Sunday, May 20, 2018

Europe must pressure Israel to adopt a more humanitarian role on the Gaza issue.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/05/17/israel-must-answer-for-the-deaths-in-gaza
On May the 14th 2018, the world woke up to yet another gruesome reality, in an already very unstable and troubled region.

As Israel and the USA were celebrating the relocation of the US Embassy in the country, from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza strip, rallied to the borders with Israel to protest against the move.

Soon things got out of control and by the end of the day another 60 or so Palestinians, among them many children, were lying dead from Israeli fire or tear gas.

As usual, European governments were quick to condemn, but this has happened too many times before already, the situation has reached beyond the point of condemnation and criticism of the Israeli government.

I have been watching incidents such as these my whole life, all 40 years of it. Yet nobody seems to be willing to do anything to stop this madness. Ever since the creation of the state of Israel back in the '40s, the region is locked in a never-ending war which has claimed way too many lives, from both sides.

Understandably, the Palestinians are angry since they feel that their homeland was taken away from them; they are right. When the West decided to "fix" Europe's sectarian problem that resulted in one of the worse atrocities in human history, the Holocaust, the outcome was the creation of the state of Israel, in the nation's ancient historic lands.

The problem was that by then, the region was already populated by Palestinians. The international community decided that they should simply give up the land they grew up, to make way for the creation of the new country.

Obviously, that sowed the seeds of the current impediment, as the Palestinians felt the injustice that was placed upon them. The world should have dealt with the problem better then, but understandably during the '40s, it was recovering from the disaster and horror of WW2. Thus, another one was created.

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians thereafter entered a deadly circle of violence and hostilities, fueled by religious and nationalistic fanaticism. Sadly with the involvement or protection of third parties, either regional or global powers like the USA, they turned the Middle East into one of the world's most unstable and deadly region.

The pro-Palestine or Arab side, never really accepted the creation or existence of the state of Israel in its current form, while the Israelis hold this fundamental belief, stemming from their religious and cultural heritage, that this land is theirs and only.

Neither side wants to back down, yet Israel with the funding from the USA, plus the support from Europe has the upper hand. But instead of using this power and influence to solve the problem and end the stalemate, saving both Palestinian and Israeli lives, it chooses to perpetuate the situation.

The country's leadership has to understand, that they cannot make over of 4 million of Palestinians to disappear unless they want to be the initiators of another holocaust. Particularly in the case of Gaza, they have created a prison of around 2 million people, with no prospects or quality of life, living in poverty and desperation.

The more these people remain living in these conditions, the easier will be for them to be radicalized by certain organizations and schedule attacks against Israel. They simply have nothing else to lose, apart from their lives. The Israeli leadership must accept this, then take control and show compassion.

Not only for the Palestinians' sake, but for their own people too. If Palestine is allowed its own statehood, the last thing that its youth will have on its mind, will be throwing petrol bombs towards Israel. They will have a world waiting for them, to study, travel and prosper. The more they remain poor, the more they adopt and anti-Israel mentality which is passed on to every generation.

Sadly that doesn't seem to resonate with anyone in the region. And so both nations are entangled in a decades-old conflict, with third countries getting involved and using it to promote their own interests, defining local politics and agendas.

The European population and their governments are also divided on the issue, although in general they reinstate their support for Israel, yet condemning its actions. That hasn't helped much until now. Europe owes to get decisively more engaged with Israel, constructively lobbying its leadership for a solution.

It is, after all, our continent's responsibility too. Centuries-old hate, fear, sectarianism, racism and anti-Semitism have contributed to the creation of this problem, while indeed a reversed version of the same attitudes are perpetuating the Palestinian drama.

During the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, only 4 EU nations and 9 European overall have attended the ceremony. If we want to make any difference in solving the problem, we have to show unity and speak with one voice. That for European standards has always been proved to be hard.

Condemning Israel's actions while siding with the USA all the time, especially under Donald Trump is simply not good enough anymore. Europe needs to actively engage and convince Israel to change attitudes towards Palestine and its people. In addition, our leadership could mediate to both sides for an end of this situation.

Otherwise, another generation of Israeli children will be raised with the constant fear of Palestinian bomb attacks, while Palestine will lose more of its own to either Israeli gunshots, bombs or simply poverty.

The solution could have been a federal state between the two nations, during the beginning of the creation of the state of Israel. We have passed this stage, we've lost this opportunity. There is simply too much hate and fanaticism to bring the two sides together now.

At this moment, a two-state solution is the only way to end this conflict, preferably with a withdrawal from the settlements to the more or less previously agreed territories. However, it is Israel that blocks this outcome. To the more radical and nationalistic elements of Israel's leaders and citizens, the land is simply theirs. And since America backs them, there is no way of moving on from this stalemate.

So this is where Europe could step in and gather support from other regions or nations too, to convince Israel of the damage that this hostile stance towards Gaza and Palestine, does to its people. Is controlling all the land more important than peace and stability?

Why would any nation want to be surrounded by enemies, viewed in a negative way by the international community and maintain a warzone climate for its future generations to grow up in, does not resonate with me.

Israel is rich, developed, powerful and much respected in Europe. It has a lot to offer to the world in many fields as it already has, yet somehow it is best known for this ongoing conflict and its role in the Middle East. That doesn't make any justice to this nation.

Understandably, one will question the intentions of the Palestinians and their Arab allies in the region. But even if they did want an open war or the destruction of Israel, the protection of the USA and support of Europe, are enough to deter them. Israel has powerful allies.

But it uses its power the wrong way. By allowing a state of Palestine to exist, while itself supporting it, nurturing it and helping it to prosper, not only it will end this conflict, but it will have an influence on its future generations. Israel should be investing in Gaza, not cutting it off from the rest of the world.

In this way, young Palestinians will have options. Then all Israel will have to do is let capitalism take over and do its work. A stable and prosperous nation, rarely risks its status to attack a richer nation that is depending upon for investments. Why have Palestinians hate you, rather than need you and ask for your money and help?

By keeping your country as a highly militarized zone, you are only making the global arms industry richer. Plus you insist on becoming a hate figure for most Muslims, while for once you could be seen as their partner and benefactor.

Similarly, the Palestinians and their supporters have to accept where their interests lie. And they are definitely not in the constant radicalization of the region's youth, in hate, conflict, war, anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism.

Modern Israelis have as much place in the region as any other nation, for the past 70 and more years they exist as a nation. They were born and raised in the same land, thus they have as much right to it now as anyone else born in it. They are there to stay, have the right to self-determination and yes, even to chose their own capital.

Rather than the Palestinians being nostalgic for what has been in the past, it is better to embrace what it is now and try to make the most of it. If Israel changes its attitude towards the Palestinian people and stops expanding its settlements, agreeing in addition to a Palestine statehood, then as it is a richer nation it could be a valuable asset for the whole region.

Including of course the Palestinians, if both sides get over their racial and religious hatred. Europe should finally mediate but first, it must itself change attitudes towards the conflicting parties. Selling weapons to the one side, while condemning it lightly whenever it does wrong won't do it anymore.

We need to have this conflict finally ended. And that must mean a decisive engagement, plus the formation of the appropriate foreign policy from our part. Our continent must finally realize its role in the world, that of a global influencer for the betterment of humanity. Perhaps starting from Israel and Palestine.

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