NORTH ADAMS -- I have sympathy for people like Seth Milstein, who wrote a piece for Bustle.com (http://bit.ly/1xovJc7) about his experience as a Jewish male writing what he considered a balanced piece about the most recent Gaza conflict. It wasn’t balanced enough for his father and friends, who accused him, much to his astonishment, of writing a pro-Palestine piece.

This attitude was lampooned by Jon Stewart, who is also Jewish, with a much-passed-around video clip showing cast members popping in and yelling at him anytime he mentions "Israel." What he said didn’t matter.Just bringing it up got him screams about having an anti-Israel slant.

I am not Jewish, and I imagine that anything I say can be twisted in the same way, but more easily. I am 100 percent for a Jewish homeland and 100 percent against Hamas. However, the fact that I do not agree with Israel’s recent actions in Gaza and abhor systematic deaths of scores of Palestinian children, as well as see Israelis’ actions as a real-world equivalent of putting out fire with gasoline may still be used to paint me as something I am not.

This conflict has been a story on the evening news my entire life. I am pushing 50. From my personal vantage point, that’s half a century of no one solving anything and of fundamentalists on both sides pushing bloodshed on everyone standing in the middle.


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Each side uses otherwise reasonable people as ideological foot soldiers whose mission seems to be to squelch any possibility of calm discussion and analysis.

I hate to say it, but in the PR portion of this conflict, Israel continues to lose. That’s not me picking a favorite. Look around. The death toll of Palestinian children in this latest war hasn’t worked well for Israel, who is left insisting to the world that we just don’t understand their side of the story and demanding we listen. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains Hamas is putting Palestinian children in the path of Israeli bombs.

Meanwhile, the photos of the kids keep making the rounds, and we on the outside become less and less interested in their side of the story, because we’re becoming more and more convinced that this is being handled all wrong.

Does it occur to the loudest supporters of the war that some of the outrage and criticism is said not in opposition to Israel, but in support of it? Some do want it to succeed, and when we watch it continually create its own problems, we feel the need to speak out. It’s hard to watch Israel, yet again, create a whole new generation of of its own enemies.

But the critics have to watch their mouths, too. You can’t just say anything and expect to be taken seriously. The ones who equate the Israeli state with Nazis really need to shut their mouths. And that guy I saw standing on North Street in Pittsfield, holding the sign begging us to "Stop the Palestinian Holocaust," he needs to not do that. It is a stupid sign. It does not help. Use your brain.

And start acknowledging the misdeeds of Hamas. Accept that while you see the Palestinian people as surrounded by oppressors in Israel, Israel sees itself on a larger scale, surrounded by enemies all over the region. Understand that Israel exists whether you personally want it to or not, that’s reality. It’s history. It happened. Get over it.

The problem is taking sides, or even stating that there are clear sides to take. There might never be a clear, cool atmosphere in Gaza, but the massive killing can stop, if those on the outside can at least take a step back, a deep breath and stop yelling.

John Seven, a writer, lives in North Adams. He can be reached at mister.j.seven@gmail.com or at johnseven.net.