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By David Haldane

October 12, 2023


I had a whole other column prepared for this week, an amusing little piece about Filipinos getting 20% disability discounts for suffering from anxiety. Somehow, though, it now seems completely inappropriate given recent events in the Middle East.

Israel is my homeland. Though I have never set foot on its soil, its existence has afforded me sustenance throughout my life. And I would like to think that, were I a much-younger man, I’d be enroute there now to help assure that existence’s survival.

It’s not by accident that I identify so strongly with the Holy Land. My mother was a German Jew who survived the Holocaust by escaping to China, where she lived at the mercy of the occupying Japanese. Other family members were not so lucky; the Nazis murdered several just as their descendants got murdered this past weekend by Hamas. And those who survived were part of a family torn asunder, the vestiges of which were lost to each other for nearly a century.

It was in the wake of those horrendous events that the United Nations created Israel in 1948, the year before my birth. And it is on its shores that the psychic security of diaspora Jews like me has rested ever since. Had Israel existed in the 1930s, perhaps my family would have survived.

It is unfortunate that the historical and territorial claims of Isael conflict with those of the people the world calls Palestinians. For many decades, it seemed, the obvious solution—and the one posed by the UN—was the creation of two states in the region, one for the Palestinians and one of the Jews. But the Arabs have consistently rejected that solution, first in 1948 and many times since.

If there’s a silver lining in this week’s horrific and heartbreaking events, it’s that there can no longer be any doubt regarding the Palestinian leadership’s true aims: to wipe Jewish civilization and culture from the face of the earth. To finish what Hitler left undone.

I heard a podcast yesterday in which a former Israeli official characterized the current war, not as a disagreement on policy nor even a clash of civilizations. No, what this is, he argued, is nothing less than a clash between civilization and barbarism. Anyone who sees it differently simply isn’t paying attention.

So, what happens now? The goal of Israel should be to obliterate all vestiges of Hamas, the controlling terrorist leadership of Gaza, from the world forever. I would never advocate willfully targeting civilians, as Hamas has done routinely, and I am glad that the Israel Defense Forces is following its longtime custom of warning civilians before attacks.

That said, however, any Palestinians who die in the current conflict can only be considered tragic casualties of the chaos their leadership has spawned. How the rest of the world views it is no longer relevant. And if ending Hamas’ existence forever requires the re-occupation of Gaza by Israel, so be it.

Until now, I have been fairly polite and soft-spoken in my support of Israel. That ends today. It is time for the world to decide between savagery and civilization.





David Haldane’s latest book, A Tooth in My Popsicle, is available on Amazon and Lazada. A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines, where this column appears weekly in the Gold Star Daily.






  1. Pete McKee says:

    As promised, here are my thoughts about the ongoing horror in Israel and Gaza. You and I may disagree on some fine points. but I think they are just that, fine points that neither you nor I have any control over.

    When I first heard of the attacks, I thought it was “just another” incursion by militants. Then, I saw the footage of the attack on the music festival, and your anguished Facebook post. We were in Japan at the time, and outside of internet sources, the only english coverage we could get was CNN. Even the BBC was overdubbed in japanese. There was no question that it was NOT a military action, but an orchestrated terror attack. There was also no question that Israel would retaliate. And harshly.

    I’m not well versed in the blow by blow of Israeli/Palestinian relations since 1948. For that, and the politics of it, I must rely on outside sources I trust. One thing I have known is that the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas into the majority in their government. And that shortly after that, Hamas violently overthrew the rest of the government and gained complete control. When I think of the people of Gaza, I keep coming back to one thought. They elected Hamas, a known terrorist organization to be their government. What did they think would happen?

    The first outside source I went to was an article by Jim Wright, of Stonekettle Station. Wright is a retired naval intelligence officer turned political writer. He is a curmudgeon who tends to get hate mail and death threats from both extremes of the political spectrum. That signals to me that he is likely on target with most of his writing. His latest missive lambasts the right wing demand that people must publicly “choose a side”. Before he rips into the right wing extremist politicians and talking heads, he makes a point that most folks seem to overlook. That is the fact that some people don’t get to choose a side. The side chose them. Such is your situation, and that of Palestinians in Gaza and beyond.

    The next outside source was an interview of Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria made several points. Some were about the goals of a terror attack. Nothing really new in the list. First is to make the target population afraid to go about normal day to day activities. The second is to provoke an outsized response from the target government. Third, to extract some type of concession from the target government.

    He pointed out that the first two goals were immediately successful. Israelis battened down, and the military immediately began hammering Gaza. The second goal is basically a battle for public opinion. Commit an atrocity, then when superior force is brought to bear, go to the media and and exclaim “Look what these horrible people are doing to us!” Both the Israeli response, and the Hamas PR were entirely predictable.

    Hamas can win or lose the PR campaign, largely on how they treat the hostages and how they handle the aid convoys now entering their space. Israel will win the war. Of that there is no doubt. They can however, lose the peace, much as the US did in Iraq.

    I’ve delayed my comment, trying to get my thoughts in order. While I delay, the events on the ground continue. so I will stop her for now by repeating what I said on your Facebook page. I will choose a side. I choose the side of the innocents.

    • David Haldane says:

      Thanks for your thouthful observations, Pete, I can’t really disagree with any of them. I too grieve for the innocents on both sides. I also, however, think it is important to choose sides, especially when they are as starkly drawn as they are here; virtually, in my view, darkness vs. light. Those who side with Hamas, I believe, are no better than were the Nazis and their apologists of the 1930s. One could oppose the Nazis and favor the Allied response while still grieving for the innocent German civilians who died. I lay responsibility for their deaths squarly where it belongs: at the feet of Hitler and the Nazis. And so it is today with Hamas and the innocent Gazians who have died plus the many more likely to die before this horror is over.

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