January 9th, 2009
05:48 PM ET

Crisis in Gaza: Why is this happening?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/09/art.horizon.gaza.jpg]

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

Any attempt to answer the question "why is this happening?" - this effort included - will be found wanting by supporters of both Israel and the Palestinians, who will decry omissions of history, over-simplification, lack of sufficient context and invalidation of truths they hold to be self-evident.

Nonetheless, for those not steeped in the minutiae of the conflict, a guide for the perplexed.

There are no good dates left on the calendar.

That's been my line for years about the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

By now every square on the calendar can be checked off as the date when one side committed what the other considers to be an atrocity.

(For purposes of this piece, we'll use a definition of atrocity from the dictionary on my desk: "An act of vicious cruelty, esp. the killing of unarmed people.")
There is no black-and-white, only shades of gray.

That is my other line about the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The hard-core on both sides, of course, see matters in absolute terms.

When viewed as a zero-sum game, in which what one gains is offset by what another loses, compromise is difficult, if not impossible.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are two narratives at play, narratives that began thousands of years ago.

It's as if an Israeli vehicle collided with a Palestinian vehicle but the drivers steadfastly maintain radically different versions of what happened, of who did what to whom.

And there often is little respect for the viewpoint of the other.

The storyteller Noa Baum, who performs a piece she calls "A Land Twice Promised," in which she intertwines the stories of Israeli and Palestinian women, puts it this way on her website: "I believe that at the heart of this conflict are two parallel narratives of two national movements struggling to gain sovereignty over the same piece of land. This conflict is characterized by endless layers of memories of pain, injustice and victimization. At the same time there is a lack of listening and no willingness to legitimize the narrative of the other side. I believe that acknowledgement of the other's story is the first step toward creating dialogue and relationship building, which is the foundation for healing and peace – the only alternative to the spiraling vortex of violence."
Right now we are in that "spiraling vortex of violence."

Why is this happening?

History can be a guide, but history is in the eye of the beholder.
How far back do you want to go?

In the Bible, Abraham's wife Sarah was barren and he fathered a son, Ishmael, by Hagar, who was Sarah's handmaiden (and depending on the interpretation, a gift from an Egyptian Pharaoh).

Fourteen years later, the story goes, Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham another son, Isaac.

The book of Genesis tells believers that God commanded Abraham to expel Hagar and Ishmael, but promised to make a great nation of their people.

Isaac's people became the Jews; Ishmael's the Arabs and Muslims.
Too far back?

At the end of the 1800s, European Jews fleeing persecution began arriving in the land of Zion (ergo, Zionists) seeking to establish a Jewish homeland in "Eretz Israel," the land of Israel, the soil of their ancestors.

A people without a land for a land without people.

Except, of course, that wasn't the case.

While there had remained a relatively small Jewish presence in the land called Palestine, the newcomers returned "home" and found there a much larger number of Ishmael's descendants with a claim to the same soil.
Still too far back?

In 1947, as the British sought to extricate themselves from the land they took in war from the Ottoman Turks, the fledgling United Nations offered the original two-state solution.

At the time the population in the affected area was roughly two-thirds Arab, one-third Jewish.

The Jews were unhappy with their allotment (a majority of the land but much of it in the Negev Desert) but accepted the proposal.

Arab leaders unhappy with their portion rejected both the partition plan and the idea of an eventual Jewish nation in Palestine.

In 1948, Israel declared its independence, followed almost immediately by war with the Arab nations, in which Israel captured far more land than had been allotted in the U.N. plan.

What the Jews celebrate, the Palestinians call the "nakba," or catastrophe.

In the months leading up to the war, several hundred thousand Arabs fled their homes, beginning the refugee issue that persists today.

Debate continues over the degree to which they were forced out by the Jews or encouraged by their own leaders to leave, expecting to return when the Jews were defeated.

In the months and years following the war, several hundred thousand Jews left their homes in Arab nations, the majority settling in Israel.

Not recent enough?

In the 1967 "Six-Day War," Israel conquered the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza strip, the West Bank (as in the West Bank of the Jordan River), the eastern half of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

(For purposes of this piece, we'll call the Gaza Strip "Gaza," as distinct from Gaza City.)

Egypt had controlled the Gaza since 1948.

Now it became Israel's headache.

In a relatively small strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea (25 miles long and 4-7 miles wide, slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C.) was a rapidly growing Arab population (then approximately 280,000, now an estimated 1.5 million people), living in what politely could be referred to as squalor.

Gaza, as densely crowded a piece of real estate as you will find on this planet, has been a boiling cauldron.
That squalor is the enduring memory of my first visit to Gaza more than 20 years ago.

Sewage running down gutters in alleys and streets.

People crammed into makeshift housing that became permanent over time.

A hospital operating without air conditioning in stifling heat and without window screens to keep out flies.

One prominent family living in palatial surroundings less than a stone's throw from abject poverty.

My favorite metaphor for Gaza was the rusting freighter then stuck and decaying some 100 yards off the coast of the Al-Shati refugee camp.
Over the years, the leaders of Arab and Muslim nations have used protests about the plight of the Palestinians as a convenient way to let their populace blow off steam over unrelated domestic issues.

The Palestinians have reason to feel used, if not betrayed, by some of their brethren.

Expressions of this sentiment have been heard in recent days from a frustrated population in Gaza and echoed by Hezbollah's leadership in Lebanon and the authors of opinion pieces in the Arab press.

Iran, which is Islamic but not Arab, supports both Hamas and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamic political and military organization that fought a 2006 war with Israel.

Israel's vaunted military may not be trying to compensate for its perceived "loss" in Lebanon but in Gaza surely has implemented solutions to the harsh lessons learned fighting Hezbollah.

It's that influence of Iran through Hamas and Hezbollah that makes the rulers of numerous Arab nations nervous about Islamic movements gaining an even greater foothold than they already have in their own countries.

The global affairs think tank Stratfor summarized this point: "With somewhat limited options to contain Iranian expansion in the region, the Arab states ironically are looking to Israel to ensure that Hamas remains boxed in. So, while on the surface it may seem that the entire Arab world is convulsing with anger at Israel's offensive against Hamas, a closer look reveals that the view from the Arab palace is quite different from the view on the Arab street."
And now we reach the year 2009.

Three years after forcing religious-based settlers to leave Gaza, Israel maintains tight control of the crossing points on land, the seas offshore and the skies above.

Israel is at war against Hamas, a Sunni Muslim organization created more than 20 years ago; its name an acronym for the Arabic words "Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia" meaning Islamic Resistance Movement.

Hamas is a political party and provides social services in Gaza.

It also has a military component.

Israel and the United States are among those who consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization.

Hamas has taken credit (a more boastful stance than a mere claim of responsibility) for suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis.

Hamas also has fired several thousand rockets and mortars into Southern Israel during the past several years.

The rockets are crude by modern military standards, though Israel says that Iran has given Hamas rockets with longer range and greater accuracy.
An Israeli blockade on relief supplies failed to pressure Hamas into halting rocket attacks.

But it did give Palestinians the chance to link Israel's tactics to the Holocaust by calling the blockade "the siege of the Gaza ghetto," a barely veiled reference to the Nazi siege of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw.

Israel and Hamas each say the other's actions precipitated the collapse a couple of weeks ago of a temporary truce brokered by Egypt.

After declaring the "tadiyeh" no longer in effect, Hamas stepped up rocket attacks that had tapered off during those six months.

Israel decided that it no longer could tolerate 1.5 million of its citizens living in fear.

Israel struck first from the air and then on land.

Palestinians accuse Israel of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing."

Israelis are offended by the linguistic linkage to the Holocaust and point to language such as this from Hamas' 1988 convenant: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

Israel contends that while its military tries to limit civilian casualties, Hamas fires rockets from residential neighborhoods and the grounds of schools and other institutions, using the local population as "human flak jackets," Chemi Shalev wrote in the newspaper Israel Hayom.

Did Hamas underestimate Israel's willingness to hit and hit hard or count on that response?

From an Israeli perspective, Hamas is willing to suffer mass casualties among the Palestinians if it mobilizes world opinion against Israel.

Speaking in Damascus, Hamas official Moussa abu Marzouk told a reporter from New American Media that "When Israel uses these means, it doesn't decrease support for Hamas. It accomplishes the opposite. The popularity of Hamas has increased sharply among the Palestinian people and people throughout the Muslim world."

From a Palestinian perspective, the scope of Israel's air and ground assault and the mounting toll of dead and wounded in Gaza is a disproportionate response to the firing of rockets and mortars that have killed and injured a relatively small number of Israelis.

In the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharanoth, Gilad Sharon offered no sympathy: "There are those who say that we are striking at civilians and a population in Gaza that is not to blame," he wrote, adding , "This is self-righteousness; we did not elect Hamas, the public in Gaza did, in droves.If they are suffering, they should elect someone better next time".

Writing in the Arab News, Osama al Sharif lamented: "Israel's killing machine could not be reined in, and as diplomacy stumbled, or was intentionally aborted, anger and calls for action swept through world capitals. The show of solidarity with the Palestinians, and in particular with the people of Gaza, was universal in spite of a brittle resolve of governments, especially members of the Security Council."
The past, the present and now, the future.

Barack Obama will be sworn in as the U.S. president on January 20.

Playing the "one President at a time" card, President-elect Obama has held his tongue thus far, but promises to have much to say once in office.

Despite reiterating his support for Israel (a contentious issue during the campaign) there is wariness in Israel about how the new President Obama will handle the intractable problem that has bedeviled his predecessors.

If only in the interest of getting off on a positive foot, might Israel consider concluding its current Gaza campaign before the Oval Office changes hands?
President George Bush has been an outspoken friend of Israel, supportive of the Palestinian National Authority and critical throughout of Hamas.

Many Israelis and Palestinians alike were disappointed by the level of U.S. activity (or inactivity, if you choose) in American efforts to resolve the conflict during most of his eight-year administration.

Having watched the failure of President Bill Clinton's heated Camp David diplomacy, the White House initially allowed that pot to simmer on a back burner.

Toward the end of his administration, President Bush spoke perhaps too optimistically about Israel and the Palestinians concluding an agreement before he left office.

"I was the first American President to call for a Palestinian state, and building support for the two-state solution has been one of the highest priorities of my Presidency. To earn the trust of Israeli leaders, we made it clear that no Palestinian state would be born of terror," he said in a speech delivered in December.

Looking the future, President Bush predicted, "The day will come when people from Cairo and Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut to Damascus and Tehran live in free and independent societies, bound together by ties of diplomacy, tourism, and trade."

"The day will come when al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas are marginalized and then wither away, as Muslims across the region realize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause," he said.
President Obama will be an interested spectator when Israel goes to the polls on February 10 to elect a new Knesset, its parliament.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu head the slates of the three parties expected to gain the most seats, though whichever party garners the most seats likely will have to form a coalition government that includes smaller parties.

With the Israeli military at war neither Livni nor Barak (the Israeli Prime Minister at those failed Camp David negotiations) wants to appear soft when most segments of the Israeli public back the campaign against Hamas and an election battle looms with the decidedly hawkish Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could call for elections this spring that would pit his more secular Fatah movement against the Islamist Hamas.

It was Hamas' stunning (to the United States, if not also Israel) victory in the 2006 elections that led to the current situation in which Abbas and Fatah control the West Bank while Hamas rules in Gaza.

The U.S. and Israel would like Abbas and Fatah to extend their governance to include Gaza, but there is no money to be made betting on that outcome.
Just as the Jews achieved their dream of a national homeland, the Palestinians yearn for a nationality to call their own.

But the past (how far back do you want to do?) years have embittered Israelis toward Palestinians and Palestinians toward Israelis.

Generations have been born and grown up and grown old knowing no other reality.

Until that cycle ends, there won't be many "good" dates on the calendar.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crisis in Gaza • David Schechter • Israel
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Shlomo

    As the author said, people on both sides of the fence will find the "history" lacking. But, lacking doesn't mean false.

    So what's the issue?

    The same as the beginning. The Muslims (Arab or otherwise) in the region do not want a Jewish state in the area.

    Occupation has come to mean borders - Israel controls its borders - who enters, who leaves. For example, Gaza is not Israel and it shares borders with Egypt and Israel. Just as Gazians cannot enter Egypt without Egypt's approval, Gazians cannot enter Israel without Israel's approval.

    Border control is not occupation and shouldn't be confused with it.


    January 10, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  2. Joan Isenberg

    Peace might be achieved if God were left out of the mess.

    January 10, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  3. milo

    it is not question whay is this heppening, the question is what?
    this is an GENOCIDE and u must tell the true an call by real name
    same sh.t hapens in bosnia few years ago

    January 10, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  4. Tod

    And why doesn't Egypt just open the border from Gaza and let the "palestinians" enter peacefully?

    January 10, 2009 at 9:06 am |
  5. Mostafa

    i think thats USA gov. want to have more influnce in the middle east , they use zion terrorist regime to achieve their naughty desires.
    all of medias is under their influnce and they can accuse everyone they want.
    documents around times shows that who was terrorists and who abused of weapon against civilians! who made Alqaida and Taliban to terroring innocent people? who was operator of 9/11!? who learned idiot Arabs self killing!?
    So as your opinion Iran,Syria,Lebanan,Palestine and the other freedom seekers are terrorism supporters!? and timid triliarder Arabs wich just learned eating and F..king are inactives!? shame on liers and shame on those people wich close thier eyes agains the truth.

