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Maybe There's a Better Way Than Another 'Round' of Fighting in Gaza?

B. Michael
B. Michael
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Mohammad Arada looks at the rubble of his family house after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip on Monday.
Mohammad Arada looks at the rubble of his family house after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip on Monday.Credit: Adel Hana /AP
B. Michael
B. Michael

The “round” appears to be over. In two days, maybe less, new Palestinian commanders, colonels, admirals and field marshals will suddenly appear to take the place of their assassinated predecessors and the countdown to the next “round” will begin. Must we keep going around and around like this forever? Maybe not. Maybe there’s another way.

But first, one somewhat insulting point has to be made clear: You, the residents of the Gaza border communities and the residents of Gaza, are unwittingly serving as the useful idiots for your rulers – Israeli governments and Hamas, respectively. They are playing with you. They are inciting you. It is on your backs that they fortify their rule, advance their agendas, glorify themselves.

Days of war: Understanding this weekend's Israel-Gaza flare-up

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It’s no earth-shattering revelation to point out that Israeli governments have always been fond of external enemies. These make it much easier to control the subjects, to divert attention from the government’s faults, and to serve up heaping helpings of hatred whenever needed to calm the waters and boost unity.

Hamas is a very useful enemy. It keeps the embers of more “rounds” of fighting alive, it diverts public attention from everyday problems, and it serves as the perfect excuse for avoiding the slightest attempt at negotiations for a genuine accord.

For the same exact reasons, Hamas needs the Israeli government – a brutal external enemy that diverts attention from the daily hardships, makes it easier for the fundamentalist rulers to maintain power and provides the masses with heaping helpings of incitement and the ecstasy of hatred.

And that is where you are, right in the middle between Israel and Hamas. And along with you there are also the 2.1 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, 99 percent of whom are people just like you – who want to live, who want to build a family, make a living, enjoy life, breathe the sweet air of freedom and happiness. Just like you.

But there is a difference: You in the Gaza border communities are fighting for normalcy in your lives. They, in Gaza, are fighting for their very lives. You are fighting for funding for security and rocket-proofing of homes and other spaces, for tax breaks in the wake of the “round,” for better infrastructure, for development. They are fighting for water and electricity, food and medicine, bread and work, fuel and the means to earn a livelihood.

And there is another difference: You are free to come and go as you please. They are caged in. For 15 years, they’ve been in a cage. And we are the jailers who force them to stay there.

So maybe, for a change, you could lay off the calls to “give it to them.” You could take a time-out from listening to your leaders who demand more blood, more massive blows, more bombings, more assassinations. We ought to have learned long ago that nothing good ever comes from any of these things. Only more and more hatred and blood and death.

Instead of all this, stand next to the fence of the Gaza cage and wave big signs in Hebrew and Arabic, with the following slogans written in big letters: “Freedom for Gaza,” “Bread for Gaza,” “Livelihood for Gaza,” “Electricity for Gaza,” “Medicine for Gaza,” “Clean Water for Gaza,” “Flowers for Gaza,” and one especially big sign that says: “We’ll have peace and quiet when you have your freedom.”

It’s worth a try, isn’t it? It’s worth deviating from the dictated script of one round after another and creating a new script. A more pleasant and humane script. Maybe a miracle will happen and signs of support for you will suddenly appear on the other side of the border fence? Maybe the leadership will finally understand and the barrier will fall too?

Not going to happen, you say? I know. But sometimes it’s okay to get carried away by false utopian hopes. It offers a little relief from the ongoing despair.

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