With the security barrier and long-term closures of the West Bank, and the effective embargo of Gaza, Palestinians seem increasingly foreign to Israelis. But Palestinians are among the most democratically minded populations in the region. If genuine democracy has any chance in the Arab world, it should be with the Palestinians.
Why was this a mistake? The reason is that it is reductive to the point of inaccuracy and has therefore prevented the Israeli security establishment and the rest of the world from understanding what Hamas wants and how to engage it on proper terms.
We, in the United States, have hard-wired into our national consciousness the one-sided image of aggression only coming from the Palestinian side and victimhood being the exclusive purview of Israelis. The story is of course more complicated than that.
People who have grown up with sirens, but have never witnessed a tragedy are desensitized. People who have suffered trauma related to this 50-plus year conflict are hypersensitive. I don't feel like I belong to this scene, or that I am entitled to a marked reaction. I try to be stoic and inconspicuous.
Headless bodies. Screaming children. Entire neighborhoods fleeing on foot. The unmistakable sounds of Hamas rockets and the booms of Israeli strikes. Here's a look at what I've witnessed this week in Gaza.
Calls for an immediate ceasefire notwithstanding, Israel will press on with its bombing in Gaza in the hope that it can achieve a level of deterrence with Hamas that will last far longer than the 18 months that came after its November 2012 air operation.
In a world where it has become exceedingly common and even trendy to be apathetic towards a different people's struggle, you are, by default, already doing something by feeling what you're feeling.
The automatic instinct to blame Israel, while still there, is diminishing in favor of a more nuanced approach -- one which is based on the true interests of some countries in the Middle East, which places the Palestinians and their problems much lower in the list of priorities than ever before.
In the early hours of Friday morning, Gaza's Ark - the boat preparing to sail from Gaza in defiance of the Israeli blockade on Palestinian exports - was hit by an Israeli missile and caught fire. When dawn broke Friday morning, little was left of the boat.
The difference between Hamas and Israel couldn't be greater, yet you wouldn't know it when listening to some observers.
Beginnings matter. Questions about culpability and responsibility, about the narrow cynicism that defines so much of life in the Gaza Strip, sequence and motive -- they all go to beginnings.
This is the fifth major assault in nine years. When and how it will end is unclear, but here's what we know for certain: No good will come from this madness; there will be no winners; and when the dust settles and the tears dry, Palestinians and Israelis will be more embittered and will feel less secure.
Enough is enough. Every party in this conflict must ask themselves: Have we so lost our humanity that we would rather leave these people in a living hell for our own selfish gain? For the sake of those innocent civilians suffering on both sides of the conflict, let's pray the answer does not take too much longer.
One night, at a beach resort, I got into a heated "Israel and the Palestinians" discussion with a Peace Corps guy. I countered with all the usual responses: the Holocaust, Israel must live, worldwide anti-Semitism, Palestinian terrorism. But the Peace Corps guy threw me a curve: "Your problem," he said, "is that you never met a Palestinian. You should go to Gaza."
Have you ever paused and asked the simple question: Where do we go from here? None of you -- Bennett, Haniyeh, Netanyahu, Meshal, and Abbas -- know what will be the fate of Israel and Palestine in five or 10 years should you continue to pursue your bankrupt policy.
Israelis living in the southern portion of the nation -- where some of the nation's most populous cities are located -- are living and sleeping in bomb shelters. Missiles are falling upon them, exploding around them.