    January 10, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  6. John McGrath

    The past is past, and no one agrees on it. Let's focus on a workable future. Gaza needs a serious economic development plan administered by an Authority with real teeth (not the UN). Once the Gazans have decent jobs and hopes that their children can do well, they will have more of a stake in peace with Israel. Only then will they be willing to vote out Hamas. The plan would include: ... building, equipping and staffing hospitals and schools ... establishing savings and loans societies based on Islamic principles (which also work for non-Muslims) ... setting up market zones for the Gazans to buy and sell goods (some basics would be subsidized with cheap prices) ... building modern manufacturing facilities which can contract to produce for local and foreign companies. ... All this requires an Authority with policing, judicial and military powers. Seats on the Authority for reps from some Arab countries, India, China, South Africa, the Red Crescent/Cross, Al Fatah, Hamas, and the EU.

    January 10, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  7. Tod

    Great but there are "palestinians" living in Israel as well. Do you think that the arabs would tolerate jews in their neighborhood? Israel is a tiny Jewish State. It pales in comparison to the size of the land that is arab controlled....Egypt, Syria, Jordan, U.A.E., Lebannon, etc. If you are not muslim, there you are persecuted. In Israel, if you are not Jewish you still get to live in peace.....just like the United States.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  8. Frank

    The world is a place where the stronger eats the weaker. The shark eats fish, the fish eat sthe shrimp. It can has it balances and checks. But if you are not strong, like the Palestinians, you get bullied. And why US does not want to have a sease fire, bully and bully are friends, as always.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  9. Bill Dean

    In the old testament it says "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." This rule was made because in the old days the offended party would retaliate to extremes and multiples of extremes against others for real and perceived offenses.
    Today we see 3 Israel citizens killed by rockets and 700-800 enemies killed (and counting) plus 3,000 wounded as retaliation plus lots of infrastucture destroyed. I guess you can still be the chosen people and not follow your own religion.
    I don't have sympathy for the rocket launch militants either. I see both sides as twisted and sick.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  10. Andy Wilson

    We whine about Palestine, but what about Darfur, Haiti, Burma and places that have been affected by political or natural disasters. There's suffering in the whole world and whether it's caused by a Junta, a fraudulent government or mother nature, we always want to pick out this one. There's more suffering in the world than just Gaza.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  11. Tony

    There are 20% of non jews in Israel and 8 % of them are christians and they are third grade citizens, no democracy,no human rights.No one has a clue abt their sufferings and media does not care abt them.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  12. guy,israel

    Try to imagine that Florida (just an ex.) is getting 10 – 30 missiles a day in 8 years!!! What will be the US will do about it ??? They are Lunching there missiles from Schools, houses and just kind of env because they know that the army will not fire on it.
    If you can’t imagine it I am inviting you to one of the 5 biggest cities to try.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  13. dave

    If Gaza looks like a concentration camp, it's the fault of the arab nations, who send arms to Hamas, but not humanitarian aid to the populace, or money to build infrastructure. Why doesn't Israel just return Gaza to Egypt and be done with it? Let them be responsible for their "muslim brothers" and see if conditions improve. I'll bet not.

    January 10, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  14. Peter

    There is no black-and-white, yet the world likes to see the situation as the big bully Israel killing completely innocent Palestinians, which is not entirely the case. I would really like to know what they would have Israel do in response to hundreds of rocket attacks and suicide bombings from an enemy whose very charter includes the destruction of Israel. How patient would their own governments be under the same circumstances? This whole "world/UN condemnation" smacks of political correctness to me. Meanwhile, we have situations like Darfur, and the world sticks its head in the sand. Sad.....

    January 10, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  15. Darren

    Leaving ALL past reasonings behind and looking at the current situation of Palestinians and Israelis:
    Two different populations each of whose ever growing numbers threatens the other, on a small piece of land wanted by both.

    The implication of this picture is that that there is no solution which can eliminate problems in this setting-none.
    Strangely, the decades-old "peace process" has chosen to ignore the realities of this setting completely:
    Nothing can make the Palestinians not want all of the land, and nothing can make the Israelis not feel that they have the right to be in what they consider their homeland. Both result in constant conflict.

    It seems that only a very drastic and original solution would go to the heart of the problem-the setting:

    The neighboring Arab countries have vast lands. Syria, Egypt, Jordan, S. Arabia, Iran, can together absorb the roughly 2.5 million Palestinians. They can give them citizenship, homes, jobs, some land to cultivate, just like their own citizens have. A life for all those who up to today have absolutely nothing.

    The aid amounts going to the Palestinians today can go to the governments of these countries to absolve the cost. Israel would also pay generously.

    January 10, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  16. Megan

    This conflict doesn't seem to be accomplishing much outside of continuing the cycle of hatred between these two peoples.
    It's unclear to me whether there can be a resolution to any of this without putting a stop to the violence from both sides.
    Palestinians are angry because their children are dying, but Israeli's are angry for the same reason, and these deaths just add fuel to an already blazing inferno.

    Personally, the entire situation bothers me on a level that I can't really articulate. Innocent people are dying on both sides and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of volunteering/medicinal aid/ food aid that someone like me can do.

    January 10, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  17. jobrighton

    Danielle- do you know how many Israelis were killed by the 7 years of rockets fired from Hamas? It was 2. How many Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israeli military during the same period? At least 1100 of which more than 300 were children. Check out the stats independently yourself. So why are the Israelis pursuing this murderous policy? Their won't be a military solution to stopping the rockets from Hamas, there has to be a politcal one.

    January 10, 2009 at 5:05 am |
  18. Abdul

    The major concern for Israel is the loss of her image among people in the middle east as the strongest country in the region. Her defeat by Hizbullah in 2006 and now the strong resistance that Hamas is showing are building a new weaker image for Israel among arab and Muslims. A view that neither Israel or US want to accept so this why they want to change it even if it reaches a genocide similar to what is happening now in Gaza. I think Israel and the US must start negotiating with the people and not their leaders because the power is no longer in the leaders hand at least in Palestine and Lebanon.

    January 10, 2009 at 4:29 am |
  19. Derek

    Great article. Especially for those of us that are just too overwhelmed with understanding why there is so much violence in the area. As someone without any religous ties,I'm often disapointed listening to all the excuses both these people make for war and anger. There are so many excuses for peace.

    January 10, 2009 at 3:25 am |
  20. Naajiya Blight

    As a humanitarian, you become awfully concerned about what's going on in Gaza. What can be done to resolve this conflict? I wonder if they think to themselves, "We have been here before and not much has been done. Violence is not doing anything , must there be some other way?" We shall see.

    January 10, 2009 at 2:43 am |
  21. Denise...NY

    I loved the history...tho there are many extra details that would fill many texts...still the facts are the Gaza strip is like reservation..like many of our US reservations .....as I said before this is like our Western Expansion......now it an Isreali Expansion to beach front property....Isreal will probably keep on pushing until an adequete amount of Palistinians have relocated to another Arab state....for those that say it is Isreals land for thousands of years...well then ...I say I'm Blackfoot so get off my land.....think about it....peace

    January 10, 2009 at 1:23 am |
  22. usa

    The U.N. created ISRAEL can it dissolve Israel or the U>n> gave its self the power to create a state can it dissolve a state?

    January 10, 2009 at 12:29 am |
  23. Linda

    Good article, as you have certainly stirred up lots of debate. lol

    The U.S. and Canada do not, and will not negotiate with terrorist death cults and neither will Isreal. In Canada it is against the law to fund and negotiate or support terrorist activities as far as I know. After 9/11 the U.S. has done a pretty good job of hunting them down, kind of I think because they are still hunting of Osama.

    Iran and Syria cannot continue to manipulate the ME through their funding of these terrorist groups, as Iran is well on the way to becoming nuclear by the end of 2011. By the way, I saw open sewers in Tehran also when I visited there in 1998. Now they have an even bigger open sewer with the stuff their Pres. Ahmadinejad spouts out of his mouth along with his other mouthpiece Nasrallah. If we want to rewrite history for Palestinians, then lets rewrite history for the outcomes of WWI and WWII and see how many countries will agree. Let Isreal defend itself as it has every right to live in peace.

    By the way, how come nobody is thanking Isreal for taking out Syria's secret nuclear reactor in Sept./2007? Oh, I know that's just a myth. Isreal has never done anything good and doesn't even have a right to exist. They are just another group of the SS Nazi now but who actually kills their own people and practices the old salut, dressing similar to the old Klu Klux Clan in the U.S. with their faces always covered. The name begins with H, end with ass, sorry I mean Hamas. Think it was from Ft. Lauderdale, FL that last week that a lady was chanting at a demonstration against Isreal something about "Go back to the ovens, You need a big oven". Her words not mine. Get real people, we should be kissing the boots of the IAF and IDF right now!

    Lets cry about a real humanitarian crisis in Darfur .... 5yrs. and counting, 300,000 plus dead, 2 million plus displaced and starving people because one of our Arab Muslim brothers, Omar al-Hassan al-Bashir and his militia groups (one called Janjaweed) decided to do a little cleansing of certain ethinic groups (mostly black African race). I don't think they have rockets, cell phones or satellite T.V. there, so they can't communicate as easily and haven't been able to decide when to stop yet.

    January 9, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  24. jaelle

    Thanks for posting this background info. It helps put it all into its very gray, very sad perspective.

    January 9, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  25. Ev

    Why are you not outraged that the US, the only one, did not sign the UN condemnation of the war in Gaza, especially the Israeli killing of children and civilians. The whole world is outraged. Condoleeza Rice is a coward, the same she was in the Lebanon war where she did not want to have a cease fire. This is shameful. Talk about it! The whole world does. We have to condemn this war. It is evil.

    January 9, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  26. earle,florida

    Whomever paints this landscape; whomever is taken to task editing this quagmire; whomever mimics the lyrics of death with laughter,whomever it be,must have the servitude of satan ,or the patience of God;for both sides relinquished their souls;for all is nothing but pride,...PS. This is how I view this conflict that will never end, unless the powers to be, share in the responsiblity of true empirical consciousness.

    January 9, 2009 at 9:40 pm |
  27. Walid W. Freij, M.D.

    Dear Annie Kate,
    Most Palestinians who fled Palestine did so after many massacres in numerous villages. My grandfather, who was a physician, left after his house was bombed. The other point that is sticking is that you think that someone should lose their home if they left it. The leaders of Israel at the time of creation of Israel never thought that the Palestinian would be still fighting for their homeland speaking for the tenacity of the Palestinians. The Palestinians should have a state in Gaza and West Bank and east Jerusalem. Palestine and Israel then would live side by side in peace. The Israeli occupation is the problem and should end.

    January 9, 2009 at 9:37 pm |
  28. Joan Keefe

    The wars are all around us, especially when we travel by air. It is unconscionable that the airlines do not give our military traveling first boarding. They are left to wait until the end of the line on Southwest and United. Our military should be given first class status on all of our airlines. Let us give our military a break when we can, especially while they are traveling to and from our war zones.

    January 9, 2009 at 9:27 pm |
  29. fred

    A note for the "non informed" few who somehow are told to believe that Israel is acting in self defence... I would like to say that according to the united nations resolution 181 that recognized israel, the land that Hamas has "attacked" with the primitive rockets is actually non israeli land but palatenian land.

    January 9, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  30. Hana

    nice statment exept you should name thing what they are palistenian are not terrorist they are people under pressure and control what would you do.

    January 9, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  31. Hana

    don't forget they live in the same land so israel will destroy itself get it

    January 9, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  32. Avraham Alkobi

    I think the time has come, that we should ATTACK Gaza with all our force, so they can realise that the Hamas, the Hezbola, the Sourians, and the Iranians..That when we go out to war, we pay the price. If you have value for human life, avoid this war. It will be good for them, and for israel, and all of the middle east.

    As for Israel, this is a problem of being able to exist, or not.

    Shalom, Shalom for all the area.

    January 9, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  33. Leslie, CA

    Hamas is reacting to the treatment of being ostracized and blocked from having full access in and out of their own land.

    They are treated as criminals and can't live where they want to live in their own country. Forced to adjust traditions because of Israel.

    Israel is WRONG and until the world stand up and says STOP this will continue.

    January 9, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  34. Jim,

    If Israel wanted to " Ethnicly clense Gaza " & Commit " Genocide" I think they would have turned the area into a radioactive glass factory long ago.

    January 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  35. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    It's happening because both nations are looking out for number one at the expense of anyone and everyone who gets in their way. They are like two little boys fighting until the bitter end, no one giving up, no one willing to talk things out and resolve it before someone is really hurt (and in reality one life is one too many). And what saddens me is America's enmeshment with Israel that is so dysfunctional we will never work for true peace. We're too involved to do so. I don't believe we should talk with Hamas, a terrorist state. But I am not sure what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza isn't terrorism in itself. We are no better talking to them and supporting them that what we are speaking with Hamas. You can't take that speck out your brother's eye until you remove the plank from your own. At least that's what Jesus said. Wise advice from a Jewish leader who rocked the establishment over 2000 years ago. Maybe we should clean our own house here in the US before we worry about Hamas and Israel and placating people who apparently are no better than the ones they are screaming about. After the last eight years and the loss of my friend to Iraq, isolationism is looking really good to me right now.

    January 9, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  36. Annie Kate

    Good historical overview – shows that the Israeli/Arab tug of war has gone on for centuries and may go on for centuries more. The Palestinians should have stayed in their homes rather than leave in 1948 as their leaders urged them to do; the leaders were operating from a mindset of wiping the Jews and their state off the global map and thought they would be back within a very short period. They did not figure on the Israeli tenacity in holding on to their state and have always underestimated it. If the 1948 Palestinians had stayed the picture might be a lot different now – with Palestinian and Israeli living peacefully side by side. I hope there is someone on both sides now that has the wisdom and the patience to broker a peaceful accord between the two camps where each can live and prosper in the Middle East; otherwise, this may go on for a very long time more.

    January 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  37. Adam Robinette

    I think we, as Americans can never understand the conflict that is going on over there. That's why it disgusts me that we can actually take sides, in something we no nothing about. One thing I do know is that the Israeli invasion of Gaza looks very much like Russia's invasion of Georgia a few months back. Georgia fired the first shots, and Russia responded with a ridiculous amount of force. We, as Americans, were outraged that the Russians would respond so harshly to such a small attack. The truth is that the Isreali's have done the exact same thing in Gaza, and are being far less humane than the Russian army had been. We need to ask ourselves why, as Americans, we are not as outraged with Isreal.

    It's time our Government checks it's prejudice for the darker complected at the door, and realize that no one, including Isreal, should be immune from punishment for the obvious slaughter of innocents.

    January 9, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  38. Dina - Cali

    Danielle, it's clear your opinion is bias and blind. 20% arabs in Isreal living like hostages and dogs in a concentration camp doesn't count...

    Lets use this as an example...China comes to the U.S and says you know what, we're pushing everyone to California and putting a wall around it, the rest of the U.S will now belong to the native indians...do you think that the a piece of land with that many people on it with NO rights and NO resources, NO jobs, NO money, do you think that this would frustrate the people living within those walls..... Cage someone long enough and they will lose their minds. Isreal is wrong and you know it.

    And RUTH, Yeah you are right, read your own bible, because in the Judiasm religion, jews are not even supposed to own land...Isreali's are rebelling, it's clear.

    NEFIRA – The WHOLE reason for what is going on is because of U.S Foreign policy, the U.S did this so it is their business just as much as Isreal and Palestine...

    January 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  39. Bero

    I agree with you absolutely Nefira in that it is not your country's place to police the world and that a lot of your economic problems and , by the way, the world's,derive from your policing of the world. The point is that your country's policing of the world is not neutral. Your country police's the world according to what is best for your country, according to the vision of your politicians and the economic powers of your country. This is not always what is best for the people of your country.

    January 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  40. Danielle

    you should include in the dead count from Israel all the civilians dead by rockets and suicide attacks that happened in at least the past 7 years.

    January 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  41. Nefira Mada

    Why is this happening? the simplest answer... It just is. There has been fighting over this area of land for thousands of years. It is noone elses busness but that of Isreal and Palistine. In fact there is nothing in that part of the world that any country of the world especially not us americans have any reason to be apart of.
    It is absolutely tragic the massive amount of civilian lives lost on the Palistinian side, and yet the dead on the isreali side can be counted on your hands... This is completely unfair. However, I still hold my position that it's noone's busness.
    I am not concerned with how or why its happening, simply that I hope we stay out of it.
    It's not our place to police the world, and this action of policing the world is a major contributor to our economic problems...

    January 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  42. Ruth

    Israel has a higher calling than it's own destruction. I pray for the peace of Israel because the word of God has told me to do so. I've heard and read of so many that are against Israel but I stand with Israels right to defend itself.. People Israel, is not going anywhere no matter who comes against it. The land they occupy was not given to them by man but by God Himself. Believe it or not 60 years ago is not where it started. Pick up a Bible, Israel is still standing in the end...
    All have the right to exist without the threat of death at our backdoor. Like I said before the shedding of innocent blood on either side is tragic.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  43. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    @ Icia Cohen.......... well said!! So true! War is not the answer. All the wars Israel has fought, thousands killed have NOT made Israel safer nor more peaceful!

    For every Palestinian child killed, maimed or orphaned there will be many other children who will grow up to become terrorists!

    Israel needs to find another solution other than war. And to answer, Danielle, I did not agree with the Bush invasion of either Afghanistan nor Iraq!

    Terrorists can not be eliminated by war! We must win over the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and indeed the Muslim world.

    Israel is losing American support, why? Because we do not see them attempting to live peacefully. Israel equals war.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  44. Danielle

    Dear Semo,
    Just to inform you, 20% of the population in Israel is Arab. They can vote and are represented in the Parlament.
    But why are you mixing apples and oranges?

    January 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  45. Dina - Cali

    The U.N, the Red Cross and the Vatican have all come out saying that Gaza looks like a concentration camp. Isreal has been hiding behind the "Holocaust" and because of that, they get to commit war crimes against innocent children? Why does everyone in the world seem to get it except for the U.S?

    Isreal can argue that Hamas fires missiles first or who started it blah blah...lets not FORGET who is on who's land and WHY WHY WHY they are even fighting to begin with...THEIR RIGHTS. Palestine has ZERO RIGHTS. Isreal gets un-conditional, un-questioned support and 15 MILLION a DAY from U.S taxpayers money to support their genocide on Palestine. I'm neither jewish or muslim and I'm an american citizen that is about to call it quits on the U.S and move out of this country. this is wrong on every level you can imagine, where's the humanity?

