A Humanist Jew’s View of the Latest Escalation

Joel Eisenberg

I am proudly Jewish. I am also a humanist. There is a conflict, there.

Western Wall, JerusalemToa Heftiba, Unsplash

Though my primary issue is and has been with Hamas and its enablers, it is not nor will it ever be with the Palestinian people in general with whom I wish I was part of a solution to build bridges.

I will not be responding to any comments to this post, as everything I want to say follows. Nor will I take up the root issue here, which in complexity is well beyond I Stand With Israel, Israel Apartheid, or Free Palestine hashtags.

The words that follow refer to the most recent escalation of violence. I’ll get to the rest at another time.

Here is my (idealistic) definition of being pro-Israel: Leadership striving for the permanent end of a series of events that over decades has taken the lives of Israel’s Jewish children and adults … and also their Arab Israelis, many of whom identify as Israeli Palestinians, and those who refer to themselves as Palestinian Arabs.

Although the latter group refuses to acknowledge Israel in any and every aspect, I do not wish for their deaths unless lives must be taken in self-defense.

And that’s the crux of the issue. What constitutes true self-defense?

Hamas has in the past week fired off missiles in the thousands. Israel has every right to defend itself. Hamas is doing a terrific job in their PR, turning many heads to their defense.

I wish I lived in that ideal world where all lives mattered to all people. I don’t. You don’t either. If something happened to my family, I’d want to strike back too.

War is about weakening the enemy and in that process lives on both sides will always be usurped, many needlessly.

Why the collateral damage in this case?

Hamas deliberately stores weapons in civilian-heavy environments such as hospitals, mosques, and schools, as outlined in this 2014 Washington Post article, shared here as reference. Any retaliation from Israel brings with it a natural risk of innocent deaths.

But how much is too much? How many more have to die before the next temporary ceasefire?

What exactly is the endgame?

Hamas bombings and Israel’s oft-perceived over-the-top response brings about a whole other question after awhile: Who’s the true aggressor?

I sincerely hope there were indeed weapons caches in that AP/Al Jazeera building this past weekend. Otherwise, what did that destruction — warning aside — have to do with “self defense?”

There are clearly no rules of war.

To my fellow Jews, it may be popular for me to take a more well-defined side.

I have. Reread my words. That’s my side.

No one reading this should be surprised at collateral damage, the lack of that surprise, regardless of side, being exactly what dehumanizes us.

This war — make no mistake — will continue to rage. The only possible tipping point will be when present leadership on both sides is out of office and adults on both sides who demand real change, tired of the never-ending morbidity, take over and finally begin to talk.

A bleeding heart liberal’s point of view, for sure. Still, that exercise in hope has not been realized. Who knows if it will ever, as the willingness and facility to wage such war has become part of the multi-cultural fabric.

Until then, the next victim could be someone’s innocent mother or father, someone’s innocent brother or sister, regardless of Jew or Palestinian.

How can a Palestinian who has lost a loved one in this capacity possibly explain to their own children that Israel is anything but evil? How does an Israeli Jew who has lost a loved one in this capacity possibly explain to their own children that Palestinians are anything but evil?

Not all Palestinians support Hamas. Regardless, no wonder Israel is being largely excoriated today in the court of public opinion. No wonder Hamas, a terrorist organization, is turning the heads of — via social media and elsewhere through a calculated PR campaign — unaccounted numbers of non-Jews.

No wonder Israel’s Jewish population is compelled to defend itself.

When does it end?

Answer: It never will, until or unless those in charge realize the true aggressor is who they look at in the mirror.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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