Bombing Gaza Won’t Make Israel Safer

Deal W. Hudson
December 29, 2008

The situation in Gaza is a tragedy whose denouement is approaching. Over the past two days, Israeli air strikes have killed nearly 300 Palestinians – over 700 have been wounded. Israeli tanks are ready to attack and 6,500 reservists have been called up in case the conflict intensifies.

Israel is calling this retaliation for Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel over the past week, ending a six-month ceasefire (Hamas claimed Israel broke the ceasefire first). Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Olmert, said the campaign would continue “until we have a new security environment in the south when the population there will no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages.”

The question arises whether or not such barrages and death toll really bolster Israel’s security or U. S. interests in the Middle East. These allies are already vulnerable because of increased distrust and resentment, especially after the perception of a Hezbollah win against Israel in 2006.

No doubt Israel’s actions will embolden hard-liners in Iran, just as they are losing their influence. As the Washington Post editors observed, Hamas may have been weakened by the attack, but “the real winner may be Iran.”

President-elect Obama will have to deal with this situation, which may well escalate by late January. If Secretary Condolezza Rice’s call for a ceasefire is respected, Obama can immediately start the kind of dialogue that will bring security to Israel and stability to the region.

Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians have been under a virtual lockdown for over two years, with extreme shortages of potable water, food, gas, and electricity. Israeli policy has produced the exact opposite result from its stated objective of weakening Hamas. Unfortunately, the current Israeli campaign will have the same effect.

Israel, of course, has the right of self-defense and the duty to protect its citizens. This assault on Gaza, however, will only embolden extremist groups, like Hamas, who would otherwise lack popular support.

Former U.N. Special Rappoteur for Human Rights to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, declared of Israeli-besieged Gaza after Israel had evacuated its settlers but tightened its military control: “Gaza has become the world’s largest prison, and Israel seems to have thrown away the key.”

Israeli civilians have endured barrages of homemade Palestinian-rocket fire, killing several and terrorizing tens of thousands. But these rocket attacks will likely continue given the indefinite imprisonment of 1.5 million Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are children. Further, this siege policy – and latest assault – only increases the likelihood of future attacks and escalated conflict.

This attack will only weaken Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and may spell an end to the long overdue and short-lived process agreed upon at the November 2007 Annapolis Conference. Abbas will probably be viewed as complicit in the assault if he does not react swiftly, especially with an imminent Palestinian constitutional crisis on January 9th undermining his continued presidency.

Despite the core ideology of its leadership, the majority of Hamas voters have consistently supported a two-state solution, as articulated at the Annapolis Conference. But Israeli policy toward Gaza only creates more unrest and will make the two-state solution less likely. Just last summer 200,000 Gazans broke down the border fence with Egypt just so they could get food.

Until Gaza is allowed some measure of freedom and access to external markets and basics such as food and water, we will continue to see a deteriorating security and humanitarian situation.

Within 10 years, there will be another million Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. They are not going anywhere. The Israeli leadership must realize that raising a million children on its border without food, medicine, or access to education – and often under bombardment – will not make their country safer.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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