Press Pause

Timestamp: early Saturday afternoon.

The conflict in Israel, at this writing and on the surface, between Israel and Hamas, is all the rage in conversation. With brevity being insufficient in this case, let’s just say that it is complicated.  I could write volumes if I wanted to explain the entire roots of the current conflict. There is no simple solution and it certainly isn’t going to be found amid this fighting.

Like many westerners I’m trying not to take sides in that there is plenty of cause for grievance as well as “sin” to go around. My biggest concern is for the innocent victims be they Palestinian or Israeli. An “X factor” that is just below the surface is the potential for open participation of other foreign powers, mainly Iran. To date, President Joe Biden has done a great job of keeping them on the sidelines by saying, “Don’t”, and supplementing it with a show of naval saber-rattling firepower.

There is also the very real possibility of the fronts increasing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is provoking the residents of the West Bank and that could have devastating consequences even though it placates his far right base. The northern border of Gaza has been relatively (and in this region that is a word to be taken with a grain of salt!) quiet but Hezbollah (another proxy of Iran) could mobilize at any moment.

The Biden administration has been trying to thread the needle and improve the situation by calling for a pause – more accurately it would be a series of pauses. However tainted at the moment, Israel is still a democracy and America, along with a bunch of its allies, has a moral obligation to help preserve a democracy. (This is somewhat similar to what is happening in Ukraine.) At the same time, it is obvious – and finally getting more realization in America – that the Palestinians have legitimate grievances. At a more basic level they are human too, (whatever happened to that basic Christian principle of all God’s children?).

Rightfully so, the Israelis are concerned about the innocent hostages held in Gaza against their will. Their far right is demanding the release of all hostages before any pause/cease fire. That is probably not going to happen and any all-out assault will undoubtedly kill many of them in the process. Reprehensible as it may be, Hamas is using them effectively as human shields and is not about to give them up as a precondition.

Israel is also concerned that any desperately needed humanitarian aid sent into Gaza will be seized by Hamas and never reach the needy it is intended for in the first place. (I’m discounting the small minority on the Israeli right fringe that consider all Palestinians to be less than human).

If you are looking for a simple, straightforward and clean solution I’m afraid it does not exist. In the short run I think the best we could possibly achieve is a lessening of innocent human suffering on both sides. The only viable tactic I see is a series of strategic and limited pauses that would allow a staggered release of some hostages and some needed humanitarian supplies to get into Gaza as well as corridors for those, especially foreign nationals, trapped in Gaza to safely exit the region. That is much easier said than done but until and unless I hear a better proposal it is what I will endorse.

Sounds simple but it won’t be. I have no issue with Israel having the opportunity to destroy Hamas both as retribution and in its national defense. If they could achieve it, (which I seriously doubt), that would also be good for the Palestinians. Hamas exploits, not represents, them. In many ways this conflict has been going on for centuries and it’s not going to be resolved with the current events. The best we can hope for in the short run is the minimization of the loss off innocent lives and limbs.

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