It is painful to watch the Western media cover the latest Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On the one hand lamenting the loss of life in Israel and on the other awkwardly silent as bombs rain down on Gaza. We are failing to learn lessons. We cease to be wise.
The first question in every interview I have watched is this, “Do you condemn HAMAS?” Wrong question. The questions we should be asking are: Where did HAMAS come from? How does HAMAS serve the Palestinians? Why would any people choose HAMAS?
The answer is very simple. For the same reason Benjamin Netanyahu has reigned over apartheid Israel for the last 16 years. HAMAS exists in response to the illegal Zionist settlements Israel continues to build on Palestinian land. They thrive for their undying belief in the right for a Palestinian to exist. For the right of Palestine to exist. For the right of Palestine to be free.
I really thought we had evolved past this as human beings. The simple dichotomy of “good guy” vs. “bad guy”. The idea that some people are just born violent. The comfort of right vs. wrong. In this woke day and age we are never going to get anywhere if we don’t get uncomfortable. Isn’t this the popular belief? That we have to challenge old modes of thought if we want to get out of unhealthy cycles?
The Palestinian-Zionist conflict is a cycle where everyone loses. It is toxic. We have to evolve past this childish tit-for-tat and move to a place where we look objectively at what is causing this. Then and only then can we actually move towards a fair and equitable solution.
Muslims and Jews don’t hate each other
We have to use the right terminology or we are not communicating reality. The Palestinian-Zionist conflict is not a religious struggle between Muslims and Jews. Muslims and Jews have historically gotten along well through cooperation, mutual respect and side-by-side persecution. We are banded together by the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Palestinians are Semitic peoples. We cannot call their right to self-determination anti-Semitic. It is just factually wrong!
The Palestinian-Zionist conflict is a political one. Anyone peddling anything else is a hatemonger. Zionism is a movement to establish the Biblical nation of Israel on top of the nation of Palestine. Therefore, we should not be referring to it as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but actually the Palestinian-Zionist conflict. At least then we are reflecting some truth. Getting to the heart of the issue: injustice.
It is a basic fact of life that every single one of us wants to be secure in our homes and fulfilled in our lives. If things are pretty easy day to day, the average Joe will go along quite happily. If Joe gets pushed around or bullied, he is likely to change course completely. Without arguing over facts, think deeply about the idea that this is our commonality as human beings. Then ask yourself the tough question: “Who is missing this basic human need, Israelis or Palestinians?”
Hamas is misunderstood
In its original charter in 1988, the Islamic Resistance Movement stated: “As the Islamic Resistance Movement paves its way, it will back the oppressed and support the wronged with all its might. It will spare no effort to bring about justice and defeat injustice, in word and deed, in this place and everywhere it can reach and have influence therein.” Take out the reference to HAMAS and anyone on the street may think this quote was from Nelson Mandela or a US presidential speech! The 1988 draft of HAMAS’ charter did not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. This, along with the fact that it considered itself an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is why the group was deemed a terrorist organization.
However, in HAMAS’ updated charter from 2017, HAMAS not only amends its struggle to be against Zionists (people trying to take Palestinian land) instead of Jews. It also quite reasonably edits its aim from wiping Israel off of the face of the earth to seeing the original borders of Palestine from 1967 restored! It actually acknowledges that a two state solution is the way forward. Not only that, but it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Most recently its demands from Israel were simple: release 6,000 illegally detained prisoners (some of which are women and children), illegally settled lands and to stop desecrating Al-Aqsa Mosque. In essence, HAMAS was calling for an end to the occupation of the Westbank and Gaza. Seems pretty reasonable.
Like most things in this conflict, HAMAS is willfully being misunderstood so that Israel can continue its land-grab. By obfuscating the aims of HAMAS, Israel is essentially making any peace or negotiations impossible. After all we don’t negotiate with terrorists! But wait, who are the terrorists again?
What is terrorism?
Terrorism is one of the most misunderstood and widely used terms in modern times. Never mind what it actually means, what it has come to mean today in 2023 is: any violent act committed by a minority (usually Muslim) against the state. However, according to Wikipedia: “Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence and fear to achieve political or ideological aims.” It does not specify size, ethnicity or nationality.
With this definition in mind, we can use this term on just about any government, military or person committing violence. So what makes carpet bombing Gaza any less a terrorist act than kidnapping illegal settlers from the apartheid state of Israel? Why can Israel use violence to defend itself while Palestinians must just patiently endure apartheid?
Why don’t the Palestinians just peacefully protest you ask? Great question, they actually did just that in The Great march of Return in 2018-2019 where unarmed civilians marched to the Israeli border. The unarmed protesters demanded a return of their land and a lifting of the illegal blockade Israel has instituted on Gaza for the last decade. The result was much the same as the HAMAS attack, a disproportionate amount of Palestinians were killed and injured to Israeli ones. Still nothing changed. So I ask again, who is being terrorized? Who are the terrorists?
We are being manipulated
Israel uses all of the tactics of manipulation. They call upon us to remember the Holocaust and all they survived to be here. They willfully twist the facts, rewriting their national history to conveniently forget the verifiable fact that 750,000 Palestinians were displaced when Israel was created in 1948. Israel gaslights us into believing they are only defending themselves, even as the Palestinian civilian casualty becomes ten-fold of the Israeli one. Netanyahu implores us to remember 9/11 and asks us to back them in their mission to annihilate HAMAS.
Our outrage intoxicates us. We pledge allegiance and watch on as they raze Gaza to the ground with US weapons. Even when Al-Ahli Hospital is bombed, we believe it wasn’t them! Obviously it was diabolical HAMAS because frankly neither Netanyahu nor Joe Biden can survive another blunder. Truth is irrelevant!
The sad reality is, they and by extension the US have already failed at their objective. Even if they kill every single member of HAMAS today, the collateral damage is too high. Tomorrow another organization for Palestinian liberation will take its place and there is no guarantee it will be better. In fact, in the wake of all of this suffering, the odds are it will be worse and wider spread.
Violence only begets more Violence
As Einstein lamented: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” We have been here before. This is not going to break the cycle. In fact, it looks as if it may break us.
The only thing that can stop this cycle of chaos is for those groups of Israeli and Palestinian society who truly want a fair and equitable solution to come together. The world must quit advocating violence in response to violence. We teach this to our children and yet as a group ignore this basic truism? Children have the excuse of their prefrontal cortex’s immaturity. What is ours?
Justice for Palestine is the ultimate security solution for Israel. An autonomous and historically accurate Palestinian state is the only way forward. Suffering on both sides must be acknowledged and forgiven. Both Israeli and Palestinian people must refuse to be used as collateral damage. Truth must be acknowledged and justice for displaced Palestinians restored. Then and only then can we even dream of peace between Israel and Palestine. Anything short of this is just more of the same. It is insane.