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When destruction is the answer
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If Secretary of State John Kerry has failed to bring about a ceasefire to end the bloodbath in Gaza, then so has everybody else.
So at the expense of impertinence or worse, here's my Middle Eastern peace plan. This is less a war than an uprising in a concentration camp -- futile, suicidal, murderous and the product of conjoined fanaticisms. Both combatants see themselves as victims of oppression, and they're both right. Both sides want what neither can have: the political, if not literal, elimination of its enemy.
Hamas believes, or pretends to, that Israel and the accursed Jews can be purged from the Levant.
What's less understood in this country is that Israel has zealots of its own: militant nationalists on Prime Minister Netanyahu's extreme right who believe that the territories he calls "Judea and Samaria," (and the rest of the world calls the West Bank) belong to Jews by divine dispensation, and the indigenous Palestinians have no rights.
It's to that faction Netanyahu is speaking when he says, in Hebrew more plainly than in English, "that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the river Jordan."
In short, not only no peace now, but no peace as long as Netanyahu can prevent it. He may not be so blunt on "Meet the Press," but that's what he's telling his supporters. Israel, after all, has overwhelming military superiority. Why should it risk anything at all for the illusion -- as he sees it -- of peace?
The New York Times' brilliant columnist Roger Cohen, a South African Jew resident in Europe, has an answer.
A lifelong Zionist, Cohen writes that what he "cannot accept, however, is the perversion of Zionism that has seen the inexorable growth of a Messianic Israeli nationalism claiming all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River; that has, for almost a half-century now, produced the systematic oppression of another people in the West Bank; that has led to the steady expansion of Israeli settlements on the very West Bank land of any Palestinian state; that seeks tactical advantage rather than the strategic breakthrough of a two-state peace; that blockades Gaza with 1.8 million people locked in its prison and is then surprised by the periodic eruptions of the inmates; and that responds disproportionately to attack in a way that kills hundreds of children."
Netanyahu's response to the slaughter of innocents has been to complain that Hamas wants "to pile up as many civilian dead as they can."
I wonder if Netanyahu understands how many Americans -- his greatest allies -- have begun to reconsider their unwavering support in the face of this merciless slaughter?
Longer term, Israel's is a policy born of desperation. Given birthrates, it may have to choose between being a "Jewish state" or a democracy. Soon enough, there will be more Arabs than Jews in Israel. And then what?
Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons can be reached at eugenelyons2@yahoo.com.