Let me state that I condemn as vociferously as anyone, even the most right-wing Zionist, the October 7th Hamas terrorist atrocities, their pogrom against the Jewish people. I know that some reading this will call me a self-hating Jew, an anti-Zionist, and a Hamas apologist. I want to discuss the controversial “not in a vacuum” speech.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, began by condemning “unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented acts of terror by Hamas.” He then called for an immediate release of the Israeli hostages before setting the October 7th atrocities in a longer history. He continued stating that Hamas terrorism “did not happen in a vacuum.” Well, it didn’t.
Even the current Israeli government in its preciously few sane statements about Palestinians acknowledges that. The Israeli government states, correctly, that Hamas, per its charter, is out to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. This hatred consumes Hamas. But whatever hatred is, it is not a vacuum. The hatred and the Hamas charter itself is a reaction to events in Gaza and the West Bank. This hatred is an insanely powerful force that propelled the murder of 1,200 people.
Guterres continued discussing the 56 years of occupation of the West Bank and the occupation, followed by the external control, of Gaza. His words were “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.” These words are controversial to many Israelis and their supporters but, objectively speaking as to the situation on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza, they are true. They can be documented by thousands of articles, videos, books, and TV interviews, as well as statements by some settlers who hate, persecute, and kill Palestinians.
The grief of a bereaved Israeli mother is no more and no less than that of a bereaved Palestinian mother. Their innocence and nearly all such mothers are innocent, merely augments their existential grief.
Until Israel recognizes that Palestinians have rights and until Palestinians recognize that Israel and Jews have rights, there will be no peace, only grinding conflict with occasional huge flare-ups. This mutual recognition will not come, so we are doomed to repeat history.