December 24, 2023
This article is my Christmas gift to Jews, Muslims ad Christians suffering around the world today.
The Angels heralded the birth of Jesus Christ, “peace on earth and good will to men” ( Luke 2:14). His birth in Bethlehem, Palestine, over 2,000 years ago, was to bring a new epoch for humankind, imbued with agape- love. Today, Gaza, Palestine, is a “Living Hell.”
Following the brutal killing and kidnapping of innocent Israelis by Hamas on October 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched an all-out war against the Palestinians living in Gaza. Thousands of tons of munitions are being dropped on Gaza by the Israeli Defense (IDF) including 2,000 pound “dumb bombs” (unguided), which cause maximum damage on civilian targets. The indiscriminate relentless bombardment of hospitals, refugee camps, schools , churches, apartment buildings, for 11 weeks, except for a 1 week pause, has created a “Hell on Earth” for Gazans, on the eve of the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Innocent civilians are being herded like animals to southern Gaza, where they are also bombed. According to the United Nations, 576,000 Gazans face extreme hunger-26% of the population. Over 80%-1.8 million of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million people are displaced with nowhere to go. Lack of clean water, food, electricity, and basic health services is turning the Gaza strip into an equivalent of an open-air, concentration camp* without the barbed wire. Over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed and 53,000 wounded by Netanyahu and the IDF, in less than two months-averaging 2,000 deaths per week of combat. The majority have been women and children. Over 8,000 Palestinian children have had their lives snuffed out before they could experience what life is. That number will rise from the continued bombing assaults, scant medical provisions and services, and the lack of conditions on the ground to support human life. Thus, we are rapidly approaching the elimination of 1% of Gaza’s population. Palestinians living in Gaza are undergoing population reduction, and Netanyahu wants to depopulate the Palestinians living in Gaza; dead or alive.
The mentality of Israel’s war cabinet and military is so crazed, that the IDF ignored a white flag, the international recognized signal for surrender, raised by three Israeli hostages, and opened fire on them. Killing them despite shouts for help in Hebrew by one hostage.
Israel is attempting to protect itself from blame for slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians in Gaza with the shield of antisemitism. In Washington DC, officials of both parties fall over themselves accusing anyone who criticizes the state of Israel as an antisemite. Yes, antisemitism exists, I have been the victim of it, but Israel is the only nation whose actions cannot be challenged without being clubbed as an antisemite. This protection racket must end.
Netanyahu Must Go
The citizens of Israel made a grave mistake returning Netanyahu to power as prime minister. The Hamas attack on October 7, exposed the complete failure of Netanyahu and his cabinet to protect Israel, despite boasting of their intelligence and military prowess. This includes having in their possession the plans by Hamas for their invasion against Israel for over a year.
Some of my Jewish friends who dislike Netanyahu, Gaza, asked me: how should Israel have responded to the October 7th attack? My answer is clear: recognize that the policy of occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, by Israel has been an unmitigated failure. And now is the time to rethink the future of Israel and Palestine. The first step is to remove Netanyahu from office. He is not capable of protecting Israel citizens. Secondly, returning to the basic principles of the Oslo Accords of 1993-1995,as a preliminary starting point for a new approach to peace in the region.
Netanyahu is a racist and antisemite against the Arab people. He is not shy about is desire to drive Palestinians out of Gaza and expand Jewish settlements to populate the West Bank. At the beginning of the IDF offensive, Netanyahu wanted to force Egypt to accept Palestinians as part of an “ethnic cleansing” of Gaza. Netanyahu is on record opposing a unified Palestinian state. It is well documented that for many years Netanyahu has facilitated the transfer of funds to Hamas to enable their independence from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). This was done, as he admits, to weaken the PLO and prevent a unified Palestinian effort for an independent Palestinian state.
Netanyahu has always opposed the creation of an independent Palestinian nation, and to the apparent dismay of the Biden administration, still opposes a Two State solution today.
As well-informed Jews know but may not want to admit: Netanyahu is spitting on the noble philosophical tradition of Jewish history and culture. That includes his rejection of: Philo of Judea, a contemporary of Jesus (20 BCE-50 CE); Moses Maimonides (1138-1204); Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786); and Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995).
Carnage Does Not Beget Peace
For example. Examine the unnecessary murderous assault on the al- Shifa hospital. The largest, best equipped medical facility in Gaza, which in addition to caring for hundreds of patients also provided shelter to crowds of Palestinians seeking refuge from Israeli bombs raining down on them. Thousands of displaced Palestinians and civilians in need of medical care and protection sheltered in and around this complex of buildings.
Netanyahu and the IDF propagandized that underneath al-Shifa was a military hub of Hamas. These unsubstantiated allegations were shamelessly repeated by every U.S. official, and public spokesperson, including President Biden. To this day, weeks after the November 15th assault, Israel has had the opportunity to display proof, yet no evidence has been presented. Requests for more conclusive evidence from both U.S. and Israeli officials have been stonewalled with claims of “classified information.” All that has been disclosed so far is a network of tunnels under the hospital complex, which exists almost everywhere throughout Gaza.
According to a December 21 article in The Washington Post, all that was revealed by the Israeli government was:
- The rooms connected to the tunnel network discovered by IDF troops showed no immediate evidence of military use by Hamas.
- None of the five hospital buildings identified appeared to be connected to the tunnel network.
- There is no evidence that the tunnels could be accessed from inside hospital wards.
