What Israelis are thinking and feeling since the Hamas attack

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Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. As Israeli warplanes pummel Gaza to avenge the Hamas attack, Palestinians say the military has largely unleashed its fury on civilians. (Fatima Shbair/AP)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. As Israeli warplanes pummel Gaza to avenge the Hamas attack, Palestinians say the military has largely unleashed its fury on civilians. (Fatima Shbair/AP)

The U.S. is warning Hezbollah, and the United Arab Emirates are warning Syria not to enter Israel-Hamas conflict.

Could the war spill over into a regional tragedy?

"It's very hard to hear any strategic, rational conversation in [these] times. Nobody's listening to that right now," Nadav Tamir, executive director of J Street Israel, says.

Today, On Point: We listen to voices from the region about what they're living through, and what they want the world to know.


Ethan Bronner, Israel bureau chief and senior mideast editor for Bloomberg News.

Nadav Tamir, executive director of J Street Israel.

Sally Abed, Israeli-Arab political activist. A leader at Standing Together, the largest Jewish-Arab grassroots movement in Israel.

Eran Lerman, retired colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Former deputy national security advisor to the Prime Minister.


Part I

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI: Hamas launched what it calls Operation Al-Aqsa Storm from Gaza into Israel on Saturday. Israelis and the world were shocked at the size and lethality of the attack. Armed terrorists descending on powered parachutes, gunmen bursting through the border wall on motorcycles, rampaging through towns, killing men, women, and children.

Dragging others into vehicles to be taken into Gaza as hostages. Soon after, Israel's counter offensive Operation [Swords of Iron] began. First on Israeli soil, then in the skies over Gaza. Israel has called up 300,000 reservists, the most in its history. As we go to air today, here is the toll of the dead and wounded in Israel and in Gaza.

In Israel, 1,300 killed, more than 3,000 wounded, 150 Israeli hostages in Gaza. And in Gaza, more than 1,350 Palestinians dead, more than 6,000 wounded. And the numbers will certainly climb in the coming days. Tension in the Middle East is high, and the sorrow is deep. So today, we will simply listen as people living through this hideous experience try to organize their thoughts, even as they are still in shock.

We will hear from Jewish and Palestinian Israelis who have agreed to speak with us today, together. But first, let's address the facts on the ground as we understand them now. And we'll begin in Tel Aviv with Ethan Bronner. He's Israel bureau chief and senior mideast editor for Bloomberg News. Ethan, thank you for joining us.

Ethan, can you hear me? It looks like we don't have a Ethan Bronner at the moment. Admittedly, communications with Israel have been a bit challenging. We'll come back to him, as soon as we can get him back. Because knowing the reality, the tactical reality on the ground is important. So let us now turn to our other guests.

Joining us today is Nadav Tamir. He's executive director of J Street Israel, a former diplomat who served under three foreign ministers. Thank you. as political officer in Israel's embassy in Washington and as consul general for New England. And he too is with us from Tel Aviv. Nadav, thank you for coming back on the show.

NADAV TAMIR: Thank you, Meghna.

CHAKRABARTI: Also with us today is Sally Abed. She's an Israeli Arab political activist, a leader at Standing Together, the largest Jewish Arab grassroots movement in Israel. And she's with us from Haifa. Sally, thank you for coming on the show.

SALLY ABED: Thank you, Meghna, and thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: Nadav, I would like to start with you if I could.

Can you please tell me right now, today how you're feeling, what life is like for you and those you know in Tel Aviv?

TAMIR: First of all, of course, the pain, the shock, the horrors are very personal, I believe, to any Israeli. For me, personally, I have family and friends in some of the kibbutzim in the Gaza envelope.

Some of them were killed, some of them in the hands of Hamas. I have my son who's an officer in commander unit in reserve, and my son-in-law in reserve. But I believe that this is the story of almost everybody that you will talk to.

So the emotions are very high, and for me, as someone who always tried to look for solutions and not to think through my stomach, it's very hard to discuss that with people who are so emotional, and some of them are full with revenge instincts that are very frightening to me. Because I do believe that even in times of crisis, we have to remain rational and human.

