What a pointless conflict.
In a powerful comment on the most recent assault on Gaza, Roger Cohen highlights the shortsightedness of both sides – but also the amazing things that happen when people actually start listening to more than the slogans.
ANOTHER Gaza flare-up is over — for now. At least 150 Palestinians are dead. Five Israelis are dead.
To what end? Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, drones on about past “invaders” who “were faced with defeat,” presumably a reference to the Crusaders. Get a life, Khaled, Israel is here to stay. He says, “Whoever attacks Palestine will be killed and buried.” Well, Palestinians have been losing since 1948 with that sort of talk. I would say at this point the trend is definitive.
Israel, in the person of its US ambassador, Michael Oren, defends the Gaza bombing as effective deterrence. “The tactic is deterrence. Our strategy is survival,” he writes of a nuclear-armed state, by far the most powerful in the region, and its supposed need to administer “periodic reminders” to enemies.
Well, ambassador, a powerful Israeli reminder was delivered to Gaza in 2008. Operation Cast Lead left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. Since then Israel’s interest in the “dream” of a two-state peace has been expressed mainly in the expansion of West Bank settlements...
The chief mediator in stopping the latest round of killing was Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of Hamas. Until the Arab Spring, the United States shunned the Brotherhood, deemed a band of Islamist extremists. Now Hillary Clinton thanks Morsi for “assuming the responsibility and leadership” that makes Egypt “a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
It is amazing what happens when you start talking to people. The beginning of the end of conflict is discovering the humanity that lies behind slogans and barriers.
Next week offers a crucial chance to move past one of these barriers, when the Palestinian Authority asks the UN general assembly to vote on its bid for statehood. Without this vital building block for peace, it's hard to believe that the latest senseless conflict in Gaza will be the last. But with it – well, as Roger Cohen stresses – it's amazing what can happen when people start actually talking to each other.