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Palestine | International | Anti-War

Historical Trajectory Pulls Israel and Palestine into Tragic Vortex
by Gil Villagran, MSW ( gvillagran [at] casa.sjsu.edu )
Friday Mar 22nd, 2013 5:44 PM
Again Israel, a nation of 7.4 million, is engaged in battle with the Palestinian Hamas militia in Gaza. It seems hopeless for Hamas to fire inferior rockets into Israeli land to goad Israel into a fight, but while superior weapons may win battles, Pyrrhic victories lose wars. Consider that France lost to Algeria, the U.S. to Vietnam. Presently we are winning every battle in Iraq and Afghanistan—yet losing these wars, as the British did a century ago.

Historical Trajectory Pulls Israel and Palestine into Tragic Vortex
By Gil Villagrán, MSW

Again Israel, a nation of 7.4 million, is engaged in battle with the Palestinian Hamas militia in Gaza, smaller in area than San Jose, with a 1.5 million population. Israel, a highly developed nation, has jet fighters, helicopters, missiles, rockets, and tanks, even nuclear weapons. Hamas has a limited number of smuggled as well as homemade rockets made of sewer pipe and explosives without guidance systems, grenades, and improvised explosives devices.

Battles between vastly unequal adversaries are asymmetrical warfare, where there is often no question which side will prevail if all-out fighting takes place. However, the fight is not just between soldiers using weapons and courage. This battle takes place in one of the most densely populated areas on Earth--in cities, homes, schools, markets, and job sites. Explosions kill humans and destroy infrastructure, and in this age of Internet videos everyone everywhere can see and hear the grotesque scenes of gashed bodies with missing limbs, terrified children pulling at dead parents, shrieking parents lifting pieces of their children. If you can manage it, view only a few minutes of the battle at this link: (http://muslimtv.magnify.net/video/ISRAEL-CARNAGE-CIVILIANS-CHILDR). Imagine this in your neighborhood.

Israel will kill many militia, but in doing so, will kill hundreds of women and children. Many survivors will become the next generation of Hamas fighters eager for the next fight. Would you if your family was killed? It seems hopeless for Hamas to fire inferior rockets into Israeli land to goad Israel into a fight, but while superior weapons may win battles, Pyrrhic victories lose wars. Consider that France lost to Algeria, the U.S. to Vietnam. Presently we are winning every battle in Iraq and Afghanistan—yet losing these wars, as the British did a century ago.

So if the final outcome of an all-out battle is obvious, why does Hamas, and before Hamas, the former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) engage its vastly superior enemy in battle? Since 1948 when the state of Israeli was established in Palestine, there has been perennial war between these two people trying to occupy the same land, with tragic consequences born of each people’s tragic history, leading to the present reality.

My daughter, Becky, a history graduate student explains: “After World War II and the horrific Holocaust (where six million Jews were killed for being Jewish), a wave of sympathy by the British and the U.N. mandated that Palestine be turned into a Jewish state. Palestinians were rightly upset about losing their homes. They fought, were defeated, their homeland occupied by millions of European Jews, many forced to migrate. Forced migration was wrong when Andrew Jackson evicted the Cherokees in the Trail of Tears, wrong when the Nazis forced Jews--like cattle to slaughter--to concentration camps, wrong when FDR forced Japanese-Americans to re-location camps, wrong when Eisenhower deported a million Mexicans (some U.S. born) in Operation Wetback. It was wrong what Israel did to the people of Palestine. The oppressed became the oppressors.”

But certainly, after the Holocaust, surviving Jews needed a protected place to live. Germany took their wealth and property in its genocidal frenzy of hate. Germany should have ceded part of its territory to form a new Jewish state, along with the prime real estate of concentration camps. However, since loss of land and reparations after World War I was the NAZI excuse, blaming Jews for Germany’s loss, to initiate WWII, the world sought to prevent another war born of recrimination. So the easy answer was: give Palestine to the Jews. What about the Palestinians? It seemed at the time that they were powerless and no one would care. Tragically, that is what Hitler said of the Jews, “they are powerless and no one will care.”

So what is the answer today to this tragic vortex of 60 years of war between Israel and Palestine? As King Solomon decreed to two women claiming a disputed child, “Divide the land in two, each gets half.” Without war to take lives and waste resources, and with intelligence, renewable technology, and world cooperation, both nations could create two Gardens of Eden on this place once called The Holy Land.