Mon, May

Israeli Perspective on Gaza Conflict: Navigating Trauma, Empathy, and Solutions


ISRAELI WAR DILEMMA - A friend from college died in the Gaza war. I’ve been to way too many funerals than a person my age should attend. I jump with anxiety every time I hear the siren of an ambulance. I hear people around me saying they can’t finish the day without a glass or two. More than one friend of mine who’s about to study abroad is having second thoughts because of the rising antisemitism on campuses. This is not an attempt to undermine or overlook Palestinian suffering. 

The pain and tragedy Gazans continue to go through since October 7 are unspeakable, and my heart goes out to the Palestinian civilians. But October 7 is a trauma for every Israeli, and I use the word “trauma” on purpose. There’s a link between the psychological and the geopolitical. 

Until the war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was largely ignored by most Israelis. A false sense of security and fierce debates on other issues (church-and-state, judicial legislation, corruption) enabled Israelis to look the other wayHowever, October 7 made the conflict impossible to ignore. The murder of over 1,200 Israelis, the kidnapping of 250, the 250,000 Israeli refugees who fled the Gaza envelope and the Galilee, and the fact that almost on a daily basis soldiers keep dying in Gaza, are too heavy of a price, that every Israeli pays. That trauma’s influence on the geopolitics can be called Catch 10/7.

As the international community says that a two-state solution is the only path to peace, most Israelis, even from the left, hear “price to terrorism”. Calls from the world to provide aid perceived as demands to “assist the enemy”. The U.S.’s demand to make sure civilians are protected during combat is interpreted as “America doesn’t want us to win”.

However, at the same time, when the radical right in Israel (who’s represented in the coalition) calls to seize the “historic” opportunity and resettle Gaza, most Israelis, including on the right, know that resettling there means an endless, pointless war, with hundreds of avoidable casualties.

And so, Israel is stuck in the gravest moment of its history: we don’t want to make concessions, we don’t want to re-occupy Gaza, and we can’t just keep turning a blind eye to the ongoing conflict.

So, how do we move from here?

Some Israelis feel that “the world is against us”. While factually debatable, you can’t argue with feelings. More than once I heard that the balanced policies proposed by President Biden, hostage release accompanied by a temporary ceasefire, means that “he forgot October 7”.

We in the Israeli Society seek to address such false claims in Israel, but Americans can help too. I mentioned the term Trauma earlier, and the first step in dealing with trauma is being empathic: showing empathy to Israelis (alongside to Gazans) is crucial. That expressed empathy will foster Israelis’ sense that “America is behind us”, empower the moderates, and will help us take the bold, necessary steps towards a more stable region. 

That empathy can be shown by formally adopting the “Ceasefire Triangle”, the three Israeli objectives that from Israel’s perspective are crucial to any potential ceasefire. One is the immediate return of all the hostages. Hostages that were released share unspeakable, atrocious human rights violations. They must return. 

Second, is ensuring Hamas is dismantled. This is not a maximalist approach that seeks killing or capturing every Hamas militant in Gaza. It is about dismantling its military and governing capabilities, making sure Hamas has no future, as it is posing a threat to Israelis, to Palestinians, and it is also the largest obstacle to peace. 

Third, is creating a long-term reconstruction process in the Palestinian society. The fact that Hamas was elected in 2006 doesn’t mean that all Gazans support it; but the group does enjoy a good deal of popular support. We must dismantle the social institutions that glorified violence against Israelis (the reform in the textbooks in the UAE is a good model) and replace them with pro-coexistence institutions. 

The Israeli Young Generation is promoting just that: advocating for Israeli interests, in a way that is compatible with liberal values. We know that supporting a secure, prosperous, democratic nation-state for the Jewish people and that believing in freedom, justice, and human rights are far from mutually exclusive. The Ceasefire Triangle is proof of that. Adopting it would ensure the enormous prices we are paying are not in vain.


(Mihran Kalaydjian has over twenty years of public affairs, government relations, legislative affairs, public policy, community relations and strategic communications experience. He is a leading member of the community and a devoted civic engagement activist for education spearheading numerous academic initiatives in local political forums. Mihran is a regular contributor to CityWatchLA.com.)

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