Remember the word “And”

Please hold all Jews and Palestinians tenderly in your heart.

The murderous and brutal rampage of terror that Hamas waged in Southern Israel on the Shabbat morning of October 7 was unforgivable, devastating, immoral and cruel. That day’s abhorrent actions should be condemned by every person with common decency.

It was the largest loss of Jewish lives in one day since the Holocaust and was an outrageous and gruesome crime against humanity. That some people have refused to condemn this act is deeply disturbing.

At the same time, the retaliatory bombing and invasion of Gaza is breaking my heart daily, only continuing the cycle of war, hatred and oppression. The number of dead, with a disproportionate number of those being children, is by now far greater than the number of Israeli civilians who were murdered, maimed and kidnapped.

This slaughter will not bring about a peaceful solution, it will certainly not bring back the dead; it is inhumane, immoral and must stop.

What repeatedly comes to me during this overwhelming crisis is the word “and” — a word that holds complexity and allows us to keep both Israelis and Palestinians in our hearts. It is far too easy to see things as a simple meme, in black or white. This situation demands complexity of thought, understanding of a long, complicated history, and compassion for both Jews and Palestinians for the traumas and pain each group has endured. And.

During these last horrendous weeks of the continuing atrocities in Israel and Gaza, I have heard my fellow lefty Jews repeatedly express tremendous pain and fear that their friends and fellow progressives have turned their backs on us.

The Hollywood writer’s guild refused to condemn the Hamas attack. Jewish students on campuses across this country are facing death threats and acts of hate. The pain is deep, traumatic, and historical; it has happened repeatedly over the course of Jewish history that we have been abandoned, blamed, hated, and seen as less than human.

That just days after the massacre of Jews in Israel, even before Israel had retaliated, pro-Palestinian rallies were organized by progressives is at best tone-deaf and insensitive and at worst, brimming with antisemitism. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been supporting Palestinian rights and liberation for over 40 years. But why was that the response to the chilling and gruesome slaughter of 1,400 Jews and the kidnapping of over 200 Jewish hostages?


I thoroughly condemn the retaliatory violence being perpetrated against the Palestinian people in Gaza where the lives of over 7,000 innocent children, adults, and their beloved family pets have already been lost, essentials like food, water, Internet and electricity have been cut off, entire families have been wiped off the face of the earth and communities will never be the same.

I condemn years of occupation in the West Bank where Palestinians have not been able to live autonomous and full lives while their Jewish neighbors enjoy liberty and freedom. I condemn a right-wing, fanatical government that has dragged their populace into this moment and that continues to support settlements on the West Bank, effectively quashing the possibilities for peace and a homeland for the Palestinian people. This cannot and must not continue.

In the complication of this long and painful conflict between two peoples, I ask that people keep the “and” in your words and hearts. Peace comes from hearing and understanding another’s pain and experience.

If you are outraged at the bombing in Gaza, please do not forget the horror and pain of the slaughter that was perpetrated on Israeli Jews and the resulting shock and historical trauma this brings up for every Jew in the world. Additionally, please remember that many American Jews have family and friends in Israel; the violence that happened that day hits us in a deeply personal way.

And likewise, if you are outraged at the horrors that Hamas inflicted on Jewish and other Israeli lives, please also speak out against the resulting trauma and loss of life that Palestinians are experiencing in Gaza; the parents who have lost their children, the families destroyed, the chaos, pain and fear they are all experiencing and the years of occupation in the West Bank that Palestinian people continue to suffer under.

Beyond an immediate cease-fire and the safe return of all hostages, I don’t know what the next steps are to resolve this conflict; I hope that from all this pain and darkness, a solution will arise, be it a two or one-state solution or a solution we have yet to dream of. The conflict has gone on far too long; the truth is that both peoples deserve and must have a homeland, and nobody should ever be forced to live under occupation and military rule.

In the meantime, while we all navigate this awful moment in history, please hold all Jews and Palestinians tenderly in your heart to help them ease the deep pain this conflict brings. And remember, in complexity, the word “and” must always be present.

Suzanne Greenberg is the president of Vashon Havurah, Vashon’s Jewish congregation. This opinion piece is personal and does not represent the views of Vashon Havurah as a whole.