There Are No “Both Sides”. The Israelis and Palestinians Are Not Equal.

At the time of writing this, almost 1900 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army’s assault on Gaza. Around 80% of those killed are civilians, with almost 400 children and over 200 women. Over 80 families have been completely wiped out; killed in single strikes. The operation, entitled “Protective Edge”, has been more destructive, in its claim of human life and urban infrastructure, than Israel’s 2008/09 assault, Castlead. There is very little to suggest that Israel, in all its misunderstood morality and goodwill, plans to stop its cleansing of Gaza any time soon.

Lifeless, bloodied Palestinian bodies, severed Palestinian limbs and wailing Palestinian mothers have become near staple daily viewings. I don’t volunteer to see these images but their ubiquity makes them unavoidable. And as common as these images have become in all the online spaces I occupy and frequent, the characterization of “both sides” has become far more widespread. Wherever I click, I see calls for “both sides” to stop fighting and agree (and stick to) a ceasefire; condemnations of “both sides” in causing so much suffering; distribution of blame to “both sides” and the lamenting of suffering on “both sides.”

But there are no “both sides.”

See, the problem with this talk of “both sides” is that is assumes a semblance of equality – equality in the position of power and thus ability. Yes, there are two sides in this conflict: there are the Palestinians and the Israelis. Well, there are more than two sides if we take history and geopolitics into consideration, but who wants more nuance on a Sunday. But that characterization of “both sides” ends there; it ends with drawing out who the involved people are.

“Both sides” don’t have the right to self-defense.

“Both sides” do not receive billions in military aid.

“Both sides” do not enact apartheid laws to ensure ethnic hegemony.

“Both sides” do not exist at the systemically violent prerogative of the other.

“Both sides” do not ethnically cleanse.

“Both sides” haven’t lost almost two thousand lives in less than a month.

“Both sides” do not have the deliberate and mass targeting of civilians engrained into their military doctrine.

“Both sides” are not states.

“Both sides” do not have their their homes, their hospitals, their schools, their places of worship and their shelters destroyed.

“Both sides” are not under land and naval siege.

“Both sides” haven’t had their electricity and access to water severed.

“Both sides” do not have their daily calorie intake counted.

“Both sides” aren’t occupied.

“Both sides” aren’t compassionate headlines.

And the lives on “both sides” are not equal in the weight and worth.

So don’t talk about the responsibility of “both sides” to make peace; don’t talk about how the blame of the suffering is on “both sides.”

The slave and the master weren’t “both sides”; the tyrant and his subjects were never “both sides”. The native and the settler were never “both sides” — so why do we treat the Palestinians and Israelis as “both sides”?

Until and unless there is some pretense of actual ‘balance’ in the positions of the Israelis and Palestinians – there are no “both sides”. It is an uncomfortable confrontation, but it is a confrontation with the right side of justice and history.

19 thoughts on “There Are No “Both Sides”. The Israelis and Palestinians Are Not Equal.

  1. Have you sat in a bomb shelter in your son’s apartment complex in response to wailing sirens at 5:30 am because of a random rocket fire from Gaza that is meant to terrorize the area of Be’er Sheva? As a mother of a U.S. medical school student, I was summoned by screams to hurry to a shelter and experienced first hand what the people of Israel experience on a regular basis. Seeing neighbors carrying children down to this shelter was heartbreaking. These senseless rocket attacks are also targeting innocent civilians. I am sad that it takes this kind of violence to stop these regular attacks, but unfortunately when terrorists are in charge of the region of Gaza, then the innocent people will not be able to leave, even though they have been warned repeatedly to do so.

  2. We now know Israel is an imperialist project that was fraudulently and violently inserted into Palestine. Their criminal conduct in conjunction with the US and neocon allies appears to be destroying the planet for the benefit of supremacist millionaires and their deluded supporters. It needs to be peacefully dismantled.

  3. Barbara, At least Israelis have bomb shelters and an Iron Dome to protect them. Gazans had no place to go. Read the article above again then look at those pictures of hundreds of babies blown to pièces. Then consider that this has been going on since 1948.

  4. Well Barbara, the Gazans don’t even have bomb shelters. So boohoo, you get to sit in relative safety instead of being openly slaughtered. You say they are warned to leave- and GO WHERE? As stated in this superb piece, their homes, their schools, their places of worship, their HOSPITALS are being targeted. At this point, where have they not bombed in Gaza? They can’t even leave the country as refugees because both Egypt and Israel have closed their borders. I seriously cannot tell if you are a troll with your comment in general, but your remark about children is what makes me consider you must. In Gaza, every hour, a child dies. Every hour. Consider how many hours have passed since Israel instigated this disgusting massacre.

