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Listen! Peace for Israel and Palestine

By Scott Steward

There have been multiple events, locally and regionally, voicing support for an end to violence in Israel and Palestine.  These voices are American voices.  These Americans do not agree with the unwavering support of Israel's government, and they have all condemned the killing of innocent civilians. 

The recent conflict was sparked on October 7 by Hamas firing thousands of rockets toward southern and central Israel in conjunction with Hamas militants, many on motorcycles, who stormed blockaded areas of the Gaza Strip, shooting at Jewish settlers and slaughtering people at kibbutzim and small towns, reportedly taking Israeli citizens as hostages (source).  Israel has retaliated with massive airstrikes; Palestinian civilians have also been killed.

Photos of Yesterday's Rally
Photos of Yesterday's Rally


Yesterday several hundred people attended the Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights demonstration yesterday in front of the State capital.


Last Saturday ten thousand people marched through San Francisco to demand an end to the genocide in Gaza and support the Palestinian people in their struggle against apartheid and occupation.

On October 18th several community and campus organizations hosted an Emergency Teach In: Palestine Now that was a standing room only event in Young Hall.

The voices at these rallies all want Israel to exist in harmony. The dominant message peace and freedom for all.  Ultimately it is up to Israeli's and Palestinians and the nations around them to sort out peace.  Our government needs to stop contributing to the long festering conflict. Current policy asks us to reinforce Zionistic goals of racial/religious dominance, and this has greatly reinforced extremism at home.

We should not be offering the far-right government of Israel unwavering support. Palestinians are human beings who have the right to self-determination too. Hamas does not speak to the majority of Palestinians. Hamas is the organization that Netanyahu's government chose to support in 2014 over the more civil Palestinian Authority.  Hamas was a fringe organization bent on terrorizing Israelis prior to Zionist support.

In 2019, Netanyahu was quoted as saying that "those who oppose a Palestinian state should support the transfer of funds to Gaza, because maintaining the separation between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state."

Neither the current government of Israel nor Hamas are sincerely interested in a peaceful coexistence.  We say stop. No more money for guns and weapons and we will make peace with our secular and religious Arab brothers and sisters. 

As a continuation of voices against enabling hostilities in Israel and Palestine, the Davis Peace and Justice Network will be holding a peaceful demonstration in front of congressional representative Mike Thompson's office on Tuesday October 26th at 4:30 pm until 6:00 pm.  We are asking Mike Thompson to de-escalate Israeli-Hamas hostilities and to condition further support of Israel on substantial recognition of Palestinian human rights and lands.


Roberta L. Millstein

Some bits of history that sometimes get lost:

In 1947, in the wake of the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were systematically murdered, the United Nations recommend the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem (

On 14 May 1948, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel (

The next morning, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and expeditionary forces from Iraq entered Palestine. The invading forces took control of the Arab areas and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements. After 10 months of fighting, the State of Israel controlled the area that the UN had proposed for the Jewish state, as well as almost 60% of the area proposed for the Arab state (

In 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, resulting in both the recognition of Israel by the PLO and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a partner in bilateral negotiations. ( -- see for further details of the agreement).

In 1995, Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin, who had been a key figure in the Israel-Palestine peace process, was assassinated by an Israeli ultranationalist named Yigal Amir. The current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been accused of inciting this event (

I know I have skipped over many, many things, many lives lost on both sides, many horrible political decisions on both sides, over many years. It's also worth noting that these events predate 1948 -- some would say that the tensions go back not decades, not hundreds of years, but thousands. I am not saying that both sides are "equal." I don't think you can measure atrocities against each other. All I am saying is that any discussion of Israel and Palestine should, at a minimum, reflect an understanding of the above events.

I echo Scott's call for peace. What is happening now is bad for everyone.

Ron O

I have a question for Roberta (or anyone else who knows the answers to the questions below.

What "pre-existed" the state of Israel, and "who" was occupying those lands prior to that year? (I realize I could research this, but I'm hoping to get a short-and-simple version.)

Some have compared this situation to the creation of America, on land that was sparsely-occupied by Native Americans. (And in California's case, AFTER the Mexican government lost control. Prior to that, the Spanish government.)

Is Gaza (in some respect) similar to Native American reservations? (I ask because it appears to be a "chunk" taken out of modern-day Israel, when looking at a map.)

J.J. Surbeck

Indeed, Scott Steward and Roberta Millstein have conveniently skipped over one key factor: the absolute refusal of the Palestinians (PA and Hamas) to make peace with Israel. All the vigils, demonstrations, letter-writing and emotionally charged demands for "peace" all over the world are nice but perfectly useless as long as the Palestinian side does not accept the existence of Israel, renounce the use of terrorism to achieve its ultimate goal of replacing Israel itself, and live in peace next door.

The Oslo Accords? A tragic blunder on the part of idealistic Israeli leaders (who should have known better by then) that the Palestinians violated as soon as the ink was dry. Just as handing over the Gaza strip in 2005 as a gesture of goodwill was another huge blunder by Israel that ultimately resulted in thousands of people killed and maimed on both sides. Some achievement.

