This is the second, and hopefully last, installment of my answers to claims and questions in regards to the Gaza conflict.
For the first installment, please click here
1. “Israel warns people to clear out before the house gets bombed, but where can they go?”
Quick answer – out of the fucking house.
I’m not just trying to be insensitive here. Yes I do realize that Gaza is very small and crowded, and that for many people living halfway around the world, it sounds a bit ironic to tell folks to go from one spot to another within a crowded region, but this irony breaks down as soon as you give it a moment’s thought. Is it ironic for people to flee a burning building in Manhattan, for example? After all, where can they go? Manhattan is a crowded island, is it not? And since I already mentioned Manhattan, wouldn’t it have be nice if the 9-11 hijackers had warned the people in the World Trade Center to evacuate before they slammed their captured jetliners into them? Just ask the people who did manage to run out of the Twin Towers in time if there was anything ironic about being able to escape death, only to run into an enclosed crowded area. This ridiculous question seems to make light of the difference between life and death, and of the fact that no other military on the planet cares enough to warn a target before it is hit.
As for the houses themselves, why do you think they’re being targeted in the first place? These are either structures from which rockets are being launched, structures that are used for storing rockets, structures that are used for command and control over rocket launching or infiltrations into Israel, entry points into tunnels that go into Israel, or all of the above. The people inside these structures are either part of the Hamas military wing, or people who are unfortunate enough to be living in a house that the Hamas is using – and that are oftentimes forced by the Hamas to remain there, despite – or because of – the danger.
2. “The only way this will end is if Israel ceases fire, and sits down to negotiate with the Palestinians.”
Here’s another beautiful illustration of comfortably confused ‘halfway-round-the-world’ thinking. For starters, this conflict isn’t between Israel and “THE” Palestinians, it’s between Israel and a fundamentalist Islamic organization called Hamas, which has taken control over the Gaza strip. I realize it’s easy for many people to get confused, but the majority of Palestinians actually live in Israel proper, and in the West Bank – the only place where there are settlements and contested lands, and where there is currently no fighting. And lest you think there’s not much of a difference between members of Hamas, who are in control of Gaza, and members of the Fatah led Palestinian Authority (PA), who are in control of the West Bank, look up “Fatah-Hamas Conflict” to see how in 2007 hundreds were killed when fighting erupted between the two sides over who would control the Gaza strip. Feel free to watch some of the grizzly videos, showing Hamas militants throwing Fatah members off high-rise rooftops and mowing down rows of tied up Fatah members with AK47s, as they violently took control over the Gaza strip.
As for negotiating with Hamas, there is nothing to even talk about. The Hamas has vowed to never negotiate and never stop trying to obliterate the state of Israel – the entire state. It’s very much like the idea of the US negotiating with Al Qaeda, but it gets even crazier than that because Israel is often told that it has to negotiate with this fundamentalist Islamic organization (that doesn’t want to negotiate) WHILE it’s being shot at. Just imagine for a moment how it would feel to be told you have to negotiate with Al Qaeda WHILE it’s flying commercial jetliners into buildings.
So even though military operations alone cannot ultimately solve all our problems, try not to swing the pendulum all the way to the opposite extreme, and embarrass yourself with ludicrous suggestions about negotiating yourself out of a firefight with Islamic extremists who vow to never negotiate.
3. “The Hamas is somewhat to blame here too, but this whole thing is ultimately Israel’s fault.”
This is yet another ‘halfway-round-the-world’ favorite. The easiest way to dismiss this one is to consider who started this. Yes, I know, you’re probably thinking that this is an infantile way of thinking that most people learn to grow out of during elementary school, but this too breaks down as soon as you give it a moment’s thought. It does actually make a difference who started something like Pearl Harbor or 9-11 – it makes a big fucking difference! When the Hamas starts firing hundreds of rockets into the most populated areas in Israel, including its capital city and its largest metropolitan areas, you better believe Israel’s going to respond.
Some say that Israel started it back in 1967, when it conquered the West Bank and the Gaza strip, but keep in mind, once again, that this conflict doesn’t involve the West Bank (which holds the majority of the Palestinian land and population), it involves the Hamas controlled Gaza strip. This claim also blatantly ignores what the Hamas leadership says – that the problem didn’t start in 1967 but in 1948. The Hamas considers the mere existence of Israel – all of Israel, anywhere in the Middle East – to be a non negotiable affront to everything they hold sacred. And they have vowed to never stop until not one Jew is alive between the river (Jordan) and the sea (Mediterranean). So if you sincerely want to side with Hamas on this one, you’re going to have to stop condescendingly coming up with theoretical statements, and start listening to what the Hamas itself is saying – indeed, screaming – about the need to eradicate Israel;
4. “This is just part of an Israeli plot to take over the region and eliminate the Palestinians.”
Believe it or not, I have not only heard this ludicrous claim, I had it said to me.
One of the things that make this claim so ridiculous is that it’s often made by the very same people who complain about Israel being the strongest power in the region – indeed a nuclear power. For some reason, no discrepancy between Israel’s actions (trying as much as possible to pinpoint attacks on rocket launchers/tunnels/ammunition, warning people before bombings, setting up field hospitals for Palestinians, etc) and Israel’s actual capabilities (carpet bombing, or even nuking, the whole area) can convince some people that Israel is something other than a genocidal state. There are only two ways to maintain an idea that so blatantly conflicts with reason and evidence: staying as far away as one can from all forms of evidence, and/or deluding yourself with conspiracy theories that, ironically, only strengthen the more conflicting evidence is presented.
And finally, yet again, I need to point out that the majority of Palestinian land and population is NOT in the Gaza strip. The one thing that is, however, is a fundamentalist Islamic organization that keep launching rockets at Israel. There’s really no mystery to any of this, and no secret conspiracies either – the Hamas makes it very clear that it will not stop until Israel is eradicated, and Israel makes it clear that it will not tolerate having hundreds of rockets shot at its cities.
5. “OK, we can sort through all that later but for now, we have to start with a ceasefire, which HAS to start immediately.
You’re acting like this is the first time all of this is happening, rather than the third – and worst. We did have ceasefires before – twice – one after the conflict in 2009 and one after the conflict in 2012. And the only thing we got for them is an even worse conflict this time round. Yes, I do realize that a ceasefire must come at some point, and that there should be a time for some kind of dialogue or negotiation, but then I remind myself that the Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic organization that’s bent on the full annihilation of Israel, and which has vowed to never negotiate, never stop fighting and only use ceasefires for rearmament. Not only do they keep saying this – indeed screaming it out – they have been very consistent at DEMONSTRATING it as well. This is NOT, as I have mentioned, our first time here. Ceasefire sounds like the logical and humane thing to do, right until you consider how many more rockets they have now compared to what they had the last time we enacted a ceasefire, and the time before that; how much bigger these rockets are, and how much farther these rockets reach into Israel (currently covering 80% of its population). Every time we have a ceasefire, things only get worse the next time around. You don’t need to be a genius to see a pattern here.
I really hope that all of this doesn’t paint me out to be a hardline reactionary cheerleader for all things Israeli. For the record, I never liked Benjamin Netanyahu much, I STRONGLY disagree with any and all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank (which, I believe, should be pulled out), I’m not entirely in love with various Israeli policies, and I obviously think that the Palestinians deserve to have their own sovereign nation. And though this situation is very complex, and I don’t have all the answers (newsflash – nobody does), I do feel the need to say a few things when reason and evidence are trampled upon, and utter nonsense is spewed at Israel.