When discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict many commentators and talking heads on tellevision love to claim that it's Israeli settlements or control of Jerusalem that prevent peace. There is also no shortage of apologists happy to use western media to legitimize Hamas rocket attacks as the tactic of an oppressed people.
I'm fairly certain that no argument is going to be able to change their minds, but when a Palestinian takes a knife and tries to stab as many Israeli civilians as possible as they are waiting in a Tel Aviv bus station, as happened this morning, I find it hard to believe that a large part of what drives Hamas and its allies isn't simply pure hate for the "other." I believe in a two state solution, and yes, life in Gaza under the tyranny of Hamas is awful; I also don't personally agree with every single thing the Israeli government does.
There are things that Israel can, and has, done to move toward peace - working closely with the Palestinian Authority on security issues in the West Bank, participating in endless rounds of peace talks initiated by allies, demonstrating a willingness to have normalized relations with Arab neighbors by building partnerships with Jordan and Egypt - but the real breakthrough in this peace process will come when Palestinian leaders find a way to reorient Palestinian civil society away from a culture of death. When Mahmoud Abbas can convince his people, and by extension the terrorist organizations which exploit their fears and vulnerabilities, that unthinking hate and mass murder of civilians are not legitimate tools of resistance, but a path to their own destruction, perhaps progress can be made. Unfortunately, after this morning's events in Tel Aviv, such a day seems very far off.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2015.