Gayle Meyers

It won’t work

It won’t work.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, do you think we Jewish Israelis are so different from you that if you kill us two by two on the road and at bus stops, we will surrender? If you fire missiles at our cities, we will pack up and leave? The only thing that will happen is you will rain death and destruction down on you and your people. 

It won’t work. 

Israeli leaders, coalition and opposition alike, do you think the Palestinians are so different from us that if we kill their leaders, plus four kids and six civilians, they will surrender?  Just pack up and leave? 

It won’t work. 

Palestinians, you can pat yourselves on the back for your steadfast resistance, but it won’t get you freedom or safety. 

Israel, you can brag about how you took more care not to harm civilians than any other country would have. It’s true. But you can’t expect Palestinians to thank you because they “only” had to grab their kids and run for safety when Israeli drones dropped bombs on their neighborhood, and “only” four children were killed in their beds. 

Israel has killed about 30 leaders of the PIJ over the years, in addition to leaders of many other Palestinian factions. They are legitimate targets in this ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinians. One of the men killed on Tuesday, Jihad Ghanem, orchestrated the notorious murders 19 years ago of Tali Hatuel, an Israeli mother, eight months pregnant, and her four daughters in Gaza. 

But it doesn’t work. The only long-term outcomes of these repeated wars in Gaza are death and hatred. It does not “reestablish deterrence,” as Israeli leaders claim, and it certainly does nothing to bring an end to the conflict.  

Don’t tell me diplomacy doesn’t work. Diplomacy hasn’t been seriously tried for the past two decades, and more importantly, it only works if it is backed up with action. The Oslo Accords had structural flaws, but the biggest problem is that neither side implemented them. In much more recent memory, in February, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt, and the U.S. met and agreed to try to prevent violence during the spring religious holidays. Israel committed to stopping discussion of any new settlement units for four months, and both parties agreed to pursue confidence-building measures and strengthen mutual trust in order to address outstanding issues through direct dialogue.

While the talks were still going on, a Palestinian shot and killed two Israeli brothers. Israel immediately backed away from the settlement freeze. First Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich contradicted it, then National Security Advisor Tsachi Hanegbi, who had participated in the talks, “clarified” that Israel would move ahead with building that had already been approved, and Prime Minister Netanyahu then reneged on it completely. 

At the moment, the Palestinians do not have a leader who can credibly negotiate in their name. Israel’s current government does not have the slightest interest in pursuing an end to the conflict. But it does have choices. It does not have to conduct an annual war in Gaza that will inevitably kill Palestinian civilians and will not make Israelis any safer. 

In the hours since I wrote this post, PIJ rockets have killed one Israeli and injured 10 more, but my message is the same. We are now likely in for a ground battle. Palestinians and Israelis will die. It doesn’t have to be this way.

About the Author
Gayle Meyers began her career as a policy analyst in the US Department of Defense, fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and staffing the US-Israel Joint Political Military Group. She later directed the Middle East Regional Security program of Search for Common Ground. After moving to Israel, she worked for civil-society organizations promoting peace and a shared society for Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. She teaches at the Machon L’Madrichim (Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad) in Israel has designed, facilitated, or participated in more than a dozen conflict-resolution initiatives. Gayle received a bachelors degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a masters degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She lives in Jerusalem with her family.
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