Israel’s Groundhog Day: Reverse Snowballs and the Horror of Lawn-Mowing

by Juan Cole

A horrible video is circulating on social media, of a Palestinian father in Gaza who is bringing a toy to his four year old son, only to find once he enters his home that his son’s head has been crushed by Israeli shrapnel. That is the face of Israel’s current military operation against Gaza to the outside world.

But from the point of view of Israeli hawks, the point of a campaign like the present one against the Gaza Strip is to degrade the military and organizational capabilities of the enemy. They clearly do not care if they thereby kill dozens of women, children and non-combatants (they are). The important thing for them is to accomplish what they see as a narrow military and counter-terrorism objective.

It is a bizarrely ahistorical quest, as though the Israeli leadership lives in a bubble isolated from the demographic and political realities of its neighborhood. They seem to think they are hanging by their fingers from a cliff, that Hamas is prying their fingers loose, and that if only they can push Hamas back, they can go on clinging to the cliff for another period of time, avoiding falling. They don’t seem to realize that if this is actually their situation, it is untenable in the long run. The current campaign will end in failure and likely will help doom the Israeli enterprise over the next few decades.

The Israeli hawks have been trying to destroy Hamas since the late 1990s, when it went from a favored client of the Israeli state (having received support from Tel Aviv in the 1980s to offset the Palestine Liberation Organization) to enemy. The military wing of Hamas launched a vicious campaign of terrorism inside Israel in response to the doubling of the Israeli squatter population on Palestinian land in the 1990s. In the early zeroes, the Israelis conducted a campaign of murder against Hamas leaders, including against civilian party leaders with no operational role. They assassinated Sheikh Yasin, the spiritual leader of the movement, with a rocket fired from a helicopter gunship at his wheelchair as he was issuing from a mosque, killing and injuring people around him, as well. Sheikh Yasin had spoken of the possibility of a decades-long truce with Israel even though he rejected its legitimacy. In his absence, the truce talk rather declined, though Hamas has proved itself willing and able to negotiate long-lasting cease-fires with Israel; most often it has been the Israelis who violated them.

The theory behind the murders of leaders is that leadership is a rare quality and that if you inflict attrition on leaders, you will fatally weaken the organization. Israeli intelligence operatives drew on social science research about how many top-level managers a Western corporation could lose before it collapsed. In societies where kinship systems remain relatively strong, however, you don’t have a hierarchical GM corporate flow chart for leadership, and if you kill someone’s cousin, the republic of cousins comes together for revenge. This whole theory and whole operation vindicates the old saw that Government Intelligence is an oxymoron.

Because of the Israeli attacks on Hamas figures, the party became more popular both in Gaza and the West Bank, and it won the January, 2006, Palestine Council elections in both territories. So I think we can pronounce the serial murders committed by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon an abject failure.

Next the Israelis kidnapped about a third of the democratically elected Palestine National Council and illegally sequestered them and helped the PLO make a coup in the West Bank. They failed, however, to dislodge Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

From 2007 the Israelis put a severe and creepy blockade on the Gaza Strip, in hopes of making Hamas unpopular, figuring people in Gaza would blame it for the consequent collapse of the Gaza economy. This policy is illegal in international law. Israel is the occupying power in Gaza, and the 1949 Geneva Conventions forbid military occupiers from collectively punishing non-combatants among the occupied population. In response, Palestinians in Gaza just got really good at smuggling, developing an extensive tunnel network into the Sinai desert. My guess is that despite the Israeli naval blockade, things must get brought in sometimes by sea, as well.

Among the things they imported were small rockets, with which to harass the Israelis who had moved into the homes in what is now southern Israel that used to belong to the Palestinians of Gaza.

Israel’s 2008-2009 and 2012 episodes of what hawks call “mowing the lawn” in Gaza were aimed, as well, at inflicting attrition on the rocket stock and at killing Hamas leaders and disrupting their institutions. (Since Hamas had been democratically elected in 2006, the police in Gaza had to report to the party after that, so the Israelis bombed the police stations; but most police were not Hamas cadres).

