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Who are we as Americans?

On October 7, 2023, the world changed.  Hamas attacked innocent Israeli citizens enjoying a concert.  Women were raped

and senior citizens were kidnapped along with children, women and men.  A terrible, horrible, cowardly act against the Israeli people.  The world was outraged with this act of terrorism.  President Joe Biden was quick to offer unequivocal support for Israel.  Most Americans supported the comments and position of the American President. 


The world was outraged and supported Israel’s counter attack against Hamas, formally known as Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya.  More than 1,200 Israeli citizens were killed on October 7, 2023.


No one would argue with Israel’s right to defend itself and target Hamas for this horrendous act of terrorism.  More than 270 hostages were taken, with over 134 still being held by Hamas.


As the war enters its fifth month; there is no end in sight.  What we do know is that more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 70,000 wounded; with reports that more than half of those killed or wounded are women and children.  Not to mention the recent shooting of starving Palestinians surrounding food trucks.


Does President Biden make a mistake by continuing to offer unequivocal support to Israel? I believe he does, considering Israel’s brutal military response, which most Americans, likely including the President, could not have anticipated.


Daily photos, video, and commentary from Al Jazeera show the devastation of Gaza.  The displacement of over 2 million Palestinians, who are without food, water, electricity, and the basics of human life.  When you see complete residential areas demolished, along with hospitals, schools, churches, warehouses and any place where civilians gather, it turns your stomach.  Gaza is considered the worst place for children now in the world.  Keep in mind the population of Palestinian children is close to half of the population in Gaza.  It stands to reason when you drop 2,000-pound bombs that you are going to kill children.


The United States is being called complicit in this indiscriminate attack on Palestinians in Gaza. The United States has vetoed three (3) UN security council resolutions calling for humanitarian aid to Gaza.  Moreover, when the US rightfully points the finger at Russia’s aggression into Ukraine, we as the world leader for peace and democracy need to be careful with our international policies; or risked being accused of hypocrisy.


This commentary began with the atrocious attack on October 7th and Israel’s rightful duty to respond militarily and to gain the release of their blameless hostages.  Moreover, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated his goal of eliminating Hamas and freeing the hostages.  The families of hostages want the primary objective to be bringing their family members’ home.

It seems to me, Netanyahu has another agenda: the genocide of all Palestinians in Gaza.  You tell people to leave the northern sector of Gaza and go south, and then you bomb them.  You bomb hospitals, you shoot at ambulances, you bomb schools; and then you blame Hamas.


This does not add up; and begs the question, who are we as Americans? I stand with the Arab Americans who voted “uncommitted” during the Michigan primary in February.  I cannot support the policy of Israel killing civilians and blaming it on Hamas. 


What happens to the Palestinians after the Israel-Hamas war?  Who will rebuild their schools, hospitals, homes and infrastructure?  It cannot be built on the revenge seeking of Netanyahu.


Some military experts believe it is not possible to eliminate Hamas.  Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe says: “To ‘eliminate’ or destroy Hamas, Israel will have to destroy the root cause of Hamas, its reason for existence. That means Israel will have to accept progress towards a two-state solution and Palestinian statehood for Gaza and the West Bank. 


Prime Minister Netanyahu is on record in January 2024, stating, he is opposed to a Palestinian state because it would constitute “an existential danger to Israel.”


To resolve this terrible situation, it is time for American leadership to do what is best for Palestinians and Israelites to prevent the ongoing genocide. Many say we are hesitant to do the right thing, because we are politically supportive of Israel.


Who are we as Americans?  As Americans, we are a diverse group of individuals who come from different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. We have a long history of standing up for what is right and fighting for justice. It is our nature to lead and take action when faced with challenges. By taking a leadership role in resolving these conflicts, we can work towards creating a more peaceful world.  By supporting our allies, such as Israel, and holding them accountable when it is necessary.


Let us remember the values that define us as Americans—compassion, unity, and freedom. It is up to us to lead positive change and create peaceful solutions.


Virgil L. Smith formerly served as president and publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times and Vice President for Human Resources for the Gannett Company. He is the principal for the Smith Edwards Group and the author of "The Keys to Effective Leadership.” He is the founder and a writer for Carolina Commentary.

Photos from US News and Al Jazeera

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