What happened to Israeli citizens on October 7 was a horrific tragedy. Hamas took complete advantage of Netanyahu’s divisive governance, which had the Israeli government paying more attention to Likud’s opposition than a chaotic, threatening Gaza where anything could erupt at any time – as it did.
Those of us who do not support Israel’s further actions are often labeled as supporting Hamas. That is untrue. In fact, we are the ones truly supporting the future of Israel, and here is why.
While I can understand the fury driving the desire for a long and aggressive attack on Gaza, that action would actually work against what Israel is trying to accomplish, the defeat of Hamas. With all its military might, Israel could wipe out most if not all members of Hamas in Gaza in a few months. However, Hamas’ leadership and funding are not in Gaza. Hamas is more than its localized leaders and fighters; it is an ideology that is ever widening, and attracting sympathy by the hour.
The massive civilian casualties that cannot be avoided with such an action will be utilized by Hamas and its allied groups to recruit more extremists. Each day that it goes on with meager and insufficient humanitarian aid going in creates a widening pool of desperate people for Hamas, Jihad, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the remnants of the Islamic State to recruit. Israel is also threatening US national security, as its military action is fomenting new suicide bombers who could be used against us, too.
There is no military solution for this. Israel must either agree to the global call for a ceasefire, or immediately scale back to a special forces war, while publicly allowing a flood of humanitarian aid to get into Gaza. Israel must also recognize a full Palestinian state in the West Bank and get the US, EU, and Arab League to do the same (likely, not difficult). This concerted action would politically dry up Hamas, instead of creating thousands of new suicide bombers. It’s not worth hundreds of Israeli soldiers to go on a wild goose chase.
Netanyahu must leave the Al-Aqsa mosque alone. Jews have been allowed to pray at the Wailing Wall for all of the time since the Ottomans had it. It was only after the riot of 1929, stoked by the British and the French, that Jews were banned from it, until 1967. There is no reason to keep raiding, restricting, and periodically shutting down the mosque (which has resulted in shootings and deaths of praying Palestinians) other than to purposely provoke Islamic extremists. It’s easy to react and blame; it’s harder to think about why things occur, just as with a disease. What are the contributing factors? Life has not been easy for the millions crowded into the tiny Gaza Strip, but nor has it been for the West Bank, with their lands appropriated by settlements and their civilians routinely killed by settlers especially over the past year, a deplorable situation that President Joe Biden said last week must end.
Of course, this does in no way excuse what Hamas did on October 7. But President Biden has been joined by Representatives Seth Moulton and Jake Auchincloss in calling for Israel to formulate an end plan and extend a hand to the Palestinians. There’s an old saying, “War is not the answer.”
Israel doesn't want to pay for Palestine forever and Palestinians don't want to be dependent either, and unless this situation is resolved, it will always heat up and boil over. There is no need for it, as Palestinians are resourceful on their own. According to the Middle East Eye News report of May, 2021, Palestinians represent 50 percent of all pharmacists, transport and construction workers in Israel, 11 percent of civil servants and members of the police, 23 percent of doctors and 21 percent of nurses, and 9.2 percent of tech employees.
Which means the US, EU, and Israel have to invest in building a private sector and do it right, by incentivizing small or midsize companies to invest in Palestinian peer companies. Big to Big Business would skip over a middle class, instead of creating one. Recognizing Palestine might allow the Palestinian Authority to obtain more development resources, and encourage an exodus from Gaza to the West Bank for ordinary Palestinians.
You cannot get rid of Hamas as long as they attract broad low-level support across the region, and in some European countries. The only way to dry that up is to recognize the West Bank as a full Palestinian state with UN and Arab League seats and other positions at the international table. Fatah could potentially receive Arab League backing to forcefully take back Gaza on their own.
Rather than focusing on increased antisemitism (which I believe is more anti-Israel policy-ism) and ignoring the thousands of deaths in Gaza and the corresponding increase in Islamophobia is dismissing the other half of the coin. As I write this, the funeral for the 9-year-old boy in Chicago is being held. We live in a country that took away Native American land and culture and fought integration, often tragically with the noose, and so should especially know that it is G-dly to recognize the value of all human life and condemn discrimination toward all. We all have the right to peace, safety and security, which are rarely won by battle.
More bloodshed of innocents will only bring more bloodshed of innocents. The way out is a negotiated two-state solution. Bring on the negotiating parties and end this endless war.
Seth Speigel, M.B.A., is a historian who resides in New Hampshire.