Israel Either/Or, or Not


Timothy Braatz – TRANSCEND Media Service

Gaza Oct 2023

16 Oct 2023 – On October 7, hundreds of Palestinian fighters, organized by Hamas, burst from their Gaza confinement. They broke through the walls and charged off to Israeli military bases and settlements. They murdered, kidnapped, burned, and looted. The Israeli military’s response to this terrorism was more terrorism: airstrikes on Gaza neighborhoods.

In the USA, a Fox poll asked, “In Middle East conflict, who do you side with more—Israelis or Palestinians?”

This is push polling. It conjures up two politically unified populations set against each other. “Side with” means have an opinion on who is in the right. Either Palestinians are right to strike against a repressive settler state, or Israelis are right to repress dangerous Palestinians. Two sides to every story. Pick one.

Gaza is often described as the “world’s densest population”—two million Palestinians confined in an “open-air prison” by an Israeli blockade. Gaza is dominated from within by the Islamist party dictatorship of Hamas. Recent polling by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research suggests that a large majority of Gazans oppose a war against Israel and wish they could have elections to vote out Hamas. Another three million Palestinians live in the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority and Israeli military occupiers.

Israel, too, is divided. Jews make up 75% of the population, and another 21% identify as Arabs, usually as Palestinians. On October 12, the Jerusalem Times reported that over half of Jewish Israelis want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Netanyahu, in his efforts to keep Palestinians divided, has at times backed Hamas. In July, his campaign to weaken the Supreme Court caused elite Israeli military reservists to threaten noncooperation.

In short, “two sides to every story” is superficial thinking. Don’t be forced into bipolar choices on complex issues. There are multiple, perhaps infinite, perspectives.

More push polling: NPR/PBS/Marist asked,

“Thinking about the war between Israel and Hamas, should the U.S. government

1) publicly support Israel or

2) publicly criticize Israel?”

The question is vague, simplistic, and bipolar, which allowed the pollsters to announce, “Americans express support for Israel in its war with Hamas.”

As the U.S. military state is strictly allied with the Israeli military state, the only purpose for this sort of polling is to justify U.S. foreign policy. Pollsters with a different agenda and more creative imaginations would ask different questions:

Do you think Palestinians and Israelis should continue the cycle of retaliatory terrorism?

How many unarmed human beings trapped in Gaza do you want the Israeli military to slaughter?

Do you endorse Palestinians and Israelis who are working for nonviolent solutions?

The NPR/PBS/Marist pollsters did manage one other option for the U.S. government:

3) “Say or do nothing.”

Our imaginative pollsters might add:

4) condemn the slaughter of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli military,

5) endorse an immediate U.N.-sponsored ceasefire,

6) call for nonviolent peace teams,

7) send medical workers and supplies,

8) publicly support the Alliance for Middle East Peace,

9) reduce U.S. weapons shipments to Israel,

10) other ________.

Select as many as you like.


Timothy Braatz is a playwright, novelist, and professor of history and nonviolence at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California ( His most recent nonfiction book is Peace Lessons. His publications include Surviving Conquest: A History of the Yavapai Peoples; From Ghetto to Death Camp: A Memoir of Privilege and Luck; and Grisham’s Juror.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 Oct 2023.

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