaza, as in much of that part of the world, the education of children with regard to Jews and Christians is abhorrent. And of course this education is no more than a (very successful) political tool of the ruling groups and their allies in the religious establishment. Shame on all of them.
Now, I don’t know what reports are accurate, and what reports are propaganda. I have heard that 35 Palestinian Authority supporters have been killed by Hamas in Gaza and dozens of others have been wounded or disabled. I have heard that supplies coming into Gaza (I understand 80 trucks went through the Israeli checkpoints yesterday) have been waylaid by Hamas and did not get where they are supposed to go, and that international groups working in Gaza are almost as frustrated by these events as by the war itself. I have heard, of course, that Hamas continues to put weapons caches and rocket launchers in residential areas and schools. I have heard that Hamas does not want people to leave their residences for safety. Etc. Etc.
Is all, or most, or any of this true? I don’t know, but I do know (look at the intra-Muslim fighting that has taken place or is taking place in various places of the Middle East, including Iraq and Lebanon, and the problems in Egypt, for example) that competing Moslem/Arab groups don’t hesitate in targeting each other, something that, at least to do date, Jews have not done.
So, the fighting continues. The terrible videos are shown over the world. The Gazans look like innocent victims, which they may be for the most part as individuals, but it is clear that they have been victimized as badly by Hamas as they have by Israel.
But this is the Palestinian lot. While 800,000 Jews were kicked out of Arab countries after the formation of Israel and have all been taken in and welcomed by Israel, those Arabs who left (voluntarily or not) in 1948 have been purposely marginalized by Jordan and Lebanon and Syria and Egypt, and left for generations to boil over in anger, with their anger at least partially misplaced. If the Arab community had the positive solidarity of the Jewish community, what a better world this would be.
This is not to excuse everything that goes on in Israel, of course. It has a very unstable political system, it has too many overly religious citizens where their own weird and uncompromising sense of right and wrong, it has its own problems of poverty amidst plenty. But, perhaps, these problems would become less pervasive if the security of the country were more certain.
Israel is used to being a pariah in the eyes of many. In this instance, it appears that they are ready to accept this perspective for the time being, while they try their best to eradicate one source of middle east terrorism, at a great cost to all involved.