Marwan Bishara is a senior political analyst for the Al Jazeera English network and has published an opinion piece about Israel's motivation to go to war in Gaza in the International Herald Tribune of December 30, 2008. I sent the following reponse, which this time did not get published, so I do it here.
Experiencing democracy and observing it are not the same. Mr. Bishara's writing about Israeli motivation to go to war against the Hamas proves him to be an observer only, like the overwhelming majority of his Middle Eastern compatriots. When Israel's political leaders bow to overwhelming public pressure and come to the help of the Israeli citizens in the south, they finally do what they are supposed to do: Listen to their people first and the international community second, and there is nothing cynical about it. Being a democratic country at the very core, Israel also did not punish the Gazans for electing Hamas, as Mr. Bishra believes. Many Israelis even hoped that the new strongmen would fulfill agreements, once negotiated, more reliably than the chronically defaulting Palestinian Authority. Gazans started to suffer the siege once Israel tried economic sanctions against the continued rocket fire, before finally resorting to an all-out war against the terrorists-turned-rulers-remained-terrorists.
The most serious misunderstanding however is the question why Israel choose to go to war in the end. Just like the second Lebanon war did not start because of two abducted soldiers, the Gaza war did not start because one Israeli prisoner and a few rockets fired since the end of the cease fire, as Arab and most European media consistently claim in order to condemn the disproportionate use of force. Both wars started because the Israeli population living near the borders having been subjected to random rocket fire for years, which turned hundreds of thousands of lives into nightmares and the entire city of Sderot into a ghost town. One week of targeted strikes seem a very proportionate response for years and years of indiscriminate terror when you live in Sderot or Kiriat Shmona.
If Hamas' agenda was to create a state in Gaza and the West Bank, all they had to do was nothing. When Hamas took power in Gaza Israel was already set to withdraw from most of the West Bank as well. But pre-state sponsored terrorism proved the true agenda - the destruction of Israel, never hidden from those who wanted to know. Terror turned Israeli public opinion against concessions and delayed the creation of a Palestinian state once again for indefinite time, like several times before. The truly cynical outcome of the Palestinian's first experiment with democracy is to be left with two governments, one irrational and one incompetent, both being incapable of fulfilling their national dreams alongside Israel.