There has been a lot of vociferous commentary on the web regarding the War in the Gaza Strip that followed Hamas horrific assault on Israeli communities on October 7th.
In some respects, it reminds me of the arguments, pre-internet, that appeared in Fanzines and Prozines and, no doubt, in letters and convention conversations that surrounded US involvement with the Viet Nam* war.
That got so divisive at one point that both Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science fiction published two opposing statements, signed by members of the SF community (which, if you recall, was just beginning to get its act together professionally, with the formation of SFWA just three years before). The intent may have been a way to let everyone let off steam and move past the arguments.
It did seem to quiet things down a bit and while things were heated and divided for some time to come, neither those letters, nor continued argumentation, had any visible impact on US Policy.
The current concerns over Israel’s war against Hamas and US involvement, the dangers of escalation, the human suffering, all are similar in many respects to that circumstance 55 years ago and, I’m afraid to say, SF’s public involvement in the issues is going to have just as much influence over things now as it did back then.
Which means that in at least one respect we should all be conscious of that fact, because at some point, perhaps in another 55 years, there will be some other issue worth arguing about, this one will be well in the past and in the intervening years, we’ll still have had to work with each other and find ways to ignore someone else’s politics in pursuit of getting the stuff we do have influence over taken care of.
I don’t say that to dismiss the war or concerns over its conduct, its morality or lack thereof. What happened on October 7th is unconscionable, as is the ongoing suffering. Yes – voice your opinion. Contribute where and how you can in ways that you believe support your position and the “right” way of addressing the issues. But also remember that there will be a tomorrow, hopefully one less burdened by human suffering.