    January 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  46. Semo Rantamaki

    You are going back thousands of years now ? If that is the case then why not go back 50,000 years when people migrated from Africa and everything should belong to the Africans or Ethiopians.
    Why is it so hard to understand. At the time of the mandate, two thirds are Palestinian Arabs and one third Jewish. If you go by democratic principles, the majority vote or desires should count. One state, do not divide. But no, you have outside powers and an outside body (U.N) going against the wishes of the majority indigenous people. This is a concocted problem.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  47. Danielle

    Israel is reacting after many years and thousands of rockets fired by Hamas. Of course the press didn’t mention them, so now the people are condemning Israel’s right to defend its population.
    Those rockets landed on schools, malls, houses. But there was no single newspaper or TV show that mentioned them, or no single manifestation against it. Why? Wasn’t that important? Couldn’t that have changed the course of actions? Maybe the same people that now are protesting against Israel would have pressured Hamas to stop (although I doubt it). Maybe the international community and/or organizations would have felt the obligation to put some pressure on Hamas. But that did not happen, because when Israelis civilians die nobody cares.
    People can not see the terrible danger that Hamas represents. Hamas is an extremist terror organization that sees anyone that doesn’t share their thoughts as an enemy and threatens with destroying them. What kind of civilized group is that? How can you talk to them? This terrorist organization that is considered to be suffering of an uneven power committed brutal attacks against US, Spain, London, Argentina to mention some of them. So I don’t understand why people still defend them and attack Israel. Yes, there are civilians involved but instead of calling Israelis barbarian, why don’t they call Hamas barbarians, that don’t care and intentionally put them in danger to achieve what they want, to have the international community supporting them. And the sad part is that they achieve that.
    The rockets and suicide attacks that Israel has been under for long time are acts of terrorism not different from destroying the Twin Towers, or attacking the trains in Spain or London. The difference is that Israel lives with that every single day.
    US invaded Afghanistan after one terrorist attack. Turkey invaded Cyprus to protect the Turkish Cypriots. And that was ok. So what is the difference with what Israel is doing now? Doesn’t it have the right to defend its people? Maybe there is more in the international reaction that the solidarity with the Palestinian people, there is a specific anger against Israel.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  48. Icia Cohen

    Nothing justifies inocent victims no matter what side of the border. Israel has the right to defend itself but not by becoming nothing different than what they are fighting against. Justice must not be mistaken with terror. Children must never be accountable as victims of any act of violence. Only when Humanism overcomes Politics we will have a chance for a Peace Treat in the Middle East. We demand intervention in this military conflict so nobody in any side of the border should mourn more victims, so no more children will be injured, we demand justice for Palestinian people so they can live with dignity in a territory that they also belong to, and in Israel there will be Peace. I'm calling for a truce, I'm calling for a cease of fire, I'm calling for a life change in Gaza, I'm calling for Peace in the region.
    This fight is not against Palestinians, it's against Hamas, but in a war is easy to forget who is the one to fight. Hamas had exposed Palestinian children to violence before, now and then, they cover and hide themselves among inocents and Israeli incursion in Gaza is just giving them plenty of oportunities to use this practice as their ally. Israel should know better than that.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  49. Semo Rantamaki

    How about a one state solution ? Oh no ! Israel must be a Jewish state, even if it has to be done artificially. Israel is willing to bring in millions of Jews thousand of miles away from around the world, but not Muslim palestinians a few miles away from the West Bank. Does not that sound racist to you ? Israel just wants the land there, but not the people in it if they are not Jewish (especially if they are Muslims). After cleansing the Arab villages of Palestinians and making refugees of them, Israel have kept some token Arabs as Israeli Arabs, as longs as they are a minority.

    So, now that the foundation of the state was made on shaky moral grounds, Israel tries to obfuscate each flare up by focusing on the symptoms, not the cause. Focus on homemade and Chinese rocket fire, not Israel’s total blockade of Gaza and periodic violent incursions. Focus on the smuggling of crude arms, not Israel’s blockbuster supplies of F-16s, Apache helicopters and much more.

    It is the religion of the Palestinians that is the problem, not the occupation, not the blockade, not the bombings, not the land grabs, not the suffering of the Nomad arabs in Negev who cannot even get water lines and so on...

    January 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  50. miladys almonte

    I believe the cycle of hate among Israelis and Palestinians would be completed the day they realize they have only accomplished their own destruction, and an universal propagation of hate, which is all against God's will. He created this earth for all of His children to share it within the undestructible bound of love and compassion.

    Palestinians and Israelis should part from the conscious premise that they're brothers.We only hope that, that day would come soon. We pray for our leaders's enlightment of their hearts and souls; guiding them away from the ego's rules of man, and obeying our Creator.

    January 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
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