We speak with Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who is usually based in Ramallah and attended Wednesday’s anti-occupation protest in Washington, D.C., organized by American Jewish peace groups. Hass is the only Israeli Jewish journalist to have spent 30 years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. She decries the marginalization and suppression of the Israeli left, as “extreme fascists” in the Netanyahu government have whipped the Israeli public into one that is “drunk with the will to take revenge.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: To talk more about Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, as well as Wednesday’s historic Jewish-led protest in Washington, we’re joined by the longtime Israeli journalist Amira Hass, the Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, based in Ramallah. Her latest piece is headlined “With No Water or Electricity from Israel, Gazans Risk Dehydration and Disease.” Hass is the only Israeli Jewish journalist to have spent 30 years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. Her books include Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege. Amira Hass joins us today from New York.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Amira. If you could talk about this? This is the first time that we’re having you on since this crisis began. Your response to what’s happening and the latest news?
AMIRA HASS: It’s very hard to add anything after, of course, what Mustafa, Dr. Mustafa, said. It was in such details describing the horrors. And unfortunately, I’m not in the country. I came a few days before all this hell started.
And I was yesterday at the demonstration in D.C. after a talk I gave at Georgetown. So, I was in the demonstration not to cover it, but to be part of a group that adds that — first of all, demands to put an end and to declare immediate ceasefire. And I wanted to share my — to be with people that we share common feelings of grief, of fear for the people that we know and that we love, of mourning for the people that we know and we love, people both Jews and Palestinians, people who can say at the same time be — can be emotional and rational, can be appalled by what happened on Saturday, October the 7th, and at the same time say it is not the — history did not begin with October 7, people who grieve and are pained by what is happening.
And I don’t — I feel that every word that I say is hollow, because it doesn’t — it’s not enough. The words that I need do not exist in our dictionaries to describe the horror that my friends in Gaza now go through. And we are here, and, yes, we gather, and we meet, and we talk, and we talk again, and we come on our TV programs, but it’s — we don’t reach the main people. We don’t reach the — as Dr. Mustafa said, we don’t reach the American leaders, who are the only ones who could force Israel to stop this carnage now. And we don’t reach Western countries, who could also put some pressure. And we don’t reach the Israeli public, that is so drunk with the will to take revenge of what happened on October 7th, that does not even know one detail, and even if it knew one detail about Gaza, it doesn’t care, because it just wants revenge.
But revenge, I think, is not enough to explain what is happening. The Israeli government is carrying on the political program of the extreme fascist, messianic, religious, right-wing — settler right-wing party led by Bezalel Smotrich, who already, in 2017, said that he has a plan for Palestinians. They have three options, he told the Palestinians. You either give in and accept that you will never have a state, you will never be free, you will never have your right for self-determination materialized, and then you can live as a fifth-rate, sixth-rate, whatever, individuals in this — in Israel. The second option for you is to emigrate, as we call sometimes by transfer, by willing — willful transfer, expulsion by consent. And the third option, if you don’t agree to give in and if you don’t agree to emigrate and you resist, the Israeli army will know what to do with you. And this is what is happening now both in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel is carrying out the plan, the political plan, of these extreme fascist settlers, colonizing right wing.
For years, people on the Israeli left have been warning about the brutalization if things continue, the brutalization that might come to a place of no return. And I never thought that — I always hoped that when I warned about the danger of brutalization, the possibility of brutalization, that this warning would work, that we will not reach it. And I’m so afraid to say now that we reached it, that we’ve reached it, and the world and the Western world is appallingly — appallingly, doesn’t intervene to stop it.
You know, I was at the demonstration yesterday, and I cried. Maybe I don’t — I hold myself not to cry all these terrible days, not much, only sometimes. But I cried when some people spoke about their grandparents, Holocaust survivors. And I felt I was there also to represent my dead parents, who are Holocaust survivors, in this, you know, call to the world to — you know, how can they — how can they stand on the side and do nothing to stop this terrible slaughter? I cannot bear myself talking here safely in New York, when I know what 2 million people — more than 2 million people are going through. And nothing can justify what is being — what Israel, what we, with my tax money, is causing right now. I don’t know if my tax money is now behind the missile that might kill one of my good friends, loved friends in Gaza. This is really appalling, appalling, appalling beyond words.
AMY GOODMAN: Amira, in your latest piece for Haaretz, you write about your family — your friends who are still in Gaza, in Tel al-Hawa, in Gaza City. Israel has ordered Palestinians to leave the northern part and go south. That’s where Gaza City is, in the north. Can you talk about them, what options they have, their decision to stay, and also President Biden giving a major address tonight, coming back and saying he got — he’s going to get the border open so 20 trucks can come in with some supplies?
AMIRA HASS: That’s a joke. Anything which is not a complete ceasefire, immediate ceasefire, is a — you know, “a drop in an ocean” is a cliché, but it’s less than a drop in the ocean.
I mean, my friend, who wrote to me, her brother-in-law is in a wheelchair, half-paralyzed. They couldn’t leave, because they said, “How can we leave the house with him? And we cannot leave him behind.” And her mother is old. So they are there. I cannot even imagine what they have been through. She just sent me a flower this morning. They had a little shred of internet, so she sent me a flower responding to my WhatsApp some hours earlier. I have friends cramped in a school in Nuseirat refugee camp. And a mother, a refugee of ’48, she was a child in ’48 and has seen so many wars since then, expelled from her home —
AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds, and then we’re continuing this conversation.
AMIRA HASS: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And we will post all —
AMIRA HASS: So, I know — I know — yeah, I think of also the sick people, sick parents, that my friends are staying with them because they don’t want to leave them alone dying under the bombing. And so they couldn’t — they didn’t save themselves in order to be with their parents.
AMY GOODMAN: Amira Hass, we’re going to continue this conversation and post it at democracynow.org and play it on Democracy Now! Amira Hass is a longtime Israeli journalist and correspondent for Haaretz in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, normally based in Ramallah.
This is Democracy Now! I’ll be speaking in Charleston, West Virginia, tomorrow night. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks so much for joining us.