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The Darkest Days: Israel Gaza 6-months on... my reaction

Last night I watched a one hour BBC documentary introduced by Lyse Doucet called The Darkest Days. It was aired exactly 6 months after Hamas murdered over 1,200 Israelis. The documentary was in 2 parts. Footage and interviews in Israel following the attack, then a similar amount of footage describing (in gory detail) the carnage that followed, and continues to this day, in Gaza.

I was in tears. 

Watching anyone in pain, whether from physical injury or grief, is difficult at the best of times. But watching children and parents suffering - that's really hard to take.

After watching it, I asked myself two questions. How could presumably sane people like the Hamas gunmen (of which there were hundreds or more involved) possibly commit those horrors? And what would I have done in retaliation - especially with regard to freeing the hostages? 

It's really hard for someone like me, an atheist grandfather, living comfortably in a relatively peaceful society to put myself in the shoes of a religious fanatic who lives under the control of occupation forces. Nor is it easy for me to understand what it must be like to lose a relative or friend, especially a young one, to an act of extreme violence.

But what is really hard for me to understand is why it's not obvious to everyone that these two questions are closely related. Might it be that the reason Hamas hate the IDF so much is because they retaliate with brutal abandon. 

I'm not saying to the state of Israel that they shouldn't be tough in protecting their people. But what I am saying is that the tougher they get, the more people Hamas will recruit, and the more violent will be their next act of desperate protest.

Two wrongs cannot make a right. The death of one child, of any tribe, is an abomination. The deaths of thousands is a madness that cannot and will not be forgiven. 

So why are the IDF so intent on creating more danger for their own people? For that is what surely they are doing. And the answer is not logic. It's political. Short term demonstrations of strength to appease the anger of their electorate.

Israel, please wake up. How many more young men and women are going to feel fully justified to sign up to your enemies? Please don't make it easy for them to make that decision. If you had spent a tenth of what it has cost you to flatten Gaza (not to mention Lebanon and the West Bank) on building bridges rather than walls (I'm talking education, health, sanitation, infrastructure, social welfare etc), slowly but surely good things might have happened instead an endless escalation of violence and despair. Neither of you can 'win'. What does that look like anyway?

It will take an extraordinary leader to turn the other cheek (wasn't there a Jew in the region who had that idea a couple of thousand years ago?). But the alternative is a hopeless spiral of destruction that benefits nobody. 

Don't try to bomb bad thoughts out of people's minds. You're only making them worse. Ask yourselves 'why would they bite the hand that feeds them?'.


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