Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Forty-eight hours

I have said something about 'proportionality' in Gaza. I am not sure the BBC can see anything like it. The story there is always 'evil Israelis kill innocent Palestinian children'. But they are not alone in that. For them - and others - the current situation did not start with the declared end of the ceasefire by Hamas and the stepping up of rocket attacks on Israel (over 10,000 since 2001), but with the genocidal desire of Israel (where almost everyone supports a two-state solution) to slowly murder any remaining Palestinians for the sheer wickedness of it.

Well, there is only one wicked nation on earth and we all know who the BBC and parts of the Left think that is. America may be the Great Satan, but Israel is the principle of evil itself.

David Grossman, one of the great novelists of our time, and long a supporter of a peaceful two-state solution as well as an opponent of settlements, whose own son was killed in the Lebanon War, which he also opposed, has recommended a 48 hour ceasefire to enable Hamas to call and end to its rocket attacks. The article is here. This is what he thinks Israel should say to Hamas.

...So as not to add to the death and destruction we will now hold our fire unilaterally and completely for the next 48 hours. Even if you fire at Israel, we will not respond with renewed fighting. We will grit our teeth, as we did all through the recent period, and we will not be dragged into replying with force.

However even he expects renewal of hostilities after forty-eight hours if there is no response.

If you hold your fire, we will not renew ours. If you continue firing while we are practicing restraint, we will respond at the end of this 48 hours, but even then we will keep the door open to negotiations to renew the cease-fire, and even on a general and expanded agreement.

I wish Grossman were right. There is, apparently, a possibility of Israel doing as he recommends, as reported, (even by the BBC). I wish he were right in thinking Hamas would hold off, though I would be astonished if they did. I simply don't think that is part of the programme. I don't believe Hamas actually cares for the Palestinians, else it wouldn't be planting rocket launchers in crowded city areas.

But you never know. Forty-eight hours might be a gesture the world might understand. Frankly, I doubt whether it would make a blind bit of difference to those who hate Israel's very existence, or simply, in a much more nuanced, sophisticated and delicate 'western' way, find it inconvenient.


The Contentious Centrist said...

I'm afraid that 48 hours will allow the Hamas to re-group and get organized better so that eventually Israel will have to use even fiercer force to roll back these gains and it's the civilians, on both sides of the border, who will bear the brunt of it. Allowing Hamas 48 hours of calm does not make sense. Grossman is mistaken in imputing to Israel's attack the goal of intimidating Hamas by its show of fire power. That would be wrong and possibly illegal. The goal of this campaign is not punishment, or revenge. It is to remove the threat of qassams and prevent their re-occurrance in the future. Any dithering on that will only prolong and augment the suffering on both sides.

He is suggesting a gamble on the remote chance that Hamas may be brought to heel.

George S said...

I imagine you are right, that it won't make the slightest difference. In fact that is what the post says. I suppose I am thinking of a public gesture of some sort to ease the pressure and to say to those in Gaza: Look, you have time to get out of the targeted areas. (Civilians in Gaza must know what the targets are). That would, if they took up the offer, reduce the civilian casualties. If they didn't it would be a gesture they would have refused.

Incidentally, I suppose you have noticed that the BBC just gives a round figure for the dead whereas Sky splits them into Hamas dead and civilian dead, following the UN estimate, which on the 29 December stood at 51 civilian dead. Still, 51 is 51 too many.

Billy C. said...

Respectfully, TCC, I would disagree. Half the battle is winnng hearts and minds, a point Grossman has not missed. It would put the Muslim/Arab generated protesters on the back foot. I, too, doubt it will change anything but it is worthy of serious consideration. In the last couple of days, I have had had a heated discussion with those who are blinkered in their views. To be honest, I was not aware of the amount of anti-semitism that does exist. This conflict is bringing out the latent fascists. Not a bad thing. It's better to have your enemy before you than have them sniping from the rear.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Oh, Billy C., no gesture from Israel is going to make a dent in the hatred flowing towards it from the Palestinians and the Arab world, or the antisemites you speak of. It's too late for that. The genie is out of bottle and swelling up as we speak.

George S said...

I still think, CC, that a gesture visible to the rest of the world - that is to say to people who are not instinctively anti-Semitic - is worth making.

It is not the Arab world, the Islamicists, the Hamas-Hisbollah-Iran-Syria alliance, the rabid parts of both Left and Right, and the confirmed anti-Semites I am thinking about. They are never going to listen.

There remain a vast swathe of decent, intelligent, humane. non-aligned people. Some of them may be wrong about Israel, but they are not wrong because they are anti-Semites. I know a few myself and not for one second do I believe them to be anti-Semitic.

I think it is very important that they should be addressed in a civilised and courteous but firm-minded way. There is no other practical way, is there? What would those other ways lead to?

George S said...

Something else to bring to the table:




Both are pretty dark. But the long term (and how long is long?) is genuinely worrying.