November 19, 2012 by happyhenry
That was the slogan chanted at the weekend by Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against the onslaught on Gaza. Their argument was simple, that the continued attacks will help neither Palestinians or Israelis.
No citizens should have to live under the threat of rocket attacks. But the feeling of Israelis, and their supporters worldwide, that something must be done does not mean that we should support what is being done.
What good does another war do?
In 2006 Israel invaded Lebanon, confident (as President Shimon Peres predicted in the Jewish Chronicle at the time) that it would eliminate Hezbollah. Around 1,300 Lebanese and 165 Israelis died and the conflict left Hezbollah stronger not weaker.
At the beginning of 2009 came “Operation Cast Lead” and the invasion of Gaza. Around 1,200 Palestinians and 14 Israelis died and both sides were accused of war crimes. Hamas emerged in stronger control of the strip.
In each case the attacks started with massive support among Israelis. But neither wars helped Israel. Instead the widespread publicity for the inevitable civilian casualties led to great anger and animosity towards Israel and to a new generation of embittered Palestinians.
If Israel invades Gaza again now, it is certain that as well as dead Palestinian militants, there will be dead Palestinian civilians (including children), dead Israeli soldiers and possibly dead Israeli civilians too. But it is extremely unlikely that it will help Israeli in any way. It will only build support for the most militant Palestinian factions, who argue for continued rocket attacks.
The root cause is occupation
Back in 1967 Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) argued that the newly occupied territories should be given up. He was right. The occupation corrupted Israel and inevitably led not to greater security but to permanent conflict.
As Tony Klug put it so eloquently:
“If, at times, it turned violent and involved deadly atrocities, it was not because the perpetrators were Palestinian, or Arab or predominantly Muslim, but because they were an occupied people. If there is one cast-iron law of history, it is probably that all occupations and other forms of colonial rule are, eventually, resisted.
“If there has been a persistent pattern of serious human rights violations in the occupied territories, it is not because the perpetrators are Israeli, nor even because they are Zionist and certainly not because they are Jews. It is because they are occupiers, and the violations will end when the occupation ends”
Of course Israeli withdrew from the Gaza strip in 2005. But the blockade continues. According to the Russell Tribunal, 95% of Gaza’s industry is closed, 35% of its land cannot be used due to being “no-go” areas and fishing boats can go no more than 3 miles from the coast. The Palestinian enclave is crippled.
A long term solution
Israel has used military might again and again, in the belief that it was right to do so. But it has not brought peace any closer. The protestors today were right. The Israeli children of Sderot, and the Palestinian children of Gaza, need peace.
The long term security of the Israeli people will not come from repeated wars and the infliction of death and destruction on the Palestinians. It can only come from an agreed peace, and an end to occupation and the blockade. Those with Israel’s interest at heart should be arguing at this moment for such a peace, rather than supporting the warmongers.