Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

You’ve Helped Bibi Enough. Now Help Us

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“There’s no other country that’s done more or will continue to do more than the United States to help… Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby on Thursday.

America, I beg of you: Please stop helping Netanyahu. At this point, you are helping our country prolong a war that we cannot win on our own terms. You are helping a dangerous megalomaniac and a government run by right-wing messianic fools remain in power. I’m talking about people who are willing to drag the country down to the depths formerly occupied by North Korea, just to keep hold of their tiny spheres of authority.

You are helping a different dangerous megalomaniac and his minion of extremist Messianic suicide soldiers keep control over a country that’s physically destroyed, and a population living in tents, begging for bags of rice and bottles of cooking oil. Starvation and death only feed their power.

You have done enough for us and more. But many of us are asking, one more time, for your help. Together with Qatar, you can cut off support for both sides of the conflict. Take away our weapons until we agree to negotiate the end of the war. Freeze Hamas funds until they agree to a negotiated settlement in which all hostages and prisoners of war are freed, in which they do not hold the balance of power in a rebuilt Gaza, and that is based on 0 aggression toward Israel.

Your ready-made cease-fire plan is getting cold, even as the war is starting to chill in Gaza, but heat to boiling in the North. Many of us lost patience months ago, and we are asking you to toss aside your patience, as well. The latest accusations (that America held up arms shipments to Israel) are simply a ploy to ensure the weapons will keep coming. But if you think Bibi will come around to accepting a hostage exchange that includes agreeing to ending the war, you’re wrong. We’ll drag the war out in Gaza with mop-up operations, leaving the population living as refugees in their own country, while we open a new front in Lebanon.

In the meantime, our reserve duty soldiers are getting their third call-up in a year, even as a new law on the Knesset table would let 15-20% of the army-aged people in the country get an automatic pass from the draft. We might be getting our regular arms shipments, but it’s an open secret that we are overtaxing the units who operate those arms.

Our protests are increasingly loud, increasingly reveal our lack of patience. “Bring the Hostages Home NOW,” means agree to a permanent cease-fire that will ensure every hostage is released. “Elections NOW,” means that the nation-wide disruption caused by elections is preferable to the present, incapacitated government. It means we have had enough of a government that is willing to extend a war for its own profit. We oppose a government that creates new jobs for rabbis when reserve soldiers’ families are hurting and others have been forced to move back home, within rocket range, when their money ran out. We need to get rid of this government, which does not care, one whit, olive pit or blade of grass, for the needs of its citizens, and is willing to trample our rights to powder in their desperate attempt to hold on to power.

We have fought this war with Gaza as far as we can fight it. We forgot that getting rid of Hamas will take the cooperation of Gaza’s citizens. Up to this point, we have given them no reason to trust us or cooperate with us, and we have failed to replace even the day-to-day functioning of their lives – food distribution, for example – with any alternative organization. The rumors that Israel intends to reoccupy Gaza and reestablish settlements there: There is, unfortunately, a sliver of truth to these. Our government has done nothing to counter them. In this binary world, the citizens of Gaza are caught between a harsh, reactionary, religious army that values their suffering, and a grim, determined invading one that does not take their suffering into account.

In our own fractured state, we cry out in anguish, but can barely make ourselves heard over the sounds of our government coalition members listening to the din of their own voices. The families of hostages come to them week after week, only to meet with stonewalling and insults. They are caught between a harsh, reactionary army that holds their dear ones hostage and a government that has deluded itself into thinking it can “win” the war and miraculously free all the hostages at the same time.

You and Qatar can force us and them to accept an alternative.

We beg of you, President Biden: Stop helping Netanyahu. Help the rest of us instead.

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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