It is now clear to any person with common sense that Israel will not stop its massive bombardment and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip without serious external pressure. I am not a radical. I am not a traitor. But you would have to be delusional to trust the same people who led us into this disaster to take the proper steps to lead us out of it. Our government has no answers and no limits.
I have attended the few small protests in Tel Aviv in recent weeks calling for a ceasefire. We leftist activists are a tiny minority in our society, and we are currently having to choose our words carefully. We are scared for our own safety amid the crackdown on dissent within Israel since Hamas’ October 7 massacres, which is forcing us to tone down the visibility of our rage. If we are completely silenced, who will be left to protest for an end to the war and the release of the hostages?
During the speeches by the hostages’ families, many have stated in no uncertain terms that their calls are being shunted aside to allow the Israeli army to continue its aggression in Gaza. If our government is not even listening to them, who will listen to us? The fear is numbing, like everything could blow up in our faces, and Itamar Ben Gvir’s police could lock us up with ease. We feel frustrated and powerless.
There is no ceasefire because the only way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows how to survive politically is through blood and tanks, satiating a fascist base thirsty for ever more settlements and resources to achieve their messianic dreams. He is fueling division even in our grief, now even suggesting that the October 7 massacres were enabled by army reservists refusing to serve in opposition to the government’s judicial coup.
While polls currently indicate that a majority of the Israeli public wants Netanyahu gone as soon as the hostilities are over, we know this war criminal far too well to expect him to exit the stage quietly. He will surely find some way to pit us against each other again to try to remain in office.
There is no ceasefire because Netanyahu doesn’t care enough about what the survivors of October 7 massacres actually want. Many of them are secular liberals and leftists — the very people who for the previous nine months were joining mass demonstrations against his government each weekend. The prime minister believes he has no political obligation to them.
There is no ceasefire because this far-right government is drunk on power, lacking a clear plan, and unable to provide legitimate answers to tough questions about the destruction it is currently waging. Their only strategy is to pummel Gaza with a level of brutality never before seen.
There is no ceasefire because, although patience in the United States is waning, no one is forcing Israel’s hand. We have the full backing of the most powerful countries in the world. After all, the United States itself has carried out the same type of assaults before in the Middle East.
There is no ceasefire because our government cannot handle the failure of October 7. They are responsible for failing to prevent it, and for failing to stop it sooner. They know that when the war machine stops, when we all have a moment to think clearly, our rage will turn on them.
There is no ceasefire because Palestinian lives do not matter to this government, and Israel pays no price for Gaza’s ever-increasing death toll. Palestinian students, doctors, and journalists are dehumanized and slaughtered, their hopes and dreams deemed irrelevant at best, and dangerous at worst.
There is no ceasefire because Jewish leftists and Palestinian citizens of Israel are being silenced, and anyone who dares to express solidarity with the people of Gaza is hunted by the police. Meanwhile, government ministers who “metaphorically” suggest nuking Gaza are only briefly suspended. We are afraid. The political space to fight for a ceasefire has vanished.
This is where you come into the picture.
Maybe to you, my reader, all of this sounds obvious, but it is actually an extremely unpopular opinion here in Israel. From mainstream journalists to celebrities, the vast majority of Israelis roundly believe we should continue “erasing” Hamas. But is Hamas being erased? We do not know. Are the hostages okay? We have no idea. “Together we will win” — that’s all that matters.
The collective Israeli belief that the current violence is justified relies on a bizarre view of reality. We have successfully convinced ourselves that we are “more moral” because we told civilians in Gaza to evacuate their homes before bombing them — even though they have nowhere else to go. We feel good about ourselves because we think this entire war is the fault of Hamas alone. And somehow we are okay with continuing a senseless bombardment and invasion led by a failed leadership and a corrupt prime minister who is only interested in saving his own ass while the rest of us sit in the dark and wait for it all to be over.
This is a disaster. An ongoing, deteriorating, unspeakable disaster — for us Israelis, for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, for the hostages, and for anyone who believes we have no choice but to somehow share this land with one another in full equality. And shame on you if you don’t believe the pain that Jews or Palestinians are feeling: we shouldn’t have to work extra hard during a war to “prove” to you that we’re suffering.
I refuse to blindly follow the herd that surrounds me. I’d rather be unpopular than give up my humanity. I lost loved ones in the October 7 massacres, while others are still being held hostage by Hamas. I want to do everything I can to save them. But instead of listening to those of us who lost friends and family — and may still lose more — to this violence, the government is using our pain to justify its war and silencing us when we level our dissent.
With the world focused on the horrors unfolding in Gaza, Israeli settlers and soldiers are running wild in the West Bank, terrorizing and displacing hundreds of Palestinians who lack any protection. Efforts to come together as Jews and Palestinians to talk common sense are shut down by the police. And all the while, our prime minister is busy approving funds for the renovation of his residence.
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The sad truth is that we are being held hostage by leaders who don’t have a real plan, and don’t have real answers for their citizens. The only thing they know how to do is bomb. Senselessly. To keep the war machines going. To silence their critics. To draft young people into another war on the empty promise that this will be the last. To exploit our pain and grief. But the atrocities of October 7 cannot be rectified through the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians.
How can it be that my friends whose family members are being held hostage have to beg their government to talk to them and listen to them? How is it that people around the world can have more compassion toward our hostages than their own leaders? How can they sleep at night?
Please, if you want Palestinians and Israelis to live, we need you to apply pressure for an immediate ceasefire. Right now. We’re suffering. We’re mourning. We’re orphans. Our leaders don’t care about human life. We want to live. We can’t do it by ourselves. Help us.