It is never easy to read the news about escalation of violence between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza or West Bank, and then go to bed like it’s just another stressful/fun day at college.
Though, I don’t feel that death in Gaza or elsewhere in the Palestinian occupied territories is more important than deaths in Africa, it is nevertheless hard to not stress about it and rethink the whole Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is perhaps the way the media has set it, magnified it and in many cases mislead them about the reality of the situation.
Yesterday, a group of students at the University of Minnesota rallied to support’s Israel assault against Gaza. Now, is this ethical? Why is it that dozens and often hundreds of civilians have to die so that Israel get to defend itself, and showcase its military might to the world?
In 1985, the IDF shelled the PLO headquarter in Tunis, Tunisia — and about 15 minutes where my parents live in attempt to assassinate Yasser Arafat. About 200 Tunisians died and another hundred were injured. Then Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, was quoted saying "It was an act of self-defense. Period." Now, 27 years later, Tunisians still don’t understand why they had to die for the self-defense of Israel and will probably hate Israel’s guts forever. But most importantly, does this rhetoric means anything at all?
In times where casualties amass in the holy lands, the world comes together around one cause, only to split apart categorically in two distinct groups. There are those who would deny them (Palestinians) these rights (independence state) against an occupying state of Israel, and those who would be more than eager to criticize Israel even when it is under attack. Oh, there is also another third group of rational folks who can look at the conflict from a wider perspective without being biased to either side. The matter is, it is really not important who the perpetrator is and who has the right to defend themselves in times like these. Children on side are taken away from life by a click of a button, others, on the other side, due to better technology and infrastructure, hide in their basements shivering asking their moms perhaps too many questions about life and death. Both experiences are equally tragic and unfortunate.
Of course, the times of the shelling are not a coincidence. Just like some Americans would vote a Romney’s America with a military budged of hundreds of billions of dollars, Israelis would want to vote for a stronger Israel that has the right to tame any voice that defy its interests. As January elections are coming soon, BB Netanyahu wants to prove to those who care that he really controls the area and isn’t much concerned with international human rights and war laws. Also, who wouldn’t want to divert attention from the recent social protests in Israel to the rhetoric of a “threatened Israel.”
Now, what’s next? Israel hit already 130 to 150 targets in Gaza and air strikes continue today for the third day in a row. While Israeli Defense Minister approved summons of 30,000 soldiers at the borders, but doesn’t look more like a cyclical wave of violence. The problem is radicalization in the Middle East and particularly between Jihadist factions in Gaza and Radical Jews who are increasingly jeopardizing any possible solution to the conflict by lobbying for more settlements in West Jerusalem and the West bank. They are the kind of people that you will see in the video below only that these are American, Israeli Jews are only crazier.
“Israel is for Jews since the beginning of the bible.” Yeah, right.
One of the factors that had drag this conflict forever now (64 years are an eternity, yes) is that it is still argued basing on religious ground. Radical Jews believe the land it is theirs and that Arabs shouldn’t be allowed there at all or should live under Jewish law. Radical Muslims believe it is theirs as well since they conquered the land. Now rational Muslims, just want the state of Israel to back off from their territory, stop destroying their property, restricting their movement and absolutely find a drastic solution to all the over 1 million displaced Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war and aftermath. There isn’t much anybody can argue with any party. Of course, the Jihadist groups in Gaza don’t make this easier for anybody without their sporadic attacks into Israel and their commitment to “wipe off Israel from the map.”
Egypt and their recently elected Islamist regime do not help at all. While, Egyptian military commanders turn a blind eye on the weaponry smuggled into the joint tunnels between the two territories, Palestinian Jihadist factions won’t stop arming themselves any time sooner. Now, not only that, but Egypt also refuses to collaborate with the Gazan government. There aren’t many opportunities for Palestinians to come to Egypt or have any sort of opportunity to get an education, a business or a job. Instead, Egypt limits itself to dry statements and formal actions or recalling its ambassador for chitchat. Like their predecessors, they are using the Palestinian cause to squeeze more legitimacy – which they are losing right now – from their people. They aren’t much of real help.
I personally sort of lost hope that the enfoldment of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be any time soon. Like one of my acquaintances in Israel, Yoav Rodan, has told me once: “there isn’t much to talk about now that hasn’t been discussed before. The solution is only a matter of a political will from both parties.” Yoav is an ex-IDF soldier and a leader at Leading Leaders For Peace, a grass movement in Israel.