Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The world has been watching the ongoing assault on Gaza by Israeli forces in retribution over the capture of a single Israeli soldier. Israel recently intensified its actions by striking the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. Israel has been firing rockets into Gaza, knocking out roads and power supplies in an offensive that could displace up to 25,000 Palestinians. With a Palestinian humanitarian crisis looming, the question must be asked, “Why?”.

I’m not going to pour into the eternal debate about whether Israel or Palestine is right or wrong. In my opinion, both groups have performed atrocities upon each other, so in this situation both sides are wrong. I love both Arabs and Jews, but I support neither groups “cause” against each other. And I don’t care who did what to whom first. My question of why boils down to this: with Israel holding all the guns, why in the heck would the Palestinian government do something stupid by capturing an Israeli soldier?

Now before you hop post a long-winded comment explaining the history of injustices against Palestinians, allow me to finish. I am very aware of the unfairness of the situation. I know that Israel has thousands of Palestinians locked away. I can’t comment on their innocence or guilt or by what means they have been judged, but I know that some have done nothing more than throw rocks at Israeli soldiers. Such incarceration seems quite unfair and a bit hypocritical in light of the current situation, but despite the apparent moral conundrum we have here, but it really doesn’t matter. We aren’t dealing with theory or ethics, but rather with reality. We have to look at the realistic expectations of what can be done.

What good can come of assaulting a stronger, better prepared Israeli army? What is the use of throwing rocks when you know they will be throwing bullets in return? Molotov cocktails against hand grenades? Crudely fashioned car bombs against tanks and missiles? A famous Chicago mobster, Al Capone, once said, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”

So what do Palestinians hope to accomplish? Attempts at making statements through action ends up looking like madness in light of the consequences. Is it really worth tossing a rock at a soldier when it lands you in jail or gets you shot? How about blowing up a restaurant, only to have attack helicopters destroy a city housing block in retaliation? What has been proven then? That Israel is a big, bad, unjust meany? That seems like a high price to pay just to make a statement.

In the end, there are only two foreseeable courses of action. The first is for the people on both sides to declare a ceasefire (and not one of those “for looks only” ceasefires that last 5 days until some idiot takes matters into his own hand and does something stupid), ignore past offenses for the time being, and try to work out the situation through international mediation. In this scenario, the Palestinian people will continue to be the ignored step-child, living in impoverished conditions with a modicum of rights and abilities, but the violence and bloodshed would stop.

The other action is to keep on with the current acts of retribution. One side snubs, the other threatens, which leads to posturing until someone does something stupid, setting the powder keg on fire. Considering the firepower of Israel in this situation, the Palestinians are always going to come out on the losing end of this stick. Are the consequences worth it?