No Israeli Boots on the Ground

If this becomes a ground game, the U.S. should impose economic and trade sanctions against Israel.

As the Israeli military calls up thousands of massed troops and armored vehicles, it is not alarmist to suggest that this situation may very well escalate to a ground invasion. And that’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Another war in the Middle East. We’re still in Afghanistan. Tensions with Iran are high. Syria is in tremendous disarray. The climate is ripe for hasty decision making, and Netanyahu’s Israeli army is following suit as they demonstrate amnesiac strategy. If they decide to put boots on the ground, there should be strict repercussions for this aggression.

What the United States should do this time around that it failed to do during the Gaza massacre four years ago is impose strict economic and trade sanctions against Israel until ceasefire. There’s every justification for this country and others to provide consequence to Israel’s impunity as it stands, but even more so if the seemingly-imminent ground game begins. It’s a mistake that will only serve to send the body count clock ticking. Already the photos are coming in: the corpses of young children, their devastated mothers. The innocent civilians of both countries deserve more than governing by rocket fire.

There’s a school of thought that would like the result of these sanctions to be Israel ending the occupation of Palestine. That’s not a train for which I have purchased a ticket. Because the tensions between Israel and Palestine are rooted in an impossibly complex history, I’m not sure such a resolution will ever come about, let alone in an environment heavy with external pressure. That feels a bit like the sitcom trope of locking two fighting friends in the apartment until they reach an understanding. It works on Will & Grace, but rarely outside of celluloid.

However, what the sanctions could do, if properly executed, is force the situation to a pause. This is especially pertinent when considering the framework Yousef Munayyer establishes in “Bodies for Ballots” up at The Daily Beast. He’s smart to suggest that the elevated Israeli action against Palestine has arguably the same effect as a thirty-second primetime ad in a US swing state: it’s a base-energizer. If Munayyer is right, perhaps these sanctions could at least encourage a new reelection strategy.

The only thing more expensive than asking the question, “How should America respond in matters of Middle Eastern conflict?” is answering it, and I lay no claim to having one of those anyway. But I do believe there’s a moral imperative to show solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli citizens who do not want this war, who do not want this violence. I think it’s important to stay well-informed—that means looking at multinational reporting, too—as the events unfold.

And if it comes to be that Israel escalates the situation with a ground invasion, the U.S. should not meet that decision with support.

Image by moty66 / flickr 

About Vincent Scarpa

Vincent Scarpa is a graduate of Emerson College, and the 2012 Norman Mailer College Fiction award winner. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in journals like Hayden's Ferry Review, Baltimore Review, and plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2011. He tweets @vincentscarpa.


  1. Steven Schimmel says:

    Vincent, you underestimate the fact that Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc. want to destroy Israel. Its difficult to grasp that. There is nothing that Israel can do to make them stop wanting it destroyed. This isn’t blowback from something Israel did, this is a war against the existence of the country. I am not sure why you would like sanctions against Israel but I believe that Israel more than any other military in the world makes efforts above and beyond international standards for protecting civilians. I would really like to speak with you more about this, give me a call 856 696-445.

  2. So the US should condemn Israel for the same thing you are doing right now in Afghanistan?
    How much collateral damage has been caused by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?
    Talk about double standards…
    If I have to remind you Hamas is de-facto an terrorist organisation that not only has repeatedly attacked Israels civilian population and has shown that they have no interest in an lasting peace but also exercises totalitarian control of the civilian population of Gaza.
    Gaza has to be sweeped with ground troops in order to destroy their weapon&explosive caches, tunnels and any other significant assets.
    If the ground attack is successful Hamas will be unable to launch any significant new attacks from Gaza assuming that Israel also secures the southern border of Gaza.

  3. Doesn’t the Israeli state have the duty to defend their citizens by any means possible, even if it means killing a huge number of Palestinians? If we acknowledge that, the question of war or no war becomes purely practical, what serves best the safety of the Israeli citizens. Such a question seems very nontrivial, but I would assume that people in Israel, who have a vital interest in the answer, and even more the Isreali military, with their special knowledge, are best suited to give an answer.

