Hamas’s invasion of Israel has once again brought attention to the Palestine problem. The routine of Israel oppressing the Palestinians while simultaneously stealing their land has once again been interrupted by outright war.
For over 75 years our government, parroting the United States, declares that a Palestinian state can only be achieved by direct negotiations with Israel, independent of third parties. This puts the Palestinians in an impossible position. All the negotiating leverage lies with Israel. Israel has the finest army in the region, replete with nuclear weapons and the support of the most powerful nation in the world. And it controls virtually all the land along with, of no small importance in this region, the water resources.
The Palestinians have no military and control little. Asking them to negotiate with the party that holds all the cards is asking them to sit at the table and accept any crumbs they are offered, to negotiate on their knees. To submit.
This was amply demonstrated by the late, unlamented Oslo Accords. In 2001, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned an official history of the Norwegian-mediated negotiations. The report concluded, “… the Oslo process was conducted on Israel’s premises, with Norway acting as Israel’s helpful errand boy. … Israel’s red lines were the ones that counted, and if the Palestinians wanted a deal, they would have to accept them, too.”
Some Palestinians intend to neither submit nor wait for a third party—the U.S. being the key candidate—to push Israel into a just agreement. They are told their enemy has the right to defend itself; they assume the same right.
But how to fight a vastly superior military? How does a weak people fight a strong state. One answer is terrorism. Peter Ustinov once quipped, “Terrorism is the war of the poor, war is the terrorism of the rich.” Or as Sayeed Siyam of Hamas has said, “we do not own Apache helicopters ourselves, so we use our own methods.”
Not that only the weak use terror, of course. The two greatest terrorist attacks in history, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were carried out by a powerful democratic state. And not only terrorists inflict death and suffering on civilians as wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown.
In any case, yes, Hamas’s invasion with its killing and capturing of civilians includes a large measure of terrorism. It can no more be justified than Israel’s generational oppression of the Palestinians.
So I can support neither Hamas nor Israel. My sympathies lie with the Israeli civilians who have suffered and died from the invasion and with the Palestinian civilians who must live under the boot of their fellow Semites.
Israel will “win” the war. It will kill many Palestinians and destroy much of their property and then we will return to the status quo. Israel will continue to oppress the Palestinians, steal their land, and lock the Gazans in their prison. Unless …
Unless Hamas achieves what some pundits claim is its main objective.
They suggest that Hamas directed its attack on the current negotiations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to normalize the relationship between the Saudis and the Israelis according to the Abraham Accords. Hamas, the theory goes, is attempting to force the Saudis to include the Palestinians’ interests in the deal.
If Hamas is successful, the Palestinians may indeed profit from this carnage, a thoroughly justifiable profit, a profit too long waited for. It will be a tragedy, nonetheless, if this is what it takes to bring justice for these beleaguered people.