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  • Writer's pictureAmr Abbas

A Tremendous Reflection on the Gaza-Bibi War

Editors’ Note: The current Israel-Hamas war is part of a long and complex history. The issue is emotionally and politically charged which makes it all the more difficult to discuss the current situation in a rational and unbiased manner. Recognizing this, we nonetheless consider it important to debate and raise awareness on ongoing events and to provide a platform for diverse perspectives. In doing so we seek to be as reflexive, objective, and critical as possible while taking a firm stand against all forms of discrimination and injustice – racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, or otherwise. If you think that there is a mistake or problematic statement in our content, we are always open to feedback which you can send to us through our contact form.

I’m a fan of Donald Trump.

No, wait, don’t get me wrong! I’m not a fan of the businessman or the politician. Of course not, I’m a fan of the tragic satirical (or hysterical) comedian Donald Trump.

Ex-president Trump, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, has provided me with the darkest kind of humor. I wasn’t the only one, either. Most of the Late Night TV hosts in America, typically satirical shows, enjoyed Trump. He provided excellent—although tragic—material for the shows.

My guest—if I may say so—today, is not Trump. But another fantastic figure in our tragic modern history: Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, or Bibi. I will continue to use the nickname “Bibi” because, despite the seriousness and the gravity of the situation at hand, I cannot take those ‘politicians’ seriously. If Bibi were to change his title to “Warlord”, I would gladly call him Warlord Netanyahu, but that is not the case.

Ah, right. Before I continue any further with this, I will, for the sake of objectivity, renounce objectivity in itself and point out that this is an opinion piece that reflects my own personal opinion, views, and morbid sense of humor.

Initial Reactions to the 7th of October

When the war in Gaza started, or restarted, after the horrendous attack of the 7th of October during which Hamas killed and kidnapped many Israelis, I was horrified by the situation. I was informed of the attack by a fellow Egyptian who told me excitedly that an attack by Hamas happened. At that point, he was not informed of the gravity of the situation. An attack on Israel could be anything from a 12-year-old child playing with fireworks to any sort of assault on flour.

It wasn’t only the gravity of the situation and my grief for the dead that worried me at that point, but it was also the aftermath of the attack by Hamas. Of course, watching the news on the 8th, it was clear that something terrible was going to happen; a continuation of the war that started in 1948 in Palestine. The following weeks witnessed a horrific response from the Israeli Defense Forces that destroyed and killed thousands of civilians in Gaza.

Different Perspectives and History

Now, there are a few things to take from that before I continue with this personal reflection—and I insist on calling it personal. Let’s take a minute to look at what Hamas is. Hamas is an Arabic word that translates to “enthusiasm” in English. A few seconds of a Google search and a Wikipedia page later, it turns out that Hamas is an acronym for Haraket al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, or Islamic Resistance Movement. Looking at the name from a Western perspective, I am filled with a feeling of horror, not because of what it presents, but because of the name itself. 

Looking at the name from an Arabic-Egyptian perspective, it doesn’t do much. It’s the Islamization of the name that makes it regrettably terrorizing. The terrorization of Islam is, of course, something that the West has done—quoting my favorite comedian—a tremendous job achieving. Anything that implies the word “Islam” is usually something greatly frowned upon almost immediately. The name “Islam” comes from the word “peace”, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. Ah, see? I drifted off in meaningless explanations and left the core of the matter again, or one of its cores. Anyways, the second part of the movement’s name is “Resistance”. Now, that’s the part that makes the foolish revolutionary in me grin and grimace and occasionally snort. Resistance can be armed, most definitely. Armed resistance is not something unheard of—if you haven’t, you should go and check the history of your country, whatever your country is. So, Hamas is, by title, a resistance movement. Of course, titles be damned, someone called Trump president at some point—the irony!

I take a look at the second title in this war, and it is the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces. I mean, can’t you just call them “armed” forces instead? IAF? Not as catchy? Okay. So, we have resistance—although Islamic—and we have defense. So, in essence, we have two parties playing victim, arming themselves with weapons and whatnot, and killing, murdering, and annihilating. And it isn’t a contest of who did it better, because hands down, the Israeli side would win if it wasn’t for Nazi Germany.

A couple of weeks after the 7th of October, the Cálice team held a meeting to discuss the current events and figure out if it was the right thing to talk about. At that point, I had reached out to several people to get their feedback and advice. The Cálice Team consists of Germans and Egyptians. I needn’t explain the German side of things because as someone who is reading this in English, you—the reader—are certainly familiar with the Holocaust. However, you might be less familiar with the Egyptian-Israeli war that spanned over six years from 1967 until 1973. 

I grew up in Egypt, and growing up in Egypt, you are fed the hatred of the state of Israel. I did not know why I was supposed to hate Israel when I was a child except for the war between Egypt and Israel. My mother told me tales of the sirens when she was at school waiting for my grandfather to come home from the war. So, it was not some hatred of Jews, not at all. At that point, we were to hate atheists and non-believers only—the irony! In brief, that’s the position of an Egyptian in the whole matter of Israel. 

So, you can tell that the team at that point was very conflicted on the best way to approach the situation. At that stage, a fellow writer sent us a piece claiming that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza—oh the irony! It wasn’t until months later that the case of Genocide was presented by South Africa in the ICJ. Discussing the situation while mourning the death toll in Gaza brought us to a huge problem: The definition of genocide, which does not have a proper translation in Arabic…yet. And then another problem came up: History.

