Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When Doing Nothing Works Well

The ground assault (Operation Cast Lead) is underway by the Israeli Army in Gaza, and those pesky civilians keep getting in the way. Israel keeps claiming (through various "spokesman said" mouthpiece types) that they are taking all care to avoid civilian casualties, but Hamas has all of the weaponry stashed in and/or near civilian populations.

Unlike Israel, where everyone does a stint in the military, just in case they need to fight, well... everyone at once. 

Hamas, of course, is being reprehensibly stupid by doing this sort of thing, except that it does remind people that in war, everyone's responsible for the actions of the elected, and often, the electorate has to pay a price for electing the wrong bunch of nutjobs.

Many Palestinians voted for Hamas, because Fatah wasn't showing a lot of backbone when it came to dealing with the Settlements. Israel's response to Hamas being elected? A gradual choking off of supplies, food and medicine to Gaza. The imposition of odd curfews and border inconveniences that resembled Kafka. The occasional visit by the Israeli Army to civilian homes where Hamas fighters were "thought to be hiding."

In other words, thanks for exercising your right to vote, here's a little humiliation, subjugation and slow, lingering death. Unless and until you vote for people we like.

Needless to say, in the Arab world, this sort of thing seems to breed martyrs. The population of Gaza is now a majority of minors. More than half the population is under 18, and all they've known is bloodshed and death at the hands of the Israelis. Fathers or mothers who look at the splintered, bloody remains of their dead family in the al-Shifa mortuary express the wish to blow up a few buses in Israel. Other parents tell their children from birth that they are growing up to become martyrs to the Palestinian cause. 

Kind of like I was told that I was going to take piano lessons.

Reprehensible sort of thing to think, but what would you do if your only son and your wife or husband were targeted for death, simply because you were all at prayer for a relative's funeral (also thanks to Israeli shells)? Or your nine-year-old son is so traumatized by bombs going off outside his house every day that he no longer talks? Of course revenge is a bad thing.

Isn't it, Messrs. Olmert and Barak?

While Israel does indeed have every right to protect itself, and Hamas really doesn't have the right to just casually lob missiles into Israel, each side is fighting for the survival of their people, their race, their culture. Jews have a long history of being the tormented, the tortured and the killed, and so they don't much care for folks throwing missiles at them. The Palestinians have a different history, but it, too, is full of torment and humiliation and death, mostly at the hands of western powers. Neither side wants war, but neither side wants the other to be the way it is.

So who starts the ball rolling by stopping?

Just stop.

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