20 May 2021

Who wants to "teach lessons"? Who wants to learn?

The Israeli government will not stop its operation against the militant Hamas group anytime soon unless two specific goals are reached, Israeli Ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations Gilad Erdan warned Thursday. "First of all, [we want] to teach the Hamas a lesson that they cannot continue to try, to indiscriminately try to murder our people," Erdan said on Newsmax TV's "Wake Up America."

"Teaching lessons" is a popular cliche. A spokesman from Hamas, the party in power in the Gaza Strip, used it after a previous clash with Israel:

"We taught Israel a serious lesson. This is a message to Israel," said Abu Zuhri. "The attitude of the resistance groups will be determined according to the behavior of Israel."

Many want to teach lessons; few want to learn. What lessons might be on offer from these nearly two weeks of hell in Gaza, and tragic disorders all over Israel and Palestine?

Yes, the destruction in Gaza probably was costly for Hamas, who fired around 4000 short-range unguided missiles toward Israeli towns during this conflict. With its bombs and artillery, Israel claims to have set Hamas infrastructure back by years. Did Israel succeed in teaching Hamas a lesson?

Think about it. Launching those missiles and provoking Israel's response brought destruction to Gaza City ... and long-overdue attention to the Palestinian cause.

Memorial Meeting for Misha Roshchin:
this Saturday, 19.00 Moscow time.
(For Skype link, contact me directly.)

Israelis (quite rightly) grieved the loss of life caused by those missiles, and were understandably angered by the psychological terror and physical inconvenience of Hamas attacks. The Israeli response to those missiles was loud and dramatic and terribly destructive, but its duration was relatively short. In contrast, the deprivation and desperation of those trapped in the Gaza Strip is constant. This deprivation and desperation is usually invisible to the world -- except during clashes with Israel. Lesson: The risks involved with attacking Israel might be outweighed by the benefit of letting the world see the harsh realities of living in an Israeli-controlled prison camp (and not to be too cynical, also gaining for Hamas the political benefit of looking like heroes in the fight against Israel ... and Fatah).

The biggest lesson of all might relate to the term that Israel and all its allies use to justify Israeli "lessons": 

Israel has the right to defend its people.

Yes, it does. Few dispute that Israel has the same right as any country to ensure the safety of its people, and by the established custom of this violent and unredeemed world, it has the right to use violence if necessary.

  • Question 1 of this lesson: Is violence necessary? Are there other means to ensure the safety of its people, making the deaths of innocent children avoidable? Are there ways to address the actual grievances and desperation of those Palestinian people in whose name the Hamas forces launch their rockets? As I asked last week, are there law enforcement methods that are far more appropriate than full-scale military combat for confronting urban terrorism when it does arise? By such humane and proportional means, might Hamas even become reduced, isolated, irrelevant? How many resources should go into solving these baseline problems in Gaza, in comparison to the fabulous amounts that Israeli and USA taxpayers spend on "teaching lessons" with high-tech brutality?
  • Question 2: Who are "Israel's people" -- that is, the people whose safety Israel is bound to ensure? Those who rest their case on Israel's right to self-defense may hope that we don't ask this question, but the answer is simple: "Israel's people" include all those who are under Israel's control, who are trapped by Israeli walls and forces, unable to come and go freely. A trivial example: in the present crisis, some Israelis chose to spend time with relatives living outside Hamas missiles' range. How many civilians of Gaza could make an equivalent decision? What Israeli citizen has to worry about access to jobs, food, electricity, water, land, good standards of health care, not to mention international travel and education, in the way residents of Gaza and the rest of Palestine must worry? Yet, Israel has ultimate control over most of these resources, with little or no possibility of appeal by Palestinians and their Israeli allies.

Israel asks the community of democratic nations: what country would tolerate missile attacks on its people? The rest of the world's democracies should be replying: good point! And, given the way you treat millions of people who are under your military control, and whose welfare therefore depends on you, are you honestly surprised that the relatively few among them who rig up those pathetic missiles might be seen as heroes? Aside from suffering meekly and invisibly and indefinitely, what other options have you left them?

Lesson: "I will never lose my optimism. There are people on both sides who want peace. The real battle is not between Israel and Palestine, but between those who want to coexist and those who dream of expelling or killing the other side." -- Palestinian educator Khalil Bashir, in Yousef Bashir's The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine.

Jayson Casper, Christianity Today: Ten Christian views on the conflict in Gaza and Israel.

World reaction to Israeli-Hamas ceasefire.

Materials from the blocked (why??) Andrei Sakharov exhibition.

Luna Reyes "showing the world what humanity looks like."

After reading Kate Bowler's previous book, I've preordered her new one, No Cure for Being Human.

The Poor People's Campaign and U.S. congresswomen Jayapal and Lee announce a Third Reconstruction resolution to confront poverty.

"More love, more love, ... O Zion, more love." Thanks to riseupandsing.org for the link to this video. Lyrics here. (Blues will be back next week.)

No comments: