Gaza,  Hamas,  Israel

Two more things worth reading

I realize that by now, the thought of reading even one more piece about Israel, Hamas and Gaza may make you feel a bit unwell, but I think these two are worth it:

Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist living in East Jerusalem, explains why it’s ultimately up to Palestinians themselves to get rid of Hamas.

…Hamas depends on death, which gives it power and allows it to raise funds and purchase weapons. Hamas has never been interested in liberating the Palestinian people from the occupation. And Israel will never be able to destroy the infrastructures it has built. Only we, the Palestinian people, can do that.

It was the Gazan residents’ responsibility to rebel against the Hamas rule. We knew what they were doing to us, but we let ourselves off easy and allowed it to happen.

Will all this death finally teach us a lesson? I hope so. The lesson is that we must get rid of Hamas and completely demilitarize Gaza. And then open the crossings.

I’m saying this as a loyal Palestinian. I’m saying this because I am concerned about my people’s future.

And Fania Oz-Salzberger, daughter of the author Amos Oz, deals with the difficulty of being a moderate in times like these.

Being moderate, as Aristotle already noted, does not mean being in the exact middle. Reality is never symmetrical.

For one thing, Hamas is far worse, as a government, than any Israeli government has ever been. The militants of Hamas and Islamic jihad in Gaza are far more brutal, on the ground, than the Israeli army. They surround their fighters with children, store their arsenal in schools and hospitals, including UNRWA institutions, and threaten or kick out any journalists who dare report it. They deliberately aim their rockets at Israeli kindergartens and clinics. If they had Israel’s air force and artillery power, the ensuing massacre of Israelis would dwarf anything we see in Gaza today. When I write these truths, some commentators brand it as Israeli propaganda. But I’d make a lousy propagandist. As a critical member of civil society, I never accept the official reports of my government and army wholesale, but truths are truths whatever their source.
Religion, I’m afraid, often plays an irrational role in this story. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never been about Judaism and Islam, but about territory and sovereignty. Today, fanatic Islamists have highjacked the Palestinian cause, while extremist orthodox Jews insist on settling every part of the biblical Israel at the expense of compromise. Some radical Christians are entering the fray too, unhelpfully theologizing their unconditional support for one side or the other.

Which is why moderate atheists like myself needs all the support we can get from moderate Muslims, Christians, and observant Jews. The dividing line in the current battle is not between the three religions, nor is it between the religious and the irreligious. It runs – this time it’s my turn to borrow a phrase from my father – between all fanatics and all moderates.