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An Open Letter to Hamas’ Defenders

We have so much to chat about—as soon as the war we never wanted is over

Elisa Albert
November 02, 2023

Tablet Magazine

Tablet Magazine

This article is part of Hamas’ War on Israel.
See the full collection →︎

Hi, Terror Apologist!

I don’t know who you are, why you care about the plight of Jews in the diaspora or in Israel, how long you’ve been involved with Jewish-Arab peace and coexistence movements, or how much you have personally at stake with the safety of Israeli Jews or people in Gaza, but I’m so glad you’re here.

Perhaps you’re a gentile with a social justice bent and you’ve recently become interested in a centuries-old conflict between people you don’t know in a place you’ve never been near. Perhaps you are on an exciting algorithmic adrenaline ride, learning as you go. Perhaps you are an assimilated Jew with some intellectual curiosity and the epigenetic trauma response of trying to cover your ass so you’ll be accepted by the secular world. Whatever the case, you are alive and well and safe enough in this moment to be putting forth some sort of argument for—or implicit defense of—terrorism. You might be doing so from an Israel bomb shelter, in which case I salute you and would love to discuss the absolute necessity of a two-state solution, the complete removal of Netanyahu and his cronies, a total withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, and the travesty of what unfolded in Gaza since we unilaterally withdrew in 2005 and found ourselves under rocket fire literally two hours later—once our hostages are home and Hamas is destroyed. Assuming you aren’t a random careless internet dilettante who will be on to the next “cause” by then.

We can talk about war crimes, morality, good and evil, when this war we never wanted is over. Assuming you won’t be on to the next cause by then.

We weep for the plight of the Palestinian people and for the ignorance and naïveté of so many who believe that anyone but Hamas is responsible for their current suffering. Someday, when this war we didn’t want is over, I’d love to discuss the radicalization of the oppressed. And the fomenting of extremism, and Israeli intellectuals who have been warning against this very scenario for decades. When this war we did not want is over, we can grab coffee and talk about Iran and Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And Jordan and Egypt and Yemen. We can talk about building terror infrastructure under a hospital, about the concept of “martyrdom,” about propaganda. We can talk about squandered opportunities. We can talk about Hamas’ misdirected/stolen billions in aid. We can talk about means and ends and which ends justify which means. We can talk about how a population that doubled over the past 20 years can possibly be said to be a victim of genocide. We can talk about war crimes, morality, and good and evil when this war we never wanted is over. Assuming you won’t be on to the next cause by then.

Meanwhile, our hearts are broken and our hopes for peace are dashed yet again, but we have long memories and a powerful will to live.

Am yisrael chai.

Be safe, and pray for the safety of others—


Elisa Albert is the author of three novels and a story collection. From 1969 to 1980, her stepfather was an active member of Kibbutz Be’eri, where Hamas carried out mass civilian slaughter on Oct. 7.