Thursday, July 24, 2014

Israel drives away her friends

I have been a friend of Israel's since I was a boy, when the European Holocaust was a fresh memory and buttons were common that read "Israel must live." But each time Israel commits another war crime I join many around the world who are losing hope that Israel will regain some of the reputation for fairness and civilization that she used to have with so many.

Yes, I am aware that the founding of the nation-state of Israel was undemocratic, that it was an act of imperialism by Britain, the US, and other post-WWII powers, that 400 or more Palestinian villages were basically driven out of existence, into exile, and that Palestinians were not asked if they would mind just giving up their lives and livelihoods to satisfy the needs of peoples who had been persecuted in an entirely different region of the world. The fact is that no people in modern times have had to endure what Jews did in Europe. Two-thirds of all Jews in Europe were genocidally murdered by German Nazis and their collaborating Poles, Ukrainians, French, Dutch and others. Jews wanted a tiny homeland in their own historical homeland in and around Jerusalem. Was that asking so much for these victims?

But now, after all these years of persecuting Arabs, of treating Arab Palestinians like second-class citizens, and now bombing hospitals and UN schools with precision guided munitions fired knowing they would murder children--while Israeli civilians watch and cheer--Israel has turned away from civilized society and become a murderous terror state, even to her long-time friends. During the 2009 Cast Lead debacle the IDF was under great suspicion when it bombed a UN school and claimed Hamas terrorists were hiding there, and when it shot a rocket straight into Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's home, a wonderful Palestinian doctor and gentle father of daughters. But now suspicion has given way to certainty that Israel would rather commit war crimes than offer justice and security to Palestinians.
Palestinian man who just brought injured child from UN school to hospital (CNN)
I am sad to let my love for Israel go from my heart, but I cannot feel it any longer. For a long time I felt, well, both sides in this stupid struggle use violence and Israel is simply better at it, but I now see that they intend to murder children. They were given the coordinates of the hospitals and UN schools. They targeted them with precision.

Hamas has been cruel and terrorist all along, celebrating the slaughter of Israeli civilians and oppressing its own people mercilessly. Israel has joined them in the race to the ethical, moral bottom. I am now a former friend of the nation-state of Israel. Some will say it has taken me too long and some will say I'm wrong to abandon the government of a people who have been treated far worse than Palestinians ever have been treated, but this is just my own personal turning point. Bombing a UN school on purpose, multiple times is a war crime that delegitimates an entire government.

I am grateful that some Israelis continue to work for peace, including IDF members refusing service in this fresh hell. I am grateful that some Palestinians and some Israelis alike are just, nonviolent, and working for peace and reconciliation despite all the terror being committed by the "leaders" on both sides. Those are the people and organizations who have my admiration and loyalty. For me, on a personal level, it is now just an emotional wreckage. I can only see the struggle now as an analyst, as someone who examines conflict professionally as a professor, writer, and researcher. Israel has now broken my heart and I need to mourn that even as I continue to follow the current disaster and place it into its conflict context. I wonder if Israel knows just how many of us old friends are now departing from that friendship? Do they care?


Terri Shofner said...

Powerful and well written. I went through this during Cast Lead, so this time I've experienced little shock at what Israel is doing - I just hope the world will step in to help before the genocide is complete. Of course the US keeps standing in the way, but other governments are trying - like Sweden closing airspace to Israel.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Thanks, Terri. Yes, and this is, for me, a time to really increase our pressure on our own government to stop sending aid to Israel and draw down US bases overseas. It all relates so tightly. Russia supplies the missiles and know-how to shoot 300 out of the sky. We supply the missiles that target UN schools. It is all stoppable by civil society.