I periodically play poker with a group of men whose children, now grown, went to school with my children, now grown. We play for stakes so low that really nothing is at stake, and we tell jokes that pertain to a generation of Jews even older than we are, so that we are engaging in nostalgia for Jewish life as a past generation thought of itself. A while back, as Israel was bombing Gaza, I got impatient with the complete avoidance of that topic, and at the end of the game asked a father about his daughter, who had had just returned from a Birthright trip to Israel.

Three of the six people present refused to engage in the brief discussion that followed, including the father I asked. The two most liberal, left-leaning people in the group defended Israel. To me, this is not just a question of a political disagreement. This is serious because: (1.) I am seriously alienated from the community of families that my children grew up in, and (2.) I am alienated from Judaism as a whole.

Let me briefly argue my position. Defending Israel rests on the premise that Israel has a right to defend itself against an attack by an external force. To me, this is not an attack by an external force, and it is not a war. Israel has created intolerable conditions for an entire ethnic population, which guarantees that there will be resistance. Israel then periodically crushes the resistance with overwhelming military force, while collectively punishing the civilian population. In the case of Gaza, “collective punishment” is an understatement; it is mass slaughter that could be called genocide.

What about Hamas hiding their soldiers and their rockets in mosques, schools, and hospitals? What can Israel do? I have two answers to that. One is that the rockets were not really doing any substantial damage, and Hamas was teetering on the edge of oblivion and had lost the support of the Arab regimes, so that Israel could take the moral high road and also the strategically wiser path, and not respond militarily to Hamas. Let Hamas publicly act out their desperation, without actually harming Israel.

But my second, more existential answer is that there is nothing Israel can do to save itself because it has already crossed the line of apartheid. Maybe Israel’s fate was already sealed even before statehood, when the hard-line Jewish terrorists (who later became prime ministers) murdered the moderates who argued that it was necessary to recognize that there were Palestinians who lived in the land they intended to take. In any case, whether there was ever a window of opportunity, there is no possibility of a two-state solution. A two-state solution would be a formalization of the apartheid status quo, with the West Bank carved up into isolated cantons separated by Israeli areas of settlement. If Israel does not become a multi-ethnic state (which is unlikely), then it will continue to be the heavily armed apartheid state that it already is, for as long is it can sustain that.

Secondly, I have thoughts about ISIS. ISIS is a totally heinous group of ignorant, bigoted fanatics. They are the extreme example of why I have turned against religion in general. The world would be improved if ISIS could be bombed into oblivion. Can the U.S.A. maintain order in the mideast by bombing ISIS into oblivion, in concert with a coalition of despots in the more reactionary states? Can the U.S.A. keep track of the many radical groups that are arising in the mideast, at cross purposes to each other, and bomb the ones that are a threat to us, without harming our friends such as Turkey, and without helping our enemies such as Assad? Does Assad even look so bad anymore? Can the U.S.A. achieve its military objectives with drones and without boots on the ground? Can it achieve its military objectives even with boots on the ground? Are there realistic military objectives at all?   What do we mean by keeping order, anyway? Do we mean protecting our petroleum interests? We’ve already backed out of Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving them in chaos, and we’ve allowed Syria to remain in a state of perpetual civil war, so how meaningful is it to defeat ISIS? If we do defeat ISIS, will ten new groups spring up in its place?

So what would I advocate doing about ISIS? Luckily, it doesn’t matter what I advocate because I have no influence. To me, ISIS is a manifestation of the unrest, chaos, and disorder that comes from diminishing resources resulting from global climate change, combined with increasing population.   The chaos will only increase out of control for the foreseeable future.

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