CHAKRABARTI: That seems to be a very steep challenge, though for any human being at a time like this. Can you tell me, Nadav, for you personally we've had you on the show in the past because of your concerns about Israeli democracy and the right-wing march of the Israeli government. I just wanted to remind people about that, that's politically where you're coming from.

But regarding your view of Hamas, in particular and Hamas's leadership in Gaza. Has your view of Hamas changed in any way?

TAMIR: No, you're always amazed by how brutal people could be. But I always knew that Hamas is not representing the Palestinian people. I'm sure that Sally, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and many of my friend also in the West Bank and in Gaza are also disgusted by what Hamas did.

And one of the fears for me is that in this times of crisis, when people are so shocked by Hamas, things like that will turned into kind of an Arab-Jewish, instead of understanding what Hamas represent. And I saw a poll actually right before this happened that the majority of Palestinians in Gaza don't support Hamas and actually prefer the ceasefire to remain.

So I'm very concerned from inner fighting, their inner conflicts between Arabs and Jews in Israel. I'm very concerned, or so that some of the, we'll see that also in the West Bank. I really want to make sure that we are acting in defense, which is completely a right at the moment and that Hamas should be punished, but we will do it smartly and humanly.

CHAKRABARTI: Hang on for a minute, and Sally I do promise to get to you shortly.

It's just that we have Ethan Bronner back on the line with us. The Israel Bureau chief for Bloomberg News. Ethan, can you hear me now?

ETHAN BRONNER: I heard you before, but can you hear me?

CHAKRABARTI: I can. And our apologies for the technological challenges. So we're turning to you for a read of the news as it's occurring right now on the ground here.

Let me first ask you, regarding the Hamas fighters who entered Israel, I don't know if any of them remained after the attack on Saturday. What's the status there?

BRONNER: On that specifically there, they did. Many did remain. They found between 1,000 and 1,500 bodies. So those who were killed and then each day since then, there have been maybe a dozen killed or captured.

And that happened again yesterday. People live in the communities heading in that direction. Ashdod, Ashkelon. Those towns are being told to keep their doors locked. So yes, so the infiltrators, there are still some here. In terms of what's going on the ground. As you doubtless know, Tony Blinken, the Secretary of State, is here.

And at the meeting with the Israeli leadership and expressing the horror about what happened, seems to be embracing the Israeli view that Hamas is essentially indistinguishable from ISIS and therefore needs to be crushed in that same way. That's the Israeli view now, that's the argument. They've been more than 5,000 rockets since Saturday that have flown into Israel.

The sirens go off in the south pretty much every half an hour. And there's an emergency government in which the opposition leader, who's not the full opposition leader, but an opposition leader, Benny Gantz, has joined with the prime minister and the defense minister in a little threesome that are going to make the major decisions.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. Now, regarding the victims of Saturday's attack, there's been, for U. S. audiences and, in fact, world audiences, there's been a lot of misinformation on social media. So Ethan, can you just take a second to know what we can confirm in terms of victims, for example, in the kibbitzes in South Israel?

BRONNER: I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to. In other words, have the most terrific things that have been said to have happened, did they actually happen? Is that what you're asking me?

CHAKRABARTI: Yeah, exactly. So what do we concretely actually know? Yeah, go ahead.

BRONNER: Yeah, concrete is difficult.

We do have, there's no question that entire families were found dead, burned to death by the people who set fire to their homes and their strong rooms in which they were trying to take shelter, many with bullet holes in them, unquestionably babies shot in the head.

So we have evidence in that sense. The beheaded babies and the raped children, I don't know. I do know that people are saying it. Who come from there and the prime minister is asserting it. The defense minister of Israel told NATO ambassadors today about those things. I'm assuming that they have genuine evidence, but I don't.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. And regarding the current state of Israel's counter offensive, what do we know about that? There's all the speculation that a ground invasion may come soon.

BRONNER: Yes. It seems to be inevitable. As you said, there are 300,000 in fact, 350,000 reservists that have been called up. About 100,000 troops are gathered in the South waiting to go in.

As I mentioned, Secretary of State Tony Blinken is here. While he's here, I'm certain they will not begin the ground assault, but he's not staying very long. I don't know how long it'll take, it's also tactical. This morning the military spokesman did say that the government has actually not officially decided on a ground invasion yet, so there is that.

