On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack on Israel from Gaza. With unspeakable and nightmarish brutality they killed roughly 1,200 people, including women and children.
The government of Israel responded with a massive and indiscriminate bombing campaign. Hospitals, water treatment plants, apartment complexes and other civilian infrastructure in Gaza have all become rubble. At this writing, the Palestinian death toll approaches 30,000 (mostly women and children); and over a million people face a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah.
Here in the USA, these events have driven such a deep rift into coalitions of Progressive Democrats that it seems they were designed to do so.
Those sympathetic to the Palestinians see Israel as a colonial state that expelled their recent ancestors from their homes and took their land. They call out the desecration of holy places, and see Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians as genocide.
Those sympathetic to Israel remember the Holocaust of the mid-twentieth century, leading to the establishment of the nation of Israel as a safe homeland for Jewish people. Horrible memories are triggered when that nation is attacked, and they feel that Israel is surrounded by nations who are determined to exterminate them just as the Nazis did.
At a fundamental level, both sides are right. This presents a challenge for President Biden and other world leaders. Both sides have legitimate humanitarian and security concerns, and it’s difficult to satisfy one side without inflaming the other.
But in many ways, both sides are wrong. Each camp is dominated by extremists who are preying on fear of “the other” to promote a campaign of demonization and annihilation. So anti-Semitism is whipped up on one side, and Islamophobia on the other.
There are voices in Israel calling for the “elimination” of the Palestinian people. There are voices in the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Arab world) calling for the “elimination” of the state of Israel. There are voices on each side calling for control of “all land, from the river to the sea.”
These voices must be rejected and marginalized. It’s time for cooler heads to prevail.
Ordinary Palestinian families in Gaza are not Hamas. Ordinary Israeli families are not Likud extremists.
Most people on both sides want to get along and to peacefully go on with their lives. They are fed up with the fringe elements among them who sabotage reconciliation.
What side am I on? I’m on the side of the young Israelis celebrating at a rave party. I’m on the side of the little Palestinian girl trapped in a car, pleading to be rescued. I’m on the side of all good-hearted people in the region who wish to accommodate each other and live peacefully as neighbors.
The shooting, bombing and bleeding must stop; and all hostages and prisoners must be allowed to return to their families.
Israel has a right to exist, but it must abandon its illegal occupation and settlements, and return to its pre-1967 borders. Palestine also has a right to exist, and to have a secure homeland it can call its own. People of good will on both sides must resume work on such a two-state solution.
Finally, American support for war crimes must not be tolerated. Israel may be a US ally, but unless/until the Netanyahu regime behaves in a civilized manner, the US checkbook must be closed.