Monday, January 05, 2009

Stepping into the minefield

I’ve learned a few things over my three years as a blogger: funny is good, rum and coke + live blogging=great blogging insight, and don’t feed the trolls. If there’s another rule I’ve adhered to, it’s that you don’t touch the Middle East with a 10-foot poll. You can’t win, and there’s little appetite for nuance on either side.

I’m going to break that rule though, which has served me well, as it seems that with the current Gaza conflict things are getting out of hand in Liberal blogdom, with some unfortunate things being said in the heat of emotion that I think many will come to regret later.

I have no easy answers on the Middle East. Obviously, no one does. I believe in a few things. I believe in a free, safe and independent Jewish state of Israel, and I believe that country has a right to defend itself. I also believe in a free, safe and independent Palestinian state that also recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and the rights of both its peoples to live in peace.

On the current Gaza conflict, I believe Israel has the right to defend itself, and that includes from the ongoing and regular rocket attacks, and it has a right to take actions to try to stop those attacks if local authorities are unable or unwilling to do so. That said, it’s unclear to me how the current military campaign, which now includes a ground attack, will accomplish either Israel’s short-term or long-term objectives. Indeed, it may well only serve to breed new hatred against Israel amongst the Palestinian people, creating yet another cycle of violence and attacks. Their options, however, are limited. And stuck in the middle are the ordinary people that just want to live their lives.

The only real answer is a lasting peace, but that would require compromise on both sides as well as a willingness and readiness to make peace, pre-conditions that are not yet in place.

Until that mythical day I hope my blogging colleagues on either side will be measured in their rhetoric and hyperbole, think carefully before they click Post, and consider that little here is as black and white as we’d hope.

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Ted Betts said...

Happy New Year, Jeff.

And well said.

Talk of genocide - the actual, deliberate, calculated attempt to single out and murder all Palestinians - and saying someone's opinion doesn't matter because somewhere in their family tree a relative was Jewish are really really really beyond the pale.

Laura said...

Thats a fine tight rope your walking. If only more would give the wire a try.

Pearce said...

I did the same thing Jeff... Wouldn't touch the issue with a 3 meter pole (metric!).

My thoughts on this are much akin to your own... Lower the rhetoric, and think before you post.


Anonymous said...

Very well put. People tend to get polarized when it comes to Middle East politics, and that does a disservice to everyone. My views are very similar to yours: I'm not convinced that Israel's current military campaign is Gaza will accomplish anything other than disturb the beehive.

kenlister1 said...

Good post Jeff, and you are right about the minefield. I think Israel has 2 possible strategies for the conflict.
1. They hope to weaken Hamas significantly so that Fatah can come in, overtake Hamas and rule Gaza, and work for peace there with Israel as there is in the West Bank.
2. Weaken Hamas to the point where they have to accept rigourous international observers who can enforce the peace (unlikely they could do this, or that Israel wants this I think).

If neither of these two senarios develop, then I am not sure if anything will be gained, and the cynics will have more credibility when they suggest that Israel is only doing this to act tough before its leaders face an election.

Clarke said...

Happy New Year.

Deja Vu man. I remember the Lebanon thing turned the liberal blogosphere into a really scary place. I was never able to look at Kinsella or Cherniak the same way afterwards.

Like most people, if the goal is peace between both sides, I cannot see this as doing much other than moving this goal further away. This is not a conflict where you can "win" a conventional victory, and heavy bombing with lots of civilian casualties is not going to strengthen moderates on the Palestinian side.