23 Tamuz 5774
Sometimes it’s hard to sort out fact from propaganda.
Here’s the issues I know about in Gaza at this point. Please correct me with documentary evidence if I’m wrong on any of these things, because this is only what I’ve been able to find out from various news sources. And please be aware that we are NOT discussing the behavior of individual Israelis or Palestinians (and yes, both sides apparently have cheering sections that celebrate the deaths of people on the opposing side – which is frankly appalling and shameful).
In this post, I am only talking about the interactions of a sovereign state, Israel, with a terrorist group, Hamas. (Anyone who comments accusing me of anti-Arab or, for that matter, anti-Islam bias will be blocked and their comment deleted. Hamas is not all Arabs or all Muslims.)
1. Gaza, for its residents, is very much like the shtetls in Poland were for the Jews. This is obviously not an acceptable situation. Yes, it is an apartheid state. Yes, a two-state solution where Palestinians establish their own sovereign state is the most optimal solution.
2. Hamas is not Palestine or all Palestinians, and people need to stop equating the two because they are not the same. Palestinians are people who currently live in Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist group masquerading as a government. It does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state and has, in at least one documented instance, stated that its goal is to destroy Israel and kill all Jews (if it can). Since that is its goal, and since it does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state, it refuses to enter into any negotiations for cease-fires or other solutions.
3. Israel, as far as I know, warns both Gazans and Israelis when bombs or rockets are incoming and warns them to get to safety. In Israel, there are bomb shelters for people who must leave their homes, provided by the Israeli government. Meantime, in Gaza, Hamas tells people to ignore Israeli warnings, while not providing any shelters for people who are going to be bombed. Hamas also stores its munitions in schools, hospitals, and mosques, making these civilian spaces into military targets.
To me, at this point, from where I’m sitting in the safety of my home in the United States, it looks like Israel is doing the best it can to eliminate Hamas military stockpiles while trying to get civilians on both sides out of the way of the conflict. It also looks like Hamas (not the Palestinians) is doing the best it can to make that impossible while painting Israel as a bully and Palestinians as innocent victims. I agree that the Palestinians who have died are innocent victims. But Hamas could make this stop by coming to the negotiating table, and it isn’t doing that. Therefore, the innocent victims are victims of Hamas.
It is not blaming the victim to hold Hamas responsible for deaths it could have prevented by either providing shelter or, I don’t know, storing its munitions in military spaces instead of civilian ones. Hamas is not the victim here. Palestinians are.
Tell me, how is it that Israel is the bad guy when it delivers warnings to Palestinians in Gaza that they need to evacuate areas that are going to be shelled? How is it that Israel is the bad guy when Hamas is apparently routinely using schools, hospitals and mosques as munitions storage (Israel does not)? How is it that Israel is the bad guy when it warns its people to get into bomb shelters when Hamas rockets are on their way, while Hamas does not warn any of the people living in Gaza that they are in danger, or even worse, tells them to ignore Israeli warnings of impending bombings?
Hamas is a terrorist group that is not taking any precautions for the people it claims to be governing in Gaza. It is Hamas’ fault, not the fault of the Palestinians, that so many Palestinians are dead. Hamas could stop what’s happening by agreeing to a cease-fire and negotiations. It is not doing that. It is, in fact, creating the problem by letting Palestinians in Gaza die when it could a) stop making them into targets and b) start warning them when they have become targets.
And yet people still tell me that I’m blaming the victim when I say these things. They say that it’s all Israel’s fault for shelling Gaza. They give me images of places being shelled by Israelis and make fun of my position that Hamas is at fault for this. “Aw, lookit the poor little Israeli murderer with his eyes full of tears as he shells Gaza with his bombs, look how sorry he is to have to do this” was one such salvo.
But here’s the thing none of them are paying attention to: they are only looking at the immediate, short-term events. They are not looking at the longer historical arc or the long-term results. The fact is, even if Israel stopped shooting and shelling and withdrew from Gaza, even if Israel made a public, formal statement through Prime Minister Netanyahu that Gaza is now a sovereign Palestinian state in Israel’s eyes, that would not end this conflict. Because Hamas wants the conflict. It wants the bad press. Hamas will not stop firing rockets into Israel because Hamas wants Israel destroyed. And yet when I say these things people shrug it off as if Israel had all the power in this situation. Let’s be clear here: It doesn’t. If it did, this conflict would already be over.
Opposing Hamas is not anti-Arab or anti-Islam. Opposing Hamas is not opposing the rights of the people of Gaza, or of Palestinians more generally, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Opposing Hamas is opposing terrorism.
Of course, I want sane and logical solutions, but ideology doesn’t allow for that, now does it?