Of course you’ve heard of the quickly escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas. It’s been on your television, your news reader, in your papers. There was a brief mention on your radio station before you switched to the next one. The world is watching the Middle East once again (because let’s face it, the Western media has all but forgotten the plight of Syria.) Most media stations have expressed the sentiment that Gaza will fall. World leaders are waiting for the bombs to finish falling, waiting to see which group drags themselves out of the rubble so that they can quickly change allegiance or reaffirm support for the group they knew would win.
And in the middle of it the innocents die and are forgotten.
Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on this. I don’t fully understand the reasons or the predicted outcomes. I am not in the position of either Binyamin Netanyahu or Hamas. I will never be able to see the situation as they do. But I will say that what either side is doing is not working, and that it will never work.
Hamas’ approach is wrong.
Hamas attacking Israeli citizens with rockets will do nothing but cause the deaths of Palestinians in return. They know this. The idea that this whole affair is them testing their allegiance with Egypt’s new Islamist leadership is disgusting, and despicable. Yes, Palestinians have been severely wronged but that is not justification for deaths on both sides. Provoking Israel like this will only cause more Palestinian death, or push Israel to destroy Gaza entirely–the only reason they have not so far is because of the outcry from Western allies. Any more condemnation from the Western media and that may no longer be Israel’s concern.
Israel’s approach is wrong.
To quote this excellent Guardian article, Israel’s reaction is a result of the logic of escalation. They can’t be seen to back down and so they escalate the situation, returning fire and marching on Gaza. Except this time it seems Hamas may not back down and might even (possibly) be supported by the Egyptians. They say offence is the best defence, but Israel’s actions are not only harming its own citizens but forcing itself into a corner. If violence is Israel’s answer, it may as well kill all the Palestinians and do to them the very same thing that the Germans did to the Jews, in an irony which would not go unnoticed by many.
Now if fighting is not the answer, should speech be? Perhaps. I almost grow tired of repeating myself regarding issues of conflict, and suggesting that opposing sides should talk. I guess I’m an undying pacifist. But I say it because it seems the only option which few try. They laugh instead and tell us pacifists that we don’t understand, that we can’t. And yes, I am aware that decades of mistreatment and enmity will not go away magically because of one peace talk. But I am also aware that these talks are possible. Colombia and FARC are making an attempt, even if Colombia’s unwillingness towards a ceasefire are making things difficult. And all are aware that even one day of peace would save more innocent lives than one more day of gunfire.