Mayor Bloomberg's rush to travel to Israel in a show of solidarity makes one wonder if he has decided to leave the US and run for president over there. After all he has hopped political parties, why not countries?
He and many other US leaders are showing unconditional support of Israel's military actions despite their knowledge about the brutality of war. You would think after a lifetime of hostilities in Israel and the US's Iraq debacle both would be doing everything in their power to think beyond it.
After the Mayor returned from his trip, he was asked about his reasons for going. "Israel's fight is our fight," he told the waiting journalists.
Well, Mr. Mayor, with all due respect Israel's fight is not 'our' fight. In fact, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, Americans "are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip" (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive -- by a 24-point margin (31-55%)." Truthfully it would be appreciated if our representatives would take into account opposing opinions when it comes to US policy, especially in the Middle East.
In the words of General William Sherman who served in the American Civil War, "I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell." It would serve us all well to pay attention to the General's insight before concluding battle is the answer.
There is no doubt that the Israelis and Palestinians have a long history of fighting and mistrust. One can go back centuries and blame. The latest carnage though begs us all to question whether we should hang on to the past or develop the courage to make an alternate reality. Staying on the same path will yield certain death and destruction.
Within this context both parties must realize that they are partners. Both parties undeniably have the right to exist. This means that they both need equal rights and equal treatment. It is not ok to just think about security for Israel without security for Palestinians.
For now though some quick steps must be taken.
First and foremost, all parties must stop firing weapons. Outsiders must help. Parties who are at war seldom see clearly. General Jones suggested outside troops to assist in security so why not get them there. Then they can blockade incoming weapons while allowing necessary medicines and food to get through.
Second, all parties must start talking. This means Likud, Labor, Kadima, Hamas and Fatah as well as all other factions and groups. Just like Ireland.
Partial peace does not work. Besides, the Palestinians did elect Hamas freely and democratically as their government. How are they supposed to be a democracy if no one is willing to allow it.
Third, there must be an understanding that the peace process is a two 'nation' solution. Both Israelis and Palestinians need to participate equally and to the fullest. There must be clear negotiation and milestones. All financial and military aid to either party must halt until these milestones are met and these parties finally understand that they are cohorts and neighbors who must co-exist. Until then the situation will not change and children will continue to die.
The most recent explosion of violence tells us all that we do not have time to mull over who did what last year or a decade ago. Weapons must be put down now. In just seven days, over five hundred Palestinians are dead - 111 of them children - and the wounded are rising 2500 and counting. Israel reports that five are dead with random rocket fire continuing. Men, women and children are traumatized and anger is mounting.
So Mr. Mayor, I, for one, do not believe war works. Therefore I do not support it in this case or any other for that matter. Our addiction to combat allows us to deceive ourselves into thinking that hurting others brings security and peace. If bombing people into submission were the ultimate response, this conflict and many others would have been over long ago. Furthermore, based on the world's warring history, all nations would be free of poisonous weapons.