An article by David Grossman in Haaretz asks the big question: Is Israel too imprisoned in the familiar ceremony of war?
I’ve got another one: When is Israel going to act like the country she has become?
Someone I know and respect has written a heart felt plea to Israel. Lorelei Kelly is pleading, but will Israeli leaders hear?
A behavior is strategic if it influences others by affecting their expectations. This principle of conflict resolution is one that is particularly relevant to the threats in today’s world. Neatly defined and bounded states like the ones on political maps don’t matter so much anymore. It’s people that count. The safety of people across borders is as important as the safety of people within borders. This means that if you want ultimate victory, persuasion deserves as much firepower as coercion. American counterinsurgency doctrine enshrines civilian protection for Iraq and Afghanistan–but this responsibility to protect people has huge implications for our general situation in today’s world: Killing lots of people on the other side is not only ineffective, it is counterproductive. It hurts your cause. It gets more of your own people killed in the long run. Like Israel–whose overwhelmingly violent response to Hamas rocket attacks seems to lack the most basic strategic or political meaning–and where language such as “self-defense”,– words from the disconnected and bygone era of nation states–seems quaint and almost entirely inaccurate. […]
Instead, according to reports, Israel has rejected the ceasefire from the U.N.’s Ki-Moon. Israel is intent on continuing the fighting: “The Israeli army must not stop the operation before breaking the will of the Palestinians, of Hamas, to continue to fire at Israel,” quoting Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit.
Israeli leaders are addicted to a cycle that has never produced an outcome of peace and never will. Lorelei Kelly is correct when she says Israel is better than this. The truth is we also have to expect better than this from nations. We cannot continue the Bush legacy of military “shock and awe,” pretending that there aren’t larger consequences to “breaking the will of Palestinians, of Hamas,” the latter seemingly thrown in as an afterthought. However, this isn’t the only opinion, with cracks already appearing.
Israel must cease fire. Hamas must be reined in. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has sent the message to Israel throughout the last eight years that Israel’s policy is U.S. policy. This must end. We’ll have to pray that Obama, through Biden and Clinton, can make the break, finally differentiating between Israeli policy and U.S. policy. The U.S. must lead once again, not simply acquiesce to Israel’s every military turn.
Meanwhile, Israel plays into Hamas’ hands, even as Egypt’s war with Hamas breaks into the open.
… Khaled Meshal, the Damascus-based head of Hamas’ political bureau, has been calling for a cease-fire for two days now. However, communications with the organization’s leadership in Gaza are hampered because all its leaders have gone underground for fear of Israeli assassination attempts, while Israel’s air strikes have disrupted the Strip’s communications networks. Paradoxically, the same measures that have hampered Hamas’ military response are also impeding efforts to end the fighting. […] On July 12, 2006, hours after the Second Lebanon War began, Barak called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and warned: “It’s very important to define how and when you’ll end [the war], because the more time goes by, the greater the potential for complications.” That is no less true today. …
Israel, cease fire.
But don’t expect George W. Bush to ask this of our friend. He hasn’t been a leader of peace in eight years. He’s not going to start now.
UPDATE: Just in case you don’t quite understand the people arrayed against Hamas, it’s not just the Israelis. Moderate Arabs just might see the changing of the American guard to an Obama administration as a chance to break the cycle. Israel needs to see the opportunity and grab it. It may not be a way out, but a way through to leaving the past behind.