"Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with love." Dr. Martin King, 1958.
First, if we are going to have this discussion, lets do away with the basic facts which you dear readers can refrain from emailing us in outrage. The latest round of violence began with Hamas shooting rockets into Israel targeting and killing innocent civilians, including children. Hamas is a terrorist organization.
Those are the facts and they do not excuse Israel's actions. This conflict did not just begin now. It has a long history. There are two peoples that were Stateless in the first half of the 20th century- the Jews and the Palestinians. Both laid historical claim to the land known as Palestinian. When the political and diplomatic dust settled Israel was formed. Several wars later, Israel has survived and thrived. Peace has been achieved with Egypt. Earlier this year several Arab states opened diplomatic relations with Israel.
Meanwhile, Palestinians remained packed into tiny refugee camps. Children were born to the second and third generation of parents who were born and grew up in the refugee camps. The ability to survive and thrive and for Palestinians to create for their children the simple goal of every parent- a better life for their children, died in the hopelessness of the refugee camps. For example, in the Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, known as "The Beach Camp" there are almost 100,000 people crammed into a half square kilometer.
Along the way in this tortured history both sides committed acts of violence. Each side can point to tragedies- innocent children killed or left orphans by the acts of the other side. "Violence begets violence." The circle must be broken. Israel has the power to kill every single occupant in the Gaza strip where many Palestinians live. They can destroy every building, one at a time, missile by missile. They can destroy the power plants and water plants and plunge the citizens into darkness without food or water. They can, as they appear to be doing, ratchet up the violence until Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations give up. For now. The memory of this defeat, along with their dead, burned into their memories, where it will fester for years until the next Intifada erupts. "Hate begets hate."
The current conflict has several causes; the same way a fire needs several starters. There is a court case to evict six Palestinian families from homes they own in East Jerusalem based on an Israeli law that allows families to reclaim property lost during the division of Jerusalem at the end of the war of 1948 with Jordan. The Israeli police restricted access at the Damascus Gate of Palestinians to the Old City just as the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan was beginning. These were the cinders among others that began to burn.
Israel has the power to break the cycle of violence. Just because they can utterly defeat and destroy their enemies doesn't mean they should. We have seen the horrors of the last century when one group of people set forth to wipe another off the face of the earth.
Israel has two choices. They can continue on the same path, responding to attacks with greater attacks until they "win" and the violence ebbs for now. How is that strategy working out? Israel did the exact same thing in the first Intifada that ended in the early 1980s and the second Intifada that began in 2000 and slowly ended in 2005 with over 1000 Israelis and over 3500 Palestinians dead. If this is the Third Intifada, the death tolls will be worse. The axiom that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result comes to mind.
So we are at a tipping point. Israel has been attacked again. It has responded with overwhelming force. It can continue to do so. Hamas can continue to shoot off more rockets terrorizing and killing innocent people, or they can try a third way. And to do that, someone has to make the first move.
Perhaps Israel will say "why should we make the first move? They started it."
And the simple answer is "because you can." Otherwise when this cycle of violence ends, the dead and the destruction will merely serve as fertilizer for the next round which will surely come.
Well, the blog has been a bit too quiet. This should liven things up.