Soon after finding the bodies of three young men, right wing politicians and activists called for the death penalty, large scale aggression against Hamas and other Palestinians, in order to solve the problem of terror once and for all.

 
The killing of three young men touched a lot of Israelis, and politicians have warmed to what they may perceive as the demands of constituents.
 
The President, Prime Minister, and Ministers of Defense, Finance, and Education as well as the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi were among those speaking at the funerals. The police closed major roads to private cars in a wide radius, to facilitate the arrival of what was estimated at 50,000 or more brought by buses from several assembly points.
 
The joint funerals were covered live by all three of the major television channels, which began their prime time evening news three hours early for the occasion, and continued late into the evening. Among the scenes showed while waiting for things to begin were government ministers behaving like politicians working a crowd, waving and smiling while demonstrating their presence at a major national event.
 
The more moderate of the right called only for enough damage to quiet Hamas and others for an extended period of time.
 
Centrists have urged calm, and a measured response that would not provoke an escalation or the beginning of a war whose end could not be predicted.
 
Leftists are more shrill in the same direction, and reciting a long standing opposition to settlements as something that should have been heard by others. As ever, politicians'' memories are short. Some of those in the anti-settlement chorus are in the Labor Party that did a lot to get the settlement movement going after 1967.
 
In another element of what we have seen before as part of the post-terror ritual, the police of Jerusalem arrested more than 40 Jews who attacked Arabs and their property. 
 
Facebookers were creating and adding to pages that called--in Hebrew--to revenge with Arab blood the deaths of the three Israelis. The Attorney General ordered an inquiry into incitement via Facebook and similar media.
 
Less than two days after the finding of the boys'' bodies, the headlines turned to the kidnapping and killing of an Arab teenager.
 
Residents of an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem reported that a young man was forced into a car by men wearing kipot. The police responded with roadblocks and helicopters, and a short time later a burned body was found in a nearby forest. 
 
Arabs--including Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmad Tibi and Haneen Zoabi--are saying that the Jews did it in revenge for the three dead Jews. Some are accusing Israeli officials of incitement, and are calling for an international commission of inquiry to investigate the killing.
 
Spokespersons of the UN and the US Government extended their sympathy to the young man''s family, and condemned revenge killings
 
Israel''s Prime Minister and officials with responsibility for law enforcement, as well as the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, spoke against incitement to revenge and this particular crime. The police are pressing ahead with an investigation, and have not ruled out a killing  done within the Palestinian community. The neighborhood where it occurred is a locale of violent feuds between families and criminal gangs, and within-family killings due to errant sexual behavior. 
 
Arabs called out their stone throwers and fire bombers for a day and night of violent protests at various points of usual tension, including the Temple Mount.
 
The police closed the Temple Mount to tourists, blocked roads to and from troublesome Arab neighborhoods, and closed some stations of the light rail in an effort to separate crazies from both side of the ethnic/religious divide. Arabs burned structures at one of  the rail stations alongside their neighborhoods.
 
Also in the news are reports of the IDF destroying the residences of Palestinians accused of murdering Jews. Whether such action curtails or adds to the incentives for violence is one of the items that military and political figures argue about in public, with Israelis of right and left adding their views. 
 
The prosecutor is charging the religious leader of a large Hamas-friendly congregation of Israeli Arabs with attacking a police officer, and the missile-firers of Gaza dueled with the Israeli air force.
 
All told, it amounted to an uptick in tensions. 
 
Meetings of the inner government cabinet called by the Prime Minister to deliberate Israel''s actions have produced amorphous statements that mention the possibility of wider actions in both the West Bank and Gaza, but only if conditions warrant. Reporters  described stormy sessions with some ministers demanding harsh action and others seeing nothing but folly in an escalation that would be costly to all concerned, but not solve anything.
 
What can Israel do?
 
We''ve been through this an infinite number of times. Calculation are complex, concerned with the balance of costs and benefits, with no certainties in the results.
 
We have to live together, or alongside one another. There are Palestinians (or Israeli Arabs who identify as Palestinians) living among Israeli Jews and Israeli Jews living among Israeli Arabs, very close to Palestinians in the West Bank, and even closer than elsewhere in Hebron.
 
An Israeli onslaught will kill and destroy infrastructure, but fuel anger and add to the supply of Palestinians wanting to kill Jews.
 
Palestinians will continue their campaigns to free prisoners held by Israel. Even the moderates among them view individuals convicted of murder as fighters for the nationalist cause who deserve to be treated as prisoners of war.
 
Whatever is the percentage of Palestinians inclined to violence, or sworn to kill, there is a larger population that can be brought to anger or the support of violence in response to Israeli actions.
 
Mass expulsion would bring international condemnation, economic damage, the prospect of eventual retaliation, and maybe even the end of the several civil wars among Arabs that are keeping Israel relatively quiet, to be replaced with renewed Muslim unity inflamed against Israel.
 
A serious Israeli attack on Gaza would bring missiles on Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and its suburbs.
 
Israelis and Palestinians have to cope with one another.
 
When they exaggerate in their animosity and we are led to retaliate, they lose more than we by way of life and property.
 
Some on each side would accept the losses for the sake of the larger battle.
 
Most of each would rather get on with life rather than increase the prospects of death.
 
Israel has a lot to lose by overreacting, including commerce with much of the world, including Muslim countries not willing to admit in public their commerce with Israel.
 
Israelis have a good life. This is not the struggling country, poor and surrounded by strong enemies that emerged out of the British Mandate. Israel''s economy, as measured by GDP/c, is ahead of Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Portugal. Israelis'' life expectancy is longer than the residents of most European countries and the United States.
 
The possibility of a major aggression or march on Israel by the Muslim hordes is lessened by inter-Muslim chaos, as well as by the knowledge of what Israel could do if really threatened.
 
Both Israeli and Hamas spokespeople have said that they have no interest in escalation.
 
At stake for Hamas is its control over Gaza, currently constrained by Egypt, and its standing among Muslims and their friends. Israel can destroy the Gaza regime of Hamas,but it is not clear what would replace it.
 
Israelis living close to Gaza, including the residents of sizable cities Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, and Ashdod, live with a constant concern for rockets, and sirens causing them to run toward shelter.
 
While some Israelis would conquer Gaza, others caution against the need to govern more than a million Palestinians, many of whom are Islamic extremists with aspirations to become martyrs for their cause.
 
We live with a tense standoff, with Israeli superiority but not a capacity to destroy its enemies. There are occasional increases in tension and violence, such as currently in the headlines. Most upticks die out after a few days, Every once in a while Israel is sufficiently provoked to declare that it is involved in an "operation" or a more severe "war,"
 
So far we are currently short of an operation or a war.
 
In the larger view of Jewish history, now may be the best of all time.

 

 

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