Americans like to pretend that the Israel-Palestine conflict "exists in a sort of suspended animation," just waiting for a diplomatic breakthrough. But the truth is that the conflict is active—as evidenced by the current flare-up, which has seen Israel arrest hundreds and severely restrict Palestinian movement in Hebron, in response to the kidnapping of three teens. To Palestinians, it "looks an awful lot like collective punishment," which is banned under the Geneva Conventions, observes Max Fisher at Vox. Which highlights a fundamental truth about the conflict: The suffering is disproportionately being inflicted by Israel on Palestinians.
Fisher was in Hebron just before the kidnappings, and witnessed all manner of abuses the Palestinans there are subjected to by Israeli settlers—who, for example, are said to toss trash from their windows onto a Palestinian market below. Many Israelis blissfully ignore this, while others see it as a beneficial status quo. "This makes the Palestinians the frequent instigator, as with Thursday's kidnapping," Fisher writes, "but Israelis' disproportionately greater power ... makes them the cause of on-net greater suffering." There is always blame to go around in this conflict, but "this is an issue that looks less gray all the time: the occupation is wrong, it is the problem, and Israel is responsible." Click for his full column. (Read more Israel stories.)