Not in My Name, Netanyahu


As I write these words, my hands tremble from the unspeakable images and stories I’ve witnessed in Gaza. They tremble with worry that those young Israeli soldiers losing their lives, casualties in a war they did not create, will be among those families I know, and that their numbers will grow.
My hands also tremble because, during all this, Israel’s leader – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – has repeatedly claimed to represent me, and all Jews, as Israel continues its brutal assault on Gaza, an assault which, as history shows, will neither achieve its strategic goals nor reap anything but heartache.
No, he does not speak for me.
When Netanyahu said on CNN that Palestinians benefit from “telegenically dead” civilians killed by Israel, that images of carnage helped Hamas because journalists would then ask about Israel’s actions, he did not speak for me.


When he said that Palestinians “don’t give any thought” about their children or their welfare, and that Palestinians use their children as though they are inanimate objects, he did not speak for me.

"Palestinian women react during the funeral of four boys, all from the Bakr family, killed during Israeli shelling, in Gaza City." Image via Time.

When Netanyahu blames Palestinians for their own deaths, dismissing them as “human shields” – including the over 100 children who have been lost – rather than note Israel’s choice to obliterate homes in dense, urban areas when it’s known innocents will die, he does not speak for me.

When Netanyahu dehumanizes Palestinians by saying their society celebrates death, whereas my people, Jewish Israelis, only celebrate life – while sending soldiers to war after calling for vengeance – he does not speak for me.
When a top minister in Netanyahu’s cabinet says Palestinians are committing “self-genocide,” admitting something atrocious is indeed occurring in Gaza, but blaming the victims for their plight, his government does not speak for me.
When the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, in Netanyahu’s ruling party, says without reproach that Israel should expel all Palestinians in Gaza and populate it with Jews, his government does not speak for me.
When far-right extremists, incited in part by their leaders’ hateful rhetoric, chant “Death to Arabs” and violently attack anti-war protesters – as is now happening on a daily basis – they do not represent me.


More than anything, though, Netanyahu does not speak for me because, unlike him, I oppose this war.
I oppose it for many of the same reasons cited by Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli journalist whose latest piece, which Jeffery Goldberg has called the “best-argued Israeli-written anti-war argument,” makes a compelling case for why the Gaza war is not just tragic, but a tragic mistake.
First, the disproportionate amount of force being used in dense, urban areas is resulting in shocking numbers of civilian casualties. To date, 470 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,000 injured, a staggering 80 percent of which are civilians, as estimated by the U.N.
Second, history has shown that this war will not achieve Israel’s stated, strategic goals of achieving quiet on the border and a deescalation. The opposite has happened, in fact, the last two times Israel has done this to Gaza (in 2009 and 2012). And during all this time, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza that has collectively punished and virtually imprisoned nearly two-million people. Continuously bombing and impoverishing a people does not lead to quiet. It never has. This war is not only brutal and tragic, it’s also pointless and even counterproductive.
Third, this war has greatly harmed the already-comatose two-state solution. Not only because it is undermining the Hamas-PA agreement which sidelined Hamas from government in the lead up to elections. It’s harming the prospects for peace because of the ongoing national trauma Israel is inflicting upon Palestinians which will reverberate for years. On that, Scheindlin writes:

In the long term, I shudder to think about the souls of people who lost two, three, or 18 family members to Israeli bombs. The sobbing father who begged his child to wake up because he had brought new toys; the woman who told her sister in England to stay away and live, so that at least one of the family members would survive. I see what national trauma has done to the Jewish people more than 60 years following their darkest moments. The manifestations of Palestinian suffering in future generations will be terrible.

Israel is not making itself safe by its actions. Instead, it is tilling the ground for further violence, for further upheaval, and for further threats to its security, as history has shown.
Like Scheindlin, I was asked by a friend, who happened to have his children over for a playdate yesterday, the following question, “What do you want Israel to do today, right now, when Hamas is firing rockets?”
My answer is her answer, an admittedly unpopular one:

There is no such thing as today devoid of yesterday and tomorrow; it is a fiction. The measures of the last ten days grow directly out of the measures in recent years. They will have devastating consequences in years to come. My criticism of this war is not “I told you so,” because some of us have warned for years that the status quo is illusory. Opposition to this war means finding a different response to predictable situations, so that there won’t be a next time.

I’m not going to offer a full array of what those different responses should be – that’s not my job nor within the scope of this piece. (Though embracing the unity deal and backing off unilateral agreements would be a good start.) I will say that Netanyahu’s response, the ground, air and sea invasion of an impoverished, urban enclave for the third time in five yeas, is a response I oppose.
Netanyahu does not represent the Jewish people.
And he certainly doesn’t represent me.


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.

17 thoughts on “Not in My Name, Netanyahu

  1. .
    Let me also say this, since the original post was directed toward Israeli policy and Netanyahu: I view Hamas as culpable as well for the firing of crude rockets into Israel (itself abhorrent), and for putting civilians in danger by provoking military responses Israel is currently eager to make.
    Perhaps I can sum up my views in this way. (Spoiler: Hamas can go to hell.)