Hamas had received some support from Iran and Syria. My guess is that it has been exaggerated, but it was there. The attempted Syrian revolution and then the outbreak of civil war in Syria posed a problem for Hamas. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is a kindred movement, and it is opposed to the Baath government in Damascus. So Hamas’s dependence on Iran and on Bashar al-Assad was, let us say, awkward.

When Muhammad Morsi was elected president of Egypt in summer 2012, Hamas gravitated to him as its preferred sponsor and mostly broke with Syria and Iran. Unfortunately for Hamas, Morsi was overthrown in July of 2013, leaving Hamas high and dry and with no sponsor.

Worse, current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the officers who back him really, really hate political Islam. They banned the Muslim Brotherhood, killed over a thousand members in crackdowns on sit-ins, and imprisoned perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 members and sympathizers. Al-Sisi sees Egypt’s security problem with Bedouin and fundamentalists in the Sinai Peninsula as a side-effect of Hamas activities.

So the Egyptians have been unusually energetic in closing off the smuggling routes and tunnels into Gaza from Sinai. This move has, along with the vigorous Israeli blockade, contributed to fuel shortages and water and sewage problems as well as economic distress. At the same time, young Palestinians in Gaza have rebelled against Hamas and some say they want to see it overthrown the way Morsi was.

My guess is that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other Likud leaders see Hamas as unusually vulnerable. In essence, al-Sisi is shoring up Israel’s western flank. The Israeli hawks no doubt believe that if they can destroy, or get Hamas to fire off, large numbers of its rockets, that they can deplete that stock and that al-Sisi will help ensure that it is not replenished, and that Syria and Iran might not be so eager now to help their fair weather friend.

With leaders killed and rockets depleted, the Israeli hard liners probably believe, Hamas may be fatally weakened. At the very least, it will be less able to resist future episodes of lawn mowing in Gaza.

The theory behind this campaign, however, is incorrect. Hamas is perfectly capable of building more rockets, even if they are smaller and have less range than the imported ones. And killed leaders can be replaced by their cousins.

Gaza’s population has grown to about 1.7 million. It has a high rate of population growth and will likely double over the next two or three decades. Egypt will never allow the Palestinians of Gaza to become refugees in the Sinai. In the 2008-09 campaign, when some Palestinians attempted to flee into Egypt, the Egyptian military just shot them. So the Palestinians of Gaza are Israel’s problem, now and in the future. Gaza faces increasingly dire water problems, a recipe for severe future conflict. Israel eventually will face not 4.3 million stateless Palestinians but twice that.

As the living conditions in Gaza deteriorate, and people begin to thirst to death, the international outcry will grow louder. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement will grow, at first mainly in civil society and the business world, but ultimately it will be adopted by governments in the face of an absolutely unacceptable ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

Ironically, the very mechanisms of economic sanction engineered by Israeli and pro-Israel lobbies against Iran and Syria are likely increasingly to be applied to Israel itself. The Israeli economy is fragile and highly dependent on outside trade and on European technology transfer, which could be sanctioned.

All it would take would be for the economy to be hurt enough to make it attractive for more Israelis to emigrate every year than immigrate for a reverse snowball effect ultimately to doom Israel, slowly and over decades. Already, a million first and second generation Israelis live abroad, finding Israel too nervous-making as a place to reside. It may even be that many of them are being counted as Israeli residents by the propagandists in Tel Aviv, so that the figure of 6 million Jews actually in Israel is exaggerated.

The Israeli right wing will likely fail in its attempt to subject Gaza and uproot radicalism there, since the radicalism grows out of the conditions that Israel imposes on the Palestinians. And, it is incurring increasing ill will with its episodic lawn-mowing, since the outside world is unwilling to accept that it was necessary to kill all those women and children and soccer spectators with aerial and naval bombardment.

As in the Bill Murray science fiction vehicle “Groundhog Day,” the Israelis, the Palestinians and the world are doomed to relive these periodic slaughters over and over again, until slowly, inexorably, they further corrupt the Israeli soul and make the Zionist enterprise so unlovely in the eyes of the world that it loses crucial support, and the snowball rolls uphill, getting smaller and smaller.

