Gaza War: Outrageous and Foolish

Posted on October 10, 2023 By

Statements of heartache and horror abound around the world. Every war is monstrous, and it hurts so badly when a new one is declared  Here we offer comments focused on the one that flared up so badly this last weekend.

Stephen Zunes Facebook Posts

Professor of Politics, University of San Francisco

Zunes is co-editor of our book, Consistently Opposing Killing: From Abortion to Assisted Suicide, the Death Penalty, and War. 


Hamas once again has failed to recognize that killing civilians is not just morally reprehensible but politically counter-productive. They aren’t like Israel and Saudi Arabia, which can kill thousands of civilians with impunity and still receive massive military and diplomatic support from the United States.

Hamas attacks on civilian targets in Israel, like any attacks against civilians by anyone, are completely unjustified. The Biden administration is totally wrong, however, to say they are “unprovoked.” Israel has been killing many scores of Palestinian civilians, including children, in recent months and Hamas has been warning it would retaliate if they continued.

Just a few months ago, I was talking with an Israeli friend who worried that if the Biden administration didn’t press Netanyahu to stop the repression, land confiscations, and other provocations things would explode. Yesterday, her kibbutz was overrun by Hamas. She is missing – apparently kidnapped or killed.

The Republican efforts to claim Iran is somehow behind the Hamas attacks misses the basic fact that Iran is not a big supporter of Hamas. They were on opposite sides in the Syrian Civil War. Unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon and allied militia in Syria and Iraq, Hamas has never received sophisticated weapons or Iranian advisors. This claim also denies agency to the long-suffering

Palestinians in the open air prison that is the Gaza Strip, who – however immoral and irrational their ongoing terror operations may be – have their own motivation to attack Israel.

Islamic Jihad, which also based in Gaza, has received some Iranian assistance, but Hamas is definitely taking the lead currently.

Also, historically, Hamas has gotten more support from sources in the Arab Gulf states – autocratic kingdoms backed by the United States – than they have from Iran or Syria.

If Iran was behind this, they would have pushed Hezbollah, which has far more sophisticated missiles and other ordinance, to attack as well.

This line being taken by the Republicans is a disingenuous effort to try to blame this ongoing tragedy on Biden for supposedly being “soft” on Iran. They are taking advantage of the suffering by both Israeli civilians and Palestinian civilians, who are taking the brunt of the war, to try to score political points.

I have friends in Kibbutz Kissufim and Kibbutz Kerem Shalom located just to the south of the Gaza Strip. They are progressives who have fought for decades against the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. Both kibbutzim are currently under Hamas control and Israel is fighting to get them back. Haven’t heard from any of them. Don’t know if they have been kidnapped, killed, or are in hiding. It’s not looking good. They have been steadfast allies to the Palestinian struggle. They don’t deserve this.

World Beyond War

Palestine, Like Much of the World, Needs a Radical Change

 While WBW is not a member group, they have made excellent presentations at the Rehumanize International conference.


[N]othing excuses the violence committed by Hamas. The Israeli government has not chosen to learn that its violence may produce more violence. Hamas has not chosen to learn that its violence may produce more violence . . .

In the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s to early 1990s, much of the subjugated population effectively became self-governing entities through nonviolent noncooperation. In Rashid Khalidi’s book The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine, he argues that this disorganized, spontaneous, grassroots, and largely nonviolent effort did more good than the PLO had done for decades, that it unified a resistance movement and shifted world opinion, despite co-option, opposition, and misdirection by a PLO oblivious to the need to influence world opinion and utterly naive about the need for applying pressure on Israel and the United States. This contrasts sharply with the violence and the counterproductive results of the Second Intifada in 2000, in the view of Khalidi and many others. We can expect counterproductive results from the latest attacks on Israel as well . . .

The challenge to everyone on Earth in these moments is to not think childishly, to not figure out which side to entirely condemn and which to entirely praise. The enemy, as always, is not a group of people, not the people of Gaza, not the people of Israel, and not any government. The enemy is warfare. It can only be ended by advancing superior alternatives.

Combatants for Peace

These are former Israeli and Palestinians fighters who have laid down their arms. This comes from an email.

 We wept and watched in horror as Palestinian militants killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and kidnapped innocent women, children, and the elderly. We now hurt and grieve as the lives of so many innocent Palestinian civilians are taken in Gaza. As politicians stoke the flames of hatred, violence, and division, it is the innocent that suffer. For our movement of Israelis and Palestinians, the pain is unbearable. And yet, no matter what, our activists’ commitment to one another and to a nonviolent future of peace and freedom for all is unwavering . . .

Our movement knows that there is no future without an end to the occupation. We have witnessed nearly six decades of military control over an entire civilian population and a suffocating, unlivable blockade on Gaza for 16 years. CfP was formed almost 20 years ago by those who know, firsthand, that violence only begets violence, no one wins in war, and that we must protect all life by forging another way. We still believe in another way, even now, especially now.

In our bi-national WhatsApp groups, Israeli and Palestinian members are sending each other prayers and words of grief and love. In Hebrew and Arabic, they are forwarding safety protocols and practices for calming a trauma response. We are seeing a longing from both sides to see each other safe and for the violence to stop. They are checking on each other’s families, especially those who live on opposite sides of the Gaza border. We are all meeting later today to listen to one another and to discuss actions we can take as a community.


We have many posts on war, of course, but here are couple of interest. See our full list of blog posts for more.  

Looking Beyond Anti-Imperialism: A Response to Some Arguments about the Ukraine War

Wars Cause Abortion

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  1. Bill Samuel says:

    Our leaders in government rightly attack the heinous actions of Hamas. No one proposes to send billions in military aid to those terrorists.

    But Israel is now attempting to starve the entire population of Gaza and block all food, water, medical supplies, and electricity to all of Gaza. They are destroying entire residential neighborhoods and attacking hospitals, ambulances, mosques, schools, and electric infrastructure. Somehow most of our government leaders can’t find their sense of morality when it comes to these actions. They are also immoral and against international law. Instead of condemining them, they are preparing to send billions of our tax dollars to support them.

    I encourage all Americans to phone and email (phone is better because it often takes weeks for them to read emails) your House member and Senators telling them not to vote money to support actions that violate international law.

  2. Bill Samuel says:

    CLN endorser posted this on his Facebook page:

    For hundreds of years, Jewish people have been the victims of horrific violence. That historic backdrop of pain and trauma does not justify the crushing apartheid policies they’ve imposed on Gaza and the West Bank for over 50 years… but it does help explain it.
    For decades the Palestinians have endured daily doses of terror, discrimination and abuse from the State of Israel. That does not by any means justify the violence of Hamas… but it does help explain it.
    The current violence of both Hamas and the State of Israel create the conditions for more violence, adding fuel to an already combustible fire.
    For many people the evil we are seeing daily by both the State of Israel and Hamas makes more killing justifiable. But violence only leads to more violence. Hatred begets more hatred. We cannot build a better future by killing each other’s families.
    Jesus was right – if we live by the sword we die by the sword. Violence is a dead end. Love is the only way forward, even the audacious love for our enemies.
    Love requires treating the person on the other side of the wall as nothing short of sacred, a child of God made in the image of God.
    Killing babies is terrorism, whether it is done with bombs or with guns or knives – it is evil. Violence is always evil, no matter what flag it’s wrapped up in. Let us continue to work for peace… and do all we can to interrupt the war… and grieve every life lost… and commit ourselves to building a world where every person is sacred.

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