Tag Archives: Judaism

Let’s Agree . . .

That the deaths of civilians killed by the IDF targeting Hamas leaders, command centers, and weapons caches are tragedies.

That the continuing occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights by Israeli settlers is unethical, illegal, and outrageous.

Once we agree on these disturbing points, it is equally critical for us to agree that . . .

Hamas’ charter justifying its existence abhorrently prioritizes genocide against Jews at its heart, as responsible journalists lay out (quoting directly from reliable English translations of the Hamas charter).

Hamas’ October 7th murder of some 1,400 Israeli civilians was brutal and unjustified, and Hamas leaders’ disingenuous claims denying their militias’ rapes of Israeli women as “Jewish dogs” have no reason to be believed.

These two sets of claims appear opposed because they appear to be “taking sides.” If you accept one set, you would, “of course,” reject the other set.

But that conclusion assumes that only one side can be entirely right and the other side, entirely wrong. If only live humans’ political institutions operated as simply as Disney movies’ good-guy and bad-guy cartoon characters.

The ongoing Israel-Hamas war has so many “wrong actors,” it’s becoming hard to count. Unfortunately, among them are those in the U.S. who view themselves as the fiercest of social justice warriors on the progressive Left.

Yes, Palestinian Arabs have a right to live, as any human (including Jews) should assert.

Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself, as any modern country (including the U.S.) would assert.

Both these can be true at the same time.

Which can lead to only one conclusion.

Political activists: let’s stop “choosing sides” — beyond the side of peace.

If there’s any choosing to be done, it’s at the ballot boxes in Israel and Palestine.

It’s time for Palestinians — a majority of whom did not support Hamas, in recent polls — to choose another party to govern them — a party that does not put genocide at its center, nor illegalize same-sex relations or sanction killing LGBTQ residents. A party that acknowledges that the Holocaust that killed some 60-63% of Europe’s Jews justified the creation of one country on the planet to provide a safe space for Jews, and that thus acknowledges Israel’s moral and historical right to exist.

It’s also time for Israelis — a majority of whom do not support Netanyahu, in current polls — to choose another party to govern them — a party that does not turn a blind eye to, let alone sanction, illegal new Jewish settlements in lands that Israel long ago agreed ought to be governed by Palestinian Muslims. A party that is not led by a leader being investigated for corruption crimes, and that does not threaten to un-do 75 years of democratic rule.

Unless they just want to kill each other off, both groups deserve parties that take the history of some 1,400 years of more-or-less peaceful co-existence between Jews and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, and Palestine and the Mid-East at large, as their model for the future.


Update, Dec. 27, 2024: I recently collaborated with my colleague, Ron Duncan Hart, to write an opinion piece about the ongoing war in Israel/Palestine. Titled “At the Heart of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, Anthropology Matters as Much as History,” it appeared today on The Hill, here.