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Related video:

RT America: “Gaza civilians struggle amidst Israeli onslaught”

41 Responses

  1. Thanks for this informative review. I don’t know what the future holds, but the present is depressing. Earlier this week NBC Nightly News showed a woman in Gaza who lost her unborn child when Israel destroyed her home. It was a rare example of U.S. networks showing the reality of life there. It was hard to watch, especially knowing that my tax dollars and my elected leaders support the oppression of the Palestinians. Last night PRI’s The World included an interview with an employee of Oxfam who lives in Gaza. She indicated that most of the tunnels have been destroyed, and food is limited to what they can grow and what Israel allows in. Evidently supplies are low. I suppose medicine and other supplies are controlled by Israel too. Clearly the need is great. I feel powerless to help. It is good that you at least speak out.

  2. ” The important thing for them is to accomplish what they see as a narrow military and counter-terrorism objective.”

    I don’t entirely agree. There is nothing ‘narrow’ about Israel’s aims here. If it was all about ‘counter-terrorism’, they would appreciate the fact that Hamas itself had not fired any rockets at Israel for months before this latest onslaught. In fact, they’d be assisting Hamas in its efforts to crack down on the smaller militant groups who are the ones firing the rockets.

    Besides, everyone in Israel’s political and military class knows that the rockets are no threat at all. They haven’t killed anyone in a long time. However, they do provide a useful means of keeping the Israeli population scared and submissive, and perpetuating the media image of Israel-as-victim. The rockets do next to no damage, but if they didn’t exist at all, it would be more difficult for Israel to cry victim, keep the population brainwashed and beg further funding from the US for their overrated ‘missile defense’ systems.

    I think you underestimate the sheer spite and sadism which has always characterised Zionism. In a sense, Israel is bombing Gaza because it can. As for as they’re concerned, there’s no downside to this – they get to tell Palestinians that resistance is useless, or so they hope, and such assaults always play well with the Israeli public.

    ”they further corrupt the Israeli soul”

    What ‘Israeli soul’? Israel was built on the ethnic cleansing of another people’s land. The ‘Israeli soul’ has always been corrupt. Where was the ‘Israeli soul’ at Deir Yassin? This idea that Israel was once a nation with a ‘soul’ which gradually become ‘corrupted’ ignores the fact that Israel could not exist if it showed the slightest compassion for the original inhabitants of the land it stole.

  3. Does it seem crazy to expect the UN to provide peace keepers to this situation similar to what was done in Bosnia? I just recently learned that Israeli forces control the border crossings from Jordan into the West Bank. I would really love to hear an explanation of this that has any resemblance to reason. Not having disinterested parties “govern and protect all parties” the West Bank and Gaza is clearly beneficial to Israeli colonialism only.

    • I just recently learned that Israeli forces control the border crossings from Jordan into the West Bank.

      Just?! I lived in Jordan for years in the ’70s and ’80s and they controlled the border crossings then and very rude they were, too–especially the women border guards. As a foreigner I crossed by the Allenby Bridge, not the bridge for Palestinians whose treatment was beyond rude: strip searches of the modest mothers in front of their children was only one way of humiliating them.

      • When I was at school, we were visited by a Catholic priest who had just returned from the “Holy” Land. He described witnessing Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Bridge beating up a Palestinian man – “and when soldiers beat you up, you stay beaten up.” That was in 1969.

  4. The leaders that replace murdered leaders are NEVER more moderate, but apparently there is no one in Israel with the knowledge of social power structures to understand this. And make no mistake, ALL murdered leaders will be replaced. Never in history has a power vacuum been created that was not filled because in reality all humans are essentially equal in that there is no such thing as a irreplaceable unique leader.

    In addition, there is a limit to the number of humans Israel can kill before a majority of the world turns from quiet indifference to massive rage against Israel. Israel has no way of knowing what that number is and once it crosses the line, it will be unable to go back and will suffer massive damage. The switch from indifference to massive rage is instantaneous and irreversible.

    I see Israelis making a lot of very bad, invalid assumptions about their future that is going to cause them massive damage eventually.

    As Thomas Jones (1892 – 1969) noted very perceptively, “Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.”

    Right now Israel is accumulating a lot of enemies and losing friends and without friends, Israel can not survive.. Israel is not self sufficient in food, energy or anything else. It can not even make all the weapons it needs to randomly kill others.

