The war in Gaza is not complex

I have always been proud to be Jewish. But at the age of 14, I had to reckon with the fact that my Jewishness could be stripped away from me if I announced an opinion deemed wrong by other Jewish people. In 2021, I learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the first time. I began reading pieces by Jewish authors as well as Muslim writers on the issue, and arrived at the conclusion that I did not agree with Israel’s military tactics in the Gaza Strip. I stated that opinion a little too loudly, as my then-girlfriend’s parents began to argue with me, and ended up telling their daughter that we could no longer date, serving as a rude awakening that I was not allowed to criticize my supposed “promised land.”

Regarding the conflict, I have always received the same bland response of, “It’s a complex situation.” Truth be told, I’ve never bought into that statement. I believe it is apparent to anyone with basic observation skills that there are two objective truths in this conflict: One, there has been a sharp rise in antisemitism as an unfortunate result of the war, and two, the government of Israel is effectively committing a genocide against the Palestinian people, point blank. 

If reading my thesis felt like a gut punch, I implore you to understand why I feel like that language is appropriate. Genocide, to me, is the act of continuous mass murder, until a population of people significantly decreases or flattens altogether. I feel that it’s more than apparent that the actions of Israel fit this bill. Israel holds and acts on their ability to bomb, shoot and starve the Palestinian people, killing approximately 35,000 people, 14,000 of them being children. I am sickened by the excuse that the unending slaughter of children is part of some kind of operation to weed out the terrorist organization Hamas. When 14,000 children are dead and the IDF is seen violently assaulting Palestinian women and parading around their lingerie, it is frankly offensive to make up any kind of rationale for it. Recently, the IDF bombed three trucks from the World Central Kitchen going into Gaza, killing all volunteers and cutting off many Palestinians from their only source of food. The IDF did not “accidentally” send precision-guided missiles on a road that had been specifically cleared for the WCK. This is deliberate starvation, a war crime and a human rights violation.

 There is a pit in my stomach when I see people invoke Anne Frank’s name, or have the gall to utter the words, “never again,” so as to provide Israel with moral justification for killing Palestinians. “Never again,” of course refers to how the horrors of the Holocaust can never be repeated. I’m not sure how any Jewish person can possibly think of Anne Frank or invoke “never again,” and not think of the tens of thousands of dead children lying in mass graves in the streets of Gaza.

I’ve always been confused as to why there is a conflation between my religion and Israel. Roughly 74% of Israel’s population is Jewish and 99% of Iran’s population is Muslim. Why is it that I can criticize Iran and not be Islamophobic, but it is antisemitic to call out Israel for war crimes? The overall reaction to this from the Jewish community that I hold so close has been more saddening than I could ever describe. I have family and even friends who are willing to cry antisemitism when Israel is the subject of criticism, and who refuse to acknowledge Israel’s role in the Palestinian suffering, simply saying things like, “This war is terrible,” a dismissive statement that is uttered to downplay the degree to which Israel is so disproportionately in the wrong.

Antisemitism has always been rampant, but these last months have seen some of the worst of it. The protests against Israel, while definitely important and justified, have been a common place to harbor anti-Jewish sentiments. The Panther Prowler has requested many times to speak with and take pictures of the leaders of these protests, but most have declined, saying, “we don’t trust the media,” basically meaning Jews. Even someone as staunchly pro-Gaza as me wearing my Star of David around my neck might cost me some broken bones if I were to attend any of the protests in the middle of downtown LA. It is incredibly frustrating to advocate for something where many people don’t actually seem to get why Palestinian liberation is important, instead using the situation to conflate Israel with the Jews.

However, I cannot say that I would blame a less educated person for believing that Israel = Jews, as that’s the idea Zionists want to send, right? Congress itself is debating whether or not to pass a bill that labels all criticisms of Israel as antisemitic hate crimes, therefore legally confirming the idea that the state of Israel does in fact equate to the Jewish people. Something as dangerous and as real as antisemitism cannot be devalued by tying it to a country that is currently in the process of wiping all Palestinians from their map, and if you somehow don’t think that Israel’s endgame is the exile of all Palestinians from their native land, then just listen to Benjamin Netanyahu’s own words regarding whether he would continue the invasion of Rafah with a ceasefire deal including the release of the hostages: “The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” Netanyahu said. You can pretend to be oblivious to what the “goals” he speaks of are, but I think it is quite obvious. Netanyahu is trying to create an ethnically cleansed Israel. A country that does not have to share its space with the people who came before. In other terms, “a final solution.” 

As I understood it, “never again,” was supposed to mean that “we, as Jews, can never, and will never, allow a genocide to happen again so long as the memory of the Holocaust is still there.”  However, it seems as though what many people believe is that it always meant “never again, but only for Jews.”

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