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  • Writer's pictureFloyd Thompkins

Collateral Damage

The war waging in Israel and Gaza--instigated by the heinous of Hamas with an intense response by the Israeli army-- has created collateral damage through weaponized words and actions among the advocates of peace.  The use of Anti-Zionist rhetoric and the conflation of blame for current atrocities equally to all Palestinians has led to hurtful relations among former allies.


People who have a history of standing together for peace and fighting for justice are alternatively yelling at one another or abstaining from talking to one another. Worse, because many peace advocates have relatives and friends living in this small area in which war is being waged, often vitriol is being hurled at each other during a period of mourning or deep concern about the safety and welfare of loved ones. This has produced deep and personal hurt.


In Gaza and Israel, the human suffering is ubiquitous. The binary nature of war pushes people to pick sides. This process therefore creates enemies and friends. To be clear, there is a lot wrong here. There are people who are responsible for the atrocities and inexcusable actions. What is also clear is that, as has been the case for many years, a solution cannot and will not be achieved without the participation of peace advocates and warriors who are equally outraged by the actions of specific leaders and policies, not broad assertions that Ethnic identities determine moral culpability.  In fact, that is the very prejudice and reductionistic thinking that initiate and maintains this justification for violence and terrorism.


Peace initiatives are always hampered by prejudice. In fact, in Northern Ireland and South Africa, just to name two historical examples, leaders had to emerge that called for accountability without revenge, truth without and humiliation, and a call to courage to criticize the actions of people within their own cultural or ethnic communities. Blaming, shaming, and response without a moral compass only fuels the cycle of violence, offense, and anger.


Israel needs to be able to defend itself and have security for its people. Palestinian lives must be valued, and its people should not be human shields. None of these essential objectives can be accomplished without each side keeping focused on finding solutions, rather than name-calling and fault-finding.


We need great moral clarity to eschew the false narratives of racism. The present mess is not “the Jews fault” and Hamas is does not represent the interest of Palestinians. It is time to be adults and put away the childish and hurtful name calling and stop the simplistic blaming. We need to get about the adult business of making peace.




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