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Where have all the flowers gone?

The unyielding and seemingly intractable Israel-Gaza cycle of violence, ceasefire and fresh violence that continues to result in horrendous levels of civilian casualties evokes a continuing storm of outrage in the world press. The strikes on UN protected schools in Gaza - regularly identified to the Israeli military - that left scores of Palestinian children dead, was the last straw.

The New York Times writes, "The blunt, unsparing language – among the toughest diplomats recall ever being aimed at Israel – lays bare a frustrating reality for the Obama administration: the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has largely dismissed diplomatic efforts by the United States to end the violence in Gaza, leaving American officials to seethe on the sidelines."

Viewed through another prism, Richard Falk says in AlJazeera, that Arab regimes appear to have abandoned Palestine. The sticking point is Hamas. He writes, "The core explanation of Arab complicity has to do with the Arab governments hating and fearing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), of which Hamas is viewed as a branch, far more than they resent Israel, and its encroachment on their region, and even its appropriation and control of Muslim sacred places in Jerusalem."

The AlJazeera article adds, "While Israel talks about rockets and tunnels, its massive military operation is being increasingly interpreted as punitive, and directed not only at Hamas but at Palestinians generally."

While there has been strong domestic support for Benjamin Netanyahu, especially from the ranks of settlers in forward positions deemed most at risk, some argue he may have stepped too far. Lebanon's The Daily Star maintains this is causing a backlash. "Israelis from all walks of life, and increasing numbers of diaspora Jews, are speaking out, rejecting what they call Israel’s frequent violation of international law and the injustice of what they describe as a two-tier system of citizenship and law."

The Daily Star continues, "In fact, once-unthinkable positions are emerging. Recently, for example, more than 50 Israeli reservists signed a petition declaring their refusal to serve, citing many forms of oppression but naming specifically the dual legal system that discriminates against Palestinians, and the “brutal” nature of the military occupation."

The Economist writes that "the pummelling of Gaza has cost Israel sympathy, not just in Europe but also among Americans." The magazine states, "A global poll in and about several countries, conducted for the BBC long before the latest strife in Gaza, reported that negative views of Israel’s influence in the world outweighed positive ones by more than two to one."

Growing anti-Semitism in Europe is another negative - and highly visible - consequence as the backlash against Israel grows. The Guardian contends that there are no winners in this endless conflict. It writes, "Both Israel and Hamas will very soon claim victory in Gaza. In both cases the claim will be empty, the victory hollow. Israel will say it has demolished so many tunnels and rocket sites... Hamas will say it has wrested from the Israelis concessions on trade and freedom of movement, that it has broken the siege of Gaza."

The paper says the 'occupation' has “hardened those under its power”. That is why Gaza is such an intractable problem. We might all join Pete Seeger in his haunting anthem, "Where have all the flowers gone?" – Vijay Verghese