What do I think about the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip? The situation is horrifying, but I’m finding it very hard to lay blame for the killings. I wouldn’t march in support of either side in the present conflict.
I’ve been mostly anti-Israel for quite a few years. Once I supported them, mainly as a result of studies during the 1960s at Massey University, where one of our lecturers, Eric Warr, managed to slip Israel into each of Geography I, II and III. Eric focused on the way the Israelis transformed the land and made it productive. He skipped over the political background, how the Israelis got their land, who they displaced and what happened to the people who were displaced.
To our discredit we didn’t ask the questions we should have, but we were largely ignorant of Middle East history. And it was easy to give Israeli settlers the benefit of the doubt, knowing what Jews had suffered during World War II.
In the years that followed, my support for plucky little Israel eroded as I learned more of the history of Palestine and observed the behaviour of the Israelis. I learned about Jewish terrorist groups such as Irgun and the Stern Gang. I saw how, later on, they defended their so-called homeland and grabbed more territory in places like the West Bank and then refused to give it up. I cringed at the skilful international Jewish propaganda campaign that labelled Israel critics as anti-semites and implicit supporters of the Holocaust.
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is shameful and must be corrected, but I don’t think lobbing rockets back into Israel can help the situation. The Hamas leadership is either plain stupid or cruelly cynical – aiming to goad Israel into killing large numbers of Arab civilians in the hope of scoring a propaganda point. My feeling is that there are psychopathic thickos within the Hamas leadership and their strategies are not winning enough hearts and minds to materially help their own cause. They’re as much to blame for mutilated babies as the Israelis.
What’s really needed is for the USA to go beyond its occasional tut-tutting and force Israel to make really significant changes. A complete withdrawal from the West Bank would be a good start and the Americans could follow that up by giving substantial development aid to the Palestinians.
It’s time for an American president to face down his country’s Jewish lobby and turn the screws on the Israelis. Given the extent of its military and other aid to Israel, America could force the issue if it had the will to do so.
But that’s long-term stuff and no solution to the current calamity. I don’t know what the short-term answer is – except that it’s not more Hamas rockets.