Paul Greenberg

The on-again, off-again war in Gaza and Israel is on again, with a massive barrage of rockets fired at whatever targets Hamas can hope to reach in the Jewish state -- Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, anything and everything in between. The Israelis then strike back with an air assault that, by all signs, will be followed by their next land invasion of the Gaza Strip, their third of the decade. Or maybe fourth or fifth. It's not easy to keep count.

Once again the casualties, military and civilian, mount -- with many more in the offing. Till the only military objective remaining will be to make the rubble bounce. This much is clear: Until this cancer is completely excised, it will metastasize again. And the Israelis will fight back again, and find themselves back in Gaza again, which will be destroyed again. For among the casualties of this latest round of death and destruction may be the illusion that it is possible to negotiate with a cancer, and reach a reasonable compromise with the unreasonable.

We'll see if the Israelis see through that old mirage -- or just keep going through this recurring cycle of attack and retribution, attack and retribution, as peace negotiations lead only to war. Unless they put a definite end to that cycle, it will go on indefinitely.

Whatever the differences between Washington and Jerusalem over foreign policy, there are times when both America and Israel seem to follow the same self-defeating pattern: Win every war, lose every peace.

Maybe things will be different this time. But why should this war in the Middle East be different from all the others? Maybe because some things have changed:

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.