About this whole Gaza thing... Now it's obviously horrible to be dropping bombs on inhabited areas, and I can't imagine anyone but the most extreme Israeli nationalist being gratified at what's been happening in the Gaza Strip these past two days.
Nearly 300 dead and God knows how many wounded, and it makes you kind of sick even to think about what it must be like living under such an onslaught, but at the same time, I can't help wondering just what Israel is supposed to do. Well, not drop bombs on civilian areas might be a good first step, of course, but overlooked in the understandable abhorrence and outrage over the massive casualties now occurring is the fact that the Hamas government is essentially using its own people as pawns in what's now turned into a very deadly propaganda battle. They've been regularly trying to provoke Israel into attacking them precisely so they can play the victim - to be sure, with this many dead and injured, it's no longer exactly "playing" - but if you're Israel and you have an overtly hostile failed state on your doorstep, from which rockets are regularly being launched into your own civilian areas, just what do you do?
It's not like anyone's accusing Israel of being over-liberal with Gaza and its 1.4 million residents. It wouldn't be too great a stretch to describe the enclave as a prison-state, rather like the Manhattan portrayed in Escape From New York. But another way - actually, not all that different a way - of looking at it is a giant welfare colony in which the occupants are only kept alive by constant infusions of outside aid, aid which they repay in bombs, missiles, and suicide attacks.
Granted, Gaza might be able to support itself, at least partially, if it had access to the jobs and trade outside its borders, but we're not likely ever to find out if this would be the case, since every time Israel relaxes its border restrictions even slightly, Hamas hardliners take advantage of the opportunity to launch new attacks on Israel. The only thing that might possibly appease them would be for Israel to close up shop and disappear, along with its 5.3 million Jewish citizens.
I know several militantly anti-Zionist and anti-Israel people who wouldn't be at all displeased with that outcome, but they're largely the sort who can also be seen calling for the USA to get out of North America. More common, though, are the well-intentioned liberals who only want everyone in the Middle East to live in peace, who can't understand why this doesn't seem to be possible, and refuse to believe that a substantial cross-section of the Arab world will do whatever it takes to make sure this never happens.
That's hardly meant to absolve Israeli hardliners of responsibility; they've kept liberal elements hamstrung for decades with the necessity for coalition politics (worth considering, Naderites and other fans of third parties and proportional representation!), and honestly, it's hard to see where the impetus for peace and/or a two-state solution is going to come from. Here in America, where we're laboring through the final weeks of our own failed state, there doesn't seem to be much we can do except look toward January 20 in hopes that, as with nearly everything else wrong today, Obama is somehow going to fix it.