How did we get here? How did it happen that in Israel, we comprehend the consequences of the October 7thpogrom perpetrated by Hamas and citizens of Gaza? How come that, because of this deep understanding of what happened, the unsaid prevails?
The unsaid prevails because what is known does not need to be said, either because of decency (I), or because it is so obvious that it does not need to be said (II), or because of muteness caused by sheer breathtaking shock (III).
I. Unsaid because of decency.
We survive as if we were robots. After having taken care of the most urgent matters, we gradually come back to fulfilling our duties although on autopilot. We are paralysed with dread because of the October 7th pogrom perpetrated by Hamas and Gaza civilians, and because of what could happen again, if we do not get enough strength and/or if our enemies are not sufficiently weakened. After all, Hamas has promised that this pogrom will be repeated many times.
We are struggling with differentiating between the laughter of young children surrounding us, and to which we listen with forced but welcomed happiness, and the children’s laughter from videos predating October 7th, before they were kidnapped by murderers and now await their fate.
We survive, but we are having a hard time not to picture scenes of horror in our houses, our yards, our stairs, our shelters. We are having a hard time to say good- bye, to kiss our kids when they are off to the army, to school, to work.
II. Unsaid because obvious.
It is obvious that the current government will be brought down, before or after a commission of enquiry like few democracies know how to implement them. It is obvious that Netanyahu is at the end of his career but in the meantime, his task is to lead this war within national union.
It is obvious that the blunders committed by the army, the government and the intelligence, have been deadly. They did not do what any organization who wants to last, needs to do: challenge, listen to conflicting opinions, exit its comfort zone.
It is obvious that antisemitism, the hatred of Jews, fuelled the October 7th massacre. This massacre did not include any political message to “bring back the Palestinian problem into focus”, as is sometimes said outside of Israel. History shows that all Jew killers have always issued forewarnings. So, carrying out their threats is only a matter of time and of means. Hamas, and Gaza civilians who were trained by the former, have committed barbaric atrocities. Teaching Jew hatred is very common in the Arab and Muslim world. If Jordanian bookshops sell “Mein Kampf on top shelves (Jordan who is at peace with Israel), it is because Hitler inspires some. If the perpetrators of the October 7thpogrom bragged to have killed “Jews” and not Israelis, it is because to their eyes, they were Jews before they were Israelis.
On the morning of October 7th, 2023, Hamas, called all Muslims to assault any Jew or Jewish institution in the world, to escort their savagery. This call was not designed to support the idea of the “two state solution”. It was energized by pure Jew hatred. One might ask, why do they hate Jews? We don’t know. And now we don’t care. We must deal with the fact that this Jew hatred is part of the world order, like an insidious disease. You don’t try to reason with a disease. You fight it, search for a cure and later on maybe even a vaccine. Today, the Jew hatred in the Muslim world must still be fought. Nobody found a cure yet, and even less a vaccine. But it will be found one day. Christianism found it, there is no reason that Islam will not. Tragically however, we will probably have to wait for many generations.
III. Unsaid because there are no words.
We are in shock by the immensity of hatred expressed by the ones who don’t defend Israel. This Jew hatred emboldened the perpetrators of the October 7th pogrom, but also the ones who publicly cheered it: from Gaza to Ramallah, Berlin to Los Angeles, London to Melbourne and within western cultural and educational institutions. This Jew hatred inspires demonstrators throughout the world and incites the violence Jewish people in the diaspora are facing. From the moment of the October 7th pogrom, before Israel moved an inch towards retaliation, Jew haters from safe distances in the West were justifying and celebrating it and deferring tropes and blood libels used against Jews for generations.
This Jew hatred has eventually proven what we had been suspecting but refused to believe until now: these crowds are moved more by their hate for Jews than their love for their Muslim kin. When the crowds of the world scream “Israel is genocidal!” when Israel is defending itself – unfortunately killing innocent civilians used as human shields by Hamas – these same crowds don’t voice their opposition against the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Syria, in Yemen, in China.
If the mantra shouted by these crowds is “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, it proves that their goal is nothing else than erasing Israel and throwing the Jews in this very sea.
The reality of Jew hatred has forced something to become painfully clear: that any peace negotiation, any “two state solution”, will not be relevant anymore. Since 1920, at least, many political or diplomatic solutions have been offered and have been refused by the Arab leaders. These offers, whether they followed wars or were unilateral (like Gaza’s evacuation from Israel authority in 2005, which could have been the beginning of a peaceful Palestinian State), they have all failed for only one reason: because the Arab struggle against Israel has always been fuelled by unrelenting Jew hatred.
What is also unsaid but very much present in Israel, is a fear that in the hopes we did miraculously discover, trustworthy Palestinian partners, devoid of this atavistic Jew hatred, capable of building an autonomous Palestinian majority, the crowds in the world, whether Muslim or not, would cling to the mantra “from the river to the sea”. And Israel weakened by concessions required for such an agreement, taking thereby existential risks, would find itself at odds with these loud, western world crowds, willing to continue the fight.
No, this silence does not hide optimism. It is loaded with some realistic pessimism, the one which favors action over speech, which lead German Jews in the 1930’s to emigrate, whereas the optimistic ones, the ones who stayed in Germany “hoping for improvement”, ended up in Auschwitz.