I feel it is important to realize that the Jewish community, here and in Israel, is not homogeneous. There are many rabbis and other intellectuals that stand against Israel’s continued occupation and destruction of Gaza; J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, liberal journalists in the Israeli media, and Peace Now, to name a few.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, recently said, “I’ve never seen such massive destruction ever before.” There have been almost 2,000 civilian deaths, over 10,000 homes have been destroyed, with another 30,000 damaged. Gaza’s lone power plant was hit by Israeli missiles July 29, affecting sewage treatment, communications, refrigeration, healthcare and almost every aspect of daily life. Hundreds of schools, mosques, factories and farms have also been destroyed or damaged. And even before this attack, Gaza was still rebuilding from the Cast Lead offensive in 2009 and Pillar of Cloud in 2012.
Before this crisis, Gaza had just 2,047 hospital beds. That’s roughly one for every five injured Palestinians. People are being discharged far earlier than they should be as even more critical patients come in. Medical supplies – including pain medication – are in extremely short supply. And of course those returning home to recover often have no home to go to, and almost all of them, certainly, face the same water and power crisis as they try to heal.
Collective punishment is immoral, as well as illegal under international law. As Paul Waldman wrote in The American Prospect on July 18: “It has been said many times that no government would tolerate rockets being fired into its territory without a response, which is true. But those rockets do not grant Israel a pass from moral responsibility for what it does and the deaths it causes, any more than prior acts of terrorism have. In this as in so many conflicts, both sides – and those who defend each – try to justify their own abdication of human morality with a plea that what the other side has done or is doing is worse. We’ve heard that argument made before, and we’ll continue to hear it. But when we do, we should acknowledge it for what it is: no justification at all.”