Listen now (30 mins) | Hi everybody. I recently got an email from a young Palestinian girl. It was maybe the most beautiful, and most rewarding, email I’ve ever gotten from doing this podcast, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Sometimes, it seems near impossible, at a time of heightened tension and polarization, to cut through the noise and get people to see that most of the people affected by a conflict like the one between Israelis and Palestinians are normal, innocent people no different from you or me. But I’m going to keep banging that drum anyway. Thanks for listening.
Here's the text of the email (with a few typos cleaned up by me):
I hope this e-mail finds you well. Apologies in advance for the English. I am not a native speaker. Originally from Gaza. Im (name).. 20 years old. I was able to secure the necessary permits to move to the west bank about 2 years ago to stay with my aunt and uncle while i conduct my studies. i hope to be a nurse (hebron).
I found your tweets a while ago and have followed you on twitter a while. I listened to your podcast series for weeks. Some of it i knew, some of it i didn't. It was nice to hear an non-biased non-arab (presumably not jewish) narrate the history of my people. At the start of episode 2 i realised they are just like me. The jews, I mean. They wanted their own land and came with hopes and dreams to secure a better future for their loved ones and families. I think there is probably a jewish girl my age wanting peace with us.
I know your media views us as vermin, but we aren't. One of the reasons i follow you is not just your podcast but you see us as humans which is so rare for people in america.
I don't believe israelis are bad or that jewish people are bad. I know in gaza there are many that do, but it is sometimes hard to escape that after what they have done. My family still lives in a cage.
The blockcade has destroyed the economy! Sometimes ten hours without electricity! Israel has a thriving economy. Tech centre of the middle east. We don't even have our own airport. We don't have good infrastructure. We haven't been able to rebuild. We have nothing. Even in the west bank they terorrirse us all the time. It makes people angry and resentful.
But there are many like me and my friend Fatimah, who even prayed for the Israelis when the attacks happened on the 7th. I pray Allah grants them Jannah. Those people at the concert did not choose this life any more than i did. My heart is sad for their families, what was done to them cannot be forgiven ever :( and allah won't forgive those that did it.
My own parents and siblings are in Gaza. Every day i hear from them i thank allah they are alive. He is merciful for sparing them. They would rather die then leave gaza and never be able to go back. When the bombs came near my home in 2019 i did not care. I was ready. I did not cower. When you grow up in Gaza you prepare for death. My heart is so broken for my people, i do not have enough tears left. Everyday new buildings. My old school destroyed. My uncles shop in Gaza in ruins.
One of the reason i adored your podcast and listened to it twice was you make us sound so similar. By us i mean us palestinians and the jewish. We are just both brothers/sisters, jewish and arab who want the same thing. A place to call home. They were just like me. The difference is when they die your media mourns them in a way it never mourns us. In 2018 so many of us died and yet nobody mourns us and humanises us in death. They have articles for lone IDF soldiers who die in israel. But when our boys die in the west bank, nothing is said..Just those dumb arabs that deserve it.
We did not get a say in how Gaza was run. I would not vote for them! My dad in fact hates them he calls the hamas leaderships corrupt baboons. He knew young boys who he teaches who join the resistance and he feels so sad for them. Sad because they were sweet innocent boys who saw their families killed by the israelis and then are driven to go fight for a group that does not care for them.
My friend Rakeem i played with when i was younger. He saw both of his parents die from the israelis. He also saw his grandparents, one sister and baby brother aged 2 die. Only him and his sister lived. He carried his little brothers corpse for hours when the bombs came to Gaza. He was only 11. Those are the boys that become angry and vengeful and rather than nurture the anger to do something good hamas exploits it.
My dad always say hamas do not care for the lives of these boys and that those boys could have done something great had they been given a chance to, but instead they will die fighting for leaders who do not care!!!! Good boys who are now bad men and ruined. But what can we do ? Fight with our bare hands against guns? Just as silly as to think we can fight off israeli bombs with our hands.
