The Detroit Jewish News asked experts on Israel, foreign policy, religion and/or other relevant fields to answer important questions on everyone’s mind in the midst of the recent news from the Middle East. Here are some of their answers.
Is what’s going on in Gaza right now overkill, literally or figuratively?
On the one hand, the description of Hamas-orchestrated events as “peaceful demonstrations,” a description purveyed by some news outlets, is clearly a distortion insofar as demonstrators have fired shots at the IDF, hurled firebombs and rocks, and repeatedly sought to breach the security fence so as to enter Israel en masse. Hamas’ declared goal is to destroy the border between Gaza and Israel — a line of demarcation that has been recognized by both Egypt and the PA — so as in effect to invade Israel. All claims of Palestinian casualties are uncorroborated claims put out by Hamas. On the other hand, it is very difficult to know how many of the (so far) 50 alleged fatalities were actually engaged in violence.
Dr. Frederic Pearson:
Gaza is a human and political tragedy, made worse by the latest U.S. move in Jerusalem and by harsh Israeli reprisal tactics. Iranian and radical influence there is likely to strengthen rather than weaken, especially with the U.S. move to violate the nuclear agreement. It amounts to a permanent prison camp for 1.8 million mainly young Palestinians. Israel missed a golden opportunity for peace when it evacuated Gaza under Sharon without a forthcoming offer of positive help for reconstruction.
Dr. Michael Pytlik:
Surely, we knew there would be a reaction to the moving of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Some reaction by the Palestinians was to be expected, but we would all prefer that it would be less violent. The problem is that these issues boil over and there is an even greater reaction, which begets additional actions that are unpredictable. Old wounds quickly open and the events have led to loss of life of Palestinian protesters. The hornet’s nest has been opened on this, and to what end? This embassy move was in part a U.S. domestic campaign promise that was planned without clear thought about its ramifications. Israel will only lose the PR war on this, as so often happens. The current regime in Washington did not plan for any serious outcome, as is the case with almost everything they mange to do or simply uproot.
Recent events at the Gaza border fence are tragic but unfortunately necessary. Given recent Hamas attacks and incursions into Israel across Israel’s southern border, and the periodic discovery of attack tunnels from Gaza by the Israeli military, the integrity of the border is imperative for Israeli security. In addition, while some of the protestors are genuine using peaceful means to pursue peaceful motives, some, at least, may well be acting as agents — winking or otherwise — of Hamas. Thus the Israeli military and, by extension, Israeli society, is once again caught between _havlaga_(restraint, especially toward unarmed civilian protestors) and the very real threat posed by Hamas.