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april 9, 2024- 1 Nisan 5784

04/08/2024 01:27:31 PM

Apr8

On the day of the solar eclipse—with Colleyville fully within the zone of totality—there were signs of returning light even before the celestial event. Like the predictions for the day’s skies, the assorted events was muddled. 

Last week closed out with the [apparently] testy conversation between the US President and the Israeli Prime Minister. Changes in Israeli policy and practice followed quickly—and though I can only presume they were in line with the message delivered from Washington—Jerusalem took pains to assure allies that the continuation of Gaza hostilities under the leadership since last October would be different, the strategy altered and misdeeds that were internationally highlighted last week would be prosecuted.

Sunday saw further news of the withdrawal of the most active attack forces of IDF withdrawn on short notice from most areas of the Gaza Strip. The announced and planned attack on the last stronghold of Hamas in Rafah, adjacent to the Egyptian border and shelter for a million or so refugees from areas that have been made uninhabitable, seems to correlate well with public demands from Israel’s supporters, despite being but a temporary hold.

Two quite distinct threads are important to follow. Most helpful would be an agreement between Israel and Hamas (or its sponsors) that could/should see:

  1. All hostages returned.
  2. An extended truce between Israel and the military arm of Hamas.
  3. An initial plan for resuming civilian life in peace in Gaza.

Significant, though less helpful would be a statis quo arrangement, leaving the informal military reduced but able to recruit new soldiers, re-arm—and it is not hard to foresee—prepared to start hostilities over again. No doubt, military strategists will add many more nuances within the range. 

The larger picture shows the conflict to be a prime example of asymmetric warfare. Traditional military power is an Israeli asset. Other major military states—the US, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, for example—quite openly contribute to sustaining the available technical military superiority. More clandestinely, Iran, Russia, other Islamic states—some are hidden from view as actors—sustain and encourage networks of irregulars without formal uniforms who can melt into the general population quite easily.

There are other models of asymmetric warfare, too. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the Turkish and Syrian attacks on Kurds, each have their own nuances. Recent cases at the International Court of Justice instituted by South Africa against Israel (as a perpetrator of genocide) and Nicaragua against Germany (as an arms supplier under improper circumstances) illustrate some oddities, as in each case the accuser state has a raft of its own problems that are well documented. The chess game continues, with surprise moves coming from unexpected corners of the board.

A springtime with less active military hostilities suits me, though not as well as would a more concrete agreement ending aggression. Neither solution is within my sphere of influence. Yet I am optimistic enough to hope that some fundamental internal issues in Israel can be addressed. Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, each have their own necessary corrections, but are theirs to see to (I would not mind an international civil movement to end corrupt practices or reform their political order—both beyond my grasp). 

Israel has thrived under a set of assumptions rooted in the UN resolutions of the late 1940s. They resulted in a secularized state, recognition of a unique role as a haven for Jews suffering repression and an open field for research and development in science and technology, agriculture and education. The successes achieved can be of enormous use to many places facing challenges of scarce water and expensive raw materials. 

In the decades since Anwar Sadat flew from Cairo to Jerusalem, since Jordan signed off on diplomatic relations with Israel, each of those nations grew through the ‘peace benefit’ that resulted. It has not occurred for Palestine; Gaza now lays in ruins; Lebanon—even Turkey—teeter on the edge of financial collapse. Each of these nations can choose to move forward. Or not.

I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 

The answer is not yet at hand.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784