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War, peace & hope

Winning the war without making peace with the Palestinians will be an empty victory

I talked to my 21-year-old son who is a combat officer for the first time in a month face to face. He is out there, down south living our dreams and values. He said to me that there has not been a leader with vision since Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 19 years ago. It struck me like a dagger in my heart that he was right and I was overwhelmed by the guilt of a parent who has failed to make the world a safer place for his children. I resolved to try and pull my head out of the sandy fog it has been in for far too long and challenge the current status quo.

Currently, and for many years, there has been no progress at all on the peace front. Neither have we succeeded in removing the threat of Hamas. Yitzhak Rabin said that we should fight to win a war like there is no peace and fight for peace like war is not an option. This is what we should do right now. Hamas and their ilk will never accept us and we should defeat them completely. At the same time we should commence final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. This should be done in parallel. One is contingent on the other and there is no contradiction between the two.

On fighting the war I have no doubt that we can and should totally defeat Hamas. Thanks to our ingenuity, creativity and determination our army is one of the best trained and equipped in the world. The enemy here is clear and the threat of 100 daily missiles falling on our country is real and unacceptable. No other state would accept such a predicament. The US went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan for much less. Morally we stand against a fanatical and violent Muslim group that will never be capable of making peace. Did the US and Allies cease fire against the Japanese and Germans in the Second World War as they started to defeat their enemy and talk peace? No – they made a decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and carpet bomb Dresden killing 250,000 civilians in order to win the war sooner and save the lives of American and Allied soldiers that would otherwise die fighting all the way to Tokyo and Berlin.

We do not have that choice — ours is more about the price we are prepared to pay with our own soldiers’ lives. We can pull out now but we will only be back in a few years for the next round. The cost of acting now may be much less than what it will be in the future. We must defeat Hamas quickly and totally and from the ashes build something better for us and Gaza’s citizens. We must make sure that whatever replaces Hamas will be better than what we and Gazans have now. Here the evil you know is not better than the evil you don’t. Gaza is not Vietnam or Iraq. UNRWA has a large budget and will continue to provide social services in Gaza. Let’s put our energy and creativity into building an international coalition to replace Hamas with a responsible internationally backed security force.

What about the fight for peace? What are we doing there — because defeating Hamas means little if it doesn’t bring us closer to peace? With all our amazing capabilities and potential in the military, scientific and economic realms we have not managed to advance the peace process in 20 years. Enough is enough! If Hamas is soon to be extinct and out of the way there is no longer an excuse not to talk to Fatah. We should put everything we offered at Camp David back on the table now! Immediately! Bibi, Tzippy, Yair and Bogey should go to Ramallah now, even before we defeat Hamas, and say we want peace and prosperity for the sake of our children and grandchildren. John Kerry should go with them and write the check for the reconstruction of the Middle East and, who knows, maybe from there to the White House in another 2 years.

Finally, let me be absolutely clear that winning the war and defeating Hamas means nothing and is an empty victory not worth the loss of life if it is not accompanied by making peace with the Palestinians. The broad support for this war must be conditional on advancing the peace process. Do not send our children to die in a war that does not bring us closer to peace.

About the Author
Simon Fink lives in Israel and is originally from Melbourne, Australia. He studied Law Politics and Economics and is interested in public policy. He has worked for governments in Israel and Australia and currently works for a Bank in Israel.