NOW IT’S PERSONAL
By Richard Davis
For most of my life I have tried to keep an open mind about the perpetual conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. When there is a near-constant state of war both sides do things that oppress innocent people and make life difficult.
As a full-of-myself 20 year old I thought I had all the answers. It seemed black and white to me when I was in Israel in 1970. The Israelis had all the power and they were suppressing the Arab population. When I met my father’s cousins who had walked from Russia to Palestine in 1920 to escape the brutality of the Czar’s pogroms against Jews I told them I thought Israel was treating Arabs the same way that the Jews had been treated by the Nazis. They were outraged and didn’t speak to me for a few days. They decided to chalk up my remarks to youthful arrogance and innocence.
Over the past 54 years I have come to understand that this conflict is always in the grey area and I have tried to be sympathetic to both sides. But everything changed last week when Hamas attacked Israel.
Hamas has vowed to destroy the state of Israel and kill all Jews. That has been their manifesto for years but they have brought their actions to a new level. Even though I have the luxury of being thousands of miles away from the missiles and bullets I still feel threatened as an American Jew. Hamas has proven that they are immoral animals and they will do anything to kill as many Jews as possible.
I have been in contact with my cousins who have lived in Israel for many decades. It is clear that what is going on now is unprecedented. This is the worst attack ever carried out against the state of Israel. The atrocities make it clear that Hamas must be wiped off the face of the earth with all weapons at the disposal of the state of Israel.
It is not clear to me why Palestinians have allowed such an extremist fundamental group as Hamas to be the primary army fighting Israel. Why have they not created a more conventional army to fight the Israelis after all these years? I’m sure there are many Palestinians who do not support the tactics of Hamas. I continue to believe that most Palestinians are decent humane people who are suffering and who feel they have no control over their lives.
Conventional warfare is bad enough, but the senseless brutality of Hamas only polarizes people on both sides even more. When I saw videos of the massacre in Sderot and heard that Hamas was killing babies and cutting their heads off I knew that war was now moving into unprecedented territory in the Middle East.
A lot of innocent people are going to suffer and die as this war drags on. Some people are comparing the Hamas killings to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Hamas has the distinction of being second to the Nazis in the number of Jews they have killed.
The Jewish people found refuge in the creation of a Jewish state in Israel. When the existence of an ethnic minority is threatened they have to do everything within their power to assure their continued survival.
The Israelis may have been merciless enemies, but they have never resorted to the current level of terrorism they have been subjected to.
Many Israelis and Palestinians will continue to die and there may not be much left of Gaza after this war is over. Jews all over the world are uniting and we all need to act as if Hamas is coming for us no matter where we live.