Terror on All Sides

In the biblical book of Jeremiah (20:3-4), the prophet tells the commander of the temple guard in Jerusalem that, because of his interference with Jeremiah's task of preaching God's message, that this official's name will be changed, and that from then on he will be called "Terror on all sides" -- a name indicative of the future of the whole country.

Perhaps now it is too soon to hang this same title around "Bibi" Netanyahu's neck, or perhaps too late considering the actions of many of his predecessors. But if the history of Israel's contentious relations with its neighbors, and especially with its own indigenous Palestinian population is any indication, the now close-to-proverbial Middle-Eastern saying that "Terrorism is the war of the weak: War is the terrorism of the strong" is being demonstrated in spades with Israel's actions toward the population of Gaza.

Granted that no nation should have to just sit tight while a bunch of terrorists fire thousands of rockets into its territory -- even if they are incapable of hitting much of anything except by accident. But what the Israelis deny is that a lot of that territory isn't theirs, but was taken over by them as spoils of the 1967 six-day war when the Palestinians were foolish enough to think that they could be saved from Israeli expansion by their friends in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Since then, Israel has gradually sliced up the West Bank assigned by the UN to the Palestinians into a strategic network of "settlements" that will make a farce of any two-state solution that both the UN and subsequent agreements were supposed to facilitate.

That the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who thought that he could buy off Palestinian resistance by handing over the Gaza strip, jammed with well over a million Palestinian refugees from elsewhere in their homeland, to its own devices, was a foolish dream. No one in Gaza, not even the Hamas operatives, are crazy enough to think that the Israelis are about to hand the Palestinians their whole homeland back. So even though the latest ceasefire has brought a lull in the warfare, the rocket attacks will probably persist, at least periodically as they have, just to keep reminding the Israelis of their injustice.

But on the other hand, given the long history of the conflict, which began even before the 1946 creation of the state of Israel when the Palestinians already felt threatened by Zionist settlements that began early in the 20th century, it seems highly unrealistic of the Israelis to think that they will ever achieve a truly secure existence unless they form a peaceful partnership with the Palestinians among them. Instead, by their merciless shelling and murderous bombardment of Gaza, the Israelis are most likely insuring that there will be centuries more of animosity against themselves and that the Muslim world, despite its own internal conflicts will sooner or later join their Palestinian brothers (the Christians among them -- seeing their future there as hopeless -- having long departed) in driving the Israelis out of their ancestral homeland. The Romans did it back in 70 AD. The Muslim nations will probably do the same about two thousand years later, this despite Israel's hidden store of nukes. By then most of Israel's enemies will probably have enough nukes of their own to make any Israeli resistance suicidal.

I hope and pray this prediction of mine will never turn out to be true. But I don't see any other way of avoiding its inevitability unless the Israelis change their whole exclusivist (which former President Jimmy Carter described as "apartheid") policy toward the Palestinians, many of whose ancestors resided in that same land centuries before the Bible was ever written. I believe that the only solution that could work in the long run will be for the Israelis and the Palestinian neighbors to eventually become a single state or nation. While a two-state solution might have worked for awhile had it been implemented from the start, the Israeli's continuation of the West Bank and their "settlements" have pushed the situation to the point that either the two antagonists learn to live together or else end up destroying each other.