As something of a spin practitioner myself, I can only admire the chutzpah of whichever Boston Globe editorialist wrote the response below to the blowup in Gaza.
Arguments over who started the fighting “seem beside the point”?
Does that gem of denial also apply to, say, the mysterious entity that started bombing Poland in 1939, or who might have attacked whom in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, or the inconsequential question of who invaded Iraq in 2003?
THE GAZA CALAMITIES
The Boston Globe
AS ISRAELI bombing raids over Gaza kill and maim civilians along with Hamas militants, arguments about which side caused the collapse of a cease-fire that prevailed since last June seem beside the point.
The suffering of civilians already subjected to an economic blockade is seen around the world for what it is: a humanitarian calamity. Every day the bombing continues, it distances Israelis and Palestinians from the two-state peace accord both peoples desperately need.
Israeli leaders argue that they must hit Hamas hard in order to protect southern Israel from rockets that have been falling in increased numbers since early November. The first obligation of any government is to defend its people. It is far from certain, however, that bombing one of the world’s most crowded places will, over the long term, really help protect Israelis.
If Hamas leaders, trapped in their own bravado, go on refusing to halt the rocket attacks, Israeli ground forces may soon mount an operation inside Gaza. The consequences would likely include yet more civilian suffering, a radicalizing effect among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world, and a weakening rather than a strengthening of Israel’s deterrence.
If Israel’s central aim is to stop the rockets and renew the truce that began breaking down last month, it should suspend military operations and give Hamas a chance to halt the firing of rockets into southern Israel. This would give Hamas a face-saving opportunity to protect the civilian population of Gaza. If the rockets did stop falling, Israel could enter into discussions through a third party – if not Egypt, which is hostile to Hamas, then perhaps Qatar – about the terms of a renewed truce.
Israel would be within its rights to demand that a revived cease-fire must encompass the strict policing of tunnels from Egypt to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. In exchange, Israel should be willing to permit the unhindered delivery into Gaza of food, fuel, medical supplies, and electricity.
When Israel cuts off those supplies, as it has done since the step-up of rocket fire, the rest of the world sees Israel trying to change the behavior of Hamas by inflicting pain on the people of Gaza.
This is a tactic that hurts the people of Gaza, harms Israel in the long run, and has little effect on Hamas, which takes its cut from smuggling operations.
Ultimately, the only way Israel can achieve true security, and the only way Palestinians can achieve self-determination, is to negotiate a two-state peace agreement. Brokering such a peace should be a priority for President-elect Barack Obama. But the longer the current horrors continue in Gaza, the harder it will be to untie the Israeli-Palestinian knot.