Thoughts on the conflict in Israel

It’s funny finding myself in this weird situation. Living through conflict in Israel. In exactly a month I’ll be on my way to my wedding. I hope that things have calmed down by them, I’m sure they will but there’s a niggling little doubt that reminds me I don’t know how this is going to end. Having said that no missiles have made it as far as Tel Aviv today so i’m guessing it’s winding down.

Last night I was at a dinner party when the sirens started blaring. Everyone left the table and waited in the stairwell for the inevitable boom of the missiles being blown out of the sky by the irrepressible Iron Dome. Then we went back into the apartment and finished dinner as if nothing had happened. Surreal. Iron Dome is the real hero and symbol of this particular conflict.

So now I find myself moving from articles criticizing the Israeli government to articles criticizing Hamas. The truth is I always took it for granted that Hamas were known to be complete assholes so I left them alone in my writing. It turns out though that people don’t seem to think so. In fact the Israeli Right and European left both tend to talk about “Hamas” and “the Palestinians” interchangeably. I hope they’re incorrect. I heard a Sky News reporter quote a poll saying that Hamas’ approval rating in Gaza stood at 20% before this current round of hostilities. I imagine that’s gone up now.

The mood here in Israel is that we shouldn’t stop until we’ve reached some kind of endgame. Of course no one knows what that end game is. I get the gut feeling that airstrikes will continue from us for longer than need be simply out of frustration that no one can think of something more constructive to do. Despite what the government and pundits are saying, I strongly doubt that there’ll be a ground invasion. Our casualties have been incredibly light (so far) if it remains that way I can’t see what justification the government would be able to give both Israelis and the rest of the world for moving in.

I am surprised by just how insulated I am from world opinion, or at least the word on the street. I have been watching Israeli news as well as CNN and Sky News religiously since the outbreak of this conflict, or at least the latest round of the conflict and still hearing words like “genocide” come from activists in the UK amaze me. They seem so utterly out of context in this situation.

Regardless of where you stand politically what on earth do people expect Israel to do in this situation? Just raise our hands and say “yeah we deserve it give us all you’ve got?”

Maybe they do.

Seeing pictures from the demonstration yesterday in London brought back the specter of the same demonstrations over the Winter of 2008/9. All of the same lines, all the same attacks on Israel by people who develop a strong sense of morality when Israel’s involved and are utterly silent when it involves any other state in the Middle East. They block traffic and make a spectacle and then, job done, go home and toast how wonderful they are. Funny thing is I’ve always been against the very comparison I just made when talking to others. Just because some of the most insane regimes in the world are doing worse things why does that mean Israel should be off the hook for doing less despicable but still bad things? I believe it too. But the arguments against Israel ring so hollow when made by English people with no special reason to be more pro-Palestinian than pro-Syrian.

In the meantime Israelis will hope for the best while stuck between a government that actively wished for the current situation and Hamas. The tragedy is that once the shooting has started all you can do is get behind your own side and hope things work out in the end. It reminds me in a lot of ways of World War one. Once the shooting started it just went on and on.

The utter powerlessness of the vast majority of us both in Israel and in Gaza to change this dynamic is heartbreaking. The extent to which no one outside Israel cares about the real picture is sickening. They pick one side or the other and those are the people they support.