By Roger Cohen

Rockets launch from Gaza City as an explosion is seen on the horizon at Israel’s border with Gaza on Wednesday. (Source: www.cnn.com)

Another Gaza flare-up is over — for now. At least 150 Palestinians are dead. Five Israelis are dead. More bloodshed and scars have been inscribed in the 64-year-old conflict’s Book of Unforgiving.

To what end? Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, drones on about past “invaders” who “were faced with defeat,” presumably a reference to the Crusaders. Get a life, Khaled, Israel is here to stay. He says, “Whoever attacks Palestine will be killed and buried.” Well, Palestinians have been losing since 1948 with that sort of talk. I would say at this point the trend is definitive.

Israel, in the person of its U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, defends the Gaza bombing as effective deterrence. “The tactic is deterrence. Our strategy is survival,” he writes of a nuclear-armed state, by far the most powerful in the region, and its supposed need to administer “periodic reminders” to enemies.

Well, ambassador, a powerful Israeli reminder was delivered to Gaza in 2008. Operation Cast Lead left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. Since then Israel’s interest in the “dream” of a two-state peace has been expressed mainly in the expansion of West Bank settlements. And here we are again facing the fact that neither side in the Holy Land is going away.

Speaking of facts, the chief mediator in stopping the latest round of killing was Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of Hamas. Until the Arab Spring, the United States shunned the Brotherhood, deemed a band of Islamist extremists. Now Hillary Clinton thanks Morsi for “assuming the responsibility and leadership” that makes Egypt “a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.” Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on November 22, 2012 (a version of this op-ed appeared in print on November 23, 2012, in The International Herald Tribune).


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