But every analyst says it's coming and that it's impossible to do what they think they need to do without it. Now, it doesn't mean that the entire strip will be filled with soldiers. It could be that if they hear that Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in a particular place, they send a brigade, something like that there.

That's the kind of idea I have. I can't really tell what the nature of it is going to be. But there's no question that there's been a complete change in strategic outlook toward Hamas, which used to be tolerated and planned. Now is to eliminate its ability to do anything.

CHAKRABARTI: What does that mean, as far as you can tell, Ethan?

BRONNER: As far as I can tell, it means that they plan to kill every political and military leader of Hamas both in the Gaza Strip and outside, if they can. And they're going to ultimately hand the Gaza Strip over to whoever will take it. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, Qatar, the Palestinian Authority. But they are going to, this is their plan, not allow Hamas to reconstitute itself in Gaza.

Part II

CHAKRABARTI: This is On Point. I'm Meghna Chakrabarti, and today we are listening to voices from Israel. Nadav Tamir joins us. He's executive director of J Street Israel and a former Israeli diplomat as well. He has two sons and other family members in the military reserves and has friends being held hostage in Gaza.

He joins us from Tel Aviv. Sally Abed is also with us. She's an Israeli-Arab political activist, a leader at Standing Together, the largest Jewish Arab grassroots movement in Israel. Also has friends who were killed and taken hostage and has friends living in Gaza as well. She's with us from Haifa. Sally, can you tell us how you experienced Saturday?

ABED: Yeah, Meghna. Sorry, this might not be the time to correct you.

CHAKRABARTI: You can, please, at any time.

ABED: It's very difficult for me to be approached as Israeli-Arab without, especially now. I definitely don't feel like I am part of the Israelism that is being polarized right now.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. No, I do appreciate.

ABED: I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. Thank you so much.

ABED: No problem.

ABED: How I experienced it was surreal. It was very scary. I think there's so many, we are unfortunately so used to escalations in the West bank and in Gaza and we have this almost, the automatic reaction to it. As a grassroots movement here, also trying to impact public opinion here, trying to create and strengthen our joint Jewish Arab communities within Israel. But this was different. It was unfathomable. We didn't really, all of us are devastated.

I think Nadav really mentioned it. I honestly don't know anyone around me who's not impacted by this. We're such a small country. And everyone around me is just devastated.

CHAKRABARTI: Can you be, can I just jump in Sally? Forgive me. Can you tell me in a little bit more detail? Because again, we here, obviously in the United States cannot really deeply understand what that day was like, though we try. Yeah. So what did you do? What was your phone ringing?

ABED: Yeah, I woke up. I was actually up north at my parents. It was my brother's birthday. We were there for the weekend. I woke up to a thousand different notifications and every single group I am part of, and from media outlets.

I went to the news, and we had half an hour news in Israeli news and then half an hour in Arabic news. And I think just trying to get both of the narratives in there. It was, it drove me crazy. And at some point, I just disconnected, and I just went back to Haifa, where I live, to my home.

I spoke with my colleagues. Unfortunately, one of my very close colleagues, my friend she said that they weren't able to reach their cousin. We had a very close friend and partner in activism who have lost his parents. Many of our activists and friends have been also called for reserve.

We are extremely concerned for them. And we really tried to understand what we can do, but I'm going to be very honest with you. We are, we feel it's almost paralyzing. It's paralyzing. It's paralyzing.

CHAKRABARTI: Nadav, I'll come back to you in just a moment, we do strive to get our facts right.

So Sally, never shy away from correcting us when we're wrong, so I want to just be sure, given what you said, is it accurate to say that you have friends who were killed on Saturday or even taken hostage?

ABED: Yes.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. And also, obviously, you have friends and close acquaintances deeper than that living in Gaza right now.

ABED: I don't have acquaintances, I have acquaintances, not close friends that live in Gaza. Unfortunately, we have been separated there for so long, but I definitely know many people who work there who are deeply impacted right now and who are under attack.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. Nadav, can you describe to me, or how would you describe the depth of the shock that still reverberates amongst Jewish Israelis that Hamas was able to pull off the kind of attack that it did?

We're groping for analogies here, and I just don't know which one's the right one.

