On Hamas, Hatred, Killing Civilians and Demonisation: It Must Stop Now

One of the central aspects of the latest round of violence and war in Israel and Palestine for very many (media, analysts, human beings around the world) is the continuing assertion that Hamas is the one who started the violence with the firing of rockets into Israel. The problem is: that isn’t true. The Israeli Defence Forces had begun carrying out attacks and arrests prior to the (most recent) launching of rockets by Hamas. Three Israeli teenagers had been killed prior to the launchings. A Palestinian teenager had been beaten and then burned to death. There are charts showing the death tolls in which you will see Palestinians — Palestinian civilians — being killed every week in the weeks and months leading up to the rocket attacks.

So here is to me what is essential: ALL acts of violence and armed aggression in Israel and Palestine DO NOT aid the cause of self-defence or create security and freedom for Israel and/or Palestine. They are bankrupt and defective strategies and the actions of the IDF, Hamas, and others – and any group using violence. Killing of civilians is in no case ‘collateral damage’ or ‘unintended consequences’ that can be blamed on the actions of the ‘other’ side -holding them responsible and blaming them for the ‘consequences’ of OUR ‘legitimate acts’ — whether being waged for ‘self-defence’ (of either side) or to ‘end occupation’. The one who does the act is in every case (also) directly responsible – and the violence on ALL sides must be stopped.

Academics, journalists, analysts, and all people involved, however, must have the responsibility to stop the gross/foolish and unbalanced act of ‘blaming’ the “evilness/psycopathy/wrongness” of Hamas who ‘started’ the war and “cares about nothing but death” and “exterminating Israelis/Jews”. Let me make my own position clear: I DO NOT AGREE with Hamas, and yes: I know the tactics they are doing/using worsen the occupation and further war, hatred and violence. Let me also make this position clear: I DO NOT AGREE with the Israeli government and IDF, and yes: I know the tactics they are doing/using worsen the occupation and further war, hatred and violence.

Any honest, balanced person of any knowledge and understanding of the situation, of any integrity, is well aware: there are no more “fanatics” on the Palestinian ‘side’ than on the Israeli ‘side’. To the incredible sadness and shame of all of us, you can find examples across both of people calling for the complete death-killing-extermination of the other. This is, sadly, one of the realities and results of decades of war, violence, occupation and fuelling hatred and demonisation of the other across ALL sides. And to anyone who says or cites examples about just how horribly this is done by the ‘other’ side, or references statements or messages from their ‘leaders’ or civilians, academics, activists or others to show how horrible, horrifying and outrageous it is, and doesn’t also cite examples from their own side or the side they ‘support’: this is prejudiced/biased. I have been to Israel and Palestine too many times to be ignorant or prejudiced enough to not be aware that there are copious and overwhelming examples of this from both sides. I have also been to Israel and Palestine enough times to have seen and come to love, admire, celebrate and respect the incredible humanity, beauty, integrity, courage of so, so, so many people on both sides – of two peoples with such extraordinary histories of perseverance, of surviving persecution, of experiencing and living through what know people, know human beings should ever live through. Of two peoples who, were it not for the history of violence, war and occupation, and were we to transcend and end the violence war and occupation, would be extraordinary comrades, colleagues, lovers, friends. The poetry, religion, history, philosophy, and richness and beauty of life of both peoples is simply…breathtaking. One of the reasons why so many people fall in love with them. Unfortunately – when exposed to ‘one’, we often then take part ourselves in feeling the outrage and demonisation/condemnation of the other.

So to be clear: To see this only from one side requires active, wilful blindness/ignorance, and to perpetuate messages/stories that one side is calling for the extermination/killing of the other without recognising there are far too large numbers of people – including in government, military, and senior leadership, media, and academic positions – on all sides doing the same, to take part in delegitimising, condemning and ‘vilifying/dehumanising’ one group without recognising that acts which are killing civilians and ideologies/philosophies/beliefs that the other must die are being promoted across all sides, promotes and continues the violence/war. It contributes to the very thing you – each of us – wants to end / overcome.

Any Israeli or supporter of Israel who denounces Hamas or any Palestinian, Palestinian leader, supporters of Palestine or others for promoting those messages must also address messages by senior members of the Israeli government, cabinet, Knesset as well as media, academics and public who do the same.

Any Palestinian or supporter of Palestine who denounces Israel, the Israeli government, or Israeli leadership and citizens or supporters of Israel for promoting those messages must also address messages by Palestinians, Hamas and supporters of Palestine who do the same. Any one who loves the people of Palestine and/or the people of Israel, who is able with your eyes, your mind, your heart to understand and sympathise with their struggle – of either or both peoples – should stop for a moment, should breathe, reflect, and recognise the incredible beauty, courage, wisdom, richness, and heroism of the ‘other’ as well, and how bankrupt, wrong, futile and destructive ALL violence, dehumanisation, and one-sided presentations of the conflict/war/violence/occupation are too ALL.

