A friend of mine asked what I’ve been reading about the war between Israel and Gaza to help him understand what was going on. So I’m writing this post to share with him and others to provide a sense of what I’m seeing and hearing as inputs to my perspective.
I found this piece by Kali Robinson very informative: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/what-is-hamas-what-to-know-about-its-origins-leaders-and-funding. It’s well worth reading in full, because you’ll learn not just about Hamas’ origins, but about how Egypt and Turkey factor into the conflict (against and for Hamas respectively), the civil war between Hamas and Fatah militias in 2006, and how Palestinians view Hamas, among other context.
Another valuable read is the book Palestine, by Joe Sacco. It’s a non-fiction graphic novel covering the journalist’s 2 months in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from December 1991-January 1992. In it you will find a perspective and complexity too often lacking from what is typically available in journalism covering the region even 3 decades later. As an aside, I bought my copy of Palestine from Big Planet Comics a number of years ago,
Fareed Zakaria’s interview of Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is also worth watching. Barghouti is a Palestinian physician and co-founder of a group supporting non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation (of the West Bank and Gaza). The points where the interview would have been helped by Zakaria pushing back (such as Barghouti’s assertion that Hamas would release its prisoners if Israel released Palestinian prisoners who are currently jailed) will likely be obvious to viewers.
This morning, I just finished listening to the latest episode of a podcast called The Bulletin. Including a podcast aimed at Christians (like myself) may seem puzzling at first. But it’s necessary because trying to understand the region includes being aware of how American Christianity’s understanding (some might more bluntly say misunderstanding) of our own faith distorts our perspectives and our policy in that region. American evangelicals have been, and continue to be huge supporters of the state of Israel. This is where one of the distortions comes in: John Hagee’s group (Christians United for Israel) lobbies senators and congressmen regarding our country’s policies toward Israel. One of the key reasons for that support is a self-interested one however–a belief that a state of Israel is necessary for the second coming of Jesus Christ and that Jews will either convert to Christianity or die. John Hagee is just one of a number of evangelical preachers that have disturbing views about the reasons for the Holocaust as well as what will happen to Jews in the future as he interprets the Bible. A paper by Thomas Ice of Liberty University goes into more specific details regarding this belief.
The Daily podcast from the New York Times is the most consistently high-quality news product the organization produces. These three episodes about Hamas’ attack and Israel’s response have been very helpful for greater understanding:
The one link from social media regarding the latest iteration of war in Palestine that I will share is from a lawyer named Sheryl Weikal on Bluesky. She is a self-described “white Ashkenazi Jew” but pulls no punches in calling her co-religionists to task for their bloodlust and desire for revenge. In addition to calling out the immorality of bloodlust, she discusses some of the non-violent resistance to occupation Palestinians have engaged in (and the response of US states to it) as well as the deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli settlers. If you aren’t already on Bluesky, it might be worth it to join if only to read this. Twitter is predictably flooded with disinformation regarding what is happening in Gaza so I don’t look there for useful context and details.
Contrary to what we are seeing and hearing in much of the media today, what is happening in Palestine will continue to defy easy explanations and narratives. I hope there will be more journalism and reporting that seeks to add light rather than heat, and believe the links I’ve shared largely succeed in that mission.