The Cost of Extremism

 On Saturday, October 7, 2023, Hamas launched the deadliest single day attack on the Nation of Israel. As of this writing, 900 Israelis lost their lives. In the subsequent retaliation from the Israeli Armed Forces, over 700 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have died. A tragedy of epic proportions that have some political doomsayers projecting this is the start of World War III.

I don’t agree with that prognostication. However, as the smoke clears and peace eventually returns to the region, history will be an unkind reminder of how we got to this moment. It is also a precursor of what can happen in our country, if extremism in the political discourse is allowed to continue.

I am not an expert on the Middle East. I am an expert when it comes to violent rhetoric, oppressive action and a militant response. If you, as an electorate, allow your frustration to cloud your reason, and you elect the angriest, some would argue craziest, candidates to public office, this outcome could become an inevitability.

Thirty years ago, The Oslo Accords were suppose to lead this region of the world toward a two state solution, a recognized Nation of Israel and a recognized Nation of Palestine. Because of extremist bad actors in both Israel and Palestine, those accords never got the political oxygen needed to work.

In Israel, you had hard-liners elected that put an unbearable stranglehold on the Gaza Strip, limiting access to travel and trade. In Palestine, you had the second largest, and most militant, faction, Hamas, overtake Fatah, the largest faction, politically and militarily. While the Israeli hard-liners were dismantling the institutions of the Israeli government for their own political gain, Hamas was secretly planning and building for a massive assault, fueled by the anger of oppressed people, who equate their section of the world to an open-air prison.

Then October 7th happened.

People in America are trying to access blame on either Hamas or Israel, Trump or Biden. The real culprit is the world as a whole. One, the leaders of the world did not devote enough diplomatic time and effort to carry the Oslo Accords all the way, through several administrations in several countries. Two, the world, collectively, with the current trend of nationalism spreading like a global political pandemic, has set a terrible example that unfortunately Israel and Palestine has chosen to follow.

Nationalism is a deterrent to global peace. It is a breeding ground for fascism and terrorism. And if America doesn’t get its act together, this horrific scene could play out within our borders. Right now, we have to support Israel’s right to exist and condemn violent attacks. We also need to acknowledge the oppression felt by citizens in the Gaza Strip and commit to a peaceful solution, because violence only brings more violence.

But more importantly, we have to end the extremism here in America, so not only can we intervene to generate peace and work toward a true two state solution, but to be that example to show the rest of the world that we can be a strong, recognized nation-state without fear of being part of a vibrant global community.

Let the Hamas attack be a warning to us that we need to get our house in order. Once we relegate the extremist elements in our nation’s politics to back bencher status, then let us work to bring peace, justice, prosperity and equity to the world, because all people, of all nations, follow good examples.


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