Dear Rabbi, Every spokesperson prefaces his or her remarks on Israel and Gaza with “let me provide some context.” What is this context they keep talking about? And what is going to happen?
“Context” is a way of excusing what you are doing and condemning what the other is doing. One person’s context is another person’s pretext: Israel does what it does because Hamas does what it does, and Hamas does what it does because Israel does what it does. The side you favor has context, the side you don’t has pretext.
As for results, in the short term nothing will change. In a few days or weeks both Israel and Hamas will declare victory, and the violence will go back to acceptable levels (meaning cable and broadcast news networks will ignore it). Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will fly home, shower, change clothes, and return to the area a few months later when violence and ratings demand it.
In the long term, however, everything will change.
According to the annual Freedom House survey, Israel is among the most free, liberal, and egalitarian nations on earth, but demographics are against this continuing. The people who make Israel a liberal democracy are the largely secular, well-educated, techno-savvy, scientific, and highly entrepreneurial middle class Israeli Jews with a birthrate of 3.0 children per household. The fastest growing segment of the Israeli Jewish population, however, is the poorly educated, religiously fundamentalist, welfare class with a birthrate of 6.5 per household (NYT “Children of Israel” August 28, 2013). In the coming decades Israel will become more fundamentalist and right wing, alienating its secular liberal middle class and triggering migration to the United States where liberal values and secular democracy may still hold sway. Without its secular center to keep the country afloat financially and secure militarily, Israel will face annihilation by surrounding nations. At this point one of three things will happen:
1. The United States will make a lot of humanitarian noise about rescuing Israeli Jews while allowing the State of Israel to fall; or
2. The United States will intervene militarily to save Israel thereby triggering a nuclear World War III culminating in the earth being dominated by either apes or zombies; or
3. Jesus will return and slaughter millions according to the Book of Revelations.
Any way you look at it things are grim.