I started to write a post about AI that I have been ruminating upon for months, but came to realize that after the heinous attack on October 7, I could not write about something as relatively light-hearted as the dangers of AI without first setting down my thoughts on this slaughter of the innocents.
First, I am already on record in this blog and elsewhere with my opposition to this right-wing Netanyahu government and its judicial “reforms”, West Bank settlements policy and appeasement of the ultra orthodox. I continue to believe in a two-state solution and also that Bibi has done his utmost to thwart this outcome while pretending that military strength and signals intelligence alone can keep the nation safe indefinitely. We now know better.
I also believe that Hamas is pure evil and that Israel has every right to defend itself and seek to eradicate these ruthless murderers. Hamas does not equal Palestine or the long-suffering Palestinian people, and the sooner Hamas can be eliminated from Gaza the better for the longer-term survival and welfare of the Palestinian people. This will not come without a horrible price to be paid by ordinary Gazans. During my Reuters years I came to know personally several of our outstanding journalists in Gaza and I am troubled that they and their families are already suffering in this war that they did not ask Hamas to commence. Unfortunately, like a cancer that has wrapped itself around healthy tissue and redirects the latter’s blood flow to grow more malignant cells, so too Hamas has metastasized throughout schools, mosques, hospitals, and tunnels in Gaza. This cancer cannot be removed with surgical precision.
Because there will be a continuing heavy price to pay among innocent civilians — on top of the slaughter of 1400+ Israelis as of this writing — there must be a greater goal than pure revenge. Deterrence of future attacks through an awesome military response is not enough and, in any case, will not provide long-term safety. A new government could be formed in Gaza, perhaps led with renewed vigor by Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority, perhaps in conjunction with the UN and Arab neighbors. But this too will fail, if Israel does not take concrete steps to support the PA and move towards an eventual two-state solution. The new unity government with Benny Ganz can begin by freezing all new settlement activity in the West Bank and restraining vigilante settlers. Longer-term, I would like to see a new coalition government that excludes right-wing extremists like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, abandons the devious judicial reforms, and draws upon the searing war experience Israel is now enduring to further unite the nation. Beyond this I believe Israelis can rely on their properly functioning democracy to convene an independent inquiry to address the shocking intelligence failures, root out corruption in government (including in the Netanyahu family), and ensure that the ultra-orthodox serve as much time in a tank as in temple.
We must never allow Hamas, Hezbollah or the IRGC itself to make us liars when we declare Never Again.