Q: In a statement Monday, Vice President Biden said the U.S. is consulting with other nations “on new ways to address the humanitarian, economic, security, and political aspects of the situation in Gaza.” What are the religious and moral considerations in determining those “new ways,” especially in light of Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla from Turkey bound for Gaza.
Watching events unfold in the Middle East, I lose the hyphen in Hindu-American here and comment only as an American. I do not represent the Hindu American Foundation here, but represent the views of one stunned by the existential challenges in the Middle East. The conflict involves only 10 million people–perhaps half the population of just the city of Mumbai–but it is a microcosm of interminable conflicts in so many theaters throughout the world.
I will watch our Vice President head into the Middle East once again to seek “new ways” to change the dynamics in the Holy Land, but the latest “new” will likely be another iteration of the previously new and now discarded. For events there seem to find a way to change while really staying the same.
The core realities are now well known to us all. Israel exists and Hamas wants it to not. Israel does not currently have a negotiating partner as Fatah stands emasculated and unhinged Hamas agents dream to do to Israelis in Jerusalem what they did to Fatah in Gaza. Hamas sends rockets lighting up the Israeli sky, while Israel tries desperately to keep that deadly fuel out of the hands of those that prefer mayhem over accords. Israelis have brought security for now with a wall, but pure numbers will not allow any wall to reverse the insidious demography arrayed against that nation.
But in an era where heroes are in short supply–there are no Begins, no Sadats, no Rabins, not even the deeply flawed Arafat who reversed decades of nihilistic ideology in recognizing Israel’s right to exist–peace seems more elusive. And those doomed flotillas heading for Gaza fall far short of heroic.
The flotillas insist on direct access to land controlled by the same Hamas thugs that are committed to destroying Israel and have purposefully launched thousands of rockets at Israel. These seaborne do-gooders could easily unload their supplies in Israel and have them transported to Gaza if their concerns were only humanitarian. But theirs were political, and they chose to protest, provoke and, yes, in a few cases, covet the perverse martyrdom of the extremist.
Hypocrisy is an appellation that could stick to any player in the Middle East. But rank hypocrisy is manifestly at play when these “free Gaza” activists are glaringly mute when civil war reigned supreme in Gaza as Fatah members and their families were rounded up, imprisoned, expelled or killed. Or when Neda became a symbol as she lay bleeding in Tehran shot by a desperate and criminal regime, and are still mute as Ahmadinejad still sits firmly entrenched in power. A flotilla traversing the Persian Gulf and entering the Straits of Hormuz would have soared the spirits of brave protesters on the streets then.
The Middle East has seen enough desperate theatrics and perilous games of rhetorical one-upmanship without the pretensions of would-be naval sailors. We all mourn for another generation in Gaza that feels stifled and hopeless in its now barren strip of land, trapped by Egypt, Israel and the sea because their hate-filled Hamas leaders’ love for their people is no match for their love for death. But flotillas now only inflame a situation that needs no more sparks that could doom any future peace initiatives to a growing graveyard of good intentions somewhere between Annapolis and Camp David.
Family feuds are always the most passionate and polarizing, but also terminable when reason prevails. Peace will come to the descendants of Abraham once their leaders again treat the land they share as if it really were holy.
Views expressed here are the personal views of Dr. Aseem Shukla, and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Minnesota or Hindu American Foundation.