There is a feeling building inside me. It started as a knot in my stomach and then grew to an all-encompassing rage. As we enter yet another day of this war of rockets, tunnels, soldiers and tanks, I am overcome by grief for the soldiers who have fallen. I am torn apart every minute that my friends who have been called up are not at home with their families. I am enraged by the constant criticism of anything and everything Israel does, while Hamas continues to fire missile after missile into Israel with impunity.
But there is another emotion burning inside me. You see, the truth is, I want to mourn for the Palestinians of Gaza. I want to cry for the innocents caught in the conflict. For the parents who have lost their children. For those who have fled their homes, and for those who have been left homeless. I want to cry for those whose memories are sullied by the inclusion of combatants in the numbers of civilian casualties, so as to greater appeal to international sensitivities.
But what compounds this anger and grief is the international community’s very denial of my right to grieve for the Palestinians. Because to grieve for the Palestinians who have lost their lives somehow carries as a prerequisite the need to blame Israel.
This is not and should not be the case.
The reason there are dead Palestinian babies? Hamas.
The reason there are homeless Palestinians? Hamas.
The reason there are Palestinian orphans? Hamas.
It is Hamas that embedded itself deep in the Palestinian civilian population. It is Hamas that hid weapons in and dug tunnels under schools, hospitals, mosques and homes to carry out terrorist attacks. It is Hamas that fires rockets indiscriminately at Israel, knowing that Israel must respond. And when Israel does respond it is Hamas that calls openly to the Palestinians of Gaza – whom they have ruled with an iron fist for nearly a decade – to run to the rooftops to protect their terrorist infrastructure. As Netanyahu so eruditely put it, while Israel uses weapons to protect civilians, Hamas uses civilians to protect their weapons.
It is Hamas’s insistence on using every opening of a border to bring in weapons that has kept Gaza closed off by both Israel and Egypt. It is Hamas who continue to teach the children of Gaza to hate and despise Jews – not Israelis, but Jews.
Hamas’s leaders have not only hijacked the Palestinian people in life, but they have hijacked them in death. They line them up to be killed, and make political and financial profit from the images of their bodies.
So I grieve for the innocent people of Gaza. I grieve for their lives in the prison of Hamas’s making. But sadly this grief is not afforded me by those on the outside, by those who see fit – for the sake of simplicity or complicity – to present this as a conflict of the powerful Israel versus the poor Palestinians.
For these Facebook trolls, Twitter addicts and even members of the foreign press, as a supporter of Israel and of the need for Israel to take military action I am not allowed to express anguish for the Palestinians.
Much of the world’s media has adopted the Hamas narrative and decided it is Israel to blame for the situation. So with every picture of a dead Palestinian child come five column inches of justification to attack Israel. And for every tweeted picture of casualties come 140 characters of incitement against Israel. This means there is no space for those who disagree with this slanted, monochromatic view to genuinely express sorrow. Such emotions are dismissed as “propaganda” or “rhetoric.”
They have decided that Israel is to blame, and only those who agree are allowed the space to share in the pain on the other side. Yet there should be no franchise on the grieving for the innocent.
So as I grieve for the Israeli casualties, and the brave soldiers of the IDF who have paid the ultimate price in defending the Jewish people, I will grieve for the innocent people of Gaza. I will grieve for them as a Jew and a Zionist. In many ways, they are as much the victims of Hamas’s jihadist terrorism as we are.