29 Maggio 2024

Israeliani e palestinesi: faccia a faccia

Dopo l’orrore perpetrato dai militari di Hamas proviamo a mettere da parte questi terroristi che vogliono annientare gli israeliani, usando la popolazione palestinese come schermo.
Oggi israeliani e palestinesi sono faccia a faccia con seri problemi e dovranno cercare una soluzione che (dopo la bonifica di Gaza) potrà arrivare soltanto dal confronto tra ANP e Israele, comprese quelle nazioni di “buona volontà” che vorranno aiutare il processo di pacificazione. Ecco un’analisi seria del momento attuale di Yuval Noah Harari, tratto da The Guardian.

Israel has just experienced the worst day in its history. More Israeli civilians have been slaughtered in a single day than all the civilians and soldiers Israel lost in the 1956 Sinai war, the 1967 six-day war and the 2006 second Lebanon war combined. The stories and images coming out of the area occupied by Hamas are horrific. Many of my own friends and family members have suffered unspeakable atrocities. This means the Palestinians, too, are now facing immense danger. The most powerful country in the Middle East is livid with pain, fear and anger. I do not have either the knowledge or moral authority to speak about how things look from the Palestinian perspective. But in the moment of Israel’s greatest pain, I would like to issue a warning about how things look from the Israeli side of the fence.
Politics often works like a scientific experiment, conducted on millions of people with few ethical limitations. You try something – whether increasing the welfare budget, electing a populist president or making a peace offer – witness the results, and decide whether to proceed further down that particular path; or you reverse course and try something else. This is how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has unfolded for decades: by trial and error.

During the 1990s Oslo peace process, Israel gave peace a chance. I know that from the viewpoint of Palestinians and some outside observers, Israeli peace offers were insufficient and arrogant, but it was still the most generous offer Israel has ever made. During that peace process, Israel handed partial control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. The outcome for Israelis was the worst terror campaign they had experienced until then. Israelis are still haunted by memories of daily life in the early 2000s, with buses and restaurants bombed every day. That terror campaign killed not only hundreds of Israeli civilians, but also the peace process and the Israeli left. Maybe Israel’s peace offer wasn’t generous enough. But was terrorism the only possible response?
After the failure of the peace process, Israel’s next experiment in Gaza was disengagement. In the mid-2000s, Israel unilaterally retreated from the entire Gaza Strip, dismantled all settlements there and returned to the internationally recognised pre-1967 border. True, it continued to impose a partial blockade on the Gaza Strip and to occupy the West Bank. But the withdrawal from Gaza was still a very significant Israeli step, and Israelis waited anxiously to see what the result of that experiment would be. The remnants of the Israeli left hoped that the Palestinians would make an honest attempt to turn Gaza into a prosperous and peaceful city state, a Middle Eastern Singapore, showing to the world and to the Israeli right what the Palestinians could do when given the opportunity to govern themselves.
Sure, it is difficult to build a Singapore under a partial blockade. But an honest attempt could still have been made, in which case there would have been greater pressure on the Israeli government from both foreign powers and the Israeli public to remove the blockade from Gaza and to reach an honourable deal about the West Bank as well. Instead, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and turned it into a terrorist base from which repeated attacks were launched on Israeli civilians. Another experiment ended in failure.

This completely discredited the remnants of the Israeli left, and brought to power Benjamin Netanyahu and his hawkish governments. Netanyahu pioneered another experiment. Since peaceful coexistence had failed, he adopted a policy of violent coexistence. Israel and Hamas traded blows on a weekly basis and almost every year there was a major military operation, but for a decade and a half, Israeli civilians could go on living within a few hundred metres from Hamas bases on the other side of the fence. Even Israel’s messianic zealots showed little zeal to reconquer the Gaza Strip, and even rightwingers hoped that the responsibilities involved in ruling more than 2 million people would gradually moderate Hamas.
Indeed, many on the Israeli right saw Hamas as a better partner than the Palestinian Authority. This was because Israeli hawks wanted to go on controlling the West Bank, and feared a peace deal. Hamas seemed to offer the Israeli right the best of all worlds: relieving Israel of the need to govern the Gaza Strip, without making any peace offers that might dislocate Israeli control of the West Bank. The day of horror Israel has just experienced signals the end of the Netanyahu experiment in violent coexistence.

So what comes next? No one knows for sure, but some voices in Israel are veering towards reconquering the Gaza Strip or bombing it to rubble. The result of such policy could be the worst humanitarian crisis the region has experienced since 1948. Especially if Hezbollah and Palestinian forces in the West Bank join the fray, the death toll could reach many thousands, with millions more driven from their homes. On both sides of the fence, there are religious fanatics fixated on divine promises and the 1948 war. Palestinians dream of reversing the outcome of that war. Jewish zealots like the finance minister Bezalel Smotrich have warned even Arab citizens of Israel that “you are here by mistake because Ben-Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister] didn’t finish the job in ’48 and didn’t kick you out”; 2023 could enable fanatics on both sides to pursue their religious fantasies, and re-stage the 1948 war with a vengeance.

Even if things don’t go to such extremes, the current conflict is likely to put the last nail in the coffin of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The kibbutzim along the Gaza border have been socialist communes and some of the most tenacious bastions of the Israeli left. I know people from those kibbutzim who, after years of almost daily rocket attacks from Gaza, still clung to the hope of peace, as if to a religious cult. These kibbutzim have just been obliterated, and some of the last peaceniks are either murdered, burying their loved ones, or held hostage in Gaza. For example, Vivian Silver, a peace activist from Kibbutz Be’eri who for years has been transporting ailing Gazans to Israeli hospitals, is missing and likely held hostage in Gaza.
What has already happened cannot be undone. The dead cannot be brought back to life, and the personal traumas will never completely heal. But we must prevent further escalation. Many of the forces in the region are currently led by irresponsible religious fanatics. External forces must therefore intervene to deescalate the conflict. Anyone who wishes for peace must unequivocally condemn the Hamas atrocities, put pressure on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all the hostages , and help deter Hezbollah and Iran from intervening. This would give Israelis a bit of breathing space and a tiny ray of hope.
Second, a coalition of the willing – ranging from the US and the EU to Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority – should take responsibility for the Gaza Strip away from Hamas, rebuild Gaza and simultaneously completely disarm Hamas and demilitarise the Gaza Strip.
There are only slim chances that these steps will be realised. But after the recent horrors, most Israelis don’t think they can live with anything less.