Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Blog

Over the past few days, Palestinian rockets and Israeli air raids have shattered Gaza and shaken the international community, as prospects for a stable peace between Israelis and Palestinians recede even further into the horizon.

The attack began on Friday, with an Israeli air strike that killed an individual accused of planning an attack on Israel in the near future. The assassination, somewhat predictably, prompted an exchange between a small and largely-unidentified group of Palestinian militants and the Israeli Defense Forces, which have pummeled most of Gaza from the air.

Israeli concern over a future attack may be understandable – even though preemptive assassinations are not – but it should have been clear to Israeli decision-makers that their actions would almost certainly engender a violent response from an extremist fringe in Gaza.

Such tit-for-tat exchanges (though perhaps the name inappropriately belies some equivalence in the destructiveness of both sides) are relatively commonplace in recent history, and though rocket-fire against Israeli civilians is of course deplorable, the violence meted out by the Israelis has yet again been hugely disproportionate and, for the citizens of Gaza, calamitous.

Perhaps equally appalling is the lack of reasonable discourse on these attacks within the halls of our own government, where the only U.S. condemnation was directed at “terrorist” and “cowardly” Palestinians, whose only inflicted casualty was a glass window in Ashdod.

Rockets fired from Gaza have largely been deflected by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, but several rockets did manage to reach southern Israeli towns, causing some property damage and minor injuries. Not one word, however, has been uttered by the U.S. government to condemn the deaths of at least 25 Palestinians, including a 65-year-old man, his 30-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old child.

This blatant one-sidedness, along with the perceived legitimacy of devastating pre-emptive attacks, will only further erode the Palestinian people’s already shaken belief in the viability of peace, brokered with a partner that continues to treat the Palestinian territories without any regard for sovereignty, or even human life. It also erodes the legitimacy of the United States as a critical party to future peace negotiations, for failing yet again to sympathize with the struggling and suffering of the Palestinian people even as a mere formality.

The cease-fire announced this evening will stop the current hostilities, but will do little to affect the underlying problems. Long-term peace can only be achieved if these foolish forays come to an end; both from hardliners within the Israeli government, and the Palestinian fringe whose violence too often plays right into their hands.  As long as Washington continues to tacitly encourage this dynamic, it effectively blocks the opportunity for reasonable dialogue to emerge from the remaining members of both sides.

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