Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot

I am a vessel of apathy. Have I ever told you that? The official reason is that I'm a paid scribe, and in the interest of journalistic integrity I must treat both sides of any argument with equal credence.

The real reason is I'm too lazy to keep track of things. I pass off my lack of opinions as some kind of high-minded neutrality. So far, it's worked. But don't tell anyone.

That lot up there don't have the luxury of apathy. Members of the Palestinian community living in Limerick held a demonstration outside Penneys on Saturday in protest at the shenanigans in Gaza. Few can doubt the cocktail of grief and anger they must feel as they watch their homes and families blasted into the Mediterranean.

Once upon a time, in a more barbaric yet wonderfully simply age, crises in the Middle East would be resolved by a murderous, apocalyptic battle that would wipe out anyone with any cause for grievance. Lepanto in 1571 springs to mind.

Today, we don't have that luxury either.

I've never carried strong feelings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Studying a Politics degree in UL, I was naturally surrounded by unkempt men of the earth who wore friendship beads, cursed Israel and had tattoos of Robert Fisk on their faces. Forgive me for not wanting to share the sentiments of such people.

Hypothetically, Israel has a right to defend itself. That has been the core principle of Statehood since the Treaty of Westphalia. No one can deny that Hamas, the self-proclaimed protectors of Gaza, have been behaving like spoilt children since the end of the six month ceasefire, throwing stones (in this case rockets) at Israel and running away, doing whatever it can to provoke its ire.

They have got their wish.

But nothing - no level of grievance, no measure of hurt pride, no matter how far behind Tzipi Livni may be in the polls - can excuse the barbaric and random assault on the people of Gaza we are currently witnessing.

With the Troubles in the North, an end was achieved only after the harder edges of Sinn Fein and the DUP (and by proxy their militant arms) had been dulled and people sought peace. If a two-state solution is to be achieved, Hamas cannot be allowed to retain power.

But the removal of Hamas is the prerogative of the Palestinian people, not the IDF. Israel will most likely cripple the group's leadership and infrastructure by its actions in Gaza. They feel that act is necessary for the protection of their sovereignty in the short term, and perhaps they're right.

But by doing so through military force, they have given the extremism that Hamas feed off of a raison d'etre for another generation.

We're going to see this cycle again and again over the next 20 years, as we have over the last 50.

Now you see why it's hard to keep caring.

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