Israel vs Hamas: Is Peace Even An Option?

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I’ve had people pressure me over and over again over the last few days, wanting my opinion on the current crisis in Gaza. Trying to engage in any conversation with most people on the subject of Israel, occupied territories, the two state solution, and the Middle East often degenerates into a screaming match as I sit in the middle, shaking my head.

I’m going to address the situation, from my opinion, and you’re free to agree with me or not. Please keep in mind I am of Jewish descent and I have many family members who currently live within the range of the Hamas rockets. Some of these same family members are also former or current members of the IDF, so take that into consideration as well.

As much as some people on the left want Israel totally out of the region, it’s just not going to happen. Generation after generation have called that small strip of land slightly larger than New Jersey home. Thousands have fought and died in war after war to keep it from being overrun by Egypt, Syria, Jordan and other armies that have sought to wipe it off the map. To think that over 8 million people, including over a million and a half Arab citizens, will suddenly just up and leave is just naive and ludicrous. The logistics of uprooting and transplanting that many people would be extremely complicated, plus I can imagine most residents of Israel would think you were insane to even suggest it. To put that in context for an American citizen, it would be the population equivalent of removing every resident from the state (yes, I grew up there and I know it’s considered a commonwealth) of Virginia in order to give it back to the original inhabitants we took it from nearly 400 years ago.

Ok, so Israel isn’t going anywhere. I believe Israel has the right to exist, just as much as a Palestinian state does. In fact, I think if you took Hamas and the other Islamic militant groups out of the equation on one side, and the extreme nationalist Israeli groups and their US supporters out on the other, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians could probably live alongside each other in relative harmony. I’m sure the average Israeli and the average Palestinian give about zero shits what religion their neighbor practices, so long as it doesn’t interfere with their lives. It’s just that the extremists on both sides want the utter annihilation of the other, and they’re being egged on by outside forces who have a vested interest in making sure the conflict continues.

One of the major sources of contention for years has been the Temple Mount. Jews, Christians and Muslims consider it to be a very important site to their religions, and it has been the flashpoint for conflict between Jews and Muslims for years. Instead of sharing the space and creating a spot where all religions can worship and celebrate their shared heritage, they fight over it. Then toss in messiah prophecies and fundamentalist Christians believing that the Temple has to be rebuilt in order to bring Jesus back, and you have the equivalent of a bunch of angry cats, tossed into one cage, with guns.

I don’t believe Israeli forces are intentionally killing civilians but Hamas, like many other radical Islamic militant groups, has zero respect for civilians – including their own. Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, that is something I firmly believe in and support. Unfortunately, non-combatants on both sides will die because Hamas has no problem firing rockets at civilian centers or using their own citizens as human shields.

Hamas has little interest in peace, and like other militant groups such as Hezbollah, it will only be content with the absolute destruction of the Israeli nation:

Hamas is, according to its charter, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — an Islamist group that operates around the Muslim world, and one that nominally ran the Egyptian government for about a year recently. Hamas isn’t controlled by the Egypt-based brotherhood leadership, but they have close ties. Unlike many Brotherhood branches, though, Hamas also has a militant wing: the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Since Hamas’ 1987 founding, it has waged war on Israel, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks. It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state, and has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel (though it has proposed a long-term truce if Israel agrees to withdraw from the West Bank). Some Hamas leaders have suggested that they would be satisfied with a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, but it’s not at all clear whether they’d be able or willing to hammer out a deal with Israel in practice — assuming Israel was even willing to sit down with them, which is doubtful. (Source)

I would like to see Gaza, the West Bank and Israel all living side by side in harmony but as long as extremists are controlling the dialogue, and the weapons, there will never be peace.


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