My heart is absolutely breaking. I am a strong Zionist who believes that Jews have the right to their homeland. I also emphatically support a Palestinian State. I believe that both Israelis and Palestinians have ancient roots to the land and so both have the right to live in peace and freedom in this impossibly tiny piece of land.
It breaks my heart that there is such virulent hatred againt Jews. It also breaks my heart that there is similar hatred against Arabs. From my view one of the worst things to ever happen to Palestinian hope is Hamas. Their hatred of Israel, Israelis and Jews is fathomless. When a senior official cries "You should attack every Jew possible in all the world and kill them," this is not about seeing to Palestinian statehood, this is about pure evil and the desire for the annihilation of an entire people.
It also breaks my heart that Israeli leadership are destroying Gaza and taking their rage out on innocent civilians. I understand that the Israeli military will stop at nothing to ferret out every Hamas militant but isn't there another way? Doesn't Mossad have sufficient spies in Gaza that they know where the leaders are hiding? I'm not a military strategist, but I can't believe there aren't alternatives to completely ravaging half of Gaza.
In 2023, the current global Jewish population is 16.1 million Jews. The Arab population is 456 million. I am not saying that Palestinians should be forced from their homeland, but I am expressing surprise that there haven't been offers of a safe haven for those Palestinians who might have wanted to leave. At this point that simply isn't an option, certainly not for those living in Gaza.
Writing this most likely comes from a place of vulnerability. We Jews are so very few. It also comes from a place of experiencing increasing amounts of anti-Semitism. It is so very disheartening. I am so appreciating that our community has the JDC, an organization that has spent its 100 plus years of existence saving Jews living under extreme anti-Semitism. Why isn't there something like this for Palestinians? Or maybe there is and I just haven't heard of them.
My heart is also breaking because Israel hasn't lived up to its promise. The treatment of Palestinians is deplorable. They have not had equal rights and protections. Their educational system couldn't compete and securing employment and access to basic neccessities has been a trial. And now, in Gaza, it is a matter of sheer survival. We have lost our way. We aren't living Jewishly. And we have no moral standing without the Torah.
I keep thinking about civilian Palestinians and Israelis who just want to live, work and play.. watch their children grow and thrive. Somehow life has become about which extremist group (on both sides) has control rather than about the vast majority who want to grow old peacefully.
I lived in Israel from 1976-77 and can't seem to give up hope that one day peace will be found. Instead of Pro-Israel rallies and opposing Pro-Palestinians rallies, can't we have joint Stop the Madness Rallies? In the meantime, all I can do is to speak my heart and express support for both Israelis and Palestians now and moving forward.
Tracy Salkowitz is a Consultant,activist and the former CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.