And once the resistance is gone i don't see we will have peace! I cannot see the occupation ending ... What's next for Gaza? i do not even blame IDF soldiers, they are just as brainwashed as hamas to do their job. i blame the israeli government for making them treat us this way!!! Their governemnt is viciously evil! Towns, shops , home in gaza destroyed, they don't even allow in building materials. So many dead in gaza. The survellience in the west bank is now worse than before! Settlers are legally allowed to carry guns to shoot at us! But if we fight back where will be our right to defend against the settlers? Children are trauamtized.
The material conditions for palestinians won't improve. And through the ashes hamas' ideas will be martyred and then it will change a whole group of young innocent kids who will become even more vengeful after seeing their families killed. You cannot bomb your way to changing hamas' ideas. Only improvement in our current state will see us change and make sure the childen of Palestine understand that the jews also care for them. Education is a must, then the Palestinians children will grow up caring for the Jewish. Otherwise if they are forced into the cage again then you will see something new emerge in a decades' time, and a new group will commit something much worse than the events of October 7th.
If you ever choose to come to Falastin, my university would love to welcome you. We have had a few Americans visit that are sympathetic to us and like understanding our side of the conflict and how we can make peace and get a proper state! We are very gracious hosts!!! I shared your podcast with my two friends, i hope they will listen. They promised me they would but it is extremely long so may take them time to get through. My uncle Abdal is listening. He is 15 minutes through episode 1. He is such a kind gentleman who wants to make peace with the jewish folk, even though he knows they think of us badly more than ever now. He was sad when Rabin died. He said Rabin was good. He hates bibi.
Some of the comments i see on your page make me sad. I want to comment then stop myself because as to not invite hate. (Also i run a harry styles fan account on twitter so i think i would just draw to much attention haha) But i wish people could see that we too are human beings with simple dreams. Mine is to go to a Harry Styles or Kehlani concert. And to get to 100k tiktok followers. To visit my amazing internet friends in Europe who i met on twitter. For the Americans to see us as human beings also, the way they see Israelis as humans. We aren't that different from the Americans, we just have a different flag. I also want my country to become liberated, to end our occupation and to restore the dignitiy of my people. i want a peaceful government. i do not want the jewish to die anymore then i want my own to die. I do not want to see buildings and homes and stores in my city turned into nothing. I don't want to be sad everytime my family calls because i am so anxious thinking someone has died. The situation at home is so bad :( And i don't know why some Americans seem to like seeing us suffer.
I wrote a lot here... But once again as a girl from Falastin thank you for telling our story. Thank you for telling their story too and how our tales overlap in a way that not many can appreciate. May you have great prosperity and happiness.
I could not have cared less for Palestine until I listened to fear and loathing. Hated everything about the podcast but ended up listening to it at least three times. It’s tough to realize everything you thought you knew about something isn’t true. That series has brought a big number of people to have a lot more empathy for all the people suffering in that region.
Mr. Cooper- I've listened & subscribed for a long time, and I'm very appreciative for all of the work that you've shared. It's enriched my life a great deal. This is the first time I've commented or engaged. While my deepest sympathies (as a free and unfuckingstoppable woman, with many lgbt people and Jews and other assorted haram types in my closest personal circle) will always lie with the democratic West and it's imperfectly executed but ultimately superior ethical framework, I have been grateful for the nuance and provocation to deeper thinking that your own worldview has provided. I was touched by this girl's note. It is a good object lesson in the ways that we all essentialize each other. She spoke about "Americans" in the same way that she seems to think that all Americans talk about "Palestinians", as if we are a monolith. It's human nature. I'm sure people on the internet are engaging in all kinds of Neanderthal rhetoric around this nightmare, on all sides. In the vein of "most people are basically decent", I have to believe that the vast majority of people around the world understand that Hamas doesn't represent all Palestinians. However, the horrible truth is that until the many Palestinian people of good heart and good faith decide to rise up, and reject with force and conviction the monstrous ideology that has grown up within their community, they will never be free. The outside world cannot free Palestinians (or Muslims more broadly) from the darkest tendencies that exist in their group, any more than any outside force could save America from the moral crime of slavery. We had to fight nearly to our national death to become righteous, and we are fighting still. The Palestinians will have to fight themselves for liberation, before Israel or any other power can set them free. If they do, they will find that they have more allies in their fight against external oppression than they can even imagine. I believe the Israelis would be first among their allies, in fact.
