The Middle East Tragedy – Analysis, an Opinion and a Projection
Let us first go over the theory on problem-solving and then see the application. Change causes problems. Solutions cause new problems. The new problem caused by the solution can be worse than the problem you tried to resolve.
In medicine, it is called side effects. They treat you for one disease, but the treatment causes a bigger problem elsewhere in your system. As one of my good friends, a surgeon said: “I learned in medical school how to cut. Then for ten years when to cut. And now for the remainder of my life when NOT TO cut.”
All of this is a prelude to the profound dilemma of the day: what can Israel do in Gaza, with Gaza, about Gaza?
The change: Hamas was elected. The problem caused by the change: Hamas is determined to destroy Israel. Its leaders say so and walk their talk. Thousands of missiles focused on civilian targets rain on Israel. Hundreds of tunnels are built to infiltrate Israel and cause mayhem.
Solution A: Attack them, destroy the tunnels and destroy their ammunition stocks and missiles inventory.
The side effect: In the process of attacking Gaza hundreds of children die. Thousands of civilians die. (I do not know if Hamas really used children as a human shield. They say they do not. In a war, the first victim is the truth, so I do not take into account whatever is said or whoever said it. Only the dry facts. In wars, innocent people die. In all wars. )
But it IS terrible that so many innocent people are killed. And it is painful to see those wounded children. There is an international uproar. There are worldwide demonstrations against Israel. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey says Israel will drown in the bloodshed it is spilling and “Turkey will support Palestine no matter what the cost.” His is not the only voice heard. There are many others. Israel is becoming increasingly isolated and shunned by a rising number of countries. Boycotted. Ostracized. Furthermore, the war is destroying Gaza.
And the more you destroy, the less the Palestinians have to lose. And when people have nothing to lose, and are not afraid to die because they will go to heaven as martyrs, you have just created a new generation of martyrs – and that is probably what Hamas wants.
So, it seems solution A has prohibitive side effects. What else to do?
Solution B: Israel should not play the Hamas game. Should not attack. Should react as little as possible to Palestinian provocations. Negotiate. Try diplomacy. Continuously seek ways to help the Palestinian economy. In that case the Palestinians will think twice about going to war. They will have much to lose which is not the case now. Build their country so their children have a future. Without a future, they are already dead. Walking dead. In the situation as it is today, the Palestinians prefer to die heroically and take as many Israelis with them as possible. Open the borders. Let them go fishing. Open the “open air prison.” Free the Hamas prisoners. That will stop the missiles attacks. That is what the Left worldwide and in Israel is preaching. That is what they are demonstrating.
This solution looks right because Hamas claims it is raining missiles into Israel to stop the Israeli blockade, and to open the borders. It is morally right too. Thus, this solution makes sense. Does it?
The side effects? Let us look at the facts. How did thousands and thousands of missiles make it into Gaza? They did not manufacture them themselves. These are sophisticated missiles. They found a way through the tunnels. Brought in by “innocent” boats. Now open the borders. Let them go “fishing.” What will happen now? Will they stop bringing in missiles? I let your imagination work its way…..
The international community gave Hamas millions of dollars to build their economy. Israel allowed them to bring into Gaza tons of cement to build themselves homes and factories. And where did this cement go? Where did the millions of dollars go? To build hundreds of sophisticated tunnels to infiltrate Israel.
Israel retreated from Gaza and gave them untouched fully operational green-houses worth millions of dollars to build their economy. What did Hamas do? They destroyed them all. Israel left them untouched homes so they could move from their refugee tents. What did Hamas do? They dynamited them all.
Why? They do not want peace. They are determined to destroy Israel. They say so in their published stated goal. And they walk their talk. I know it is difficult to imagine and to digest such fanaticism, but look at their behavior. You tell me: why would anyone adopt this stance, take these steps if they were not fanatics?
Furthermore, Netanyahu cannot do it. Israel as a nation, in my opinion, is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome caused by the Holocaust; so its people are over-reacting out of fear. Out of despair. Out of memories of the Holocaust. The unspoken belief is that if they do not defend themselves with all their might they will vanish and die… just the way their parents and grandparents vanished in the ovens of Auschwitz.
