Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So, when are you going to win?

(This post will stay on top all day. - G)

The morality of it aside (Israel becoming what they despise the most - turning the Gaza Strip and, to a lesser extent, the West Bank into the world's largest concentration camp) when are they gonna finally have success?

This crap has been going on since I was a little kid, a cyclical occurrence as predictable as the changing of the seasons. With each incursion, with each air strike attack, another generation of Palestinian bomb throwers is born - the seeds sown in autumn that will bloom in spring. They've built walls and closed borders, yet the problem still exists. When will Israel learn they are just prolonging the agony?

Every nation has the right to defend themselves from attack, that fact is not in dispute but what Israel is doing is neither keeping their homeland safer, nor is it doing anything to reduce the threat of terror. All it does is pass the hate to another generation.

I'm not saying I have a plan to wage peace in the area, lord knows, both sides have issues that have merely been deferred for 60 years but this cycle of bombing and retort ain't working and it's making things worse. Smarter people than I on both sides should understand this too yet, aside from some feeble attempts, they all default to violence. Were it not for American Presidents going back to Truman, even those false starts would never have happened. The search for peace in Palestine is rapidly becoming a waste of time.

Our unqualified support for Israel should end - it is not the 51st State. One of the reasons we have the problem today is because of our 'big brother' attitude. Had Israel the incentive to live in peace with her neighbors (especially after the '67 war), instead of looking to us (be it militarily or diplomatically) to ensure their sovereignty and protect them from retribution, they might have worked something out by now - at least, the conflict would be over, one way or another, years ago. We should be willing to broker a peace there only if both parties are committed. Basically, they should come to us and ask we get involved. Pressure from the U.S. for them to sit down when it is not in either party's interest can never ensure a lasting peace. Allowing the Israelis to run roughshod over the Palestinians won't either. We should be involved only as an objective arbiter, not as the guarantor of Israel's future.

And don't think I'm defending the Palestinians, who have their own sins to atone for, but they are desperate. Israel has encroached on their land for decades with settlements and military fortification, finally resulting in walling the Palestinians out. There is an economic blockade in place, so the Palestinians can't supply daily needs - there is no economy of any sort there. That means there are a lot of young men who cannot find work. Guess who they blame for their situation, rightly or wrongly? When half a man's family is killed in an Israeli air strike - innocents all - from whom does he seek revenge? They join groups like Hamas and Hezbollah because they see no future for themselves or their people. They blame Israel and their protector, the United States, and they strike at the closest target.

I'm not saying it's right but it has become their only recourse, and many Arab nations are willing to help them (with military and logistic support), a counter to the U.S., thus prolonging the conflict. As we have seen, the range of Hamas' rockets have improved markedly over the past few years. Abdullah the Bombmaker ain't whipping these things up in his garage. As I sit here, watching the news this morning, the conflict threatens to get much worse before it gets better.

What can we do? Not much until Bush leaves. He has been instrumental in prolonging the conflict with is lassiez faire attitude and with three weeks left of his miserable tenure, he will continue to do nothing. After Obama's appearance at the AIPAC conference during the campaign, I doubt there will be much change in policy toward Israel. Until there is a concerned effort to rein in Israel's aggression and until the Palestinian lands become a functioning nation, nothing will change. Desperate men will do desperate things and as long as Israel is allowed to respond with such disproportionate force, hatreds will continue and many more will be motivated to join the fight on both sides.

President Obama will have a chance to do something worthwhile there. Let's hope he seizes it and gives the issue the attention it deserves. We are hopelessly entangled there at this point and a strong President has the capability to make a real difference. If we're ever gonna "win the War on Terror", there has to be peace in Israel and Palestine. It is one of the roots of Islamic terrorism (Arafat was the granddaddy) and until it is nipped, anti-Israel (and in turn anti-U.S.) sentiment will grow, pushing any chance of peace farther from reality.

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