Finding the Moral High Ground in the Israel-Gaza War
Two-States, the plan to establish a Palestinian State on lands Israel occupied during the 1967 War, seems like an impossible task given the increasing animosity between Israelis and Jews, and Palestinians and Arabs.
Yet, I have mixed feelings and believe that despite the ugliness of this conflict, and what I clearly believe have been war crimes by Israel's soldiers, there is no other solution to this conflict than creating two states, one Israel and one Palestine.
Israel has been created and Israel's government is standing in the way of peace. All they want, Israeli says, is to be accepted in the Middle East. Well, what looks bad today will dissipate with time. Being a political reporter for four decades, I know that sands of politics shift more easily than desert sands.
On the one hand, I believe that what Israel has done in the Gaza strip is a war crime. If you kill babies and children — and more than 300 babies and children have been killed by Israel — then you are a war criminal.
The Israelis, masters of public relations spin, have responded to the rising fatalities among children by asserting that Hamas militants have been using civilians as "human shields." Like most extremists, Hamas has no regard for the goal of winning a war and they fire rockets blindly into the sky hoping that somehow, they might miraculously strike at Israelis.
The Hamas rockets are not controllable once fired, unlike the Israeli rockets, which are far more powerful, destructive and controllable to the micrometer. They can pinpoint their firepower to kill anyone and destroy anything because, after all, they are using highly sophisticated weaponry provided by the United States and paid for by American taxpayers.
No wonder the American taxpayers are so willing to believe Israel's claims. They don't have to worry about staining their ethics or conscience.
Dead babies. It's so horrific. But if they can brush that horror aside with some "reasoned explanation" — the foundation of effective public relations spins that the Arab world simply cannot comprehend — then they can go on with their lives and put the blame on someone else. And who better to blame for the killing of Palestinian civilians, than the victims themselves.
Yet even if the accusation is true, and I don't believe it for a minute, the fact is the Israeli soldiers see civilians in their sights, including babies, children and women, and they still make the conscious decision to fire their far more powerful weapons at those civilians.
Every human rights group has condemned Israel's actions. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the prestigious Israel human rights group B'Tselem. But Israelis claim these groups are biased.
Human rights groups that have a solid record of standing up for civil rights suddenly are anti-Semites because they dare to criticize Israel.
As you can see, Palestine-Israel relations are a terrible mess. And it is hard to believe there can be peace.
I distinguish between people and politics. I don't blame Israelis for the killings, but I do blame Israelis for failing to speak out against the killings. I blame Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made it his career goal to oppose the return of any Palestinian lands in exchange for peace.
The Israeli public is guilty of rallying around Netanyahu like wild-eyed children dancing around the bonfire in "The Lord of the Flies."
Anger and hatred have taken over the minds of otherwise good people and blinded them to justice.
But I am certainly no fan of Hamas, the Islamic terrorist organization that has done everything possible to block the two-state solution. During the peace process between the late leaders Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, Hamas would send brainwashed children strapped with explosives and shrapnel that included nuts, bolts and marbles to kill Israeli civilians.
Hamas didn't target Israeli soldiers, although most of Israeli society is technically a member of the Israeli military through an active reserve system. They targeted civilians. That's a war crime, too.
The Middle East is sometimes described as a haven of war criminals, tyrants, dictators and mass murderers. Well, Israel has finally made it. They're a real part of the Middle East.
Peace is possible, but it is up to the Israelis to make it happen. They have the power. They can stop the growing hatred in the Arab world by stopping it in themselves first.
It won't happen today. But it will. One day.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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