With the latest flare-up in Gaza now seemingly coming to a close, this darling conflict of the media will soon, once again, start to recede away from the blistering spotlight.
To be sure, the dust will barely have settled before both Israel and the world begin opening investigations and commissions to dissect every bombing, shelling, and tactic of this war. Some will be fair and earnest; others will be foul and jaundiced.
But sadly, once the attention of the international community is directed elsewhere, the world will likely not examine some of the most important takeaways from these last painful weeks:
1. To Israel: The Iron Dome, while a hero of this war, is a double-edged sword. At the same time that we succeed in maintaining normalcy, we fail to wake ourselves up to extreme action. The blockade imposed on Gaza is not a permanent answer. Mowing the lawn every few years is not an acceptable strategy. The losses we incurred are absolutely heartbreaking, but we all know they could have been much, much worse. It would be a mistake to let a welcome cessation of hostilities blind us to the urgency of searching for a sustainable solution.
2. To the West: We cannot assign Western values to every global citizen, hard though we might try. The loss of civilian life in Gaza is no doubt a human tragedy. But while we regret the death of every single innocent, we must also recognize that not every civilian is innocent. Not every father chooses peace over war, or healthcare over violence. Not every mother chooses education over hatred, or public infrastructure over weapons of resistance. Let us not forget that it was civilians who elected Hamas. It was civilians who celebrated the brutal murder of three Israeli teenagers, permitted offensive tunnels to be built in their homes, and allowed schools, mosques, and hospitals to become instruments of war. The fact that they are also victims of a tragic situation does not exonerate them from responsibility.
3. To the international community: The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has never been more blurred. Across the world but especially in Europe, a wave of political rallies has exposed a deeply troubling undercurrent. In France, protesters chanted “gas the Jews” and ransacked Jewish businesses. In Germany, a synagogue was firebombed. In the UK, youths chanting “Heil Hitler” drove around a Jewish neighborhood throwing eggs at pedestrians. A Belgian doctor refused service to a Jewish woman, telling her to go to Gaza instead. A Spanish writer called for the country’s Jewish community to be expelled. Though not all criticism of Israel is fueled by anti-Semitism, the sane majority must realize that much of it is. We must work to stem the tide of hatred–even if once the dust settles, it seems to fade.