- Max Hyman
This week, tensions aren't just rising - they exploded.
War. That's the word being used to describe the events occurring in Israel right now. That's really what it is. No matter what word you use to describe this escalation, the situation is worsening by the hour. Thousands of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel - 1,800 at last count. Dozens killed throughout Israel and Palestine, with the death count spiking. Over 821 with sustained injuries. City blocks leveled. Children killed as rockets hit their homes at 3 am. Country-wide protests and riots becoming an international movement. Tear gas is filling houses. Attempted lynchings in the streets of New York City. How did we get here?
There is no answer. Hamas is pointing fingers at Israel, and Israel is pointing fingers at Hamas. And, honestly, it's irresponsible to do so. This week's violence is a result of a hundred years of indoctrination and hatred. Of course, similar to extreme escalations in the past, it all comes down to Jerusalem. Palestinians and Israeli police clashed in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, as well as at the Al Aqsa Mosque / Western Wall / Temple Mount site and other places in the Old City. Tensions rose as in advance of an Israeli Supreme court decision on whether to uphold the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes, an area both groups claim as their own. Hamas began firing rockets towards Israel on Monday evening after the militant groups issued an ultimatum to Israeli police forces to leave the Al Aqsa mosque area or face attacks.
They did. Many of the first rockets were aimed at Jerusalem, as well as other large cities and small villages. Israel responded with attacks, killing 83 people, including 17 children. The numbers are out of proportion - but that doesn't mean the violence is. The iron dome missile defense system provides Israel with a barrier that strikes down upwards of 95% of these threats.
The violence - the worst by all measures since at least 2014 - has sparked antisemitism from around the globe. Once again, much of the global community has failed to see the difference between the Israeli government and the Jewish people. As a Jewish person living thousands of miles from Israel, I can be blamed for actions of the Israeli government because of my religion. It's unfair. It's wrong. Countless social media posts about "Freeing Palestine", coming from people that know absolutely nothing about the situation, have begun to circulate. Jewish adults in the pro-Israel community have taken the dialogue pretty far, calling Palestinians "animals". Not just Hamas. The entire ethnicity of Palestinians. We're all entitled to our opinions, but creating disproportionate rumors, labels, or lies is not conductive to peace. That's why we have Teens for Peace and other organizations like it - to educate. Because once we educate, we can have real, meaningful discussions. Until then, the conflict in Israel and Palestine has seemingly become a sports game. There's rooting for one side, betting on one side, and invalidating the other side. But instead of goals, we're talking about human lives.
Who do we blame? The violent protestors? The violent terrorist organizations? The violent governments? Yes. We blame all of them. Because, by not being critical of everyone participating in a violent way, we're being conducive to violence, which beckons more violence and creates a spiral.