Israel-Palestine: Break The Cycle

The cycle of violence needs to end.

The war between Israel and Palestine has been raging for generations, and the most recent fighting are the latest battle in that war. But at some point, someone needs to step up and end the conflict.

Part of the problem here is that both sides are simultaneously defensible and indefensible.  Israel says they have a right to defend themselves against attacks using whatever force is necessary, even if it’s disproportionate. They say Hamas kills innocent people with the sanction of the Palestinian people.  They say they have to respond to terrorism with significant force in order to both kill terrorist leaders and and dissuade potential terrorists.

The Palestinians say they have a right to defend themselves, too.  They say that Israel is the aggressor here, first by taking their land and then by occupying and blockading their territories, leading to oppression and starvation.  They say Israel’s use of force against them is disproportionate and indiscriminate, leading to the deaths of innocents. They say they’re simply trying to protect their people against future Israeli aggression.

Both sides are right and wrong.  Innocent people are killed on both sides of the border.  Collective punishment is exacted by–and on–both sides. That’s the problem with a cycle of violence–it’s cyclical.  Both sides feed the other, leading to an intractable war.

I’m not sure if any of the players on either side can act in good faith.  But there is only so much the US and the EU and the rest of the world can do–at some point, someone is going to have to stand up and break the cycle.

Look at Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi–they saw a cycle of violence and oppression and they set out to end it, once and for all. They were criticized for being weak and lacking the resolve to fight their enemies. They were attacked, beaten, arrested and thrown in jail, but they never resorted to that which they sought to eliminate.  And, in the end, they won because they never wavered from their commitment to peace.

Someone in this fight is going to have to commit themselves to ending the violence and stick to it, no matter what. You can’t create peace by engaging in war, just like you can’t heal with sickness or feed with hunger. The question is, who will step up and commit themselves to peace? Who in this fight has the guts to respond to violence with non-violence, to eschew the easy road of retaliation for the harder road of reconciliation?