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November 06, 2023

Guest post on Israel and Palestine

This guest post is by my nephew Noah Evslin. It was originally on Facebook.
Thoughts on what’s going on in Israel and Palestine
After the terrorist attack on Israel on October 7th that left 1300 dead, I’ve been unusually quiet.
Of course I was gutted and horrified but considered myself bereft of knowledge to even formulate an opinion as the situation in the Middle East is so unbelievably complex.
All I knew is that my Jewish brethren, who only make up .2% of the world’s population, just endured the greatest loss of life since the Holocaust and leaders of Hamas went on record that this was only the beginning.
I think my silence had to do with the fact that I’m deeply uncomfortable with the policies of the current Israeli Prime Minister and how that’s affected the people of Palestine.
I also have numerous Palestinian friends whom I adore and who, prior to these attacks, I’ve had long chats with about the issues facing both our peoples… yet I still wasn’t sure how they’d respond to my response.
One final preface before I begin: I hate the loss of life. Any life. Israeli or Palestinian. And I condemn any and all war crimes being committed by both sides.
But as anti-Semitic attacks grow against fellow Jews across the country, I knew I had to formulate an opinion… quickly.
And what I learned gutted me even more. I read that although we’re only .2% of the world’s population, we’re subjected to 60% of the world’s hate crimes.
In fact, the current FBI director is on record saying that Jewish people face more hate crimes in America than any other protected group and that in 2022 these same hate crimes rose to historic levels.
And that was before the Hamas attacks… Jews are now seeing a 600% rise in hate crimes since this war began.
I learned that while the policies of Israel can be viewed as extreme to many (even me at times), their homeland is under constant attack.
I learned that Palestine was offered their own state, multiple times, and rejected it.
I learned the horrific slaughter publicized on social media was meant to provoke Israel to strike because Hamas welcomes this war.
My heart of course ached when I saw that Israel allegedly struck a hospital and a refugee camp killing hundreds if not thousands of civilians but then I subsequently learned the hospital was bombed by a jihadist group and the refugee camp is being used as a cover for Hamas’ HQ, housing many of their top military leaders.
To me, that doesn’t justify the death of civilians, but it helps me understand it… especially when Israel asked them to evacuate as a strike was forthcoming.
I learned the reason Israel has an Iron Dome at all is that since 2001, various Palestinian militant groups have lobbed almost 20,000 rockets and mortars into Israel and that number doesn’t include the more than 5000 rockets shot on October 7th alone.
And I learned far more about the October 7th attack then I ever intended: the murder of babies, the rape of teenagers, all the deaths at that music festival.
I also learned a lot about Palestine. The suffering they’ve gone through. And continue to go through. The lack of resources. Food. Health care. The anger over lost land. The tens of thousands of lives lost, many civilians, due to attacks by Israel.
Debates like this often devolve into “who suffered more” and “who hurt who more”… and any deep dive into the issue will show there’s been immense suffering on both sides. Suffering I wish would end.
So the question I wanted to answer for myself is who wants peace in the region because I know I do. Peace for both sides. And prosperity.
And I learned this was exactly what was being offered to both Palestine and Israel right before the attack… and it was this very idea of peace that caused Israel to be “asleep behind the wheel” so to speak when the attacks happened. They were on the edge of a new dawn, rejoicing in the idea of peaceful co-habitation between themselves and their mostly Muslim neighbors which has eluded them for so long.
But peace is not what Hamas wanted.
So they attacked.
Killed 1300 civilians. Women. Children.
Hamas wanted a war and they got a war.
I’ve been silent as I see friends flood social media sites with pro-Palestinian messages and images.
Because I understand their pain and desire to live in a world where there’s peace in the Middle East.
But ironically this desire for peace is not supported by those they’re supporting.
Hamas wants Israel annihilated. Nothing less than that will make them stop their attacks.
As a necessary aside, I am aware that Hamas’ extreme militant views do not represent the views of all the Palestinian people, many who do want peace, while the Israeli government’s actions and fervor for retaliation do not represent the views of all Jewish people everywhere…
That said, I’m also keenly aware how social media works. Sides have been picked. And those sides often have less to do with the actual issues at hand than the desire for political and social identity and companionship…
The “other side” chose Israel a long time ago and so this side must choose Palestine.
But I ask you to be aware that amongst your ranks are scores of Jewish people who marched with you during BLM, Me Too, Roe v Wade, the Muslim ban and most other social and political movements including the Civil Rights marches in the 60s and 70s, yet are now having Jewish stars and swastikas spray painted on their homes and work places while many of the people they marched with either remain silent, or worse, blame the Jewish people for their own persecution.
We stood with you.
We are you.
But now it feels like we stand alone in the face of a conflict too few fully understand.
I used to be silent.
I don’t think I can be silent anymore.
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