Rhetoric, accusations and definitives have replaced debate, conversation, and nuance. This is true for discussions on politics, racism or any topic about which someone has an opinion that differs from one’s own.
But add to this a refusal to discuss history and context and you have the tenor of most online discussions about Israel and the Palestinians. As such, it has been somewhat surreal to watch online discussions about the events at the Israel-Gaza border.
Armchair experts thousands of miles away abandon logic while firing off rhetoric-filled tweets and flaming opinion pieces condemning Israel for its “disproportionate response” and “massacre of innocent protesters”.
Are these descriptors true?
Who cares? In this conflict, truth doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that Hamas is a terror organisation dedicated to the destruction of Israel and genocide of Jews. It doesn’t matter that Hamas hijacked these protests declaring that their ultimate goal was to “erase the border and liberate Palestine”. It doesn’t matter that molotov cocktails, firebombs, and flaming kites have been hurled over the border, sending fields of wheat up in flames. And it doesn’t matter that there have been numerous attempted — and successful — infiltrations of the border fence by armed men.
If the truth mattered, people might ask about the billions of missing dollars in foreign aid. If the truth mattered, people might ask why instead of hospitals, universities, and neighborhoods, Hamas has built dozens of tunnels from Gaza to Israeli communities at $3 million a pop. If the truth mattered, people might ask why Hamas focuses more on trying to kill my children than feeding their own.
Yes, Gaza is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. But, not because of Israel. Israel allows thousands of tons of food, textiles and goods into Gaza every single day. Moreover, Israel left Gaza in 2005 when it expelled 9,000 Jews, presenting the Palestinians with the opportunity to begin building a state. Gaza should be an example of thriving Palestinian autonomy. Instead, it’s a locked down strip of land whose residents are sacrificed on Hamas’s altar of Greater Palestine.
This blockade, lamented as creating an “open air prison” and enforced by Israel and Egypt, is a result of Hamas’s take over of the strip. Hamas, the terror organisation. Hamas, that drags “collaborators” through the streets to their deaths. Hamas that hides behind its own people, placing its headquarters in a hospital, relying on the fact that Israel wouldn’t attack it. Hamas, that continuously attempts to smuggle weapons to use against Israelis, via land, sea, and tunnels.
In 2016 alone, Israel foiled 1,226 smuggling attempts. Imagine for a moment that Hamas succeeds in smuggling missiles that Iron Dome cannot intercept. Imagine that it fires these rockets at Israeli cities as it has fired thousands of rockets in the past. Imagine the carnage.
Now, imagine Israel’s response. What would Gaza look like then? If you don’t want to think about it, you aren’t being honest about what’s on the line here. When discussing this conflict, one cannot forget facts. To do so is to ensure that conflict continues. Because the answer to a better Gaza doesn’t lie with Israel.
Israel left Gaza in the hope that it could be a model for two state existence. Instead it has become a haven for terrorists, a launching pad for rockets. Given what we know about Hamas, and its continued calls for the destruction of Israel in what universe would Israel open its borders to them? The only way this blockade will end is for Hamas to declare an end to its desire for Israel’s destruction, or for the Palestinian people of Gaza to overthrow Hamas.
How fascinating that no one arrives at this conclusion. How stunning that no one stops a moment to think how illogical it is to expect a country to open its border to an entity that calls for it’s destruction.
I wish the Gazan people peace and prosperity. I wish them a life free of Hamas, a life in which we can be open-bordered neighbors. But until they turn their sights inside to those truly oppressing them, to those whose pockets are lined with the future of their people, and so long as they are used as human shields by the terrorists who direct them, we will be at odds, on opposite sides of a border that I expect my government to protect, no matter what the internet says.
Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is a writer and activist