Fuelling Antisemitism over Gaza Will Not Make Israel Any Safer
PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 28 Jul 2014
Sorry about repeating it, but the Israeli government is being played like a piano by Hamas. Who needs suicide bombers when you can get the Israeli Army to do your dirty work? This relentless bombing of Gaza, killing civilians, children, handicapped people, can only make grow the horror that the international community feels. No sympathy for Israel, since the disproportion in the number of deaths is so great.
The number of deaths is of course related to each side’s agenda. Israel must protect its citizens with an iron dome and shelters as the government was elected on a scaremongering bill. Not so many people in Israel agree with Netanyahu, but they vote for him anyway because of fear of being attacked by the Palestinians, which with his policies become a self fulfilling prophecy. This is the litany often repeated by Israelis: ‘I am left wing in peace and right wing in war’. The rockets flying into Israel are the best election campaign Netanyahu could wish for.
For Hamas, the number of deaths is a mounting argument for the international community to intervene in order to force the creation of the Palestinian State, which would be a great development, but also kicking the Jews into the sea if it had its say, which gives Israel the argument that the Palestinian State cannot exist as an independent entity because it would engage immediately in trying to destroy Israel. The question, they say, is that Gaza is not ‘occupied’ like the West Bank, and therefore it represents what people would do if they were left alone.
As strange bedfellows goes this is a classic. Two equally violent governments holding their people hostage by the threat of the ‘enemy’. Orwell could not have depicted it any better.
The government of the State of Israel does not represent the Jewish people. But its actions are sawing the seeds of a worldwide antisemitism not seen since Hitler. From justifying Hamas’s intense rocket firing as ‘self-defence’ to denouncing bizarre conspiracy theories about the Jews taking over the world, it’s all there, and Netanyahou must be really happy that the argument for the creation of Israel in the first place is, again, becoming another self-fulfilling prophecy: that no Jew will ever be safe unless there is a homeland to take refuge in if another of the many historical examples of persecution were to arise. Which may end up being the undoing of his strategy, as the best ally for the Palestinians would be, and are, the millions of Jews who want peace and the completion of the two states solution, and who are capable of putting pressure on Israel to accomplish it. ‘Not in my name!’ they express loud and clear. Even when attacked by the ultra right wingers, those who live a breath fear.
Equally misplaced is the strategy of Hamas to try to appear as the representatives of all Palestinians, forcing back into violence a huge number of people who have been taking the nonviolent road for many years, learning about it, practicing it, letting it enter their hearts with the possibility of reconciliation. It is certainly true that public opinion turns against Israel with every new atrocity committed by ‘Its right to defend itself’, but Hamas’ refusal to agree to a ceasefire until the other side agrees to its demands is likely to end up causing the biggest damage Gaza has experienced in its whole history.
These two ‘enemies’, who are in practice each other’s best friend, do not exist in isolation and there are so many vested interests undermining the possibility of peace that they are almost too long to list. But at this point there is only one way out: ceasefire, arms embargo to both sides, negotiation of the two states. The occupation must end, both sides should commit to the path of nonvioelnce and allow the UN to mediate.
These practical steps are the beginning but the path of reconciliation should start at the same time, with the recognition that there are not ‘us and them’, and that only when we can feel deeply the humanity of ‘the other’ the future opens for everyone.
Silvia Swinden – Author of From Monkey Sapiens to Homo Intentional: The Phenomenology of the Nonviolent Revolution – Adonis & Abbey, London 2006.
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