Calls for ceasefire fail to mention Oct. 7 | Guest Column

While I abhor the already lost and continued loss of innocent civilian lives in the Israel-Hamas war taking place on Israeli and Palestinian lands, I am disappointed that both the County Council’s call for “Immediate and Permanent Ceasefire” as well as the Coalition of San Juan, Lopez, and Orcas Islanders fail to mention what happened on Oct. 7, 2023.

While the root causes of this conflict go back well over two thousand years, there was relative quiet until the morning of 10/7 when terrorists, whose aim is the violent elimination of the State of Israel and its Jewish citizens, entered Israeli territory and raped, tortured, and murdered some 1,400 innocent civilians and took some 200 hostages, hiding them in the urban areas of Gaza. If you dare to read accounts of the up-close and personal, sexual torture-murder of some of the young Israelis and other atrocities, you will be no doubt sickened. Israel’s massive response to this existential attack has now resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.

As the Coalition asserts, “words really do matter”. Both the Council’s and Coalitions statements skip over the spark for this latest conflict, which I find to be disingenuous and a rewriting of history. (The Coalition’s description of the conflict seems to reflect a simplistic, binary view of the “oppressed” and “oppressors”.) Any call for ceasefire should also include the words: “by Hamas”, “by Hezbollah” (attacking Israel from Lebanon), and “release all hostages and political prisoners”. With all due respect, I believe the Council has failed to live up to its values with this lapse.

As Jews, we have suffered attacks, torture, expulsions from and outright murders in lands new and old, including those of the Levant, for thousands of years. Our global numbers have only halfway recovered from the particular horrors of the Shoah (Holocaust).

Jews and Palestinians have the right to live in self-governed states in peace and security in the Levant—their homelands since time immemorial. The current Israeli government’s plan to continue “security” occupation of Gaza is a deterrent to long-term peace. Too many innocent Palestinian people have been killed due to Israel’s reaction to the horrendous attack by Gaza-based Hamas and its partners. But those attacks matter in the current discussion. They cannot be elided from it.

We all must avoid binary descriptions and views which leave one people without their humanity. Israel’s Jews and Palestinians are humans. The West Bank’s and Gaza’s Palestinians are humans. I do think it is time for the US government to use it’s military/financial leverage with the Israeli government to press for a significant reduction in violence by the Israeli Defense Force and a renewed, serious effort at a two-state solution that gives Palestinians (and Israelis) a better future without the violent nihilism of Hamas.

David Robison

Donald Kane

San Juan Island