Adam Horowitz writes:
Today the Christian Science Monitor has a piece by Alan Dershowitz defending Israel's actions. I could respond to his article point by point, but it's really just the same justifications for collective punishment that he and other Jewish luminaries have been offering for decades. In a tired tradition, Dershowitz tries to blame the Palestinians for making Israel kill them - "The firing of rockets at civilians from densely populated civilian areas is the newest tactic in the war between terrorists who love death and democracies that love life." articulated this sentiment most famously and succinctly after the 1967 war: "When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons."
The one piece of the Dershowitz article that is worth responding to is his comments on Sderot: "The residents of Sderot were demanding that their nation take action to protect them," which he takes as a demand that Israel obliterate Gaza.
Like Dershowitz I've been to Sderot: a year ago in November, 2007. Like him, I saw the devastating effect of the missiles from. Even though there had not been deaths from these rockets in recent memory at that time, it was clear that the missiles had inflicted an incredible mental impact, as I am sure you can imagine. The people of Sderot who I met wanted an end to the missiles, and an end to the conflict--as much as any Israeli I met--but they also understood that militarism will not protect them.
Unlike Dershowitz, the people I met with were not calling for war, they were calling for negotiation. They knew that they would be the ones to catch the brunt of an attach on Gaza, not Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. Even an commander I met told me, off the record, "The Qassams are like stones, there is no way to stop them. The only way is negotiation." My experience has been affirmed by the people of Sderot itself. Read the text of this petition signed by hundreds of Sderot's residents at jews sans frontieres. From the petition:
Another round of escalation may break our already brittle spirit, and take us all to another round of self-destruction and pointless bloodshed. It is not certain that we will survive. And you must be aware of that, if you indeed care about the residents of this area. We've been through this movie too many years--and results speak for themselves: feeling trapped, abandonment, and hopelessness for us and our children!
the petition continues:
We live in the feeling that you have wasted that period of calm, instead of using it to advance understandings and begin negotiations, as well as for fortifying the houses of residents as promised.
We call on the Prime Minister and the Defense minister not to listen to the voices of incitement and do everything they can to avoid another round of escalation, to secure the continuation of the calm and to work...towards direct or indirect negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in Gaza in order to reach long term understandings.
We prefer a cold war without a single rocket to a hot war with dozens of victims and innocent fatalities on both sides.
We ask you to offer us the possibility of political arrangement and hope and not an endless cycle of blood.
Clearly not all people in Sderot agree with these views, as has been shown. But it's also clear that Dershowitz and other proponents of the endless war will always use the people of Sderot as the they need in the moment. The residents of Sderot are primarily Mizrahi Jews, poor and working class, who have been settled on the periphery to play exactly this role. As much as Dershowitz might want to fight to the finish, those in the crossfire just want an end to the shooting.