I'm watching the news in Israel and what appears to be an inevitable ground war in Gaza. I am both horrified and surprised. Horrified, because war is horrible, and I dread the loss of lives on both sides. Surprised because my personal reaction to this is so visceral.
I am often very critical of the State of Israel. I support a two state solution, oppose theocracy, and would like to see the Israeli government take bold, decisive, and creative action to secure the former and end the latter "speedily and in our day" as our liturgy says. And yet I want to see the Israeli Defense Force annihilate Hamas.
I feel personally attacked. I feel ready, if the need arises and I would be a help rather than a burden, to immediately fly to Israel and volunteer to help. I don't often feel this kind of allegiance, and I surprised (and not unpleasantly so) that I can still feel this way.
This could be mere romanticism, and I will have to wait to see whether or not I am willing to put my life on the line for my people, but the feeling is not something I had expected.
You might argue that an incursion into Gaza is not an existential threat to Israel, but I worry that, given the current state of Arab affairs, what happens in Gaza cannot stay in Gaza. A war with Israel might serve the interests of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Syria's Assad regime, not to mention Iran. Attacking Israel is a convenient way to shift the attention of the masses away from the despots that oppress them, and toward the Jewish boogeyman that haunts them.
When war comes to Hamas in Gaza, their compatriots in Egypt will demand that they join the fight. The president of Egypt is himself part of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is their movement. How could he stand by and let them bleed?
If Egypt enters the fight, Syria will open a second front hoping to put an end to its internal rebellion. Lebanon and Hezbollah will do the same. And even Jordan, with its huge Palestinian population, may be forced to enter the fray. The potential for regional war is real.
Should Israel refrain from invading? How can it? Imagine Mexican drug lords shelling Arizona, Texas, and Southern California: would the US just sit on its hands and beg them to stop? We would fire back, and if that weren't enough we would invade claiming that the Mexican government was incapable of controlling its own people and maintaining peace. Israel is in the same position.
No matter how strongly I detest the Occupation; no matter how illegal and even evil I hold many of the settlements to be; no matter how wrongheaded I think the Israeli right and Prime Minister Netanyahu are, I cannot help but support war.
I am not happy about this. It troubles me on so many levels. I share these thoughts with you as a matter of honesty, and invite you to help me see another way if you think there is one.