Talking about Gaza: what’s possible/what’s not


It’s possible to be Jewish and oppose the Israeli military operation ‘Protective Edge’ in Gaza.

It’s possible to be Israeli and oppose it.

It’s possible to be an ex-IDF soldier, or to have a family member in the IDF, and oppose it.

It’s possible to be a rabbi and oppose it.

It’s even possible to be a self-identified Zionist and oppose it.

It’s possible to empathise profoundly with people who have to endure living under the sickening threat of missiles, rockets and terrorist attacks in crowded public spaces and with the fear of having to put your kids to bed at night not being certain you will be able to protect them from this violence, and to still oppose the war in Gaza.

It’s possible to be an Israeli academic, writer, or world-renowned expert on the Israeli-Arab conflict and oppose it.

It’s possible to believe that Hamas is a violent extremist organisation that uses civilian structures and civilians themselves as human shields to further their military/political objectives, and exploits the deaths of Palestinian children to change or manipulate international public opinion – and oppose it.

It’s possible to oppose it on the grounds of a moral-political logic that is not simplistic, reductive, myopic, ignorant, hypocritical, non-pragmatic, the byproduct of black-and-white thinking, or racist.

What’s not possible is to have a meaningful/rational/constructive/respectful debate with those who do not strongly oppose Israel’s military actions in this latest outbreak of conflict – usually on the grounds of the military and/or moral right to self-defense – but who are not open-minded enough to consider the possibility that those who do might NOT be brainwashed, misinformed, deluded, stupid, hippy-dippy, politically naive, pro-Hamas, anti-Israel (whatever that means) or anti-Semitic lemmings.

The reflexive defensiveness that seems to have infected the majority of this “side” is extremely frustrating and depressing. It makes me, as one of many others, think that the future for Israel, Palestine and the rest of us on the planet is looking pretty dark at the moment.