      • When negativity and hate are mixed together as in some ones cases,here in the comments ( they are always the same people with even their name starts with the same letter ) is a stench that comes out of it . They burry themselves in it where people don’t even see them nor hear them. so, or you become human again, or quit the Hasbara and hate job as you discredit yourselves, and Israel, more and more with each word you write and find something else to do, preferably somewhere else.

    • It seems as though, to you, Hamas is just an afterthought. Don’t you think that at least one of your many many diaries on this issue should be devoted to the horrors perpetrated by Hamas? It would be interesting to know why you feel that this subject is only deserving of afterthought treatment.

  2. I weep for the dead, the terrorized, the wounded. Period. No matter what their national, religious, racial, or political identity.

  3. Thank you for this piece, David. Thank you for speaking up on behalf of those of us in the Jewish community who stand with you.

  4. Very well written and said…Admire your words and thoughts. There must be a better way for us to go about peace, this is accomplishing nothing.

  5. Thank you David, for speaking up. I’m could never be in favour of war or murder and this situation is so incredibly sad… I pray for the dead, and for the living. I pray for the innocent jews and palestinians who just want to live and be happy like anyone else, and believe that murder is not the solution to their problems. I pray for the day Peace can come to the hearts of all men.

  6. Thank you David for your excellent piece. The Thinkers must clean up the horrible mess the Reactors have made. David, you are a true Thinker.

  7. Dear David, This war is not in your name, nor is it for your behalf. Living in the US, yo are not the target of Hamas rockets. Please understand that Israelis are fed up with the illegal occupation of Gaza by Hamas and it certainly is not benefiting Gazans.

  8. Maybe less moralizing & kvetching & emotionalizing but more practical hard-headed commonsense?
    I actually agree with some of what you say but all that hand-wringing & putting yourself into the story is not effective.

  9. Israel regularly defends ostensibly unacceptable tactics (such as shelling heavily populated areas) on the grounds that it is acting in self-defence.
    So my question is this: “What is Israel NOT entitled to do in such circumstances?”
    Is there a bottom line somewhere?

  10. Listen guys, I am a portuguese living in Germany, I am not jew nor Muslim. I have nothing whatsoever to do with this conflict. Having that said, I feel the need to give an external neutral point of view towards a situation that sooner or later affects everybody.
    Basically I think people lost good sense, the overview and control over themselves or the situation. Despite of who is wrong or right, what is this agressivity and conflict leading to? Will it stop Hamas from sending rockets? Will it stop Israelis from sending missiles? It will just make it worse and worse until… Someone with good sense stops it. The problem is at this point the hanger, frustration and rage is too huge to be stopped in one or 2 generations.
    The proportion of this attack to Gaza is any case far beyond understanding ans acceptance. If Hamas has been seen as an horrible terrorist group, now they seem to be school kids or apprentices compared to the evilness of this Israeli attack! How can you acuse or blame someone of being horrible if you do even worse? You’ve lost your cause!
    Think about it: if most of the world is against your actual position, maybe You (Israelis) should really give a second thought about it. It cannot be that everybody is wrong and only you are right, right?
    If Palestines are so horrible, Hamas is so dangerous and you have to live in such an armed state for survival reasons, why don’t you just move away again? I would never live like that. Leave that place for those who were already there and try again somewhere else. It’s not even a century that you have moved into Palestina! The USA seems to love Jews! Move in there!
    And please stop doing as bad or worse than what was done to you. I will never be able to pity or defend you for holocaust reasons, if you are doing it to others too! Not for whatever reasons you find justifiable. Massacres always have a strong believe behind it, but as history has tought us, it was never the right believe or the right way to pursue the (right) goal.
    Wishing you all a peacefull loving evening, L.

  11. The essence of anti-Semitism through the ages is: 1) Blame the Jews for the acts of those who want to slaughter them; 2) Portray those who want to slaughter the Jews as the victims of Jewish oppression. Sadly, this pattern is being repeated by those who consider themselves to be Peace Loving and Politically Correct Progressives. This magazine and the people who contribute to it are prime examples of this perennial hatred of Jews when they do not go quietly to their deaths, so as to meet their definition of morality. Sad and tragic.

    • Michael:
      You don’t seem to get it. I’m no fan of Hamas, but what Israel just did to Gaza and its people is existentially troubling–nauseating would be more accurate. I don’t think “crime against humanity” is even a stretch in this case. That opinion doesn’t make me an anti-Semite. If you want to call anyone who protests the bullying and murderous actions of a fully-armed nation state an “anti-Semite,” and complain that this is just another example of people persecuting the Jews, then go right ahead, but with your overuse the very concept of “anti-Semitism” is rendered meaningless… sort of like Joe McCarthy calling everyone a “Communist.” That kind of self-deception will not get you very far.

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