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Why We Need To Reach The Middle Ground On Israel And Palestine

Updated: Feb 1

Israel and Palestine

As a millenial who happens to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, I sometimes wonder if others like me exist. Since the horrifying and brutal events of October 7th and the violent war that has followed, it seems as most of those who are most vocal on social media - and all around us in the real world - are either exclusively for one side or exclusively in favour for the other - and the divisions between us are only growing.

Fundamentally, the problem that we have on both the left and the right is that attention spans have been dumbed down to the point where vast swathes of the population get all of their news from memes on social media. This makes them susceptible to the propaganda machines that seek to influence both the left and the right towards extremes that will destabilise our governments and give more leaders like Bibi Netanyahu the chance to to rise to the top. People see snippets of what is happening and read testimonies that are written by trolls and they fail to weigh for credibility or look for context.

Here, I will state my stance on the conflict since October 7th: I unequivocally condemn the brutal violence committed against the Israeli people on October 7th and I fundamentally condemn the military tactics that have been employed by Netanyahu's military since then. Under international law, Israel is permitted to carry out a response because they have a right to defend themselves. However, the military tactics that have been used have been heavy handed and war crimes have been committed, leading to an enormous civilian loss of life.

As a result of the outcry over images of the heavy handed response of the Netanyahu's military, there has been an enormous uptick in antisemitic attacks all over the world. We need to change the narrative so that this can end. People who are pro Palestine talk about the fact that the pro Israel camp label criticism of Israel as antisemitism but the fact of the matter is that, even though the criticisms are sometimes valid, the tone of the messaging can be wholly antisemitic.

What many people who get their news from memes on social media may not know is that Bibi Netanyahu, an alt right leader of a similar hue to Donald Trump, does not have a majority of support within Israel. He leads the country via a narrow coalition of 7 parties after winning only 23% of the vote. Referring to the actions of Bibi Netanyahu as what "Israel" is doing and making an entire race responsible for an extremist (who is supported by an ever-shrinking minority) is deeply wrong and extremely problematic.

The fact that the left wing are so willing to forgive the brutal violence against Jewish people on October 7, which included many incidents of sexual violence against women, is something that should be of grave concern to everyone. There is a double standard. Palestine's civilian population are, quite rightfully, not being held accountable for the atrocities of Oct 7 in the court of public opinion. On the other hand, the full weight of guilt for the atrocities of war that have been carried out by Netanyahu military is placed upon the Israeli people and, it seems, on Jewish people all around the world. This can be quite accurately described as antisemitism.

I am wholly left wing on all major issues but I find myself increasingly disapproving of the tone and the messaging of many of those who are most vocal amongst the left. Yes, many of your arguments are valid and there are serious issues that need to be talked about and addressed. But the very messaging of your arguments is causing the kind of racism that you claim to stand against. We need to change the narrative here so that we do not contribute to the problem.

War crimes have been committed by armies of practically every nation that has ever existed throughout history. Emotions run high in such circumstances and soldiers get trigger happy and commit atrocities against civilian populations. This is nothing new. It very notably happened after 9/11 when emotions were running high in the American military and it's happening now in Gaza. The difference is that we're living in the smartphone era, so every incident is being recorded and publicised for the world to see. Yes, it is wrong. It has always been wrong. Should it happen? Absolutely not. Is it a crime that is unique to the Israeli military? No, but they are Jewish and so we view it differently.

What many people who get their news from Instagram memes will not know is that the entire conflict in the Middle East has been orchestrated by Iran as part of the proxy war that they are raging against the West. They provide weapons and intel to extremist groups in an attempt to weaken Western powers. They are behind Hamas, they are behind the Houthis and they're behind Hezbollah. Like Russia, they have a highly effective propaganda machine on social media, only that they are targeting the left. Granted, the Israeli military has given them a lot to work with but, trust me, learn anything about the Iranian regime and you will not be viewing them as the good guys.

People need to stop endlessly scrolling on Instagram and TikTok and start getting their news from well regarded media outlets. We need to start weighing the credibility of sources and we need to move away from blaming an entire people for the actions of an extremist regime who have a minority of support. This is something that both sides are doing.

We also fundamentally need to return to the idea of a two-state solution so that we no longer have to hear the antisemitic rallying cry"From the river to the sea!" being called out in our streets. This chant might seem relatively harmless but it's essentially calling for an end to the state of Israel which - should it ever come to fruition - would, in the best case scenario, result in the displacement of 7.1 million Jewish people, or in the worst-case scenario could plausibly lead to a second Holocaust.

We need to accept and repeatedly acknowledge the fact that most Israelis do not approve of the policies of Bibi Netanyahu and he does not represent the Jewish people. A poll on November 14th showed his popularity among Israeli Jews was at a mere 4% and only 15% want him to be Prime Minister once the war is over. Many Israelis do not approve of the settler colonies that have been labelled an apartheid state in the West Bank. The next Israeli government needs to wind back these policies and return all of the West Bank to Palestine if there is ever going to be peace.

We as allies of the Israeli people need to do a better job of acknowledging the evidence of war crimes and being vocal in our criticism of Netanyahu in order to add credibility to our support of the Jewish people. The narrative of those who are speaking out on both sides is far too one-sided.

Netanyahu needs to accept that at this point, there needs to be a ceasefire and the Israeli military needs to withdraw from Gaza. The security in that part of the region is going to have to be handed over to another Middle Eastern power, such as the Saudis or Egypt. At this point, Israel's PR is at an all time low point and this is putting Western democracy in jeopardy. This is not helped by that fact that Israel has the worst PR teams in the world, who have been caught out when needlessly embellishing the truth. Lying is something that the PR machines of both sides have been guilty of but is something that only one side has been doing badly.

The downplaying of the violence of October 7th was made easier by discrepancies in accounts of individuals who described the attacks and, amongst certain segments of the left, there appears to be the ludicrous suggestion that the hostages were somehow gently taken from their homes and - in fact - most of the deaths were caused by the Israeli troops responding to the attacks. Women who were raped on Oct 7th - and there were many of them - have had aspersions cast on their testimonies by the exact same people who spoke out during the #metoo movement, saying that women should be believed.

For peace to be achieved in the region, Israel needs to elect a new leader whose actions will not serve to make Jewish people less safe. The deal that was reportedly proposed by Hamas on January 22nd to release all remaining hostages in exchange for a permanent ceasefire and a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza needs to be accepted and another nation needs to step in to manage the reconstruction and security. The way to defeat Hamas is not through violence - at this point, Hamas is a concept that is fuelled by the violence of their enemy. The only way you can defeat the concept that lingers through the generations is through debate, negotiation, conversation and reconciliation.



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