“War Is Not the Answer”: Meet the Israeli Peace Activist Whose Parents Were Killed Oct. 7

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

Israelis celebrated the return of the four Israeli hostages in Saturday’s raid. The four hostages — Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv — were all in good medical condition. Just hours after the rescue, thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv and throughout Israel to protest Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government, calling for a deal to free the remaining hostages.

Some 120 hostages remain in Gaza, with 43 known dead. One hundred five hostages were released in a weeklong ceasefire deal in November. Only three other hostages have been freed by military force since the start of the war. Another three were mistakenly killed by Israeli forces after they escaped on their own. Hamas says others have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is pushing for a deal, announced by President Biden over a week ago, that sets forth a phased plan for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. Biden described the plan as an Israeli proposal, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly questioned it, particularly its call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a lasting truce. Hamas has demanded international guarantees that the war will end.

For more, we’re joined by two guests. In Binyamina, near Tel Aviv, we’re joined by Maoz Inon. He lost both of his parents, Bilha and Yakovi Inon, in the Hamas attack on October 7th. He has called for the Israeli assault on Gaza to end. Inon wrote an article for Al Jazeera titled “Hamas killed my parents, but Israel’s war is not the answer.” And joining us here in New York, Ami Dar, an Israeli social entrepreneur. He’s the executive director of Idealist.org.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Maoz, let’s begin with you. Thank you so much for being with us.

MAOZ INON: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you first respond to what took place this weekend in Nuseirat, the freeing of the four hostages and the killing of over 270 Palestinians by Israeli forces?

MAOZ INON: Yeah. Amy, thank you for inviting me to speak with you and on your show.

I’ve been listening from the beginning of the show about the equation of death, since the equation of the death, four Israeli hostages equal to 270 casualties, Palestinian casualties. We are all human. No human, no Israelis, no Palestinian, not my parents, no one on planet Earth, deserve to be part of this equation. No one. And we must implement a new equation, the equation of life.

And this is what I’m saying, since losing my parents, that the only way to bring the hostages back is by a deal: all hostages in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners. Eight months has passed, and we lost so many lives, so many lives of the hostages, so many Palestinian life. And there is no meaning. There is no meaning and no excuse and justification for this suffering, for the pain, for the agony we are facing and living through.

And what I’m afraid and what I’m crying for is that it might be only the beginning. It might be only the beginning, and we might face the numbers we already forgot from Rwanda. One million people were genocided, were killed in a period of three months in Rwanda. And it took them, the world, three months to wake up and to act. And I cannot understand what will make the world to act. Only a number of a million victims between the river and the sea? I already lost my parents. And I don’t want — I don’t want no one, no one, no human being, to be in the position I am.

And we must stop it. And we must start a new phase, a new phase in humanity, that we are not solving conflict through war, through bloodshed, through revenge, but we resolve conflict through dialogue, through envisioning a better future, deciding and agreeing on the values of the future, our common ground as humans. We all deserve better. We all deserve better, and we must make the future better than what we have been going through now.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Maoz, can you tell us about what’s happening across the country, across Israel? You have these mass protests over the weekend, before and after the hostages were released, thousands of Israelis calling for Netanyahu to agree to a ceasefire. They’re hit by water cannons. There were over 30 arrested. Can you talk about what this movement is about? And also, Benny Gantz quitting the war cabinet, what meaning does this have?

MAOZ INON: OK. I’m not a political analyst. I am a peace activist. I lost my parents. And I believe that peace is possible — I know that peace is possible. And this is what me and my partners, Palestinian and Israeli partners, are working on now, day and night, to bring peace to this land.

But I would start by differentiating between the Israeli government and the Israeli people. The Israeli government has been working now for decades to achieving one goal. It’s a Jewish/Israeli supremacy between the river and the sea, through settlements, through occupation, through oppressioning the Palestinian people within Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. And while this is what the government wants to do, and acting to execute it, the Israeli people want security and safety.

The Israeli people are traumatized, are traumatized from October 7th. And I can take it back in history. The Israeli people are still traumatized from the Holocaust. It’s an ongoing trauma that we are facing again and again. And we must cure the Israeli people. And at the same time, of course, we must cure and take in accountability the Palestinian people, because there will be no security and safety to one without the other. So, how can we cure? How can we cure our people? And this is what’s on stake.

And while the protests or Gantz, again, it’s — they are calling for a deal. This is the people on the streets, are calling for a deal, because more and more Israelis do understand that the safest and most human, humanitarian way to release the hostages, without risking no one, Israelis and Palestinian alike, is through a deal. But it’s against the interest of the government, because if — like your reporter’s analysis said before, because if the hostages will be back home, then the government will need to deal with the day after. And they don’t care about the day after. They want the day after to look like the present. They want the bloodshed, the revenge, the war in the field to continue, because it serves them in their greater mission, the greater mission of Jewish/Israeli supremacy between the river and the sea.

And this is why the world must act. The world cannot wait. It’s time not for talks or for speeches. It’s time for action, to stop the war immediately, to make a deal — all hostages in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners — and start working to build a better future. We must envision a peaceful future between the river and the sea, and building a roadmap to make it happen, because our leaders are not doing it, because of lack of leadership. And Gantz is just an example of a politician that has no political imagination. He believes only in force, in military response to whatever circumstance or situation it is. But this is not what we need here. We need a political imagination to envision a better future, a diplomatic solution, like Israel knew how to do in the past with Jordan and with Egypt. And those are the only borders where we have security and safety.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ve been —

In order to —

AMY GOODMAN: We’ve been speaking with Maoz Inon, who lost both of his parents, Bilha and Yakovi, on October 7th, wrote the article, “Hamas killed my parents, but Israel’s war is not the answer.”