Opinion: My New Years’ wish for the people of Gaza and Israel

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Benjamin Kweskin
  • 18/03/2009 00:00:00

Without hesitation, I support Israel’s right to defend their citizens and generally support the current military campaign against Hamas and other terrorist organizations and not the Palestinian people as a whole. Of course Hamas is not only fundamentally opposed to the State of Israel, but, through their own virulent literature, the espouse hatred against Jews, not merely "Zionists.” This has been manifested in many ways since their inception in 1987, inciting masses through bully pulpits on TV, radio, schools, and mosques to “kill Jews.”

When CNN, Le Monde or The Guardian regurgitates that Hamas is the democratically elected party by the majority of voting Gazans (it should really be the guttural Ghaza, as if gargling), this is at least indirectly granting legitimacy to their ideologies as well, since it only tells half of the story. Indeed German National Socialists and the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front were elected democratically, and the world knows where this has led. Hamas is opposed to secularism, homosexual rights, minority rights, freedom of expression, etc. Simply because a party was elected does not grant them the authority to claim they are democratic. As controversial Orientalist History Professor Bernard Lewis elucidated years ago, there is a threat that electing these kinds of groups to power would result in “one man, one vote, one time” - said differently, democratic style elections and authoritarian, anti-democratic practices.

To brand Israeli actions “state terrorism” or “apartheid” without remotely rejecting Hamas’ unhinged violence is hypocritical and purely subjective. If we grant Hamas governmental legitimacy, wouldn’t their actions be called “State terrorism” as well? Hamas cannot call for an end to Israeli military occupation invoking UN Resolutions 242 and 338 while at the same time maintaining Israel is an illegitimate state, refusing to ever recognize them.

A Graduate School friend I know studying for his PhD in Denver lives in Nusseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza. Like most Gazans, Wael and his family are refugees who fled after 1948 since his village, ‘Iraq Sueydan no longer exists. The remaining ruins are part of an Israeli military museum near Kiryat Gat. He does not support Hamas or Fatah; nonetheless, on several occasions, he has told me that when he speaks to his small children on the phone from Denver (he was stuck in Gaza for an entire semester last year and now, of course, cannot return) he hears helicopters, airplanes, and sometimes explosions in the background. Several neighbors and at least one cousin have been killed over these last couple of weeks. Wael and his family feel helpless, angry, and extremely fatigued from their situation. His list of whom to blame is long.

I would be completely remiss not to mention my friends who feel similarly in Israel living within the range of Hamas’ weapons (not to mention my family in Hadera who lived through Hizbullah missiles two summers ago). For three months, I lived in Ashqelon. In fact, the specific place where I was living at the time (a boarding school/farm) was hit by a GRAD missile in March, 2008. Around the currently affected areas of southern Israel stickers were plastered on highway signs: “The Qassams are coming closer.”

Most civilized people condemn civilian deaths wherever they are - as for supporters or activists of Hamas, I cannot be saddened; they want Israel completely destroyed. I cannot have a heavy heart for someone who wants me dead because I am a Jew who feels we have a legitimate presence in Israel.

It is incumbent upon the IDF to allow basic necessities such as food, medicine, and clothing, into Gaza through the auspices of the UN. I don’t think they are objective when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflicts, but there is no conspiracy against Jews or Israel. Gaza is a Humanitarian Disaster: the overwhelming majority of Gazans live on international aid as it is. Hamas steals from their own people, just like Fatah; the Palestinians deserve better, and Israelis deserve safety.

No military campaign will change the minds of suffering people in Gaza. This is a futile attempt in trying to turn the populous against Hamas. It may break their capabilities vis-à-vis weapons, and I agree with Wael that after the dust settles Palestinians and indeed many Muslims in general will become more radicalized and Hamas will gain popularity. Israelis will also become more defiant and supportive of military campaigns. The age-old question of how to solve this conflict still eludes even the sharpest of minds. What we can do as Jews, Muslims, Christians, or otherwise is to recognize that there needs to be a better way to live in this world other than killing each other.

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Benjamin Kweskin
  • 18/03/2009 00:00:00