Only strong people can afford to be weak. And Israel after the Holocaust does not feel strong, in spite of all its military might. The Holocaust memories are reinforced repetitively with museum shows and memorial days. It makes Israelis feel vulnerable. Worried. Apprehensive. And thus, over-reactive.
Furthermore, the Right wing is strong and growing in Israel because people are tired of the missiles. Tired of having no peace. Tired of intifadas. Tired of living a stressful life. Tired of not knowing if their kids will come back from school with a smile on their face or in a coffin. Tired of not knowing whether their husband or wife should take the bus and run the chance of being blown to pieces and never reaching home. And they do not trust the Palestinian leadership that they genially want peace. There is no trust. There is on-going fear instead.
Alternative B has undesirable side effects and it is also not doable in the present political climate. So what else?
In alternative C, Netanyahu should follow the suggestions his right wing partners are making. They believe that if Israel destroys Gaza, it will make the Palestinians in Gaza vote Hamas out of power.
What are the side effects of this solution? History shows that the opposite is true. The more destruction, the stronger Hamas will be. Because people want revenge. And if Hamas falls, another “Hamas” (Isis?) might take its place. The more Israel pushes, the more Hamas (and the Palestinians) will push back. The more extreme Israel becomes, the more extreme the Palestinians will become. The same dynamics are taking place in Israel. Why should Gaza be different?
And the Palestinians in Gaza have their story to tell too. They are tired of having no future. No home. Losing their land. Having no real freedom. How much longer? They are desperate too. The Palestinians have their own post-traumatic syndrome. They have their trauma, losing everything they had and living in refugee camps for generations. They want a solution now too. And if it means missiles so be it. In the future, if it means a nuclear device, so be it. Solution C won’t work.
Solution D: Do nothing. Just use the Protective Dome to protect against the missiles and do nothing more. This is not easy to accept. People want a solution – now. “DO something.” “We cannot live like this…”
The government in power will lose power, and a more active party will come to power instead. This solution will not work over time. What else?
How about solution E? Since the UN is sooooo concerned with the well-being of Gaza it should walk its talk and put Gaza under a United Nations protectorate. Send UN forces there and DEMILITARIZE Gaza. Take down the Hamas government because no government should be in power that calls for the destruction of another government that is a member of the UN. Build the economy in Gaza. Police the terrorists. No more tunnels. No more missiles. And after one or two years when the Israeli fear subsides, open the borders. Let the people of Gaza go fishing. Maybe develop economic ties with Israel. Stop the unemployment. I bet the UN will not do that. Because for them this solution is worse than the problem they have now.
The side effects: Sending soldiers into Gaza to deal with Hamas means hundreds if not thousands of those UN soldiers will die. Hamas means business. They will kill as well as die for their vision of destroying Israel. You better believe those guys. They mean what they say. They won’t accept UN forces demilitarizing them.
And Israel will not agree to this solution either. UN forces have been ineffective. Remember Srebrenica? They stood idle as the massacre was taking place. How about Rwanda? Same. For Israel to rely on the UN to police Gaza and provide security to Israel is not a dream – it is a nightmare. The problem continues, but because of UN presence Israelis cannot do anything to protect themselves.
How about a two-state solution? Solution F.
Any side effects? Hamas is now a member of the coalition running the West Bank too. Will Abu Mazen be able to control Hamas or will they control him? Is there even a slight chance missiles will rain on Israel from both sides, the West Bank AND from Gaza?
OK. We need a comprehensive solution. Solution G: One country for both nations. From the sea to the Jordan River. Looks good, no? We need to live in peace together. Right?
Are there any side effects? There are six million Israelis, out of which two million are Palestinians. Plus two million who will join to create this “one country for all” means the Muslims will be fifty percent of this “one country.” To understand the complexity of this solution, one has to feel on one’s skin the side effects it might create. You will know how it feels only after you walk in the shoes you recommend for others to walk in.
Take the US for example. US has problems in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Solution: add Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran as new states of the United States of America. It now becomes a country with fifty percent Muslims – i.e. two hundred million Muslims in the USA. True, they all do not have to be members of Taliban, just as all Palestinians are not affiliated with Hamas. Take the chance. OK? Open the borders. Let them move freely. Ready?
