Tuesday, January 6, 2009

God Guns and Gaza

Israel has been pounding Gaza for eleven days now-- first by air and now by land as well. The images become more horrifying every day. Tuesday, the New York Times reported that 30 civilians, including women and children, were killed in an Israeli bombing raid near a United Nations School in Gaza. The UN had opened its schools in Gaza to refugees and then, according to the article, gave the coordinates to the Israelis. Next thing you know it was bombs away. Aha, but wait. Here's the Israeli side of the story. According to them, Hamas was targeting the Israeli army and shelling it from inside the school, using the civilian population as protection. It's probably true. Israel swears it is not targeting civilians, just going after Hamas to stop them from lobbing lethal missiles into Israel and killing Israeli civilians. Hamas, for its part, is out to wipe Israel off the map and makes no bones about it. Each side says it is only protecting itself and that the other is the aggressor.

The history of the present conflict is written in the blood of both Israelis and Palestinians in a painful trail that leads from the Brits who threw up their hands in 1948 and left the region, to the army of the newborn nation of Israel which defeated five Arab armies to claim its ancestral homeland the old fashioned way, by conquest. Israel has lived by the sword ever since, knowing that only its military invincibility keeps it safe. For the last year and a half, since it left Gaza and dismantled its settlements, Israel has imposed a punishing embargo in the name of national safety. The result has been a political pressure cooker and a lot of human suffering in Gaza. The situation is a lose /lose for everybody. Gaza is only one morsel of meat in a bitter stew of anger and revenge that is endlessly spiced and stirred by both sides.

At base, each group is saying to the other " you're on my land, get out" and at base each side just wants what we all want--a chance to live in dignity, raise a family, and die in peace. It shouldn't be so hard--but it is. Each side blames the other and claims innocence for itself.

Truth is always the first casualty of war, but whose truth is the real truth? In this case both sides believe they are right but when I look at all the pictures of dead babies and grieving parents, all I can think is: God help Gaza. God help Israel and God help us all.


JamaGenie said...

Amen, ppr!

Adam Shake said...

I'm going to do something here that I don't do very often, and that's talk about something other than the Environment.

I'm an ex Special Forces guy with 3 combat patches from 3 different counties. Now that, in and of itself means nothing, just that my opinions are based on things I've done and seen and learned.

It's an unfortunate situation when there are two morally opposed armies who are committed to not only protect the lives of the people they love, but committed to give their own lives to their cause. (which they believe in)

Both the Israelis and Hamas are good at what they do. They have been taught to kill, and the best of them take enjoyment from it because you always do better at those things you enjoy. This is a truth.

The other truth is that in war, people become things, and when you kill or break a thing, even if it is a child, it is just a broken thing.

I don't know what will happen, but neither side will "win."

But I do think that it is unfair to judge an army based on it's success. The Israeli soldiers are doing what has been asked of them, what they have been trained to do, what they are good at and what they believe in.

That's all for me.

pinkpackrat said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment on the realities of war, Adam. Thanks too for the reminder that armies are made up of human beings and that soldiers who give their lives for the cause they serve are worthy of respect, always.

Wherever the war is being fought, the looks on the faces of the innocents caught in the crossfire is always the same and it is heartbreaking.

William F. Torpey said...

With the exception of U.S. General Patton, I think most military and civilian leaders understand the futility of war. President Franklin D.Roosevelt said it best in 1936: "We must remember that so long as war exists on earth there will be some danger that even the nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war ... I hate war ... Let those who wish our friendship look us in the eye and take our hand." President Dwight D. Eisenhower, perhaps America's greatest general in World War II, said it another way: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

But, too many people believe the old philosophy that "might makes right." Too many people shun the help of international or nongovernmental agencies who do their best to be peacekeepers.

Until we learn to resolve of national and international problems through peaceful means, these conflicts will continue -- at a very high human cost.

pinkpackrat said...

I like the way Eisenhower put it. He's right, of course, and so are you. There are more and more of us on a planet that is becoming more and more crowded-- we really have to learn to do things differently. I only hope that we can. Thank you, Willaim, for such a thoughtful comment. I look forward to checking out your blog for more:-)