Nov 3, 2023

Israel has no good options

Plus, a list of resources to learn more on this conflict.

I have seen more interest in what is happening in Israel and Gaza than just about anything else we've covered in the four years since I started Tangle. It is coincidentally also a topic I care a great deal about, have a lot of interest in, and have been following for a long time.

Over the last few weeks, I've gotten two broad sets of questions over and over and over: "What options does Israel really have?," and "What are some good resources to learn more about this conflict?"

Today I’m going to try to answer both of those questions. First, I'm going to list the options I see for Israel, and explain why none of them are good. Then I'm going to share a list of resources I think are valuable to help understand this conflict.

Israel's options

The thesis for my piece is in the headline: Israel has no good options. In arguing this thesis I won’t be making an argument for blame. The fact that Israel has no good options could be blamed on the last few decades of Israel's policies or even the concept of Israel in the first place. It could also be blamed on the current state of Palestinian leadership, Hamas's attack, and the nature of the Palestinian liberation movement.  

Surely, folks on the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel side of this issue are making and will continue to make those arguments. I am not here today trying to make the case one way or another.

Instead, I just want to share my thoughts in an attempt to speak realistically about the current situation, what lies ahead, and the proposals I'm seeing out there from across the political spectrum. Since Hamas's attack, I've heard many different arguments that I think can be broadly bucketed into three main categories:

  1. Israel should destroy Hamas; they should respond militarily with an air bombardment and ground invasion (the response we appear to be witnessing)
  2. Israel should not respond with a full-on military invasion, but focus on the long-term peace process (the response some centrists and moderates are calling for)
  3. Israel should recognize that Hamas's attack is a product of Israel's blockade and occupation, so it should cease military operations, end the blockade in Gaza, and withdraw from the West Bank (the response many pro-Palestinian advocates and Western leftists are calling for)

Let's take a look at each one by one.