November 10, 2023 at 10:25 a.m.

Hamas-Israel war

Dear Editor,
I'm saddened by any innocent Palestinian or Israeli being killed, especially a child. Who is to blame for these deaths? How does the bloodshed end?

I wasn't born in Israel, but I contacted my dorm chaplain, Elizabeth, from college, who is from Israel. She's given me firsthand knowledge from her own experience and from loved ones. She said that 99% of Israelis just want to live in peace. If all weapons were removed from Gaza and the West Bank, there would be no violence. Now if you removed all weapons from Israel, within a week, Israel would be no more. Every Jew would be executed by all the countries that surround them. So, how do they ever get peace? In order for there to be peace, each side needs to acknowledge the other's right to exist. Liz said 99% of Israelis recognize the Palestinians' right to exist and govern themselves. There are radicals in any society that make up the other 1%. Some decisions from the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his government, primarily relating to settlements, haven't helped the peace process. The Palestinians have rejected every attempt Israel has made over the years to find a solution.

Israel has always wanted peace. The UN separated the land in 1948, and the Jews were willing to make it work. The Arabs attacked Israel on all fronts for 75 years. Israel was attacked, they won the war, and they waited for the next bombardment. After the war in 1973, Egypt finally realized it was best for their people to get along and live side by side with Israelis instead of always trying to eliminate them.

Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and the West Bank until 2005. Egypt enabled the construction of 21 Jewish settlements. The Palestinian people elected Hamas as their leaders in 2006, and they remain in charge to this day. Israel has maintained a land, air, and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007. Egypt also enforces this border. Israel does this in order to keep Israelis safe from Hamas. In 2005, Israel withdrew 9,000 Israeli settlers and their military forces to let the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel offered to supply Palestinians with whatever they needed to build a thriving state. There was no siege and no occupation. Israel provided Gaza with food, electricity, and money and continued to do so until about three weeks ago. The Palestinians elected Hamas to govern Gaza. Hamas started a bloody civil war, eliminated all its political Palestinian opponents, and has held power ever since. In Hamas's charter, its mission states that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." It's clear their goal is to eliminate Israel and the Jews. Hamas doesn't care about a thriving Palestinian state. For 16 years, Hamas's main focus has been solely on killing as many Israelis and Jews as possible. Hamas has received billions of dollars and has nothing to show for it. They don't use that money to build infrastructure, schools, parks, or anything else you'd expect a government to provide its citizens. Instead, all the money has been spent to build weapons and tunnels so they can carry out their mission of eliminating Israel. How can they negotiate a two-state solution if Hamas demands the other side be eliminated?

In Israel, they've gotten used to living under rocket fire, suicide bombers, and more. Every building in Israel has a safe room, which families utilize often. What other country in the world would accept living under constant rocket fire? Israelis chose to continue to live this way to avoid casualties in Gaza because it's impossible to fight back against Hamas without killing civilians. Hamas keeps and fires its weapons in residential neighborhoods, schools, and hospitals. Hamas built a command center underneath Shifa Hospital. In order to take out Hamas, they must be eliminated, and unfortunately, innocent civilians will be killed. Israel didn't design Hamas's headquarters; they did.

The barbarity of October 7th changed everything. Israel can no longer live with Hamas at its doorstep. My friend Liz has personally seen things that are unimaginable. Entire families burned to death in their homes; babies were beheaded, women were raped and tortured, etc.

Israel has the military capability to destroy Hamas from the air. If they were really trying to commit genocide, as many people in the world are accusing them of, they could easily abolish Gaza from the air while not killing one Israeli soldier. What if this situation were to occur in the US, which I don't doubt will happen sooner than later? Imagine if your kids were taken from you and held by terrorists who have declared their intention to wipe your people off the face of the earth. What would you do to get them back? What would you expect your government to do? Christians especially need to ponder this because, after the Jews, they are coming for us or any "infidels" who stand in the way of their mission, Jihad.

The word genocide is being misused in regards to this conflict. Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group. Hitler is responsible for coining that word. Hamas's purpose is the genocide of the Jews. Israel doesn't want to destroy the Palestinians (setting aside the few extremists I identified above).