    The other thing that Israelis seem to be unable to understand is that global power distribution is NOT static. That is, centers of power shift constantly. So, while the US and Israel have some power today, 10,000 years of human history say that sometime in the future, they will be stripped of that power. The Arabs will NOT remain powerless forever and Israel will lose most of its power eventually. When that happens, all the enemies Israel has accumulated will destroy Israel.

    I think the basic problem that Israelis have is megalomaniac ego. They so much want to be “big boys” but have no way to do that. Israel will always be a small, relatively powerless country that the bigger nations on earth will mostly ignore. The Jewish tribe is miniscule in comparison to the rest of the tribes on earth and unless they want to grow their group by adding hundreds of millions of new members (a cultural anathema), it will always be miniscule. The israelis want to be world leaders and the world just ignores them.

    Based on the “flow” of power throughout human history, it is a safe bet that Israel will eventually get overpowered and will be made to pay for its arrogance. I do not know when, but do KNOW that it will happen. The sad thing is, I suspect that many Jewish people around the world who have nothing to do with Israel, will also be paying.because they are a member of the tribe.

    Israelis are vastly miss-reading history and power to their future detriment.

    • There is massive rage around the world but Israel has the US Congress and Presidency on its side and vast amounts of US taxpayers’ money.

    • Spot on. There seems to be a psychopathology involved here too deep to quickly explain. Partially, perhaps, how a victim is drawn to assume the role of their past tormentor (parallels between the Warsaw ghetto and Gaza?). Thinking they are, indeed, exceptional in their relationships (above and beyond their clout with the US…..).

      But your point about the un-sustainability of their mindset is most important.

  5. Thanks for the historical summary, explanations, and projection, Dr. Cole! However, I reject the idea that Israel will face increasing economic pressures from world ostracism. Good Old “Uncle Freier” will always be on hand to shore up the Israeli economy and protect it in the United Nations. No cost — monetary or in goodwill — is too high for the US to bear in this regard, and apparently, no level of disapproval by “the public” is adequate to change these policies.

    However, with an election coming up in November, it’s no time for despair, but rather a chance to register our strongest opinions with the new Congress. We have to keep pushing that rock.

    • @zandru – Try thinking longer term. American sheltering of Israel will not last. Americans, like all groupings of humans, are primarily focused on their own survival and well being. The instant that Israel causes a sufficient number of Americans personal pain, the very weak limb Israel is sitting on, will be suddenly and permanently hacked off. When it happens, Israelis will be in deep shock at the quick reversal of fortune. This is one (of many) very invalid assumptions Israelis are making about their future. Just because the US has protected Israel during their short lifetime, they assume that the protection will continue indefinitely, completely ignoring that during America’s short 200 year history, America has screwed over EVERY so-called “partner,” repeatedly! I do not know what the internal or external trigger event will be that causes the US to completely screw Israel, but KNOW it will suddenly happen and Israelis will lose everything. Most of the population of Israel will be in full panic mode in the hours following the change.

      BTW – I think that the “broad” support Israel appears to have in the US population is not very deep. That is, it is more a “feel good” expression rather than a deeply held conviction and when Israel causes any personal pain, will flip in a heart beat. But if a candidate did bring up dumping Israel and made a good case, they could tap into that shallowness of support. The argument would probably have to be based on economics in that Israeli have a better life than Americans because the US gives Israel money (Rand Paul’s isolation argument).

      • You are forgetting the huge clout of the American-Jewish lobby. No other foreign country has the same influence on American policy.

        • The first instincts of a political animal such as a congress critter is to survive and increase power. In the absence of any countervailing force, the Israel (actually Likud) lobby is strong, but as I noted, the Israel support in the US is shallow and if support for Israel causes congress critters to lose votes, they will flip-flop very quickly. The Israel lobby can deliver money, BUT it can not deliver votes. A majority of US Jews are liberal and even then, their numbers are miniscule (there are more Mormons in the US than Jews). In addition the Zionist Evangelical Christians are rapidly decreasing in numbers. A victim of the younger generations dislike of fundamentalist religion. In many ways, the Israel lobby is a generational thing, with most of the support in the boomers and their parents who remember and feel some guilt about WW2. Those people are dying off and the later generations have no guilt or even memory of WW2 (it is ancient history that they were forced to study in high school). This is the major problem Israel has – the people that might care about Israel are dying off and being replaced by people with no emotional attachment to Israel, that only see Israel as a huge pain in the rear, no different from all the other stupid hell-holes that they have to deal with. Sometime in the next few decades, Americans are going to tell Israelis to just go f*** themselves and may even switch over to supporting the Arabs. Obama’s frustration with Israel mirrors the frustration many of his generation and younger around the world feel. Israel is on a long term slide to oblivion.

