Thursday, 31 July 2014

You Only Live Once

It’s quite hard to be an Israeli nowadays. Even as a retired Israeli that does not regard himself an Israeli anymore (although legally I certainly still am), it is hard to live with news headlines when they hit you in the face. How can I remain reconciled with myself?

Sam Harris wrote an interesting article dealing with why he is not rushing to condemn Israel for what it is doing. The beauty of this article is that, non coincidentally, it provides a fairly good overview for the way I regard my Jewish origins as well as my Israelism; the main qualification I would add to each and every one of Harris’ points is an asterisk leading to a disclaimer saying “it’s far too complicated to sum this up in one paragraph”. Obviously, I will need to add the fact that unlike Harris, I do criticise Israel. I do so in the open and I have been known to pay a personal price for my candour.
It’s nice to hold discussions such as Harris’, but at the end of the day we have people suffering on both sides of the Israeli-Gaza border. Gaza's suffering is dead obvious, but yes, I hate to break it to you, Israelis are suffering, too. Even if their casualties are minimal in comparison. Try living under a regular barrage or rockets and you will quickly notice the fact they are home made is completely irrelevant; they still strike terror.
Regardless of the question of who is particularly responsible for instigating this particular episode of extreme violence, we have ourselves a confrontation between two sides holding positions that cannot be farther apart: on one hand we have an Israel defending itself from a continuously pesky enemy holding firmly to the declared purpose of annihilating it (and let’s be honest, there's probably a great deal of annihilation to be done to the people in addition to the state); on the other we have an Israel that’s been strangling the population of Gaza for many years now, leaving them no prospect of hope whatsoever and now bombing the hell out of them, too.
In other words, we have ourselves a war between two sides that clearly lost their humanity and their human compassion. I don’t think all Palestinians and Israelis have lost the plot, but it is clear both sides are suffering from leaderships hell bent on taking their people down on a downward spiral. A spiral from which, in my opinion, there is little chance of recovery.
Usually, when we have ourselves a war, we seek to identify its winners and the losers. History proves we’re not particularly good at it, given that those who win the battlefield do not necessarily end up winning the war. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are your classic examples there. With that in mind, who is the winner of this current round of Israeli-Gaza hostilities?
Well, in my mind, I think it is clear that both sides are on the losing side. Israelis will now have to live knowing very well that missiles could fall on them at any moment regardless of where they are in Israel. Yet again the mighty Israeli army, capable of blowing missiles right out of the sky, was humiliated by disorganised gangs of guerrilla warriors. Yet again Israeli soldiers bled, and once again they did so with nothing to show for it. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have to deal with a huge number of human casualties as well as mortally crippled infrastructure.
So, no winners? No, I did not say that. I think there is a clear winner here, and that is Hamas. Sure, this organisation might have been punched to the death; yet this is a populist movement, and as such it does not need much to survive. I’m sure its recruitment facilities will have no shortage of volunteers dying to fill up its ranks once Israel retires to lick its wounds, as it is bound to eventually. And even if Hamas does die, we know enough about the region to know it will only be replaced by a much worse organisation.

The Israeli in me will now raise the rhetoric question: Was it all worth the 50+ (and still counting) dead Israeli soldiers, not to mention the other Israeli casualties?
This morning I listened to Israeli radio over coffee and breakfast. The midnight news bulletin reported the name and ages of the soldiers that died yesterday. All of them were little kids at the time I left Israel for Australia.
If I ever needed proof that leaving this hopeless downward spiral of a situation behind and settling elsewhere was a good move, there it was. Why did I leave? Because I will only live once. Might as well make the most of it.

Image copyright: The Guardian

1 comment:

wile.e.coyote said...

The terms you are using and the thesis you are presenting assume we are dealing with 2 sides that are managed by logic and rational.
It might be true for Hezbollah/Hamas/ISIL that are managed by a clear road map that only ask for peaceful life for their people in some comfort and prosperity.
However on the other side, there is the insane Israeli forces that are managed by messianic concept of occupying the entire region, deport all the Arab people and building the 3rd Jewish Temple.
There is no way to negotiate with such people, they only understand brute force.