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Local News

November 20, 2012

Area experts have grim hope for Gaza

Local observers seenew twists in old feud

Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are fighting once more, with the conflict poised on the knife edge of an Israeli ground invasion.

For Brett Heindl, an associate professor of political science at the State University College at Oneonta, it has a familiar ring.

“It’s another one of those situations where it’s hard to tell who is at fault and who started it, because it all depends on where you start the clock,” he said. “Do you start at two weeks ago? Do you start at two years ago? Do you start at two centuries ago?”

Rabbi Donald Roberts of Temple Beth El in Oneonta has also seen crises play out many times in the Middle East.

“It’s an old story that continues to show its face,” he said.

But the rabbi cautioned against attempts to blame the violence on one side or the other.

“It has to get way beyond blaming everybody,” he said. “It’s never going to be solved by blaming the Palestinians or blaming the Israelis.”

The period outbreaks of violence have occupied that latter half of the 20th century and the opening decades of the 21st century.

“Both sides so fervently think that they’re right,” Heindl said, and when violence like that of the past week gets started, “the dynamic then becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.”

Stopping such a cycle, once it gets going, is difficult.

“They think it’s a war of attrition,” Roberts said of radical Palestinians.

“Israel isn’t going to fall apart,” he said. “Israel is the 10th most-powerful military in the world, and it is the No. 1 military power in the Middle East, so it’s not going to fall apart so easily.”

Heindl pointed to the last time when outside mediation was effective.

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