Opposing Both Israeli and Hamas Killing Is a Model for All Wars

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, June 18, 2024

Of course, millions of people all over the world and in the United States support either Israeli or Hamas warmaking — warmaking which (one must point out the obvious because the very topic of warmaking renders so many people mentally dull) is on a very different scale and of a very different type, one from the other. At the moment, I’m not writing to any of those war supporters.

What interests me is that for a huge number of people, for several months now, it has been the required, proper politics both to oppose Israel’s ongoing genocide and to oppose incidents of mass murder by Hamas.

At the moment, I’d rather not change the subject to allegations of mass rape and exactly how false they were. I do think the obsession of the past century of war commentary with rape, torture, and anything other than killing is of interest in how it normalizes murder. But there isn’t any dispute that both Israel and Hamas have killed people, and for a great many there isn’t any dispute that killing by both sides should be opposed.

I’m not sure the unusualness of this situation has sunk in. One reason could be the lack of sincerity in some quarters. Perhaps you are actually enraged by one side’s killing and strategically adding on the obligatory condemnation of the other. But why is it obligatory? Why is it that many seem to mean it sincerely? And how have they managed what in almost all other wars has been unthinkable?

If you oppose both militaries and all killing in Ukraine, nobody even understands what you could possibly mean. Most assume that you simply back whichever side they do not. Others demand an explanation of what the poor Ukrainians or the poor Russians could possibly do, other than war. You can talk to them about negotiation, diplomacy, unarmed civilian defense, reversing a potentially life-ending arms race, and so on, but it’s an uphill struggle.

With Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam or countless other wars, there was no widespread mandatory ritual of denouncing warmaking by the non-U.S. side imposed on those denouncing warmaking by the U.S. side. Supporting the other side’s warmaking was taboo, but the topic was mostly ignored. It’s possible that part of what has changed is that the idea of opposing both sides of a war has entered general understanding. Yet, that would mean that everyone’s lying about their inability to fathom such a concept when it comes to Ukraine.

Of course, many people did, and some still do, preface all commentary on the endless wars and occupations of the twenty-first century with denouncing the crimes of 9/11. But that was weird, because those crimes were so obviously limited-scale crimes that would normally have been simply prosecuted in courts had nobody wanted an excuse for war, as well as because Iraq had nothing and Afghanistan darn near nothing to do with them, and because they became so far removed in time as the wars dragged on and on. This didn’t come close to opposing two active sides of a war at the same time.

I think, primarily, people haven’t thought through what it means that they are opposing both sides’ warmaking in Palestine. They haven’t considered how nonviolent resistance tends to work better. They haven’t studied the lost lessons of the first intifada. They haven’t examined the change being accomplished by cameras versus that achieved by missiles. They haven’t been thoroughly berated for daring to give good advice to the victims of a genocide and come to understand that, no, they aren’t blaming the victims. They haven’t carefully considered the wisdom of the loved ones of victims on both sides who oppose warmaking and insist on negotiations now rather than after further slaughter. They just understand the revolting indecency of cheering for mass-murder by either side.

This is an opportunity for advancing the idea of war abolition. While no two wars are identical and no two sides of the same war are identical, there is nothing in any relevant way different about this war when it comes to the logic of opposing both sides. Whatever combination of facts and propaganda has resulted in such opposition finding significant support, it is opposition that makes exactly as much sense here as in every war, because there is no side of any war that merits supporting. There are no war victims in any war who don’t have faces and names and stories just like those on both sides of this war. We are at a point at which the institution of war must be left behind if we are to survive. War creates the threat of nuclear apocalypse, the excuse for bad government, the fuel for bigotry, the impediment to cooperation on non-optional crises, the pit sucking resources away from where they are needed, the great destroyer of the environment, the concentrator of wealth, the driver of homelessness, poverty, disease, and trauma.

If we can outgrow war accidentally or because social media shows us what we always knew it looked like, I’m all for it. But we may have to add in some thoughtful intention too.

3 Responses

  1. Hamas is the literal and moral equivalent of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This time the Jews are the Nazis.

    If there are “two sides” to this conflict, there are “two sides” to the Holocaust.

    1. While I oppose all war in Palestine, making an analogy to the Warsaw Uprising of 1943 is way off base. The Jews were opposing another wave of them being sent off to concentration death camps. Palestine even had elections, which Hamas won though their continued legitimacy is questionable. Their militants hide in civilian spaces. Palestinians in Gaza weren’t on death row; they had a functioning society though not rosy by any standards. Sadly your comment is very flawed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Our Theory of Change

How To End War

2024 War Abolisher Awards
Antiwar Events
Help Us Grow

Small Donors Keep Us Going

If you select to make a recurring contribution of at least $15 per month, you may select a thank-you gift. We thank our recurring donors on our website.

This is your chance to reimagine a world beyond war
WBW Shop
Translate To Any Language