I think that Israel is on the right track. Not because I'm pro Israel or anything but this conflict will never EVER be resolved peacefully until the will to fight on either side is completely annihilated. And at this point I don't particularly care which side that will be. Not that I expect that this attack will resolve anything but using force is the only option left for Israel.
This isn't so much a case of making the right choice because the only choice was between doing something or nothing.
I love these proclamations from folks outside the circle of violence declaring that the only solution to a long-standing conflict is destroying one side completely and using as much force as necessary to achieve that end, while quickly following that declaration with "we don't care who gets to destroy who" as if to absolve themselves from any veneer of human empathy.
I love these proclamations from folks outside the circle of violence declaring that human empathy or 'la-la-la hug and make up' will resolve anything. The sides are too fargone in hatred, particularly Hamas, to resolve anything in a non-violent way.
This is a lose-lose situation for Israel. Do nothing and have rockets shot up your ass. Act and risk international condemnation as your enemies shield themselves with civilians while they wait for a 'cease-fire' to retrench, re-arm, and attack you again.
Not to get in the way of your evocative putdown (I see what you did there, using my own words and stuff! Nice one!) but there are more nuanced responses than "rush at a Hamas rocket launcher and hug him until he yields" and "bomb them back to the stone age".
I don't expect one dimensional "KILL THEM ALL" rhetoric from otherwise intelligent and civilized individuals.
You are actually the one not being empathic by advocating this conflict to continue for an infinite timespan with ever increasing civilian casualties.
Furthermore I'm not advocating "Kill them all" as a good solution. I'm saying that at this point for the involved parties it is the only solution. Does this suck? Yes. But suprisingly, in the real world, stories don't always have a happy ending.
Since the Palestinian will to resist/fight hasn't been extinguished through all these years, I fail to see how this latest attack will make any difference. While they may be stunningly incompetent in many ways, the Palestinians have a society that seems to be enormously durable, capable of going on in a semi-functioning manner throughout anything the Israelis or anyone else has thrown at it. Furthermore, other societies have survived far worse with their will to fight intact, and Israel won't be allowed (and are in the end likely too civilized) to do anything nearly bad enough to fundamentally break the Palestinian will to keep fighting. Hell, even if they were to be broken now, it doesn't mean Hamas won't be back a few years down the road, absent any acceptable final settlement.
If they can't make peace with Hamas (and they probably can't) the only possibility is replacing Hamas with someone else and making peace with them. The only realistic option for this is still Fatah, and the only way to give them some political initiative back is to give tangible, realistic evidence that Fatah's solution of western-backed peace negotiations might actually work, which hasn't happened for years. At the very least, the Israeli might stop settlement activity in the West Bank and not make the situation there any worse. Continuing increases in movement restrictions, settlements and land grabs there is currently only demonstrating that Fatah's current peaceful approach is at the very least completely ineffective when it comes to achieving a viable Palestinian state.
I don't know if the Israeli leadership's counterproductive behaviour towards Palestinian moderates is a result of inability to control their own extremists, or if they're fine with the status quo as long as they get to keep control of the West Bank and don't have to allow the establishment of a viable Palestinian state; however, to me, at least, the latter cause is looking increasingly likely.
It seems to me the first problem was deciding to place Israel in land which was already occupied. Maybe you weren't looking to go that far back on "what Israel should have done differently" but that is really the source of the problem.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which the British government looked favorably on the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" doesn't seem all different than attempts to move white settlers into parts of Africa which were already occupied by African tribes. Situations in which white settlers were placed in previously occupied territories have ended badly -- see for example the situation in Rhodesia and South Africa (SA was originally colonized by the Dutch, but point is the same). According to the mores of the time the white man was superior, so the presence of a non-white group wasn't viewed as a problem. However, having one group's presence imposed on another group is in retrospective an obvious source of future conflict.
The second problem occurred when the Israeli government after the 1967 war decided to support the idea of Greater Israel. Before Israel began aggressively expanding settlements, there was relatively little violence:
Once Israel made it clear that it was planning to permanently take the remaining land of Palestine, I think any hopes for a permanent peace were gone. Now even if Israel were to back off and completely remove all West Bank settlements, there would still be a (perhaps small) contingent of Palestinians determined to strike back for past grievances.
Each step of the way, Israeli aggression has nurtured Arab hatred. Now the divide is very deep and I see no real solution other than a permanent low-level conflict. The level of conflict can be controlled, but there is probably no way for Israel to remove all chances that small ineffective rockets will be shot into their territory.
