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An open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Friday, 8 June 2018

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

The latest demonstration of Palestinians along the Gaza border with Israel that turned violent was no surprise to me or perhaps to a multitude of Israelis and Palestinians as well. This tragic confrontation that resulted in the death of 120 Palestinians was not the first and will not be the last. Israel has waged three wars against Hamas and countless retaliatory strikes, and yet nothing has fundamentally changed.

The sad thing is that nothing will change unless Israel accepts the reality that Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza, with whom you must come to terms to bring an end to this unabating tragedy. Your policy toward Gaza has and continues to be containment, but to what end? Hamas is a reality that you cannot change-yes, you can decapitate its leaders, but new leaders of the same ilk will rise.


These leaders may well be far more extremist, ready to make even greater sacrifices knowing that no matter how much force you use, you will never prevail in subjugating two million Palestinians indefinitely. They will rise time and again and die because for them, dying with honor is better than living in servitude at the mercy of what they view as a detestable power which has lost the last vestiges of moral accountability.

When was the last time you imagined the utter misery that the Palestinians are experiencing day in and day out? When was the last time that you tried to understand the psychological and emotional disposition of the Palestinians? Just think. More than 80 percent of the Palestinians are under the age of fifty and were born under the occupation, having never experienced a day of freedom.

Fifty years of hopelessness and despair. Fifty years of humiliation and submission. Fifty years of fear and uncertainty. Fifty years of deprivation, fifty years of dehumanization and degradation. Yes, fifty years of resentment, hatred, and loathing.

When they wake up, they feel hopeless. When they retire to sleep, helplessness sets in. They are living in fear and trepidation, with no better day on the horizon. For them, freedom is just another word. They do not see themselves as militants or terrorists, they see victims-victimized from the day they were born. Prisoners of time-prisoners of a bitter fate, caring less about who is right or who is wrong. They yearn for a normal life-life with dignity and pride.

You, Mr. Prime Minister, have skillfully brainwashed most Israelis to believe that every Palestinian is a terrorist, that Hamas is the incarnation of evil whose sole aim is the destruction of Israel. That Hamas is irredeemable, that they understand only the language of force. You deliberately want the conditions in Gaza to simmer to justify your extreme policies to keep Hamas at bay and the Israeli public living in fear.

You are a fearmonger, hungry for power, and sadly most Israelis fell into your trap. They became complacent, indifferent, and unmoved by the horror unfolding in front of their eyes, but at a loss how to explain to their children fifty years of occupation and deprivation with no end in sight. The killing of a 21-year-old Palestinian nurse symbolizes the dark side of the ongoing conflict. Despite her medical vest, to an Israeli sniper she was just another target who was killed trying to save the life of a fallen demonstrator.


It is time for reckoning, time to face the bitter reality-the reality of Hamas and two million Palestinians who are there and going nowhere. Your policies toward Hamas and the senseless killing of Palestinians has brought nothing but international condemnation. You are making Israel a pariah state, ruthless, self-absorbed, and immoral.

It is time to be realistic and face the truth, time to think about Israel's future, time to change the dynamic of this struggle. It is time to chart a pathway that could bring an end to a consuming and debilitating conflict which is undermining Israel's security and eroding its social fabric and moral foundation.

It is time to treat Gaza as a separate Palestinian entity-an entity with which Israel can, indeed must, live in peace as good neighbors, cooperating and thriving and progressing together. No, this is not a pipedream. There is not a single Palestinian in Gaza who believes that Israel can ever be destroyed. Every sworn Hamas member knows only too well that Israel is here to stay and that the quality of their life, long-term prosperity, and security depend on Israel.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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