Amidst the moral and political (and possibly military) catastrophe that is the Gaza assault there are many Israeli apologists who unexpectedly are getting it wrong. I have written regularly about them.
But it also important to highlight those who are getting it right because such writers give us hope that their sanity can have a salutary impact on the discussion. Among them, Sara Roy has a typically passionate and profound column, Israel’s ‘victories’ in Gaza come at a steep price. She writes in part:
I hear the voices of my friends in Gaza…their agony echoes inside me. They weep and moan over the death of their children, some, little girls like mine, taken, their bodies burned and destroyed so senselessly.
One Palestinian friend asked me, “Why did Israel attack when the children were leaving school and the women were in the markets?”
As Jews celebrated the last night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights commemorating our resurgence as a people, I asked myself: How am I to celebrate my Jewishness while Palestinians are being killed?
…How, in the context of Gaza today, does one speak of reconciliation as a path to liberation, of sympathy as a source of understanding?
It is one thing to take an individual’s land, his home, his livelihood, to denigrate his claims, or ignore his emotions. It is another to destroy his child.
…Our rejection of “the other” will undo us. We must incorporate Palestinians and other Arab peoples into the Jewish understanding of history, because they are a part of that history. We must question our own narrative and the one we have given others, rather than continue to cherish beliefs and sentiments that betray the Jewish ethical tradition.
Jewish intellectuals oppose racism, repression, and injustice almost everywhere in the world and yet it is still unacceptable – indeed, for some, it’s an act of heresy – to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor. This double standard must end.
Israel’s victories are Pyrrhic and reveal the limits of Israeli power and our own limitations as a people…
As Jews in a post-Holocaust world empowered by a Jewish state, how do we as a people emerge from atrocity and abjection, empowered and also humane?
Chris Hedges, with even more savage, but powerful rhetoric, denounces the 18-month Israel siege against Gaza:
The use of terror and hunger to break a hostile population is one of the oldest forms of warfare. I watched the Bosnian Serbs employ the same tactic in Sarajevo. Those who orchestrate such sieges do not grasp the terrible rage born of long humiliation, indiscriminate violence and abuse. A father or a mother whose child dies because of a lack of vaccines or proper medical care does not forget. A boy whose ill grandmother dies while detained at an Israel checkpoint does not forget. A family that loses a child in an airstrike does not forget. All who endure humiliation, abuse and the murder of family members do not forget. This rage becomes a virus within those who, eventually, stumble out into the daylight. Is it any wonder that 71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza recently said they wanted to be a “martyr”?
The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals. Jihadists, enraged by the injustices done by Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of savagery, even at the cost of their own lives. The violence unleashed on Palestinian children will, one day, be the violence unleashed on Israeli children. This is the tragedy of Gaza. This is the tragedy of Israel.
Finally, this is the bravest of piece of all by Julia Chaitin, who lives and teaches near Sderot, the heart of the Israeli region most vulnerable to Palestinian rocket attacks. Because of this, her words should have special import to all of us:
This war is wrong. It is wrong because it cannot achieve its manifest goals — long-term “normal” life for the residents of the Negev region. The war is morally wrong because most of the victims are Palestinian and Israeli civilians whose only “crime” is that they live in Negev or Gaza. This war is wrong because it is not heading toward a viable solution of the conflict but is instead creating more hatred and greater determination on the part of both peoples to harm one another. It is wrong because it is leading to stronger feelings that we have nothing to lose by striking further, with greater force. This war is wrong because, even before the last smoke rises from the rubble and the last ambulance carries the dead and wounded to hospitals, our leaders will find themselves signing a new agreement for a cease-fire.
And so this is an unnecessary, cruel and cynical war — a war that could have been avoided if our leaders had shown courage during the months of the cease-fire to truly work toward creating better lives for people whose only crime is that they live in the south.
…The answer to our conflict will not come with this war. We will know peace only when we accept the fact that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have every right to lives of dignity. We will know peace only when we recognize that we must negotiate with Hamas, our enemy, even if we are devastated that the Palestinians did not elect a more moderate party to lead them. We will know peace only when our leaders stop considering our lives cheap and expendable…
If these three visionary writers can “get it right” there is hope that others, both Israelis and Gazans, will eventually come to their clear-headed understanding of the issues. We can only hope and do our best to disseminate such wisdom to make this possible.