Tuesday, October 02, 2007

May Israel Defend Itself?

The PLO, Hamas, and Hezbollah have all vowed the destruction of Israel. If Israel has the right to exist and have sustained borders, what legitimate tools of self-defense are they entitled to use?

This was the question I asked Peter Makari during his workshop at the annual meeting of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, which met in Wichita, September 28-30. Makari is the lead Executive for the United Church of Christ's Global Ministries in the Middle East and Europe.

Makari's reply went something like this: The PLO signed a statement saying they recognize Israel's right to exist. Hamas has not, although there's a split within them. Some want peace. The radicals are on both sides. In Israel, there are Jews who don't want Palestinians to have their own country. Their voices are constantly in the press.

At that point I interjected: "But that's not the prevailing policy of Israel. That's certainly not the policy of Ehud Olmert's government. Meanwhile, you got Hamas and Hezbollah constantly launching rockets into Israel. Again, what legitimate tools are they entitled to use to defend themselves?"

Earlier in the conference, Makari described how Israel is heavily armed, possesses a nuclear bomb, and how the wall they built in the West Bank disrupts lives and violates internationally recognized borders.

An observation: Unlike bullets and bombs, the wall by itself doesn't kill anyone. And the wall has significantly curtailed suicide bombers inside Israel. The wall may not be the perfect solution, but it seems to be the least violent way Israel can protect itself.

Markari wouldn't answer my question.

Which kind of answers the question.

But I'm still going to keep asking.

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