Politicians and the mass media have given much attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the quest for peace. However, to examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict outside of the context of the Middle East is fraught with error. Israelis and Palestinians may be seen by some as the only parties. The frequent Hamas (an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawana al-Islamiya – Islamic Resistance Movement) rocket attacks on southern Israel and the subsequent Israeli incursion into Gaza give credence to this belief. Nevertheless, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was eclipsed by the Israeli-Lebanese War of 2006.
Tag Archives | Israel
The trouble with war is that it has two sides. Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course. There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect. And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it.
It has become quite obvious to observers of the Middle East that the analysis of the region in the Western media has been deeply flawed and largely misguided. The focus of most articles until recently was on democracy, human rights and the peace process. Recent events have unmasked the irrelevance of any of those terms to the real forces in motion in the Middle East. As a result, reporting and analysis have correspondingly changed to an emphasis on sectarian warfare and terrorism. American newsreaders are now regularly informed as to the Shiite-Sunni cleavage and its violent ramifications. This is a step in the right direction but the new emphasis promises to lead to equally misleading analysis and equally faulty American foreign policy.
As Iraq unravels and the closer ISIS forces approach Baghdad, the White House is growing increasingly alarmed and frustrated. President Obama summoned his security advisers on June 19 to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. What he came up with became clear as he was taking questions from journalists gathered in the White House Press Room. “We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq.” Obama’s response was remarkably candid and direct, “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.”
Last week, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hosted an event titled “Iraq at a Crossroads: Options for U.S. Policy,” where it heard varying perspectives on how to deal with the situation in Iraq in the light of the recent advancement of the violent militant group, ISIS, in its territory.
I’ve been purposely keeping quiet as Operation Protective Edge rages on, which for someone who writes about Israel seems like a counterproductive move. The problem is, I have seen very little to convince me that writing anything will actually be productive in a real sense because everyone is living in a bubble. I have rarely been so disheartened by anything as much as I have by reading what friends and acquaintances are expressing as Israel and Hamas go at each other. My Facebook feed is a good illustration of this, being split between very different demographics.
The Arab Spring in North Africa began in Tunisia in December 2010, with the self-immolation of a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi who had his fruit and vegetable cart confiscated by local authorities. Massive protests forced President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. President Moncef Marzouki his successor failed to unify the country, and under political pressure agreed to hold new elections– which he postponed twice. Islamists have carried out attacks against members of parliament and political leaders, recently killing two moderate candidates. In May 2014 the electoral laws were changed to allow former officials in Ben Ali’s administration to run for office. Twenty former government leaders were recently released from prison, which sparked public outcry. Adding to the chaos last week fourteen soldiers were killed while pursuing AQIM Islamists embedded in the Chaambi Mountain region near the western border with Algeria.
In the war, both sides have the same aim: to put an end to the situation that existed before it started. To put an end to the launching of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, Once and For All! To put an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt, Once And For All!
Israel and Gaza have both suffered their bloodiest day since the beginning of the current offensive. Israel says that 13 of its soldiers died since Saturday night, the biggest one-day loss for its army in years. At least 87 Gazans were reported killed on Sunday – 60 of them in the district of Shejaiya alone. The total death toll in Gaza now stands at more than 425.
If Prime Minister Erdoğan is to be taken at his word, we can officially declare Israeli-Turkish rapprochement dead. Speaking this morning, Erdoğan announced that under no circumstances will Turkey’s relationship with Israel improve as long as he is in power – which after the presidential elections next month, will be for a long time – and that the West can protest all it likes to no avail.
Speaking bluntly in the past three weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has unequivocally ruled out a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a speech at Tel Aviv University on June 29, Netanyahu announced that any peace agreement would include Israeli military control of the West Bank “for a very long time.” Netanyahu repeated himself on July 11, saying at a Hebrew language press conference, “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
There was a strong expectation in Israel yesterday once the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire terms were announced that Hamas was going to accept the deal. Even after Hamas rejected the terms and launched 80 more rockets at Israel yesterday morning, some prominent voices, such as former Israel national security adviser Giora Eiland, were predicting that Hamas would ultimately accept the deal today.
When the bodies of three Israeli settlers – Aftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 – were found on June 30 near Hebron in the southern West Bank, Israel went into a state of mourning and a wave of sympathy flowed in from around the world. The three had disappeared 18 days earlier in circumstances that remain unclear.
Bombs are raining on Gaza and rockets on Southern Israel, people are dying and homes are being destroyed. Again. Again without any purpose. Again with the certainty that after it’s all over, everything will essentially be the same as it was before. But I can hardly hear the sirens which warn of rockets coming towards Tel Aviv. I cannot take my mind off the awful thing that happened in Jerusalem.
As Hamas continues firing rockets (and allowing other groups to fire rockets) at Israel from Gaza, and Israel responds with airstrikes, people are beginning to wonder how this round of fighting will end. During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, a ceasefire was brokered with U.S. and Egyptian intervention – and we can debate all day about how much Mohamed Morsi himself had to do with that, although my sense is that his role was overstated – but this time around such intervention does not seem to be coming.