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Argument: Israeli attacks embolden extremists on both sides in cycle of violence

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Supporting quotations

Nicholas Kristoff. "The Gaza Boomerang". New York Times. January 7, 2009 - What we’re seeing in the Middle East is the Boomerang Syndrome. Arab terrorism built support for right-wing Israeli politicians, who took harsh actions against Palestinians, who responded with more terrorism, and so on. Extremists on each side sustain the other, and the excessive Israeli ground assault in Gaza is likely to create more terrorists in the long run.

If this pattern continues, we may eventually see Hamas-style Palestinians facing off against hard-line Israelis, with each side making the others’ lives wretched — and political moderates in the Middle East politically eviscerated.

[...]“This policy is not strengthening Israel,” notes Sari Bashi, the executive director of Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that works on Gaza issues. “The trauma that 1.5 million people have been undergoing in Gaza is going to have long-term effects for our ability to live together.

“My colleague in Gaza works for an Israeli organization. She’s learning Hebrew, and she’s just the kind of person we can build a future with. And her 6-year-old nephew, every time a bomb drops from the air, is at first scared and then says — hopefully — maybe the Qassam Brigades will now fire rockets at the Israelis.”

"Killing a two-state solution". Guardian. December 29, 2008 - Ms Livni has been Israel's lead negotiator with the Palestinian authority in the West Bank and she has invested more political capital than most in the goal of creating a Palestinian state. If she thinks she is clearing the way for a moderate Palestinian state by trying physically to eliminate the leadership of one half of the population, she is sorely mistaken. There has been no diminution of support for Hamas in Gaza, as a result of Israel's policy of blockading it, and support for Hamas may well rise as a result of these airstrikes. The Palestinians have always had a rejectionist wing, which for so long was represented by Fatah. Israel, too, has those who reject a Palestinian state, including many settlers. To think a solution can be found by killing rejectionists is to deny the entire course of the history of the Middle East.

"Editorial: Gaza first big test for Obama". New Zealand Herald. January 3, 2008 - "Israel has retaliated to rockets fired from Gaza, which were retaliation for Israel's blockade of the territory, which was retaliation for the territory's election of Hamas, an Islamic political party that does not recognise the Jewish state. Each step is a disproportionate response, escalating the conflict, and brings the region no closer to a solution to the source of so much resentment and terrorism worldwide."

"Breaking the cycle of violence needs a different intelligence." Sydney Morning Herald. January 10, 2009 - The Israeli invasion of Gaza is a reminder of how war destroys not just people and buildings, but faith in the idea of peace. For the people of the Middle East that is the tragedy. Those advocating violence are in the ascendant. Fresh ideas from Washington are needed if the cycle of violence is to be broken.

Pope Benedict XVI called Palestinian and Israeli actions part of a "perverse logic of confrontation and violence."[1]

"No good choices on Gaza". New Jersey Star-Ledger. March 4, 2008 - Given the escalating provocation of Hamas rocket attacks onto Israeli soil, Israel had little choice but to respond. But response -- regardless of whatever precautions the Israeli army takes -- means Palestinian civilian casualties, rage and greater support for Hamas.

And the whole bloody cycle feeds itself greedily, with accusations and reciprocal charges of victimization. It's distressingly easy to point fingers here, but it does nothing to stop this strategy of mutually assured destruction.

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