Look at the Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians -- after years and years of peace under Tito going at it again at the drop of the hat. Some of them are still angry for what happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago. What hope do we have of eliminating conflict where people have had family members killed by the other side so recently.
The best solution is to separate the two groups. Removal of settlements, particularly where small groups of settlers are heavily intertwined within Palestinian territory (e.g., Hebron) is probably a good start. But again I see no situation in which a small level of conflicts such as rockets being shot into Israel will not occur. As long as small groups of aggrieved Palestinians exist, they will take action. Nothing short of the complete removal of Israel is likely to remove all sources of aggrievement. If those small groups can strike at Israel, they will strike, and I see no way to completely stop all actions.
Now what can be done is to have governments on both sides do their best to reign in their people and try to have them live in peace. The longer things go without major incidents the more both sides will forgive and forget. Hopefully eventually both sides will simmer down. This would require Israel to accept continuing harassment for quite soem time, which is probably politically unacceptable, so I see no real solution.
You are right. It won't. I already said as much in my first post. Hell, even if the Palestinian will to fight was to dissapear, there are plenty of people in the surrounding arabic nations that are willing to carry that particular torch.
Also, I can't say I'm convinced that the founding of a Palestinian State will stop the violence as this is still a far cry from the "destruction of the state of Israel" called for by the most radical elements. And Israel has its fair share of radicals as well.
At best it's going to be a "peace" maintained by force until the terrorist attacks start again. Because they will start again in that case. So I basically am in agreement with ydejin's post here with the exception that a real solution does exist. It's just a very bad one.
I'd be less pessimistic than that. I believe that if a Palestinian State was established and its government was given latitude to actually govern without being interfered with and neutered by Israel then you'd find that as time goes by and peace brings its benefits, more and more people would gravitate away from the radical and hardline and back to more moderate stances. There'll always be radicals but they'll be on the fringe and will have less backing from the rest of the population.
I also think it's horribly simplistic to label one or other side as 'evil' or to single one side out as the sole reason that things have dragged on as long as they have. Each side shares its part of the blame and it's difficult not to have some sympathy with both predicaments. Having said that, I honestly believe that a lasting peace - or a less violent status quo - is possible but it requires a willingness on both sides to enter into dialogue and to compromise and I think it's an intellectual cop-out to state carte blanche that Hamas will never negotiate and will never sue for peace; all organisations, however radical and uncompromising they appear, have moderates in their ranks.
I don't think the two situations are entirely analogous but even 15 years ago few people would never have believed that the situation in Northern Ireland would have cooled as significantly as it has over the past decade, to the extent that although I wouldn't rule it out entirely, I find it hard to believe that things could ever return to the way they were.
I think the problem is that in order for any Palestinian government to have real power they'll need to have more control over things like their borders than Israel is willing to give them. Lum in the other thread mentioned that Gaza is like "Escape from New York". I think that analogy is actually pretty apt. The fact that a boat carrying supplies with an (admittedly radical) former US congresswoman on it couldn't get in, really speaks for itself. Who wouldn't be angry living in this penned in strip of land with some outside force controlling all access in and out.
Unless Palestine is allowed to act like a real state with it's own borders and police and armed forces, there's going to be resentment. At the same time, if Israel let's Palestine bring in whatever it wants, you can bet some extremist group is going to bring in advanced weaponry. It's like a chicken and egg problem. Until extremists groups calm down, Israel isn't willing to let Palestine be a real state -- until Palestine is a real state extremists groups will find it easy to recruit.
According to Pat Lang former Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism, former Professor of the Arabic Language at West Point, and former Green Beret, it is against the Koran for Hamas to ever accept Israel's permanent presence. Apparently it is against the Koran for any Islamic body to willingly give land that once was Muslim to another entity (no idea how that plays out with Spain). He seems to think the best that we can hope for is a semi-permanent truce called a Hudna. Apparently a Hudna can last for years and years, but if I understand Colonel Lang correctly, Hamas could never accept Israel's permanent presence.
FWIW Colonel Lang is generally not particularly pro-Israel -- he thinks the current action and the action in Lebanon was a big mistake. So this analysis isn't an excuse for war mongering, it's just his analysis of what Islamic fundamentalists are willing to accept.
I did specifically say that any Palestinian government would need to be allowed to govern without interference, which would mean free transit of goods/services and whatnot in and out of our hypothetical Palestinian state.
As for your second point re: Hamas accepting Israeli presence on (former) Muslim lands. I accept that radicals and fundamentalists will hold to the letter of the Koran - just as they will to the Torah and the Bible - but I suspect that all other things being equal, there's a compromise to be had there as well.