Thoughts on Israel/Gaza

Note: The following came in from a Wyoming Voter. While WDP attempts to share work that reflects the WDP platform, you may come across some words that are not exactly what WDP would have written. In no way should inclusion on this site imply endorsement. The views expressed in blog submissions are those of the author. Perhaps you will agree with what you read below, perhaps not. Your mileage may vary.

by Keenan Morgan, Casper

The following is a transcript of the author’s thoughts as presented on the Left Lane Podcast, Ep. 3 on Nov 19, 2023. Give it a listen. -ed.

On October 7, 2023, over a thousand civilians were brutally massacred within Israel. Hundreds were taken hostage, ranging from the young and helpless to the elderly and infirm. In the weeks that have followed, thousands more have been massacred within Gaza in ways equally horrifying, indiscriminate, and indescribable. The toll of human suffering is as hard to watch as it is impossible to escape. It is heartbreaking. It is terrifying. And it is demoralizing. Powerful emotions in response to the humanitarian disaster in Gaza – emotions aroused by the barbarity of reckless vengeance and retaliation – are spreading rapidly across the globe, manifesting themselves in a slew of intolerance. We must be intentional not to fall into this trap. We must be vigilant not to succumb to the worst of our human instincts – to angrily push well-meaning others away before they’ve had a chance to speak, or worse, resort to violence. And we must remain guided by the values of true peace and freedom that drive our thirst for justice. In doing so, we can righteously stand with the calls for a viable end to the violence in Gaza, sustainable freedom and peace for the Palestinian people, and the unceasing safety of all innocent Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, and Muslims alike.

To do so, without equivocation, Hamas must be condemned. Its brutal actions on October 7 are not to be excused or justified. They are not to be absolved and are certainly not to be condoned. The calculated murder of innocent Israelis, Americans, and so many others – of the young and old, women, men, and children – is beyond reprehensible. Furthermore, the scourge of anti-semitism must, too, be unequivocally condemned, denounced, and rejected. Across our country, anti-semitism is growing. On college campuses, on public streets, and online, anti-semitic rhetoric endangers the Jewish community. No Jewish person should ever feel unsafe simply because of their heritage. It is wrong.

The indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Gaza by the government of Israel and the resulting killing of thousands of women, men, and children is also beyond reprehensible. The sheer recklessness of the siege on Gaza is not to be excused or absolved. Hunting Hamas, justified on the merits, is not a free license to kill thousands upon thousands of innocents, regardless of the circumstances. The murder of innocent civilians in Gaza is to be condemned. Likewise, the scourge of Islamophobia must, too, be unequivocally condemned, denounced, and rejected. Its presence is also being felt on college campuses, public streets, and online. It endangers the Muslim community and no Muslim or Palestinian should feel unsafe because of their heritage. Any hate, anywhere, endangers Jews and Muslims alike. Simultaneous condemnations of both forms of hate and both forms of injustice can and should coexist. They are not mutually exclusive. They are not contradictory to each other.

Neither is the following truth: the innocent people in these situations are not their government. Hamas is not representative of the people of Palestine, and especially the people in Gaza – half of whom are children. The actions of the government of Israel are not representative of the people of Israel. These views can coexist. The government of Israel’s response to the horrific attacks on October 7 is inflicting a massive and unbearably brutal cost on the already oppressed people of Gaza. The conditions of Gaza have deteriorated from horrendous before the war, to disastrous during it. The people of Palestine, long oppressed and now under siege, always have and still do deserve the absolute right to peace, safety, and self determination. Palestine deserves to be free, period. Free from Hamas, free from oppression by the state of Israel, and free from violence for simply being.

Additionally, the people of Israel deserve the right to live in peace, safety, and self determination. They, too, deserve freedom from violence for simply being. These views can coexist. Part of the problem is that those in charge, both here and abroad, are not now and were not before, recognizing the inherently complex nature of this situation. Because of this, they are returning one irrationality with another, and responding to violence with even worse violence. They are failing their people. In turn, hate is winning. Scores upon scores of innocent women, men, and children will continue dying because of it.

Hate is contrary to all values we claim to hold dear. Hate is the arbiter of violence. Hate is the destroyer of peace. Above all, hate is always exploited by the few at the expense of the many. When hateful minorities sound aloud, it can be nearly impossible to do anything but listen. However, if we’re to live up to the promise of our values, rejecting hate must be louder. This includes all forms of hate – anti-semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia alike – are to be called out and repudiated. In doing so, togetherness must prevail. Understanding must supersede intolerance.

We must find within ourselves the ability to accept two seemingly contradictory ideas – that while it is true and glaringly obvious that the death and destruction of innocents – whether done intentionally at worst or out of sheer carelessness at best – is simply wrong, it is simultaneously true that there is nothing simple about how such death and destruction came to be, nor is there any one simple solution. If there is to be peace, an admission of complexity is required by everyone, especially those in a position to make a difference. Unnuanced black and white interpretations of the current situation lead to proposed solutions of the simplest form. Such solutions never have been, are not now, and never will be effectively or sustainably implementable, for they will always alienate just enough to inevitably destabilize the whole. We are witness to this now, where the bombing campaign in Gaza is all but certainly producing a new generation of radicalized opposition to Israel.

The reality of today is that nuance rules this conflict in more ways than many of us wish to understand. Our reluctance to understand is to be expected. When wrong things happen, we feel we must make it right. In the pursuit of doing so, we reject complexity in favor of the simple. Let us remember, though, that while the passion for peace is righteous, resorting to blind violence is not. The fervor behind standing on principle is commendable, but downright ignorance is not. The want for vengeance is understandable, natural, and even alluring, but blatant intolerance and a refusal to understand complexity cannot drive us and will only push us further apart. The moment that efforts for justice morph into violence and hatred, themselves forms of injustice, then freedom for all begins a quick corrosion and is summarily corrupted.

In this moment, our anger must be used wisely, not wasted. This is not to say that we should not be angry. Not to be angry about what is happening would simply be unrealistic. The Palestinian people should be free from oppression and violence and we should be angry that they are not. Jewish people deserve to exist in peace and safety and we should be angry that so many around the world wish they should not. The United States government should reject the indiscriminate killing of thousands and we should be angry that in so many ways it is not. The continual murder of children and destruction of homes is wrong and we should be angry about all of that.

At the same time, though, as Maya Angelou once said, we must not become bitter. Like cancer, bitterness leads to problems that un-purposed anger cannot resolve. Bitterness eats upon the host. It undermines the goals of peace, freedom, and justice. Our anger must be productive and purposeful. We should write it, paint it, march it, vote it, and never stop speaking it. We should remember that justice is a very tall order and it requires productive and purposeful anger, understanding and recognition of nuance, rejection of hate, and an unwavering commitment to the values of true peace and tolerance. In our valid thirst for justice and freedom for all, we must remember all of these things, and that to support one is not mutually exclusive of another. Doing so is the only viable way forward.