I don’t read the news very often. Instead, I tend to read history textbooks and watch independent media videos that seem relevant. However, the conflicts between Israel and the surrounding Arab world have been hard to avoid. Every day at the moment, I inadvertently catch some news piece about Palestinian civilians being brutally and mercilessly murdered by the IDA. Children have been blown to pieces, quite literally, by misplaced rockets. Much like my own country in recent times, alongside mainland Europe, the commonwealth and America, terrible things have occurred. It’s easy to hate a country when civilians die on the opposite side. For example, I still greatly resent the politicians who made the decision on Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq was a brutal dictatorship, this is true. But it had nothing to do with terrorist attacks. We attacked them for oil; destabilized them and now people are being slaughtered and genitally mutilated by brutal, yet typical, Islamic militants.
Islamic countries are the least stable in the world. They are often massively uneducated, highly violent and tribalistic, socially oppressive and aggressive. This is a call, for me, to leave them alone – not interfere. Their societies will evolve much like our own; attempting to speed this up will only result in millions dying and a slower change. However, in the same breath I cannot blame people like G.W.B or Tony Blair for the evil coming out of Iraq right now. These organisations are made up of individuals making individual decisions; the burden is on them and them alone.
I would extend this thought to Palestine as well, but I know better. I know the history of the region, I know the current situation and I know where it is going. I know that Israeli citizens are much like mine, divided but civilized and peaceful; charitable and kind, with some fringe elements. Israel was created over 60 years ago. It is surrounded by Islamic countries which are unstable and violent remnants from caliphates. Just 60 years ago Israel fought their first defensive war. They managed to win with sheer initiative. They fought against Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, for their very existence. During this war, Israel captured Gaza and the West bank. The West bank was, at this time, being ruled by Jordan, the Gaza strip by Egypt. 30 years later, they fought a second defensive war. The yom Kippur war. They were attacked by Egypt during a holy holiday, taken completely by surprise. Without the USA’s operation Nickel grass, Israel would have been wiped out. As it is, they airlifted millions of tonnes of military equipment in a month. Israel fought back and won.
Up to this point in History, Israel and the Jewish people held on in the most tentative way. 6 million murdered in German concentration camps in the Second World War. Just a few years later, the Arabs were spoiling to recreate this scenario. Again, 30 years later and as recently as 2006 – Lebanon, ruled by the supported terrorist organisation Hezbollah, fought with Israel. Without warning, they fired rockets into Israel, attacked patrolling tanks, murdered and capture soldiers. Like with the previous wars, As soon as it began it was over. Israel Brokered a peace deal with outside, Western intervention and it ended. We are like Israelis and our governments would be just as terrified and scared in this situation.
Now you may be wondering – what has this to do with the current situation? Israel has killed civilians and still builds on the West bank. They have. So have we. World War 1 and 2; millions – tens of millions counting the conscripted, untrained civilians – were brutally murdered. Most of this was on purpose. Germany was the first to directly target civilians, such as those in munitions factories, but we also followed suit. Because these wars were fought in self defence, were the civilian casualties any less? No. But the context makes a big difference. Firstly, If you are criticising Israel you must criticize every civilization in history in the same breath, else you are a hypocrite. Wherever war is fought, civilians die.
I am concerned with the outcome and Israel’s actions toward this conflict. You may know, Most of Palestine’s aid comes from Israel. Food, medicine and water – all is given away regularly. Without this, thousands would starve to death – Children and adults alike. In return for this, Hamas the democratically elected government of Palestine indiscriminately fires rockets into Israel. Most of these are shot down, but occasionally they land on schools or houses. Hamas do not fire these because they know most will be shot down. They fire them in the hope that one or two will get through and kill someone – anyone. Each dead Jew is a victory, and this is the same for a lot of surrounding countries.
So, Israel does care about Palestinian civilians. But why are they murdering them? In fact, Israel is using a lot of the same military technology the US does. They use guidance rockets and precision airstrikes. This is not perfect technology, however. In the act of targeting specific Hamas members and militants, some are bound to kill civilians. This is because rockets either go astray, or civilians are in the vicinity. Israel has done two things to stop this happening. They have dropped leaflets, used text messaging, television word of mouth… Every possible media to tell civilians to get out of the Hamas dominated zones. The Hamas response? Face rockets with bare chests. Stay in the area and become martyrs for Islam, in the war against the Jews.
It is pretty hard to imagine this, given the recent propaganda, but Hamas treats its people far worse than Israel. Any money Hamas receive, usually from countries like Iran, they spend on the military. They deprive their people of rights, food and water. They systematically torture and murder/imprison their own people on the basis of no evidence they are co-conspirators with Israel.
In the end, I see an ambiguous territory – Palestine. The people have no idea what is good for them. They are imprisoned in religion and violent oppression. The last time these people were liberated was under the rule of Israel some 60 years ago, where they were made citizens and liberated. The best that could come without Israeli intervention is another 100 years of the same. Daily rocket attacks. There will be millions of imprisoned, tortured and oppressed Palestinians without a hope of liberation, least of all from the surrounding Arab countries. The occasional Israeli casualties will mount up while they continue to develop on the ambiguous territories of Gaza and the West bank due to an increasing population and perceived religious entitlement.
With Israeli occupation and the defeat of Hamas, I see a much better future. The population will have access to clean water and proper housing for the first time in a long time. They will be able to practice religious and social freedom without any deference or coercion. Women and men will be equal in all aspects. Eventually, without the violence from the elected Hamas, Israeli hardliners will fade. There will be majority support for diplomacy with less radical politicians. This will result in either a unified Palestine/Israel under one peoples, or individual states with sovereignty. I would rather have bloodshed in the short term and a peaceful future than bloodshed and turmoil for the foreseeable future. This, of course, is up for debate. Israel has repeatedly shown itself to be the more peaceful, civilized people I the past, whether this is with the withdrawal of the Gaza strip or the recent peace deals with Hamas; despite them being ignored or broken by Palestine almost immediately. So, this is my take. I could write pages and pages on this issue, but my conclusion would be similar. All I know it, the situation is far more complicated than the media and the UN gives it credit.
The only other possibility, of course, is Palestinians revolting against Hamas. This is a distinct possibility in the near future, given the Arab spring and the fact that around 35% of Palestine vehemently dislike Hamas. And the result will be even worse. Hamas will brutally murder hundreds of thousands while it clings to power. Once overthrown, it will be replaced by a facade; the thin veil of change thrown over a power hungry, Islamic successor. Four or five regimes later, and after multiple attacks on Israel by the ever Islamist regimes which don’t recognize the Jewish neighbors, there may be some peace. Devastated by civil war, with no infrastructure, Palestine will take decades to recoup – during which time any number of terrorist groups could break the tentatively held democracy and change, starting the cycle all over.