Tuesday, December 30, 2008

israel and gaza--part ii

As the casualties (mostly Palestinian) mount in Gaza there are the first signs of divided opinion among Israeli observers. Writing in various Israeli and Italian newspapers authors Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua have taken similar positions expressing support for the original undertaking but hoping that it would be limited in scope and not preclude negotiations. (Grossman lost his son in the Second Lebanon War; all three writers are are, for some reason, highly popular with Italian audiences.) Historian Benny Morris, writing in the NY Times, took a somewhat different tack, explaining Israel's growing sense of insecurity--nourished, he suggested, both by objective realities and a feeling that the original moral basis for the state had frayed with time--and comparing the current situation to that preceding the Six Day War in 1967. Perhaps reflecting the difference in professions, Morris's piece was less a moral argument than a prediction, and not a notably optimistic one at that.

My own view is that Israel had little choice but to act, but that Gaza--like Lebanon and unlike the 1967 war--is essentially a political issue and is unlikely to be resolved by force one way or another. I still believe that we are going to see some kind of international force in the Strip, and perhaps the West Bank as well, before the thing is over. Until then people--many of them civilians--will continue to die.

Addendum: I watched accounts of the fighting tonight on Mabat, the main Israeli news program, and then at the English Al Jazeera sight Mabat detailed the missiles that have fallen on southern Israeli cities and had a few aerial shots of the bombing in Gaza together with news on the efforts for a humanitarian cease-fire, which did not seem particularly promising. Al Jazeera showed pictures of dead or dying Palestinian children including someone who was reportedly hit by a missile while riding on a donkey cart. If I hadn't known otherwise I wouldn't have imagined it was the same war.


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