There was a time when I used to admire the resourcefulness of Israelis, underdogs fighting for their survival against their many enemies. Those were the days when it was truly a fight for their existence.
But those days are long gone. Israel is now the biggest military power in the Middle East and has cowed or made peace with many of its former enemies.
Any argument that says Israel is fighting for its survival is bogus and disingenuous. They have as much to worry about their survival as Russia has to worry about being wiped out by the West, yet another bogus and disingenuous argument.
Are there people who would like to see Israel destroyed? Of course, but this isn’t the official or even unofficial position of many of its neighbours, who have mostly decided to live and let live.
But invoking this is a convenient Israeli argument and stokes the sense of perpetual persecution the Jews feel, one that prevents them from seeing that they could ever be wrong.
In Thomas Friedman’s perceptive book “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, published in 1989, he wrote about an Israel military leader who said, “When we’re weak, why should we speak with anybody? Now that we’re strong, why should we speak with anybody?”
Therein lies the rub. Israel is now the superpower of the Middle East, the only one with nuclear capabilities. It’s never been as strong as it is now. And yet it keeps invoking that survival justification, as well as invoking, often directly, the Holocaust to justify its own actions and also to vilify its enemies.
Israel’s actions since the many wars it fought and won decades ago have only been targeted towards one goal – expanding the state of Israel over the occupied territories and other Palestinians enclaves.
Doing this means systematically pushing the Palestinians out of their territories and denying them their rights and history over lands where they have lived for hundreds or even thousands of years.
It is not for nothing that former US President Jimmy Carter called what the Israelis are doing as apartheid. Carter was the man who brokered the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and effectively took out of the equation one of Israel’s biggest existential threats then.
Many other international human rights groups, and even ones within Israel, have gone with the “apartheid” label, which seems to become more accurate as time goes by.
This has predictably raised howls of protests from Israelis and their supporters, even if the outrage seems predicated on the fact that the long-suffering Chosen People could never ever be guilty of such a crime. Well, they could, and they are.
The United States seems incapable of looking at the conflict through any other lens apart from those of its own Jewish and Christian fundamentalist lobbies. Is it a surprise the rest of the non-western world are becoming less enamoured of the US and its policies?
Exploitation by Hamas
Let’s be clear. What Hamas is doing is not right or even justifiable. Using its own civilians as pawns while targeting Israeli civilians is a vile exploitation by Hamas and their Arab and Iranian backers of the hopelessness of the Palestinians.
For Hamas, their true objective is to ensure a permanent state of killing and dying so that this conflict can continue forever, or at least until it achieves its objectives, which of course include the extinction of Israel as a nation.
And this is becoming easier as the Palestinians, increasingly being treated as subhumans by the Israelis and their supporters – which, given recent Jewish history, is in itself a supreme irony – are being forced into an increasingly degrading and precarious existence.
Though what Hamas is doing is contemptible, would those who think so also condemn the Israelis for their systematic destruction of Palestinians lives over the decades, which includes regular atrocities by itself or its allies (remember Sabra and Shatila? Look it up).
Will they remember that, in the early days, they themselves were once declared as terrorists and employed the same tactics against their enemies?
Rules and UN resolutions
For those who believe in justice and a rules-based world, would you condemn the disregard of the many UN resolutions by Israel and its backers? Haven’t other countries which flouted similar resolutions in the past, from North Korea to Iraq, had war declared upon them?
Or is such a scenario only meant for those who inconveniently made enemies of the powerful hypocritical proponents of this ‘rules-based’ world?
The sad part is the time window to do something about it has probably passed. The time when the Israelis realised their existence was no longer in jeopardy was the time when they should have pushed for a lasting peace, as that is something only somebody in a position of strength can do.
But in their arrogance, the entire nation, supposedly the only true democracy in the region, chose the selfish option which has now condemned itself to a future of more deaths and destruction. The Palestinians aren’t going anywhere, and as their lot become more desperate, so will their tactics and actions.
We’re not supposed to see mighty Israel caught with their guard down, but this is perhaps the beginning of more to come. They’ll have absolutely no peace as long as they think their might will protect them against increasingly desperate enemies.
When you put your enemies into a position where they have nothing to lose, they will indeed not care about whatever losses they would suffer. And as Israel greedily gobbles up even more land, they’ll be the ones who’ll have the most to lose.
The peacemakers of the past are long gone, and have not been replaced. Even the Arab countries now cosying up to the Israelis do so for their own geopolitical reasons, chief of which is the fear of Shiite Iran. They don’t really care for the “inconvenient” Palestinians issue.
Regardless of how many Palestinians are killed by Israel, there’s now a sense of power among Palestinians of having shown that Israel isn’t invincible after all. They themselves will say “when we’re weak, why should we talk to our enemies? And when we’re strong…”
Wars are not won by who inflicts the most casualties, but by those who achieve their objectives. When your enemies are willing to lose a lot, and lose it for generations if need be, you can’t ever win against them.
From the land that gave us “an eye for an eye”, there’s absolutely nothing for us to look forward to.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.