Saturday, January 3, 2009

Same old sad story

I don't really have much to say about Israel and Gaza, only that I think we've all seen this movie before. Israel will pound the shit out of some Hamas fuckheads, but in the process, kill a lot of innocent people, embittering Palestinians even more strongly against Israel, and giving Hamas and the other extremists their next wave of suicide bomber recruits. The UN and most countries not called the United States will condemn Israel with harsh words, and organizations like Amnesty International will criticize Israel for not doing enough to avoid civilian casualties, but no one is actually going to do anything about it. But Hamas will not make Gaza a "graveyard" for the Israeli army. Despite their tough talk, they are no Hezbollah, and are much better at strapping bombs to scared teenagers than they are at fighting the professional Israeli army. They understand military tactics no better than they understand human rights or religious freedom.

To be frank, I find it difficult to fully sympathize with the residents of Gaza. First, some background. This is the Gaza strip:

That scale is correct; Gaza is only 360 square km, with a population of roughly 1.5 million. It has no economy to speak of, with a per capita GDP of around $600. It is entirely dependent on Israel for electricity, and Israel and other nations for food aid. More than 60% of the population lives below the poverty line (I shudder to think what is considered "poverty" in Gaza).

Despite all this humiliating deprivation, Hamas was elected with a majority of the seats in the Palestinian parliament in 2006, and they later seized full control within Gaza, with a coalition government teetering on the brink in the West Bank.

Does Hamas promise an improvement in living conditions? An economic plan for the future? Since neither is possible without Israeli help, and Hamas refuses to even acknowledge Israel's existence as a sovereign nation, the answer is clearly no.

The problem here, as I see it, is the inability of a significant portion of the Palestinian population to accept their defeat in 1948. Until they get over that simple fact, and realize that they will never get their land back through violence, there will never be peace, and there will never be a viable Palestinian state. And if the people let them, assholes like Hamas will continue to steer Palestinian society in an entirely counter-productive direction. Instead of launching stupid little rockets at Israeli towns, the residents of Gaza should be investing in their future and trying to build a better life for themselves and their families. That's the only way out of this never-ending quagmire.

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