There has been so much written and said about Hamas’ attack on Israel and the steadily escalating war on Gaza (some good, some really dumb) that it feels almost gratuitous to weigh in on the most recent events. So I’m going to step back for a second and start with some lesser-known history that might shed some light on both the ever-worsening situation in the Levant, and perhaps on politics elsewhere as well.
Thank you for writing this. For the last 25 years, I have followed this situation. I have a trove of articles on this plus books and have attended conferences sponsored by Jews, Palestinians and Christians. Colonizing people and occupation that follows leaves wounds and scars. It never works. This always devolves into a competition as to who has suffered more. The champion holder of suffering. I will say that the people who get the cruelty of common suffering are the mothers who have gotten together to mourn their dead children together annually.
By the way, the second topic I have followed for years is Haiti, facing a second Un peacekeeping team from Africa. Last time, they raped, pillaged and left cholera. I know how you feel about that. I believe I need to acquire a silly hobby or drink more but then at my age I can I’ll afford more brain cell loss.
Thank you so much for putting all this together like this.
Very good piece. One think I would add. Hamas’ human rights atrocities are being used as justification for totally eliminating it (and I suspect the elimination is not just institutional). But given your history, if what Hamas did delegitimizes it then surely logic dictates that ALL Israeli political parties which have pursued a consistent policy of human rights abuses against the Palestinian population are also illegitimate and must be eliminated. This logic will leave few to discuss ways out. My conclusion, observing that Hamas has done atrocious things and using this to conclude they are beyond the pale is just a way of, once more, insulating Israel from making a settlement. Yes, Hamas stinks. Yes, Israeli political leaders stink. But it is almost always stinky leaders that settle. And demonizing one side while lauding the other just means you dont want a settlement. It is disheartening to notice that in the USA even progressives have not grasped this logical point.
They murdered Hannah Wacholder Katsman, a long-time board member of B’tselem. Vivian Silver a leader of Women Wage Peace is missing. The kibbutz, Be’eri where over a hundred men, women, children…babies were murdered, was filled with anti-occupation activists. Hamas knew this. This was deliberate.
They raped young women at the "peace" concert next to the dead bodies of their friends. They then either killed them on the spot, or took them as hostages, shouting, "Allahu Akbar! We have sex slaves!” Those are facts too.
There are many roots to this conflict. Land is only one of them. Hamas is the spawn of the philosophies of Sayyid Qutb. It's the philosophy that birthed the Islamic State. Its roots are in a nihilistic religious world view that sees everyone who is not Muslim as an enemy. And to see Hamas cheered by "Pro Palestinian activists"...and you have nothing to say about it?
So, yes, Palestinians are going to suffer in ways that are unconscionable once again. How do we find the way to peace? God only knows...and since there isn't one...well...
The idea that it was the Israelis -- Jews -- who started the cycle of violence is really and awful ignorance intended to defend the fact that todays Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah want Israel wiped off the map. Shameful.
Thank you for pointing out that Israel, as a whole, is not as innocent in events leading to this past weekend's horror as its leaders would have us believe. Standing with Israel requires the honesty to also recognize the faults that led up to this travesty. Backing Israel's desire to eradicate Hamas as a recognizable entity also requires one to ask how the atrocities perpetrated on Israeli innocents are going to be avoided in Gaza. To deny that innocent Gazans deserve that consideration is to endorse the same brutality. An eye for an eye was never a successful strategy.
Hamas foundational documents tell us who they are and their objectives.
I looked for you on Twitter. Have you left? Not that I'd blame you.
Do you follow Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg? Here's her latest, on the ongoing massacres. Very good.
The roots are in the Hadiths "'O 'Abdullah there is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' and in the Christian bible, "“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan..." They get tax credits for teaching this to their children. And there are plenty of non-Jews who have thrown off the Christian god but not the Christian devil.
The roots are also in the Mufti of Jerusalem calling on Hitler to bring the genocide to Palestine. And in the Arab armies who promised genocide. The roots are in the writings of Sayid Qutb that led to the assassination of Sadat, the rise of Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Islamic State...need I go on? There is an old Sufi saying, "You have been asleep for millions and millions of years. Why not wake up this morning?"