30 December 2008

My Take On The Current Israeli-Hamas Fighting

Posted this as a reply to a topic related to the current fighting between Israel and Hamas on the IPeace group on the Ning social network this morning.

The opinions below are entirely my own, and are my responsibility, especially in whatever errors of fact and judgment found therein.

Be seeing you.

Personally, haven't followed this story much, but, from have followed of it, am disgusted with the levels of cynicism on both Hamas' and the Olmert government's parts.

It seems to me that neither side has ever shown much more than a token rhetorical commitment to having a cease-fire, let alone peace, between the two, and that both were looking for an excuse, any excuse, to re-start hostilities at the earliest possible date.

Add on to that, the rhetoric and actions of various interested outside parties like the US, Iran and Syria, none of which have any real interest, so it would seem, in finding any real solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, for ideological and strategic reasons of their own.

There are also other non-state groups and individuals, like Hizbollah in Lebanon, Al-Qaida, AIPAC and various Christian fundamentalists in the US, who have added their rhetorical weights behind either Hamas or the Olmert goverment in Israel, and who would also love seeing this conflict widen and deepen to achieve their respective ideals and goals.

All of these parties are playing a cynical game, with their own publics and the world public at large, and Israeli and Palestinian civilians are paying the price for their leaders', and those of the various states and groups that have mentioned here, willingness to bomb, bomb, bomb each other to bits, and send up howls of righteous indignation, while secretly saying to themselves and their closest followers, "Another one dead. Good."

This is far from the first time that such a game has been played, especially in the Middle East, and, unfortunately, it won't be the last.

These parties and their allies are all too happy to play in each other's blood, so long as the blood in which they play doesn't belong to anyone to whom they are close, and will continue to do it for as long as they see some sort of benefit and reward.

Had I the power and resources to carry this out, I would isolate these parties completely. No diplomatic relations, no money, no trade, and not even humanitarian assistance would go to them. Communications of all sorts between them and the outside world would be entirely cut off, and they would be left to fester and rot in their own filth and misery.

For those Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians and Iranians who wished to leave, I would, in conjunction with other members of the international community, ensure that provisions were made by the international community to resettle those people in various countries.

This isolation would continue until the various parties involved agreed to an immediate and binding cease-fire, immediately followed by a massive demobilisation of their regular and paramilitary armed forces, and the beginning of a UN-supervised disarmament of these parties' armed forces, including their various police forces, and the simultaneous immediate commencement between these parties and their backers, as well as their immediate neighbours, like Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, of talks aimed at a long-term settlement of the various problems between them.

No member of the various delegations would be permitted to stall or walk out of these negotiations, and those who tried would be immediately arrested and detained until they returned to the talks and ceased engaging in obstructive behaviour.

As for their leaders and supporters back home, the various sanctions placed upon them would continue for as long as they continued to indulge themselves in rhetoric and actions designed to further worsen the crisis, and to obstruct any efforts at making a lasting peace agreement.

If they kept on indulging themselves, the more and tougher the sanctions would become, and the more suffering they would have to endure.

As for their supporters abroad, the international community would have to take swift and decisive action. They wouldn't be allowed to send money nor goods to the various parties, either directly or through third countries, and, as for going to enlist in the various parties' armed forces, they would, as much as possibly could, be stopped and arrested wherever they were, and detained until the crisis had passed.

As for those providing rhetorical support, depending on the level and type of rhetoric used, criminal and civil charges would be placed against those advocating violent actions in either Israel, Palestine, or in any other country. At the very least, those people would be looking at long periods of time spent in court and severe financial penalties, if not gaol or prison time.

I realise that what am proposing here is both extremely harsh and, because of the grand scale involved, ultimately impractical and destined to failure, precisely because so many people and resources would have to be mobilised to carry it off successfully.

However, at the very least, some form of sanctions against both Hamas and Israel may be needed to get them to stop fighting, if not to the negotiation table.

Ultimately, the international community's goal should be, in my opinion, to make a long-lasting peace between the Israelis, Palestinians and their neighbours based on what will benefit the vast majority of people in their respective societies, and that will ensure the most beneficial use and sharing of resources between them.

This isn't, and won't be, an easy or short process to undergo. But, I believe it is a necessary one if the international community at all levels wants to see an end to the fighting between Israel and its Arab enemies.

But, so long as the Israeli government and Hamas are allowed to continue attacking each other's peoples, and little or nothing is done, outside of rhetorical protests, the cycle of cynical game-playing and bloodshed between them will continue.

Finally, to the various partisans of the Israeli and Palestinian sides outside of Israel and Palestine, I say this;if you must continue your rhetorical and other forms of support for your sides' various policies and actions, I would remind you that you are outsiders in this struggle, and, since you don't live in the region, this isn't your fight at all.

Whatever your motivations and ideas behind your rhetoric and actions are, they only worsen an already horrid situation and contribute nothing positive whatsoever to its ending.

If you feel you must go to either Israel or Palestine, enlist in their armed forces and fight, I will not encourage you to do so. But, at least, you'd be putting your beliefs into action, and taking a direct share and risk in doing so.

If not, then please, please, don't make the situation any worse than it already is, by indulging yourselves in inflammatory rhetoric and actions designed to further encourage the Israeli government's or Hamas' leaders in their barbaric policies, rhetoric and actions.

It's not your fight, and never was.

Instead, I would suggest that you, along with others, start putting sufficient pressure on your own governments to ensure that they either pressure the Israeli government and Hamas to immediately stop fighting, or, at the very least, firmly and totally stay out of the affair, and not supply anything, whether money, arms or other goods, that will help the parties involved to continue it.

If one cannot help better the situation, for God's Sake, please don't make it any worse.