As someone whose whole life has been dedicated to peace, I marched against the war in Vietnam when I was 12 years old, I was asked this evening: Is there a way to avoid the ground operation and to stop the bombing? Is there a diplomatic way out? In short, my answer was that what Hamas did last Saturday inside of Israel, in our homes, in our communities, to our people, makes Hamas unfit to exist and unfit to govern and rule. They have gone beyond the parameters of humanity. Saturday, October 7, 2023 was not Israel’s 9-11, it was ten 9-11’s. The slogan of dismantling Hamas and removing them from power has been just that – a slogan – for the past 18 years. It is not a slogan any more – it is what is happening and what is going to happen. “Getting the job done”, as Israelis demand, means the reoccupation of Gaza. It must not be a long occupation and there must be a plan for how to get out of Gaza. But when Israel leaves Gaza, Hamas will no longer be there.
So, is there an alternative? This is an unasked question which I answered to a Hamas leader this evening. I talked about releasing the hostages. If they released hostages, even just the women, children, elderly, and sick, there could be a ceasefire for 24-48 hours to implement the release and to allow food, water, and medical supplies into Gaza from Egypt. The war would resume afterwards until Israel gets the job done. He responded “you want us to accept a short ceasefire so that Israel can continue the massacre in Gaza?” I said that Israel does not want to massacre the innocent people of Gaza, Israel does want to kill all of you – yes even you and all of your leaders and military people. He asked me not to speak that way. I told him that I want him to face reality.
Then I started thinking – is there perhaps another option? Probably not, but for the sake of creative thinking and challenging – this is what I wrote to him (all by Whatsapp and Signal):
If Hamas were to immediately declare that they are willing to turn Gaza over to a United Nations Trusteeship – the Trusteeship would be under a UN flag but would be run by responsible nations of the world and some of our Arab neighbors, and all of the Hamas leaders and armed people would agree to leave, without their weapons to another country, then perhaps there is an alternative. He boasted about the support they have in the Arab and Muslim world. So, I challenged him to ask their friends and supporters like Qatar and Iran and others if they are willing to accept the Hamas leaders and armed militia. I don’t expect an answer. I also don’t expect this scenario to move forward in any way. But if there was a way to avoid all of the killing (on both sides) of innocent people, this is what it could look like.
Maybe someone out there reading this with influence could persuade them to save their own lives the lives of all of the innocent victims that they have ruled over for too many years.