Let’s start by declaring the distinction between an explanation and an excuse.
A fair-minded person can explain what is happening in the Israel/Palestine confrontation, though there may be differences of opinion in weighing the factors.
Nobody can excuse what is happening.
Morten Morland makes a strong point.
The Palestinians’ desire for a homeland has been thwarted for decades, and the world has paid lip service to the concept of a two-state solution but utterly failed to bring it about.
However, Hamas has destroyed both sympathy and support, their disproportionate actions doing more damage to their own cause than any harm they have done to Israel.
Their anger can be explained, but there is no excuse for the brutal, undisciplined terrorism they have unleashed. Nor, at least up to this point, has anyone in Hamas claimed that things got out of control or that anyone acted against their intentions.
Which would insult the world’s intelligence, but might at least offset some of the blame.
Sri Lankan cartoonist Awantha Artigala (Cartoon Movement) says that the West has not publicly condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and it’s a fair point to ask why events like the settler assault on the Arab West Bank village of Huwara received little coverage after initial reports, or why the killing of popular TV reporter Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli Security Forces was at first denied and has since been seemingly undealt with.
But while targeted attacks on government facilities might provoke some discussion of fairness, a claim of self-defense evaporates when the revenge takes the form of random rape and murder.
As Matt Wuerker (Politico) puts it, these indiscriminate, brutal actions confirm the stereotypes that have been used to repress Palestinian goals. Hamas may have won elections within Gaza, but that’s not necessarily indicative of its support among all Palestinians, and, even there, its victories were not landslides.
But its horrific actions now are reinforcing, rather than counteracting, the accusations that have been used against it and against all Palestinians.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Nath focuses specifically on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict while Sorensen describes the path of occupation on a wider scope.
Your preference may vary depending on how much you want to discuss this particular manifestation and how much you want to look at the problem from an overall perspective.
I can justify either, because while we ought to be working to solve this specific problem at this specific moment, that leads to a game of Whack-A-Mole unless the world works to resolve how these things happen not just in Israel and Palestine, but throughout the world, over and over again.
Dave Granlund brings out an approach that Margaret Thatcher employed to keep Ulster boiling in the 1980s: If they are quiet, it means we needn’t make any changes, while, if they rise up, we must refuse to negotiate with terrorists.
Otherwise known as “Heads we win, tails you lose.”
It’s a game that Gandhi became famous for breaking, until he was murdered by someone who didn’t like the way he played, nor should we lose sight of the sad fact that getting Britain out of the subcontinent did not bring peace and friendship between Muslim and Hindu factions there.
Rob Rogers (Counterpoint) makes a point of how inevitable the failure of a colonialist policy is, and this is a case of an explanation, not an excuse, because he doesn’t justify the Hamas attacks but, rather, points out that there is little excuse to be surprised, given the cycle Nath and Sorensen describe and the futility of the policy Granlund criticizes.
Jimmy Margulies (KFS) blames Israeli security for not anticipating the attack, but it’s hardly the first time Mossad has failed to be impossibly omniscient.
The world needs to be prepared to deal with asymmetric warfare in a decentralized society. It’s all well and good to track down the murderers of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics or to lead a successful assault on the hijackers at Entebbe, but the goal should be to prevent those events so you don’t have to resolve them.
That goal may well be unreachable, but that doesn’t mean to stop trying, while, as noted in Rogers’ cartoon, it does mean you shouldn’t be surprised when bad things happen.
Expecting perfection seems a recipe for disappointment and disaster.
Nor, as Dr. Macleod points out, can you break the cycle by employing non-targeted attacks that cannot help but impact civilians. Aside from the death and destruction such tactics bring about — and Gaza is poor enough without knocking down more of its buildings and cutting off its supply lines — this approach reinforces an “us-against-them” attitude on both sides.
During the Troubles in Ulster in the ’80s, the great majority of people wanted peace, but what they wanted at the moment — particularly in the Catholic ghettoes — was an end to their young men being dragged away in the night and imprisoned without trials.
I cannot help but believe that a similar attitude towards “our lads” prevails in both Gaza and on the West Bank, which takes immediate precedence over a long term desire for peace, justice and a free state.
It does not help, as Mike Luckovich points out, that America’s Republican Party is too focused on its own internal squabbling to be able to assist in the conflicts in Ukraine or Israel.
The result, Clay Jones notes, being a two-faced attitude in which GOP hardliners claim to be sympathetic to Israel but align themselves with Russia, despite the clear fact that both Hamas and Putin are supported by Iran, whom Republicans claim to hate.
Juxtaposition of the Day #2
The urge for partisan victory in this country has spawned disinformation campaigns about the situation, particularly, and often, the lie that we gave Iran $6 billion of American funds, rather than unlocking money they were owed by South Korea, and that this money could possibly have been disbursed in time to have any bearing on planning for the Hamas attacks. In fact, none of it has yet been released for any purposes at all, let alone misused for terrorism.
Something else that can be explained, but not excused.