  4. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    No. Jesus, they’re on our side! The Israelis. Hamas started the rocket attacks. Whatever it takes to get them stopped.

    • Jonathan G says:

      The rockets had stopped until Israel — once again — broke the cease-fire by invading Gaza. You won’t hear it in the U.S. media much, but the rockets were retaliation for Israeli actions. You also won’t hear much in the U.S. media that there has been an Arab League peace offer on the table for years. Israel could have stopped the rockets years ago, but it wants land more than it wants peace.

      • Vincent Scarpa says:

        Jonathan, I agree, which is why I encourage multinational reporting. A tendency for things to be refashioned for American audiences.

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Jonathan, I sincerely doubt this. It would have been in some news outlets. I would like to see Israel roll back settlement, but continue to hold the Golan Heights and West Bank militarily as a buffer. Or they could become new DMZs (not in the usual sense,) but occupied by neutral troops.

      • Jonathan;
        “The rockets had stopped until Israel — once again — broke the cease-fire by invading Gaza.”
        Could you explain in which time frame there were no rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza?

  5. Vincent Scarpa says:


    I’m sorry that’s how you interpreted it, though happy that someone from the Emerson network has come across the piece all the same.

  6. Jonnypapers says:

    This piece is lazy, poorly argued and almost totally uniformed. I appreciate that you are trying to cut your teeth with weighty subject matter and provocative ideas, but you are way out of your depth. I don’t support war any more than you claim to, but this juvenile opinion piece smacks of the worst kind of dog whistle propaganda.

  7. Bay Area Guy says:

    I would absolutely support the U.S. imposing sanctions against Israel.

    However, what really needs to be done is for the U.S. to stop supporting Israel PERIOD. No more military and financial aid, no more diplomatic support, nada.

    Israel is nothing but a liability. They and their American supporters played a huge role in the second Iraq War, they’re the primary force behind all of the saber rattling against Iran, and they overall undermine American interests in the Middle East. They play no small part in engendering anti-American resentment throughout the Arab world.

    Not to mention that they’re a lousy ally in other ways.

    (think of the Lavon Affair, the attack on the USS Liberty, them selling our military secrets to China, etc)

    Sadly, I don’t think that what I’m advocating will happen. The power of the Israel lobby is too strong. Groups such as AIPAC would fight tooth and nail to ensure that sanctions against Israel never took place.

    The only solution is for American voters, Republicans and Democrats alike, to not let their politicians get away with unconditionally supporting Israel.

    All I know is that I for one am tired of watching political races turn into “who can suck up to Israel the most?” contests.

    • Vincent Scarpa says:

      I agree. I think we’re both wishful thinking of course, but I absolutely agree.

    • ***Israel is nothing but a liability. ***

      No. Its a nation. Its a nation of people. We have sworn alliance and support. Our support can come in the form of forced cease-fire, but support we must, or we will prove to the world that the paper tiger is indeed in the White House.

      • Vincent Scarpa says:

        Support in the way of forced cease-fire sounds ideal, Rob, but I don’t know that there’s any significant support for that.

  8. Matt Johnson says:

    Honestly I still find myself unable to take a side on this issue. I’ve tried to look back into the history books to research who started what and who is to blame and keep coming up empty handed. I think all any academically honest person can do is stand on the side of peace.

    • I’ve never seen that phrase or concept before now: “Academically honest.”
      I’m not being flippant either. I’ve only considered such a thing to exist under the domain of research and reporting.

      I’m not sure secondary sources will ever point us in the right direction regarding war and dead children. I look more to the bible, which would tell Israel to stop. I look at the Quran that sometimes translated into peace. But who in God’s name can watch ANY children be even being down-range of a shell, let alone fire that shell.

      Both sides are shooting. Gaza has been lobbing missiles in endlessly. They ARE the first-shooters, but Israel can be the first to cease-fire. I’m totally finished with seeing dead and injured children on either side, but I fail to understand all the popular default positioning against Israel.

Speak Your Mind