I was asked last week whether I am scared to write about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The short answer is yes. It’s such a divisive issue – one has to tread very carefully, and even then, you are almost certainly going to offend someone.
Plus, you have to make sure that you understand the geopolitical nuances of the region, before jumping in with commentary. And since I don’t live there, it is impossible to grasp the different issues that interplay on a daily basis.
After all, conflict in the Middle East has been going on for longer than I have been alive, so it seems a little presumptuous to pretend that I have anything resembling a solution.
Political giants much smarter than me have tried and failed over the decades to broker peace in the region.
But last week, our government officially lobbied the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza.
I see this as an opportunity for me to offer a few thoughts on the matter.
Firstly, I have questions about the deafening silence from neighbouring Islamic states, like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. But we’ll leave that for another day.
Let’s talk about the fact that there’s an actual all-out war happening in 2023. How is this something as barbaric and inhumane as war even still possible?
I have previously suggested that if politicians want war, then they should be the first ones in the trenches with their families, facing the first volley of bullets.
As long as they get to remotely direct deadly drones and foot soldiers (actually cannon fodder) from the safety of their command centres, wars will always be an option to them.
But let’s see how open they are to peaceful negotiation when their own lives and the lives of their children are on the line.
I don’t believe that anyone in their right minds would want a war, especially not on their own doorstep.
We must, therefore, recognise that not all Jews automatically support the idea of an Israeli state, never-mind the expansion of such a state.
We must all accept that there must be Israelis who are disgusted by the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are either being displaced or being slaughtered by indiscriminate missile attacks.
If we abhor the idea of collective responsibility in war, then we also can’t paint an entire citizenry with the same ideological brush.
Israel is politically chaotic and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rules without a majority mandate, which is why he is in a coalition with a right-wing party. And this means that he does not represent the majority of Israeli voters.
Considering regular ongoing protests against his rule – both domestically and internationally – it’s fair to assume that there are many Jews, and Israelis in particular, who are vehemently opposed to his war.
This is not only a statement about human compassion, but also about a people who must by now be yearning for a lasting peace. It must surely be exhausting to live from one generation to the next, constantly in fear of missiles dropping on your home.
Of course, the exact same must be said about the Palestinian people. And again, politically, they have not been able to vote for a democratic and representative government for years. And the last time they did, Hamas portrayed itself as a whole lot more moderate than they have since become.
This means that domestically, the Palestinian people are victims of a political ideology that they did not sign up for.
Again, it is fair to assume that there are many Palestinians who do not subscribe to Hamas’ philosophy or strategies.
They are part of the collective collateral casualties, despite the fact that they did not recently vote for the group that claims to represent them and that Israel is fighting.
In fact, there is a new generation of young Palestinians who are living the deadly consequences of an election that happened long before they were even born.
Along with their parents and extended family, they too must be traumatised by the presence of an enemy that is armed to the teeth and always on edge.
Lastly, we mustn’t forget that there is also a media propaganda war being waged by both sides, vying for our support and sympathy.
I have warned before that you can very easily find yourself trapped inside a social media echo chamber, where balance, diverse opinions and opposing arguments are non-existent.
We are making decisions and choosing sides based on information that’s being fed to us by social media platforms that themselves have political agendas, not to mention algorithmic biases.
Like I said, there are many nuances and influences to consider. But the fact remains, people are dying. Most of them Palestinians.
Whether you like it or not, given they have the support of powerful governments, Israel is not going away. In the same breath, neither is the struggle for an independent Palestine.