Respect the facts, even if they don’t serve our thesis, remain faithful to moral principles, speak with respect about a situation we don’t live in, don’t set ourselves up as referees or judges, try to enlighten the future with historical precedents. These are the conditions for acting justly.
In the minds of Hamas and other anti-Zionists, Israel’s situation today is the same as that of French Algeria: for them, its existence is illegitimate; and, for them, Israeli Jews will have to choose, like the French in Algeria, between “the suitcase and the coffin”. They know that, in Algeria, although the FLN didn’t win the war on the ground, it did win it politically on the international stage; and that, in order to get all the French to leave, it was necessary to create the conditions that made it impossible for the two communities to coexist. This is what happened when some (but not all) Algerians unleashed indiscriminate terrorism, throwing bombs into cafés and murdering entire families; and when some (but not all) French Algerians chose to respond by creating a terrorist organization, the OAS, which indiscriminately murdered thousands of Algerians in the streets. Many young pieds-noirs were among them, and responded to horror with horror, much to the delight of their adversaries, who were happy to see them fall into this trap, which led to the departure of all French citizens from Algeria, just eight years after the start of the war of independence.
Hamas, a terrorist organization that wants all Israelis to die, or at least to leave the region, employs the same strategy: barbarism, to provoke a counter-barbarism. The barbarity of acts, the barbarity of videos showing their barbarous acts, to arouse the anger of the Israelis, and the invention of barbarous acts allegedly committed by the Israelis, to arouse the world’s anger against them.
Many Israelis took part in this spiral, falling into the trap of occupation, then colonization, then counter-terrorism. From the outset, many voices were raised, including in the highest echelons of the Israeli army, against this colonization, which could only corrupt the soul of the occupiers.
Today, if the Israelis respond to barbarity with barbarity, to horror with horror, they will lose their soul, I would even say their raison d’être, which is moral as much as historical; and they will provoke the same consequences as those which forbade the French to stay in Algeria.
Naturally, this is easier to say when we’re not on the spot, when we don’t have family members or loved ones murdered or taken hostage, which is the case for so many Israelis and Palestinians. We can, and must, understand the anger, rage, sadness and indignation of Israelis and many other people around the world at the abominable acts of Hamas. We can, and must, understand why the Israelis are doing everything in their power to wipe out this terrorist organization. We can and must also understand that every Palestinian civilian who dies or is wounded by an Israeli weapon or bomb, every Palestinian family who is driven from their home for the good pleasure of illegitimate settlers, is not only the victim of an unacceptable crime, which causes infinite grief to the victims’ loved ones, but that this outrages a large part of the planet’s inhabitants; and is part of the plan of those who want to put an end to Zionism.
So what can we do? Think right and act justly.
True thinking means recognizing that :
Israel is a country recognized by the United Nations; a legitimate country, for three thousand years, in this place; a highly advanced democracy; and it carries within it the most ancient heritage of monotheism, which is also claimed by those who want to annihilate it.
The Palestinians have also been here for millennia, and they too are entitled to a democratic state, respectful of the individual rights of all, with secure and recognized borders.
The Abraham Accords will remain an illusion as long as there is no peace between Israel and Palestine.
Prevent indiscriminate bombings and barbaric attacks.
Put terrorists, extremists, criminals, the corrupt and the cynical out of business.
Don’t spread and use false news to excite your supporters.
To forget anger, forgive crimes, and imagine joint projects, involving all the countries in the region.
This is perhaps one of the few reasons for hope in the current situation: we’re close enough to the precipice for people of goodwill on both sides to finally understand that to destroy the other would be to destroy ourselves.
Image: credit to Saleh Salem.