Cole Interview – Podcast October 23, 2023

Sustained Horror. Steve and Karen welcome Juan Cole, professor of history at University of Michigan, Middle East expert, author, and editor of Informed Comment to discuss the Hamas/Israeli conflict.

Cole begins by offering historical context for the conflict, “There have been a series of gut punches with 1,400 Israeli lives lost and thousands wounded in horrific war crimes by Hamas. And then, in turn, the Israeli military has subjected this small and densely populated enclave of the Gaza strip – 2.2 million Palestinians – to very intensive bombing which, in the nature of the case, has produced very large numbers of civilian casualties with thousands dead and more thousands wounded.

“These are emotionally difficult times on both sides,” he says. “And we have to begin by acknowledging that, I think. In a way, I see this as a conflict between two refugee groups.”

He explains that the creation of Israel after World War II forced 750,000 Palestinians from their land and onto the Gaza strip. So, 70 percent of those who live in Gaza are descendants of those who were expelled from southern Israel. Then, in 1967, Israel seized Gaza and the West Bank and more or less colonized them, putting them under Israeli control. He says, “The Palestinians are without citizenship. They have no state. They are stateless, and people without a state don’t really have human rights.”

Cole notes that it’s an unsustainable situation. But he makes it clear that there is no justification whatsoever for the Hamas attack on civilians.

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