Note: Although this series tries to represent Israel fairly and looks to relay seldom-reported information about Israeli-Palestinian-Hamas relations, it is not biased against Palestine. When I began researching this series, I tried very hard to look beneath what many on the left declaimed as “Israeli propaganda”. I wanted to determine the “real story” behind Israel’s side of things.
What I found made me more sympathetic to Israel and the IDF, more sympathetic to the Palestinian people, more sympathetic to the Iranian people, and more outraged against their oppressors in Hamas, Fatah, and the Iranian regime.
Like most Israeli and Palestinian civilians—and in agreement with Israel’s most recent (memory-holed) peace offer extended in 2008—I believe that Israel and Palestine can co-exist, a sentiment shared by many on the ground but not shared by either the Palestinian authority or the Iran-linked militant group Hamas (Israel’s dominant martial aggressor in the current conflict).
I also know that it matters very little, to either Israel or Palestine, what I think.
Finally, I distinguish between Palestine (the state and/or its civilians); the Palestinian authority (Palestine’s governing body, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and the national-socialist democratic party, Fatah); and Hamas (Fatah’s rival faction, a fundamentalist militant organization whose military wing has close ties to Iran).
Fast Facts and Top Lines Covered in this Series:
1. Hamas’ military arm is more of an Iranian outfit than a Palestinian one.
Iran is responsible for a significant portion of Hamas’ funding; and it is likely that in the present conflict, Iran is attacking Israel via Hamas in order to circumvent and retaliate against Israeli strikes at Iran’s own munitions arsenal and nuclear development system. Palestine has never been “free”: first the Ottomans, then the British Empire, then Jordan, and now Iran have violated the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination. Israel has proposed repeated solutions to eliminate fighting and to divide the territory into two sovereign states. Palestinian authorities have repeatedly rejected these deals, as their charters hinge on the elimination of Israel.
2.Today, many self-identified Palestinian Arabs (sometimes identified as Arab Israelis) and Jewish Israelis live, work, attend school, and serve in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) side-by-side.
Many Palestinian Arabs live peacefully with Jewish Israelis, whom they identify as friends and neighbors (several neighborhoods are ethnically diverse). I have heard from a number of Palestinians and Israelis who refer to one another as best friends, and who could not care less about ethnic or religious distinctions.
Approximately 21% of Israeli residents identify as Palestinian Arabs, whereas about 1% or fewer Palestinian residents (West Bank and Gaza Strip inhabitants) identify as Jews.
3. The above statistics also suggest that Palestinians are 2000% more likely to die in a successful Hamas strike against Israel than Israelis are to die from one of Hamas’ frequent misfires in Palestine.
As of Friday, May 14, close to 25% of all Hamas airstrikes—400 in 1800—were reported to have misfired, killing Palestinians. Hamas rockets that successfully landed in Israel without being obliterated by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system were statistically very likely to have killed or wounded Palestinians along with Israelis. Conveniently for Hamas, media death tolls, which often come from Hamas sources, only report the nationality of the dead—not the nationality of the attackers.
4. Israel does not occupy Gaza, and as of this article’s writing Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2006, when Israel voluntarily ceded territorial sovereignty to Palestine.
Since the voluntary cession, Hamas has overtaken the Gaza Strip. Israel also did not stage a ground offensive against Gaza last week. Recently, Israeli troops tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians and were repelled by mortar fire from Hamas.
5. Israel also voluntarily ceded administrative authority over the Temple Mount—the holiest site in Judaism—immediately following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967.
Jews are forbidden from worshipping at the Temple Mount, per the Waqf’s administrative orders, and in an effort to prevent violence from Palestinian ultra-nationalists, who use the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque as an attack staging site against faithful Jews.
Faithful Muslims, in turn, are also regularly precluded from worshipping at Al-Aqsa by violent outbreaks from lone-wolf Palestinian and Israeli ultra-nationalists, along with occasional Hamas-coordinated attacks.
6. Ethnically, Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Israelis are in a statistical near-deadlock throughout the region (something that should only matter for those keeping score on identity politics).
Taking the most recent Israeli and Palestinian population statistics, there are approximately 5,934,578 Palestinian Arabs in the region and about 6,894,000 Jewish Israelis.
7. Israel’s inception began with a proposed “two-state solution,” which Israel accepted and Palestine rejected.
In 1947, the U.N. offered to annex equal portions of the former British colony along the West Bank to Palestine (which has never had national sovereignty) and to the nascent state of Israel. Israel accepted; Palestine refused on the principle that neither Jews nor their “state” had any right to exist. Since then, Israel has extended at least eight peace offers, some of which have not been reported by the western press.
8. Hamas’ charter calls for the death of all Jews and the elimination of Israel. Fatah’s political program similarly calls for the obliteration of Israel and the “liquidation” of its people.
These are some of the very few areas in which Hamas and Fatah support one another.
9. Insiders report the Associated Press has willingly and complicitly shared office space with Hamas intelligence operatives for years.
AP have also willingly and complicitly buried stories about Hamas attacks that they have personally witnessed and pumped propaganda efforts that Hamas has staged to look like journalistic “scoops”. Partly in response to Hamas’ intimidation, AP has also refused to report on events and killed stories that would lend Israelis the moral high ground (such as Israel’s aforementioned 2008 peace offering). These craven cover-ups are detailed in an Atlantic whistleblower piece, and a precursor published in Tablet, by former AP Jerusalem Bureau reporter Matti Friedman (who is far more charitable toward his former colleagues than I am able to be at the moment, so I’ll let his expertly written articles do the talking for me. The Atlantic piece is lengthy—and every syllable is worth your time).
10. Essentially, every time humanitarian atrocities are committed against the Palestinian people, Hamas’ propaganda arm coordinates to make sure Israeli Jews in general, and the IDF specifically, are blamed for it.
On the other hand, Israeli attempts to lend humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine are often ignored or shooed away as cynical political ploys. For example, on the morning of Tuesday, May 18, multiple sources (even, finally, the New York Times!) report that Israel opened a section of the Gaza border (held by Hamas) to send in humanitarian aid, including fuel and medical supplies, to Palestinian civilians. As soon as the border crossing opened, Hamas immediately fired mortars against the Israelis, blocking the delivery.
Or, as Al Jazeera reported in the aftermath: “Israel closes Gaza border crossing again, halting aid.”
Such a statement is not “both true and false”: It is neither a lie, nor a truth. It is a deception.
Thursday night, Twitter alerted me that the hashtag #COVID1948 was trending on Twitter. Against my better judgment, I clicked the link.
It is never a good idea to bite on any line that pairs coronavirus clickbait with World War II aftermath clickbait.
Hannah Arendt once wrote an essay, subtitled “The Banality of Evil,” about how the Nazis slowly and deftly convinced the world of Jews’ effectual nonexistence. Among Nazism’s true believers, the antisemitism was real and ideological: impassioned, hateful, and deep.
Along the outer layers, however—within the professional class and throughout progressive society—no one needed to think about hating the Jews, or about why it was “better” to affirm certain sentiments and deny others.
Thinking certain things—or not thinking at all, but acting as though you thought certain things without knowing that you were acting like you were thinking them—was just the sort of thing one did, and decidedly did not think about. One bobbed one’s head at the right signals and trafficked in tropes without “thinking what one was doing” (another Arendtism). One uttered the right affirmations and did not ask the wrong questions because it was unpolitic; because it reflected poorly on one’s professionalism or sociability.