Gaza: The Intractable Problem

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image of a map showing Israel
Center of the Arab–Israeli conflict

The battle between Arabs and Jews flared up again this week with rockets being fired into Israel and Israel countering with air strikes and threats of invasion. I’m not a believer or a fan in either of the religions at the heart of the conflict but I can understand the arguments. I don’t agree with the US government official stance that Israel has the right to defend itself only because I reject the entire Israeli political and military policy to date. I agree with the need of the Palestinian people not to be treated as 2nd class citizens in the land their family has called home for centuries but I don’t approve of use of rocket attacks or terrorism. There will be a two state solution but the question is how many people have to die until that happens.

The land that is Israel is claimed by Jews and Arabs as a homeland. History gives both strong evidence in their claims.

Jews had been forbidden to live in what is now Israel after they lost a revolt against Rome and its ruler Hadrian in A.D. 135 and so were dispersed through out the world.

Palestinian people, who have descended from people who lived in the area for centuries, are linguistically and culturally Arab but also related by DNA to descendents of Christians and Jews who left the area centuries before.

Jews and Arabs claim the holy sites in and around Israel for their respective religions – Judaism and Islam.

That’s the main reason for the conflict. Both religions claim the same space and neither wants to share or if they claim they do, they want it done on their terms and their advantage.

Jews, during the Zionism phrase of their return to Palestine, used terrorism against the British mandate and the Arabs who didn’t want them to come back. When the Israeli state was formed in 1948 it was immediately attacked by a combined Arab army and there has been some form of armed conflict since then.

I understand the need for Jews to return to Palestine and the wish to create a Jewish homeland but the Arabs were already on the land. Not only did the Jews take the land by force but then they proceeded to act like an occupier in what they called their homeland. The State of Israel treated the remaining Arabs as 2nd class citizens. They claim it is for protection but imagine living in a house all your life and another family invades and claims since their ancestor once lived in the house it now belonged to them. Not only that you now are forced to live in the garage and have to ask for permission to come back into the main house. You would be pissed off.

Here is clip of a report from Democracy Now! about what it really is like to live in Gaza:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Sunday, I spoke about the situation in Gaza with the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, MIT professor, Noam Chomsky. He was speaking in Princeton at the 32nd anniversary of the Coalition of Peace Action. Noam Chomsky recently returned from his first visit to Gaza, which he entered from the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing as a member of an academic delegation attending a conference at Gaza’s Islamic University. This is Noam Chomsky talking about his experience there.

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s kind of amazing and inspiring to see people managing somehow to survive in—as essentially caged animals and subject to constant, random, sadistic punishment only to humiliate them, no pretext. They’re—Israel and the United States keep them alive, basically. They don’t want them to starve to death. But the life is set up so that you can’t have a dignified, decent life. In fact, one of the words you hear most often is “dignity.” They would like to have dignified lives. And the standard Israeli position is they shouldn’t raise their heads. And it’s a pressure cooker, could blow up. You know, people can’t live like that forever.

AMY GOODMAN: You described it in a piece you wrote as an “open-air prison.”

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s an open-air prison. As soon as you—you know, we’ve all been in jail for civil disobedience and so on. The overwhelming feeling everyone gets is somebody else is in total control of you. There’s an arbitrary authority who can control anything you do. Stand up, sit down, you know, find something to eat, go to the bathroom—whatever it may be, they all determine it; you can’t do anything. Now that’s basically what it’s like living there. And, you know, there’s—people find ways to adapt, but it’s just a constant—it’s constant subjugation to an external force, which has no purpose except to humiliate you. Of course, they have pretexts—everybody has pretexts—but they don’t make any sense.

Noam Chomsky on Gaza, and the 2 Positives of Election 2012: The Worst Didn’t Happen — and It’s Over

For a state that came into existence through the use of terrorism how ironic that Israel complains when the Palestinian people, through groups like Hamas, use the same techniques against it. Israel also likes to use the so-called “targeted killing” where the leadership of groups like Hamas are murdered as if that will end the conflict.

The other thing that bothers me about Israel’s response is the use of massive air strikes to respond to rocket attacks from Hamas. That, to me, is like getting hit with a pea shooter and shooting the guy who hit you with a bazooka shell in the head.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think attacking Israel is a good short term strategy for Hamas. It leads to part of the world condemning it and the other part cheering them on. I get why they are doing it. It is the same tactic as the IRA used in Northern Ireland. It isn’t about defeating the enemy because you know you can’t but you try to tire them out and force them to the negotiation table.

The problem is the current Israeli leadership won’t negotiate unless the Palestinian people agree to their version of a peace plan 100% which means continuing the same 2nd class status but only after a formal peace the Palestinian people won’t be able to complain with armed violence. The Palestinians will refuse to agree to any plan unless their version is accepted 100%.

So what needs to happen?

Both sides need to put the knives away and really work on an equitable solution. There will be two states but the big question is how many people have to die before it happens.

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