Smith: Israel-Hamas war and the ‘impossible nature of the situation’

Dec 20, 2023, 9:32 AM | Updated: 10:06 am

adam smith israel-hamas...

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) of the House Armed Services Committee. (Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

With all that is happening in the world, it can be difficult to keep up with all the political news important to Washington state residents. So what do you do? How about talking to the head of the Armed Services Committee in the U.S. House?

Representative Adam Smith, a Democrat representing Washington’s 9th district, visited the studio for a conversation with Dave Ross, covering multiple topics, including the Israel-Hamas War, immigration at the border, and what the internal workings of Congress look like these days.

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The first thing on Dave’s mind is the ongoing war in Gaza, asking Smith if Israel had gone to in their attacks that have resulted in around 20,000 casualties.

Smith instead wanted to focus on what steps could be taken to quickly ensure a more peaceful outcome.

“I think one of the big misunderstandings in this conflict is we’re talking about a counter-insurgency; people say this is the wrong way to fight a counter-insurgency because a counter-insurgency is about persuading the population and targeting some isolated terrorists,” Smith said. “I think Israel’s perspective was Hamas is the government of Gaza. You know, polling suggested that 75% of the residents in Gaza supported what Hamas did on October 7; Israel thinks that they are fighting a war to eliminate a hostile government.”

“If you’re going to say yes, you have to get rid of Hamas, but you have to do it in a way that doesn’t harm civilians. That is a far more difficult thing to do than I think most people appreciate,” Smith said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel will keep fighting until it ends Hamas rule in Gaza, crushes its military capabilities and frees all the hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack. Hamas and other militants are still holding an estimated 129 captives.

“I think the point is we’ve got to work toward a viable Palestinian state, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. It’s not gonna happen in a couple of years,” Smith said. “But if there is no hope of that, which is sort of what Netanyahu pushed forward was there was no hope of that, you’re gonna see more violence.”

Western Washington has seen a series of demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas War, with activists calling on local representatives to be more critical of the ongoing conflict. Smith was recently the target of vandalism by pro-Palestinian protestors calling for the representative to support a call for a ceasefire.

Smith spoke to the growing divide that he is seeing between Democrats and Republicans, saying that people trying to “intimidate” any elected officials is not an acceptable way.

“I think it’s a radicalization of politics in America. And I’ve said this on both the far left and the far right. They are so convinced that they are right that the traditional rules of civil society and representative democracy don’t matter to them,” Smith said. “They think that they should intimidate as many people as possible in order to get their way.”

This kind of polarization can also be seen at the seat of government itself, with the Republican party making headlines detailing a clash in the majority party between a more moderate, traditional wing of Republicans and a group of more “extreme right-wing Republicans,” as Smith calls them.

“The whole Congress’s dysfunctional is a popular thing to say, but look, we’re trying to mediate the differences of 330 million people who are incredibly diverse. So it’s always going to be a struggle,” Smith said.

You can listen to the full interview above.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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