Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Israel's New Year - New War

Israel has been pounding Gaza with an aerial bombardment, in response to rocket attacks by Hamas. Israeli ground forces appear poised to invade.

Israeli official Ehud Barak has promised "a war to the bitter end."

We have to ask, What does Israel expect to accomplish here?

Surely not peace.

Tit for tat - revenge - doesn't work. Every person who loses a neighbor or loved one or who him- or herself is injured will feel justified in avenging that harm. Anyone harmed by the avenger's act will likewise feel justified in exacting violent revenge.

Israel's use of military force with its certain "collateral damage" has been creating and promises to create such victims, guaranteeing that the cycle of revenge will continue. The same goes for Hamas's rocket fire.

Israel's goal of a "war to the bitter end" is idiotic. Wars cannot be won, anymore. There will always be someone with a rocket or gun or grenade, or home-made bomb, or with the means to punch a hole in a railroad car carrying poison, or who can ram his car into a crosswalk crowded with pedestrians, who can keep on killing. That person might not even be from one of the combatant nations. It is reported that Iranians are signing up to become suicide bombers against Israel.

Look at Israel's 2006 war. What did it solve? Look at the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, which slog on.

When will Israel's and Hamas's killing of innocent people end?

When both sides end their violence.

It's as simple as that. Anyone who says it's more complex is, ultimately (and perhaps unconsciously), promoting violence.

Barring international intervention or a mutual, simultaneous cease fire, it will be up to one side to end its own use of violence.

That will be the most courageous, the most intelligent, the most moral, the most civilized side. The side with the truest strength.

That side then can say, "We are no longer using violence. We call on our opposites to stop, too: any further violence by them will not be defensive, but aggressive."

And any such aggressors should be punished by use of criminal process in civilized courts following the rule of law.

When the killing stops, the work of securing human rights and the ability of everyone in that region to live freely and to flourish must begin. For real, this time.

Which side will adopt this new consciousness and start the march toward peace?

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