TAMIR: Meghna, I think that for Americans, it's the closest I could think of is 9/11. And yeah, the shock the feeling, how come we were surprised, is similar. In Israel we had the Yom Kippur war, which was a surprise war as well, but even though there were many casualties in Yom Kippur war, they were all soldiers.

In this case, we're talking about civilians who were taken out of their beds. Children, babies, elderly. So it is devastating. It's very hard to explain, and it's very personal to every Israeli at this moment. And there will be a lot of soul searching and trying to learn lessons. But at this moment, it's mostly a shock and pain.

CHAKRABARTI: And again, in striving to be sure we have our facts right, Nadav, you have two sons in the military reserves?

TAMIR: A son and a son in law.

CHAKRABARTI: son and a son in law. Okay. And do you know anyone who's currently being held hostage in Gaza?

TAMIR: Yes. Yes. One of them that I mentioned, because many Americans know her, Vivian Silver, who was always a peace activist, women waging peace.

I did encounter with her, amazing peace activists who, as far as we know, are in the hands of Hamas, but there are many others. And also some people are very personal to me.

CHAKRABARTI: Sally, you said, yeah, would you want to talk about Vivian?

ABED: I just agreed about Vivian. Our peace industry here, in our peace, anti-occupation ecosystem is just community.

It's just a very close. And yes, I knew Vivian. I know Vivian. I really hope that she is well and that she will return to us. I also knew Haim Katz who also, we were together in many protests and many, so, you know, Palestinian solidarity campaigns. And who has been killed in the South. We know his sister who is with us in the movement.

And I do want to, I don't know if you wanted to talk about this, our experience here, especially within the joint space for us as Palestinians here. We are also witnessing the devastation that is happening in Gaza right now. We are witnessing the attacks of settlers, who are being armed, further armed by the government in the West Bank and the attacks that are happening there.

We are seeing civilians here within Israel within mixed cities, such as Haifa who are really just having a lot of organized groups and getting armed and really ready to go for vengeance. And I must say it feels like I have no air. We are hurting and we are insecure. We are also, my parents up north are also having, living under continuous sirens right now. And here in Haifa, it feels like I can't go outside and even speak Arabic, I'm not allowed.

We are immediately traitors until proven loyal and we are not allowed to mourn our people, even though we are pretty much, partners in the loss that we have, we are experiencing here within society.

CHAKRABARTI: Yeah, Sally. I want to acknowledge that both of you are committed, deeply committed, to a peace process, the protection of Israeli democracy, the dignity of the Palestinian people.

That's why we've had both of you on the show before and I'm utterly grateful that in this excruciating moment you're willing to come on together again. But I want to introduce a different voice now. He's Eran Lerman. He's a retired colonel in the Israel Defense Forces or the IDF, former deputy national security advisor to the prime minister, and he joins us from Modi'in in Israel.

Eran Lerman, welcome to the show.

ERAN LERMAN: Thank you for having me. It's good to be in Boston in the spirit, if not in the body, and let me make it very clear that in some respects I'm on the same side with others in Israel fighting for our democratic future, but right now we are in a different kind of war.

CHAKRABARTI: So can you tell me more about that? Do you think that the voices that we've heard thus far are representative of the overall sentiment and desire of the Jewish Israeli people?

LERMAN: Let me be very clear. I've heard people who are definitely coming from a long tradition of seeking peace, as well as people who come from the more distinct right and center right in Israel, all United around the notion that what happened has completely changed the nature of our purposes vis-a-vis Hamas. This and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as their adjunct, and the simple fact is that for all too many Israelis across the board, the shadow of the Holocaust, not just ISIS, which is in reference to the experience of others in the world, but our historical Jewish experience, the acts of slaughter that we have witnessed have evoked the worst aspect of our national history.

And therefore, if this is a Nazi phenomenon, and by the way, I can make the argument that Hamas has adhered to a Nazi perspective of history, going back to its original covenant of 1988. But if this is a Nazi proposition, then it should end in the way the Nazis did, with the utter destruction of their capability to rule.

And then the people of Gaza will have been liberated from a totalitarian, Islamist, murderous organization. And then the future would open to alternative possibilities. I don't think that anyone, to draw a comparison, nobody in what they called Bizonia, the British American occupation zone in '45, could imagine that in four years there would be a German Federal Republic joining NATO.

