Letter to the Editor:
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is immensely complex and protracted and has played out over more than half a century. There have been tragedies and unlawful acts committed by both sides. However, in this country, we are almost exclusively presented with the biased views and opinions of only one side – Israel – while the sayings of the other side is rarely heard, and is generally deemed anti-Semitic propaganda. As students of this great university, we have a duty to learn about all positions on an issue, and then draw well-informed conclusions.
The Letter to the Editor that ran in The Lantern on Nov. 19 described the unfortunate suffering of Israeli civilians – in short, three Israeli civilians were killed, and the general populace was terrorized. With that said, the author completely failed to mention the much greater toll on the Palestinian civilians. According to Reuters, at least 101 Palestinians have been killed – over half of them being civilians, and 24 of them children. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supporters of Israel claim that the Israeli Defense Force has the protection of the Palestinian people in mind, and that it takes each feasible precaution in order to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. However its actions indicate otherwise. The Human Rights Watch, news organizations and human rights advocates, condemn Israel for using the extremely toxic and illegal white phosphorous – an incendiary weapon that viciously and indiscriminately burns its victims – during its previous clash with Gaza in 2008-2009. It is important to note that some uses of white phosphorous were banned by Article 1 of Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons as well as by the Geneva Conventions.
The claim that Israel is merely attempting to defend itself from its belligerent neighbors when it attacks Gaza is laughable. Let us remember that Israel’s conception began with violence and that Israel is built on an apartheid system, where Jews are upper-class residents, and native Palestinians are, at best, second-class citizens. Israel’s interests are clear: to create a single country in the region, and completely crowd out the Palestinians – a marginalized people that Israel has vehemently refused to recognize. Claiming that Israel is defending itself is like claiming that the U.S. government and Andrew Jackson were simply defending themselves when they forced the Cherokee Indians to make the walk from their native Georgia to the destitute plains of Oklahoma in the 1830s.
Furthermore, Palestinians in Gaza are living in terrible conditions. Oxfam reported in 2010 that 80 percent of Gazans are dependent on international aid due to the Israeli blockade in place since 2006. The people of Gaza have been unable to obtain materials necessary for living their daily lives and building up their economy.
Again, this is a complex conflict, with atrocious actions committed by both entities, but do not let me tell you what to think. Look into both sides of this struggle, and all issues, for that matter, before producing an opinion or conclusion.
Abdulrahman Alwattar is an executive board member of the Muslim Students’ Association.