Hamas uses a green flag at rallies
Analysis, Quirky, Uncategorized

An Open Letter about recent Palestine-conflicts

Mr. Ms. [Respectable-Person],

I know you are on a journey with the Palestinian question — and I have known. It’s not an easy journey. My journey has been trying to develop the maturity to be helpful on that journey. It’s a process that I have not finished. I know it: I only, just now, saw that my primary emotion has been outrage. The outrage is justified — but my primary emotion? It should be compassion, not anger. So, I admit that I was living in the former emotion. I don’t want to cause you distress but sometimes we feel bothered during our journey when our frameworks are challenged. You even anticipated how I might challenge you — that says something. I am going to do my best to challenge your framework in a different way.

I am and have been a pacifist. I shy away from having to reiterate that I condemn rockets at much as bombs because I feel like I should not have to do that. The solution to this conflict has never been in bombs or rockets — that would be easier. No, the solution is in laws and in boycott campaigns: in less glorious channels. That’s the point I am going to make today:

The air of Hamas legitimacy is an obvious mismatch with the terrorist image. That’s because terrorism is not an appropriate label: they are militants fighting on a particular territory. I am pacifist so I don’t believe in militarism as a long-term strategy — I also don’t believe it solves problems for Israel. However, I think we can draw a distinction between Hamas and Israel: Israel is supposed to be part of the United Nations whereas Hamas is a faction whose popularity hinges on resisting Israel in violent ways. If there were a legal channel to challenge occupation in Gaza, rather than a suffocating blockade, then Hamas would be what they are in the West Bank: a second or third party behind PLO member parties. I hold Israel responsible not just for escalating but for creating an environment of desperation via the blockade and then, at their leisure, escalating more. We hold children and adults to different standards about using their fists: when an adult uses force, that’s considered assault and it’s a criminal charge.

The power difference is also in-line with that analogy. I can feel compassion for Israeli parents but their fear is not because of actual Hamas capabilities but because of their supposed capabilities, as presented by Israeli and Western media. Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense-system is more than a match for rockets, according to their own leaders’ boasting. Those rockets are little better than fireworks and they killed 5 during the entire eight-day conflict. God help those families. Still, the death-toll on Israel’s account (just from those eight days) has climbed over 150 — and reports indicate that it inches upward even after the cease-fire. Hamas is complaining to Egypt rather than sending rockets because they already declared their petty ‘victory’. If I did not berate Hamas it is because they lack real control and I have no financial stake in their killings. US aide dollars go to Israel so I feel a sense of collective responsibility for those killings. Demonstrators in the West Bank who never raised arms have also been killed, imprisoned without warrants, and generally abused for the duration of my stay. Hamas is certainly not GOOD for Palestine’s future… but it would be a distraction from the real issue to keep-up the sense of false balance. It’s not a matter of guilt but of responsibility: the powerful party must be held more accountable. I will not waste breath on Hamas, in praise or condemnation.

I believe Hamas was put in a tactical position where they could be expected to use violence. I say with some sadness that they made their only rational move. The ultimate solution is not by rockets nor by stopping the rockets. Rockets have no part in the solution, by their presence of absence; it’s a matter of money-trails and legal battles. The best way to under-cut both the Likud (Israeli party) and Hamas is to support the PLO’s statehood strategies in potent ways. The Palestinian Authority government, despite all the criticisms aimed at them for being ‘collaborators’, have defied Israel by applying for Observer State status (similar to the Vatican), getting nay-votes from only nine countries — sadly, the US and Canada are among the pariahs. Forty-five nations abstained, which was the politically ‘correct’ thing to do… and well over 100 voted in favor of upgrading Palestine’s status. I want the PLO to do exactly what some countries in Europe do NOT want them to do: pursue a successful case against Israel in the International Criminal Court and gain some restitution for the Palestinian people. It will be an unpopular move in Israel… but I don’t think Israelis realize what peril they are really in, right now. They are losing legitimacy quickly. The legal wound might seem terrible, at first, but if that restitution were significant enough it would under-cut Hamas and simultaneously collapse Likud’s coalition.

Where we fail to lower the gavel, someone else raises a gun.

But to answer your challenge: the Palestinian to Israeli death-tolls compare as 30:1. If I failed to meet that ratio, then I am guilty. Did I fail to speak a sentence against Hamas for every thirty I spoke against Israel? It could be. I recognize that I am sympathetic with Palestinian resistance. It may very well be. For the record, I never want Hamas to gain permanent control of any part of Palestine. Were Palestine united and free, I doubt they could; fundamentalism grows under pressure and fades when exposed to the wonders of life. So, I say what I believe will move us closer to ending the occupation. I try not to hold Americans personally responsible but we are collectively responsible for the misused aide, for the vetoes at the UN, for putting muscle behind an apartheid government, and for allowing delusions to abound. Look at the UN vote: isn’t there something that we grew up not knowing?

Cordially,
–[Daniel Xavier]

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