With the horrible mass massacre Hamas committed in Israeli communities along the border, even supporters of peace at all costs among Israelis have at long last lost their illusions: it can't happen as long as the Palestinians are led by fanatical and corrupt leaders. There is no more room for genuine peace negociations. Now there is only room for a decisive defeat of Hamas, with the Palestinian Authority close second. Will the Palestinians themselves understand this new reality and change their attitude? Time will tell.

Roberta L. Millstein

Who controlled the land immediately prior? Britain. ( ). Who lived there? In 1947:

630,000 Jews
143,000 Christians
1,181,000 Muslims

Roberta L. Millstein

JJS, I agree that Hamas does not want to recognize the State of Israel, and you're right, I did leave that out (I thought about it afterward but I'd already posted my comment). But I also wanted it to be known that the current leader of Israel was opposed to the peace process as well. Again I say this not to say "both sides" but rather to point out the extreme challenges of brokering peace in the region.

Ron O

Thanks, Roberta. Even more complicated than I thought.

Here's my list of proposed rules for the world:

1) Don't try to take-over lands controlled by other people/governments.

2) If you violate rule #1, don't subsequently create "separate" lands (within the "new" country) for the people you displace. Instead, incorporate them into the new system.

3) If you violate rule #2, don't try to "make up for it" with a casino monopoly some 200 years later, etc. Especially when they're already incorporated into the new "system" (e.g., speak the language, are citizens, etc.). Doing so will (also) inevitably lead to conflicts regarding who is actually in the "tribe", to boot.

4) Avoid World War III, to make up for whatever screw-up occurred during or after WWII (or WWI).

This is (sort-of) why I have trouble getting excited about Ukraine - it was part of the Soviet Union not so long ago. Despite what the media tells me to be upset about. (Some in Russia might view that as a "civil war", similar to what America experienced.)

If we were actually concerned about worldwide atrocities, I'm not sure that any of this would be at the top of the list. Seems to me that there's some pretty bad situations in Africa that we choose to not be involved with.

I see no realistic chance for peace in regard to the Israel/Palestine conflict anytime soon, and "wishing it" won't make it so. Though it does seem that the hostage situation might be causing Israel to pause regarding the expected invasion.

Tuvia ben Olam, operating as Todd Edelman

Especially since World War II, there have been rules to ensure that war is sustainable. The Middle East is a great market for legal and illegal weapons sales.... Much of the world is. Issues related to petroleum extraction are thoroughly mixed in in many places... And the other fuel is cultural differences, sometimes real, sometimes faked .

World War II was a very limited nuclear war. One key lesson which came out of it for people in control of things was that it was necessary to make conflict, war and declared war more sustainable. So here we are.

Responding to comments above, the Israel project is unfair to many, including two Jews, both there and elsewhere who feel that their identity is tied to militarism. I'm not saying this to justify anything, just to help provide some understanding. Ultimately, I think that religion should be no more than a personal issue, with related entities taxed. Any nation that prioritizes one religion, ethnicity, gender....etc.... Is a failure of humanity. Honestly, it seems that no country can exist fairly.

By the way, I'm curious how people define peace or peace making.

Roberta L. Millstein

"Ultimately, I think that religion should be no more than a personal issue,"

It should be, but as I know you know, it didn't matter during the Holocaust what a Jewish person's actual beliefs were, whether they were an atheist or had converted to another religion or whatever.

So when you say, "Any nation that prioritizes one religion, ethnicity, gender....etc.... Is a failure of humanity. "

Yes, it is, but the failure predated the State of Israel and was in response to the failure. So, maybe failure followed by failure -- a highly imperfect solution to a real problem.

And to go back to the comment you made near the beginning: "Issues related to petroleum extraction are thoroughly mixed in in many places." It is my belief that petroleum is the main reason why the U.S. supports Israel, because it wants a friend and partner in the Middle East.

Minimal definition of peace: Stop killing each other. Of course, we can and should do much better, and there are many ways to cause harm. But let's shoot for the minimum definition first, since we're having trouble even managing that.

J.J. Surbeck

This is a response to Ron's simple question, i.e. What "pre-existed" the state of Israel, and "who" was occupying those lands prior to that year?. The answer is: there was no state in place since the entire Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire, defeated and dismembered after WWI, and the population was divided between Arabs and Jews, the latter having been there in an uninterrupted conntinuity for 3,000 years. The Arabs invaded and occupied the place in the 7th century, not before. France and Great Britain took over. Syria and Lebanon went under France's rule, the rest (Iraq, Jordan, Palestine) under GB's rule. Both were given mandates by the League of Nations (predecessor to the UN) to run these countries until they would be ready to rule themselves.

