I wanted to create space to check in, and acknowledge a terrible week.
I just wanted to say: I am so appreciative of all the comments and discussion here. It's nuanced - and it's smart. It can be emotive and emotional (how can it not?) but at no point has anyone here started screaming at each other. In 2023 internet - I can hardly believe it. And yet - I kinda can because getting to know you all makes this result make sense.
While I agree with what Mr Patton has said, I think it has missed out a couple of important points so I’ll append them here:
“Hamas is a terrorist organization that is attacking civilians by land, air, and sea. The Israeli government is a terrorist state, attacking civilians by land, air and sea. The images of kidnapped PEOPLE are shocking and devastating.
Please know that your Jewish and Muslim friends - even if they are not in Palestine or Israel - are hurting and are fearful when things like this happen and non-Muslims and non-Jews are silent.”
Western governments’ (esp US) complicity in the brutalisation of the Palestinians, and their condoning of land theft and apartheid, has led directly to the radicalisation of groups like Hamas.
The internationally recognised 1967 borders should be enforced, and a two-state solution sought. The constant fixation on losses/damage on only one side (the vastly more well-resourced side btw) and the blind-eye to the other has only wound up the zealotry and hate on both sides. It is this hate and utu-lust that has caused this ever-tightening spiral of violence and trauma.
This and the bit from Patton Oswalt are the most reasonable words I've read about the situation.
The othering and tribalism is awful. What the Israeli state has been doing to Palestinians and in Gaza is awful. What Hamas is doing to civilians is awful. The vitriol and misinformation online is awful. The layers of complexity and nuance make it anything but black and white. The atrocities committed by all are worthy of vehement condemnation, but all I see is further splintering into "us" and "them" with the world taking sides. It's never been that simple.
A dear friend lives in Israel with his partner and their children. They're safe at the moment.
I keep thinking about how we are not going to be able to see what is happening in Gaza from the Palestinians living there now that all electricity has been cut off, along with food and water. Palestinian journalists have been killed this week too, so that contributes again to the kind of media coverage we will get. Will we truly hear from those living in Gaza as they await their murders? They cannot call for help. They cannot share what is happening to them. There’s no end to their suffering and pain and yet they cannot show anyone and that seems to be intentional. An information vacuum that can be controlled. They have nowhere to go, no escape - what is there to live for when you are just watching your family and loved ones being indiscriminately slaughtered before your eyes? When you can’t even hide because your home is destroyed, burying your neighbours. The view seems to be that the complete annihilation of Palestinians in Gaza is warranted to erase Hamas. And that view does not seem to be challenged as we are all so afraid of ‘getting it wrong’. And in that gap are those who want the destruction of Palestine - and this is how it’s done. Bloodthirsty vengeance that is never ever sated. More than half of those who live in Gaza are children. If they survive the next month, they will have lost every person and every thing that they’ve ever loved. The Israeli government has said their vengeance will reverberate through generations and I don’t know how that can just be accepted when we said Never Again.
It sounds rote, but all this indiscriminate killing is awful. It feels a bit anemic to throw up your hands and say "both sides!", but that's the thought I keep coming back to.
But it's been so disheartening to see so much of the media and political establishment, at least in the US, seemingly dismiss so many civilian Palestinian deaths in Gaza. The Israeli government has been perpetrating atrocities in Gaza for years, but it rarely makes the news over here. The fact that they're going to cut off electricity, food and water to 2 million people, most of them children, is terrifying in and of itself. It does paint in stark relief who we consider 'worthy' of being treated like a human being.
Also, I think it's worth noting that so much of Evangelical Christian support for Israel comes from an extremist and fundamentally antisemitic place. They think it's going to bring about the rapture.
(Sorry to ramble, but my mind is ping ponging a lot these days.)
I am gutted by what we are seeing in Israel. I just cannot process it - how can this be happening?
Humans have figured out so many things, so much technology and innovation, yet we still have not figured out how live together. Love and hate are choices and our species chooses the latter at its own peril time and again.
