I'm generally pretty pacifist. Not as hard-core pacifist as some of my friends: there are causes and people I'd fight for, even die for if it came to that (and my friends are firmly in that category). If a war broke out--and if I would somehow be found fit to fight (wouldn't happen)--I'd have to think long and hard about whether I'd choose to enlist; or, in the case of conscription, if I'd willingly be drafted or choose to dodge it. Give me clear-cut evil on the enemy side, like a Hitler, and truth be told I still might not throw myself into a meat grinder. Because while Hitler and his cadre were undeniably evil, the vast majority of German soldiers fighting under him were no different than you or I. And if you can kill people just like me, especially after reading this...well, then, you're not just like me.
(And people forget that Hitler thought he was doing good. That in no way excuses his actions, of course, or their motivation. It's absolutely critical, though, that we recognize no villain is a villain in his own mind. The purpose of the Holocaust was to get the world to stand as one and condemn it in the harshest terms; the real horror of it was that it took so long to achieve that purpose).
If "my" side is committing atrocities as well, that just muddies the waters further. I would not choose to associate myself with evil being perpetrated in "my" name if I could possibly help it. I would fight to defend those I love, and don't corner me, I'll surprise you--but otherwise I'm most likely to sit out.
Which brings me to the hell that is Gaza.
Look, this is complicated. Which is partly my lazy-ass way of saying I DON'T WANNA RESEARCH THIS but mostly the truth. It's what militaries refer to as a Charlie Foxtrot situation, and I immediately distrust anyone who dismisses one side of this conflict out of hand.
Which means, alas, I must dismiss pretty much everything the mainstream media and the alternative media is pumping out.
Most of the press I read is absolutely, unequivocally on Israel's side: if Israel does something bad, it's because Palestinians did something worse...and if you try to advance an argument that is even slightly balanced, you're accused of the rankest sort of anti-Semitism and told you reject Israel's right to exist.
Online, where things skew young and left, it's different. Told that Hamas uses human shields, the rapid response is that no, it doesn't: so many Palestinians have been crowded into such a small area that they have no choice but to hide missiles in schools and hospitals and what have you. Told that Israel drops leaflets and broadcasts warnings about imminent strikes while Hamas tells Palestinians to ignore those warnings--well, they don't have anything to say to that.
Here is a fairly evenhanded primer for people who don't know the whys and wherefores. And even it comes down rather unfairly pro-Palestine when it comes to the body count, noting that many, many more Palestinians have died over the years than have Israelis. That's certainly true, as far as it goes. But only because Israel has much, much better weaponry, both offensive and defensive. If Israel chose to, it could turn Gaza and the West Bank both into glass in about three minutes. However, Israel is far, far, FAR from blameless and lilly-white.
PEELING AN ONION
Propaganda is so thick on the ground for both sides that you have to dig for the truth as if were buried under rubble from a rocket or a bomb. Consider the Gaza greenhouses. If you listen to Charles Krauthammer, Israel handed the Gaza Strip over to Palestinian control, even giving them three thousand greenhouses as a gesture of goodwill, and the Palestinians promptly destroyed them. That's despicable, isn't it? Not least because those greenhouses could be helping to feed an impoverished populace.
Except that's not quite what happened. Yes, Israel did cede control of that territory and those greenhouses...and more than half of them were destroyed by departing settlers. Indeed some were looted by Palestinians, afterwards. Looting tends to happen in poor populations where authority is lacking; this looting was not a collective action. In fact, the Palestinian Authority sent soldiers to protect the remaining greenhouses...just not enough soldiers.
When you're talking about Palestine, you have to acknowledge Hamas. It's a terrorist organization, plain and simple: there's probably nothing more clear in this quagmire we call the Middle East. Here's their charter; parts of it read chillingly like Final Solution redux. Their entire purpose for existing is the elimination of the state of Israel and the murder of all Jews. And this organization was democratically elected to represent Palestinians in 2006, which means Palestinians are simply the next generation of Obersturmführers, right?
Not so fast.
The current round of violence was supposedly precipitated by the Palestinian kidnapping of three Israelis. This happened in an area under Israeli control. It therefore should have been a routine police matter, of the sort that sadly happens all the time in the West. Instead, Israel launched dozens of airstrikes and then a full-scale ground invasion. Does that seem proportional to you? Especially since those three kidnappings were preceded by this?
And this is what happens if you express any support for Palestine in Israel. A free society? You tell me.
(Doesn't this sound like a couple of five-year-olds squabbling over who started what? Isn't it disgusting that this is what statecraft is, today?)
(Isn't it disgusting that Palestine's version of Mickey Mouse, aimed at five-year-olds, taught them terror and hatred of Jews until the world took note, at which point they simply had him eliminated by Israeli agents?)
While it can certainly be argued that Israel is showing restraint--with the firepower it has, it could incinerate the Gaza strip in short order if it really wanted to--the fact is that Israel is playing into Hamas's hands. Each airstrike tilts world opinion just a little bit more against Israel, which is, of course, why Hamas has no qualms about leaving women and children in the line of fire: it makes for really good PR. Israel should know better. It's true that no country would put up with thousands of rockets being launched willy-nilly into its territory...how are so many rockets, or so much materiel, getting through to a supposedly blockaded population? Why would Zeev Maoz, the former head of a prestigious graduate school in Tel Aviv, write this on page 35 of his book Defending The Holy Land:
Most of the wars in which Israel was involved were the result of deliberate Israeli aggressive design . None of these wars – with the possible exception of the 1948 War of independence – was what Israel refers to as Milhemet Ein Berah (war of necessity).They were all wars of choice . ”
Here are some quotes from Palestinians living under Israeli control. Here's a Jewish voice for peace. Here is a Q&A from an IDF soldier, the very existence of which is highly illegal, and the views expressed in it are probably considered treasonous. Here's one from the other side: same deal.
Whatever their politics, whatever their religion, whatever their nationality or ethnicity, we are all human beings. It's a pity this is so often forgotten. There are atrocities on both sides and this seems never-ending...often it seems almost as if both sides like it that way.
The primer above suggests three possible outcomes for this conflict. One is the total elimination of one side--given the huge imbalance of firepower, barring the catastrophic intervention of a third actor, that would be the Palestinians. The second is a one state solution that would never work because of demographics: Palestinians would very shortly outnumber Jews. The third, most difficult but also most preferable, is a two-state solution that I believe quite frankly is just as doomed: endless quibbling over borders, especially since one party in Palestine doesn't believe in an entity called Israel at all, would kill that before it got off the ground.
Behold Ken's way out, because Ken's solution to the Gordian knot is to just hack the damned thing apart.
No-state solution: put the entire area under world control. No Israel, no Palestine, not until both sides learn to play nice. Jerusalem is the center of three major religions. Give all three equal access. And then commit to fighting terrorism with OVERWHELMING FORCE, far beyond anything the region has yet seen...wherever it comes from.
Too naïve? Too idealistic? Probably. Also probably impossible until we actually have a world government with some teeth. and that won't happen because for some reason, one-world government is seen as a threat by a large number of people.
But this conflict will continue until something like this intervenes. I weep. I weep for the world.