In the last 24 hours or so several people have asked what my “talking points” are regarding a school in Gaza being hit, or a marketplace, or some other site. What am I supposed to say? It is ugly. Of course it is horrible. It is profoundly painful.
David Mamet once wrote: “War is tragedy. The great war stories are tragedies. It’s the failure of diplomacy. ‘War and Peace,’ ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.’ Those are some of the greatest tragedies.”
No talking points can take away the horror of war. War is a fog and it gets sloppy. Soldiers make mistakes, misfire, get caught up in firefights, whatever. This is true whether it is Israelis making a targeting error or Hamas militant’s rockets falling in Gaza, short of their targets.
Nothing I will say about the justness of Israel’s defense of civilians, about the tyranny of Hamas, or about the inherent necessity to end the rockets and destroy the tunnels can ever obviate that point. Nothing I will say can add to what I and others have already said about Israel’s pain at civilian casualties while Hamas wants and encourages more children’s deaths. Nothing I can say will add to the evidence of Hamas using schools, mosques, hospitals and humans as shields and weapon caches. Nothing I can say will add to everything that has been said about the ridiculous number of ceasefires proposed in the past week; accepted by Israel and then violated by Hamas militants.
If you want particular answers on how specific incidents happened, I encourage you to look at the IDF feeds that address them individually. But frankly you will be overwhelmed because in war there are new incidents and new tragedies every day.
Michael Walzer, the great philosopher of just and unjust wars, writes: “The moral reality of war is divided into two parts. War is always judged twice, first with reference to the reasons states have for fighting, secondly with reference to the means they adopt…”
This is the world we live in. I believe in the justness of Israel’s cause; not just in dealing with Hamas but in yearning to exist in peace and security. I believe that part of achieving that peace and security must, inevitably, come through partnership with Palestinian moderates to build a free Palestinian homeland side by side with Israel in a shared land. I believe most Israelis want a two-state peace, and that Hamas exists with the purpose of destroying any potential for a two-state peace. I respect the views of – and I do not pretend to have a better answer than – the vast majority right to left of Israel’s leaders and of so many Arab states: that political islamist terror groups like Hamas are not part of the path to peace and need to be dealt with as such – as terrorists – if we are to find an equation for achieving peace.
When the current fight is over serious people will need to offer concrete proposals for a path to lasting peace, to give hope to Palestinians and to strengthen moderate and non-violent voices throughout the region. Leaders will need to be held accountable for efforts they take or don’t take to ensuring that we don’t have to go through this again in a few years.
So for now, my talking points: Yes, War is ugly. There is no getting around that. But Hamas cannot be allowed to win this or be in a position when this over to re-arm and start anew; Because we need a lasting peace and Hamas is not a part of that equation. And I will cry every day until we get there.