Twelve hundred people in Israel, mostly civilians, were killed in the horrific Hamas attack of 7 October 2023. In response, more than 30,000 Palestinians, also mostly civilians, have been killed so far by Israeli armed forces. Is not a 25/1 ratio of payback a bit of overkill?
I have supported Israel from the beginning. Israel declared its independence on 14 May 1948, one day after the British mandate expired, and six months after the UN approved Resolution 181 calling for division of Palestine into two states. At that time, Jews comprised a third of the population of Palestine.
The day after the Jews declared their independence they were attacked by Palestinian forces and the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Point is, although the state of Israel was sanctioned by the world body of the UN, the Jews were not home free. They had to fight to keep the land. They fought and they won, that war and the wars of 1967 and 1973. Since then, the only Arab country to recognize the state of Israel is Egypt. That treaty of March 1979 cost President Anwar Sadat his life.
Now to the current situation in Gaza. It is understandable that Israel had to react to the brutal attack of 7 October. Wasn’t that Hamas’ purpose? I supported Israel’s initial reaction even as I had doubts that the ideology of Hamas, the mindset that the state of Israel would never be recognized as legitimate, could ever be defeated. Wouldn’t the reckless killing of civilians along with Hamas fighters simply create more of the same? Turns out, the Israelis, in going after Hamas fighters who had embedded themselves within civilian populations, committed atrocities on non-combatant Palestinians disproportionately, in my opinion and those of many around the world.
One of my friends thought I was being too supportive of Israel’s retaliatory war on Hamas which saw cities leveled along with the humanitarian crisis which ensued. He suggested I read Witness in Palestine; A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories (2007), by Anna Baltzer. In the interest of objectivity, I bought the book and read it.
To say Witness was enlightening would be an understatement. I had no idea how badly Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank were treated. I am ignorant of any improvements since 2007, so I will limit my comments to what Ms. Baltzer found and photographed (many maps and photos in her book).
Palestinians were “governed” by Israeli soldiers. Israeli settlers were treated as Israeli citizens. Palestinians were less than second class. The “Palestinian Authority” had no teeth. Israeli settlers could possess firearms, including M-16 full-auto assault rifles. Palestinians could not possess firearms. Israeli soldiers could break into Palestinian homes on suspicion of any illegality – no search warrant, no privacy, and no due process as we know it. There were well-paved highways between Israeli settlements. Some Palestinian villages were connected by paved roads, many by dirt roads. Palestinians could drive on Israeli roads, but had to stop at numerous checkpoints to be searched for weapons and checked that papers were in order. Baltzer’s photos show long lines of Palestinians vehicles (identified by white or green license plates) lined up at checkpoints waiting to be checked. Israeli vehicles with their yellow license plates did not have to stop. They zoomed past checkpoints as in an EzPass lane. Human rights abuses of Palestinians by soldiers and settlers were legion.
There is much much more in Baltzer’s book. It was hard to resist the irony, the impression that I was reading about Gestapo tactics of Nazi Germany, when Jews had to identify themselves by wearing yellow star-of-David patches on their clothes.
And what happened to the two-state solution? Israeli settlements are polka-dotted all over the West Bank. Where would a new Palestinian state be? Israeli settlers are never going to agree to be under Palestinian control, so I’m not holding my breath waiting for the proposal for location of New Palestine.
I am angry with President Biden regarding his support of Netanyahu’s overkill strategy. I have supported him in almost everything he stands for and has accomplished. But this is too much. He should be more forceful with Netanyahu – ceasefire immediately or no more money forthcoming. Even worse for American democracy, Biden’s one-sided support of Israel could cost him the election in November.
Bob Moores retired from Black & Decker/DeWalt in 1999 after 36 years. He was the Director of Cordless Product Development at the time. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University