I remember how I felt on October 7th and 8th as the news reports came out about the killings and kidnappings by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in what is now southern Israel. It was a terrible feeling. It would have been one thing if the attacks had been solely, or primarily, directed at Israeli military bases in that area. It was something else altogether when the targets were not just those bases but also about 20 towns and, worst of all, a music festival taking place.
I suspected that some of the coverage was distorted and over-the-top, such as the loudly trumpeted claim that those who broke out of Gaza had killed—implicitly, deliberately—40 Israeli babies. The last I’ve seen of that particularly egregious claim was a news report many weeks ago that there were three babies killed. But 1200 killed and over 200 kidnapped, the majority in both cases non-military, is very disturbing.
I’ve thought of other revolutionary organizations fighting for liberation that I’ve known about over my lifetime, and I can’t think of any who did something similar. During the Cuban revolution, as one example, the July 26th Movement had a policy of treating the wounds of dictator Batista government troops they had just fought with and releasing them. And the Vietnamese independence fighters, engaged in warfare for over 30 years between 1945 and 1975 against first the French and then the Americans, wars that were tremendously destructive, never did anything similar to what happened on October 7th.
Since that day Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, with at least 15,000 people killed, two-thirds women and children, the destruction of close to half of all buildings in Gaza, and many hundreds of thousands of Gazans desperately trying to survive, has generated massive anger by many people all over the world. The far-right-wing Israeli government has shown the world how little it values the lives of any Palestinians. They clearly intend, if they can get away with it, to take over all of historic Palestine, “from the river to the sea,” displacing millions of Palestinians who now live either in Gaza or the West Bank.
Appreciating this context for what has been going on for decades in this part of the world, and the particular reality of the racist and anti-democratic Netanyahu government, Hamas’ actions are understandable. It is a fact that oppression breeds resistance, and decades-long, brutal oppression almost always breeds violent resistance.
What about Israel’s stated intention, supported by no less than Bernie Sanders, to eliminate Hamas?
How can that happen without the continued genocidal destruction of Gaza? Instead of 15,000 dead, maybe it will be twice that, or even more. Gaza could become uninhabitable, or at least the northern half of it, with major destruction and loss of life in southern Gaza. And even after all of that, including the likely death of many of the remaining hostages, how is this going to in any way destroy the will of the Palestinian people to fight back?
I said to my wife last week that if Israel “eliminates” Hamas, the way they are trying to do so will eventually and undoubtedly multiply by many times over the number of young men ready to be suicide bombers or risk death in some other way to hit back at their brutal, genocidal oppressors and murderers.
And, of course, there is the very real possibility of this current war escalating into something much bigger and more widespread. Is the “elimination” of Hamas worth that?
Indeed, war is not the answer!
As a majority of US Americans and a big majority of the world’s nations want, it is time for a definitive ceasefire and a continuation of the negotiations that have freed, so far, dozens of Israelis and scores of Palestinians. Those negotiations, right now and going forward, are the only—THE ONLY—hope for true peace with justice for the long-suffering Palestinians, as well as Israelis.
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He is the author of the recently published books, Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution. More info can be found at https://tedglick.com.
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