I would like your young letter writer to know: how many of us pray every day that the decent people in her world will gain the upper hand against the terrorists and the merchants of hatred. We know you are there, and we know that you are the first, and most numerous, and most tragic victims of Hamas/ISIS/Taliban/Hezbollah etc. All decent people are weeping for you, and are yearning for you to be free, so that you may put your desperately needed shoulders to the wheel beside us, as we continue to strive towards the ideal of universal human freedom. Godspeed.
Thank you for sharing this, it’s hard for me to hear these stories and not want to put on my tin foil hat and think that maybe war is the goal in and of itself. The military industrial complex cannot self sustain without these ongoing conflicts. They seem to be almost inevitable as long as the people in power are controlled by the money that is to be profited from war. We talk a big game about peace and democracy in the US but looking at our actions it really seems to me that we are a country addicted to war and always looking for a fight. It makes me very sad that so many people suffer globally because of our brainwashed population and a handful of greedy elites controlling the purse strings.
Darryl, there's a strange phenomenon. A kind of conflation I've been seeing a lot. My pro-Israel Jewish friends are very aware that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. But, listening to you (and many other American commenters) it would be really easy to think that Gaza has been militarily occupied for decades, just like the West Bank. Gaza is blockaded, but that's a different thing from occupation.
This episode is a great example of this kind of conflation. There was a terrorist attack launched from Gaza, followed by Israeli bombardment of Gaza and now invasion of Gaza, and in order to help us understand the context of these events, you convey to us ... stories about the military occupation of the West Bank and a letter from a resident of the West Bank. It makes me feel like you're trying to pull a fast one. All these stories about checkpoints and stun grenades ... that's not happening in Gaza, because the Israelis withdrew from Gaza.
I think a lot of Americans genuinely don't know about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, because commenters like you don't talk about it. But that has to be an important part of the story here, right? You can't explain why these attacks were launched from Gaza (rather than the West Bank, or somewhere else) without that piece of the puzzle.
And it's a very important piece of why my pro-Israel Jewish friends think about the situation the way they do. For them, blockading Gaza instead of occupying it was a test run of the two state solution. Can they live in peace with the Palestinians without directly occupying and oppressing them? Can "good fences make good neighbors"? Very sadly, that question seems to have been answered.
I strongly approve of your efforts to humanize both sides. Good job! But I also want to rely on you for relevant historical context. What gives? Or am I being tricked by Israeli propaganda?
Thank you for sharing this!
Hey Darryl, I must confess that after 2 years subscribing I made the decision a few weeks ago to end my subscription. It was a combination of finances and the recent content hadn’t been as interesting to me as what has come before. However, since October 7 I have been extremely impressed with your views on the Israel-Palestine issue. I simply cannot imagine missing what is to come. I got an email today saying that my subscription was ending tomorrow and I have gladly renewed. All the best.
she could have been a jew talking about the boys who joined the irgun.
i, a jew. have also lived inside islam. i don't mean inside a muslim country--i mean inside islam. the religions are identical. the good parts are identical. the crazy is identical. the language of mercy and the language of revilement are identical.
and for any believer of either faith, there will always be a floor to their mercy, if they truly take as god's word the dogma of their religion.
i was once friendly with a pakistani family who were educated urbane people. they'd lived for awhile in australia while the father completed an advanced degree. they had lots of foreign friends.
one day i was out walking with the two elder daughters who were a little younger than i. we were together almost every day; they lived across the street from the people i was staying with. they spoke perfect english. and that day, the older girl said to me--and she was almost 20 years old and was studying pre-med--that she really shouldn't be friends with me because i was a jew and the quran told her that was a bad thing to do.
she did keep being friendly with me. but who likes receiving a sort of convenient special dispensation?
all cults are bad. a jewish claim to the region of our ethnic origin is perfectly legitimate and valid based on historical and archaeological and genetic realities. bolstering that with religious bullshit is bad.
just as claiming that the arabs now calling themselves palestinians are not originally colonizers and the fruit of conquering waves throughout history is untruthful.
this can't be fixed while adherents of three cults keep bringing myths into a historical and political minefield.
