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Pragmatic Alternative


The entire world has expressed disquiet, in one way or another, at the bashing being received by the Palestinians in the ongoing conflict with Israel. Of particular concern has been the large number of children being killed. Everybody agrees that these can be avoided through the simple act of declaring a ceasefire. Yet, the best of diplomatic minds are finding it difficult to achieve that goal. This can only be because the ongoing clash serves somebody’s purpose. The children are simply sacrifices on the altar of a greater goal.

It is being pointed out repeatedly that taking on a considerably more powerful enemy in an open confrontation does not make military sense, but the Hamas continues to do so. It is not as though the long standing differences between the two entities can be resolved so easily. There is so much of ancient and recent history behind the animosity that only a clean and pragmatic break from the past and an acknowledgement of present realities can provide a solution. PLO leader Yasser Arafat had accepted this fact and come to a tenuous understanding, but more radical forces took over after his demise, which are rooted in a most dangerous alternative worldview.

It is not just here that these forces are causing havoc – it is visible at many places in the Middle-East, Africa and Asia. Human lives do not matter, least of all those of children. It is no wonder then that those who care even a little for their families undertake the most dangerous journeys over land and sea to find refuge in other lands. Children’s deaths are valued as propaganda tools with heartless disregard for ordinary and hapless people’s sufferings.

It is foolish, therefore, to be taken in by this strategy. A solution is only possible by altering the narrative so that the emotional leverage is denied tactical space. It should take more than that to pressure Israel on its right to self-defence against the daily barrage of rockets. Under no circumstances should the Muslims versus Jews storyline be allowed to take hold – they should be seen entirely as two nation states. This is one of the reasons why many Muslim countries are confining themselves to token expressions of support for the Palestinian cause. Much of the noise is actually being generated for hypocritical local political reasons in the US and Europe. Sentimentality aside, in the long run, this approach will actually lead to fewer deaths of children in the region.