Tina K. Russell

March 5, 2008

Gazan Effect

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:19 am

For Israel and Gaza, a Perilous Time – New York Times

To the Editor:

Criticism that Israel’s response in Gaza is disproportionate effectively denies Israel’s sovereign duty to provide security for its citizens. What would a “proportionate” response be — randomly firing rockets into Gaza classrooms?

Israel’s military and economic pressure on Gaza is a result of, not the cause of, the almost daily rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. The United States would not stand for such attacks, and we should not expect Israel to stand for them either.

Steve Sheffey

Highland Park, Ill., March 3, 2008

(My response is after the jump.)

I’m really frustrated by remarks like this because, on the one hand, the man is right; it’s hard to see any “proportionate” response for Israel rather than lobbing rockets randomly over the wall, like Gazan terrorists have been doing (newly endorsed by Hamas, which made me say, awww, man).

On the other hand… the reason people like me condemn the sanctions on Gaza is that they make the situation worse. Terrorism is bred in very young, very desperate populations. Gaza has an extremely young population–aren’t, like, 70% under 30?–and the more desperate they are, the more they will feel that turning to terror is their only option… especially if their image of the country next door consist of the tanks and missiles they send in to kill Palestinians indiscriminately.

I really don’t want to make it sound like the two country’s actions are morally equivalent… far from it. Hamas has been sending rockets over the wall to kill Israelis; that’s deplorable. Israel has been using military incursions and authorizing absurd amounts of collateral damage (wasn’t the last one nearly one-for-one in terms of civilians to actual targets killed?); that’s deplorable. Talking about which is worse is like wondering which is worse, malaria or AIDS. One is indiscriminate killing, and the other is discriminate killing in large numbers with many innocents caught in the crossfire. They’re both horrific.

And so there’s no question that Israel’s sanctions on Gaza are retaliation for real and palpable misdeeds. The issue is (or, at least, should be) a completely dispassionate one: they don’t work. Failed states are terrorist havens by definition, and Gaza is on the brink of becoming a completely aid-dependent nation, if it hasn’t already. That’s the kind of place that provides a safe area for terrorists to operate, and a steady flow of recruits to use to kill innocent Israelis in ghastly suicide attacks. In other words, a safe Gaza is directly in the interest of Israelis, and the Israeli government, by punishing all of Gaza for the actions of its inept leaders, is directly acting against the interest of Israelis.

It’s a tricky issue, and I don’t want either side to pretend it’s clear-cut. However, the bottom line for me is that yes, the Hamas leaders have been belligerent, bellicose despots endangering the safety of all Palestinians as they kill innocent Israelis for no apparent reason, understandably drawing the ire of one of the world’s most formidable militaries. The question is, what can we do to ensure the safety of Israelis and Palestinians alike? My opinion is that the answer is to make Hamas irrelevant, not to make them more powerful.

…And yeah, I understand why Israel is upset. I’d be, too, if my friends and family lived under constant fear from rockets across the border. But, we must not act out of anger or pride in such delicate times, as both make you stupid. We have to act for the safety of the Israeli and Palestinian people. That should be our number one priority.

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