Thursday, January 01, 2009

War in Gaza

I honestly don't know what to think about the Israeli assault on Gaza. I just read through my blog posts over the last couple of years since Hamas took over Gaza, and each time I come to the same conclusion - that there is nothing good Israel can do in Gaza. Hamas lobs missiles at Israel, kills a few Israelis, causes more property damage, terrorizes people in communities like Sderot and makes it impossible to lead a normal life in them. Israel then bombs Gaza, destroys buildings, kills a lot of people including many Hamas "militants" (as they say in the American press) as well as innocent civilians, and eventually some sort of cease-fire is cobbled together.

This happened when I was in Israel in 2006, when Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, and the Israeli reaction was bombing of Gaza and brief tank incursions (if I remember correctly). Of course the world condemned Israel at that time for being "disproportionate." Then Gaza was forgotten when the second Lebanon war began later that summer.

What should Israel do? Would negotiations with Hamas do any good? (Is Hamas even willing to negotiate with Israel? And if so, about what?) Or should Israel just go in and blow everything to smithereens? Aside from being immoral, probably a war crime, and killing many innocent people, this probably would not even stop all of the rocket fire from Gaza. Perhaps Israel should try reoccupying Gaza? No, I didn't think so - I still remember how much Israeli parents feared when their sons went into the army and had to serve in Gaza, how dangerous it was for them and what a moral swamp they entered enforcing the occupation.

If this war continues long enough, into the beginning of the spring semester, I am sure that there will be forums organized by concerned people on Gaza and Israel (mostly from the anti-Israel perspective), perhaps a demonstration or two with students wearing kaffiyehs, speakers declaiming about the awful things Israel is doing in Gaza, and not mentioning anything about Hamas, its goal to destroy Israel, or the rocket fire into Israel. I am not looking forward to this, if it happens. And will we hear anything useful about what might actually do some good? No, we'll be in the verbal prison of left-wing platitudes.

I've been reading articles around the blogosphere and either read reactions like mine (for example, Jeff Weintraub: Wartime in Gaza), over-the-top leftist attacks on Israel, or right-wing defenses of Israel that ignore the real suffering of Gaza's population.

It seems like Israel might be on the verge of a ground attack on Gaza. Based on comparison with the second Lebanon war and the results of the Israel ground assault then, I fear that Israel is about to make a big mistake. I think that there is some justification for the Israeli air assault on Gaza - but only if it stops pretty soon, and there is at least a temporary cease-fire that gives the opportunity to bring in humanitarian aid to Gaza. And also if real negotiations begin between Israel and Hamas (through a third-party) that will lead to the complete ending of rocket fire on Israel. (Although negotiations like this seem like pie-in-the-sky in the face of the current fighting).


  1. I found Haim Watzman's post surreal. "A managed, low-level conflict is a realistic, achievable, and worthwhile goal."

  2. Actually, I think he is being realistic. Notice that he also says this: "A new modus vivendi needs to be created—one in which Israel permits food, medicine, and vital civilian supplies to enter Gaza in exchange for a Hamas commitment to stop using independent local militias as a proxy for attacking Israel. At the same time, both sides need to begin talking, directly or indirectly—and with the inclusion of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank—to create long-range understandings and to work towards a diplomatic accommodation." Watzman's goal is certainly not the continuation of a low-level conflict, but a much more longer-lasting diplomatic solution.

  3. Who said realism couldn't be surreal?