        • re. your second which doesn’t have a reply button: I hope you are right. Certainly even back in the ’70s Israelis were bailing out, as I mentioned on another post.

      • I do not know what the internal or external trigger event will be that causes the US to completely screw Israel,

        How about campaign finance reform?

        • to Spyguy: You may be right. My father (RIP) flew Spitfires in WW2 and hated all kinds of racism. He was shocked at the rise of Israeli racism after having fought against fascism/racism in WW2.

  6. Well thought out,likely right on most points,especially on Israel’s strategy …but off on the possible outcomes..in thirty years while the Arab population may grow twice its size,so may Israel with influx from the west and Russia and France ..Israel can become even more advanced and likely solve desalination with the power of the new gas fields..plus new and advanced defense weapons..thirty yrs is a long time..sorry to tell you,but the only way to some sort of peace is for the Arabs to put down their weapons and hope over time more liberal forces in Israel come into power.then things hopefully can work out

      • Possibly so,depends on how the Ukraine and France goes.i wonder dr cole ,if you might comment on what the strategy of the Hamas is?

    • The chances of large numbers of Jews moving from the ‘West’ to Israel are negligible. Since the dawn of Zionism, only a small percentage of Jews have actively chosen to live in Israel. The Jews who went there after the Holocaust had no other choice, neither did most of the Jews expelled from Arab countries. Those Soviet Jews who went to Israel after the break-up of the USSR would have jumped at the chance of going to Western Europe or the US instead, if only they could have got visas. Indeed, many of them have since left Israel.

      Barring some unforeseen circumstances, the days of large-scale Jewish immigration to Israel are almost certainly a thing of the past. Why would anyone who could live in a prosperous Western democracy choose to live in a glorified ghetto? Given how very ugly Israel has become, we’re far more likely to see mass emigration, not mass immigration.

      • I agree. Even in the ’70s and early ’80s, Israelis were packing up and moving to the USA and Europe; I overheard the manager of the hotel I used to stay in on the TelAviv waterfront on the phone talking about his soon-to-be move to the USA. And a Jewish room-mate from grad. school went “for good” and came back after a couple of years.

    • Desalinization would depend on having better energy supplies. Israel’s best hope is to drop the combination of national state religion and orthodoxy (although much orthodoxy rejects atheistic Zionism, at the same time there is now Zionist orthodoxy too) and embrace true multi-culturalism and difference.

    • The amount of gas in the fields off of Israel is actually miniscule compared to the Israel’s needs. In fact, Israel is nowhere near being energy self sufficient because it just has not made the investments in non-hydrocarbon energy. A major cause of the underinvestment is the HUGE cost of the constant war, caused by Israel’s emotional inability to get along with their neighbors.

      Desalination requires tremendous amounts of energy and as I noted, Israel’s energy supply is shaky at best. Also, ALL major infrastructure projects require lots of cash and Israel just does not have it since they spend most of their money on war toys and cannon fodder. Israel will lose too many citizens if it raises its taxes too much more and getting the cash from the US is becoming very iffy given the economic problems the US already has.

      As for technology advances, there will be none. It is a MYTH that Israel is some technology powerhouse. The real world FACTS show that it is not. By any measure of technology, Israelis pretty mediocre on the world stage and it will fall further behind as Asia continues on its path. Most of the world’s technology is coming out of Asia now.

      As others have noted, there is close to zero chance of any new massive migration to Israel because virtually all the remaining Jewish people on earth either have OK lives or have many other choices besides moving to a permanent war zone. Not only that but there is already a quiet, slow out-migration from Israel by the “best and brightest. because they can easily live much better lives outside Israel (in fact there is a big debate in Israel about how to stop the outflow and get some of the ex-parts to return).

