“Bella Hadid, Trevor Noah & John Oliver: What would you do if endless missile attacks on your civilians were conducted from a hospital, school and office building where there are also media offices?” Israel’s former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett responds to growing criticism around the world against the use of Israel's military force against targets that result in the mass killing of innocent civilians
No one can challenge the facts that Mr. Naftali Bennett highlights from one side and Bella Hadid, Trevor Noah & John Oliver highlight from the other.
And this is where the problem known as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict begins and ends: everyone is factually correct, in a one-sided description, of this two-sided problem.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not between good people and bad people, but between two groups of people whose bad luck has pushed them into a situation where both sides seem to have no choice but to choose between killing or being killed.
Despair, rage, revenge and a one-sided sense of justice prevent both sides from choosing the natural option of living and letting live.
The interests of too many powerful foreign states wanting to control the region through a divide-and-conquer strategy are not helping either of the local peoples to choose peace as a viable option.
The majority of the general public on both sides are only interested in living their own lives in peace, rather than continuing to raise children just to be killed or to kill others.
But the public - on both sides - are trapped in a cynical political game, where the rules of the game are quite clear: peace is a boring election issue that cannot get an indifferent public out of the house to vote. Whereas hatred, war and paranoia trigger the exciting adrenaline rush that galvanizes the extreme voters, driving them to the voting booths, and delivering election victory.
C'est la vie. This is democracy. And here we are.
According to Mr. Bennett, Israel has only two options: to avoid massive military action and die, or to act militarily with all its superpower, even at the cost of inevitable murder of many innocent civilians, and destroying essential civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and international media outlets.
For some unfathomable reason, the former defense minister of a country that claims to have the best intelligence in the world does not mention that there is a third possibility, that has been tested and successfully executed hundreds, if not thousands of times in the past, which is to act against military targets and terrorists only, not by attacking with massive bombardment from the air, but by precision-point commando operations, as well as by local gangs and cooperators.
However, there is no dispute that it is not just the right but the duty of the Israeli government to do everything it can to protect its innocent civilians from Hamas' murderous missile attacks. But it is highly disputable that the indiscriminate killing and collective punishment of masses of innocent civilians is what the State of Israel should choose as the final solution to what it and it’s supporters see as terrorism, and what Palestine and its supporters see as a war for independence.
There are not “only” humanitarian but also historical reasons that require the State of Israel to refrain from collective punishment that causes the deaths of many innocent civilians, including children, women, and the elderly.
There is also strategic reason why Israel should stop any attack on civilians - regardless of how high profile is a terrorist that is hiding among them and using them as a human shield.
Expanding the circle of innocent victims does not combat terrorism, but simply increases the number of those who have no other way but terrorism to avenge the murder of their family members.
In other words, the State of Israel must not increase the motivation of a weakened population to join the cycle of revenge by means of terrorism, but rather nullify their motives and prevent their justification for choosing terrorism as their only means to achieve justice.
The millions of Palestinians living in the so-called autonomous zone are already seriously afflicted and destabilized by their limited civil rights. An effective war on terrorism needs to provide them with hope instead of despair, and with fairness instead of giving them justifiable reasons for taking revenge.
The confrontation between the Jews and the Palestinians is not a confrontation between good and evil. It is a conflict between two peoples, who are descendants of the same father, who believe in the same God, and who are fated to live together in a small country with many places that are holy for all of them. Shouldn’t there be a better alternative than terror to get justice (and contrary to the common fantasy, a peace brought about by force is not a substitute for justice, obviously).
Do both sides really believe in God?
Those with a true and sincere faith in God - actually the same God for all - must not try to deny the fact that the two descendants of Abraham are brothers, and that neither of the two religions (or in fact none of the three) have any sort of ownership on God.
Attempting to take ownership of God instead of allowing each person to honor and work for God in his own way, is an act of heresy contrary to the most fundamental principles of all religions.
All should accept the simple fact that God is the owner of all peoples alike, regardless of their prophets.
Furthermore, it is an abuse of the name of God to attempt to take ownership of materialistic assets that are holy to all of God's peoples.
It is contrary to religion to fight for control of God's places instead of worshipping the very same God together, in any holy place, each in his own way, each through his own prophets, way and flavor. It is contrary to religion to oppose God's work by being exclusive to one people instead of encouraging all people to honor the same God.
Assuming that genocide is not a legitimate option for either side of this conflict, the only alternative is a fair compromise based on mutual respect and a complete and equal freedom for each side. This outcome would recognize and reconcile with reality as it is, instead of denying it and embarking on a joint suicide mission for the sake of trying to turn history back 70 years, or even 3000 years.
Both sides must maximize the enormous potential of living in peace instead of remaining enslaved to the tragedies of a history that in any case cannot be reversed. No act of revenge is capable of making the future of any nation better or less tragic.
There is no God but the one and the only God who commands all people - Jews, Muslims and Christians - to live and let others live. He who claims otherwise is not the representative of God.
It is time for the 99% in both sides of the conflict to ignore the 1% who are profiting from the bloodshed, put the past behind them and to move forward.
Not because the land does not belong to the other side, but because both sides have no other land to live in.