While eating lunch, I was thinking about the middle east situation, ostensibly prompted by the latest article in the LA Times. All over the weekend, I’ve been seeing post after post on Facebook about the conflict. I have Jewish friends posting memes in favor of Israel. I’ve got other friends posting articles in favor of Hamas, or just wanting peace. I’ve come to realize that many people don’t understand the situation. Here are some quick thoughts on how I see it.
First, and foremost, recognize that Hamas currently does not recognize that the state of Israel has a right to exist. No right to exist as a state. No right to exist as a Jewish state. It is really hard to negotiate an agreement with someone that does not view you as legitimate. That underlying lack of recognition is at the heart of why this conflict is so hard to resolve. Hamas, and the other organizations and many nations in the area, simply want Israel to go away. They view the country as a continual thorn in the dream of a large collection of Islamic “democracies” in the region, governed by Islamic law. They don’t want Israel there, and until that attitude changes, they will do what is necessary to make that happen.
Secondly, recognize that Hamas (and many organizations in the area) exist in a bubble, similar to the bubble that many in the Tea Party live in. They follow only the Islamic news sources, which present a biased view of Israel, her motivations, and her actions. This is similar to the brainwashing Fox and RedState and other outlets do that Obama is the source of all evil and the scourge of the world. Similarly, the media followed by Hamas has Israel being the source of all evil, and their lives would be so much better, if Israel was just gone. Of course, from a neutral point of view, we recognize that isn’t true, but they’ve been in the bubble so long they can’t see any other reality. Popping the bubble is difficult.
Thirdly, recognize that the area is small. We’re essentially talking about Manhattan attempting to secede from New York State. That’s actually a good analogy, for Gaza is dense, with military targets intermixed with civilian targets. This is likely intentional, but whether it is or isn’t, it means that collateral damage is hard to avoid. In Israel, the military targets are more separated; when Hamas kills civilians, they are targeting civilians.
While we’re talking about size, a bit of a rant. We have people getting upset about 13 Palestinians killed, or Israeli deaths in the single digits. Where is the outrage for the thousands of civilians killed in Afghanistan or Iraq? Where is the outrage for the thousands of US soldiers killed attempting to defend civilians (i.e., not in an actual battle with the other side [e.g., trench warfare with the enemy]). Where is the outrage for the millions starving to death or under attack in Africa? Get some perspective folks. Death of innocents is bad, no matter how it happens. Let’s work to stop it where we can have the greatest effect.
So, you’ve probably figured out by now that I don’t have a problem with Israel defending herself. If Puerto Rico started lobbying missiles at Florida, would the US retaliate? Probably. Any other country has the right to defend themselves. Hamas has a very easy way to stop the hostilities: Recognize that Israel has the right to exist as a country, and that a Jewish state has a right to exist in the Middle East. From there, it’s just drawing lines on a map. Without that recognition, any negotiated peace will be tenuous at best, and the most we can hope for is a North Korea/South Korea extended truce fire, which is fraught with tension.