Nothing new under the sun: Similar notes to myself after Cast Lead in 2009

Sometimes the conflict seems like a house of mirrors.  Is it possible to see what is going one beneath the excruciating suffering in order to help end it?

One says all the Gazans need to do is stop the rockets on the innocent Israeli people. Another says it’s not the rockets but Hamas–and Gazans shouldn’t suffer for Hamas. Another emphasizes that the people support Hamas, and that both want to destroy Israel. While another emphasizes that the people wanted Hamas for its clean government and social services and despair over decades of unjustified poverty and refugee camps dating from 1948 and “gated community” affluent finger-in-their-eye Israeli settlements, and that the people never deserved this and built up cumulative anger that any other people would have also built up and accumulated, and have expressed their anger through Hamas.

One emphasizes that the shelling of Sderot is also collective punishment and an outrageous war crime against innocent civilians, and notes this is a poor and ungrateful and scandalous response to Israel for the pullout of the settlements and total withdrawal from and renunciation of the occupation of Gaza; and there could have instead been a peaceful response, and peaceful responses all along, from long before now up through today, that could have made by now — and still could make — a garden of peace and prosperity; but that Israel will defend its citizens like any other country and people, such as the United States after 9/11 with its own airport checkpoints and military retaliations against Al Qaeda in Pakistan. And that especially Jews after the Holocaust: that the few surviving Jews who were able to flee from Hitler’s ovens to Israel, and now their children and grandchildren, will under absolutely no circumstances permit Jews to be victims of unprovoked and pogrom-like attacks again, either by inflamed mobs or armies from the ground or by lethal missiles from the air– and even more, never again as a reminiscent and humiliating and passive and acquiescent potential first step down the Road to Hell of a Second Shoah.  Absolutely–Never Again. Another emphasizes the long injustice and displacement and occupation of the Palestinians back to the 1948 partition of Palestine and back even farther to the First World War-era Balfour Declaration that colonially stole from them their own country, and has disempowered and impoverished and ethnically cleansed and made refugees of them in successive stages since, and that it is the return of the refugees and one free and democratic country that would have made by now — and still could make — a garden of peace and prosperity.  One turns it around and says Israel’s 1948 defense was a defense against Arab ethnic cleansing and a still worse imminent genocide.  Another says it was the Balfour and Partition and Statehood plans, not mere and innocent immigration, that led to legitimate war from the Arab side.  One denies and says the mere immigration and flight from persecution and without anywhere else to go but to Palestine led to violence against those peaceful immigrants.  Another denies and says the immigration was never a mythical “pure immigration” but always inextricable from Balfour and planned Partition.  One says, Americans, look at yourselves, in your condominiums and homes on stolen Indian land.  Another says, that that is by now “ancient history.”

One says that Balfour in 1917 and the Partition of 1948 are also by now “ancient history” and that the Gazans, like Palestinians in general, have, in Abba Eban’s words, “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to move beyond the past and look to the future and show that their people can concentrate on their own nation-building. They say that not only has Israel now withdrawn from Gaza, but further that most of the West Bank as well would by now have been freed from occupation if the Gazans and the Palestinians in general had looked ahead and worked more comprehensively and positively toward that free and prosperous nation of their own.  And they quote Golda Meir that if only the Palestinians would try to build up their own country and raise wisely their own children rather than try to destroy Israel and murder Israel’s innocent children–once again innocent Jewish children. Not Never Again, but Again and Again.  Another denies that this case is “ancient history,” and claims that instead it is a case of one of the world’s last colonial outposts, and foresees that violence and massive civil unrest will not end, any more than it did in French colonial Algeria and during the Algerian War, or (they say) apartheid South Africa, until this very late (they say) outpost of segregation and colonialism and apartheid also ends, and claim it to be just another basic pulse and actuation — in the broadest possible strokes — of all (–they say–) recent modern history’s anti-segregationist and colonial and post-colonial struggles.  One denies this and says it is singled out, that the Jews are so conveniently and as usual singled out for media lynching and condemnation, ignoring the long historical perspective and plight of the Jews, who only want peace and security…  Another denies this and says that the media lynches the Arabs and Muslims and ignores any historical understanding and the current plight of the Palestinians, who only want their land…

One says…  The other says…   This sometimes seems a house of mirrors, and Gaza, as many other aspects of the conflict, crystallizes it. Sometimes it brings me to despair about how most objectively for it to be analyzed, and then for it to be resolved in order eventually to bring  healing, reconciliation, justice, security, and hope and peace for all.

About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.