While former Wyoming resident and longtime Casper attorney Mike Krampner is out of harm’s way in his home of Jerusalem, Israel is smaller than Fremont County, which makes it difficult to be removed from the war that’s erupted between Israel and Hamas, which the U.S. Department of State considers a terrorist organization.
Krampner sees and feels the effects of the Israel-Hamas War each day, he told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.
He sees it in the eerily quiet near-empty streets that are no longer filled with the laughter and yelling of children who have been called home from school. He sees it in the closed shops that dot the landscape of the usually bustling metropolis of 874,000 people. Many of those who work in these shops have been called into duty as reservists with the Israel Defense Forces.
“Reserve duty here often means frontline duty,” Krampner said. “It means shooting and getting shot at.”
Krampner had planned to attend a funeral Wednesday night for a “lone soldier” who was one of the roughly 1,200 Israelis killed so far in the war, which began Saturday with a surprise Hamas attack on Israel. In Israel, a lone soldier is someone who has no family in the country and moved there from abroad to fight in the army.
His eyes welling up with tears and voice choking, a heartbroken Krampner explained the particular importance of showing support for fallen fighters like these.
“He was willing to come to Israel to become a citizen, enlist in the army, defend Israel and the Jewish people,” Krampner said. “When you defend Israel, you are defending Jewish people, and that should be recognized, saluted, marked — not forgotten.”
Wyoming And Israel
Despite living thousands of miles away in Jerusalem, Krampner stays up to date with Wyoming news and still has family in the Cowboy State. Some of his Wyoming friends spoke at a peaceful vigil in support of Israel held at the Capitol in Cheyenne on Monday.
Living in Jerusalem, Krampner explained, gives him relative safety from the ongoing war as there are so many mosques in his city that Hamas forces would be unlikely to launch an airstrike there out of fear of hitting one.
Although there are obvious differences, Krampner said there also are some surprising similarities between Israelis and the Wyoming people.
He said most of both groups espouse the Libertarian mindset of live and let live.
“Unlike Islam and unlike Hamas, the Jews don’t want to convert anybody,” he said.
Krampner also said like in Wyoming, politics in Israel can get quite rough and tumble thanks to their shared right to freedom of expression. He said they also share a similar desire for peace, prosperity and freedom in their communities, something Israel does not now have because of the war.
Israelites also share a common interest in possessing firearms, although Krampner said there are much stricter restrictions on guns there, which he believes leads to significantly less gun violence.
As of Wednesday morning, there were roughly 100-150 hostages in the custody of Hamas, the militant group waging the attack against Israel. These hostages include children, elderly, women and American citizens. Reports have surfaced of abuse and rape in these containments.
Most of the people who have died in the war so far are civilians.
The Times of Israel reports that drones and missiles were fired at Israel from Lebanon and Syria to its north, where on Monday terrorists attempted to enter Israel.
Israel’s relations with some of its neighbors like Egypt and Saudi Arabia have improved in recent years, which Krampner believes may have spurred Hamas to make its attack.
Iran has been a longtime backer of Hamas and a well-known adversary of Israel. According to CNN, the U.S. intelligence community is tasking the nation’s spy agencies to hunt for fresh clues to determine whether Iran played a direct role in Saturday’s deadly attack on Israel by Hamas, a senior Biden administration official said Tuesday. Krampner said it is broadly believed there that Iran did play a role.
President Joe Biden issued a stern warning Tuesday for other Middle Eastern countries to not get involved with the Israeli conflict. America and the European Union have been longtime supporters and allies of Israel. The number of Americans killed in the war has increased to 22 as of Wednesday morning.
“What they’ve (Hamas) done is hurt themselves with the rest of the world,” Krampner said. “When they’ve (Western world) seen the pictures of Hamas taking children, captives, the women who have been raped, you’re killing people in their homes — they can’t support that.”
Krampner said it’s not in Israel’s best interest to attack Iran, a country with 10 times more people and significant military strength.
Who’s To Blame?
Krampner believes Hamas is supported by the majority of people in the Gaza Strip, an area of about 2.3 million people that it governs. He mentioned how the authoritarian Hamas regime, which has advocated for radical fundamentalist Islamic ideology, has been in power since 2006. Palestinians haven’t voted for a legislature since 2006 nor a president since 2008.
Krampner drew a comparison to the complacent support of Germans to the rule of Adolph Hitler.
“Gazans are not fleeing en masse to get away from Hamas,” Krampner said.
What separates Hamas from fellow Palestinian group Fatah, Krampner said, is a willingness to work with and compromise with Israel.
“Fatah recognizes the state of Israel as a legitimate state,” Krampner said. “Fatah has its own police force, which is its army, and it doesn’t try to go to war with Israel.”
He also mentioned how many Arabs live and or work in Israel peacefully. The fourth largest political party in Israel is a joint Arab-Jewish coalition.
“Many Arabs and many Jews have figured out how to live peacefully side-by-side here, but outside Israel the hatefulness, the genocidal hatred of Israel is really pretty stunning,” Krampner said.
A greatly heightened sense of unity, Krampner said, has developed in Israel along the united front of defeating Hamas.
But moving forward, he doesn’t expect the bloodshed to end anytime soon.
“I see a lot more blood spilled first on both sides,” he said. “Israel has decided it can’t have a peaceful co-existence with these people for fairly obvious reasons.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.