Palestinian photojournalist Jehad al-Saftawi’s family spent the better part of two decades saving up to build their own house in northern Gaza. Construction of the house would take place during the daytime. Then at night, masked men would arrive, put up a tarp to block their activity from the neighbors, and start drilling.

Hamas was digging a tunnel underneath the house as it was being built, without telling the owners.

Saftawi recounts this story in a remarkable column in Time magazine today. His family lived in the house until soon after October 7, when their neighborhood was evacuated. Months later, they found out the house was reduced to rubble.

Saftawi doesn’t blame Israeli airstrikes, however. This destruction, he says, “is the legacy of Hamas.”

Indeed, Saftawi writes, Hamas “began destroying my family home in 2013 when they built tunnels beneath it. They continued to threaten our safety for a decade—we always knew we might have to vacate at a moment’s notice. We always feared violence.”

Saftawi’s family, like many in Gaza, was involuntarily drafted into a demented war of annihilation against Israel. It is striking to see Saftawi’s story in his own words, a story he’s sharing publicly for the first time.

Hamas has been holding every Palestinian family in the Strip hostage. “Since Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, the bustling and beautiful streets I knew have been dominated by terrorist chaos,” Saftawi writes. “Hamas is driven by an ideological stand originating in the concept of annihilating the state of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic Palestinian one. In striving to make this a reality, Hamas has continued to normalize violence and militarization in every aspect of public and private life in Gaza. They have in the process obliterated the chances of a successful Palestinian state alongside Israel, even if the prospect of one had increasingly looked dim amid successive Israeli governments that worked against that.”

One line in Saftawi’s piece jumped out at me: “Now that I am determined to speak openly about it, I don’t know if it even matters.”

There are a number of ways that can be interpreted, and I won’t speak for Saftawi. But it must be distressing for people like him to see that even as it loses to Israel on the battlefield, Hamas is winning the battle to define what is regarded as “pro-Palestinian” in the West. Saftawi wants peace and self-determination for the Palestinians to be the ultimate goal. American progressive activists, professors, students, and even members of Congress don’t want that for Saftawi’s family. The war on Israel is useful for them. AOC doesn’t have to sacrifice her home; she just has to be willing to sacrifice Saftawi’s, which she’s happy to do. Tenured professors on six-figure salaries and gold-plated health-insurance plans don’t have to worry about the dangers posed by a weapons stockpile under their children’s bedrooms. To them, the forever war against the Jews is highly sustainable.

The most important thing to understand about the “decolonization” lie is that it is incompatible with a Palestinian state and an extended peace in the region. It is a return to making the existence of Israel the problem.

This is not a mere interpretation: Protesters gleefully chant, “We don’t want no two states, we want ’48.” That’s the irony of President Biden taking action against Jewish settlers in the West Bank, with UK Foreign Minister David Cameron now following his lead and doing the same: They are making a distinction that their pro-Palestinian constituents don’t recognize.

Biden and Cameron don’t think a Jew living in Tel Aviv is an obstacle to peace. The anti-Zionist activists scaring them into enacting these sanctions disagree. But Saftawi, a Palestinian from Gaza, sides with Biden and Cameron. It’s his family’s home that’s lying in rubble, and the people supposedly advocating for him want it to stay that way.

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