No matter what you think of the current conflict between the Israelis and Hamas, it is clear that neither side seems willing to give even a little. Israel’s ability to outweigh Hamas in its attacks by what looks like a 15 to 1 margin may be justifiable in the face of rocket attacks from Gaza and Hamas’ refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, but it will not end the conflict.
I was reading an article this morning by progressive Rabbi Michael Lerner. His perspective began with a comparison:
If Mexico had a group of anti-imperialist South Americans bombing Texas, imagine how long it would take for the United States to mobilize a counterattack.
I can agree with him there.
He goes on, however, to criticize Israel for the size of the assault which it made on Gaza after Hamas’ initial rocket attacks:
Before Israel’s massive bombing, the Hamas bombings that began when the previous cease-fire ran out had not (thank God) killed anyone. The reason is obvious: Hamas has no airplanes, no tanks, nothing more than the weapons of the powerless—limited range mortars with limited accuracy. Hamas can harass, but it cannot pose any threat to the existence of Israel. And just as Hamas’ indiscriminate bombing of population centers is a crime against humanity, so is Israel’s massive attack against civilians (in addition to those killed thus far in Gaza, there are the thousands killed by Israel in the years of the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza)
There was a short period of time when there was a real cease fire, but Lerner blames both sides in it’s collapse:
Hamas had respected the previously negotiated cease-fire except when Israel used it as cover to make assassination raids against Hamas and other Palestinian leaders. Arguing that these raids were hardly a manifestation of cease-fire, Hamas would, as symbolic protest, allow the release of rocket fire (usually hitting no targets). But when the issue of continuing the cease-fire came up, Hamas wanted a guarantee that these assassination raids would stop. And it asked for more. With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing acute malnutrition bordering on starvation, Hamas insisted that the borders be opened to counter Israeli attempts to starve the Gazans into submission. And in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, it asks for the release of a thousand Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
All of this, of course, with the Gazans vowing never to recognize Israel, even if a 2-state policy was actually worked out (this is an ongoing pain in the ass… however it made me think: what if the Sioux Indians swore never to recognize the United States as we defied treaty after treaty by settling on their lands and confining them to “Gaza-like” reservations? Wouldn’t we be in the same situation? It’s a good thing that situation happened in the 19th Century with 19th Century weaponry.)
Lerner outlines a seven-step solution that he proposes to solve the ongoing problem. You can view them here. He makes it clear, however, that Israel, being the greater power, really has to take the first positive actions.
I don’t believe it will happen. In the long run I have great sympathy for Lerner as he makes his final conclusion:
Meanwhile, it breaks my heart to see the terrible suffering in Gaza and Israel, as it does when witnessing the suffering brought to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Darfur—and the list goes on. For me as a religious Jew it is all the worse, because under the guise of serving God, both Jews and Arabs are actually acting out their accumulated pain in ways that will generate future suffering.