But I don't at the moment, I cannot speculate about how we are going to get from here to there. But I know that the great majority of Israelis are now determined to back the new unity government. In pursuing the destruction of Hamas as the political and military rulers of the Gaza Strip.

CHAKRABARTI: Colonel Lerman, if I may ask, Ethan Bronner from Bloomberg had said earlier that the destruction of Hamas means, in the eyes of the Israeli government right now, the death of everyone associated with Hamas.

Would you agree with that?

LERMAN: Either the death, or departure or capture. But this organization has committed the most unspeakable atrocities that Israelis are aware of. We, I don't think in our public we've seen the images that our leaders and America's leaders have been exposed to, because we shy away from looking at these horrors.

But this is enough to convince everyone here that we are in a very dangerous, different kind of situation than the previous rounds of, say, 2009 or 2012, 2014, 2021. All of these were bad enough, with rockets falling on our civilian population, but we've learned how to contain and restore deterrence. By now we are not talking about deterrence anymore, we are talking about a profound change.

CHAKRABARTI: Colonel Lerman, does the destruction of Hamas, though, require the destruction of Gaza? And the civilians in it?

LERMAN: That's an overstatement. It requires quite a lot of firepower used in areas under Hamas direct control. And it will require, in all probability, ground maneuver into the areas which, where they will be found and destroyed. But that's something else from speaking about a full destruction of Gaza as such.

And ultimately there will be a population in Gaza which we would need to help come back to a normal life under a different management.

CHAKRABARTI: I wonder if I could share with you something that President Joe Biden here in the United States said earlier this week when he gave his unequivocal support to Israel and he said he'd just gotten off the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

BIDEN: I told him, if the United States experience what Israel is experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive, and overwhelming. We also discussed how democracies like Israel and the United States are stronger and more secure when we act according to the rule of law. Terrorists purposely target civilians, kill them.

We uphold the laws of war, the law of war. It matters, there's a difference.

CHAKRABARTI: Colonel Lerman, what's your response to that?

LERMAN: So do we. The laws of war create leeway for action when enemy, specifically terrorist organizations hide deep within civilian populations. And then what Israel has been doing systematically is to suggest to these civilians to leave the areas, and we have been doing this now. In the past it used to be done by dropping small, smaller bombs on roof, rooftops.

CHAKRABARTI: Colonel Lerman, forgive me for the interruption. I will let you continue that thought. I just have to take a quick break, so hold on for just a moment.

Part III

CHAKRABARTI: Colonel Eran Lerman, I want to give you a chance to continue your response to the question I had earlier. But let me just add a little bit of context. That I hear you clearly, that the aim, you're in complete alignment with the aim of the Israeli government right now about the total elimination of Hamas and that you see Israel's response thus far as in following the laws of war.

But does the elimination of Hamas require such thing as we've been seeing? We've also seen as the shutting off of power, the not opening escape routes for Palestinian civilians, blockading water, electricity, fuel. How does that not constitute some kind of elective punishment, but instead a justified response to Hamas's attack?

Colonel Lerman, we are just having trouble today with the connections to Israel. My deepest apologies to all of our listeners. Nadav Tamir, let me turn back to you. And Sally, of course, I'm going to want to hear you on this, but you heard Colonel Lerman say very clearly that he believes this is an existential moment for Israel, that Hamas has proven once and for all of its anti-Semitic desire to eliminate the state of Israel and thus the response from the Israeli military and government are not just justified, but necessary.

Do you feel that way?

TAMIR: I do believe that.

ABED: (SIGHS) I am so mad, but Nadav I'm going to let you start.

TAMIR: Okay. Listen, I think that Biden said, Israel has a right to respond. But we have to respond within boundaries of international law, for two reasons. One of them is moral, that we don't see Hamas or ISIS as the criteria.

Just like democracies, liberal democracies should act differently. Secondly, because this amazing international backing that we have right now could turn on the dime. And thirdly, I think the priority right now should have to be to bring the abductees back home. Punishing Hamas could always happen later.

