January 2024

Israel and Gaza

There are many arguable points: ceasefire now or not, use of force, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, short-term and long-term consequences, freedom of speech and hate speech (esp. in the US), Apartheid (esp. in the Westbank), antisemitism, Islamophobia, settlers and settler terror, polarization, right-wing extremist governments, propaganda, the treatment of hospitals, humanitarian aid, one-state and two-state solutions, freedom of dissent, dissidents in the Middle East, LGBTQ+ and women's rights, religious tolerance (and non-Islam survivability) in the Middle East, secularism, viable potential futures, etc.

However, I have no common ground with anyone who cannot agree to the following unnegotiable points:

If the roles were reversed, and Israelis were the ones in the Gaza strip who had murdered 1,200 Palestinians, and Palestinians were ruling in the rest of Israel and their army had killed 5,000+ innocent Jewish bystanders, my views would be exactly the same.

Of course, not all civilian deaths in war are murders. It depends on the target. What is happening to civilians in Gaza is a human tragedy. Israel should be in mourning not only about the three hostages it accidentally killed, but also about every innocent Palestinian civilian bystander that it has killed.

Note that Hamas always quotes Palestinian casualties in total, not civilian casualties. There is no truly independent count in Gaza.

Hamas welcomes deaths. They want more victims, for their political purposes. Most Israelis and Palestinians do not.

To defend our modern secular humanist way of life from medieval religious extremists and murderers — with rights for women, gays, other ethnicities and religions — we have to be willing to accept victims. It is necessary for us, at times, even to knowingly kill innocent bystanders. If we are not willing to do this, we have already lost. The only alternative is to give up. We ultimately were not determined enough in Afghanistan. We could not defend our secular way of life there. But whenever there are innocent victims, it is always a tragedy. We should mourn every one.

There is no evidence that Israel has been conducting Genocide [a specific war crime]. On the contrary. The IDF has always emphasized that it tries to avoid civilian casualties (though this encourages Hamas to surround themselves by civilians). Stating that Israel is conducting a genocide is ignorant or hateful. Incidentally, there are other places in the world where genocides have indeed been happening, such as the Rohingya and Christians in the middle-East near Isis influenced areas — and possibly more in the Sudan, India [Kuki], Zimbabwe, Kurdish areas, Hazaras, and Uyghurs). There are also deliberate civilian killings endorsed by countries, such as of Ukrainians by Russia. Finally, there are states that are repressive and evil, like North Korea and Iran, even though these do not engage in deliberate military murders of civilians for their identities afaik. The world should pay more attention to political murders elsewhere.

Why did Gaza not develop into Tel Aviv? There was certainly enough aid that has flowed into it, and Palestinians are no dumber than Israelis. There is a lot of blame to go around here, but pondering this question is of primary importance for the day after.