Letter to the Editor | How we should discuss Israel-Palestine matters
May 15, 2021
It is hard to stand by peacetime principles when rockets rain from the sky. In a part of the world where the line between peace and war is continuously blurred, it can be difficult to weigh the long lists of transgressions and choose the side of the “righteous.”
For left-wing Americans who stand by the hope that sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine can one day be reached, news of evictions, settlement construction and failed elections continuously brings a renewed sense of despair. Showing solidarity with the strife of the Palestinian people is critical, especially when the hardships and discriminatory actions are born out of political theatrics under the cover of security protocol. Historically, our community remains largely silent on the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters until that plight comes to a boil. This week that heat has turned to fire, and once again the region finds itself engulfed in a full-scale armed conflict.
While Hamas does not truly represent the Palestinian people, it represents the face of leadership to the rest of the world, and when hundreds of rockets are fired indiscriminately on civilian targets, the world takes notice. There is no doubt that the Palestinian people have been the victims of a decades-long political chess game, and as a community, we must do better at putting people over politics. However, when push comes to explosions, the narrative changes.
When Israel engages an enemy in armed military action, it judges mission success based on whether or not the objective was accomplished, and whether or not civilians were killed during the operation. However, Hamas judges success based on the number of civilian casualties it can cause. While war is a crime anywhere, in this part of the world that sentiment takes on a unique interpretation.
In recent days, we have seen American media personalities and pundits taking sides on this issue. In line with the classic trend of American political tribalism, the perspectives fall into the two camps that one would anticipate, the pro-Israel and the anti-Israel. However, for those Americans who believe that both sides are at fault, there is no platform and no champion of reason. They are criticized for cowardly standing on the fence for wanting to address both politically motivated discrimination and terrorism.
This is not a view that should be dismissed as moderate; it should be welcomed as revolutionary. At the end of the day, we share more in common than we realize, and if the past 73 years have taught us anything, this is not a problem that will be solved overnight.
Unfortunately, before this round is over, many more will fall. Young men on both sides, barely as old as myself, will be handed rifles and sent to fight another chapter of the same war their fathers fought. Mothers will cry, families will mourn and the dust will settle. In a few months, life will go on, as it does every time. And when that happens, please come back to this article, and reflect on how our perspectives influence the narrative. Reflect on whether or not our hard-line views make a constructive change in the world around us. And think about the ways we can collaborate in the blurry lens of peace so that our shared principles can withstand the fire the next time a match is struck.
Ari is a graduate student in Engineering.