Hadar Susskind

Six Unbearable Months

Six months. Six months since the horrific attacks of October 7th. Six months since the brutal killing of over 1,200 Israelis. Men, women and children. Soldiers on their bases and civilians in their homes. Six months since what was a fragile and fragmented impersonation of peace was shattered. Six months that one hundred and thirty three precious souls remain hostage to Hamas in Gaza.

And two nations, Israel and Palestine, two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, remain hostage to the failed “leadership” of Hamas, and of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government.

The fundamental role of government is to protect its citizens. Netanyahu and his government of fascists, fundamentalists and felons failed to do so on October 7th, and they have continued that failure in the six months since then. And Hamas has failed even more spectacularly. Their attacks drew what can only be described as an expected military response from Israel. And the embedded nature of their military operations among civilians in Gaza has led to more than 30,000 deaths.

That does not, neither in law nor in my view, justify the nature of the Israeli military operations in Gaza, but it does make it absolutely clear that Hamas does not care about the loss of life among Palestinians.

Sadly, the actions of the government of Israel make it clear that they too are more interested in prioritizing their own political survival (Netanyahu), the settlements (Smotrich), the destruction of Israel’s judiciary (Levin) and the takeover of the security apparatus (Ben-Gvir) than they are in fulfilling the mitzvah of the redemption of captives, in defining an executing an achievable and meaningful military campaign against Hamas, or in taking any steps toward actually ending the conflict and moving toward peace.

The people of Israel are speaking clearly. They want the return of the hostages to be the priority of the government (it’s not) and they want elections now. Of course, Netanyahu and his bloated cabinet know that the minute elections take place they will be out. No more cars and drivers, no more messianic ministers funding research into red cows and no more of the settlement movement occupying Israel.

And the situation has become so painful, so obviously dysfunctional, that American leaders, including longtime stalwart supporters of Israel like President Biden and Senator Schumer, have been pushed to the point of speaking out publicly in opposition to the actions of the Netanyahu government and, in Schumer’s case, joining the call for new elections.

Every time Americans speak out, whether it’s Jewish community leaders or elected officials, you hear the familiar response of “Israel is a sovereign nation and can make its own decisions”. That’s absolutely true, but I remind you, so is the United States of America. And the decisions that the Netanyahu government have made have pushed centrist, mainstream American political leaders into speaking out publicly against what the Israeli government is doing. President Biden has demanded that Israel prioritize the safely of civilians in Gaza and allow more aid to enter. Senator Schumer has been clear that he considers Netanyahu a danger to Israel, and Nancy Pelosi (among others) has signed on calling for a halt to sending offensive military weapons (so not Iron Dome) to Israel.

Until recently, this would have been unthinkable. So when Ben-Gvir whines about Israel being able to make its own decisions, everyone else should remember that the US government too will make its own decisions. And those decisions now include sanctioning violent settlers and settler institutions. They now include (rightly) reverting to accurately labeling goods and products made in the Occupied Territories, rather than pretending that the settlements are Israel. And those decisions now include considering halting military aid.

As an Israeli-American and an IDF veteran, I have always supported aid to Israel. But that aid needs to be aligned with American policy and American values. Sadly, that is now not the case.

About the Author
Hadar Susskind is the President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. Prior to APN, Hadar served in senior leadership roles at Bend the Arc Jewish Action, J Street, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs as well as the Council on Foundations and the Tides Foundation.
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