Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gaza - can the cycle of violence be broken ?

Unless you're a psychopath you don't do wicked things without a reason. The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden were not psychopaths. They had a reason for what they did. That 99% of the world's population would think that reason offensive and unsupportable doesn't mean it was not a reason, it means that we view that reason as wrong. 

Israel's attack on Gaza is not without reason, nor are Hamas's rocket attacks on Israel.  I suspect that most of us would deplore both but, of course, see that they are linked in a spiral of violence. The more rockets are fired, the stronger the Israeli response. And the stronger the response the more rockets will be fired. In the short term Israel's overwhelming power may neutralise the rocket launchers. But come the grim dawn Hamas will regroup and the rockets will begin to fall on innocent Israelis again. And the cycle will begin again.

The war in Vietnam told us that you cannot beat a determined, skilful, flexible enemy with overwhelming force. Since then around the world big armies have tried to beat irritating insurgencies - and usually failed. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya... the Middle East bears witness to the futility of thinking that the big battalions always win. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is a big battalion. Hamas, well backed and financed though it is, is an insurgency. 

The only permanent solution to the problem of Palestine is a "Two State" solution. A self governing Palestine and, of course, a free and independent Israel. They may never coexist in absolute harmony - but a workable model can surely be agreed. If you believe, as I do, that such an outcome would be just and more important that it would have support from ordinary Israelis and Palestinians alike why not? 

No good can come of the current Gaza horrors - no good at all. But when the killing stops can people of principle and decency on both sides of the divide work towards a negotiated solution that includes fairness for all ? That's the human challenge. We must not duck it. Never again.


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