The other day I finally got the chance to watch the Steven Spielberg film Munich. As I watched it I couldn't help but compare the conflict of the early 1970s to the conflict taking place now more than three decades removed from the tragedy the movie is based on.
Of course that's what Speilberg was trying to accomplish. To make us reflect upon how little has changed in the mind set of both sides in a seemingly never ending conflict. The cycle of violence was defined then, as now, by acts of revenge. Neither side seems willing or able to extract itself from the cycle. Sure they take little "time-outs" but the cycle always restarts. This time, as a backdrop to the movie, is the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by militants and the resulting attacks by the Israelis on Gaza and the arresting of Hamas legislators and government officials. I have often wondered why there are people, especially on the Arab side, who seem to almost want to keep the conflict simmering ad nasueam. All throughout Oslo there used to be a suicide bombing almost every time the two sides were close to any agreement. Now the circumstances are different but the mentality seems to remain the same.
In my own view an all out invasion of Gaza is probably not the answer and would be counterproductive. The real answer is a re-doubling of efforts to disengage Israel from the Palestinian areas. Finish the border fences, and increase security along it. Making Israel a huge gated community is probably not the best long term solution, but for now its the best answer. When the Palestinian thinking changes with regards to what peace means and Israel has a real partner to negotiate with, then the border situation can be reexamined.
Munich took place in 1972, but here we are in 2006 and it seems very little has changed.