Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Opinion | What a Gaza cease-fire would mean

Opinion | What a Gaza cease-fire would mean

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The cease-fire fight, explained

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the arguing over the Israel-Gaza war? I’ll be honest — I am. Let’s break down The Post’s recent commentary on the conflict.

Most helpful might be the roundup my colleagues pulled together Thursday; it’s seven experts advising Israel on whether to accept a cease-fire. Their analysis can help get you up to speed on the element of the war that has most riven outside observers.

The responses run the gamut from saying a cease-fire would be a “catastrophic mistake” of Israeli strategy, as Yaakov Katz writes, to framing it as a moral responsibility. Israel “does not have the right to commit a massacre,” Matthew Duss writes, “which is what the world is witnessing.”

Next, Perry Bacon has a piece about the grass-roots opposition to Israel’s bombing of Gaza that’s growing here in the United States. He provides an overview of the “multiethnic, multiracial” movement and lauds it as courageous and (mostly) morally right; he is, nevertheless, concerned about the elements of antisemitism that keep cropping up. Even though the push tops out at the most junior members of Congress, Perry writes, the activism “appears to be shifting policy,” with higher-up Democratic leaders increasingly calling for a humanitarian pause.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today ruled out any sort of cease-fire until Hamas releases all its hostages. Jennifer Rubin is sympathetic to Israel’s will; in a column published ahead of Netanyahu’s comments, she argued against a cease-fire, saying that calling for one in a war of self-defense “consigns the victims to ongoing terror, if not extermination.” Civilian deaths are inevitable, she writes.

But nine thousand of them? Fareed Zakaria worries that Israel’s “cruel siege” of Gaza will not only continue inflicting suffering on the Palestinians but also accomplish “the opposite of what a well-designed counterterrorism strategy aims for.” He explains how by way of a brief history of other modern conflicts between Israelis and terrorist groups.

Karen Attiah also provides a bit of history, in a column framing Israel-Palestine as a British colonial project reaching back more than 100 years, with conflict that results from that history.

Finally, two more pieces focus on the scene back stateside: Josh Rogin writes that House Republicans are playing a dangerous game by holding up aid to Israel and politicizing the issue “at the worst possible time.” And Jonathan Capehart interviews freshman Rep. Daniel S. Goldman (D-N.Y.), who was in Tel Aviv as the Hamas massacre unfolded.

A tribal take on conservation

If all this makes you want to run to the woods, now’s your chance. What’s more, you might find there a story of hope and resilience.

Bina Venkataraman recently spent time deep in Maine’s forests, on 31,000 acres of woodland that once belonged to the indigenous Penobscot people and will soon be returned to them. It’s a transfer remarkable both in scale and in the degree to which the Penobscot Nation will have autonomy over the land.

Bina is optimistic that the Penobscot will be good ecological guardians, and that their stewardship will open up more conversations about indigenous groups’ conservation know-how. “Globally,” she writes, “the track record for Indigenous management of wildlife is at least as good as that of formal conservation.”

As always, complications — including tribes’ economic challenges — await. But as Bina watched Penobscot tribal members release salmon into a river that’s soon to be theirs again, she felt a surge of hope “for solutions that lie deep in the past.”

From the Editorial Board’s warning about our growing “space junk” problem. All those chunks of junk are whipping around the planet at about 17,000 miles an hour, threatening the 9,000 or so satellites we actually use up there. (This is not to mention the half-million more dangerous pieces of debris too small to track.)

A terrific graphic presentation — scroll up and down to make these teeny specks circle the Earth — helps materialize the problem. And the problem is only getting worse; as the board writes, “every collision makes the next collision more likely,” until space is choked with “subcritical particles wreaking constant havoc.”

The solution, however, is well known to anyone who has made it as far as kindergarten: Pick up after yourself. The board prescribes how.

Chaser: Research fellow Thomas G. Roberts wrote in August about how space junk up there becomes an even bigger problem when it turns into space junk crashing down here.

Mr. Speaker, you’re a little over a week into the job — how are things going?

Jim Geraghty says “the rebooted 2023 Republican House majority is not exactly off to a roaring start.” There’s plenty of chaos to pick from, but he cites specifically Speaker Mike Johnson’s failure to secure censure for Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (over antisemitic comments) and expulsion for Republican Rep. George Santos (over … I’ve lost track at this point).

The rest of the chaos, then, falls to Dana Milbank to chronicle. In a week that involves Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeting the phrase “vaping groping Lauren Boebert,” let’s just say that our guide to the zoo that is Congress is thoroughly in his element.

The Editorial Board says it’s time for Johnson to get serious, what with crises in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe and on the United States’ own southern border that need tending. Unfortunately, the board writes, Johnson is at the moment more focused on “legislative obstructionism and brinkmanship.”

So all in all, great work so far, Mike! Let’s check in next week!

Chaser: Karen Tumulty writes that Russia is attacking religious freedom in Ukraine. Does the evangelical speaker of the House even care?

  • Greg Sargent has five questions for Rep. Dean Phillips, the Democrat running a quixotic campaign against President Biden.
  • Alexandra Petri’s grandmother died this week. She writes that the best way to honor her is to turn off “The Sound of Music” the next time you come across that godawful movie.
  • Lee Hockstader explains why October was the best month for Russian President Vladimir Putin since he launched his invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

And the halls of Congress, too,

Plus! A season-changing Friday bye-ku (Fri-ku!) from reader Thomas S.:

scraping frost off the windshield

Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. Have a great weekend!

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