The Post reports that medical facilities are afforded special protection — even in times of war — losing their status only “while they are being used outside their medical function to commit acts harmful to the enemy,” according to Adil Haque, a law professor at Rutgers University.
The IDF siege and attack on al-Shifa resulted in hundreds of deaths.
Civilian Punishment Will Fail
Robert Pape writing in Foreign Affairs magazine (12/6/23), makes several valid observations in his article, Israel’s Failed Bombing Campaign in Gaza: Collective Punishment Won’t Defeat Hamas.
Carpet bombing campaigns are unsuccessful throughout history. They tend to increase the resolve of the population to reist. The disproportionate numbers of Hamas fighters killed compared to the number of Palestinian civilians, will only intensify their belief that Israel wants to eliminate their existence in Gaza.
Pape writes: Israel is almost certainly producing more terrorists than it is killing, since each dead civilian will have family and friends eager to join Hamas to exact revenge. Mass civilian punishment has not convinced Gaza’s residents to stop supporting Hamas. To the contrary, it has only heightened resentment among Palestinian
According to some experts, for every Palestinian murdered, two-five Palestinians will become new recruits for Hamas. The brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers, who watched their families and, especially their children perish, will seethe with hatred of Israel for years, decades, and quite possibly generations. Thus, the current indiscriminate or maybe intentional mass deaths of Palestinians is sowing the seeds for continued armed conflict, not security.
Pape continues: …a vast portion of the more than 500,000 Palestinian men between the ages of 18 and 34 are now ripe recruits for Hamas or other Palestinian groups seeking to target Israel and its civilians…
There is every reason to think that Israel’s renewed military occupation of Gaza—“for an indefinite period,” according to Netanyahu—will lead to a new, perhaps larger wave of suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
Netanyahu and the IDF murdering innocent civilians by the tens of thousands will not eliminate Hamas or prevent Hamas 2.0 from emerging. They should have learned from history: you cannot defeat an ideology through kinetic warfare.
A New Mind-Set Needed
As long as Netanyahu remains in power there will be no Two State solution. There will be no peace and no future security for Israel. That much is clear, but his removal alone will not resolve the conflict.
The only long-term basis for security for these two Semitic cultures is to establish a common aim that is in the long term interest of both Israelis and Palestinians.
How do achieve this?
We start with the fact that we are all human beings and are all more alike than different. The universal principle that bonds us uniquely as the human race is, we are the only species with a mind capable of creative imagination. No other living creature or non-living machine is capable of producing creative thought. This makes every human life sacred and every child precious. Human beings, unlike animals, have the ability to think about and act on the present for the future. All human beings have the same aspirations for their children and grandchildren, to live a better life than their parents.
There is no easy resolution to this long-standing conflict, except to act in a way that would normally be considered impossible. Let us stand on the shoulders of history to obtain security and peace for future generations of Palestinians and Israelis.
In Europe during the first half of the 17th century, eight million people during died in the Thirty Years War, which ended with the famous 1648 Treaty of Westphalia.
Article 1 of the treaty stipulated: …That this Peace and Amity be observ’d and cultivated with such a Sincerity and Zeal, that each Party shall endeavour to procure the Benefit, Honour and Advantage of the other;
Article 2 stipulated: That there shall be on the one side and the other a perpetual Oblivion, Amnesty, or Pardon of all that has been committed since the beginning of these Troubles…
To wit: each belligerent must act for the benefit of the other, and all crimes committed in the past must be forgotten and pardoned. It will be hard for the belligerents to acknowledge and accept these principles, but there is no other path forward, except more suffering, more killing and more bloodshed.
Israel and Palestine should move in the direction of the process of the Oslo Accords (1993-1995) with an emphasis on fulfilling the common aims of both people. This will require a joint economic development program using the talents and resources of both peoples and nations, for the long-term benefits of future generations. Prejudices do not die quickly, but by acting in the interest of the other, they can be diminished over time.
We have just passed the 30th anniversary of the historic handshake in Washington DC on September 13, 1993, between Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman, Yasser Arafat. It was a torturously conflicted handshake for Prime Minister Rabin, who previously viewed Chairman Arafat, as a mortal enemy.
Not surprisingly, then leader of the Likud Party, Benjamin Netanyahu, led the opposition to the extraordinary peace agreement between Arafat and Rabin.
The opposition’s response was shrill; from the start its leaders charged Rabin with endangering the country, and even with perfidy. Benjamin Netanyahu told [Rabin’s ally] Foreign Minister Shimon Perez in a Knesset debate: ‘You are much worse than the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, because Chamberlain threatened the security and freedom of another nation, while you are threatening the security and freedom of your own nation.’ A newspaper advertisement run by the opposition parties—and approved by Netanyahu, according to daily Ha’aretz newspaper—said ‘The people rise up against the treason of the of the Rabin…We are not prepared to obey the laws of the government. (Horovitz)
Let us emulate the transformation of former Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who was a commander in the Israel’s wars of 1948 and 1967, but lost his life tragically, as a warrior for peace. He was killed in 1995, by a right-wing Jewish fanatic, who opposed Rabin’s commitment to peace with Palestine.
(The author grew up in a liberal Jewish household in New York City, and has dedicated his life to fighting for justice, economic progress, and defense of oppressed people world-wide).
*Concentration Camp: a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities.
Horovitz, David, (1996) Shalom, Friend-The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin, Newmarket Press.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com