Friday, 10 November 2023 09:59

War in Gaza - Will Israel Suffer the Perpetual Guilt? Not Likely

Written by
War in Gaza - Will Israel Suffer the Perpetual Guilt? Not Likely - AFP pic

While the massive bombing of Gaza may seem like ‘a specter from hell’, if that word can even describe anything more insidious than the carnage. Do not expect Israel to apologize for the use of heavy bombing in the near future; excessive or otherwise. Why? 

For what it is worth, something did gravely go wrong under the administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir well before its debacle on October 7 2023. The enemies of Israel brought Tel Aviv to its knees. Not for several hours potentially 2 days as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) needed just as much time to make sure the Israeli settlements were all safe. October 7 2023 did result in untold casualties to Israel with many of its own soldiers was taken captive. 

But as the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guiterres did say that such "events do not emerge out of a vacuum." Decades of oppression and persecution of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have triggered this ‘unexpected’ explosive turn of event.  

The weaknesses of Israel were too many to be mentioned. Be they institutional checks and balances, Israel  simply has to be eternally vigilant. Tel Aviv was caught flat footed for hours without end. 

The belief in the superiority of the Israel technology proves to be prone to a decommissioned all the surveillance that were active, not merely savvy "surveillance state," it is also a highly admired "start up" nation. Granted that any start-ups only has a 4.17 chance to reach the book value of USD 10 Billion in any stock markets around the world.  

That said, these achievements pale in comparison to what the IDF is doing. Conducting the war in an urban environment is bound to be difficult. It is also the fate of Israel to be with - the Middle East. The birth place of not one but two other versions of the Jewish faith; each of which  traces their roots to Abraham and his ancestry too; albeit with different theological interpretations and practices.

However, while Christianity and Islam each has expanded far and beyond, to the degree that the Jewish believers have tried fan northward, to Eastern Europe and Russia, only that have been subjected to Pogroms and eventually Holocaust mainly by Nazi Germany in Poland during World War II. 

Due to the confluence of these two demographic trends, Israel somehow was created in 1948 to give it a proper space of "co-existence". Somehow or rather there would be other groups to do them harm irrespective of whether they are in. Be it Eastern Europe or Russia, the people of Israel did go through some of the sternest tests in life. 

This has led to a siege mentality--when they are all converged together, side by side, with the Palestinians. Indeed, original historical records have shown that Jews and Palestinians did try to co-exist together. With the end of World War I in 1919, however, leading to more emigration to the Arab Levant, to escape mass persecution in Europe. 

By 1937, the number of Jews had almost equalled with that of the Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Paradoxically, while the Muslim world, could allow Muslims to find their roots in at least 57 member states.

All of which are embedded in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Therefore Israel exists right in the midst of quite a few Arab states that do grudgingly admire its achievements. Yet  there are sub-state actors that continue to spawn into more and more organizations with the goal of destroying Israel.

To the degree Israel knows how to neutralize the threat, land swaps have become an ideal equation. Yet Israel believes fully in hard power too, and is not afraid to wield it especially against Iran. If anything, Iran has the means and will to sponsor an endless number of religious groups that have tried to pivot to Tehran; especially since the founding of the Islamic Iranian republic in 1979.

In this context, the national pride of Israel, if one must, the arrogance of Israel is rather strong. Too strong. It leaves no room for almost non Jews to co-exist with it. 

That said, it has taken the Jewish believers at least 3000 years to reach the current form of Israel; this despite the fact that there remain quite a few Jewish groups in Israel that do not recognize it in the current form. These are the ones who averred that a Jewish state cannot by established by anyone until the mysterious Last Messiah himself.

As things are, the butchery of Gaza will continue on a day-to-day basis between 6 weeks to 6 months as reported by Bloomberg. Even one day is too long. Israel's namesake would be affected, as would the US. 

Still one may note that the likes of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his previous cabinet that was responsible for the bold attack by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have to date failed to offer any apology for the massive intelligence failure under their watchful eyes. If anything else, this war would be pursued with total vengeance to give Israelis the necessary relief.

However, as and when the people of Israel were to get tired of Prime Minister Netanyahu, he would have to be booted out as the head of the War Cabinet. Contrasted with Japan and South Korea, for example, such an colossal failure would have led to the fall of the government almost immediately. 

That being said, Israel has had four elections in the last five years. For the lack of better expression, Israel is a hyper competitive electoral polity where every vote seems to count. 

Thus, Israel is now politically divided not between the left and right but seemingly absent of any centrist majority to keep everyone in check. It was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who stitched together 8 small fringe Jewish coalition parties from the far-right. 

Invariably, this marked the dawn of what is essentially the most ultra xenophobic government where Arabs and Palestinians alike were constantly viewed with total suspicions and condescension.

The fact that this war in Gaza is launched with total conviction that the self defense of Israel should never be compromised is the by Thomas Friedman's view, a seasoned columnist of New York Times, to "out crazy" Hamas and all other adversaries out there.

The defense and offensive doctrines of Israel is almost one and the same in practice. Even Likud has a charter that does not acknowledge any two state solutions. Yet, until today, Israel has no solution to solve the Palestinian issue.

If anything, it is not without some sense of irony and tragedy that Israel has had to launch the war into Gaza, once again. Only this time, it is the one and only occasion that Israel will have the window to destroy Hamas and Islamic Jihad, from the tunnel to the ground up. Only that the prospect of saving any hostages and limiting Israel's own casualties would also be dimmed. 

On obliterating Hamas and Islamic Jihad, how does one destroy an idea that has broken through an otherwise impenetrable state like Israel? Hamas and Islamic Jihad, rightly or wrongly, have stirred up a global debate on the very legitimacy of Israel to subject Palestinian to various lower hierarchy of human rights. 

This war against Gaza is of Israel's own making, especially due to the incompetence of the Likud Party and Jewish Power. The two will never be penitent. As they reject a two-state solution as much as most Palestinian does too. There in the inability to climb down from the spiral of mutual recrimination. Indeed it will be a long, bloody war for both Israel and the Palestinians.

The writer is chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.