My Turn: Blame Hamas, not Jews, for Gaza war

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on May 30, 2024.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on May 30, 2024. AP PHOTO/ABDEL KAREEM HANA

By RHONDA WAINSHILBAUM

Published: 06-10-2024 6:23 PM

 

When I was a kid, Jews were called “Christ-killers.” The notion that all Jews collectively bared the responsibility for the death of God’s son stained us with lasting, incomparable guilt, and was as an excuse for centuries to oppress and murder Jews.

I was in Israel during the war with Hamas in 2014. It was infuriating watching the Israeli news compared to the world news. The Israeli news showed evidence of massive tunnels loaded with weapons, U.N. schools and hospitals in Gaza being used as military bases and for rocket launching, and outlined the precautions used to protect Gazan civilians.

Instead of bombings, troops went house-to-house to fight, at great expense to Israeli lives, in order to protect Gazans.

World news networks didn’t explain the difficulty of fighting in Gaza and the ways the Israel Defense Forces minimized civilian casualties. Instead, they showed the ravaged faces of hurt children and damaged buildings in Gaza, juxtaposed against scenes of Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters in shopping malls, creating a sense of imbalance to manipulate a moral outrage.

In every war with Hamas, news media becomes the Hamas mouthpiece, using Hamas’ images and skewed figures in their propaganda war on Israel, covering action only when Israel retaliates from rocket barrages.

This makes Israel look like the aggressor when, in fact, they are — in every case — responding to escalating violence from Hamas.

Recently, The Jerusalem Post analyzed the coverage of the current Israel-Hamas war in The New York Times. Out of 1,000-plus articles since Oct. 7, 46.2% expressed empathy only toward Palestinians and 10.5% of the articles expressed empathy only toward Israelis. Out of 50 headlines about hostages, only 28 expressed criticism of Hamas.

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Out of 647 articles expressing empathy toward Palestinians, only two were written in a critical tone toward Hamas. Thirty-three expressed criticism towards both Israel and Hamas, and 479 expressed criticism exclusively toward Israel.

There is no doubt that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering, but why is the suffering of Israelis erased, and why does the elected government of Gaza bear no responsibility for the horrors?

Since 2005, when Israel disengaged from Gaza, Hamas has been sending rockets indiscriminately into Israel. They choose death and destruction, use their own citizens as collateral, and their military tactics ensure that as many die as possible. In May, Hamas attacked the Kerem Shalom border crossing (an entry point for humanitarian aid), four times to stop the flow of food to Gazans! Their cunning strategy is to then blame and demonize Israel, turning it into a pariah state.

Antisemitism is a shape-shifter that has changed forms throughout time and place. In medieval Europe, Jews were linked to the devil, and accused of murdering Christian children to use their blood in ceremonies. In Nazi propaganda, Jews were described as an inferior race, comparable to rats and cockroaches.

In the Soviet Union, Jews were thought to be connected with bourgeois Western influences and were purged through false accusations, arrests, and executions. Islamic antisemitism is abundantly clear in the words and actions of terrorist groups. Gazan children are taught in U.N.-controlled schools to martyr themselves by killing Jews. Indeed, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, (revered as one of the fathers of radical Islam), met with Hitler in 1941, requesting German assistance with the extermination of Jews and any Jewish homeland.

In some cases, the word “Jew” is conveniently replaced with “Zionist,” which is now a slur. It is no coincidence that although other conflicts in recent history have resulted in civilian death counts much higher than this Israel-Hamas war, none of them have garnered nearly the degree of attention and focus on civilian casualties.

No other war has been under an international microscope. No other country has been hated and questioned for defending itself. In fact, Israel’s legitimacy has been questioned since it was founded.

In spite of the fact that the Palestinian population has more than tripled since 1948, we have been hearing for years that Israel commits genocide. Now, it is the world’s mantra.

As Israel fights on five fronts for its survival, the Jewish people are again being scapegoated and dehumanized. Today we are not shamed for killing God, but for perpetrating a supposed genocide.

Rhonda Wainshilbaum lives in Leyden.