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The War in Israel, Part V: Readers Weigh In, Again

Since Hamas launched its sneak attack on Israel, we've gotten dozens of variants of this question from M.Z. in Southwest Harbor, ME: "I am left to wonder what the end game is with all this. Can anyone tell me what a peaceful future for Israel looks like?"

This is not a question we are enthusiastic about answering, given how far it is from our areas of expertise (or even our areas of basic competence). However, we've gotten some letters on the subject that seem to lay out the more realistic options. So, that will be the theme of today's reader responses. First, P.D.N. in La Mesa, CA:

I want to say a couple of things about this war. First, I want Israel to destroy Hamas once and for all. The whole world wants this. Israel has to avenge all the people Hamas murdered and it is justified in doing so. I say this as someone more than sympathetic to the Palestinians and also as someone who has been critical of the Israeli government and its general treatment of the Palestinians.

The Israelis are doing all they can to minimize civilian casualties. Some innocent people are going to die, unfortunately. War is cruel and unfair. At their best, human societies attempt to temper that violence but it is still unavoidable. While it is possible an Israel air strike hit that hospital, I doubt it. No one in Israel would order that, and Israeli weaponry, which is of very high quality, is not likely to malfunction with such catastrophic effect. Anyone who didn't evacuate northern Gaza is either very frail or else wants to remain. I'm going to guess 99% are Hamas fighters and their families. I'm a soft-hearted person—I was a minister after all—but William T. Sherman understood the calculus of war: the crueler it is, the sooner it is over.

David Ignatius notes that, in the Middle East, wars tend to create peace. When this war is over, I foresee several consequences:
  1. Netanyahu will be gone, loathed, unloved, and vilified for being self-absorbed and not preventing a terrible disaster for the Israeli people.

  2. The settlements on the West Bank will be cut back, some land returned to the Palestinians, and with a new generation of leadership among the Palestinians, a homeland of their own will emerge as a neutral state without an army. The Palestinians are a resourceful people and with investment will prosper.

  3. Hamas will be defeated and destroyed utterly. The U.N. then takes over the Gaza Strip and with Arab investment creates another Palestinian homeland, this one also a neutral state without an army.

And R.P. in New York City, NY:

I have read the comments and responses to comments regarding the Israel/Hamas conflict with interest and concern. I do not think anyone should have been surprised that Hamas and the Palestinian people finally lashed out with violence after decades of effective apartheid in Israel and the continuous bulldozing of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, all to build more kibbutzim for Israeli settlers in violation of U.N. agreements. That doesn't mean I or anyone agrees with the level of violence exhibited by Hamas. Israel does bear some blame, but the excess violence perpetrated by Hamas was beyond what is acceptable. I also do not criticize the inevitable response to flatten Gaza, though if Israel wants to keep my support, they need to stay within the realms of civilized warfare.

When this is all over, I hope both sides agree that the apartheid apparatus should be removed and a better solution needs to be put in place. Two options really are all that are available. Live together in one state where all are accepted as citizens and given the same rights, including being integrated into the military. The other option is the two-state solution.

Finally, G.T.M. in Vancouver, BC, Canada:

Turning the matter on its head, it occurs to me that there IS a permanent solution to the "Israel/Palestine Sortawar" AND that it's a pretty simple one at that. What is it?

International recognition of "Palestine" as a sovereign and independent country. The borders could be fixed at what they were before the Israeli government allowed/encouraged colonization in the territory and those colonizing people would then become dual citizenship holders in both Palestine and Israel. If those people are unhappy to be no longer living in Israel, they could move back to Israel and be welcomed with open arms. If those people wanted to stay where they were, they could vote in Palestinian elections and have their say in choosing a government that would act in the way that they wanted it to act.

On the flip side of that coin, if there were attacks, such as the recent Hamas attack coming out of Palestine, then the Israeli government would be perfectly entitled, under international law, to hold the government of Palestine responsible—even to the extent of declaring war on Palestine, invading it, and either ousting its government in favor of one that it prefers or of incorporating the now conquered territory into Israel. [The brutal fact of international law is that a "people" is still "entitled" to have their own country, consisting of as much, or as little, territory as that "people" can take and hold against all comers.]

A quick first step in that direction would be for the U.S. government to formally recognize the country of Palestine and to urge the other members of the international associations where it is a member to do the same. [Aside: The U.S. government could make having internationally supervised and conducted elections to choose a legal government in accordance with the constitution of Palestine a precondition of formal recognition. The Palestinians would be hard pressed to come up with a giggle-proof reason for NOT having open, honest, free, and fair elections while still maintaining any semblance of being rational people.]

An added benefit of such a move is that it would put a whole lot of pressure on the other Middle Eastern nations to also grant formal recognition of Palestine, and that would mean that those nations would then be covered by their international treaty obligations concerning the "prevention of aggressive war" (whether initiated by or against Palestine).

Thanks, all.

We have at least one more item we want to write on this subject, possibly two, and we also got very good feedback in response to the readers' letters we ran yesterday. So, we'll probably run more of those. If any reader cares to comment, the mailbox is always open. We would be particularly appreciative of messages from readers who can speak to the Palestinian perspective. (Z)

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