It is no secret that the people of Israel and the people of Palestine have lived with tension, terror, violence and hate for decades. Israel has occupied the land known as Palestine for decades, and for decades the UN and international community have called the occupation illegal, and have called for some sort of negotiated settlement for peace and self-determination for all sides.
One of the wisest things that I’ve read about the Israel-Palestinian conflict was that there are actually four warring sides in this struggle: 1) Palestinians who want freedom; 2) Palestinians who want to destroy Israel; 3) Israelis who want to protect themselves; 4) Israelis who want to destroy the Palestinians (and one can almost never tell which side is committing the violence and for what reason). And of course, there is always the final side in any conflict, the civilians who will never raise a pistol or drop a bomb, who long for peace, justice and dignity, but may find themselves in the crosshairs just the same. Everyone’s blood is spilled, and the graveyards fill with the innocent and the guilty alike.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a perpetual cycle of attacks and revenge. You will read a news story about a raid or a bombing attack by one side, who say that they did so because of a recent attack by the other side. And the other side will then say that their attack was because of an even earlier attack by the first side. And this goes back and back and back.
But we are not saying that everyone is equal. As we mentioned, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is illegal, oppressive, violent, and horrible. In addition, while acts of Palestinian terrorism are terrible, they do not even come close to the frequency or destructive power of Israel. For example, Palestinian militants sporadically fire rockets into southern Israel. In the past 8 years, these rockets have killed 18 Israelis. In the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, more than 300 Palestinians have been killed in 3 days.
In addition to that, Israel has placed a ruthless economic blockade on Gaza since June of 2007 that has taken a terrible toll on the lives of everyday people living there. This blockade was further tightened in November 2008, and now Israel is blowing up police stations, universities, and government agencies in Gaza.
And Americans should take special notice of this violence: Israel receives billions of dollars in US aid every year, and uses much of that money to buy American weapons, which it then uses in its attacks on the Palestinians.
What can you do about this situation?
- Amnesty International is urging people to write to Condoleezza Rice and tell her to use her power to put pressure on Israel. Click here.
- United for Peace & Justice lists a number of ways to take action here.
- The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation lists a number of the emergency protests calling for an end to the recent violence here.