The surprise operationally is not there anymore. And first and foremost, we have to bring [those stuck] back home. Many of them are Americans. And I think this is part of what Secretary Blinken is doing in Israel, to make sure that this is the priority. And the last thing that I will say, that Hamas as a terror organization should be dealt with militarily, but there are no military solution to the Palestinian issue.

America, with a stronger military, couldn't solve Iraq or Afghanistan or even Vietnam with military means alone. We have to have a diplomatic strategy alongside the military means. And when you say take down Hamas, Hamas as terrorist organization is maybe smaller, but in terms of the represented its representative of the Palestinian society, I believe that between 20% to 30% of the Palestinians support Hamas, not necessarily, not the terror attacks, but in terms of who they are as Islamists.

So I think it's very dangerous to speak in such a black and white terms and we have to be much more strategic and smart in the way we deal with it.

CHAKRABARTI: Sally, please go ahead.

ABED: Oh my God, Meghna. Like hearing people just talk so recklessly. And using cynically words like Nazis, when we have Jewish supremacists, openly Jewish supremacists, fascists in the Israeli government, an Israeli oppressive violent regime for decades. And currently slaughtering kids, over 300 kids have been killed in Gaza right now. And just, I think the cynical use of the very real problem and phenomenon of antisemitism in the world.

And the very real, listen, we are all, when you are trying to talk about Palestinian solidarity and talk about the context of the occupation and the context of the oppressive, violent Israeli regime for decades here against Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank and within Israel, by the way, we are all expected justifiably to condemn Hamas.

We should, we have to, we must. No one who is unconditionally supporting Israel right now, including the most powerful countries in the world are expected to condemn the oppressive Israeli regime, and that is just hypocritical and unacceptable. And it makes me just so sad that we are at a place where my people being slaughtered is justified by the catastrophe of my society.

And this duality of experience right now is very overwhelming, but it is also just so crystal clear to me, the hypocrisy of the world and the hypocrisy of the U.S. government and the hypocrisy of the Israeli government right now. And I really hope that my message will get through.

CHAKRABARTI: Sally, I do beg everyone's forgiveness when I have to interrupt. There's just that slight delay on the line. But we do have Colonel Lerman back for just a moment. And Colonel Lerman, just your response to what you've just heard, because I will note that there is death and destruction going on in Gaza.

Yes. And that's what I was asking you about earlier. But it's also come, to just state the obvious, after also the slaughter of Israelis on Saturday. But go ahead, Colonel.

LERMA: Children and women and the elderly. In a way, reminiscent, clearly reminiscent of Nazi massacres. And this is not my imagery or the imagery of some kind of hard-hearted Israelis.

This is the imagery that came to the mind of the President of the United States when he saw the evidence. If he's cynical about it, I don't know who, what the term cynical means. The reaction to the slaughter of children is not cynicism.

CHAKRABARTI: But Colonel, you also heard Nadav Tamir say that a military solution, forgive me, but a military solution that annihilates Hamas is not actually going to solve the problem.

LERMAN: It's not going to solve the problem. It's going to solve a problem. And with that kind of logic, quite frankly all the adults would have died in his bed because to break the regime in Germany in 1945 required some terrible actions, and with terrible consequences.

ABED: You still haven't addressed the fact that Israel maintains an oppressive, violent regime over Palestinians for decades now.

ABED: You're not expected to address it. I am with you. I am with you. I condemn Hamas. I condemn their actions.

CHAKRABARTI: I can see if we can get Sally Abed back. But Colonel Lerman, I'll let you wrap up and then we have to move on. Go ahead.

LERMAN: Let me say, when Israel left Gaza in 2005, approved every last Jew from the territory of Gaza, let it live its own life.

And two years later, it was taken over by Hamas and being aware of what Hamas is and was, the result was obviously that we had to be very wary of our relationship with that entity. But nevertheless, for 16 years, Israel tried an attitude that would somehow maintain a live and let live reality.

No longer.

CHAKRABARTI: Colonel Eran Lerman, thank you so much for joining us today. He joins us from Modi'in in Israel. Thank you, Colonel.

LERMAN: Thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: Now, Sally and Nadav, I know that you continue to have very strong responses to what the colonel said. This is the first of many conversations, I promise, that we will have about what's happening in your lives and lives of people across the region right now.

