Israel vs. Hamas, round infinity


Daryl Cagle - See more cartoons

I have a long history of bothering friends and relatives by occasionally declaring my support for land-for-peace efforts, and for more often than not, failing to blindly support Israel in offensive maneuvers against its neighbors.

So it may come as a shock to some people that I'm supporting Israel in its current offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

I've been mostly following the action in the Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera, so I'm getting a fair balance of unbalanced news.

The cool thing I found today, was that the Israeli Consulate General in New York, David Saranga, gave a live Q&A; on Twitter (you don't need an account to read it).

He and his staff will be releasing a FAQ tomorrow, as they got flooded with questions and ran out of time.

There was a protest today in Syracuse, with those turning out largely against the Israeli action against Hamas.

But one commenter takes a good approach:

Allow me to introduce you all to a concept: gray. It's the thousand shades that come between black and white. It's where 99% of human actions and decisions fall.

Most of you are taking a very complex situation and boiling it down to two absurdly simple sides, then choosing one or the other. Have any of you ever tried any of these ridiculous ideas in your own life?

It's a shade of gray that makes me support Israel's offensive here.

Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip – a territory it had occupied since it overcame an attack in 1967 – in 2005. They pulled out enough that the U.N. said they were out of there. That has to be good enough for pretty much everyone.

Hamas was put in control of the territory by a plurality of voters (about 40%).

Hamas does things like build schools, staff hospitals, and train suicide bombers. The U.S., Israel, and others list it as a terrorist organization.

Israel and Hamas agreed on a six-month cease-fire earlier this year, and as the clock wound down on it, Hamas started launching rockets out of Gaza and into Israel, killing several Israeli civilians.

Israel responded by launching an all-out attack, killing hundreds of Hamas operatives and dozens of Palestinian civilians living in Gaza.

But I have to blame Hamas for those civilian deaths.

When Hamas shoots its rockets, it just shoots them into cities, killing whatever happens to get in the way. Most frequently, that would be civilians, who live in cities, while military bases tend to be out of the way.

Meanwhile, Hamas builds its bases among apartment buildings in densely-populated areas, making the civilians who live nearby the next best thing to human shields – a violation of the Geneva Conventions (like they're concerned about that).

If you're not familiar with the concept of a human shield, it's simple. You grab a gun, and you grab a civilian, and you figure the other guy won't shoot at you because they don't want to kill the civilian. If they do, you have a good piece of propaganda to use.

I always feel bad in war. I always feel bad when people die. But I feel worse when a country sits by and takes it, like Israel was forced to do during the first Gulf War. As I remember it, Iraq at that point said that if the U.S. invaded (which it did), it would bomb Israel (which it did), and the U.S. told Israel, "don't worry, we'll take care of this, just if you see a scud missile coming, run."

I have to think that if Israel keeps it up, the people of Gaza will realize it's Hamas' fault, and they will oust their leaders.

Saranga, the Israeli consulate, said that the Israeli government is pro-cease-fire, and that it thinks the only way to go is with a two-state solution.

I think a two-state solution is a great idea, but I don't see it working out: the Palestinian Authority will want Jerusalem (which has holy sites for both Jews and Muslims), and that's just a non-starter. I don't even see Israel giving open passage to Jerusalem.

Is there a solution? I'm not confident there is. Jerusalem has changed hands 24 times in the last (roughly) 2,200 years. The violence hasn't ended, and there's no reason to think it will stop now.

But we can certainly do our best to try to figure out how not to shoot at each other.