Daniel Barenboim: Israel’s Security Depends on Wiser Action

From The Guardian:

I have just three wishes for the coming year. The first is for the Israeli government to realise once and for all that the Middle East conflict cannot be solved by military means. The second is for Hamas to realise that its interests are not served by violence, and Israel is here to stay. And the third is for the world to acknowledge that this conflict is unlike any other in history. It is uniquely intricate and sensitive – a conflict between two peoples who are both deeply convinced of their right to live on the same very small piece of land. This is why neither diplomacy nor military action can resolve this conflict.

The developments of the last few days are extremely worrisome to me for reasons of humane and political natures. While it is self-evident that Israel has the right to defend itself, that it cannot and should not tolerate missile attacks on its citizens, its army’s relentless and brutal bombardment of Gaza has raised a few important questions in my mind.

The first question is if Israel’s government has the right to make all Palestinians culpable for the actions of Hamas. Is the entire population of Gaza to be held responsible for the sins of a terrorist organisation? We, the Jewish people, should know and feel even more acutely than other populations that the murder of innocent civilians is inhumane and unacceptable. The Israeli military has very weakly argued that the Gaza Strip is so overpopulated it is impossible to avoid civilian deaths during operations.

The feebleness of this argument leads to my next questions: if civilian deaths are unavoidable, what is the purpose of the bombardment? What, if any, is the logic behind the violence, and what does Israel hope to achieve through it? If the aim is to destroy Hamas then the most important question to ask is whether this is attainable. If not, then the whole attack is not only cruel, barbaric and reprehensible, it is senseless.