Let’s face it: war is hell and has a lot of collateral damage. In the case of the Israel-Hamas war, collateral damage is a vast understatement. No one disputes the right, indeed necessity, for Israel to defend itself. But after losing roughly 1,200 civilians on Day One to terrorists, the act of “righteous retribution,” or revenge, on twelve times the number of Palestinian innocents does nothing to meet Israel’s stated goal of eliminating Hamas. Israel is spawning another generation of terrorists willing to martyr themselves for the land they swear was stolen from them.
What we in the West are rarely told is that the Palestinians have a valid claim. Until 1947, when the United Nations declared the area previously known as Palestine to be partitioned into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and Jerusalem to be the divided city it is today, the entire region had been mostly Muslim. At the end of WW I, Britain took control of Palestine, a time known as the British Mandate, decreed by the League of Nations, and adopted a policy “in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
The 1922 census showed the area was 89% Arab and 11% Jewish. Due to lax British immigration policies, the Jewish population had risen to 31% by the end of the British Mandate in November of 1947, but hardly a majority.
One must view all this in the context of the times for a clear understanding of how this came to be. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in the late sixteenth century reflected the attitudes of the times toward Jews as scheming, money-grubbing vermin. Pogroms in Greater Russia and the world were commonplace. The world was aghast at the horror of the holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews led by Germany in Poland, Austria, and the other captured territories. Images of filthy, skeletal, dead, or dying piles of bodies in freed concentration camps led to a pang of collective guilt in the world after WW II. Something had to be done to atone.
What Had To Be Done Was Already At Hand.
Throughout history, the Jews had been dispersed throughout the world — the Jewish diaspora — so this Holocaust guilt led the United Nations to decide to give them a home of their own, and what better place to do this than their ancient homeland? What? People are living there now? Oh, well, they won’t mind sharing.
They did mind.
Sharing is one thing; being forcibly removed is quite another.
Brutality ensued on both sides of the path to statehood. Jews immigrated relentlessly in an effort to become a majority in the Holy Land, while injustice and religious fervor merely became a means to an end. The stakes were enormous. The larger the influx of Jews seeking a homeland, the more desperate the defense of their own homeland became for the Arabs/Palestinians. And desperate times call for desperate measures.
The British Mandate expired on the 14th of May in 1948, and Israel declared its independence and statehood at that moment. The next day, it was attacked by its Arab neighbors and thus started the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The Arabs were out-funded, outgunned, and as the losers in any war, eventually became second and third-class citizens in their old homeland. External forces had determined their futures for them, and it only got worse in successive wars, summarized here.
The Middle East is what it has almost always been, one people trying to reclaim, by decree, what was lost centuries before and another people trying to hold on to the lands their ancestors have lived on for centuries.
In the West, we tend to think that Israel is the underdog in these conflicts because they are surrounded by large Arab countries, and that is what we have always been told.
Fast forward to 2021. Israel is an apartheid state, according to Human Rights Watch
“Across these areas (Occupied Palestinian Territory) and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
“The events of May 2021 were emblematic of the oppression which Palestinians have faced every day, for decades. The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.”
Watch and read the two articles at the links in the paragraphs above, and I will leave the judgment up to you before discussing the events of October 7, 2023, and the catastrophic barbarism of Hamas.
Hamas Is Not A Representative Governing Body.
They. Are. Terrorists.
“Fatah is the party that controls the PA [Palestinian Authority], which was created in 1994 to be the government of the West Bank and Gaza. However, when Hamas seized power in 2007, it violently ejected Fatah and the PA from Gaza.”
So, while a terrorist organization also runs the civil services of the Gaza Strip, in 2007, it chose to seize power forcefully even after winning the 2006 Palestinian elections. A leopard cannot change its spots.
If all Americans were to be judged by the actions of the party in power at a particular time, could we not all be considered racist at various points in time? Asking for a friend.
Like the Nazis in WW II Germany and the Communists in the Soviet Union, it would be wishful thinking to assume a successful life in Gaza could be possible without being a token member of Hamas. Unfortunately, it is also easy to imagine that Israel’s harsh treatment of 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza creates popular support for Hamas rather than allowing us to mindfully separate the actions of the terrorists from the everyday Palestinians.
If you’re interested in a fascinating discussion that took place about a week after the October 7th attack, check out Real Time with Bill Maher from October 13, 2023. One of his guests, James Kirchick, made the comment that, “If the Arabs put down their weapons, there would be peace. If the Jews put down their weapons, there’d be no more Jews in the Middle East.” How, unfortunately, true.
Terrorism is an age-old strategy that has long been successful against superior forces. It is also reviled because of its annihilation of so many defenseless innocents. Who can look at the body cam footage of the October 7th attack and not feel absolute rage? But that rage should be focused on Hamas, not innocent Palestinians.
Since I was born a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) in the United States, I will never know the dread of “driving while black” in this country. I will never hear the nagging whispers behind my back about my parentage, my intelligence, or my heritage, whether I be Palestinian, Jewish, Hispanic, or any other nationality. But this war and its origins are a real eye-opener regarding the extent of racism we still have in this country and the world.
Note: Privately, I have had a long-standing revulsion to hijacking and hostage-taking and would just as soon see hostage-takers killed in the act rather than saved for trial. Slam dunk, open and shut case. But that’s just me.
Looking at the number of innocent dead Palestinians — especially women and children — in Gaza and the massive destruction of property, one has to ask, is this any kind of justice? The scale of the Israeli attacks boggles the mind, no matter what we saw on October 7th.
People of Palestinian or Jewish heritage are becoming extremely sensitive to comments about “their” side. Any criticism of Israel or sympathy for the Palestinian predicament automatically makes you Anti-Semitic in the minds of some. This just reeks of the offensive attitude, “My country, right or wrong.”
Which is crueler: Hamas using Palestinians as human shields or Israel calling their bluff and bombing anyway?
Several things have become clear in what initially appeared to be a suicide mission by Hamas. They are still out-funded and outgunned, and neither Hezbollah nor other Arab states have come to their aid as probably hoped for.
Israel continues to create new generations of terrorists, both in this bombing campaign and its apartheid approach to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They are also losing the moral high ground in world opinion in the effort to destroy Hamas.
Can this ever be resolved? Rational minds must prevail, and so far, I haven’t seen any.