  5. There we replaces to go and borders open had they heeded warnings given. The sadder thing is the people in control of Gaza allowing this to happen to their innocent children. Do not misconstrue my words…the death of innocent civilians is an atrocity and hideous, but the government of Gaza has NEVER protected their people.

  6. Nobody forced Hamas to use concrete to build tunnels instead of schools, shelters, hospitals, etc. Nobody forced Arafat’s PLO minions to strap on bombs and blow themselves up on Israeli buses and in Israeli discotheques.

    I am generally sympathetic to the innocents killed on the Palestinian side of the conflict, but any rational person must recognize that Hamas’ strategy is a nihilistic one. Does Hamas really believe that firing rockets into Israel is going to get them anywhere? Why do the Palestinians allow these dead-enders to claim themselves as their representatives?

    If Hamas wasn’t launching violent attacks against Israel then Israel wouldn’t be blowing up huge swathes of Gaza.

    Israel is also in the wrong, because they know that aerial bombardment of a tiny territory like Gaza will kill innocents, and they are also wrong for building settlements in the West Bank.

    However, to pretend that the people of Gaza are all poor innocents simply being victimized by the evil Jews is to be deeply ignorant of the history of the region.

  7. “Both sides” do not have the deliberate and mass targeting of civilians engrained into their military doctrine.

    The author goes wrong on this point. Hamas certainly has this approach engrained. Add to that its frequent calls for the complete elimination of the state of Israel, and all is explained. Without the rockets, the tunnels and the years of suicide bombs, everything you say about Israel is true. But given those things, Israel’s actions must be seen differently. If my family is repeatedly attacked by a group of indigent people, I don’t ask myself whether I am wealthier, whether I have benefitted from government programs or whether I have more and stronger friends; I do what is necessary to eliminate the threat.

    This single mistake invalidates the whole point of this article.

    More specifically, you know that when military action is launched from crowded neighbourhoods, and weapons are stored in schools and mosques, then civilians have been put in harm’s way, and the blame for high casualties must account for that. Why are there no bomb shelters in Gaza (except for Hamas’s leadership)? Where has all the concrete gone? Why has Israel constrained the entry of concrete into Gaza?

  8. I wonder why Hamas didn’t have the Gaza residents take refuge in those tunnels they spent so much time, money, and effort on. Seems like that would have been effective. Perhaps as their apologist you can explain?

  9. Hamas is anti-semitic and calls for the complete destruction for Israel. Israel is absolutely wrong in both its occupation of Palestinian Territories and in continuing to build settlements on Palestinian lands, as well as it’s treatment of Arab Israelis as second-class citizens. Neither side will benefit from this “war.” Israel is creating more animosity towards itself (both globally and among Palestinians), while anti-semitism will certainly not bring Palestinians any closer to obtaining a state. Prospects of a two-state solution are looking more and more grim by the day. I am extremely pessimistic that this conflict will be solved in the near future. Only hope is for moderates on both “sides” to come together somehow.

  10. “If Hamas wasn’t launching violent attacks against Israel then Israel wouldn’t be blowing up huge swathes of Gaza.”

    lol, no. in fact, this current flareup STARTED because Israel blamed Hamas for something they didn’t do, then launched air strikes on Gaza to kill members of Hamas for…something they didn’t do.

  11. It would anger me reading your comments – would I not know that you are students paid by the Zionist Israeli Government to blabber your supposed ‘defense’ for the criminal mass murder of innocent children and the bombing of UN schools, hospitals and refugee centres into the social networks. You are, in the evolution of the human species, the lowest level of homo sapien alive. Call me an anti-semite if you like. Call me whatever. I call you a bunch of lying mother-fucking criminal child mass murder. And now you can all crawl back under the dirty rock you came from.

  12. Israel isn’t an occupier. It’s a settler. The rest is just a matter of course.
    Palestine isn’t defending itself. As noted, they’re not equal – the right aside, they’re entirely defenseless. Israel can go and do whatever it wants (has for the last few decades) and there’s nothing Palestine can do about it.
    Seems they just want to make a point with their deaths, and a point, if not the same, is being made with their deaths…

  13. Sana, this is just emotional rhetoric and utter bullshit. Waging a war is always a crime imho, and that applies to all parties involved. If an organisation or regime sustains a war in spite of being clearly inferior, this is even more irresponsible and criminal, because it endangers its “own” civil population unnecessarily.

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  18. There will be no peace if we just spout this emotional rhetoric. Last summer was replete with tragedy and bloodshed but wallowing in misery will solve nothing.
    The only way to broker peace in this bloody conflict is to achieve a settlement for “both sides”.
    I think your thesis whilst ringing true is not constructive at all.

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