A Guest Post by SM
I have been struck by the tone of the 'all for war' party on this blog. It has starkly exposed the paucity of ideas and imagination which defines them.
I agree with this action - up to a point. The first duty of a State is to protect its citizens and the citizens of Israel were not safe. That Israel could not realistically hope to destroy all the rockets, or all those who fire them, is not a reason to do nothing. That destruction of more than about half might involve a ground operation is also not a reason to do nothing.
But that is not enough. The strikes have achieved something, in reminding Hamas that Israel can, and will, hit hard. But once that reminder has been given, everyone knows that anything else requires a ground operation. That has two major disadvantages: firstly it might not succeed. In the web of tunnels, hovels and tenements that is Gaza, both terrorists and weaponry can easily hide. Secondly, a great many brave young men - our young men will die. And for what, if the operation does not succeed?
The position we are in at the moment is subject to the law of diminishing returns. It is the job of Israel's leadership to determine the point at which that law kicks in, and we lose more than we gain. Their past performance, their current political needs with an upcoming election, and their public pronouncements about 'wiping out Hamas' do not suggest they are up to the job.
The right point at which to stop fighting also depends on what we are going to do when the fighting stops. Are we going to keep the 1,500,000 inhabitants of Gaza caged up until the 15,000 who Hamas agree are terrorists promise to behave? Because that is collective punishment by any standards. Do we say that 1,485,000 are complicit? Because they voted perhaps? How that works is beyond rational explanation, even if we ignore the fact that it includes every child in Gaza and every adult who wants peace.
Israel simply has to talk to its enemies. Through third parties and on the basis that there will be no more something for nothing. But it must talk. The line that there is 'no one to talk to' is not an excuse. We have not looked. More than that, the right do not want to look. When in 1993 Israel did look - and nearly found - they denounced the process of looking as 'betrayal' and 'treachery'. But, 16 years of terror and hatred later, it is clear that this cannot go on indefinitely.
Proper peace has worked for Israel. Not the sort of 'peace' in Gaza where they cannot move without our permission. But the peace with Egypt and Jordan which has prevented war. The only thing different about the Palestinians is that some of the land they want is 'ours'. Do we, therefore, simply carry on as we are?
Is any right-winger capable of articulating a realistic plan which does not involve finding an enemy to talk to, and meeting their need for a land (not Jordan - I said realistic)? Please feel free. No insults. No jibes. We all know you can do that. Just answers which do not ultimately reduce to 'more of the same, but this time we'll win'.
Buy his book but possibly after giving tzeddaka to the Negev (please)
Buy his wife a gift (please)