The New Gaza War: What Is The Point?

I am no pacifist. Some say war never solves anything; I say it sometimes does; and there are things worth fighting for. But about this latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I say: what is the fucking point?

The logic of war is the pursuit of some strategic goal. But what strategic objectives are these combatants pursuing?

Unknown-1For Israel, ostensibly, it is to stop rocket attacks, and destroy infiltration tunnels. But past history shows bombing Gaza to rubble doesn’t stop such attacks. Especially when Hamas can disclaim responsibility for rogue elements supposedly acting on their own. (Just like Putin renounces invasion of Ukraine yet actually invades by subterfuge.*) And meantime, ravaging Gaza provides inhabitants with fresh grievances, to vent the only way they can: rockets.

Anyhow, while the rocket attacks are nasty, they are really pinpricks. They do little damage and hurt few people. A clear case of the cure worse than the disease. The “cure” is extremely costly, not only in money and lives (mostly Palestinian, but some Israeli — it will wind up exceeding the rocket death toll), but also costly in damage to Israel’s larger national interests. Because, again, it creates more Palestinian grievance; renders even more remote the prospect of ultimate peace; and feeds the narrative of Israel as an international villain.**

Morin, Miami Herald

“Hamas Loves the People of Gaza; they even gave us these free tee shirts!” (Morin, Miami Herald)

And what about Hamas? Hamas rejected a cease-fire, refusing to renounce rockets — as though they have some kind of right to shoot rockets at Israel. What do they hope to gain with rockets? As if they could make Israelis capitulate and give up their country. But Hamas is said to have a more limited objective, for Israel to relax its restrictions on Gazan commerce. Yet the rocket attacks make Israel more, not less, hostile toward Gaza; its response to rockets is not to offer sweeteners, but bombing. Maybe if there’s something Hamas really wants from Israel, the way to get it is with flowers, not rockets.

I’m making it sound like there’s no logic to any of this. But there is. I wrote here recently, when the latest round started with teenager murders, that such provocations are intended as provocations. To create more victims, to provoke the other side into greater hatred and still further provocations, to stoke the conflict. By people who are intoxicated by the conflict (mostly religiously inspired) and don’t want it resolved.

Palestinians fetishize and sacralize “resistance.” Resistance is their raison d’etre. God forbid the object of resistance should cease to be. Ostensibly they resist Israeli oppression. In truth they resist actually living normal lives. The cartoon is exactly right: Hamas’s war aim is to make “martyrs” of as many of their own people as possible.

Israel is no better. It too acts as though it prefers having the conflict to solving it. As if this can continue forever. Of course it cannot. The situation is already becoming untenable. And Israel has no end game.

UnknownThere’s an old Laurel and Hardy bit. The pair drive up to a man’s house and get into an argument with him. In anger, he breaks something on their car. So Hardy calmly marches up to the house and breaks something. Tit for tat, and soon the man is methodically destroying the car while the duo are engaged in methodically destroying his house.

That’s Israel and the Palestinians.

* Putin and Russia, who cynically supplied the weapon, must be held responsible for the downing of the Malaysian plane, killing 298. This is not a “tragedy” — it’s a crime.

images** However, regarding all the moves to ostracize and boycott Israel – what are these people thinking? That Israel is, like, the worst evildoer in the world? Are they totally ignorant, or blind? How about China, with its repression of Tibet, and locking up democracy advocates like Liu Xiaobo? Where’s the boycott of China? Or, for that matter, Syria? Not even Syria! Only Israel.

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9 Responses to “The New Gaza War: What Is The Point?”

  1. Edit_XYZ Says:

    “Israel is no better. It too acts as though it prefers having the conflict to solving it. As if this can continue forever. Of course it cannot. The situation is already becoming untenable. And Israel has no end game”

    And what alternative for solving the conflict do you propose (one not already tried)?
    Letting Hamas bomb Israel – with ever more sophisticated rockets, courtesy of Iran – is no solution; it’s a bad joke.

    If you have no alternative to propose, your criticism is merely a worthless rant.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    Two state solution. Everybody knows this.

  3. Edit_XYZ Says:

    Already offered to the palestinians – repeatedly*. But it would require them to recognise Israel’s right to exist, stop trying to kill israelis, etc – so, no deal on their part.

    *For example:
    http://arabisraeliconflict.info/arab-israel-facts/fact-3-two-state-solution
    And since we’re on the subject:
    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Majority-of-Palestinians-now-oppose-two-state-solution-new-poll-finds-360489

    You did read the requirement from my last post “one not already tried” AKA one not useless, yes?

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    Well, I agree with you that it’s not a possible solution as long as Palestinians (and Israelis too) refuse to budge from their self-destructive positions. Yet the fact is, it remains the only solution. Otherwise, both sides are on a path to nowhere. As I have argued here before: https://rationaloptimist.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/why-are-we-vetoing-palestinian-statehood/

  5. Iggy Says:

    It is not always the actual dead but the ability to run a country and to live normally, Even if the missiles usually miss, you can not keep closing your shops nor have school children and old folk dashing repeatedly to shelters.

    Also, part of the reason for low casualties is the “Iron Dome” This comes at massive cost. Hundreds have been fired during this war alone at a cost of $60K a piece.

    Hamas took power because of the PA’s weakness. Perhaps the Israelis are trying to shift the balance of Palestinian power. With the attitude of the Egyptians this may be possible.

    The question is will the Palestinian street be smart enough to dump Hamas for open borders with Egypt and Israel?

  6. rationaloptimist Says:

    Obviously, having rocket attacks, even with little direct damage, is highly undesirable. It’s true that Israel apparently wants to destroy Hamas. But to what purpose? To strengthen Fatah and Abbas to make a comprehensive peace deal with them? No. Israel wants a Palestine that is simply quiescent and submissive. That’s a fantasy.

  7. Iggy Says:

    IMO everything you say is correct except for the word “No”. Some seek peace and some seek submission. Depends on the party and political philosophy. Historically, each of those had time at the helm. The question is will the Palestinians come around if the left gets to steer the ship again, the way they failed to in the past.
    Lets face it, their situation under the Clinton plan would have been far better that it is now and land contiguity would have had to be worked out anyway to the benefit of all parties.

  8. rationaloptimist Says:

    Absolutely — Arafat’s saying “no” in 2000 was one of history’s great tragedies. Palestinians could have had a reasonable state then, and gotten on with life. Instead they chose perpetual conflict. At this point the possibility to implement a 2-state solution has diminished almost to the vanishing point.

  9. DAN FAREK Says:

    HAMAS DOES NOT WANT AN END TO THIS CONFLICT. THEY ARE OFFERING THEIR PEOPLE UP AS CANNON FODDER AND THE LIBERAL MEDIA EATS IT UP! THE LIBERAL MEDIA DOES NOTHING PUT ISRAEL DOWN.
    AS LONG AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL EXISTS THIS CONFLICT WILL CONTINUE. THE ARAB STATES WILL NOT BE SATISFIED
    UNTIL ISRAEL NO LONGER EXISTS.
    THE POPULATION OF THE ARAB STATES NUMBER IN THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. AS ISRAEL HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS, WHAT WILL HAPPEN IS ISRAEL FACES GOING UNDER?

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