This week, I’ve observed a lot of varied commentary about the reasons behind the current war going on between Hamas and Israel. There is obviously a lot of history undergirding the emotional connections that Israelis and Palestinians alike have to the region, but what I want to focus on today are modern issues that result from certain folks framing the conflict as a black-and-white caricature, the identity of which is dwarfed by the history of the land.
Some of these commentators preface their language by arguing that they aren’t pro-Hamas, seeming to distance or differentiate their support of the Palestinian cause of liberation from the terrorism. Yet, amidst the most catastrophic loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust, they feel compelled to echo the same language that terror groups use as a rationale for the murder, kidnapping, rape, and arson of civilians and tourists of all ages: that Israel is a white supremacist, apartheid state that practices ethnic cleansing, so this excuses any form of Palestinian resistance.
If you’ve gone to college in the US, you’ve heard this language before, even if you don’t know how much of it is true or not. What isn’t always clear, and is hardly explained beyond the “Free Palestine” slogan is how you solve such a conflict without creating further destructive diasporas of Palestinians and Israelis in the region. (Just look up what happened with Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza just over 18 years ago).
Further, any diplomatic solution involving integration of both populations will involve a multigenerational sociocultural adjustment made more challenging by the amount of incitement against Jews present in Palestinian school curricula, in addition to the indoctrination of Palestinian children at child soldier training camps.
Today, I’m addressing those of the “Free Palestine” crowd who live outside of Israel or the Palestinian territories, particularly those formerly or currently at the university level. I don’t take issue with their sympathy for Palestinians caught up in it who seek better lives for their people; rather, I implore them to consider some history beyond their modern conception of a “decolonial” framework that they assert neatly applies to the conflict. Whether or not they mean well, those on the sidelines hear this language, and it makes an impact.