I am losing my sympathy for the Israelis. It's not just the slaughter of innocents in their recent attack on Gaza (latest count is about 800 dead Arabs and about 32 dead Jews). I have finally opened myself to the points being made by the Palestinians in this ongoing struggle.
I think who you sympathize with is a function of where you focus your attention.
If you focus on terrorist activity of Hamas, then you sympathize with the Israelis who have rockets being launched at them. Of course, Israel's Iron Dome seems to render them pretty ineffective, with very few actual casualties. But, nonetheless, we in America can imagine rockets coming at us and can agree that it is right to stop the terrorists launching them. So we see the Palestinians as filled with hate for the Jews and dedicated to killing them and driving Israel "into the sea."
But, a funny thing happens if you shift your focus from the terrorist Hamas, and focus instead on the Palestinians themselves. An Israeli Jew and son of a famous Israeli general who established the State of Israel, Miko Peled, focuses on the treatment of the Palestinians at the hands of the True Believer Zionists in charge of the Israeli government. It is not a pretty sight, at all. He make a very persuasive case that the Zionists, led by Netenyahu, see no place for Arabs in Israel, see no place for Palestine at all, and have been dedicated to pushing all Palestinians out of Israel since its founding in 1948.They do this by making life as miserable as possible for Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
John Judis of the New Republic makes the same claim making such points as: Israel is essentially a colonial power occupying, ruling, and terrorizing the Palestinians; Israel builds settlements aggressively in the occupied territories taking more and more land from the Palestinians; Israeli settlers attack Palestinians with no real restraint from the Israeli government; Palestinians may not travel abroad without Israeli permission - what?; there are hundreds of roadblocks that hinder the movement of the Palestinians, but none for Jews; water supplies are cut off to Palestinians - wow!; Israel has cut back fishing rights for Gaza from 6 miles to 3 miles, severely reducing its fishing economy; I presume the list goes on and on.
It is certainly true that Hamas deliberately provokes Israel to commit barbarous atrocities as a response to Hamas's terrorism, so shame on Hamas. But, you know, shame on Israel too.
What to do? Beliefs complicate it a lot.
First, right wing Israelis and right wing Americans both see the issue in a particular way, that is, it is a problem that can only be solved militarily - attack, defend, kill, punish, be Manly Men and show everyone Who's the Boss. But, that has proven over and over to me that it does not provide a long term solution in many cases, and I don't see that as a way to do anything in Israel except create more and more misery, resistance, hatred, and terrorism in response the Israeli (backed by America) military killing and tyrannical rule.
Second, American politicians have all pretty well conceded that they cannot get elected if they don't show nearly full support for whatever the Israeli government wants to do. What happens in Israel is not all that important to America or to American politicians, so rather than risk their careers they just go along with the flow and support Israeli tactics and strategies. Even if those tactics and strategies fail over and over and over again. In a sense, who in America really cares?
Third, there are about as many Jews in America as there are in Israel, and American policy is strongly influenced, and perhaps dictated, by American Jews. And the political arm of the Jews in America seems to be pretty solidly fierce Zionists dedicated to the safety of Israel and see that as only possible by punishing the Palestinians.
Fourth, I can certainly understand that 70 years ago the world felt a terrible guilt about the Holocaust of the Jews in WWII, and wanted to give the Jews a homeland so they would have a place to be safe. But, I think time has proven that they can only be safe if they make room for a safe and prosperous Palestine, fully empowered and prosperous side by side in the land that has been disputed for so long. I know the common argument is that the Palestinians will not allow that and are dedicated to the destruction of Israel, but I no longer believe that. I am starting to conclude that the attacks on Israel are a function of the Colonial and brutal rule of the brutal Zionists in charge of the Israeli government.
Fifth, the only real solution is for both sides to let go of the hatreds and cherished and nurtured grievances of the past and look only to now and to the future. I am very hopeful that if the Israeli government shed the fierce Zionists who see their only means of survival as driving all Palestinians from Israel, and was run by a new brand of Israeli, like Miko Peled, who would treat the Palestinians with the same laws and ethos that it treats Jewish citizens, then the misery and thus the grievances of the Palestinians would fade away.
And then, people would not be mistreated and oppressed and would be able, and I think willing, to live in peace with each other.
It's all a question of who you focus on - the Israelis being attacked by the terrorists of Hamas, or the Palestinians being oppressed by the Zionists in charge of Israel.
How about changing facts on the ground and have the Palestinians living in a state that gives them the same rights and treatment as it gives the Jews?