If You Don’t Live in Israel, Don’t Pontificate

“You don’t get it.”

That’s what I want to tell the people in the US who have lectured me on how my new country is conducting its current war against Hamas. 

I remember being told the same thing during the Black Lives Matter protests that roiled the US in 2020. When I lamented on Facebook about the vandalism, looting, and torching of stores that followed the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers I was taken to task. Who was I, a privileged white man, to critique the people of color protesting? I didn’t get it.

An American who moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Tel Aviv in 2019 and holds dual citizenship, I have been informed by FB humanitarians that Israel’s response to Hamas’s October 7th invasion is unjustifiably extreme. Killing more than 8,000 civilians makes us no better than the terrorists who massacred 1,400 people in one day and took more than 200 people, from infants to senior citizens, hostage.

To which I say, “You don’t get it.”

Are the people who insist that Israel’s response to October 7 is overblown aware that the murder of 1,400 Israelis is the equivalent of 48,000 deaths in the United States?  

On September 11, 2001, 2,977 people died when al-Qaeda terrorists flew two jetliners into Manhattan’s World Trade Center.  Devastating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan followed, both controversial conflicts fought on foreign soil far away, rather than across the borders of nearby Mexico and Canada. 

When people criticize Israel for killing innocents, while remaining mum about the hostages in Hamas’s hands, are they telling me that only Gazan lives matter?

Beyond labeling Israel a colonial, apartheid-loving state, and demanding a cease-fire, what do these pontificators have to offer? What can they tell the parents of young girls raped and cut to pieces by the Hamas invaders? What about people whose elderly parents, or babies, are captives? Stop shooting and give Hamas what it wants?

A Wisconsin Public Television reporter, non-Jewish, zoomed with me last week about the current situation. She knew about the Nakba, which is what Palestinians call the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that led to the establishment of the State of Israel, but had no idea about Areas A, B, and C, which were established in the West Bank by the Oslo Accords of 1993 as the first stages of a two-state solution. No matter. The reporter’s questions were intelligent, and she listened. How she edits my remarks is out of my hands. I was pleased she had contacted me.

Last night, I received word that my public tv segment will air in three weeks. That’s like telling a Tutsi of Rwanda in July of 1994 that the interview he just gave while the Hutu militia massacred his children will air in September. Who knows what Israel and Gaza will look like in three weeks. Those Public TV people don’t get it.

Several Jewish friends back home have asked about Israel’s endgame. Here’s my reply.

I’ve been following the news incessantly since October 7, and I have heard next to nothing about what will come after the war. That’s because we Israelis are fighting for our very existence against an amoral terrorist group whose covenant declares: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

Hamas’s depravity has ignited a conflict that has exposed its people to the collective fury of Israelis from across the political spectrum. We see a threat akin to the Nazis’ Holocaust. As Israeli soldiers search Hamas’s tunnels for captives and caches of weapons, while neutralizing any fighters they confront, all I’m hearing is: We must win the war and free the hostages. The Gazan civilian toll is not a primary concern.

Personally speaking, I envision Israel helping Palestinians create a new state that includes Gaza and large contiguous parts of the West Bank under new leaders. These leaders would not be manically intent on ruling Palestine from sea to sea, and they would not siphon off funds from donors to buy luxury homes in Qatar. My proposed endgame seems like a Panglossian dream today.

I cry for the innocents of Gaza, and I hope that as many of them as possible can escape to Egypt before the Israel-Hamas War gets any uglier. Meanwhile, I can’t help but ask, what would the folks back in Madison, Wisconsin do if a Satanic cult massacred 48,000 Madisonians, took 8,500 others hostage, were dug deep in caverns under Milwaukee and threatened to kill and kidnap more people across the Badger State?

Those who choose to call Israelis genocidal monsters definitely don’t get it.

About the Author
Filmmaker, playwright, actor, and children's book author Marc Kornblatt is the producer/director of the award-winning documentaries DOSTOEVSKY BEHIND BARS, STILL 60, WHAT I DID IN FIFTH GRADE, and LIFE ON THE LEDGE, among others, and more than 20 web series, including MINUTE MAN, ROCK REGGA, THE NARROW BRIDGE PROJECT, and BLUE & RED, RESPECTFUL ENCOUNTERS OF THE POLITICAL KIND. His latest picture book, MR. KATZ AND ME, is forthcoming from Behrman House. He and his wife made Aliyah in 2019 and now live in Tel Aviv.
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