Anger and Sadness
In the horrific pictures, videos, and stories from survivors in southern Israel, we see and hear of inhuman cruelty on a scale almost impossible to believe. In the rubble of Gaza and the panic of civilians desperate to flee violence, we measure the full tragedy of war.
To mention both and feel pain for all is not false equivalence; it is an acknowledgment that human suffering will be the most enduring legacy of this conflict, as it is of all wars.
There is a pit deep in the stomach that comes from trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. We should be wary of absolutes. We can hate Hamas and recognize Israel’s need to protect its people while still feeling for the Palestinian people who face their own unimaginable terror as an invasion looms. It is possible to ache for those on both sides of the divide.
Israel was attacked, not by an army, but by murderous thugs. It has every right to defend itself. That doesn’t mean we ignore the decisions it has made, especially under its current government, that led up to this point. Some of those decisions added to dangers for Israel. This is the verdict of many Israelis, including some of those who worked tirelessly for peace when they were alive but were slaughtered by Hamas for being Jews nonetheless.
But it should be clearly kept in mind and repeated for emphasis: Israel does have every right to defend itself. And the United States is right to help an ally that has just suffered a devastating terrorist attack.
At the same time, we can’t ignore the plight of Palestinians in the prison of hopelessness that is Gaza. Panic. Heartbreak. Death and dismemberment. Parents will bury children. There will be new orphans. There is nowhere to flee. Hamas and other extremists don’t care. These terrorist groups have helped author Palestinian misery.
The emotions compete, swirl, and complement each other — anger and sadness, sadness and anger, an unending loop.
Anger at the murderous terrorists who hunted and slaughtered innocent life in Israel.
Sadness for a region that hasn’t known peace.
Anger at politicians who stoke division, undermine democracy, and traffic in the dehumanization of the “other.”
Sadness for families torn apart on all sides of war.
Anger at decades of failure to reach peace over settlements and other provocations.
Sadness for children who grow up without hope.
Anger at those who celebrate death.
Sadness at seeing human life cast aside.
Anger that the world hasn’t summoned the will to prioritize solutions.
Sadness that there is no obvious way out now.
Anger at antisemitism.
Sadness at the plight of those who were born into a region noted for violence and a shortage of hope.
It is impossible to predict the future of this volatile crisis other than to say with near certainty that there will be much more tragedy ahead. Sometimes in history, in the wake of cataclysmic events, a better world has emerged. Eventually. We can keep hope alive that something good can arise from this hellscape.
In the United States, we can be a bulwark for hope. We need steadiness in our leadership, support for our allies, and a commitment to the value of all human life.
These are dangerous times.
Of sadness and anger.
War when we desperately need peace.
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