Like many, my heart just sank when I heard about the bus station bombing in Jerusalem today. Over the past two weeks we’ve witnessed the tragic, needless deaths of too many Palestinians and Israelis.
On this point I am in full agreement with MJ Rosenberg, who wrote today (in a post I strongly encourage you to read):
One thing is clear. Making reference to acts of violence by one side without reference to those inflicted by the other only perpetuates one side’s feelings of victimhood, reinforcing the sense of grief and grievance that leads to more violence.
Since I heard the news, I’ve been hoping and praying all day long that we aren’t witnessing the onset of a violent Third Intifada. I can only imagine what such a war might mean, not only for Israelis and Palestinians, but for the entire Middle East, which is several notches beyond tinderbox status already.
As yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem bombing and according to Ha’aretz, police don’t believe it was connected to the increase in rocket fire out of Gaza. Elsewhere in Ha’aretz, military analysts Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff suggested that neither Israel nor Hamas want the Gaza confrontation to escalate into large-scale clashes. I can only hope their analysis is correct. (As I write, there are already reports that Israeli aircraft have struck at several targets, including a power station in Gaza City.)
Regardless of what happens in this latest round, it is clear that Israel is reaching the end of an unsustainable status quo. It was always a given that the current balance would not hold indefinitely. And now there are even larger, revolutionary changes occurring in the Middle East – whatever happens, Israel will certainly not be immune from this unprecedented upheaval.
Again from MJ Rosenberg:
Although Egypt still observes the terms of its treaty with Israel, that could change at any time. The Jordanian regime is shaky. Hezbollah now controls Lebanon. Syria grows ever closer to Iran. And Turkey, once Israel’s staunch ally, is so disgusted by Israel’s Gaza policy that it is a distant friend, at best. Even the Europeans are turning, with not even France, Germany, or the United Kingdom joining the United States in opposing a Security Council Resolution on West Bank settlements.
Israel’s best chance of surviving these dramatic changes is by resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. In fact, it is Israel’s only chance.
As he correctly concludes:
President Obama is the one person who can turn this situation around. History will not forgive him if, in the name of political expediency, he looks away.