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Israel-Hamas War: A Tragedy for Innocent Israelis and Palestinians

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

This blog post was published on October 10, 2023 and reflects my opinions of what has transpired over the last four days.

 

On Saturday, the massacre by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists in Israel was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. An event 11x more deadly than 9/11. The videos online of the atrocities that took place are truly sickening. This was a massive Israeli intelligence failure on all fronts, especially Netanyahu’s.

More than 1,200 Israeli civilians (non-Israeli’s as well) were murdered in cold blood, babies slaughtered in Kfar Aza, some beheaded, babies...bodies burned, thousands wounded, women repeatedly raped (an eye witness account from the rave where 260 people were massacred said women were being raped next to their friend’s dead bodies) and at least 150 have been taken hostage in Gaza. It is believed that Hamas has taken captive Vivian Silver, a Canadian-Israeli peace activist and humanitarian who has devoted her life to improving the plight of Palestinians, such as driving cancer-stricken Gaza residents to Jerusalem for treatment. This is resistance?

Hamas terrorists have threatened to publicly execute hostages on live TV if Israel does not stop their current air strikes on Hamas military targets.

I am disgusted with what I’ve seen online about the pro-Palestinian rallies taking place in North American and European cities, celebrating and justifying the barbarity of Hamas’ murderous attack on innocent civilians. Swastikas, Hamas flags and “death to Jews” chants. On October 9, at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, there were Hamas supporters chanting “gas the Jews.” I don't have time to dive into this but antisemitism is incredibly widespread, more than you may think—and yes, it can manifest itself as anti-Zionism.

The actions of Hamas are neither justice nor peace, neither liberation nor freedom. This is not resistance. It is a disgrace to democracy and quite frankly, to the Palestinian fight for freedom. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization and they do not care about the Palestinian people, whom instead of placing the aid they receive from the international community back into Gaza, use it to fund their terrorism. I do not believe Hamas offers a viable or legitimate strategy to reach reconciliation in the region.

Innocent Palestinians will suffer tremendously because of Hamas’ savagery against Israel. They already have. At least 1,055 men, women and children have been killed in Gaza and thousands upon thousands injured. Those numbers will rise. Israel is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all the areas where Hamas operates/hides out which is often in residential buildings. Hamas builds their terrorist infrastructure in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza to use Palestinians as human shields. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that there is no where for Palestinians to find safety. Where are they suppose to go? I'm beside myself over it. One of the first things I said when the war began was how broken I was over what was to come to Palestinians in Gaza. One can mourn the loss of innocent Israeli life and stand beside Israel in its right to defend itself against terrorists (as would any other country) while also being completely heartbroken over the Palestinian lives lost in Gaza.

Additionally, I have seen many posts looking to provide justification for Hamas’ attack on Saturday and to that I would like to say this: it is not the time nor the place to use the history leading up to October 7 to justify Hamas’ barbarity. It’s incredibly unsettling. Discussions concerning history and context can be had—and should be had—but not right now. Not when Israeli families and citizens from other countries are mourning the loss of their loved ones who were taken from them with such brutality or those waiting to hear whether their family members and friends held captive in Gaza by Hamas will make it home safely or be executed on live television. There will be a time to have intelligent discussions but that time is not now. This is a time for compassion, empathy and solidarity.

There are three things we should do: 1) instead of justifying Hamas' actions, critically analyze the role they play in the Palestinian plight, acknowledge the fact that this is a terrorist organization, with ties to Iran, who want nothing more than to slaughter Jews and eradicate Israel, even at the expense of their own people; 2) pray for the innocent Palestinians in Gaza who are living through yet another violent war and who are suffering because of it; and 3) stand in solidarity with Israel.

I can stand in solidarity with Israel and believe in their right to defend themselves while praying for the protection and safety of Palestinians in Gaza. I can also stand in solidarity with Israel and not agree with every action of their coordinated military operation or support every choice their government makes, such as denying citizens of Gaza food, water and other necessities. I can oppose Netanyahu (which I have for years) and hope for an Israeli government that will actively pursue peace with the Palestinians. I can vehemently detest the current vengeance of Israeli military air strikes against Gaza while understanding the very real threat that Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran pose to Israel's existence. I can believe in Israel’s right to self-determination and legitimacy in the land and hope that one day Palestinians will share in that too. I can recognize the role Israel has played in Palestinian suffering and stand true to the claim that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have contributed equally to that suffering. I can condemn Israel’s settlement expansions and rebuke the language of apartheid, colonialism and ethnic cleansing. I can call out Hamas for what they are, an Iranian backed terrorist organization and understand that Hamas does not represent all Palestinians. I can believe that ultra-right nationalists are a threat to Israel and hinder peace in the region while being cognizant of the fact that they do not represent the political aspirations of all Israeli's. These beliefs are not mutually exclusive.

A couple closing remarks: please avoid dehumanizing the other through the posts you share and the words you speak. They have very real consequences. You should not have less empathy towards victims because of how you feel about their government. Right now, we need empathy more than anything.


As always, make sure you’re relying on information from credible sources and individuals. There is a lot out there that needs to be confirmed by independent sources, this will happen in the coming days. There are bodies to retrieve, families to notify, autopsys to be done, funerals to be had. It is a process. For example, there are people who have questioned whether 'some babies' were beheaded or not (I guess it wasn't enough that they were murdered?); it was confirmed earlier in the week by CBS, CNN, and then on Thursday, October 12 CNN stated that the Israeli government has not confirmed the specific claim but it is likely considering the reports they have received from the ground, however, we now have confirmation by The Jerusalem Post based on verified photographs.


Don’t stick with a singular news outlet, read articles, listen to radio broadcasts and watch television programs from a variety of sources — even those with opposing viewpoints. The more diverse your sources are the better. Critical thinking is essential here as you navigate propaganda and misinformation. If you’re unsure or confused about something, Wikipedia is a great starting point. Remember that bias always exists, don’t be deterred by it but conscious of it. Mosheh Oinounou (@mosheh) is fantastic, the news he provides is reliable, verified and balanced and I have always found The Economist to be objective, factual and vetted. Moreover, it is completely understandable to be unsure about where you stand at times, especially when there is so much violence, destruction and suffering. I can only speak on behalf of myself but I am torn over what Israel's next steps should be.

If I have offended anyone, I apologize. That was never my intention. I’m very aware of how sensitive this issue is for many, many people. As I’ve always said, I believe in the life and dignity of the human person. Ideologies or institutions (religious or secular) must enhance the life and dignity of the human person, not threaten it.


My thoughts are with both Israelis and Palestinians in the region; and I pray for peace, stability and safety of all civilians.

 

For those who don’t know me, I am currently a PhD candidate (ABD) at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. My area is historical theology, specifically Jewish-Christian relations. My research gives special attention to antisemitism and the Holocaust, as well as the State of Israel. On my website, you can find my curriculum vitae and information about my dissertation which was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship.



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