We are now in Lund, the last stop before Desolation Sound. What a depressive jerk George Vancouver must have been to name this area Desolation Sound. It’s absolutely gorgeous, even if the sun isn’t shining as it is now. I don’t know what communications will be like in Desolation Sound. Not good, I’m guessing, so this may be the last post for a while.
One thing that is totally unrelated to this trip, but happened on this trip is the Facebook war I got in with Joe and Brad and others about Israel and Gaza. I didn’t express myself very well, but I think that most responders weren’t hearing what I was trying to say. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to bring a moral context to the war. Any time people are killed, morality is involved, and that cannot be denied. Even if you go to war for moral and just reasons, how that war is conducted has moral implications. Even if your enemy is evil, you can’t kill all those surrounding the evil and be moral. If you’re firing ineffective rockets at civilian populations, that can’t be moral, even if not that many people are killed or injured. Intentions do matter.
I will stipulate that Hamas is an organization that hates Jews and will do anything to kill Jews, drive them to the sea, and expel them from the Middle East, even if it means a kill ratio of 1000:1 or more of their own people. I will stipulate that Israel has a right to exist, that it is the only democracy in the area, and that Israelis generally don’t want to pave Gaza. There’s not much good to say about Hamas, but in spite of Israel’s Western-style democracy, there’s lots of not-so-good stuff to be said about Israel’s policies. Yes, Israel left Gaza in 05, but it has been anything but a free state since then. Israelis control power, water, and anything that goes in and out of the place. Gazans couldn’t have their own state under anything but the strictest of Israeli controls, and that’s not a free state my anyone’s definition. You can’t build a real economy through tunnels. With their policy in Gaza and with their settlements policy, the Netanyahu administration is rubbing Palestinian noses in the dirt every chance it gets. Netanyahu lied about the killing of three Israelis that started this whole mess. Even the government now admits that the killings were done by a lone cell not under Hamas control. Hamas may be evil, but the current Israeli government is giving Palestinians every reason to hate them.
On the subject of proportionality – isn’t that the basis of all morality? Isn’t the Old Testament doctrine of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” all about proportionality? The last numbers I saw are something like 1700 Gazans dead versus 70 Israelis. Most of the Gazans are civilians. Most of the Israelis are soldiers. There is something wrong with that picture, no matter how you look at it.
I am not the only one questioning the morality of all this. Read this article from The Jewish Daily Forward, hardly an anti-Semitic screed.
Another thing I wonder about is how the Israeli government, far and away the most powerful military force in the region, has tried to transform this battle into an existential struggle with the least powerful military group in the area. Israel cannot be defeated militarily by Hamas, but if the Israelis lose at least the semblance of the moral high ground, their long term prospects are not good.