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Political Drama in Gaza

Reader comment on item: Expert predicts more violence in Gaza

Submitted by Aidan Maconachy (Canada), Sep 30, 2005 at 01:51

Since I'm neither Jewish nor Israeli, I look at the Israeli/Palestinian issue from a perspective that at least pretends to a certain degree of objectivity.

Israel is a democracy, a democracy surrounded by countries that are anything but. Arab intellectuals like to contest the claim that Israel is a democracy and magnify what they regard as socio/economic and political disparities afflicting the Palestinian minority - some even go so far as to claim that a form of Israeli apartheid exists. In my view such claims are fueled more by anti-Israel bias than real facts.

There is a remarkable young woman from Canada for whom I have a great deal of respect. Her name is Irshad Manji. She is a Muslim of Iranian ancestery and the author of the excellent book, "The Trouble With Islam : A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change". Ms Manji's issues with Islam are further complicated by the fact that she is an openly declared lesbian. She is an enormously courageous and honest person who has the personal integrity to say what she believes, irrespective of what the fall-out may be.

Irshad Manji actually visited Israel and expressed very positive views about Israeli democracy, and is on record describing the Israeli press as "ferociously free". There aren't too many commentators whose judgement I would trust unconditionally, but I trust Ms Manji as she comes across as a person with genuine credibility.

While I agree with Dr Pipes' prognosis with regard to the consequences of the Gaza retreat, I also feel that this could help the cause of the democracy of Israel in another way. Having made the grand gesture of retreat, the world can now witness how this gesture is being abused in order to further the cause of terrorism. It is becoming clearer by the day, that factions within the Palestinian movement are not prepared to meet Israel on equal ground, but rather are using the acquisition of Gaza as a tool in the furtherance of terror. This will give added moral authority to any military action that the Israelis may undertake. It places them on "higher ground" if you will, because it looks as though this gesture of goodwill may ultimately be used against them.

I also feel rather pessimistic about the prospects for a long term peace. Radical factions within the Palestinian community to have such a deep seated aversion the state of Israel, it almost amounts to a type of pathology. Such people can never be appeased or pacified. Nothing will satisfy them except the cycle of death and destruction.

I can't believe that Ariel Sharon didn't see this coming. He's too shrewd not to have known that this would be the outcome. If he indeed knew it would result in this - why did he do it? He's now an older man ... is it possible he feels remorse for the days when he was the tough and invincible commander in the field; is it possible he wants his twilight years to be marked by the olive leaf, rather than the sword? This seems too simple, and of course it is too simple, but nonetheless it may be part of his personal conviction. Perhaps he has grown weary of the constant international attacks on Israel and he wants the world to see a grand gesture toward the resolution of the conflict. Maybe all of this is a type of political-drama that plays to international humanitarian and political concerns, while also providing Sharon with some sense of absolution.

The one thing we do know for certain is that it is a crucial interval, and a time of great suspense. In common with Dr Pipes I feel it will herald yet more violence. But perhaps this time, the world will remember that at some cost to itself ...the little state of Israel, at least tried to make a grand gesture toward a greater peace.
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