Thursday, July 17, 2014 | return to: columns, the column


the column |  Hamas or Israel? Choosing a side isn’t rocket science

by dan pine

Follow j. on   and 

I grew up in a pro-union household. Tales of my father’s exploits on the Hollywood picket lines were my bedtime stories. “The Ballad of Joe Hill” and “Which Side Are You On?” were my lullabies.

Which side are you on? Good question. There was such moral clarity back then. Just pick a side. Reducing some issues to either/or binaries was considered a virtue among the liberal classes. I know. I was a liberal; I am a liberal; I understand how liberals think.

dan pineGo down the list: same-sex marriage, climate change, reproductive rights — check, check, check. No middle ground. I know which side I’m on.

So today, after 1,000 rockets have rained down on Israel, I ask liberals, many of whom feel conflicted about the war: When it comes to Israel’s fight against Hamas, which side are you on?

Are you on the side of the homicidal, infanticidal, genocidal, theocratic anti-liberal jihadists? Or are you not? It’s a simple question.

Oh, you say, this issue is far more complicated. It does not lend itself to simplistic choices. It goes back to 1967. It goes back to 1948. It goes back to 1917. It goes back to the First Aliyah in the 1880s. It’s about occupation. It’s about colonialism.

Rejecting a cease-fire, Hamas continues its barrage. Nursery schools, airports, gas stations. Hamas doesn’t care where the missiles land or whom they kill. In contrast, the Israeli military warns Palestinian civilians before it takes out Hamas missile launchers.

Which side are you on?

Oh, you say, but it’s more complicated. Israel is waging a disproportionate war. Just check the body count. Two hundred Gazans killed vs. one Israeli fatality.

Israel builds bomb shelters and missile defense systems to protect its people, thus keeping casualties to a minimum. That’s what any sane society would do. Without those measures, the Israeli death toll by now would be horrendous.

Hamas, in contrast, launches Kassams from hospitals, mosques and bedrooms, then urges Gazans to stand on rooftops and take a bullet for the team. It has never built a bomb shelter other than a network of tunnels to hide its cowardly leadership. Responsibility for every Palestinian life lost in Gaza falls on Hamas.

Which side are you on?

Oh, you say, but it’s more complicated. Ongoing Israeli aggression leads to mass casualties, global outrage and collective punishment for Gazans.

Collective punishment? What would you call the random firing of rockets at Israel’s population centers? I’d call it collective punishment.

Civilian deaths are horrible. But Israel is not at war with Palestinians. It has no objective in Gaza other than neutralizing Hamas as a lethal threat. On the flip side, I have no doubt Hamas and its co-monsters would happily play soccer with the severed heads of Israelis if given half a chance.

Which side are you on?

Oh, you say, but you’re just being hyperbolic. You’re just being Islamophobic. Am I? At their rallies, on their YouTube videos, they sing of the destruction of Tel Aviv. They call for rivers of blood. I take them at their word. What part of “From the river to the sea…” do you not understand?

So to my fellow liberal Jews who have made Israel an exception to their normally exacting moral clarity, I understand the handwringing over collective punishment, over occupation, over the viability of Zionism in a post-Zionist paradigm.

It’s nice. It means you care. Thanks for caring. Now stop the squishiness.

Choose a side. You can choose Hamas, with its worship of chaos and hate, blood and mayhem. Or you can choose Israel, whose people are this very minute treating in their hospitals the wounded from Gaza; the people whose army sends out life-saving warnings before striking a target; the people who want nothing more than to live in peace with their neighbors. Really. That’s all they want.

You can choose the people who venerate the Hadith (a saying of the Prophet) that reads: “The Jews will fight you and you will prevail over them; then a rock will say, ‘O Muslim, here is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.’ ”

Or you can choose the people who, given the opportunity to tweak it, would say, “O Muslim, here is a Jew behind me. Come and befriend him.”


Dan Pine can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Posted by Sheri
07/20/2014  at  01:02 PM

I have been trying to impress these exact sentiments on my friends who just don’t get it.  I have given them the history lesson….explained Hamas and their jihadist regime…Not too sure how much has penetrated…..but, I have said my piece…so, thank you very much for this insightful article!

Login to reply to this comment or post your own
Posted by jackie
07/20/2014  at  04:57 PM
Great Article, Dan!

Wow, Dan, that is the best article you have ever written.  Beautifully expressed, clear as a bell, thoughtful.  Kudos to you!

Login to reply to this comment or post your own
Posted by Howard Hoffman
07/21/2014  at  07:36 PM
Moral Clarity

Thanks for your moral clarity, Dan.  Now, if the mainstream media could understand these simple truths, perhaps they would treat this issue with some fairness.  The SF Chronicle, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the BBC are examples of those that do not get it.

Login to reply to this comment or post your own
Posted by Moroccan
07/23/2014  at  09:32 PM
Clear colom!

Coudn’t agree with you more.

The terror of Hamas must be ended once and for all.

Ussing the Islam is a simpel way to rallie up people. These people are so indoctrinated that they believe everyting the haer. Israel has the write to defend it’s people from Hamas

israel does her best to take as few civilian casualties as possible, but if Hamas uses them as a Shield then they are to blame for all deaths of the palestinian sivilians

As a human I hope that the conflict ends soon, but as long as Hamas exsists there wil be no paece in the region :(

Thanks for the colom!

Greetings from Morocco!

Login to reply to this comment or post your own
Posted by ROBERT
07/27/2014  at  09:23 PM
you can not make peace

you can not make peace with a people who deny your very right to exist,this is not a political conflict/war,if the jewish people agreed with all of hamas demands, hamas and other islamic terrorists would continue their ultimate goal of wiping out the jewish race, even an idiot can see that hamas makes no attempt to protect the civilian population,which is the very first thing good governments do,hamas is willing to sacrifice anyones life to achieve their goal, their own wordS in their charter prove this, hitler convinced the german people that jews did not deserve to exist also,and those who did not agree, the gestapo took care of by kiling them and everyone associated with them, this is also done in north korea CONTROL BY FEAR, it is time for the muslim community to realize that these groups are brainwashing their children,innocents by the thousands are being killed by their muslim brothers in syria and iraq,are the jews to blame for this too? yes i will quote the bible, GOD said i will bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you,to israel, if you dont believe that this land belongs to israel take it up with God, oh i forget he is not your GOD, HEREIN IS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM!!  I CRY FOR THE CHILDREN ALL OVER THE WORLD ,ALL OF THEM, IF ISRAEL IS INTENTIONALLY KILING CIVILIANS ,THEIR GOD WILL CORRECT THEM,YOU WONT NEED TO,

Login to reply to this comment or post your own

Leave a Comment

In order to post a comment, you must first log in.
Are you looking for user registration? Or have you forgotten your password?

Auto-login on future visits