Israel’s self-centered policy critics

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Israeli commentator Aeyal Gross writes that “at any given moment Netanyahu could and should have switched to the diplomatic track and called for beginning immediate negotiations with the Palestinian leadership of the unity government, under the auspices of the Saudi initiative and the Quartet, while completely freezing settlement construction and eliminating every aspect of the blockade of Gaza not related to security.”

His assumption, like so many others, is that Israel makes all the decisions about its own fate and that whatever its choices are, everyone else revolves around them.  Another critic claimed that by continuing the war in Gaza Israel has a “useful tool to build public consensus.”  Gross claims “It’s also hard to understand the support for the war in light of experience, which shows that Israeli aggression neither deters nor reduces the rocket fire.”  And, “The war also proved the pointlessness of the blockade: We imprisoned Gaza’s residents, but we didn’t manage to stop the stockpiling of rockets or construction of the tunnels.”

It reminds one of Nobel Prize winner Ada Yonath’s theory that “If we wouldn’t have these people here there would be no one to release and no motivation to kidnap.”  Similarly +972 published a piece by Ruth Reznik about her days in the Irgun: “At the time, my resolve to join the resistance against the British grew as more and more members of the resistance were handed death sentences, and as the gates to the country were closing in the face of Jewish refugees from Europe. I decided it was time to become part of the fight against the British occupier.”  She understands Hamas, “To this day, I understand the need of an occupied people to resist their occupier, and establish underground resistance forces until they gain their sovereignty. The same happened with oppressed peoples in America, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Kenya, South Africa and many other countries.”

David Grossman speaking to a crowd on August 18th claimed “there is no military solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.” And like the sentiments above, all this is nice language but all of it ignores a central player: Hamas.  All of it assumes that Israel is the only actor playing chess against itself.  The reason these people argue thus is partly an Israelocentrism, partly a view they are superior, that they are the actors and they change destinies.  This profound arrogance means that they sometimes even speak “on behalf” of Gaza.  But they do not speak as equals to Gaza.

Reznik talks about lessons for Hamas.  But the Irgun put down its weapons and ended its “resistance.”  Yonath talks about always freeing prisoners, but forgets that they became prisoners for a reason; the threat of more kidnappings, like a mafia threat, cannot always be assuaged by concessions. The whole idea that Netanyahu just “chooses” diplomacy, misreads Hamas as an independent actor, that has its own vision.  In this respect, all this talk is for nothing, because it is predicated on an Israel-only worldview.

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