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The Real Dividing Line in Israel-Palestine

While Hamas's outrageous acts of terrorism should be condemned unconditionally, one must not confuse what is really at issue in the Holy Land. The choice is not one hardline faction or the other; it is between the fundamentalists on both sides and all those who still believe in the possibility of peaceful co-existence.

LJUBLJANA – The barbarism that Hamas has unleashed on Israel should be condemned unconditionally, with no “ifs” or “buts.” The massacres, rapes, and abductions of civilians from villages, kibbutzim, and a music festival was a pogrom, confirming that Hamas’s true goal is to destroy the state of Israel and all Israelis. That said, the situation demands historical context – not as any kind of justification, but for the sake of clarity about the way forward.

A first consideration is the absolute despair that characterizes the lives of most Palestinians. Recall the spate of isolated suicidal attacks on the streets of Jerusalem around a decade ago. An ordinary Palestinian would approach a Jew, pull out a knife, and stab the victim, knowing full well that he or she would be immediately killed. There was no message in these “terrorist” acts, no shouts of “Free Palestine!” Nor was there any larger organization behind them. They were just individual acts of violent despair.

Things took a turn for the worse when Binyamin Netanyahu formed a new government by allying with far-right, pro-settler parties that openly advocate annexation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank. The new minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, believes that, “My right, my wife’s right, my kids’ right to move around freely [in the West Bank] is more important than that of the Arabs.” This is a man who was previously barred from army service, owing to his affiliations with extremist anti-Arab parties that had been designated as terrorist organizations following the 1994 massacre of Arabs in Hebron.