Rep. McNerney’s Thoughts on the Current Situation in the Middle East

July 17, 2014

Here are my thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It’s hard for those of us here in the United States to watch on television as innocent civilians are killed. We have violence here at home, but we don’t live under threat of a rocket attack or of a ground invasion in our neighborhoods. Even though the situation in the Middle East seems intractable, I still have hope for a peaceful solution.

Every country has the right to defend itself. Any country under rocket attack would be justified in retaliating in an effort to make its citizens safe. However, I just wonder what would happen if Israel decided that, this time, it would let the Iron Dome system do its job in shooting down hostile missiles, and did not retaliate or escalate the conflict.

Israel exists in a “rough neighborhood” without many allies, and has long depended on a strong offensive deterrent to maintain its security. The pattern in Gaza plays out again and again: a Palestinian group like Hamas launches rocket attacks, which results in an Israeli retaliation. Israel is then condemned in world opinion, despite the fact that it is exercising its right to defend itself, because it is so much stronger and so many Palestinians, including women and children, are killed or wounded.

But what would happen if Israel did not retaliate, just this once? Would more Israelis ultimately get killed, or fewer? Would world opinion turn against Hamas? Would internal Palestinian opinion become more open to recognizing Israel’s right to exist or would it be taken as a sign of weakness inviting more violence? We may never know, but the current approach is not a sustainable model.