I am a firm believer in the idea that history is written by the victor. But we are not at an age to even think of that statement. History is being written with every stroke of the keyboard, with every photograph of a smartphone. History should no longer be disputed. Yet, the publisher of this magazine and I crossed paths. My Egyptian history and her Western history collided. Both of us needed some more research on the matter and we reached no conclusive conclusion. It was an ideal “but my teacher said so” debate. This ended up with The Israel-Gaza War: Context and History.

At that time, an episode of a famous Egyptian YouTuber came out, a couple of minutes over an hour long, dubbed Palestine: The Story of a Land which I shared with many of my friends and colleagues because of how meaningful it was to the debate. This is an Egyptian guy talking about Israel and Palestine, but he uses Israeli and Jewish sources and historians to document his case. I recommend that you watch it when you have an hour to read the subtitles. There is a lot of history on the Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian wars that was mentioned in the video. The video, intentionally, is made to condemn Israel, which isn’t too surprising, given the background and everything. How many times has Israel been condemned by the UN again? Anyhow, the video played to my delight—tasteless as delight may seem here—when it comes to the history. But isn’t the history of the Jewish people too complicated? No, I’m talking about the history of the nation-state Israel, not the Jewish people!


Now, let’s call things what they are. Israel is an apartheid state. Palestine is a non-state. Islam and Judaism are Abrahamic religions. There is extreme Islam and there is Zionism. But then, I look at the idea of a ‘non-state’ and I shiver. It feels like something that fell over from a previous century. Would it be fair to call Israel a colonizer? Is Israel a Middle Eastern country? Is it an Arab country? I don’t know! It cannot be called an Arab country because it is not Arabic-speaking, right? But they do have falafels and shawarma…

Getting back to the topic, away from the incoherent rhetorical questions that have been fogging my mind for quite some time, let me take you back to the non-state of Palestine. Imagine being stuck, in 2024, in a small piece of land, mostly under rubble, without a passport that says the name of your country, or any country for that matter. You can’t leave that place unless you meet very specific and special conditions. You know that one day you are going to lose one of your family members because the ‘defense’ forces deemed them a threat. Now imagine losing your children, 24 years apart like the case of the Aldurra family. It is more heartbreaking now than it was 24 years ago.

Imagine being dehumanized as a human animal. Imagine being called a human shield. Imagine being a human shield. Imagine receiving a message on Twitter to evacuate an area…without internet.

The Narratives

In many of his speeches, Bibi calls the war on Gaza a war of good versus evil. Biblical? Rhetoric? Either way, did this narrative ever work in the past? Certainly, there are groups that will be touched by this speech, they will be impressed by the Israeli heroics and they will denounce all Gazans—No? Maybe half of them? The 30,000+ that have been killed? I don’t know. 

The idea that there are states that run based on ethnicity and religion is frustrating. The idea that we still have states and countries, that we still have borders, is even more frustrating. 

But then, we have the famous Rocky story, the Cinderella story, and the underdog story, those stories have been successful. Now, if this was a choose your narrative story, we have good-vs-evil and the underdog story. Except that we are watching it, at least most of us, through the lenses of social media and reality TV. Those, in my opinion, are the two narratives we have from a storytelling perspective.

Bibi uses Trumpist narratives like good and evil, even similar vocabulary, when Palestinian Gazans, who live kilometers away from Israelis, are underpaid, living without the basic means for a human being in the 21st century. Imagine being forbidden to use rainwater! Rainwater!

Humanity is experiencing a magnificent failure here. Would a two-state solution work? I have no idea. I think it would be even better to have one unarmed state of Palesrael and make people get along, not under the umbrella of religion or ethnicity, but under the umbrella of humanity!

We are flawed, oftentimes stupid, arrogant, and ignorant. But if we were to be mindless, let us not be heartless. And if we were heartless, let us not be mindless. One of the two works, but both would be tremendous!

Back to Trump and Bibi

Trump is a great alley for satire. Yes, yes, we are back to Trump and Bibi here. If you ever have nostalgia for the COVID-19 era—I sincerely hope that you don’t—then you are in luck! Well, if you are looking at the half-full glass anyhow. In interviews, Bibi addresses the US public quite often—too often! Through his speeches, interviews, and whatnot, he often uses rhetorical and emotional language. In many statements, he points out that Israeli and American security are intertwined, two sides of the same coin. But the message that the Israeli often chooses to send is through the language of the victim, whilst standing on his grand pedestal.

The language of victimization is—in my opinion—hardly used by the victim. The language of dehumanization was used by Hitler which is very ironic now if you think about it. I keep coming back to this phrase, “The irony of becoming what you once hated” in relation to the current war.

Trump has done one thing very successfully, and that is addressing the public. Though comical to many despite the tragic consequences, his language seemed to appeal to many and he was, evidently, elected president. Trump was the strongest ally of Israel during his presidency, but soon after, he went as far as to say “fuck him” when asked about Bibi for the very petty reason of Bibi being the first to congratulate Biden on replacing Trump.

Throughout my life, I have not seen a successful politician who was fair or good. The successful ones used their charisma or monetary power to reach their goals. I’m certain, or rather, I hope, that I’m wrong.

Reaching the conclusion of this rant, wouldn’t it be fun, for once, to call things what they really are in the present, rather than 20 years from now, after the entirety of Gaza has been demolished and turned into settlements, reflecting upon the past and building a memorial for the lost children?

My heart breaks every day a hundred times for all the lost innocence on both sides.

Written by Amr Abbas.

Cover photo by Merle Emrich.


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