      The bottom line is TODAY is the best day for Israel to NEGOTIATE with its neighbors. From this point on, Israel’s future will only gets worse. Without Israel giving up lots of land, water, cash and apologies to the Arabs, Israel has no long term future.

      • But Israel has always lived by milking US taxpayers and as long as we have a Congress determined to keep this up, Israel will survive.

        • @Jane – Think long term. Over the long term, will Americans tolerate having so much of their wealth being drained away by Israel and the Middle East? One of the reasons Rand Paul may be a somewhat viable POTUS candidate is he is tapping into the American desire to keep our wealth here and help Americans.

          The assumption that Americans will fund Israel forever is not valid. Eventually Americans will stop all support for Israel as a result of some internal forces (continued middle class recession, etc.). I can not predict what those forces will be, but based on 10,000 years of human history I am very sure something will happen to cause the US to walk away from Israel.

          For example, there are very valid reasons why Obama is trying to focus on Asia and walking away from the middle east. One of those reasons is the re-emergence of China as a regional power after a 250 year period of power loss. Prior to the mid 1700s, China had a 5000 year period of regional power. From a global perspective, North America, Europe and Asia are the major power centers with the Mid east, Latin America and Africa as distant also rans. The US needs to re-balance global power with Europe and Asia, so the middle east is an unwelcome sideshow.

          Note also that congress critters are well known to not stay bought. That is, they follow the money and votes. If Israel becomes a liability, congress critters will drop Israel in a heart beat.

      • I’m replying to your second post, not your first but your second doesn’t have a reply button. I agree. Having been a frequent visitor when I lived in Jordan, it was clear even then that Israelis with any connections to the West were bailing out.

        • re. Americans: As a long-time citizen although by naturalization, I don’t credit many of my fellow Americans with thinking much beyond their next paycheck. Certainly they mostly couldn’t find Israel or anywhere else overseas on an unlabeled map.

  7. Colin Tom

    I would have expected President Obama to call Israel and tell them to stop, @dallasrbaird
    Without US support, no #GazaUnderAttack

    • I would have expected President Obama to call Israel and tell them to stop,

      Surely, you must be facetious or sarcastic. Accomplices rarely ever, if ever, try to change the way of arch criminals they align themselves with. And with elections coming up very few in Congress will risk the wrath of the Israel lobby.

  8. The actions of Israel are self-destructive in that they not only encourage exile for those Jews who respect civil rights, but encourage both the BDS movement and international court charges.

    • No one has ever accused Israelis of long term thinking or any understanding of long term power dynamics.

      You are correct in that the long term prospects for Israel are NOT very good.

  9. It goes beyond that. They are working on a ‘Greater Israel’ that incorporates the West Bank–and turns Gaza into a military training and testing grounds, with truck farming and some beaches etc. Greater Israel also incorporates the Golan region of Syria, as it is key to a secure fresh water supply for Israel (some sources say over 50% of the fresh water Israel uses comes from there, and that the area is also key to replenishing the aquifer in Jordan, which Israel also uses).

    I think the only possible solution would be to get Israel to evolve to being a true multi-cultural society that accepts all Palestinians. But I doubt that enough on either side are ready for that. But that is what they said about the US and S. Africa years ago. So perhaps there is room for hope (although that would also depend on how successful one thinks the US and S Africa have been in dealing with ‘difference’).

  10. When Sheikh Yassin was killed as Hamas leader in Gaza and his successor, Dr. Rantissi, a few weeks later, Israel’s own anti-terrorism experts predicted two negative consequences for Israel:

    (1)greater cohesion between Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups;

    (2)greater influence for Hamas’ military wing in its overall affairs.

    There is no doubt these predictions occurred.

    President Shimon Peres has stated that if Hamas could be defeated it would have been done long ago.

    I heard a young Israel Defense Forces veteran of the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead operation interviewed by the Israeli media on a talk show say that Hamas’ military leadership is headquartered in tens, if not hundreds of miles, of tunnels burrowed beneath Gaza and it would be impossible to root them out. He described many attempts of Gazans to abduct Israeli soldiers during that invasion which were fought off. The IDF soldiers wanted one final operation in Gaza at that time and did not want to go back. He indicated that Operation Cast Lead would likely result in Gazans receiving huge amounts of international donations as a result of that invasion.