Skipping a few years, in particularly over WWII, we get to 1947 when the newly created United Nations (in 1945 in San Francisco) voted in its General Assembly to split the territories known as the (British) Mandate for Palestine into two, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. It was far from ideal for either side since it was a weird division of the territory into three slices of the pie for each intermingled with each other. Despite this weakness, the Jews accepted... but the Arabs rejected it, claiming that they owned it all already and were therefore entitled to it all when in fact there had never been any Arab State in Palestine. Jordan, yes. Syria, yes. Iraq, yes. But Palestine? Never. That didn't end well for the Arabs (they didn't call themselves Palestinians until 1967), and the result was the creation of the nation of Israel, while the 600-800.00 thousands Arabs who had run away during the war of Independence (for Israel) were understandably not allowed to get back in what was now Israeli territory (called the Naqba, or catastrophe, by the Arabs and future Palestinians, even though it was a self-inflicted catastrophe).

The pattern was repeated on numerous occasions, most notably in 1967 (the 6-day war) and in 1973 (the Yom Kippur war) when Arab armies tried again and again to wipe out Israel, each time ending up losing more territories to Israel, and this is an important point: the territories Israel acquired during these wars, most notably the West Bank, the Golan and East Jerusalem and the Sinai, were all acquired in the process of defensive wars, which entitles Israel to keep them all, and it has with the exception of the Sinai which was given back to Egypt against a peace treaty.

The question of "who controlled the land" followed by population numbers at the time (added by Roberta) is irrelevant. What matters is the reality that two groups of people ended up not being able to live together (due primarily to the Arabs' systematic refusal to accept the idea of living in peace next to Jews), leading to the many confrontations we know.

Now your question regarding Gaza. It is an odd chunk of land indeed, attached to the rest of Israel but separate from it at the same time. Its history goes back to millenia, with archaeological artifacts proving that there was a Jewish presence there (including synagogues) many centuries ago. When Egypt attacked Israel in 1947, it ended up with Gaza, only to discover how much fun it was to run a place filled with Palestinians. So much so that when it attacked again in 1967, Israel ended up with it. But when Egypt and Israel finally made peace in 1979, Egypt regained the Sinai but REFUSED to take Gaza back! So Israel kept it under its control and turned it literally into a garden that by 2005 provided up to a third of all vegetables sold in Israel. Unfortunately, in 2005 a deluded Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, thought that if Israel vacated the Gaza strip and gave everything it had built there free and clear to the Palestinians - without asking anything in return, not even a peace treaty - it would prove to the world Israel's good faith and desire for peace. That didn't work very well either. As soon as the Israelis left, the Palestinians in Gaza destroyed all the gardens built by the Israelis (worth an estimated $50 Mo at the time), stupidly depriving themselves of precious assets that could have jump-started their economy. The following year, Hamas won Palestinian elections in Gaza. In 2007, it staged a coup d'état, killed a number of members of the other Palestinian faction, the PA (Palestinina Auhority) and kicked out the rest. Since then, Hamas has run Gaza like a North Korean type dictatorship. There has never been an election since (same thing for the West Bank where the leader of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas) was elected "president" in 2005 for 4 years... which have been remarkably extended up until today....). Clearly the notion of democracy has no meaning whatsoever for the Palestinians. And since they took over, Hamas has initiated no less than five wars against Israel, which unfolded the same way each time:
1. launch thousands of rockets on Israel,
2. brace for the response, which kills hundreds if not thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians since Hamas hides underground and lets its people take the brunt of the bombing.
3. wait for the international community to scream at Israel for a cease-fire.
4. Israel complies before winning a complete victory that would eliminate Hamas.
5. rebuild, with monies provided by a gullible international community.
6. wait a few years.
7. start all over again.

And here we are. Only this time I hope that the Israelis will not stop before they have completely destroyed Hamas. Every Palestinian casualty is Hamas' responsibility, not Israel's.

South of Davis

J.J. Surbeck wrote:

> 1. launch thousands of rockets on Israel,
> 2. brace for the response, which kills hundreds if not thousands
> of innocent Palestinian civilians since Hamas hides underground
> and lets its people take the brunt of the bombing.

This is a good summary of the past 50 years, but unlike in the past when few Americans saw anything except what was in the corporate owned papers and news shows social media is now allowing more Americans to see all the dead innocent Palestinian women and children killed by the bombs the US gives to Israel and I think there will be increasing pressure (from voters and politicians on both sides of the aisle) to get the US government to reduce the billions they give Israel every year to buy bombs that kill women and children.

Ron O

Thanks to J.J. Surbeck and South of Davis for providing more information. It is way more complicated than I thought.

Perhaps this complexity is the reason I don't recall learning about any of this in school, or perhaps it was just avoided by the system.

When I was young, WWII seemed like ancient history to me. Ironically, it seems much more recent to me, the older I get.

Fortunately, I did learn that Abraham Lincoln had wooden teeth and chopped down a cherry tree in his youth. (Subsequently admitting it to his father, which is how he got his monkier "Honest Abe".)

Or at least - that's how I remember it at this point. :-)

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