Every time there seems to be some hope of peace taking hold in the Middle East, more violence erupts. I tend to read some European news sites, so I can get some outside views of these things, but I don't know why I bother. I always wind up with a headache. While many American newspapers have a slant to their reporting (and God knows, there are radio and television programs that aren't even subtle about it), we have quality media, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others of their type that have an editorial slant but try to keep their news pages as objective as possible. (And don't even get me started about the comments on some of the European news articles--the amount of anti-Semitism is appalling. Not just anti-Israel comments but hateful venom against Jews that I would hope people would be ashamed to say in this day and age. Apparently not.)
So my first stop this evening was the BBC website, where I encountered the headline, Israel bombs university in Gaza. I groaned at the thought that the Israelis may have hit a "neutral" establishment. That's certainly what that headline suggests. Only if one bothers to read into the article does one find that "[t]he university is a centre of support for Hamas - the Islamist militant group which controls the Gaza Strip." That would be the same Hamas that is a mortal enemy of the Israelis and has been supporting--or at least allowing--rockets to be fired into Israel.
It's a tragedy that civilians have been killed, but the BBC report indicates that, "Most of those killed were policemen in the Hamas militant movement." Sadly, the tight confines of Gaza don't make the avoidance of civilian casualties possible.
A true pacifist would say that the civilian casualties are reason enough to hold back, but it is Hamas that put these people in harm's way. What reasonable, responsible political body allows people to use their territory to fire rockets into a neighboring land? Not that I believe that Hamas is merely allowing this. I have no doubt they're supporting it.
So how can any rational, unbiased observer be surprised by this response? And name a country that wouldn't do exactly what Israel is doing. Think Egypt would let this go on if rockets were being fired from Libya? Or Saudi Arabia? Or China from one of its neighbors? Russia from one of its? (Yeah, let's see how many rockets Estonians get to fire into Russian towns before Estonia sees Russian tanks rolling in.) And I sure know what we'd do if someone was firing rockets over our borders! No, it's not the Mexican government firing the rockets into San Diego, it's some Mexican group, but the Mexican government says, "sorry, there's nothing we can do to stop them." Yeah, as if American troops wouldn't be across the border in about ten seconds. And they'd be right to do it.
This equation is very, very simple. If Israel isn't attacked, Israel won't attack. And there are plenty of people in Israel who are ready to make peace once and for all, allowing all parties to have their own lands and their autonomy permanently, but those who preach hate and live by violence make it difficult for the voices of peace to be heard.
It's an old saying, but I do believe it's true. If Israel's enemies laid down their arms today, there would be no more violence. If the Israelis laid down their arms today, there would be no more Israel.
Let's hope calmer heads can cool this off before it gets far worse. For the longer term, let's hope those making their names by fostering hatred will be pushed aside, so that this is the last such bloodshed anyone needs to see.