GAZA: TIME FOR CHANGE ?

There are various plausible reasons as to why the most recent attacks on Gaza might have been launched. Was it Netanyahu wanting to represent himself as a strong man to President Obama, reinstated in the White House for a further four years – much as he did with Operation Cast Lead, when the president came to power four years ago?

Was it Netanyahu flexing his muscles before the Israeli electorate, in the light of upcoming elections?

Was it a thinly veiled warning to Iran who backs Hizbullah and has threatened the security of the Jewish state?

Or was it just the Israeli Prime Minister acting out, once again, the role of the world’s most vicious bastard because nobody has the balls to stop him?

The West has carried the guilt of standing by and doing nothing while six million Jews were murdered in death camps in Germany and Eastern Europe, since the end of World War II. Make no mistake, the holocaust was barbarous, the extermination of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Russians and anyone else who displeased the ruling Nazi regime, can never be condoned or explained.

British involvement in the carving up of Palestine, was a blunder of monumental proportions. It is 95 years since Lord Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary, announced – even though it had no legal right to the land- that Britain would support the establishment of a new Jewish state on Palestinian territory, as demanded by Zionists. It was a very, very bad decision and one that has, over the years, resulted in the deaths of many thousands of people but – like the holocaust – there is nothing we can do to change it. We must live with these foul, indelible stains on our history however detestable they may be. Of course we should remember, and hope to learn from, catastrophic errors. But we should not be doomed forever to live with the consequences of the mistakes of our grandfathers. Things can change.

Gaza is burning today. Within its strongly-fortified, Israeli imposed and patrolled borders, 1.7m people are trying to eke out some sort of existence. There is no escape from the constant bombardment of Israeli artillery. The death toll continues to rise as the international community shakes its collective head over the lack of food, the lack of water, he lack of medical care and, most importantly, the lack of action to bring a halt to the carnage.

We can do nothing about what happened over the carve up of Palestine in the early 1900s, nor about the events of the 1930s and 40s that saw so many suffer and die in Europe. But we can do something about what is going on in Gaza today and so can the global political leaders we elected into office.

It is time for the prevaricating to stop, clearly, Israelis and Palestinians must learn to live side by side. There may never be friendship but there can be peace. They really don’t need rockets from Iran, missiles courtesy of Washington, or mega-bucks from those who dispense funds to fuel the fire between the feuding parties to serve only their own selfish ends. What they need is international support to get their act together and get on with it. If world leaders want to help I cannot think of a time to start than right now.

We have already seen the internal struggle in Syria spill over into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and there is every sign that – given the political volatility of the region at this time – the violence in Gaza will do the same.

This conflict already has more components than the Israelis and the Palestinians, the hand of others in the disruption and death is all too clearly visible.

Yes, we can talk about the Hamas rockets and the threat they pose to Israeli citizens; we can discuss the disproportionate response of Israel, led by Mr Netanyahu. But at this time, the topic that surely should be uppermost in our minds is the deafening silence of those world leaders whose voices we might have hoped would be louder and more strident in demanding an end to the carnage.

It is not enough for them to mumble about every state having the right to defend itself. If that is true of Israel, then it is equally true of Palestine. It might be argued that a ceasefire of a sort was, for the most part, successful, until Israel decided to assassinate Ahmed Al Jabari, an official of Hamas who, whether Israel and the US like it not, remains the democratically elected party of the Palestinian people. But what is the use of further argument, it is time we looked for solutions.

Indisputably, the Middle East region has vast potential for growth and development at all levels but the full extent of these ambitions – be they political, economic or social – will not be achievable until an accommodation is reached between the Palestinians and Tel Aviv. And, with the issue of nuclear proliferation the topic becomes even more of a political hot potato for the global community. Aside from those making political mileage out of the situation to benefit their own cause, it is to everyone else’s advantage to see this terrible, protracted, bloody awful war brought to an end.

It is true we cannot change the past, including the sad and destructive political events of the 20th century but it is within our gift to help shape the future and hopefully, in doing so, to avoid condemning as yet unborn generations to living with the same, sorry mistakes