Secular, multi-lateral government needed to solve Gaza conflict

Thursday, January 8, 2009 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:11 a.m. CST, Thursday, January 8, 2009

DYSS – Different year, same stuff; Israel and Hamas are still at it.

Here is the story the way I understand it.  Hamas and Israel had a cease-fire for six months.  During this time, Hamas fighters lobbed rockets, up to 200 a day, into Israel but did little damage.  At the end of the cease-fire, Israel decided it had enough and retaliated by closing the border to all traffic, including humanitarian aid.  Hamas retaliated by firing more rockets.  Israel retaliated with airstrikes. Hamas retaliated with more powerful rockets aimed at larger cities in southern Israel, including Beer-Sheva, 30 miles from the Gaza border.  Israel retaliated with overwhelming air attacks against Hamas strongholds.  Hamas retaliated with more rockets and gun fire. Israel retaliated by sending troops and tanks into Gaza.  

International calls for a 48-hour cease-fire have been rejected by Israel and by Hamas.  Retaliation, by Israel and by Hamas, continues.  Hundreds are dead and thousands are wounded, with more to come.  American, European and Middle Eastern press are reporting on the crisis with leaning towards their own political ideology.

On Dec. 29, Jonathan Alter, a columnist and senior editor for Newsweek magazine, talked about the crisis on MSNBC.  

“Part of the problem is that when Israel retaliates with overwhelming force, (everyone reports about) Israel using force. When Hamas launches rockets day after day after day, at a low level but still enough to inflict significant pain on the citizens of southern Israel, its not really (considered) a story (and not reported). …”  

I agree that the intensity of Israel’s overwhelming force and the overwhelming death toll in the Gaza Strip is the story. But so should Hamas’ continued infliction of rocket fire into Israel. This misperception of right and wrong is why Israel is now seen as the bully (which it is) and Hamas is seen as the victim (which it is not).  The foundation of fault rests solidly in centuries of religious-based retaliation.

I am not saying the international calls for Israel to stop the aggression are wrong.  Far from that, I believe hearts are in the right place but working on faulty and misleading information.  There are two sides in any conflict. We close our eyes to evidence we cannot “support” politically or religiously, based on information that is one sided – our side.

The closer I look at the ongoing feuds between Israel and Hamas, Jews and Muslims, Muslims and Christians and any other combination you can imagine, the more I see ideology, religious and political, as the root cause.  All are conflicts between orthodox religious or hawkish political leaders who believe that God, the same God, is only on their side and that “nonbelievers” are the enemy.  How can God support both sides in the same battle?

This conflict is also more complicated than it appears on the surface, but it is only the surface we see.  It started with the demagogues from before the time of Rome, who sought domination through religious and political ambition and strength of force.  It continues today.

Shai Danot lives in Israel and can call himself a political adviser, thinker and lecturer. Danot is also a writer.  His position article concerning the Middle East crisis is most interesting. Danot also reminds me that not all Israelis are anti-Palestinian and not all Palestinians are anti-Israeli.

Shai calls for a Federation of Israeli-Palestinian. I believe that Jerusalem can be the shared capital of this new and dedicated country independent of Israeli or Palestinian control, and this new federation must be secular in government and law. History has shown that any religious-based governments, especially if a religious minority is allowed majority power, do not work.  They become dictatorships, autocratic and repressive in education, science and religion.  

Robert Kennedy asked the American people “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that. …”  It is not a unilateral cease-fire the United States needs to demand, but a call to action for a multi-lateral secular government representing all who have resided in Palestine since the days of Moses.  For this there is support.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at

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Ray Shapiro January 8, 2009 | 11:42 p.m.

How many countries in the Middle East, such as Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others care to blend Jew, Christian, Muslim and Hindu into their democracy?
Before such a "Utopia" can exist, everyone's cultural attitudes towards religion needs to address the need for an Islamic reformation..
The burden is on the Islamic clerics and the dictators who use their influence to control and incite Jihad.
Change needs to happen in this Islamic-Muslim tribal-oriented religious/political/social/economic culture before any "secular blending of religions" can be attempted.
The Israeli people are not stupid...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr January 9, 2009 | 3:48 a.m.

Ya it bothers me to no end that people would knowingly support terrorist organizations and faiths that would use fellow women and children as human meat shields and in the same breath go screaming to NATO for peace and a cease fire.

What is wrong with that picture?

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