But in the last few minutes of the show we have today, I want to actually turn a corner slightly and ask for your expertise regarding what we here in the United States need to understand about this moment. And I do so because we've received a lot of calls from listeners with very specific points of view.

And I just wanted to share some of those listeners and their questions, but more importantly their perspectives.

LISTENER MONTAGE: Why is the coverage across NPR so biased?

And why is it okay that the people in Gaza are completely cut off from food, water, electricity? Why are they being punished? They are victims of this conflict just as much as the people in Israel are. And the bias toward Israel is so blatant and so incredibly wrong.

I would like to better understand why much of the Western world recognizes and defends Ukraine's right to fight Russian occupiers in their territory. But does not support the Palestinians right to fight Israeli occupation.

They are an oppressed people, and they have a right to resist, and we might not always like the way they do it.

But as I think more about the back history of Gaza, I think a better analogy is Northern Ireland and the IRA's attacks there. I wonder if the people who brought about the resolution of that conflict might not be better suited to help him in the current situation.

I'm a child survivor of the Holocaust. Many of my relatives perished in the death camps, however, I became quite concerned about the condescension, to put it lightly, that was shown by a number of Israelis that I came across towards the Palestinians. It was crushing.

I'm just a little devastated that you'll show pro-Palestinian voices after the absolute barbaric action taken on a Jewish holiday without warning.

I realize you're always trying to be objective, it really isn't that, is it? You are subjectively active in it.

Until we as a human race learn that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, we're just going to continue.

CHAKRABARTI: Nadav, what I take away from those listeners, many who called us, are two things.

One is that there's a, no matter what one's perspective here, we, Americans have a willfully narrow point of view. And second, there's a sense that amongst the listeners who called, wanting to hear much more about the Palestinian people, many of them, unlike Sally has been saying, many of them are just equating, all of the Palestinian people in Gaza with Hamas.

And therefore, they find elementary justification for the specificity of the way Hamas attacked. You heard that one person say, "We may not like it, but they have the right." What do you think we are misunderstanding here, Nadav?

TAMIR: I believe it's not just you. It's a human nature to think in a kind of zero sum, but it's usually a mistake.

The only way to solve things is to look for a solution and not to try to win the blame game and definitely not to broad kind of brush that all Palestinians or all Gazan are the same. I'm a Zionist. But I'm not a pacifist. I was an officer in the IDF and my children, too. Sally is a Palestinian patriot.

But we believe in a solution, and we believe in our ability to live together. And I would like to ask Americans instead of joining the blame game, join the solution. Try to find a way to solve this. Sally is enraged by Hamas, as I do. By the way, most of the victims of ISIS were Muslims. And we tend to forget that.

So this black and white approach is not helpful. Maybe it's natural in the first days when people still feel revenge, but it's not going to lead to anything positive for Israelis, for Palestinians and for Americans. And this is the approach that I want people to think about. How are you on the side of the solution and not on the blame game?

CHAKRABARTI: Sally, we have two minutes remaining, and I just want to ask you. You have condemned, clearly, Hamas on this show and for the past days and longer than that, but when you hear listeners say Hamas has a right to have caused this devastation amongst the Jewish people, how do you respond to that?

Because I don't, I'm challenged to see Hamas's action as having led to anything other than terrible devastation amongst the Palestinians overall, in Gaza.

ABED: I think Hamas is, in many ways, compromising our fight, our very just fight for Palestinian liberation. And I really think that Palestinian solidarity movement across the globe needs to contain that complexity.

Actually, it's not that complex. It's very simple to when we are talking about Palestinian liberation, one of our very basic foundation is war crimes, is attacks off of civilians, and we need to abide by that rule. I do want us to not fall into only doing that and demanding the other side to also condemn.

And I do want to equate. Okay. I might be controversial right now. I do want to equate. And I think the Israeli regime also needs to be condemned while we receive the solidarity that we need as Israeli citizens here.

This program aired on October 13, 2023.


Headshot of Stefano Kotsonis

Stefano Kotsonis Senior Producer, On Point
Stefano Kotsonis is a senior producer for WBUR's On Point.


Headshot of Meghna Chakrabarti

Meghna Chakrabarti Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.



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