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Thoughts from an Israeli-American socialist

West Bank settlement Har Homa. PHOTO: Alan Kotok
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Growing up in Israel, we always knew that when one war ended, another would follow. Israel has initiated 13 wars since its creation in 1948. During the 1967 war Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Zionist colonialism spread “from the river to the sea.”

Since 2006, those living in Gaza have been under siege. And residents of the West Bank have been treated brutally both by the Israeli army and by hordes of settlers — stealing Palestinian land, freely killing “suspicious” people (including children), and arresting and imprisoning thousands. Many are held for years without trial.

In November, settlers harassed and killed a couple of villagers in the West Bank for harvesting olives, a main source of income. The government then issued a ban on olive picking altogether because it “annoys the settlers.”

Some days I barely recognize the country I grew up in. Too many Israelis support violent Jewish supremacy and religious chauvinism. The current government, led by Netanyahu, has publicly declared its goal to keep Palestine clean of Palestinians. One minister suggested that dropping an atomic bomb on Gaza is a safe way to eliminate Hamas.

Meanwhile, internal dissent has nasty consequences. The Israeli population, Palestinians and Jews, live under a regime of terror. Any mention of empathy for the Palestinian cause has consequences. People are called traitors, fired from jobs, harassed at home, interrogated by police, or indicted — by law — for expressing words that “demoralize the population.”

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite attempts to quash dissent, Israeli peace activists are starting to raise their voices. The strongest voices come from people who personally suffered from Hamas’ vicious attacks. Many emphasize that the life of a Palestinian is as valuable as that of a Jew, and demand an end to the bombing.

Family members of the hostages plant the seeds of a mass movement. They have daily rallies and sit-ins demanding the release of their loved ones and Netanyahu’s resignation. Thousands have joined them in demonstrations across the country.

The genocide in Gaza is shaking the world. Several countries have cut relations with Israel, and millions around the world are protesting in support of the Palestinians.

If Netanyahu believed that a strong arm would elevate him and Israel on the world stage, he was wrong. As the bombing continues, support for Palestinians and repudiation of Israel only grow. Unfortunately, the attacks are fueling antisemitism among some.

Uncle Sam presents Israel as a victim, even though it has atomic bombs and one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world — thanks to U.S. taxpayers. The wars will not end until Israel ends the occupation and the U.S. stops the aid to Israel and gets out of the Middle East.

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