Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, and all that stuff

So I’ve been putting off posting this, because I couldn’t figure out what to say about it. My first reaction was a sigh, “it goes on.” At some point, I almost stop being surprised. Almost.

I cannot grasp what anyone thinks they have to gain from this. All explanations of the Middle Eastern conflict stop making sense. There is no explanation that I can see anymore.

Shortages in Gaza continue, a ceasefire collapses, a soldier is kidnapped, dozens if not hundreds of Gazan civilians will die for that, a Hezbollah raid, IDF forces in Lebanon…where did it begin? Where will it end?

This didn’t begin with a soldier being kidnapped. This didn’t begin with a crisis in Gaza. This didn’t begin with Hamas being elected, or the intifada, or the collapse of the Camp David agreement, or with 1967. We can go back and back and back and talk about provokations and responses and never get anywhere.

What I will say is that this game of “capture a soldier, and we’ll starve 1.4 million civilians” is grossly mismatched. This game of “illegally occupy a land and a people for 40 years and expect them to be on good behaviour” is stupid. And goodness only knows what Hamas thinks it can stand to gain by blowing stuff up.

And the rest of the world…well, doesn’t really care. We carry on with our lives. We worry instead about oil prices, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll stop to think for a minute about why on earth the BBC is calling it an Israel crisis. I mean, the Isrealis aren’t the ones starving. No media bias there, of course.

There is the expected statement from Washington saying nothing much, just before the US pulled out their veto on regard for human rights a UN resolution condemning Israel’s Gaza incursion (Can’t link to the article because the Haaretz page is down).

Now Israel is “back” in Gaza. The scare quotes are because they were never really “out”. Unsurprising, given the support they get.

So call me a pessimist, but I don’t see an end. It just goes on.

More by Johann Hari, columnist for the Independent.
There’s a Parliamantary Early Day Motion (EDM 2568) that calls for a cessation of violence in the Middle East:

‘That this House expresses grave concern about the escalating crisis in the Middle East that has now spread to Lebanon; notes that Israel’s disproportionate military actions in Gaza and Lebanon, including an air and sea blockade of Lebanon, attacks on the airport in Beirut on 13th July and the killing of at least 35 Lebanese civilians within the first 24 hours, risk provoking further regional conflict by seriously jeopardising the fragile political landscape in Lebanon; condemns Hizballah’s rocket attacks on Israel and the abduction of Israeli soldiers; urges the British Government to call for an immediate cessation of violence from all parties and to condemn the killing of all civilians on all sides; and calls on all sides to respect the other’s sovereignty and international law and to release all prisoners held illegally without trial as a means to end the current crisis.’

Write to your MPs and urge them to support EDM 2568.
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British Jews on Gaza

Jews for Justice for Palestinians published a full-page advert in the Times on Thursday, in a statement titled “What is Israel doing?”, expresses opposition to the Israeli response to the capture of Gilad Shalit, and which calls for opposition to the blockade. The statement was signed by 300 Jews in Britain, and you can view the formateed statement with a full list of signatories at their webpage. Here is the text of the statement.

See also Gideon Levy’s Haaretz op-ed piece, and the BBC article.

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