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