    Once a cease-fire is brokered – likely in a week or two – PM Netanyahu will likely claim victory and use the conflict as an example of his hard line on terror activities. Right now Israeli casualties have been minimal and that will likely change if a future ground invasion by the IDF of Gaza is initiated.

    • I suspect you are right. It’s a while since I used to live in the West Bank but it seems nothing has changed except the land-grabs.

  11. Aside from the unanswered question, what Israel sees as the future for the Palestinian people, there is the counterpart question, what is the future for the Jewish squatters. It is unrealistic to imagine them being treated as they treated those they displaced; driven away at gun point and herded into refugee camps. Nor is it really practical to see them all going back to where they came from, particularly as so many are now second and third generation incomers. So, what happens to them in a future where a Palestinian state is formed and dispersed Palestinians return to reclaim possession of their lands?

    Zionism is not a simple In or Out ideology, it is a quintessentially Jewish thing, it craves a home for the Jewish people, and even the most liberal Jews see that as being in Palestine and Jerusalem. Diehard Zionists view possession of the whole area as a mythopoeic imperative while others look to some kind of Utopian cohabitation with the indigenous people. Neither is realistic. The Palestinian BDS movement which seems to be the main focus of opposition to Israel’s behaviour offers no solution. I have posed the question several times to liberal Jews but they have either ignored the issue, or evaded it by pointing back to the notion of cohabitation.

    As Juan’s map vividly illustrates, the issue is primarily one of geography; there are too may Jews for that particular area. In earlier times such a problem would often be resolved by creating a colony for surplus population, and maybe that’s a solution even at this late stage; somewhere on the planet land for the establishment of an Israeli colony to which settlers could be encouraged to migrate with whatever inducements were necessary. Maybe I am being fanciful but it is an issue that must be faced otherwise we will only witness another round of self inflicted human suffering.

    • Back in the 19th century, with the beginning of Zionism, the Brits thought of giving the Jews a homeland in Uganda, a place that did have unoccupied parts. It never came about for many obvious reasons, not least the Jews’ determination that they wanted it to be in Palestine , which was already well-populated.

      • Yes, I believe Herzl made such a suggestion but I have never had the patience to pursue a confirming source. The point is, however, that some solution needs to be formulated to encompass the increasingly likely success of global efforts to turn back the Israeli tide. BDS demands retreat to pre-1967 borders and although future generations of Jews may well be content to live in harmony with Arabs, that certainly doesn’t apply to most settlers today. I suspect that although many of them voice disgustingly anti-Arab sentiments, they are really seed fallen on stony ground and might well be inspired to pack up and go to another ‘promised land’. The US could, after all, divert much of its billions to their new world. Jewish spin is pretty potent stuff and they might well be persuaded that the deity that gave them Canaan in their tribal past is now giving them this new chunk of land for their technological future, the site perhaps for the third temple. While expending energy on the predicament of the persecuted Palestinians, would it not be helpful to propose an accessible exit door for the hundreds of thousands of Jews who will otherwise be placed in a similarly hopeless situation where resisting to the death or Masada like self destruction are their only ways out. Comparisons are often made with the BDS movement against South African apartheid but the big difference is that the inhabitants of South Africa ‘only’ had to adjust their internal constitution whereas in Palestine waves of illegal immigrants have to depart which, even if they want to, they can scacely do without some alternative destination.

        • When I lived in Jordan, back in the ’70s, I used to go across the river to buy books at Israels English language bookshops. I asked one elderly lady at a shop if they took Jordanian dinars. She smiled, sadly, and said no: “I hope one day we will, but not now.” Sadly that generation died and everything changed.

        • I believe it was during one of Disraelis’s terms as prime minister. 1880s or thereabouts.

      • When I lived in Jordan, back in the ’70s, I used to go across the river to buy books at Israels English language bookshops. I asked one elderly lady at a shop if they took Jordanian dinars. She smiled, sadly, and said no: “I hope one day we will, but not now.” Sadly that generation died and everything changed.

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