Israel has provided Palestinians with electricity, food, water, medical supplies and treatment, and jobs. Thousands of Palestinians cross into Israel every day to earn wages that are impossible to get in Gaza or the West Bank. They cross into Israel to work because Hamas, the elected government in Gaza, isn't interested in economic growth, minimum wages, or any of the basic functions that one expects from its government. Most Palestinians are poor, while Hamas leaders, backed by Iran, live nice lives in Qatar. Many in the world are now accusing Israel of genocide because they cut off electricity, are limiting diesel, and more. Can you imagine any country in the world being fired upon by rockets, its people being murdered, and being obligated to provide their enemy with electricity? The Palestinians receive aid to build all the power plants they'd ever need, but instead they build rockets. Many are accusing Israel of genocide because it seized control of Gaza. Egypt shares a border with Gaza, but up until recently, they refused to open that border. Why is that? Why would they rather see thousands of Palestinians die than risk letting them cross the border? Israel is depicted as this big bully against the weak Palestinians. But they are surrounded by 2 billion Muslims. There are only 7 million Jews in Israel. The Arab population in Israel constitutes 21% of the population in Israel, while there are almost no Jews anywhere else in the Middle East. Arabs who live in Israel are given citizenship; they vote, serve in the army, and even in Parliament. If an Israeli wandered into Gaza, they'd be executed or held hostage. A woman would most likely be raped first. Yet Israel is the one committing genocide?

I don't think Israel wants to have to stay there to maintain that security control. Soldiers and police officers are killed all the time. But as in the past with Gaza, as soon as they leave, the place turns into a terrorist sanctuary. If Israel left the West Bank tomorrow, Hamas or Hezbollah would take over quickly. If that were to happen, the survival of Israelis and Jews would cease to exist.

It's up to the Palestinians to put a government in place that wants to create instead of destroy. Peace and opulence would be achieved for everyone if you had a government that cared about its own people and stopped hating Israelis and Jews. Palestinians, who now suffer, would also benefit. Hamas seems to have enough fuel to fire hundreds of rockets into Israel on a daily basis, yet Israel is being blamed for not allowing fuel into Gaza. How do you make peace with a "government" that prioritizes shooting rockets at you over providing medical care to its own people?

Israel fully recognizes and sympathizes with the innocent Palestinians in Gaza. Israel is being called a colonizer. Jews were present in Israel thousands of years ago, before Islam even originated. Before the UN partitioned Israel, the area was controlled by several empires. The Roman Emperor Hadrian, as part of his own genocide against the Jews, renamed what was then called Judea Palaestina.

In summation, for there to be peace, both sides must recognize each other's right to exist. If Hamas is eliminated and rockets stop flying in from Gaza, I'm confident not a single Israeli bullet would be aimed at Gaza. Israel would again provide Palestinians with whatever they need to restore their community to their way of life. I believe Israelis would prefer better human rights for the Palestinians, but that seems like too much to ask. So they will just wish for peace.

Anti-Semitic rhetoric has sprung up around the world. People around the world celebrated immediately after the attacks on October 7th. It's reminiscent of the Muslims who celebrated after the 911 attacks on the US. If you condemn Hamas at these rallies, you'd gain more support from the public.

Young people today comprise the majority of those who are "protesting" against Israel. They care about the disadvantaged. That is commendable and a good thing. They want to end human trafficking, environmental issues, world hunger, etc. I would tell young people to not stop caring for people. But they need to know why they are supporting such causes. Why are they jumping on every latest bandwagon of the most recent disadvantaged group or cause? They don't know why they are a part of that cause, and they can't intellectually defend it. They jump onto the latest humanitarian cause because it makes them feel good. Young people are making a god out of humanitarian causes as a moralistic therapeutic deism. If it feels good, it has to be good, right?

People are removing images of children held hostage by Hamas. People chant "Gas the Jews." They burn Israeli flags and call for violence. How does any of this help the Palestinians? Israelis are used to different levels of violence, but this is on a whole other level. In America, the Jews and those who love them are terrified. They're afraid to send their kids to public school because they might be bullied or attacked for being Jewish, and they're afraid to send them to Jewish schools because it feels inevitable that at least one will be attacked given the current rhetoric. The anti-Semitism told to us by anyone who survived or fled the Holocaust has surfaced in a way that we would have thought impossible a month ago. It only reinforces the belief that Jews cannot exist without the state of Israel because it's the only place where they are unconditionally welcomed and the only army that will defend them. And while neither Israeli society nor its government are perfect, they share and fight for Western values, and all they've ever wanted is to live in peace. Genesis 12:3 says, "I will make you Israel into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you." Will you choose to be blessed or cursed?

Taryn Greene