Unfathomable. Incomprehensible. I don’t know what the right words are. I’ve been thinking about writing of the Hamas attack, to be more precise, the Hamas terrorism, for more than a week. I’ve struggled to get my head around it. Those of you who have read my blog for the nearly seven years I’ve been writing know my style. It’s short, concise, direct, to the point, much like an assassin with a stiletto. Others write, well, I can only only call it that they use the “death by a thousand cuts” style. Yet I have to digress from my normal style. Today, well, today is October 17, 2023, my 63rd birthday. It will likely be several days before I publish. Rewrites, more thoughts, and an attempt to explain and clarify will happen over the next hours and days. Now? It’s time to start.
Here is the first thing of two I can say for sure that I know. More people, more Jews to be precise, died on Saturday, October 7 than on any single day since the end of World War 2, since the end of the holocaust. Pause, take a moment, think about what that means. More Jews were killed on that day than in other other since the end of the Nazi regime who systematically and methodically attempted to extinguish the Jewish people. And yes, later I’ll tie what Hamas is doing to exactly this: and attempt to kill everyone who identifies as Jewish.
I want to offer an aside: I am a cis-gendered heterosexual white male of Christian origin who traces back through my paternal grand-mother to the Mayflower. I also identify as “step-Jewish”. My step-mother is Jewish. My dad converted. I have a sister who is Jewish. This rambling approach is also going to come back to what it means to be Jewish. To be more precise, what, in the eyes of some say that my family, people I care about, those that Hamas has targeted, are not really Jews. We’ll get to that. Please bear with me.
I know that a lot more people have died since that first day. Today, October 17, there are reports that a hospital was, well, I can’t say. Attacked? Maybe. Other reports say a missile from Islamic Jihad misfired and landed there. All I know is a lot of people died. And as I come back to this two days after starting this paragraph we’ve learned that most of what Hamas reported was a lie. Credible evidence shows that what landed NEAR a hospital in a parking lot was a missile fired by Islamic Jihad that seems to have misfired. It landed in a parking lot that holds about fifty cars, yet Hamas reported over 500 deaths. They posted videos and pictures of said “deaths” that were from other places and times.
I’ve read in many places that the first casualty in war is the truth. I don’t know who said it first. If you do? Reply in the comments. Frankly it doesn’t matter. Here is the second thing I know for sure: there are a lot of dead, both Jews and Palestinians. Most were innocent people. The dead of Hamas are not. In all of this one fact remains true: every one of the dead is because Hamas chose to attack and kill innocent people. Hamas started this. Every drop of blood spilled, regardless by who, is on the hands of Hamas and their leadership that chose this war. Every death. Every injury. Every family who mourns their dead. Hamas owns that. All of it. The population of Gaza is 2.2 million. Of these more than half are children. Hamas owns and is responsible for the fear, the shear terror that these children are enduring. The own the death of every Palestinian child, the maiming of said children, Hamas owns it all. Hamas owns the lack of water, food, and fuel in Gaza. They are responsible for far more people, people they claim to represent, being hurt and injured than the damage being inflicted on Israel.
And every thought leads me to the same question: why did Hamas do this? Did they think they could defeat the IDF in a direct battle? Were they hoping that Hezbollah and others would join them, and combined, defeat Israel? Were they what misguided to believe it possible that Iran would join the fight and support them? Let’s break this down a bit. In 1967, in what is now known as the Six-Day War, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. By the end of the war Israel had seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt. Israel was again attacked by Syria and Egypt in 1973 in the Yom Kippur War. And again Israel won. What did Egypt, Jordan, and Syria have that Hamas does not? An air force, fighter planes and bombers. Tanks and other heavy military equipment. How can Hamas reasonably believe they could defeat Israel when three nations with combined greater military strength twice failed? Did they hope Iran would get involved? I can’t see that even Iran getting involved would make the Hamas effort successful. For Iran to attack, invade Israel, they’d have to move over more than 1000 miles in distance, crossing first Iraq then Syria. Logistically an attack of this distance would be nearly impossible to sustain for even a very short period. So what is Hamas really hoping to achieve?
I want to take a moment to go back to my earlier comments about Israel and what it means to be Jewish. Prior to the Hamas attack the internal divisions in Israel were running deep. The fight over Netanyahu’s proposed judicial “reforms” were tearing at the very fabric of the existence of Israel. They reminded me of a conversation I had over twenty years ago with a coworker who had recently lived more than two years in Israel. Our discussion was that if the people of Israel, the Jews there, didn’t have a common enemy then they would likely turn on each other and eventually end the state of Israel. We agreed that this was a distinct and likely possibility. We discussed a conversation I had had with a follower of Meir Kahane. She made clear that anyone who was not a follower of strict Orthodox Judaism was not, in this belief system, a Jew. We see this in Israel today with so many Jews being denied access to places like the Wailing Wall. Add to this that many, if not most Orthodox Jews are exempt from mandatory military service. I believe that this is under the premise that their studies of the Torah and Talmud are more important than national defense (again, if you know more, please add it to the comments). I have a twenty-five year old daughter. Were we Israeli and living in Israel she would have already served a mandatory two years in the IDF. And it’s likely that she would have been activated from reserve to active status as a result of the Hamas attack. I’d be furious not only about the attack, but also that my daughter was putting her life on the line to defend people who won’t fight and would consider her Jewish. At the same time I’d be damn proud that she was stepping up to fight for and ensure our survival. So what did Hamas achieve on the morning of October 7? They killed a lot of people and reunited a people, a country that was in the process of tearing itself a part.
I’d like to take a moment to recount an interview of an Israeli man that I saw on CNN a few days ago. He was in tears recounting the moment when he was told of the death of his eight year-old daughter. Up to that point he just knew that she was missing. When told she was dead he said he punched the air and shouted “YES!”. I cried when I watched it and am again as I type this. What kind of horror is going on when a man cheers the death of his daughter because it at least freed him from the fears of the things she could have been living through that are worse than being dead?
So why is this war being fought? Why did Hamas commit this ongoing act of terrorism? I’ll add two things before closing out my thoughts. Both of these are from CNN. They are not direct quotes and I can’t attribute them. First, a Hamas terrorist on day one was heard saying that they now have enough hostages that Israel will have to empty all the jails. Based on what is being reported it’s unlikely that there will be any such exchange. Israel has, at least indirectly, confirmed that many of these hostages may die in the fight to end Hamas and its reign of terror. Second, a senior Hamas official misquoted the Qu’ran (more accurately? MSU – made shit up) . He said the Qu’ran says to drive the Jews from Israel then hunt them down and kill them all. (It does NOT say anything remotely like this. Israel didn’t even exist in 610 CE when the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mohammad). And that is the only answer I can find. Hamas is trying to kill as many Jews as possible. I can find no other reason, no other explanation. Hamas is trying to kill as many Jews as possible. This won’t be a return to the Holocaust, a Holocaust 2. The IDF is too strong to let that happen. Regardless, all of us need to speak, to shout out NO. Not on my watch. Not in my world.