Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Latest Israeli-Palestinian War: You Be the Judge

By Tom Kando

By now, most people are well informed about the latest fight between the Israelis and the Palestinians:

1. The trigger was the assassination by Israel  of Ahmed Jabari, a Hamas military leader. In retaliation, Hamas  started  to lob hundreds of rockets from Gaza onto Israel. In return, Israel began the massive  bombing of Gaza.            

2. As usual, the death toll has been  lopsided:  half a dozen Israelis vs. more than 160 Palestinians. Every Israeli death is avenged by more than 20 Palestinian deaths.

3. Using this criterion leads one to condemn Israel more harshly than Hamas. One moral measure has always been: he who kills the most is the most evil.

4. But the uneven death count is purely the result of uneven technology. Hamas’ (Iranian) rockets are just not very good (yet), and Israel’s “Iron Dome” defensive shield did a good job at deflecting 90% of the rockets. The low Israeli death toll is not for want of trying by Hamas. If Hamas could, it would wipe out all six million Israeli Jews. Their rockets are most certainly aimed indiscriminately at cities, hospitals, schools, children, hotels, etc. Don’t tell me that one side’s actions are morally superior to the other’s. Every day, hundreds of rockets rained down on Israel, even reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As President Obama said on November 18, “There's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

5. Then  there is history - another moral criterion:    Who has more historical right to “the turf” over which they have been fighting since  1948 - and  before?  For some information about this, check out my August, 2011 post: Israel and Palestine: Whose Turf is it?

1948 was  a disaster  for the Palestinians: hundreds of thousands of them were expelled from what became Israel, and hundreds of thousands more left  of their own volition, anticipating returning immediately after Israel’s defeat - which did not occur. Sixty years later, those hundreds of thousands of refugees have turned  into millions. One of the Palestinians’ demands is the “Right of  Return.” How could this happen, without undoing the Jewish state?

Even if you take the position that Israel and Zionism were  a mistake, it’s too late to go into reverse. Israel exists. No reasonable person  can advocate abolishing Israel. So this renders history (and my 2011 blog post)  irrelevant.

6. The present bloody flare-up, the plight of Gaza and the shenanigans on the West Bank: Israel’s blockade of Gaza is wrong, as are the  appalling living conditions of  those desperate people.  Continuing to build  Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory on the  West Bank is also wrong.

7. This way, things can only get worse. One worry is that Arab politics are becoming more and more “Islamized.”  “Islamism” and Sharia law are  ascendant, meaning that Islam is increasingly  becoming not only a religion but also as a political ideology, somehow an  antidote to Western influence. Regression towards theocracy  and the growing role of religion in politics are worrisome.  The separation of Church and State and the secularization of politics are one of the Western world’s  great accomplishments. It took the French Revolution, the American Revolution,  and other revolutions to achieve this. Hopefully, the infusion of religion into politics by “Islamism” will in time become as  harmless as the role of religion is in  European political parties which still call themselves “Christian Democratic,” but are in fact largely secular.

8. The “Peace Process:” it isn’t clear whether this is a never-ending quest, an illusion, an unsolvable problem. Equally unclear  is why this is primarily a  US responsibility. Do not other countries have as much   at stake in the Middle East?

9. There  is only one reasonable solution: TWO STATES. What part of TWO  STATES don’t they understand?  Of course, the devil is in the details. Right of Return, West Bank settlements, land swaps, etc. A myriad details must  be worked out. But those are working points, and they ARE solvable.

I have just mentioned some of the considerations which   lead so many of us  to CONDEMN one side or the other. Condemnation is  unproductive, yet that is what we  mostly do. So instead, why don’t you judge things for yourself. leave comment here