So, here’s a list of useful adjectives: MERCILESS. SAVAGE. UNGODLY. BARBARIC. HORRENDOUS. EXPENSIVE, and SAD. They all apply to both Hamas’s recent massacre and to Israel’s predictably brutal response. And, to the list, if you have time, please add AVOIDABLE.
Civilians of all ages shot and killed in their own homes. Soldiers beheaded. Children, too. Another nightmare, like the last one and the time before, yet, somehow, a complete surprise. And then, the brutal aftermath: two million Gazan citizens with nowhere to hide and no way to get out are bombed and blown to bloody bits.
The U.S.A. and Israel: foxhole buddies to the end. Our overlapping histories, where treatment of the natives is concerned, cement the bond. Israel is a democracy, in theory, at least. And we are, too, until next year at least. Although The West often despises Jews, at least we Jews are in The Bible and connected to the promised (or, some say, the holy) land. The End Time and Apocalypse, again in Bible lore, are tightly linked to Israel, too. A lot of Christians have been taught to think of Israel’s fortunes as their own. And, also, in a lot of minds, despite the lovely current anti-Semite renaissance, the Arabs are found even more obnoxious than the Jews. Somewhat more alien, at least.
Our settlers’ treatment of the Native tribes in the U.S. and Israel’s handling of the Arab natives since its founding, almost 80 years ago, run parallel, to say the tasteful least. The new arrivals just show up and take the natives’ land. If those displaced retaliate, becoming violent, it helps the new conquistadors get past whatever moral scruples they may once have felt. (Yeah, right!) The natives are expelled or killed or just reduced to little more than slaves; exposed to bias, hatred, disrespect.
The notion of creating a modern homeland for the Jews gained traction during World War II when a big bunch of badly battered Jews, survivor/victims of the Holocaust, sorely needed someplace to call home. To Europe and the new U.N., the Holy Land of Bible lore seemed like a perfect fit.
The Arabs who were living there (what we, today, call Palestine) were never given any say, although it was their land. The white boys back at headquarters had signed the deal and sealed their fate. As in the glorious Crusades, ten centuries before, a lot of Arabs there were simply killed, or driven out—not just the men, but wives and children, too. This was a rank barbarity, and set the stage for Arab hatred, Mideast instability, and what has happened ever since, including recently, (e.g.) the bloody onslaught by Hamas. Not only was their homeland seized, the Arab/Palestinians who stayed were given less than no respect: abused, exploited, and controlled, like prisoners, not citizens.
The profound shock and bitterness the locals felt back then continues still. It will not end until injustice is someday redressed. The maraschino cherry set atop this awful cake: Despite the whole world’s loud complaint, throughout the years since 1948, displaying utter arrogance, Israel has spat on probity. Instead of razing settlements that were once built illegally on land that they had seized, they just keep building more and more, unto this very day. Possession’s 100% of the law, in their view. That’s called contempt for decency by some, while others find it fitting disrespect for Arab neighbors who have tried and failed to kill the Jews.
Our politicians here in the U.S., along with mainstream media are almost always vocally pro-Israel to the max. There’s more than one reason for this. Nobody’s in a hurry to offend the Jewish voting bloc (or mega-donors in their midst.) There’s also the peculiar wrinkle, mentioned briefly, earlier, speaking of massive voting-blocs—a lot of Christians think of Israel’s fortunes as their own.
The Israeli intelligence service (MOSSAD) is regarded as one of the best in the world. How did they miss the signs of preparation for the Oct. 7 attack? Or did they look the other way and let it happen so that they (Israel) would have a massive insult like Pearl Harbor, 9/11, or The Lusitania to justify an all-out war, allowing them to wipe out Palestine? Some even think that the Israelis set the whole thing up. (Dear God, I sound like Alex Jones!) Who knows? It does seem now as if the Right Wing factions which abound would love to obliterate Palestine once and for all. Israel’s attack, designed, they say, to neutralize Hamas, has been no less than total war upon the populace.
The hue and cry here in The States, and other countries, too, is noteworthy. Those in support of Palestine insist that the Hamas attacks are justified and overdue as payback for the nasty sanctions heaped on Arabs by an ever-tougher Jewish State– Goliath kicking David while he’s down. Ol’ Hardnose Netanyahu and his power-monger pals are tired of humane complaints, ignoring and/or mocking them.
We all know the statistical cliche that kids abused in childhood are likely, later, when they’re grown, to be abusers too. As if by some uncanny curse, Israel, once a beleaguered haven for afflicted victims of abuse, for decades now, displays increasing callousness. When someone on the downside, like Hamas or Hezbollah, yells “That’s Enough, Goddamit, Stop!” then starts to kidnap, bomb or murder groups who have mistreated them—including, sadly, private people who have done no wrong—can you sincerely be surprised?
In international affairs, as in our private family lives, when death or tragedy occurs, it’s tempting to default to anger, bitterness, and rage, instead of simply feeling helpless in our grief and pain. Vengeance hurts less than suffering.
And so, the beat goes on.
Martin Levowitz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org