Jan 192009

There is ceasefire in Gaza. Perhaps it will hold for a while.

It may have been precipitated by Israel’s desire to wrap up its military operations before Obama is inaugurated, anticipating that the new administration in Washington will be a lot less sympathetic toward, well, if not necessarily Israel’s cause then certainly the methods that Israel chooses to advance its cause.

It may have been the result of rising doubt and anger among Israelis themselves, those who realize that the history of the Gaza strip did not begin with the Qassam rockets.

Or perhaps they began asking questions like that asked by Time Magazine: Can Israel survive its assault on Gaza?

Or maybe it was compassion. The other day, the assault on Gaza turned from an abstract litany of numbers (last I heard, over 1,100 killed, more than 4,000 wounded, many of them civilians) into something personal, as an Israeli-trained Palestinian doctor, peace activist to boot, who regularly reported on Israeli television via cell phone, was reporting the shelling of his own house and the loss of three of his daughters on live TV.

The biggest irony of any “war on terror” (not just that of Bush, not just that of Olmert) is how, contrary to the stated intent of the war’s leaders, such a war flawlessly serves the terrorists’ interests. Such wars are based on the blatant ignorance of their leaders, leaders who believe that the terrorist is motivated by hatred and a desire to kill. While they are not free of hatred and bloodlust, they are motivated by something else altogether: by a desire to change the political course through their acts of terror. When our leaders declare a “war on terror” in response, they accomplish precisely what the terrorist wants… which is why Bush and Olmert ended harming the interests of their own countries to an extent far greater than anything the terrorists could have accomplished by themselves.

Gavrilo Princip knew this. When he assassinated the arch-duke of Austria-Hungary in 1914, his hatred of a despised leader was outweighed by his the hope that the assassination will change the existing world order and free Serbia from Austrian rule. Princip became one of the most influential (and most successful!) persons of history, not so much as a result of his own actions, but as a result of the predictably stupid reaction of Vienna’s fossilized political leadership. Why are we—the U.S., the Western world, Israel—so bent on repeating that mistake?

 Posted by at 2:10 pm