Statement regarding the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and the escalation of violence it has triggered

Given the tragedy befalling the Middle East, provoked by the barbarian terrorist attack launched by Hamas with the goal of causing as much destruction as possible, even to their Palestinian compatriots, we at the Euzko Etxea feel the obligation to transmit our position in defense of peace, dialogue, and justice.

While it would be easier to blindly pick sides, we would like to recall that the only peace achieved by violence is the «peace of the cemetery.» True peace, Peace, is achieved through negotiation and agreement, and by accepting that «the others» are human beings, with the same rights «we» have.

(Versión en Castellano)

At the Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea, we are deeply concerned about the escalation of violence that has taken place in the Middle East as a consequence of the surprise attack by the terrorist group Hamas against the civilian population of Israel.  The launching of thousands of rockets and the kidnapping of civilians only serves to complicate even more the conflict that has afflicted the region since the 1940s.  They knew Israel would have no option but to defend itself, and that they could only do so by attacking their bases in Gaza, located within civilian populations.

Unlike the message those who have triggered this escalation wish to transmit, this is not the path to resolving the problem, but only to accentuate it, especially for the most defenseless population, which is basically the Palestinian one, which will have to suffer the consequences of this foolhardy act for a long time to come.

But that is the future.  The present is more than 1,200 dead, several thousand injured, and basic goods and services for the population destroyed.  This scenario can only guarantee more death, more violence, more repression, and more misery.  This scenario juxtaposes images of the assassination of hundreds of young people who had gathered to celebrate a musical festival for peace with other images of murdered hostages’ bodies being paraded down the streets of Gaza while being jeered.

There are things that cannot be accepted, regardless of who commits them: the surprise attacks against a civilian population; the murder of hostages and prisoners; the indiscriminate pursuit of harm; or suicidal revenge.

Just under 76 years ago, on November 29, 1947, the newly-created UN decided to partition that part of the Middle East into two States, one for the Palestinians, and one for the Jews.  What was laid out as a solution to a historic injustice, that of the Jews’ loss of their land as a consequence of anti-Semitism around the world and their near extermination in Europe, became a problem that no one has been able to solve since.

This problem is caused, firstly, by the attitude of the Arab states (with the acquiescence of the British authorities; the same ones who forsook the Basques when Franco took over) who started a total war against the newly-created state, convinced that it would be easy to “push the Jews into the sea” and thereby finish off the brand-new Jewish state.  But, we’re sure, they did not do it to create a Palestinian state, but rather to divvy up the spoils of the former British protectorate that had just become two states.

Nor has any help come from the ever-clearer will of many Jewish political leaders to extend the current borders of Israel to match those Israel had historically, completely forgetting about any inhabitants of Palestine who aren’t Jewish.  This position is easy to see in how they occupy territory, creating colonies on land that belongs to Palestine in order to make it Israeli; evicting non-Jewish residents from these occupied zones; and, especially, for opposing the creating of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state.

All this brings us to the current situation in which the radicalization of positions has taken complete control of events.

The terrorist attacks committed by Hamas could have no other consequences, given their breadth, seriousness, and cruelty, than a ruthless response from the Israeli government which, as we say, had no other choice.  And those in charge of Hamas knew that, though, like other terrorist groups, they follow a guiding principle of “the worse, the better.”  We Basques have known this all too well.

In any case, beyond the geopolitical matters or analyses, there is only one thing that is clear, and that is that more than one thousand, two hundred people have died.  Surely many more will come to light soon.  Also clear is that the goal of a fair peace has been pushed so far away that it seems like we are back in the times of the Yom Kippur War.  The only not inconsiderable difference is that now, the support of Arab countries for the Palestinian cause is much weaker.  Perhaps it would be better to say that the tense relationships between these countries and Israel have noticeably cooled off, with the exception of Iran.

This terrorist attack by Hamas, and not the Palestinians, is going to be a hard blow for Israel, especially for its civilian population, because beyond the deaths and damage, they have been shown to be vulnerable.  But even worse, this will be a disaster for Palestine and the Palestinians, who are the ones who, in the short and medium term, will have to bear the brunt of the consequences of actions decided upon not by them, but rather by a terrorist group that only works in its own interest.  Death, destruction, misery, and more occupation are going to be some of said consequences.

In the end, the violence, the intransigence, and the inability to find solutions only push away the fair peace that would allow for the coexistence of two states in peace and with stable borders.

We will now hear verbal attacks against Hamas, and against Israel’s reaction.  We will hear many proposals, with the pretentious tones of seriousness, to erase this state, Israel, from the face of the earth, with arguments that are very similar to those which asked for the disappearance of the Jews from Europe, or the world.

What we will find much harder to hear are the many voices, from Israel, Palestine, the Middle East, the United States, Europe, and the world, which condemn the violence, defend the right of the people for self-determination, defend the right of the Jews and of the Palestinians to have a home and a state, and support the need to find a solution at a negotiation table; a solution that will never be found on a battlefield—unless that solution is the annihilation of the other side.

In these terrible times, we are with the Jewish people who have suffered this terrorist attack, and with those who were kidnapped and murdered as a consequence, and with the Palestinian civilians who will have to suffer the bombings in Gaza.  Each person who dies is a nail closing the box that would release peace and coexistence, making it that much harder to open.  It is the consequence, and the goal, of the actions that are guided by the principle of “victory or death,” and those who believe that, as they die killing, they shall become martyrs.

In times like these, we recall the words of Basque poet Blas de Otero.

Pido la paz y la palabraI ask for peace and the word
en defensa del reino
del hombre y su justicia. Pido
la paz
y la palabra. He dicho
«del hombre y su justicia»,
«océano pacífico»,
lo que me dejan.
la paz y la palabra.
I write
in defense of the kingdom
of man and his justice.  I ask
for peace
and the word.  I said,
et cetera.
I say
“of man and his justice,”
“pacific ocean,”
what they let me have.
I ask
for peace and the word.

Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea

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