It's not easy deciphering the actions of Israel and the Palestinian leadership with respect to the current wave of violence.

With respect to the Israeli perspective, one can perceive a clash between two appropriate goals and the actions associated with them.

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One goal is to dampen this wave of violence as quickly as possible.

Another is to do what is appropriate so that the next wave will be as far into the future as possible.

The first goal is associated with modest actions by security forces, meant to produce as few as possible deaths among the Palestinians.  Every death brings a demonstrative funeral, involving thousands, and serves as fuel for those wanting to continue the violence.

This goal also comes along with efforts to minimize symbolic provocations, such as the Prime Minister's order to his political colleagues to stay away from the Temple Mount, and ordering the police to keep all Knesset Members off the Temple Mount, i.e., Muslim MKs as well as Jewish MKs.

The longer range goal, i.e., to assume that waves of violence are inevitable and only a matter of time, but to postpone the next one far into the future, is associated with a demonstration of the force that Israel can direct against those who would be violent, and the Palestinian population generally. This is meant to increase the resistance to violence within the Palestinian community, by older family members, business people, and others with something to lose when Israeli security forces seal off neighborhoods or whole towns, go house to house with searches likely to be destructive, or direct heavy fire against the places where individuals have barricaded themselves and are firing at Israeli personnel. Such actions are likely to involve heavy losses of life and property among Palestinians.

Hints that areas of the West Bank can be turned into something like areas of Gaza are the ultimate pressure against Palestinians to calm the excitable among them.

Deciphering Bibi and Mahmoud is not easy.

They resemble one another, as well as their friend Barack Obama, in speaking to the crowds in terms that excite supporters and generate fear or animosity among antagonists, but taking actions that are far milder, and in sharp contrast to the style of their public speech.

Bibi is well known for his political bombast, and a reputation for unreliability among those who haven't learned not to take his words seriously. The same style gains him praise among those who see him as speaking in a way to gain support from voters who want victory over their enemies, yet acting in a pragmatic manner meant to achieve the little bit that is possible.

Among the signs of moderation have been assertions that the closure of the Old City to non-resident Arabs would be temporary (i.e., until the end of the Jews' holiday), that there would be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, and that there would be no change in the policy that allows some 45,000 Palestinians laborers to enter Israel daily for work. Government personnel have noted the continuation of Jews and Arabs working together on the staffs of hospitals, clinics, and other institutions, and indications that Arab business people and other community leaders are working to calm their youngsters, even while some religious leaders are working to fan passions toward more violence.

Currently we are haring Bibi's fiery declarations of what Israel's security forces will do, along with reports traced to senior police, military personnel and other security professionals expressing that care that must be exercised in order to avoid provoking wider participation in the violence among Palestinians. Also from Israeli security personnel, we hear about continued cooperation with Palestinian security personnel. Yet we also hear that the cooperation is limited by the concern of the Palestinian security personnel not to turn their people's anger against themselves.

Mahmoud Abbas' speech at the UN and other public pronouncements have featured blustery accusations against Israel and assertion of Palestinians' monopoly of rights to the Temple Mount, as well as demands for a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, and calls on  international bodies to act against Israel. Along with this, however, Abbas' remarks to colleagues and underlings in the Palestinian establishment indicate that Palestinian interests are not to continue the violence, but to return to a situation of calm that permits something imperfect, but nonetheless a useful co-existence.

Should we want more indication that governing is a messy process, especially in times of stress, we need look to the greater power being exercised by US and Russian armed forces. Some of the latest news recalls the classic foibles described in Good Soldier Svejk, created by the Czech Jaroslav Hasek. Varda gave me a widely read Hebrew translation on the occasion of my basic training in the IDF. Americans as ancient as me may remember the cartoons of Bill Maudlin, and his American soldiers Willie and Joe.

A number of the cruise missiles that Russia fired toward Syrian targets landed in Iran; and Americans have so far produced four different explanations trying to talk themselves away from a bombardment of a hospital in Afghanistan operated by the renowned Physicians without Borders, that killed some 19 patients and medical personnel.

There have been several days of multiple reports of stoning and stabbing and other violence, with Palestinians (including Israeli Arabs) seized, injured or killed by security personnel, and actions of the police against Jews doing what they can to damage Arabs and their property. Along with uncertainty about the upward escalation of this wave of violence, it is useful to recall that the last major uptick in the West Bank more or less ended 10 years ago. The end came after considerable destruction in Palestinian areas, and some 4,700 Palestinian deaths, along with 1,100 Israeli deaths.

At this point we can hope that the costs in bloodshed of this wave will be less, and that it'll be at least a decade till the next one.

Those aspiring to true peace or total victory should look elsewhere, or change their medications.

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