This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Yet another ceasefire? The people of Gaza need it badly. But what Gaza needs badly isn’t the only or best option in the long run.
Maybe that’s why Hamas is a reluctant ceasefire partner.
Of course, the people of Gaza don’t have much say in the matter. If they did, no doubt they’d take a ceasefire in a Gaza heartbeat. If I was living in Gaza I would.
Because there isn’t another way out or so it seems. No one in the world with any power is offering anything more than more of the same. A ceasefire means we’re back to square one.
But to write that Gaza – without highlighting Jerusalem and the West Bank – is a Gordian Knot as Nervana Mahmoud does is to miss the point. Mahmoud concentrates on the present as if it will determine the future. Perhaps unintentionally, she makes the issue of Israeli occupation and control of Palestinian borders intractable by placing them in the background.
The Palestinian situation is longstanding and dire. Intractable it isn’t.
Like most observers, Mahmoud assumes that Israel is following a tragic line. Israel cannot continue its occupation policies forever. She is correct that Hamas lacks the ability to build a viable Gaza. Still it remains that, politically speaking – in reality rather than in global public opinion – Israel is doing quite well. Israel’s invasion of the West Bank and bombing of Gaza has further strengthened its stranglehold on Palestine.
Hamas is a failure. I agree. But with Israel and Egypt’s control of Gaza’s borders no government could succeed.
So, too, the Palestinian Authority. As big a failure. But with Israel’s occupation no government could succeed.
The ceasefire? What it offers Gaza is the status quo – with a little more food and materials, some operating tunnels, restricted access to Egypt and a few other items that keeps everything that was in place. Minus the recent and accumulating destruction meted out.
That is, if the ceasefire is implemented. If it holds.
A ceasefire doesn’t change the designed-to-fail Palestinian governing bodies. Or the designed-to-fail Palestinian society. Or Israel’s dominance.
Untangling the (un)Holy Land is difficult. Too many moving and immovable parts. Nonetheless, the political task remains. Settling for a ceasefire is to admit failure and create the context for further failure.
A ceasefire tightens rather than untangles the Gordian Knot of occupation and destruction.
Is this what Israel, the United States, Europe and the Arab world really want?
The Palestinian people deserve an answer rather than a ceasefire that promises failure and destruction without end.