The “logic” (or insanity) of violence/war/killing produces this. The logic of demonisation, dehumanisation, and creating false caricatures of absolutely ‘evil’ enemies produces this. It is time for us to all STOP IT, and make it stop. Look at Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire. Treat it as a rational, logical actor – because it is. The clear reality is: they are all legitimate demands. Look at members of Hamas, or members of the IDF, or settlers, or Fatah members, or young children, or peace activists, or any single human being in Israel and Palestine, or any single human being active, involved in, caring about, acting on, demonstrating about this issue around the global: for each, for ABSOLUTELY EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, there are aspects of what they want, need, feel that are ABSOLUTELY LEGITIMATE. There are also aspects – far, far too many aspects – of hatred, misunderstanding, use of violence, willingness to do against the ‘other’ what we would not accept ourselves – that we need to overcome and stop.

The truth is: if I was in Israel as a young Israeli man I would far too likely have joined the IDF and be taking part in the war and occupation. If I was in Gaza as a young Palestinian man I would far too likely have joined Hamas and be taking part in the war and resistance to occupation. I would like to believe that I would have the courage, integrity, strength, wisdom, to be one of those who’s refused to take part in the IDF, or one of those who’s refused to take part in Hamas. Many, many Israelis and Palestinians have. If I was even more hopeful, I would like to believe I would have the courage to be one of those Israelis and Palestinians working to overcome the hatred, violence, demonisation and dehumanisation on all sides, and to work for a real, just, lasting peace based upon recognition, dignity, respect, freedom and security FOR EVERY SINGLE PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI. For every single human being.

I would like to believe I would have that courage, but I will not be naive, insulting or foolish enough to claim that I know what I would do faced with the incredible brutality, propaganda wars, and history of broken promises and demonisation of the other on all sides. That is why I have such profound respect for those people in Israel and Palestine who are rising for peace; and why I wish those of us around the world coming to simplistic conclusions or furthering/promoting demonisation and dehumanisation of any one side, would demand from ourselves greater integrity and wisdom.

The simplistic, unacceptable and continued denunciation of Hamas OR the IDF, of Palestinians OR Israelis, or of ANY actor/group/institution in Palestine and Israel is part of what fuels the war/violence/occupation and continues hatred and demonisation. People need to draw upon their integrity, honest, and courage to go beyond this.

 

To state it very clearly: I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT the use of violence by Hamas. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT the use of violence by the IDF. And I am too well informed, and have too much honesty and integrity, to be able to condemn/denounce either one and support the other as a ‘legitimate’ response/reaction to/defense against the actions of the other. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT THE USE OF VIOLENCE BY ANY GROUP IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE and the continued funding, support for and provision of weapons to any of these groups. I therefore call for a total boycott, disinvestment and sanctions on all weapons, weapons transfers, and acts of violence in Palestine and Israel, and call for a total outreach, dialogue, engagement and reaching out to ALL people of Palestine and Israel, including both those I sympathise with, and those whose actions go against any and everything I can understand.

The use of violence:

– is not furthering the cause of independence and ending occupation. It is continuing the occupation and the division, fears and hatred it stands upon;

– is not contributing to or achieving self defence. It is continuing, fuelling, escalating and intensifying the realities of hatred, division, fears and conflicts;

Any and every time we take part in being ‘baffled’, ‘shocked’, ‘outraged’ at the ‘inhumanity’ of one – either – side willing to stand by or call for the use violence against the ‘other’, or to legitimise the violence and ‘response’ of either: we are directly pulling the trigger that is killing someone in Palestine and Israel, we are firing the rocket, we are kidnapping three teenagers; we are beating to death or burning a 15 year old boy. Every time you do that, you are feeding into and fuelling the division, misunderstanding, propaganda, myths that enable the violence to continue. We need, all of us, to stop it. We need, all of us, to find something better. To find the courage and humanity within us to recognise the courage and humanity within every single human being in Palestine and Israel, and call for an end to all of the violence, all of the war, all of the occupation NOW – and for peace, security, recognition and freedom for every single Palestinian and Israeli, not only those we sympathise with and support.

With deep respect and appreciation, In sadness, solidarity, determination, commitment, and open to listening to any one who things I’m radically wrong or mistaken, or anyone who wishes to add their own voice and vision, or/and to anyone who wishes to join together and engage in building a true peace movement for real peace, dignity and security and ending the occupation for ALL the people of Palestine and Israel, KaiNot in My Name

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