Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year, new war

Today saw thousands of people, mainly British born, march through the streets of London to protest against Israel's air attacks on Gaza. In many respects it was the usual suspects:

Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, a few "leaders" of the British Muslim community and a handful of "socially concerned" actors and similar.

Therefore it would be easy to dismiss. However there are some things that should be noted. First I should say that every inclination in me whether political, intellectual or emotional is to favour Israel. Israel in its tiny territory has a right to exist despite broadly hostile neighbours on every side. Ordinary Israelis seem to face daily pressures that people in London could hardly imagine. The worst it generally gets in London is deciding on whether a particular area is safe after dark. For many in Israel the prospect of a rocket coming through the ceiling is a very real one. Additionally the risk of suicide bombers has only been managed through extraordinary security measures.

Nonetheless ,I cannot help feeling uneasy about the assault on Gaza. This is not out of any shred of sympathy for Hamas but due to the fact that there are some innocents caught up in a territory even smaller than Israel.

In essentially approving (by silence if nothing else) of a massive military assault (that has become a ground war this evening) we are approving of high levels of civlian casualties. Of course, any German could point out that Britons had no such sensitivities when they cheered the firestorms in German cities that killed far more than have ever been killed in Gaza.

So war is essentially grim and innocents always get killed. That aside I do think that a victory in Gaza at any price may yet come back to haunt Israel. Will thousands of young Palestinian and Arab people become inspired to become suicide bombers ? Will Israel ultimately become more isolated as a result particularly in the year that the US president changes ? There are not many subjects that create marches of 10,000 people in London but Gaza managed that today. Last but not least will Israel create a greater degree of unity amongst Islamic states. Today I saw reports of the Turkish PM visiting Saudia Arabia and high level Iranian officials flying to Damascus. The differences between the Islamic states is a key part in Israel's foreign policy. United islamic states would be a far bigger threat to it than disunited states.

I support the state of Israel but despite this I find myself uneasy this evening. I suppose that is a luxury to have, to be uneasy. Thousands of Israelis have no time to be uneasy- they have to risk their lives this evening.

I do not envy them and I am thankful I live in a place where I get time to be uncomfortable about the wars in foreign countries.

My hope is not simply for an Israel victory which would seem inevitable but for a lasting peace. That of course is the holy grail that no one has yet obtained.


Rositta said...

My offspring and me were just discussing this today and we also feel a bit uneasy. Like you we have no love for Hamas but Israel is hurting itself in this ground assault. Both my parents survived the fire bombings by the Brits, my Dad in Pennemuende and my Mother was on her way to the west through Dresden. They were both innocents who saw the worst of civilian deaths and it stayed with them forever. There is no good war unfortunately and I doubt we will see peace there, at least not in my lifetime, sadly...ciao

Luis said...

It never ceases to amaze me that in our generally insulated lives we never have to look very far to find those who have experienced real horrors. Hearing about your parents just reinforces that.

It would be nice to think that at least some of the innocents could be allowed to escape Gaza before bombs and shells do their worst. However I guess it is easy to say and far more difficult to do. Neither Israel or Egypt seem willing to open their borders to allow people out.

It would seem a virtual certainty that the Israeli army will beat Hamas. Whether this proves a hollow victory remains to be seen.

cw-patriot said...


I share your deep concerns over what is occurring in the Middle East, and I believe that, if the West does not support Israel, not only is Israel's very existence in question, but there will be enormous ramifications for all of the Western world.

I know that anti-Israel feelings are high in western Europe, and they are being more and more mirrored here in America -- at least among the more 'vocal' minority (slowly becoming a majority, I fear).

One of the most coherent explanations I have read recently of the situation -- and how it got that way -- can be found on Plumb Bob's blog in the following essay:

A Review of the Israel Basics

Thank you for you well-considered, insightful commentary. I always enjoy reading your thoughts from 'across the pond', and nearly always agree with your views, but might not have expressed them quite as well. :)

~ joanie

cw-patriot said...


The link in the comment above does not appear to work (at least not for me). If needed, here is the url:

~ joanie

Luis said...


Thank you as always for your words.

My sympathies were with the innocents in this. It all seemed rather symbolic that not even a flight into Egypt was open to Palestinian families.

However I agree with you about the need to protect Israel.

I have been away from this blog for a while but I hope to get back in business again soon !