Christians are well known for their “What Would Jesus Do?” car bumper stickers and wrist bands. I think a little time spent wondering what we would do if we were in the same predicament as the citizens of Gaza, might be of value as well.  What might be even better is to imagine what would happen if 1.5 million Jewish people were held captive in siege conditions like the people of Gaza are subject to. How would our media respond when some Jewish people, being forced to live like those in Gaza, resort to violent resistance, even to the point of  indiscriminate rocket attacks on neighboring Arab villages? Would such a response by some of those 1.5 million Jews be a surprise to us? Would it not be easy to imagine that in such conditions of despair and misery, as the Palestinian people have had to endure, we could  find no small number of our own citizens who would resort to acts of murderous retribution? We would demand that the acts of those of our own who have given in to the seemingly overwhelming pressure of oppression, not be used as a means to judge us all and therefore sully our cause for justice and liberty.

Hopelessness and oppression have always been an excellent breeding ground for extremists. this has been recognised throughout history. Why do we find it so hard to see this obvious connection in the case of the Palestinian people? The following short article was taken from the Mondoweiss website on August 19th 2011.

If 1.5 million Jews were locked up in Gaza, where would ‘Commentary’ be on violent resistance?
Aug 19, 2011 05:06 pm | Philip Weiss

Steve Walt at Foreign Policy, “Get ready for more stupid Mideast violence.” Some great points, beginning with the idea that when leaders kick the can down the road on a difficult problem, it becomes intractable/terrifying. Think, American slavery, 1830-1861… Or, a Palestinian state, promised in 1947, undelivered for 8 decades, amidst ethnic cleansing… Walt:

If memory serves, one of the lessons of Roger Fisher’s little book International Conflict for Beginners was “settle conflicts early and often.” This isn’t always possible, of course, but his basic insight was that unresolved conflicts are dangerous precisely because they provide opportunities that extremists can exploit, they harden perceptions and images on both sides, and most importantly, they can always get worse. ..

However one sees this situation, a key point to keep in mind is that this sort of thing isn’t going to stop as long as the occupation and the siege of Gaza persists, and as long as one people has a state of their own and the other does not. If the situation were magically reversed and a million-plus Israelis were being kept in the same condition as the Gazans, I’d be astonished if some of them didn’t try to take up arms against whomever was oppressing them. And I’ll bet Commentary magazine would think that such actions would be perfectly okay. That thought-experiment doesn’t justify the murder of innocents, mind you, but it may help us understand where such deplorable actions come from.

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