Though I was pleased by the cessation of bombings and rocket fire in the most recent Israel-Gaza conflagration, I recognized it did nothing to solve the longstanding problem.
The most depressing news in the conflict’s aftermath, though, were the results of a poll reported in Saturday’s New York Times.
The poll, published first on Israel’s Chanel 12, indicated that “72% of Israelis thought the air campaign in Gaza should continue, whereas 24% said Israel should agree to a cease-fire.”
Wow! Almost three out of four Israelis wanted to continue an exchange of fire that killed 12 Israeli civilians and 232 Palestinians — including 65 children and 30 “militants” — and left thousands homeless.
The New York Times story quoted several Israelis who, echoing some generals, said the “mission” had not been fulfilled. What was the mission? Bombing Gaza back to the stone age, as the redoubtable General Curtis LeMay once proposed in another conflict?
But no, a public opinion expert was quoted as saying, this is not “warmongering.” Israelis, he explained, “are looking for a final conclusion to these operations…. Sometimes one is willing to suffer in order to bring a very unpleasant situation to a close.”
If it is not warmongering, it certainly suggests that most folks In Israel believe there can be a military solution to the problem of Hamas’ attacks on Israel. Has the general population of Israel moved that far to the right?
Presumably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinks so, and that’s why he maintains a militant posture to keep himself in office and away from an impending trial for corruption.
Indeed, Hamas, the terrorist organization that has controlled the devastated Gaza since 2006, is dedicated to the eradication of Israel — much as the former Palestine Liberation Organization was for decades before negotiations for a two-state solution got under way in Oslo in 1993. (Which Netanyahu stalled and undercut while purporting to believe in the creation of a Palestinian state.)
But the way to defeat Hamas is to negotiate civil and land rights for all Palestinians — in Gaza, the West Bank and within Israel. Not to keep destroying more and more of Gaza; not to keep settling and annexing the West Bank; not to find more ways to oppress the Arab citizens of Israel, who make up 20% of its population.
It is particularly disturbing to see that even after this fragile cease-fire, the Israeli government continues to assault Arab citizens at their most sacred mosque in Jerusalem and continues to try to evict them from their Jerusalem neighborhood — the acts that provoked the most recent Hamas attack in the first place. It is such actions — along with roving gangs of right-wing Israelis who attack Arab neighborhoods — that give fodder to those who charge that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.
It is exceedingly painful for those of us who support both Israel’s right to exist as a democratic Jewish state and the right of Palestinians to their own sovereign state.
President Joe Biden made some recent remark about wanting a two-state solution, but it sounded more wistful than hopeful to me. For years I believed in it and believed the PLO (now the Palestinian Authority) was militantly standing in the way, creating all the violence against Israel. Now it’s evident to me that Netanyahu and an increasingly right-wing population are the obstacles.
A legendary Israeli intellectual once said the problem with us Americans is that we think every problem has a solution. All I can do is hope somebody comes along and proves him wrong about this giant problem.
Political consultant Don Rose writes a weekly column for the Observer, where this column first was posted.
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