A teacher walks out on the school playground and spots two boys fighting. Moving swiftly to the scene he finds that this is not just a pushing and shoving match. Real blows are being connected and real damage is being done on both sides. Now the teacher doesn’t know or care who started the fight. He doesn’t know or care what the grievances are or the level of culpability of either boy. All of that can be figured out later. The teacher does the only thing any sane person would do under the circumstances; he immediately separates the two boys and stops the fight.
Unrealistic as it may be, I wish there was the equivalent of that teacher in the Middle East to stop the fighting between the Israelis and Hamas. I understand that the conflict between the two sides has gone on for years, that both feel that the other has provide more than ample provocation to start a war. I know that each would like to smash their opponent under their heel, but I wish that some authority could step between them and force them to stop fighting. I wish that that this authority could sit them down in the equivalent of the principal’s office and force them to work out their difference in a fair manner or else force such a settlement on them.
Of course we aren’t dealing with two belligerent boys in the school yard. We are talking about a sovereign nation which has long been fighting for its very existence and an organization which claims to represent a long oppressed population. There is no international force which can mandate a lasting cease fire and then force a permanent settlement. Only the influence of other nations, including the United States and certain Arab countries, and the condemnation of the rest of the world can persuade the two sides to stop the fighting and perhaps take steps towards a lasting peace. Let’s hope that influence and condemnation are enough because that is all that is the rest of the people of the world have at their disposal.