The world feels very dystopian and scary right now. I too, don’t like the “both sides” thing either, and targeting of civilians is horrific regardless of who is doing it. However, there is so much media noise about the most recent attack of Hamas against Israel without a lot of consideration for the conditions that the Israeli leaders have kept Palestinians under for decades. Civilians have been targeted there, too, multiple times, on top of the horrific conditions they live under in general. It made me think who gets to decide who is a terrorist or not? Why hasn’t Putin and his government been labeled a terrorist group? Why is their invasion of Ukraine not ok, but Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is backed by the US? Israel, UK, and US have committed their own fair share of war crimes and have the blood of far more people on their hands, why do they get to take the moral high ground? The term glasshouses springs to mind. To be clear, I’m not in support of violence against civilians in any case, and I don’t want any groups to be persecuted or discriminated against, but the large dominant governments perpetuate issues by imposing their will on less dominant countries and dehumanising them by insisting they know better than everyone else and refusing to listen. All of that said, I know these are all complex issues and I’m willing to be wrong. I’m trying to do as much reading as I can, but getting objective information is difficult. I hope all of you are ok ❤️🩹❤️🩹 I’m sending consensual virtual hugs to anyone who is suffering and finding things tough right now. Thanks for opening this up, David. I don’t have many people in my life I can talk to about this stuff, and I always appreciate what people have to say here xx
Yep. Yep. Israel has had its foot on Gaza's throat for the longest time. So, at one level, some reaction is expected. But the Hamas actions are, simply, evil. But in saying that, I don't want to excuse Netanyahu. And this nonsensical equation of opposition to Israel's oppression with anti-Semitism drives me nuts.
Uh oh, David - you’ve stepped in it and I’m coming for you (just kidding, promise)!
Look, I’ve found reporting on the latest violence wholly unsatisfactory for the simple reason that it is almost always assumed that Israel vs XYZ is a symmetric relationship. It is not. Israel - the government, not the people - has committed and continues to commit atrocities (including war crimes) against Palestinians on a daily basis. Where is the commentary during those acts of violence? A report I just read states that an average of 1 Palestinian has been killed every day in 2023 up to 7 October, 44 of which were children. Scant the flutter of an eyelid from the West.
Patton Oswalt’s comments are ostensibly a middle position but in reality ends up wholly ignoring that asymmetry, which is why it irks me no end when people share it as “reasonable” (no shade, David). The middle position is this: Israeli citizens do not deserve to die, no matter the policies, acts or words of their government. An attack that takes place within the context of apartheid is neither unprovoked nor a surprise. Oppressed people freeing themselves from oppressors is ALWAYS violent. Haitian slaves didn’t get rid of the French from a fireside chat. NYC’s gay community didn’t have a pot luck dinner at Stonewall Inn with the NYPD. MLK didn’t have a cute game of paper scissors rock with George Wallace to end systemic racism.
Supporters of Palestine and Palestinian people have the luxury of no choice. Participate in the BDS movement? Get called antisemitic (see Lorde). Participate in a peaceful march for freedom? Get surrounded by Israeli military and murdered (see March of Return in 2018).
But don’t worry, let’s light up all our buildings the colour of the Israeli flag to make sure everyone knows we are with Israel (the people AND the apartheid state).
Gosh what to even say. What I definitely find interesting is the massive tonal shift I can see on social media and in the media between the way reporting has been in the US compared to here (UK). To be super clear the violence committed against Israel and in return in Gaza is horrific and inexcusable. I am separately very scared for the media portrayal that I think will turn a lot people’s minds anti-Palestine as a whole, after 75 years of abject horror to their people. But who am I to comment, I’m just screaming into the void like the rest of us I guess. I hope everyone in Israel and Palestine stay safe ❤️
Thank you for approaching this situation with the respect and compassion it deserves. It is much appreciated. 💜
Thank you for saying something David. I'll put up my hand here as someone guilty of not saying a lot, because the situation is difficult and I certainly see many of the angles and don't want to upset anyone. And when I say I see the angles I'm speaking as someone who has lived in the middle east, and spent time in Israel/Palestine (see what I did there). I have Palestinian and Israeli friends...and yes, some of those friends are even friends with each other. And I guess that's the part that is missing from the coverage for me; The many people on both sides of this situation who really do believe that peace is possible. Extremists on all sides want us to buy in to their narrative by pointing out the wrongdoings of others while pretending that they are not committing atrocities. Both sides have harmed and are harming innocent people. There is another side...the many people in the center who want to compromise, accommodate, and make room for all. They are the ones whose voice is not heard. Let's stand with them.
I don't know who Patton Oswalt is, but they seem like a very thoughtful human.
What is going on over there is horrific and I can't wrap my head around it. Living in a continual tinder-box, waiting for flares like this, must be so hard, and yet the people of Gaza, West Bank, and Israel do so every day. Living through the flares, of varying severity, must be awful. And yet, somehow, people continue on. Humans are rather persistent.
