Amos Oz is a prominent Israeli journalist, novelist and professor. His op-ed piece in today’s (June 2) New York Times is a cogent analysis of why his nation’s action against ships bringing relief supplies to Gaza was wrongheaded. But his words go beyond this tragic incident and apply to any nation considering the use of military force.
He wrote that “force has its limits” and should be used as a last resort. However, he continued, “since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has been fixated on military force… Monday’s violent interception of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid are the rank products of this mantra that what can’t be done by force can be done by even greater force… Every attempt to use force not as a preventive measure, not in self-defense, but instead as a means of smashing problems and squashing ideas, will lead to more disasters.” The entire article is worth a thoughtful read at www.nytimes.com.
I agree with Oz, both in regard to this particular event, and in regard to the general issue of when the use of deadly force is justified. The continued repression of the Palestinian people will not solve the Israel-Palestine problem, and will not enhance Israel’s security. The two parties share responsibility for the perpetuation of the crisis, and both have a responsibility to abandon violence and work together for a peaceful solution.
As Oz wrote: “Force cannot solve the problem that we are not alone in this land, and Palestinians are not alone in this land… Until Israelis and Palestinians recognize the logical consequences of this simple fact, we will all live in a permanent state of siege…”
Peace will not happen without a two-state solution… and this won’t happen without the strong participation of the United States. I was disappointed in President Obama’s weak response to Israel’s decision to board Turkish relief ships in international waters. He simply stated his regret for the incident rather than declaring it unacceptable. I was further disappointed in the response from some Democratic members of Congress who expressed their unqualified support of Israel’s actions (see “Pro-Israel Dems Defend Raid” at www.politico.com).
It is time for the United States to speak with as much conviction about the human rights of Palestinian people as we do about Israel’s right to security. It is time for our president and our congress to abandon the policy of knee-jerk support of whatever Israel does, and to use American moral, diplomatic and financial power to bring both parties to the peace table.
I support Israel’s right to exist and to be secure. I support Palestine’s right to exist and to be secure. Oz is correct: until these two seemingly contradictory statements can be reconciled, Israelis and Palestinians will live in a permanent state of siege. This, in turn, undercuts American interests throughout the Middle East. The time for American leadership is now.