It used to be called the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ —
which in reality it still is;
then it was called the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’;
now it is the ‘Israel-Hamas conflict’.

See what happened there?
See how those name changes
alter the perception of relative size and power?
And shift the balance of responsibility?

All these ideological name-changes
don’t alter the existential reality
that Israel has been under attack by its neighbours
and those neighbours’ armed proxies,
since it was created.
And Jews have been massacred in the region long before that.

In that context, the real comparison is of Israelis killed
with those killed throughout the rest of the region
in this regional geopolitical conflict.

That changes the numbers considerably
and reveals that Israelis have been murdered
far out of proportion to those in the rest of the region
who are its stated enemies, and who have waged constant war
directly or by proxy.

We can weep for the plight of the Palestinian people;
but narrowing focus to obliterate reality and pretend
that Israel has the power to unilaterally change things,
is to live in fantasy.

And comparing, in the same sentence,
the acts of Hamas last week with the actions of Israel,
some of which have definitely been deplorable
but nothing ever even approaching this scale or horror,
is to betray serious moral deficiency.

Just stop victim-blaming,
and instead present the reality
of this long-standing geopolitical conflict,
where Israel is very far from the only player
and even farther from any ability
to resolve the horror unilaterally.

About the Author
Kitty Hoffman's award-winning writing has appeared in literary anthologies and journals including The New Quarterly, Boulevard, The Commons, and Prism. A spiritual director in Montreal, she is in the final year of rabbinical studies and working on a book of literary nonfiction about her medieval ancestor, the father of European kabbalah, and the weight of her Holocaust legacy. More info at
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