Monday, December 10, 2012

Wrong Lessons from Gaza 

The Palestinian people and the Palestinian authority deserve to celebrate the hard won recognition of their statehood by a large majority of the world, overruling a shameful and politically nonsensical negative vote by the US. This comes only weeks after the newest Gaza battle, which ended with both Hamas and the Israeli government both  claiming victory. Those claims are misplaced; and so are the lessons which the forces of "Resistance" in the region seem to be drawing from the eight-day  Israeli aerial assault and the rockets lobbed on Israeli towns.

On the Palestinian side, the euphoria about the ability of Gaza Palestinians to reach all the way to Tel Aviv and force the beach boardwalk strollers briefly  into bomb shelters gave many people on this side of the conflict a sense of victory. Hizbollah saw it as a vindication of their strategy against the Israeli enemy. The problem is that facts tell a different  story. Not only were about one hundred and fifty Palestinian killed versus five Israelis, and the destruction was many folds greater on the Palestinian side, but the Palestinians are hardly closer to achieving their legitimate national aspirations. Two simple charts that show  the crescendo of rockets fired   from Gaza since Israel's withdrawal in 2005, and the number of Israeli fatalities they caused (about sixty deaths altogether ) say a lot. Needless to say, the number of Palestinians killed during the same period is in the thousands. Will we soon see the beginning of a third cycle of escalation?  Time will tell

On the Israeli side the lesson the Likud and their like-minded allies seem to have drawn from the Gaza battle  is that the iron dome, together with the west bank separation wall, are a good alternative to a peace settlement with the Palestinians and with  the Arab and Islamic worlds. Perhaps a tempting conclusion with so many Arabs and Muslims busy with their own domestic preoccupations. Netanyahu's decision to build thousands of settler housing units in the heart of the would be Palestinian State shows a misguided and shortsighted state of mind. The Arabs and Muslims, who are indeed currently undergoing a historic transformation towards more democracy and better governance will be even more determined (and able) to stand up to Israeli extremists. Trying to deprive  Palestinian Arabs who already  constitute  almost half of the  people living in historic Palestine of  an independent state in their own homeland is unjust and will eventually fail.

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