After Hamas’s atrocity, what does a peace-seeker do?

It is hard to be Jewish and to think about what happened on Saturday, October 7th in Israel and not be consumed by anger, by pain and by a desire for vengeance. My morality is buried pretty deep after seeing images of hundreds of teens shot to bits at a music festival while others were burned alive in their cars trying to escape. Young children killed, old people killed, Mothers and Fathers killed and babies killed even as others were kidnapped. The depravity is so shocking that it boggles the imagination and crushes the families of the victims without counting the thousands more that were wounded.

Lots of us have worked to promote understanding, to promote reconciliation and to promote peace for years. But where to go from here? There is no equivalent to the butchery of Hamas. There is seventy-five years of history, of Occupation, of House Demolitions, of Night Raids and Administrative Detention. All outcomes that Palestinians know well. Israel has seen terror, bombing, an Olympic slaughter and more from a variety of Palestinian and international sources. Recalling death and destruction and rockets and missiles doesn’t make what happened Saturday any less unbearable.

It is the focus of the government of Israel to bring the fight to Hamas and as a result of all that happened, to end its ability to attack Israel. It will not be easy or quick or painless to invade Gaza and inflict a fatal wound on Hamas with two million citizens packed within the boundaries and Hamas hidden in and under buildings, in tunnels and in homes holding Israeli hostages. The whole disaster is promulgated on the fact that Israel screwed up Big on Saturday and Hamas did much more and much worse damage than anyone thought was possible.

I believe in Two States for Two Peoples. But that has nothing to do with what is about to happen in Gaza. I do believe that has to be in the mind of Joe Biden as he continues to work to build a New Middle East. While Hamas will not be part of the New Middle East it may only be through a prisoner exchange that Israel brings those that were kidnapped home. There are rules even in war. The consequences of Hamas’s actions require the elimination of their presence in Gaza.

It is well known that some of their leaders have already taken refuge beyond their territory. Others await their impending execution. But where are my morals? How do I act in the aftermath of the unspeakable brutality of Hamas? There is no room for this evil on the doorstep of Israel. No nation would accept such an atrocity. So what remains is a separation of the refugees in Gaza and others from their landlord/warden; Hamas. People like to say that Gaza is the largest open-air prison in the world. It may be. That is in part because the group that runs it has said and now more than proven that it sees no place for Israel or any Jews in the Middle East.

There is a Palestinian Authority that represents about 2,750,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and another 220,000 in East Jerusalem. There are also about 2,000,000 Arab Israelis within Israel. A battle is coming and I’m afraid many Palestinians and Israelis will die. It is possible to rewrite a history covered in blood with a new chapter that opens the door at least a crack for a brighter future for both Israelis and Palestinians with War no more. I continue to hope and work on behalf of the light.

About the Author
Larry Snider was President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace a non-profit based in suburban Philadelphia. Today he lives in New Jersey and is a Board Member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.