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What progressives need to understand about the October 7 massacre

  • 04 December 2023
  For over 40 years, I have supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That term means two states for two peoples: the existing Jewish State of Israel in roughly the internationally recognised Green Line borders, and an independent Arab state of Palestine in approximately the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Such an outcome can only come about as the result of peaceful negotiations that advance compromise and moderation on both sides, as Nick Dyrenfurth and I discussed at length in our earlier book, Boycotting Israel is Wrong.

To be sure, we presently seem further away from this goal than at any other time I can recall. But there is no other realistic alternative framework for securing the national rights of both peoples. The so-called one state solution proposed by some Palestinian nationalists — whereby two nationally and culturally distinct groups that detest each other would be coerced to live together in the same cities and neighbourhoods — is a recipe for a never-ending dystopian war. It is arguably the equivalent of forcing the existing and highly conflictual nation states of India and Pakistan to unite under one authority, or alternatively the states of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia to revert back to the former state of Yugoslavia. The result in any of these cases would be a nightmare that would make the current violence in Israel and Gaza look like a garden party.

It is from that evidence-based vantage point that I analyse the traumatic impact on Jews in Australia of the 7 October Hamas death squad massacre — the largest murder of Jews on a single day since the Nazi Holocaust. In my opinion, this impact was mediated by a number of different components.

The first was the concern and deep anxiety experienced by many Australian Jews as they tried to verify the safety of relatives and friends inside Israel. Personally, my maternal grandfather was born in the early 20th century in the Kabbalah town of Safed, which is situated in the northern district of Israel. His family had resided in Safed for a couple of hundred years after earlier migrating from Iraq, although for various complex reasons he would spend most of his adult life in Czechoslovakia and later Australia. But in 1974, his son (my uncle) took his family from Australia to live in Israel; this immigration of Jews from the diaspora to Israel is called aliyah. Although some family members