Every day is a tough day nowadays. No way to sugarcoat it.
Experiences one can go through in life and not regret missing:
- Having all four of one’s sons drafted back into the army
- Sending one’s sons off to war
- Walking around in a depressive fog because of all the horror and suffering of the attack on 10/7
- Worrying about captives who are being held in a war zone
- Helping your daughter choose a gun
I know there might be those among you who would argue about the last, but as one who has carried a gun for the past 30 years, I can tell you, on the purely technical level, it is a responsibility I would rather not have. A gun owner has complete and sole responsibility for their gun, and there are virtually no good excuses for not holding to them. But more to the point: I did not anticipate, when I was younger, living in a world where carrying a gun was the sensible thing to do. Whether this is a statement born of living in a stable middle-class environment with stable middle-class values espoused and lived by stable middle-class Jewish parents, I don’t know. Maybe it's just my naiveté. Those things could be inter-related.
The other thing that comes as a blow to my naivete: That I live in times where people revel in bloodshed. I don’t have to go into detail: I’ve posted so many stories. You have doubtless seen the selfies and clips where the terrorists are gleefully documenting their cruelty. In the coming weeks, when you hear of Palestinians in Gaza suffering from Israeli attacks, with the cost being paid by innocent Palestinians, go back and review those pictures, clips, and stories so that you can remind yourself against what we are fighting.
And I ask you to consider that phrase that we all say with a tinge of empathy and sorrow: Innocent Palestinians.
This is going to sound harsh, but there it is:
There are damned few innocent Palestinians. First, there are ones who voted for and support Hamas, and even believe in its values and mission. I can’t tell you how many Gazans fit in to that definition, and neither can you. But you would agree that they are not among the innocent.
Yes, then there are Gazans who do not identify with Hamas. Maybe many. Maybe many many. Not only do they not identify with Hamas, they may even hate Hamas, either because of their views on Israel and politics, or because they are an oppressive tyrannical regime that rips them off and limits their horizons. If you add them all together, that might be a majority of Gazans, but you don’t know and I don’t know.
And these are not innocent Palestinians. They, in fact, are the problem. The population of a country is, in the final analysis, responsible for the acts of their government. You might say that this is only true in the case of democracies, but the fact that democracies exist is proof that people do have the ability to take the government power into their hands. Sometimes it can be done peacefully, where an overwhelming majority of the nation forces change and the army chooses not to defend the oppressive government. Sometimes revolutionary change is effected by force and blood spilled. It doesn’t matter.
The Palestinians most take responsibility for what their government does. If they detest it, the need to demonstrate against it. If they do not reject what their government is doing, then they are not innocent Palestinians. They are the aiders and abettors of murderers and rapists. They are throwing in their future and the future of their children with a gang of criminals. The are condemning themselves to suffering.
That’s their choice.
At any time, the Palestinians could stop and say no, we stand against shooting missiles into Israel. We demand Hamas free their captives. We demand democratic elections. We demand the right to determine a better future for ourselves and our children. It is not unlikely that some or many would die in a revolution against Hamas, but they would win. And they would win back their self-respect and the ability to shape their own future.
Until that time, they cannot be said to be innocent Palestinians.