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Opinion: Gaza and the future of Israel

The two-state solution has become a mirage.

Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!

Numbers 23: 23 (King James Version)

CHICAGO — The Moabite chief had tasked a diviner to curse the Israelites as they made their way up the West Bank of the Jordan after having defeated other local tribes. After a conversation with the Lord, the diviner blessed rather than cursed the Israelites. Peaceful relations followed, at least initially. The Israelites eventually took to the women of Moab and adopted their blasphemous practices, including sacred prostitution and the worship of their god, Baal.

After the Gaza onslaught, it is appropriate once again to ask, “What hath God wrought”? The answer seems to be the end of the two-state solution, an Israel, more or less in its pre-June 4, 1967 borders, living peacefully alongside a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. That has been the goal since of the United Nations since the 1967 war and then of President George W. Bush, and of an increasingly larger majority of the Israeli public.

But the devastation of Gaza helps focus the mind, a focus that leads to the inevitable conclusion that, like much else in the Middle East, the two-state solution has become a mirage.

The human toll in Gaza is stunning — more than 1,400 Gazans killed and more than 5,500 wounded. The physical toll is also shocking. According to Hamas, 5,000 homes, 16 government buildings and 20 mosques were destroyed while another 20,000 homes were damaged. (Thirteen Israelis were killed in ground fighting or by rockets fired from Gaza during the fighting).

In the midst of the carnage, Hamas has not merely survived but has gained the deeper support of the Gaza population. (Anyone who read the Strategic Bombing Survey conducted by the U.S. government after World War II would have anticipated precisely this outcome. The bombing of German and Japanese civilians, the report concluded, only strengthened their support for their own governments and increased their hatred towards the bombers — the U.S. and Great Britain).

Hamas – an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement – was weakened militarily by the Israelis. But it was strengthened politically by surviving. Its control of rebuilding supplies and money beginning to reach Gaza from the Gulf States and Europe will enhance its standing.

While Hamas is likely to adhere to its self-declared cease-fire, at least for the immediate future, its hatred for Israel has deepened as has the hatred of the Gazans and the Palestinians on the West Bank, and, unfortunately, for the 20 percent of the Israeli citizens who are themselves Palestinian. (The hatred of Israel, in turn, has fueled a deep hatred of Jews, a hatred that has reached new depths in the Arab world, more generally).