The Israeli Opposition Network is a group of Israelis who live in the United States. The members of the group have organized, during the past few months, in order to establish and promote critical and oppositional thinking from within Israel. Following the events, several members of the group formulated the following text.
Last month, we started discussing strategies for countering the policies of the Israeli government, which we believe has become increasingly dangerous for its citizens. We wanted to communicate our concerns to Americans with longstanding connections to Israel. Little did we expect the urgency of the moment.
By killing Hamas leader Ahmad Jabari on November 14, the Israeli government intentionally escalated the military struggle with Hamas. For a long time now, both sides have been using indiscriminate military measures – Hamas shooting rockets on Israeli civilians and Israel imposing different levels of siege. However, the recent assassination has made the threat of a new war immediate.
This renewed conflict has already cost civilian lives on both sides, and the death toll is constantly rising. Such casualties are a foreseeable result of war, and might have been considered inevitable if Israel was truly defending itself. But the Gaza campaign is by no means a measure of defense. It reflects a unilateralism and isolationism that is likely to deepen the insecurity of all of us for years to come.
Starting in the summer of 2011, a wave of protest put debates on social justice and civic equality at center stage. With ongoing unrest all over the country, the legitimacy of the government was called into question. As others have pointed out, generating a military crisis is a convenient way of diverting attention from civic equality. In a traditionally militarized Israel, this is truly the oldest trick in the book: “security” measures ensure that employment security or pension security are overlooked.
No less important is the fact that by escalating the conflict in Gaza, the government is generating long-term risks to life and limb. As Gershon Baskin has explained, Hamas authorities in Gaza have sometimes been willing to consider “pragmatic” measures. Destroying the minimal cooperation that existed with authorities in Gaza in the context of momentous political transitions in the Middle East is exposing Israeli citizens to irresponsible risks. In the context of the regional demand for democracy, it is likely to strengthen perceptions that Israel is an anti-democratic and anti-Muslim force, fueling immensely perilous hostility.
In the last few days, we have all taken part in actions that express solidarity with civilians under attack, both in Israel and in Gaza. Yet, as Israeli citizens in the United States, we feel we also have the role of setting off an emergency alarm. By unconditionally supporting Israel’s military escapades, Americans are inevitably tying their own fates with an ally that seems to have gone rogue.
Popular pressure from within and from without of Israel, aiming to impose a ceasefire based on recognition of the elected government, can reduce dangers that Israel’s war-mongering leadership is spawning.
-Neta Alexander, Yael Barda, Keren Dotan, Yael Even Or, Gal Katz, Nitzan Lebovic, Yoni Lebowitsch, Dotan Leshem, Itamar Mann, Liron Mor, Oded Na’aman, Naomi Safran-Hon