Last week, I wrote a post on Gaza. In my post, I attempted to do two things - paint the Gazans as innocents, and point to the breakup of negotiation as the key failing, not the Israeli invasion or the firing of rockets. I succeeded in part, but by defending the Gazans so vehemently, I ended up demonizing the Israelis. Part of this is fatigue from a long discussion with an ardent supporter of Israel - heated discussion polarizes, and I as I was unclear of my orignal stance, I ended up playing the opposition to his point. Another part of this is my natural sympathies towards the historic underdog, engendered in part by my identification with the left and in part by my identification with browncoats (no joke). But arguing on behalf of one side is folly - innocent Israelis suffer too, and playing an umbers game doesn't work here. My post fell short of its aspirations.
Fortunately, the infinite typewriters of the blogosphere have come up with a far, far better post and position to take. This position was hinted at by the above-mentioned Christine's post on the inhumanity of it all, but it's true genesis is found elsewhere. That elsewhere happens to be Doug Muders' Weekly Sift blog post. What I like about Doug's post is that he firstly hits upon my main point - if Israel wanted to solve with entirely with violence, they'd act differently and be committing genocide. But he expands from that to the greater political reason behind all of this:
Many of the things done by terrorists (and corresponding anti-terrorist extremists) may look crazy, but they are actually part of a coherent strategy. To understand that strategy you need to grasp one key idea: If you're an extremist, your first enemy isn't the extremist of the opposite side, it's the moderate of your own side. Opposing extremists are actually allies in a battle against the center.(bold italics his; bold on its own emphasis mine).
Let me repeat that, because it takes a while to sink in: Opposing extremists are actually allies in a battle against the center. They'll fight each other in the second round, after the center is eliminated.
Now, I'm not saying that opposing extremists actually conspire. They don't need to. But those cycles of attack-and-reprisal that look insane and counterproductive are in fact very productive, if the purpose is to derail any possible compromise and make the center untenable.
That, right there, is the heart of the matter. Doug makes the point I couldn't, and does it concisely. I couldn't be happier.