Wednesday Journal is taking heat from Israel’s supporters — a hot blast of strawman arguments that purportedly reflect the “complexity” of Palestine-Israel. That “complexity” is itself a strawman, concealing the one belief common to everyone’s tribe: what we do is justified and what the other does is not. Our violence is reluctant and necessitated by “context.” Theirs erupts solely from fanatical hatred of us; there is no context.

Well, here’s context. Gaza is effectively occupied (much like the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Palestinians are relentlessly expelled from homes and fields). Israel’s military strictly controls Gaza’s land exits and perimeter. Fishing in the adjacent Mediterranean Sea is severely restricted. Israel strangles Gaza’s imports, exports and air space and repeatedly disables its single power plant. Only a tiny fraction of Gaza’s fresh water is drinkable. Unemployment is almost 50%, poverty even higher among its 2.3 million residents. Advanced medical care is unavailable without an Israeli exit permit.

Anywhere else, when militias or gangs form in despairing communities, we acknowledge the context of hopelessness. But in Gaza, the world’s most densely populated urban place, context ends when Hamas heartlessly lashes out, and thousands of innocent Palestinian children can die in a backlash of vengeance and ethnic cleansing called “self-defense.” After that, what will the context be?

I do agree with some commenters’ suggestion that the WJ leave this conflict to other forums. WJ will satisfy no one, much less those who condemn interviewing “two (!)” organizations they call “pro-Palestinian”), even if the Journal plunges into the bottomless chasm of arguments/counter-arguments that blur a conflict about identity, land and resources. Although an admirable local newspaper, the Journal will never have enough journalistic real estate for Israel-Palestine.

As for the inevitable antisemitism smear coming my way, I’m a Jew, raised in Back of the Yards. There was jump-you-and-grab-your-stuff antisemitism. And single-you-out-in-school antisemitism. So I don’t tolerate antisemitism. But criticizing the Israeli state is not antisemitism. Nor is defending the right of the Palestinians, or anyone else, to the universal values of justice and opportunity.

David Gilbert
Oak Park

Citations for paragraph 3:

Re: Gaza unemployment –

Re: Gaza poverty rate (53%, para. 1) –

Re: travel/movement restrictions –

Re: fishing limits –

Re: advanced medical care for Gaza residents – &

Gaza potable water – &

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