No one can win: a critical analysis
Von Iphigenie Moraitini Patriarchea
Let’s take a break from our scheduled program to discuss Israel, Hamas, Palestine, the Palestinians, and Israelis, and while we’re at it let’s add genocides -in general and particular. And haul in a deep breath until you get to the bottom of this post, please? This will be a hard post, but an important one. To not talk about current events, at a time when the hounds of war are baying, is an abdication. And one I refuse to make. The dead, the wounded, the soon-to-die deserve for us to deal with the hard topics, now, not later.
Some 2 decades ago, my late dad and I were discussing the situation of Israel and Palestine. My father said: “the problem with Israel is the way it was created; it was given to a people on the basis that god gave them that land five thousand years ago. Can you imagine this as a basis for ownership? This is my house, because god gave it to me? But can you imagine being denied a house you feel you own so fundamentally?”
My father had a way of baldly stating that which other people could hem and haw around for hours. It’s a gift I appear to have inherited.
So, a few days ago, all our social media began blasting the news of Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel. Then people started arguing. Is it a terrorist attack? How can it possibly be so large and coordinated and still be called a terrorist attack? And who is backing Hamas? And, actually, how much of the Palestinian people does Hamas represent?
No one asked who is backing Israel– because, the moment anyone criticises Israel, the accusations of anti-semitism come out, as though not agreeing with something a particular country does is the same as hating a whole entire religion. This, btw, is the problem with theocracies.
But I digress.
I’m not here to debate the news. I am here to make some points:
This is not a “terrorist attack”. A terrorist attack usually involves a quick strike on a high-value target. This is a war that’s been getting waged for the past 50 years, and which had been going through a lull.
The question shouldn’t be why did Hamas attack, or how– rather, what does it have to gain?
And to this, I believe — based on the various maps of the shrinking Gaza strip etc– I believe that the situation is now down to the wire for the Palestinian people. I believe Hamas is in a “last stand” type of situation where they feel that they must either take arms now, or lose the opportunity to ever do anything about the situation that brought them into being. It’s a last stand type of situation.
On the Israel side of course, the matter is different; they have the obvious military might. But they have been content, since 1967, to more-or-less quietly erode the territories that were left to the Palestinians. It wasn’t because they couldn’t march in and take it. It was, in my own humble opinion, because they wanted 2 things: One, to secure their country so they could always be safe from genocide, and two, to not be branded the perpetrators of a genocide.
The two parties had always had directly opposed goals, but neither of them had much leverage on each other. The Israelis didn’t NEED to respect the rights of the Palestinians– it ran contrary to one of their primary goals, and the existance of a terrorist organisation made it so easy to be the good guys. The Palestinians COULDN’T respect Israel– because it encroached on their lives on a daily basis. And the surrounding countries didn’t NEED to stop doing what they were doing– support Palestine and Hamas (which are separate things, sort of) yet wash their hands of military involvement, which would bring, well, scrutiny.
The international community wanted to NOT scrutinise this– certain wounds being barely scabbed over, if you know what I mean.
It’s been a mess for a long time. But the situation as it is now?
Hamas cannot win. It is nevertheless fully committed to war, because to let it go is not to lose, it’s to be annihilated as a people.
And Israel cannot win, because while it has the might of arms and support, to win would be to become that which every jewish person fleeing to Israel always wanted to avoid– the perpetrators of a genocide.
My family, in case you didn’t know it, are among the few survivors of the Pontiac genocide. If you don’t know about the pontiac greeks, well, google it! I’ve given it some thought and, one thing I can tell you about all genocides is this: I would gladly carry all these disappeared stories into infinity. Where a whole people disappears without descendants and people to light candles in their memory, it is up to us, who live, to stand in their stead. As heirs of humanity, we claim them too. And in the great human family tree, we really are -all- their next of kin.
Now, as you might guess, I am saying this because there is a good old strategy in the world, in which any time someone says something against any Israeli policy, accusations of antisemitism are made. I have no tolerance for anti-semitism, and therfore shall not suffer being tarred. however lightly, by that brush. Criticizing the actions of a sovereign state is something I do on a daily basis, and I simply refuse to make exception in this case. Sovereign states are in fact held to much higher standards than, say, terrorist groups. Which is why terrorist groups seldom lead to sovereign states, ye savvy?
But what is the answer here? Can the various israeli colonists who have settled into the lands given to Palestine in 1967 just… leave? Can the Palestinians leave? What argument can you give either side to do this? Will your argument supplant the last 80 years of strife, and the last thousand years of trauma? If it were that simple, it wouldn’t have come to this.
This is in fact what scares me: that for absolutely everyone involved, it may be easier to let things go to genocide than to actually resolve them. Tread lightly on this topic– the stakes are truly that high.
As a Greek, who knows well the provisions AND the consequences of the 1923 treaties between Greece and Turkey, I can tell you that not only is there no easy answer, but also, that what happens this year will go down in the history books as a “great catastrophe”.
That, my friends, is the pressure that must be brought on leaders on both sides. Journalists being the only people who can bring it, because the “international community” is quite fine battling stuff out through third parties, while condemning either for their faults.
To all my friends who have a real stake in this conflict: I’m sorry. Here if you want to talk. Here if you need support. And if you need me to explain what a “non combattant” is, or the difference between a religion and a country to some well-meaning other party, let me know.