Gaza, Anti-Semitism, And Humanitarian War

Gaza, Anti-Semitism, and Humanitarian Wars


Leonard Zwelling

These three editorials in The New York Times on December 13 encapsulate the problem that is the current state of the Gaza Strip.

Tom Friedman outlines why the “Arab oil states won’t rebuild Gaza for free.” In essence, the Saudis and the other wealthy Sunni states in the Gulf want some simple things. They want the war in Gaza to end. They want the Israeli-Palestinian question settled with a Palestinian state. They want to widen their commerce with Israel. They want a security agreement with the United States. They fear Iran, too.

It seems we have the makings of a deal here except the current Israeli government has no intention of halting the war and surely will not agree to even the outlines of a process toward a Palestinian state with the Palestinian Authority taking a leading role. Israel has to be convinced that it is in their interest to do what the Saudis want. It’s just not in Mr. Netanyahu’s interest.

It is the Sunni Gulf states that have the cash required to rebuild Gaza and create a state where the Palestinian people can live in peace next to the Israelis. But, as Friedman points out, they won’t do it for free.

The second piece by Bret Stephens goes into great detail trying to parse out what is and what is not anti-Semitism. Obviously, if the leaders of major academic institutions can’t figure it out, how can anyone else?

Let’s keep it simple. It’s Jew hatred and it’s been around for about as long as we Jews have. The war in Gaza and the perceived plight of the Palestinian people in the face of the Israeli incursion in Gaza has brought anti-Semitism to the surface, but it’s never really been hidden. I’ve had to deal with it as have my parents and my father-in-law. Once again, let’s not make this complicated. If someone hates me because I’m a Jew, he’s probably an anti-Semite.

Finally, an editorial by six leaders of non-governmental organizations calls what is happening in Gaza a never before event. Of course, they call for a cease fire and the flooding of Gaza with humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, this is not that simple because of the precipitating events of October 7 and the fact that this Israeli government will not stop its aggression until Hamas is eradicated. That last goal is a mighty tough one especially since Israel has not defined what victory looks like.

So, what should happen and what’s the United States’ role going forward?

First, the war would stop tomorrow if all the hostages were released and Hamas left Gaza (and the West Bank). Not likely.

Second, as Friedman points out, it seems to most observers that Israel really didn’t and doesn’t have a plan for the day after the day after the war ends. And what constitutes the war’s end? How will we know when they get there?

Third, Mr. Netanyahu is battling a tight timeline for his war because even American support for the assault on Gaza is waning (at least President Biden seems to be weakening) which brings in the whole anti-Semitism thing again.

Fourth, the humanitarian crisis is real and horrific. The world needs to intervene and save as many of the innocent Palestinians as possible although, then what? Where do they go? Who runs Gaza?

If Mr. Biden wants to do something about all of this he must (1) agree to a plan that uses the resources of the Sunni Gulf states to rebuild Gaza, (2) agree to a process toward a Palestinian state with some sort of Palestinian leadership (if not the PA or Hamas, then who?) and get the Israelis on board with coercion if necessary, (3) agree to sign a security agreement with the Saudis, and (4), mobilize the resources of the world (and not the United Nations) to aid the Gazan Palestinians.

In short, the chaos in the Middle East has reached its ineluctable crisis point. Mr. Netanyahu bet on his ability to keep the PA weak and Hamas at bay to secure Israel. He’s done both poorly. He lost the bet. He has been a terrible leader for Israel of late both before and after October 7. Israel has to hold him to account and hold new elections as soon as possible after the war is over.

But what does victory look like?

If the Saudis could convince Hamas to return the hostages and leave Gaza and the West Bank, that would be a start, but that’s a pipe dream.

Only the United States can broker a deal using the Qataris if necessary. The question is will Iran allow anything to quiet down the region when its proxies are shooting at ships in the Red Sea?

I have no simple answers, only the vague outlines of a solution. It’s really up to Mr. Biden to set out some definite goals, metrics of success, and actively participate in making them happen.

Russia is doing to Ukraine what Israel is doing to Gaza, yet the Russians get a free pass and the Israelis do not. Double standard for Jews again, but reality is what reality is.

The UN can’t solve this. Only the big boys can and most of the big boys (Russia, China, Iran) don’t mind the chaos. It’s up to Biden and MBS to convince the world including Israel that there’s deal to be had to stop the war. They will get no help from Iran or anyone else. It’s up to the United States. As usual.

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