More Gaza Thoughts (when will they end?)

We’ve heard this song before, haven’t we? Israel saying that peace is only possible if there is no violence from across the border, and if there is any violence, the reaction will be strong and swift. And, this is what has happened over the past two days.

Israel clearly knows how to spoil a good war. Many felt that Israel did what it had to do in light of the continuing rockets coming from Gaza, but many of those same people felt that Israel certainly did not have to do as much as it did.

OK, war is hell, we know that, and the Israelis did make sure that this war was hell. That was apparently part of the plan.

Well, what is past is past, but unfortunately it is also prologue, as it is apparent that the destruction and death in Gaza has further embittered the Arabs (Israeli leadership would say that Arabs were already so embittered that this additional embitterment is not very important) and turned a great portion of the world’s population against Israel, and not surprisingly against Jews (these same Israelis would say that everyone hates us anyway). And, yes, some of this harsh reaction will lessen over time.

The situation is odd. A weak neighbor that takes as its raison d’etre the destruction of the State of Israel. A losing neighbor who says, the more you hurt us, the stronger we become, because we gain in sympathy and support. Two other neighbors also with designs on (at least) some territory.

In fact, Israel has, I believe, at this point given up on peace, so what is left is continual intimidation, to try to scare off further attacks. Clearly, this is the case during an election campaign, as the country votes more and more right wing, and Likud will probably get back into power. It is hard to tell what will happen then.

Much as been written about the concept of the “other” in dealing with enemies of the nation. It is a natural reaction, unfortunate but natural. And it is terribly destructive.

So, Jews or Israelis are dogs and pigs, and Palestinians and Arabs are pigs and dogs. We rightfully complain about the tirades of Moslem clerics and political leaders, and the contents of their textbooks. But feelings in Israel, at least publicly amongst large parts of the populace, are not too different with respect to Arabs.

Just yesterday, I read the awful publications that the Israeli chief rabbinate (an institution for which I have no respect whatsoever) distributed to soldiers in Gaza. I read the statement of a high level official that described Hamas leadership as acting like kindergartners who are simply testing their limits. I read about a day care program in the Galilee where the Jewish parents put up an enormous stink to keep a single Arab child out of their school. All of this is simply awful. There is no other word for it.

What do I think? I think Israel is not capable of reaching peace with its neighbors (and may not want to) and that its neighbors probably don’t want peace in any event. So, I think it is time to rely on all of those international institutions that Israel ignores and believes to be the enemy in another guise. Let the UN, or other international organizations, guard the boarders. Give them free access to Gaza through the crossings. Let the Arab league working with the UN deal with Hamas. And so forth.

Of course, if there is violence that the international organizations cannot control, Israel must defend itself as aggressively as need be. But this should not be the first response, but one of the last responses.

This will not happen. The conflict will continue. It is hard to know where it will go, or what will be the effect on Jewish communities, particularly in Europe, Latin America, and Turkey.

What a joy to live in interesting times.

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