Nov 3, 2023

To My Liberal Friends Who Support Israel's War on Gaza: This Is Not What Defense Looks Like

By Tim Hjersted /
To My Liberal Friends Who Support Israel's War on Gaza: This Is Not What Defense Looks Like
If a school shooter took a bunch of children hostage, no one in their right mind would bomb the school, call the children "human shields," and then blame the shooter for dropping the bombs.

According to a recent poll, 80% of Democrats and 66% of Americans support a ceasefire. That still leaves 20% of Democrats who support Israel's war on Gaza.

The ultimate and sad irony of seeing this many liberals defending Israel's war on Gaza is that Netanyahu is basically the Trump or Mike Pence of the Middle East.

Even Jewish Rabbis have called Israel's government "increasingly fascist" since 2022. Major newspapers in Israel have called out Israel's government for being a hard right-wing fascist government, but because of all the pro-war propaganda in the news, centrist liberals are willing to condemn Hamas terrorism (which I also do) and say they are evil (I refrain from calling anyone evil for scientific reasons), but they can't see the straight up evil present in Netanyahu's government, which includes veiled religious nods in support of genocide.

They "don't approve": that's the strongest terms one of my liberal friends can use for Benjamin Netanyahu's war on Gaza. Another liberal who used to support Films For Action told us essentially that Hamas is to blame for everyone Israel kills, that no nation could be expected to act cool-headed after such a horrible attack (thus excusing war crimes), but to avoid any cognitive dissonance they also disputed that war crimes have been committed at all (going against the United Nations, leaders of South Africa and most humanitarian rights organizations around the world).

I don't understand how such cognitive dissonance is possible. We can clearly and rightly say that Hamas committed war crimes by killing civilians and taking hostages, but somehow things get foggy when Israel engages in the collective punishment of 2.3 million people, kills 10,000+ Gazans with 25,000 tons of explosives (the equivalent of two nuclear bombs), kills 34 journalists and bombs 108 health facilities

The fact that Netanyahu can commit war crimes on a far grander scale, but many liberals aren't prepared to also call him a state terrorist and condemn Netanyahu's party for war crimes, just speaks to how evil is allowed to flourish in the 21st century

This is how dehumanization works today. This is how a genocide against the Palestinians can be carried out with the reserved approval of liberals around the world (and cheerleading approval by conservatives): with statements like "What else can Israel do? Hamas *must* be eliminated. Collateral damage is the price of war. But Hamas uses human shields!" It makes me sick.

So let's recap:

Their terrorism: bad.

Our terrorism: morally righteous and not terrorism at all.

What else can Israel do?

Let's see. How about refraining from committing war crimes and consciously bombing and killing 80%-90% civilians in your "Holy" quest to exterminate Hamas?

More to my point, a question for all the folks who say Hamas MUST be stopped using violence.

What price are you willing to accept to exterminate Hamas? 20,000 Palestinians? 100,000? All 2.3 million living in Gaza?

3900 children in Gaza are already dead. Will that be "worth it" if George Bush, I mean, Trump, I mean Netanyahu can fly a Mission Accomplished banner on an aircraft carrier? 

This is the logic of madness. Please don't shrug and say what alternative is there besides collective punishment and war crimes.

How about diplomacy? How about negotiated peace settlements? How about defense that is actually defense (limiting military action to protecting your borders) rather than Orwellian offense, which consistently kills and injures more civilians than combatants? How about proposals that address the root of the problem (occupation, apartheid, and denial of human rights) rather than the symptom (Hamas)? How about not waging a war so egregious that multiple neighboring states decide to join the war against you as well, possibly leading to World War 3?

When even liberals (who ordinarily might be anti-war if it's Bush, Trump, or Putin doing it) accept the logic of domination and war as the only option... we know things are looking grim.

Any sane person should be able to recognize that killing thousands of innocent civilians will only result in a portion of the traumatized survivors joining the ranks of Hamas in 5 to 10 years, ready to take revenge for the family members they've lost themselves. We should know this will be the inevitable outcome after "Mr. Security" (Netanyahu), staked his whole identity on the lie that his strategy of occupation and military might will keep Israel safe. That lie came crumbling down in the most horrific way possible on Oct 7th, 2023.

As a former IDF soldier turned peace activist said in a NYT op-ed:

“I think it could be worth it,” I wrote, “as long as we decisively eliminate the threat.”

That’s the lie they told us, and the lie that’s being repeated today: that we can decisively eliminate the threat of Hamas through a military operation. In the years since, Hamas has only grown stronger, despite our sacrifices and despite the death and destruction we had wrought on Gaza.

These periodic episodes of killing and destruction, which Israeli commentators and politicians cynically call “mowing the lawn,” have been a price Israel was willing to pay to avoid being pushed toward a two-state solution. We chose to “manage” the conflict through a combination of brute force and economic incentives, instead of working to solve it by ending our perpetual occupation of Palestinian territory.

Now, to those who say the people in Gaza aren't innocent because they elected Hamas in 2007, please do not say that unless you think every American citizen deserves to die because half of America voted for George W. Bush, who committed countless war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and waged two wars *of* terror killing over a million people, which led to the creation of ISIS.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of watching genocide unfold in real time while so-called "moral" and "civilized" people pathologically defend and excuse war crimes 9 times greater than the war crimes that Hamas committed.

I'm sick of seeing arguments like "You can't compare Hamas to Israel. Hamas is evil. They must be stopped.".

I'm like, "Yeah, you can't compare them! Hamas killed 1400 people*. Israel has killed over 10,000!"

They are in an entirely different league.

But before anyone gets it twisted, let me be very clear:

I believe every life is equally precious. Every life is sacred.

1400 Israeli civilians killed is an atrocity and there is no excuse for that, even occupation. It follows then (stick with me, moral people) that 10,000 civilians killed is nearly 9x the atrocity by number alone. Over 4000 children have been killed by Israel's bombs.

That is an atrocity of a heart-destroying scale. Imagine if everyone killed on 9/11 was a child. That's what Israel has done to demonstrate to the world that killing civilians is wrong. They responded to their "9/11" with three 9/11s of their own, and it's only been three weeks with no end in sight, with the slavish, unconditional backing of the most powerful military in the world.

Bottom line: I condemn war crimes no matter who commits them - and yes, I condemn them even *more* forcefully when it's my own government and its allies, supposedly "the good guys" that are committing war crimes.

1x war crimes are horrific. 10x war crimes are 10x times more horrific. Together we have a horror that is 11x horrific.

This is basic math if you believe Israeli lives are equal to Palestinian lives.

Death by a gun or rocket is no more barbaric than death by a smart laser-guided missile. Being crushed by a building or blown up by a tank is no more humane than being shot by a machine gun.

The delusion that allows anyone to see what Hamas did as uniquely barbaric but not see the barbarism and pathology of so-called "moral" nations using disgustingly expensive high-tech weapons made in the USA to commit even greater atrocities with the stench of moral virtue to excuse it all away: it's either subconscious or overt racism, blind nationalism, corporate media manipulation, or pure, uneducated ignorance.

I think if we're to remain morally consistent, we have to come to one conclusion, at least: killing civilians is terrorism, and both Hamas and Israel have engaged in it, but one of these two has engaged in terrorism on a scale 10 times greater than the other, and that one is a military and financial ally of our government, making us morally obligated to speak out against the crimes committed in our name.

Rabbi Michael Lerner says it best:

The way to become real friends of the Jewish people is to side with those Jews who are trying to get Israel back on track toward its highest values, knowing full well that there is no future for a Jewish state surrounded by a billion Muslims except through friendship and cooperation.

The temporary alliance of brutal dictatorships in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and various Arab emirates that give Israel support against Hamas will ultimately collapse, but the memory of humiliation at the hands of the State of Israel will not, and Israel’s current policies will endanger Jews both in the Middle East and around the world for many decades after the people of Israel have regained their senses.

Real friends don’t let their friends pursue a self-destructive path, so it’s time for you too to speak up and to support those of us in the Jewish world who are champions of peace and justice, and who will not be silent in the face of the destruction of Judaism. - Rabbi Michael Lerner (2014)

#NotInMyName #GazaUnderAttack #Israel #Apartheid #WarCrimes


PS: Here is one constructive proposal for seeking peace, as an alternative to genocide and a biblical holy war (as Netanyahu just proclaimed in a recent speech):

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