As a free-thinking member of a generation where political discourse is unprecedentedly polarized, where ideologies are derived from media marketability and groupthink, I’m terrified. There is something fundamentally disturbing about a world in which the belief that one shouldn’t slaughter civilians is controversial. Bearing all traditional markings of a dystopia, in recent years, our society has made remarkable technological advancements; ChatGPT and Google essentially allow anyone, anywhere, instantaneous access to a wealth of information at the meager tap of a finger. Unfortunately, this oversaturation of accessibility has rendered us unwilling or incapable of considering nuance.
Consequently, mainstream dialogue is dominated by those for whom critical thought is a mere abstraction; who have regressed and adopted cartoon Caveman speech. Israel: bad. Palestine: good. Some have even progressed beyond the Paleolithic and adopted choice buzz words: apartheid. Settler colonialism. Occupation. Yet, very few stop to consider the Jewish people’s equally indigenous ties to the land of Judea. Very few stop to consider the isolated nature of the calls to destroy the Jewish state, how such threats are unparalleled towards the similarly corrupt Russian, Chinese, and even American governments.
Massacring Floridians because of DeSantis’s policies and their displacement of the native Seminoles would be considered a war crime, but in Israel, it’s dismissed as deserved. Infiltrating kibbutzim, agricultural communities rooted in their simplicity, Hamas has claimed dozens of hostages; a rational approach, since these farmers and factory workers were, of course, those responsible for the 1947 United Nations partition plan. Hamas’s abduction and slaughter of the elderly? Justified by the well-known fact that all of Israel’s senior citizens are in cahoots with Bibi. They stole dozens of children from the arms of their mothers, babies so young they’ve yet to take their first steps or speak their first words. Of course, this too was anticipatory; on the off-chance that rather than “Ima” or “Aba”, these children’s first mumblings would be of Zionism. A young woman was raped, murdered, her stripped body paraded as a spoil of war. Such desecrations and violations are surely contributing to the Palestinian cause!
When these atrocities aren’t being dismissed as fabricated figments propagated by the Jewish-owned media, they are justified under the guise of retaliation. Under an announcement of the declaration of war posted by @muslim, one commenter declared Saturday’s massacre “a taste of their own medicine.” Finding humor in the rape, murder, and kidnapping of hundreds of innocents, another user adds “Babe, wake up, Palestine is getting liberated.” This user’s bio sports the Arabic phrase ‘Alhamdulillah’, meaning Praise God: depravedly ironic considering her promotion of senseless slaughter in contrast with the values of peace, love, and tolerance that her God promotes. Hamas’ self-perception as an Islamic militant group is oxymoronic; their evil as well as interrelated internet apathy is detrimental to the Palestinian cause.
I feel numb as my feeds are flooded with images of my friends’ loved ones, missing or dead, hundreds of families who will never again be whole. I think of my favorite cousin, who has yet to respond to my messages, stationed on Gaza’s front lines. If he is killed, self-righteous and ignorant internet imbeciles will proclaim that as a soldier, he fed into Israeli militant corruption, of course, completely oblivious to the country’s mandate of service. They will say he deserved it. They will never look past the uniform to see the boy with whom I shared fits of giggles over Vine compilations, who allowed me unlimited piggyback rides with each fit of fatigue I feigned, a boy who has barely lived.
It would be blatantly false to pretend that the Israeli government hasn’t also engaged in their fair share of misdeeds. Led by right-wing extremists, their coalition refuses to work towards compromise, and such nationalist attitudes have imposed several injustices on the Palestinian people, both legislative and military. On both sides of this struggle, I deeply feel for each little girl who will never again embrace her father, each mother who will never watch her child grow up. Yet, instead of continuing to perpetuate this vicious pattern of hurt and venom, we must break the cycle. If this ‘an eye for an eye’ mentality prevails, senseless killings and unbridled hatred will run rampant until the entire world is without sight.
I don’t expect Palestinians who have been victimized by the unchecked aggressions of IDF soldiers to support a two-state solution, nor Israelis who have watched their neighbors dragged from their homes by Hamas terrorists to particularly empathize with the Palestinian cause. Rather, I advocate for critical thought, for recognition that conflicts are multi-dimensional and that the murder of civilians is not a political issue, but a human rights one. If we are unable to approach these conversations with some semblance of open-mindedness, or at least the willingness to assess new information, then I fear we’ve already been blinded.