Today, two stories are coming out of Israel. On the one hand, Israelis are shocked and shamed by the vicious murder of a young Palestinian, who was burned to death in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths. Showing an unusual level of empathy for their Palestinian cousins, even Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres felt the need to phone the victim’s parents to express their sympathy. Out of this tragedy, which has clearly demonstrated how the hatred, bigotry, violence of these warring cultures have infected the young, could come a shift in public attitudes, thus generating the magnitude of social pressure that may well be needed to end the protracted conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
On the other hand, Hamas and Israel are also engaged in an escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip. Given the instability in the Middle East due to the ripple effects of the Arab Spring Revolutions, most notably the resurgence of jihadist extremists in places like Iraq and Syria, Israel risks entering a broader conflict by allowing Hamas to escalate the conflict via its reactions. It is probably more in the interests of Hamas to escalate this conflict in order to garner the attention and support of outside extremists; therefore, escalation is counter to the interests of Israel. Certainly, Israel must police crimes committed against its citizens by taking proactive steps to prevent attacks on Israel and by targeting those who specifically attack Israel, but Israel cannot engage in an outright war against Palestinians within Hamas controlled territory.
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