Erik Larson

Jan 21, 2009

Gaza War Zone

Stacking up bodies in Gaza, again. There is no clear path ahead for this damnable conflict. Israel offers at present no answer. Their thesis is apparently that Hamas can be bombed into military submission (which it likely can) and then soon after into changes in politics (which it can’t). And so the bodies keep piling up. What the First World fails to understand about this perpetual bloodbath is that it is, at root, a religious war .

It is true that the Israeli response is heavy-handed and troublesome (again), but equally, Hamas is predictably fomenting a constant radicalization of this conflict at the expense of compromise, an end to violence, and a lasting peace. Victory at all costs makes sense when one is confronted with an enemy bent on global domination, as Churchill well knew and as France surely learned in those dark hours of the 20th century. But the “kill the Infidels” battle cry of Hamas given Israel’s desire to exist in the region without constant threat of terrorist attack cannot be excused easily, if at all. It is a Holy War more than a rational assessment of the conditions for peace. And so the usual carrots offered by the First World— money, prospects for a better economy — never find purchase with Hamas, and more generally with leaders steeped in radical Islamic dogma. To hell with modernity makes it difficult to propose modern solutions.

What to do? Who knows? I do know that the political Left hopes that compromises and concessions by Israel will have some real effect on the policies of Hamas. It’s hard to see how this will transpire, and history suggests that it’s just so much more wishful thinking . On the Right, this idea that full-scale bombing campaigns into heavily populated areas will brow-beat Hamas into “coming to the table” is surely wishful thinking as well. The end Israel will achieve, if any at all, is just another temporary cessation of violence, while Hamas re-organizes, and reloads. In the meantime, thousands of innocent people in Gaza are the unfortunate and truly tragic victims of this damnable conflict.