il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

A conflict, many open fronts

In his seven-years tenure as the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin has tried to build a constructive dialogue with the Arabic citizens of the country. Just after three months from his appointment in October 2014, he decided to do something which until then had never been done before. He went to Kafr Kassem, an Arabic village, to participate in a commemorative ceremony of the 49 civilians killed in 1959 by the Israeli border police. At the ceremony, Rivlin heavily condemned the massacre, defining it as “a terrible crime” and, the local media highlighted, “it came close to the apology/ excuses of any other Israeli leader”.
On several occasions during his tenure, Rivlin had clarified that the Arabs of Israel- 20 percent of the population – are a fundamental part of the Israeli democracy. “We are not condemned to live together, we are destined to do it” his belief, although deeply cracked because of the clash in may between the Arabs and Jews of Israel. “Just like everyone else, I witnessed with great shock, with a heavy heart and deep anger the violent and unbridled disorder that took away lives, generated anguish and set fire to restaurants and places of worship.
Stones were thrown against people’s houses, the synagogues were set ablaze, people were beaten with such barbaric cruelty” the painful picture of Rivlin, while a new unexpected front was opening in the country. An internal one. The conflict between Jews and Arabs which with the Israeli democracy seemed to have faded with time, in favour of a gradual but inevitable integration, has reared its head back up to divide.
The courageous steps beyond the barriers and the history of Rivlin has quickly been forgotten by those who have given themselves to violence. Symptoms of a problem that is still open. Just as open as the cyclical war with the Gaza terrorists, who use the international funds to arm themselves and attack the Israeli civilians instead of creating opportunities and well-being in the strip. A limbo of land in which almost two million Palestinians live, oppressed by a movement like Hamas (and the opponent Islamic Jihad) who in its laws advocates for the destruction of Israel.
“Before anyone talks about the conflict, they have to first read that Statute”, an invitation from professor Sergio Della Pergola. A reading that explains why that border is still a theatre of war and of victims. On the other hand, added the professor, “what is surprising about the Israeli side is the total absence of long-lasting project, neither for Gaza nor West Bank”. The words of Ariel Sharon, former prime minister and hawk of the Israeli right, come to mind, who announced his choices of rites from Gaza talking about necessary “intentional compromises”.
Sharon chose a direction, today criticised by some given the situation in the Strip. But he risked building a future project, never finalized because of his premature exit from the scene. Today the reality is that the borders are still under threat, as witnessed by the missiles of Hamas, and then arises the question of whether new “painful compromises” can guarantee the safety, including internally.
“In the west nobody wants to understand. Hamas is a fanatic terrorist movement. It is like a mindless robot. But with a very clear Statute: It says we must destroy the State of Israel. Among the others everyone should read, it is an anti-Semitic Islamic document which speaks of the death of all Jews and of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy. But of course, nobody talks about this. There are those who say for pietism, “You Israelis over react”. And ultimately it’s a silly consideration”.
Against the launching of thousands of missiles, any state is called to react and defend its citizens, highlighted Professor Sergio Della Pergola in the light of the last clash between Israel and the terrorist of Gaza, the harsh response of Israel to the rockets of Hamas, meted out with intent to make as much victims as possible, to indiscriminately strike innocent civilians, could not but be.
The cynical decision of the terrorist movement to deploy its rocket launches between castles, schools and mosques in the overpopulated Gaza has endangered the lives of Palestinians. More casualties are generated, despite the Israeli army’s attempt to reduce civilian casualties as much as possible. Israel raids have targeted command and arms production centres, military infrastructure, tunnels used to infiltrate Israel as well as to hide the arsenal and training centres of the terrorists. The aim was to erase the offensive potential of Hamas as much as possible: for the military intelligence the results were good.
“Our goal was to restore peace and security for the Israeli citizens and this we did. We inflicted maximum damage to Hamas” declared the Prime Minister Netanyahu in the press conference following the ceasefire, that was held after eleven days of conflict. Even the head of state Major Aviv Kochavj defined the military operation as successful, recalling the destruction of a part of Hamas’ 100 kilometres underground infrastructure. And yet Israeli commentators have mostly shared the feeling that this was the onset of a cycle of constant violence with Gaza, which will not end soon. In short one which Hamas will only get stronger.
“Israel has recorded a series of military tactical success, but Hamas has marked several historical results -the analysis of Ben Caspit, a respected Israeli journalist – they shot six missiles against Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, interrupting debate in the Knesset and sending the legislators to take cover, humiliating Israeli democracy before the world. They pitted the Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel against each other, unleashing days of anarchy, and is having some success in triggering the anti-Israeli violence of the Palestinians in West Bank. To end it all, Hamas took its revenge on the annulment of this month’s Palestinian elections (who was expected to win), and eclipsed the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, undermining his hold on power and crowning itself the saviour of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque”.

Above, a cartoon by Michel Kichka represents the middle eastern conflict as a dove trapped in a timeless hourglass and surrounded by clashes between Israelis and Hamas terrorists.

Translated by Oyebuchi Lucia Leonard, student at Trieste University, intern at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.