NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Letter to the editor: Cease-fire now!

Dear NECC Observer,

Time tripping.

Perhaps some of you will recognize the expression from “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurth Vonnegut. 

I’ve been time tripping ever since Hamas’ attack of October 7th:  it’s as if I’m back in the movement against the Vietnam war.  

Every bomb dropped by Israel explodes in my mind, with no end is in sight.  As an aging antiwar activist, I remember all too well the anger and despair at the more than 7.5 million tons of bombs dropped on Vietnam.  Those feelings have returned.

What makes it especially difficult now is that I feel complicit in Israel’s attack on Gaza.  My tax dollars, after all, pay for the bombs used by Israel in the Gaza Strip.  And because of the horrendous attack by Hamas on hundreds of civilians, Israel has garnered much sympathy in the U.S. Before rushing to join the pro-war crowd, however, we might want to ask ourselves a few questions.

• Is it possible to achieve the complete destruction of Hamas given the support of much of the Gaza population for resistance to Israeli occupation?   Could it not be argued that for each civilian killed, two more will take their place?

• Is it possible to understand the current situation without taking into account the context of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) in which Palestinians were driven off their land to make way for Israeli settlers?

• Is there a real moral difference between an intentional massacre on the one hand and, on the other hand, the technological massacre now raining down on Gaza, with 10,000 killed thus far and more to come?

• Is it necessary to factor in the danger of a wider war, with the possible use of weapons of mass destruction?  If, God forbid, Israel were to strike Iran, what would happen next? Does anyone know?

• Whatever happened to the idea of peace and negotiations?  Since unconditional surrender seems unlikely, the only viable alternative is some kind of compromise, though neither side seems particularly interested.

I submit that in the long run either a two-state solution or a binational state (as advocated by, among others, the famous philosopher Martin Buber) is preferable to the present configuration.  

And in the short run, a cease-fire is urgently necessary to stop the technological massacre now being perpetrated on residents of Gaza.  We should call on our representatives to support HR 786 for a cease-fire and de-escalation.  Let’s not forget the lessons of Vietnam!

— Prof. Stephen E. Slaner

Global Studies, NECC