Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Can Only be Ended by Justice for Palestinians
For over 50 years the Lansing Area Peace Education Center (PEC) has supported non-violent struggles for social justice at home and abroad and has worked to urge fair non-violent, diplomatic solutions to international conflicts. The PEC has also sought to support marginalized, demonized, and oppressed groups struggling for justice in the face of oppression and opprobrium from the powerful.
The Origins of the Hamas Insurrection
Resting on these principles, the PEC is horrified by the vicious fighting, death and destruction currently unfolding in Israel and Gaza. It condemns both sides for using violence in their 75-year-long failure to find a fair negotiated settlement addressing legitimate Palestinian grievances rather than both sides pursuing a seemingly endless cycle of increasing violence and then temporary lulls in violence followed by worsening conditions for Palestinians. But the PEC understands that as long as efforts to find non-violent solutions to legitimate Palestinian grievances remain unsuccessful, people who feel oppressed will resort to violence. The only way to prevent more violence is to address those legitimate grievances.
While the extent of the current Hamas attack on Israel was unexpected, it should not have come as a surprise. When people feel oppressed but cannot find non-violent solutions, they will struggle with violence even when the likelihood of winning remains remote. This is the essence of the fighting going on now. The cause of Palestinian anger and increasing desperation leading to the current war rests on the failure of successive Israeli governments to recognize as legitimate the source of Palestinian anger and present a reasonable solution, such as creating two self-sustaining states: one Jewish, the other Palestinian.
Since Israel was established in 1948, it has displaced several million Palestinians from their land, turning them into stateless refugees. Since 1967, it has illegally retained control of the West Bank and illegally seized land for Jewish settlers. It has abused, jailed, tortured, killed, and discriminated against Palestinians who have protested Israeli actions. It has crammed 2 million Palestinians into Gaza, the largest open-air prison in the world, depriving them of necessary services, economic opportunity and of bodily security with its bombing and drones. Itis treating them as less than human beings with dignity and rights. The list can go on and on.
What is to Be Done
While Hamas has scored some dramatic military gains outside of Gaza, the Israeli military, after fierce fighting, will eventually drive Hamas’s forces back into Gaza. Then, after emotions have cooled somewhat, Israel, the Palestinians and the United States will have to consider the larger significance of this uprising. While many lessons can be drawn from this uprising, the critical one must be that Israel can never completely prevent Palestinian resistance that disrupts Israeli society unless there is a political settlement. But before reaching this larger view of how to end the 75-year conflict, more immediate issues must be addressed.
As the fighting subsides, the immediate questions are what will be the extent of the Israel’s inevitable retaliation and what the American response will be? Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ultra-right-wing government will be under pressure for vengeance with cruel ferocity. It will use its sophisticated military to decimate much of Gaza with many attacks on civilians under the guise that these casualties are “collateral damage” for attacks on military targets and Hamas leadership. Apart from American and international pressure, a possible domestic restriction on Israeli vengeance resides in the number of Israeli civilian and military personnel that Hamas has captured.
The Israeli government may also be tempted to invade Gaza with the intent of restoring all or part of it to full Israeli control. The one thing the government will not immediately consider is entering into serious negotiations to find some avenue to reach a settlement that guarantees some type of viable, legitimate Palestinian political entity.
The Biden Administration will have to be pushed to make any response to Israeli retaliation that is more than boilerplate support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas terrorism. This kneejerk response should be rejected, and the U.S. should finally respond with serious proposals to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Here are some but not all:
A Prayer for Peace
The PEC offers this statement on the origins of, the continuing nature of, and of the possible solutions to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The PEC hopes that an increasing number of citizens and political leaders can move beyond unquestioning support for whatever actions and positions that the ultra-right Israeli government takes and to understand that the key to ending the violence must be a political settlement offering some measure of justice and fairness for Palestinians.
Until that is reached, the violence will continue and continue.
The Lansing Area Peace Education Center is a community with the belief that all life has value. We work to promote compassion and awareness of the potential for interdependence and lasting peace, and nonviolent solutions to world, national, and local conflicts. We support peace and justice by serving as a resource center; organizing outreach campaigns; mobilizing community resources; establishing educational programs and workshops; and fostering collaborative relationships with other groups.)