It does seem that the people of Palestine aren't that keen on how Hamas is running things, but with no elections for nearly two decades, they have no voice to change, and it's dangerous to protest. It also seems that a large chunk of Israelis are not super keen on Netanyahu's messy rule, and how long this government continues may be . . . shorter than their elected term. It's such a horrible, messy situation.
It feels so out of place to complain about home when there's rockets and automatic rifles destroying lives over there. But I'm so tired. Elections are shit, and it kind of feels like it doesn't matter who wins, because the one group that's going to lose is the less well off of Aotearoa. While I'm only teetering on the edge of that group, it's still just shit. I've got a year to go in my degree, it's a rather intense degree and we have very little time off apart from about a month at Christmas, that I have to work through because no work = no $$ = no food. There's likely no support coming for students, especially if National get in, and I'm so tired of it all. It's a second chance degree, I'm going into a field that's screaming for staff, and I've had to work 20-30 hours a week all year cause I'm out of studylink money. I've watched other students in my situation drop out because they're exhausted from a 1.3 EFTS degree (approx 50 hours a week expected study/placement time) and a 20+ hour a week work schedule on top of that.
That's a hyper specific scenario. But there are thousands of unique or semi-unique scenarios playing out across Aotearoa, where people struggling are just . . . wearing out. Benefits are not livable. Students living on ramen is a joke but it's getting a bit out of hand. Minimum wage may have gone up but the cost of living is crunching so hard. And if a National-led government get in, it's just going to get worse. Even a Labour-led government is no promise for anything better, as we've seen in the last three years of having that incredible mandate for change and not capitalising on it. I'm tired. People living on the lower end of the income scale are tired.
Covid rages on, disabling people left right and centre, and all supports to encourage not passing it around like head lice are gone. I work in a hospital, and if I get sick, tough cookies no income because I'm "casual" so sick leave doesn't exist for me. I'm not unique in this at all. I'm tired.
That was a lot. I guess I had a whole load that I needed to get off my chest. Thanks for making this space David, I appreciate you and the wee community that you've built here. Arohanui.
I for one am glad you said something. It's heartbreaking, and you wrote beautifully and respectfully. And telling the world we are heartbroken about one thing does not lessen or outright negate our broken hearts for another. I've learned this in a horribly, personally acute way recently.
The narrative has been and continues to be one sided. Palestine has been occupied by Israel for the last 75 years under the financial and diplomatic support of the US. A 75 year long apartheid and genocide supported by silence from the international community. There has been little to no media coverage to date until Hamas inflicted violence on Israelis this week.
Violence cannot be condoned. The situation is AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN horrific. However, we must be careful not to point our finger at the oppressed to end the conflict. #freepalestine
It’s been interesting seeing a lot of black and white thinking come through in what everyone is saying. Also the continued idea that this is a complex situation. Both of these ways of thinking (in different ways) are rooted in white supremacism. Thinking ‘both’ and ‘and’ are increasingly important.
The complexity of it all washes away the fact that Israel is an occupying state enforcing apartheid on Palestinians. Palestine is an occupied state and that occupation is inherently brutal and violent. Terribly so. Hamas is responding to that violence. Terribly so.
I keep seeing a lot of info graphics and memes saying things like ‘this is what free Palestine/land back looks like!’ Or even the more combative ‘what did you think free Palestine meant? Talks? Etc. You loser’. It’s been breaking my heart. Not just because one of my friends lives in Tel Aviv and I’ve been worried about him (he managed to fly out by some miracle along with money!), and these attitudes seem to justify and glorify the deaths of those we know, but also because I’m seeing concepts of decolonisation, anti-racism, and land back being boiled down to violent black and white thinking. If this is wrong, what we do is right. Violence leads to more violence *and* it is unfair to charge the oppressed with breaking that cycle. Palestine should be free *and* Israelis should not be harmed in the process of freeing Palestine. Sometimes these ‘both, and’ ways of thinking feel complicated or complex because we might not be used to thinking in these ways. There is a simplicity to them though and as gross to my cynical asshole brain it might sound, love, empathy, and compassione simplify holding two truths at the same time.
I keep worrying about writing things. I worry I don’t know enough. I worry I know too much or am too close to one side. But I just keep thinking ‘both!’ ‘And!’ In response to almost everything I’m seeing. The above is a poor attempt at expanding on what my brain is stuck repeating.