Trying Again on the New War
[Sorry that we’ve had two errors on this mailing. Trying again.]
I am sickened by the Hamas attack on Israel. It is evil and must be seen and named for what it is.
And I support Palestinians. Is that possible? Yes, and the distinction, between Hamas and the wider Palestinian cause is crucial to make right now.
Hamas is a terrorist organization whose invasion of Israel, along with the murder of civilians, brutalizing of Israeli elderly and children, and kidnapping of hostages are hideous acts. They are aimed at, among other things, creating a devastating response from Israel. This will then be used by Hamas and its allies to justify their actions and cause.
Hamas does not want peace with Israel nor is it remotely interested in the two-state solution. Hamas wants to eradicate the nation of Israel from the earth.
Moreover, Hamas terrorizes the Palestinian people under its control in Gaza. Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Expressions of dissent by people in Gaza are not tolerated, but lead to prison or death. Hamas forces Palestinians and Palestinian children to work building its network of tunnels, a project in which hundreds of children have perished. Hamas is funded and supplied by Iran, as is Hezbollah.
Here is NYT columnist Tom Friedman on what Hamas has done during its nearly 20 years of control of Gaza:
“But as bad as Netanyahu has been for Israel, Hamas has been a deadly curse for the Palestinian people since it took over Gaza in 2007. The billion-plus dollars in aid that it received from Qatar alone over the years could have gone into building Gaza into a productive society, with decent schools, universities and infrastructure, that might have been a model for a future Palestinian state with the West Bank. Instead, Hamas has devoted most of its energies and resources to digging tunnels into Israel and building rockets to try to destroy a vastly more powerful enemy — thus depriving Gazans of any chance to realize their full potential, via a government that is decent, democratic and productive.”
Later in the piece Friedman termed Hamas and its governance of Gaza as nothing more than a “Palestinian Islamist mafia.”
Hamas is not identical with the Palestinian cause or its search for greater justice and peace for Palestinians living in Israel. And yet exactly that identification is being made by pro-Palestinian activists, demonstrators and media here in the U.S.
An organizer of a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the Seattle area this past weekend, Bissan Barghouti, justified the Hamas action saying,
“Ultimately, this (the Hamas invasion) is our people defending themselves against over 75 years of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing . . . Palestinians are fighting to breathe, and Gaza has broken out of a prison that has existed for 20 years.”
While I am no expert, my own guess is that Iran pushed the Hamas invasion, possibly at Russia’s behest. If the U.S. has to increase military support for Israel, it will likely come at the expense of Ukraine, which some U.S. Republicans are already busy undercutting, and as Trump has long been doing. So that new front means that Russia’s chances of success in its invasion of Ukraine are far better.
Like Friedman, I have been disgusted with Netanyahu’s attempt to undermine Israeli democracy by throttling the Supreme Court there. And I have been inspired by the massive Israeli protests against that scheme.
But at this point the key message for Americans is to not simply merge the actions of Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah with the Palestinians and their cause. The two are not the same. Americans sympathetic, as many of us are to Palestinians and their conditions, need to strengthen the moderates not the radicals who are really criminals as well as terrorists, and who are using the larger plight of Palestinians as cover for their brutality.