OPINION: Understanding and monitoring the Israeli / Hamas War is difficult for the average American citizen

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On Monday, October 16, 2023, a group of pro-peace advocates held a NO GROUND INVASION, NO OCCUPATION, FREE PALESTINE protest that began outside the International Museum of Muslim Culture’s Covenants & Coexistence exhibit at 101 E. Capitol Street in downtown Jackson and proceeded to the Mississippi State Capitol. Among the speakers was Okolo Rasheed, co-founder of the museum.

Last week we asserted that the war between the state of Israel and the Palestinian leaders of Gaza had its origin in the 1948 war wherein the Jewish people were granted and assisted in securing a homeland in an area that had been the homeland of the Palestinians. We asserted that the war then and now is reflective of historical European colonialism and neo-colonialism. We also asserted that generally the full background of the wars, which periodically surface, is not discussed because it is steeped in official racism at the highest level.

Despite these realities, it is important that American citizens, including African Americans, try to understand and monitor this war. It is important because whatever money is spent by the federal government on the war is really the citizens’ money. Whatever lives are lost are lives that could have possibly been saved depending upon the voices of the American people. Whatever turns that war takes and the future status of the two territories will depend to some extent on the voice and disposition of the people, whether they make them publicly known or simply remain silent and allow the government to act in their places.

By the time this article is printed we are sure that perhaps much about the confrontation will have changed. The physical war and/or the negotiations will make it so. At this point, however, it is important to consider several things in trying to understand and monitor the war however it twists and turns. 

First among them may be the fact that not all Jewish people support Zionism as a total concept, and even fewer support the current expansion of the state of Israel into additional Arabic territory as a part of the Zionist agenda. Some Zionist propaganda is steeped in Old Testament interpretation and some in the idea of political/physical protection. Some may support one manifestation, while some support the other. Still others approach the matter from a purely humanitarian standpoint, feeling that both the expansions and the treatment of the Palestinian people are unjust.

Second, one should realize that just last year many American political leaders were opposed to the election of Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud party, for the position of prime minister, because of the policy of growing Israeli expansion and the suppression of the Palestinian people. Additionally, just last month the Biden administration was very cool toward Netanyahu during their visit for the same reasons. This raises the question of why the strong verbal support is now exhibited.

Third, Israel has and perhaps will again militarily control not only the Gaza Strip, but the West Bank as well. Both Palestinian territories are virtually boxed-in, and with Israel’s help from Europe and the USA, are almost at the mercy of Israel. Israel even now is determining if and how Gazan citizens can leave the area before it launches an all-out attack on the area and the amount and type of humanitarian aid that is allowed into Gaza. 

Fourth, Israel has promised to destroy Lebanon if its leaders attempt to provide military help to Hamas. They realize the kinship between the people of Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. It is almost as if America had threatened to destroy one Native American nation if it had tried to help another which it was attacking. (Remember, we were all wounded at Wounded Knee.)

Fifth, one needs to remember that not everything that is stated by news reporters can be accepted without question. For an example, just as the Israelis, many Americans say that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. That may or may not be true. Did Trump represent the American people? Does Tate Reeves represent the people of Mississippi? There is always a question as to whether the people are being truly represented. Yet, it is strange thing to hear these same people say that Israel was surprised by the recent attacks launched by Hamas because they had no human intelligence on the ground in Gaza. If Hamas does not represent the people, perhaps many of them could have been recruited by Israeli intelligence to keep them informed of Hamas’ plans.

Finally, one should not be surprised that following the attack of Hamas, many Jewish people rallied to show their support of Israel. That is the nature of ethnocentrism. By the same token, it is unreasonable to not expect other Arabs, especially Palestinians, to rally to the side of the people of Gaza. Perhaps one day people will develop beyond this stage, but presently that is the way of the world. 

Having stated all that is written above, the writer is saddened by the loss of so many lives, both Jewish and Palestinian lives. The hatred that emerges from the conflict unfortunately has also spread to Europe, America, and other places around the world. Anti-Jewish and Anti-Arab sentiments have accelerated and are running rampant. This more than frustrates our desire to see a swift and permanent solution to this global problem. 

While human lives and human rights are uppermost on the mind of this writer, he realizes that this war will likely be with us for quite some time. Meanwhile, our aim is to simply tell the truth as we have come to know it and to do and say whatever we can to protect and advance the life, liberty, and rights of our fellow human beings wherever they are located.

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OPINION: Understanding and monitoring the Israeli / Hamas War is difficult for the average American citizen

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
October 23, 2023