I’m having a real hard time as a father and struggling working American man with this whole thing. I keep going back and forth with my sympathies. I wind up being simultaneously anti-Muslim and pro Palestine. Frankly I really wish Americans weren’t involved with any of this at all.
Daryl, you have done a phenomenal job here. Keep it up!
As someone born and raised in a Western country, but with family in the West Bank, thank you so much for bringing tremendous insight into this horryific situation. Please never stop being a voice of reason, both with your in-depth analysis of history and context, as well as posts like these.
Thank you as always, Darryl, for making sure that none of us can become too comfortable in our online silos. We don't get off the hook so easily - the world is an infinitely complex place, and humans can always surprise if given the chance.
One question nags at me, though. You say in this podcast (and many others besides) that (to paraphrase) most Palestinians are just like us, that they want the same sorts of mundane creature comforts and safety that we all do. And yet, I remember in that episode on immigration with those Twitter anons you expressed a good deal of trepidation about the influx of undocumented immigrants into the US because of the effects it does/will have on American society. But (to construct a partial syllogism), if most Palestinians are "just like us," then it's not far-fetched to imagine that most of the undocumented people coming here are "just like us" as well. If that's the case, then why be concerned with their entry into the US? After all, it would be hard to argue that we don't need our population replenished (as a means of providing a tax base to support our aging population, among other reasons), and if anything people from Central/South America share more in common with Americans than Palestinians do (given that our country has a huge Latino population). If you don't agree, and think that there are essential differences among these three exemplar groups, then what is it that separates them, and what would make either of those two groups - broadly, people from Central/South America (a huge oversimplification, I know) vs. Palestinians - different from Americans such that their entry into the country (legal or otherwise) would make things worse here? Is it merely a differential equation (e.g. rate of influx and assimilative force) - can anyone become an American if 'prepared' the right way? I don't have great answers to these questions myself but they seem pertinent to our understanding of what America is at the very least.
I hope she checks back in after a few months. It’s horrifying what Israel feels it must do. I actually understand it in a cold realist sort of way, but this onslaught won’t be sustainable and I think they will have a very difficult future with waning European and American support.
Darryl, this is a really helpful piece. I am sure that "be on the side of the innocent" is the best and maybe the most righteous thing. Thanks.
I keep thinking about what you said in episode two of fear and loathing, that for the political Zionist, anti-Semitism was/is a fundamental component of their identity. Like, the early Zionists didn’t try to correct misguided assumptions about how subversive and widespread Jewish power secretly was, they used that false generalization to their advantage, which in this case was getting British officials to fear them and get behind their intentions for Palestine.
Now I’m looking at headlines, from, for instance, the free press, that read “What Happens When There Aren’t Enough Jews to Lynch” and I wonder if this isn’t part of some unwitting self-fulfilling prophesy that originally served their political opportunism but which now has manifested itself in a very real devastating way. Like, does it really serve a people to continue to buy into and then turn around and sell their role as victim? No doubt the Jews have suffered real and insane hardships for thousands of years, but to make it one of the primary markers of their identity really feels like a move backward, into a corner. You know? That was what early political Zionism was seizing upon — we have to drive home that downtrodden identity even further, make ourselves out to be the ultimate victims, which, even if they were, provided them with ZERO justification at all to then participate in power-over, oppressive tactics, which they very clearly did in the creation of modern Israel. The point is they were not realizing the repeated biblical call to turn and remain oriented to the light of God, when time after time it is shown how an orientation away from God manifests only in self destruction. Does any of that make sense? Really curious what you think about this.
I grew up in the vein that would have had me wearing an American flag cape while waving an Israeli flag cape at one of these rallies. Now thanks to Fear and Loathing as the rock that knocked me off the fence, I equally am repulsed and feel tragic sorrow for both sides.