Israel is stuck. No alternative without some dire repercussions. It is stuck in the short run, namely today, and in the long run as well. How about the long run?
Look at the map of the Middle East. It is nothing new if I say Muslim countries surround Israel. More than one hundred million Muslims inhabit these nations. But that is not the end. Go beyond the Middle East. Extend your radius. Pakistan and India and Indonesia have together at least another hundred million. And more.
Now turn your view to the west. North Africa. More Muslims. Look North West. Europe in the next thirty years will have a significant Muslim population. Look North: Turkey. Very belligerent against Israel too.
And smack in the middle of all of this is Israel. A Jewish state. A pebble in the middle of a Muslim sea. It is a ghetto. A ghetto nation. Surrounded by a wall. Like Jewish ghettos in Europe not too long ago. How strong must Israel be to survive when surrounded by a quarter of a billion Muslims, if not more? Oh, it has nuclear devices to protect itself. Oh, it has one of the most advanced military forces in the world and one of the best Air Forces.
I just read that Muslims from as far as Kashmir have joined the jihad in Syria. Who knows? Just imagine if a fraction of a percent, a fraction of a fraction of a percent of those Muslims world-wide join the Palestinian jihad instead, what will be the situation?
All that needs to happen for Israel to vanish is that the Palestinians, with Muslim extremists help, win ONE war. They do not need two. One. The extremists will literally behead every single Jewish man, woman and child without discrimination. It will be four million Dan Pearls. And the world will not move a finger. Not even say no, no, no. Will whisper in private: “They deserved it after all they have done to those poor Palestinians.” Anti-Semitism is already on the rise. So this prediction is not too far-fetched …. Will it happen? I am scared. It might.
The Palestinians and the Arab world in general will not forget the destruction of the infrastructure, of hospitals, of schools and the death of civilians. Those pictures will hang in their museums for generations to come. They will not forget. And vendettas, a blood revenge, is part of their culture. They have not forgotten the loss of their land for over sixty years.
Why would they forget it now? A Palestinian told me once: “You Jews claim you have not forgotten your land for 2000 years. Why do you expect us to forget it after sixty years?” Eventually, eventually, they might garner the strength to overcome Israel. Eventually, they might get weapons of mass destruction. Eventually.
Arabs can lose many wars. Israel can lose only one. What to do?
No workable solution without terrible consequences comes to mind. Does it mean do nothing? No. It means Israel has to do something in the meantime. Destroy the tunnels. Destroy the missiles. With minimum civilian casualties – which is what Israel did, I truly believe. And at the same time, stop looking and behaving alien to the socio-political environment that surrounds it.
Teach Arabic at school. Every Israeli must speak Arabic fluently as well as English. Teach Muslim culture as well. Stop the escalating hate. Arab culture gives tremendous importance to respect. Treat them with respect. Make them real equal citizens in all aspects. Not a fig leaf solution of an ambassador here and there. Yes, they have political freedom, but what they need is more respect.
I am always embarrassed by how they are being treated at security check-points at Tel Aviv airport. Does security need to be done in a demeaning way? And not just at the airport. How about the transition points in the West Bank? Stop the settlers in the West Bank from harassing the Palestinians. Taking more and more of their land. Culturally, Arabs are very attached to land. Stop expanding settlements in the west bank. Develop positive relations with the Palestinians economically and socially.
I know it is difficult to do this when missiles rain down, when intifada is a threat. When one sees every Arab, Palestinian or not, as a potential terrorist. But if you treat them as potential terrorists, the chances are they will be converted to terrorists.
The above is not a solution. This is to arrest the problem from becoming worse and worse. As far as a solution is concerned, apparently the time has not come to have a solution. When will it come?
When those that support Hamas with resources stop feeding the monster. When the world at large understands that well-intended solutions can have bad results. When the Palestinians, including Hamas sympathizers, come to the realization that while trying to destroy Israel they are destroying themselves. When the world stops hating Jews for a change. Why protect birds and flies from extinction but allow the extinction of the Jewish people?
Let us pray. Only a prayer might work here. Logic has failed us. In the meantime people die. On both sides. The tragedy is mind boggling. For both.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes