Hamas, Gaza, and Israel

The  satiric post Israeli, Palestinian officials commit to ensuring kids grow up hating one another underscores the current war between Hamas and IDF will have no winners, just losers. More civilians will be killed. Two populations with be polarized even more. The next generation is prepped to hate the other.


I have been appalled by politically liberal folks in the West who marched in support of Hamas. I understand protesting how Israel is conducting the war, but many of the protesters and actually supporting Hamas. Hamas stands against many of the values of progress, liberal society. How could groups that historically stood for human rights and justice support Hamas? My theory is these liberals are so used to associating those with less power (the underdog) as “good” and the people with dominate power as “evil” they have stopped paying attention to what the underdogs are actually doing.  Hamas is the underdog, but they were also the aggressor, purposely killing civilians, raping women, kidnapping children and the elderly. No matter what motivated Hamas, we must call these evil acts, and must stand again the celebration of these acts!

I will go further than calling these evil acts, I will say Hamas is an evil organization. All Hamas cares about is their hatred of Israel, the Jews, and a desire for power.  The original Hamas Charter released in 1988 called for the obliteration of Israel through jihad. In that last few years Hamas leaders claimed that the original charter is merely a historical document, but there is no evidence that the Hama’s agenda has changed. Hamas doesn’t care about the average Palestinian.

For people in the West who support Hamas, be aware that if they ever succeed in destroying Israel, you and your freedom will be next next. Hamas won’t rest until every nation is an Islamic state. Their idea of an Islamic state is not like those in history that allow all faiths (or no faith) to flourish, but a state intolerant of other beliefs like Iran.

On the flip side, I am troubled by accusations that the people who have a nuanced view are being supportive of Hamas. Most recently I say an accustaion in a prominent national periodical critiquing Obama, saying he failed to criticize Hamas. Personally, I think his statement was appropriate. I appreciate that Dartmouth has been able to promote meaningful dialog which was able to simultaneously offer a full throated condemn of the Hamas attack AND to discuss what has led to such a polarized moment.


I have compassion for the average Palestinian. They are in a horrible place, even before the current war.

It has been said that without hope, the people are lost. It would be hard to be a Palestinian and have hope. They are refugees without prospects.  There is little opportunities for employment. They are largely locked in poverty and regularly exposed to violence.

Even the most successful professional living in Gaza tend to be poorer than their counterparts living in Israel. A friend shared that a number of years ago he attended a summit to build bridges between Gaza and Israel. Everyone who attended the meeting was a young, successful, professional. Nicely groomed, multi-lingual, educated, desiring dialog and solutions. He noticed something else. All the Israelis have 4G smart phones. Nearly everyone from Gaza had 2G feature phones. In this world, that is quite a handicap.

I am sadden by how the Palestinians have been used as political pawns by the surrounding Arab nations. When Israel was formed, there was to be a Palestinian nation. The surrounding countries intended to destroy Israel, but failed. Rather than helping a Palestinian nation get started, they encourage the Palestinians to live in refugee status until they could push Israel out.

I have heard people observe that there is a fair amount of learned helplessness among the Palestinians. There is truth to that, but I would challenge people to consider if they would have hope faced with such a dire existence. For people who blithely say “I would have the grit to succeed there” I give them a challenge:

Consider a person you know who is a bit fragile. They don’t have all the advantages you had growing up. They have suffered some significant trauma. They are surviving here in the USA but struggling. Now stripe away a safe place to live, take their job, and put them somewhere with greater uncertainty.  Are you going to say “Get your shit together and build a better life for yourself?”

I think we need to have compassion for these people. They need hope. They need ways to succeed. They need more than emergency support such as food. They need long term solutions like being able to find gainful employment. To feel like their lives matter.

I will criticize the citizens of Gaza for one thing. They selected Hamas as their leadership. They at least passively (if not actively) support Hamas.  There aren’t many who can claim to be completely innocent in this current war. I appreciate that for many, it was a vote against the Palestinian Authority’s corruption and quest for power. Alas, neither the PA nor Hamas are looking to improve the lives of the average Palestinian. I hope and pray there will be a crop of leaders who actually want to make life better for their people.


For centuries the Jews have been oppressed. There is no secret cabal of Jews manipulating our world. Through history they struggle as a people. When they succeed, whomever is in power demonizes them, strips them of what they built / acquired, and sends them away if not murders them.

After the Holocaust, I understand their desire for a country of their own. I appreciate the British government helping that come into existence. I regret how it played out. Before the decree forming Israel, Jews had been purchasing land and moving into the area that is now Israel. . When they were doing this no one objected, many people were delighted to sell their land to invest their profits somewhere else. The serious conflicts started when the British declared that two states were to be formed.

Much of the land assigned to Israel was majority Jewish (by land purchased) or was land that no one wanted at the time. Many of these lands are desired now because decades of investment by Israelis have resulted in what was desolate desert is now rich farmland.

Israel is often accused of being expansionist. There are people this is true such as the “settlers”.  People should also pay attention to how / when those expansions happened. In each case Israel was attacked (or were preparing to attack in the case of 1967). Israel defended itself, and when the war ended they had expanded. They attempted to return the acquired land for a guaranteed peace, but their neighbors were unwilling to take the land back. Gaza should be Egypt problem. The first instance of this was just 2 days after Israel was declared a new nation as 5 near by countries sent forces to attack the new state.

I am heartbroken by how Israel has engaged the Palestinians. Given their history I would have hoped for more compassion and striving to provide justice rather than protection themselves. There are numerous opportunities that have been squandered to build bridges.

Last week I was chatting with a supporter of Israel who noted that years ago sections of Gaza were beautiful. Filled with greenhouses and other signs of life. They noted it looks like a wasteland even before this wars bombs and missile attacks. They blame the Palestinians, but fail to see Israel’s part in this. For example, when Israel pulled people back from the settlements, they didn’t identify a moderate group of Palestinians who would been good stewards of what had been built. Rather, they destroyed all of the structures and infrastructure that had been built.

A missed opportunity right now is how they are handling the hospitals in Gaza. The strategy seems to be isolating the hospitals with a priority of finding and destroying Hamas. The goal is to show the world how Hamas was evilly using the hospitals as a staging ground. IMHO (and I could be wrong) a better strategy would have been to support the hospitals. To swiftly move in with doctors and medics from IDF who would bring with them much needed supplies.  This would have risks. Undoubtedly the initial reactions would be negative and some Israelis might lose their lives… but it would be a great opportunity to change the narrative and ultimately defuse some of the hostility and win support. The current actions might temporarily hurt Hamas, but it will likely recruit even more people to Hamas or similar organizations.

I have heard Israel being accused of genocide. While there has been many lives lost, it falls way short of genocide. In the last 25 years the number of Palestinians has  grown year over year. We should reserve the world genocide for what happening to the Jews, in Rwanda, etc.  In each of these cases there was a pronounced drop in the population.

Next Steps

I don’t have a magic solution and only a thimble worth of hope.

The first step is to understand there is fault on both sides of this conflict and work to find common ground. This is a start, but not adequate.The second step?  I don’t know. I am sure that part of the solution needs to be sustainable businesses that are owned by Palestinians.

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