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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    A Conflict Continued

    I was a little surprised to read all the criticism coming out against Israel in the last issue of the Statesman that was written in response to the January 26 opinion piece, “The Truth About Gaza.”

    Kevin Young’s response to Josh Glazer’s original article mentions that causalities in the latest Gaza offensive are on the order of 100 Palestinian to every Israeli killed.

    To this I must respond; is there any ratio of casualties that becomes acceptable? Should we institute some international global standard to ensure that enemies are only killed in a 1:1 ratio to maintain fairness, and that all other conflicts be labeled “illegal”?

    We should all admit that war is hell, and that even one civilian casualty is too many. However, to suggest that there are some proportionality of casualties that is acceptable denies the reality of war: casualties are the point and civilian casualties are unavoidable.

    In World War II, Allied forces leveled entire cities full of innocent people because of some strategic military target that happened to be nearby. In the moral universe of 1940, this was okay, if regrettable, because defeating the Axis powers was the greater good.

    Americans must understand that to Israeli citizens, not only is their own safety and survival is also the greater good but ultimately necessary to achieve a meaningful and lasting peace. In addition, we must realize Hamas militants actively hide among their own people to purposefully increase casualties as a tactic of terror.

    Critics claim that Israel is acting out of proportion to Hamas’ crimes, which supposedly demonstrates the lack of regard for the well-being of the Palestinian people.

    This begs the question that, if Israeli government and military are so morally corrupt, hates Palestinians so much and cares so little about international opinion, why haven’t they completely leveled the Gaza strip already? Everyone knows they have superior, even nuclear and chemical, weapons. Israel has the tactical and financial upper hand and could, literally, end the terrorist threat completely and utterly without even breaking much of a sweat.

    The reality is that Israel, while not always acting in perfect harmony (and truly, what government or military ever has?), Israel has attempted to limit civilian casualties while maximizing the effectiveness of the military response.

    Critics forget, or neglect, the fact that Israeli military action is almost exclusively reactionary. Not many countries would show so much restraint as Israel has had, after being the target of almost continuous – and increasingly effective – rocket attacks from Hamas militants from Gaza.

    Despite calls and agreements for cease-fires, the Qasam rockets keep coming over the walls, targeted at Israeli civilians. Hamas technology is improving too, being able to stretch further towards the nation’s capital and to high density areas.

    I understand and respect international pleas which call for Israel to cool down its aggressive responses, but these people don’t understand the political pressure on Israeli leaders to end the threat of suicide bombers and rocket attacks, which have become a daily reality, and dare I say inevitability, for Israelis. These people don’t understand the difficult moral decisions that Israeli leaders have to make when they order tank invasions of Gaza, particularly when they know that Hamas is using it’s own citizens as human shields.

    Craven Hamas fighters hide amidst their own, craftily building sympathy from the international community, who are largely ignorant of the self-destructive tactics of the terrorists. Who then really has the ultimate moral responsibility for the deaths of innocent Palestinians: The Hamas terrorists who strikes indescriminately and subsequently hides among their own people, or the Israeli soldier, who is trying to protect their own against this wanton aggression?

    Do critics think Israeli soldiers, young men and women fresh out of high school, enjoy targeting mosque’s and schools; knowing that they could be killing innocent worshipers and children? The obvious answer is that they don’t, but the moral question has become, “if we don’t target Hamas leaders and weapons caches, those rockets could be raining down on my own home, my own synagogue and my own family.”

    The question of morality is important, but inconclusive. While the mainstream media likes to portray the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a Hollywood underdog story, reality couldn’t be more different. Difficult decisions are being made by imperfect humans and the result can never be optimal. We all hope and pray for peace, but it takes two to tango. If Israel can’t trust Hamas to keep their words on maintaining a temporary cease-fire, using the time to rebuild weapon caches, and to not send rockets and suicide bombers into Israel, than how can a long lasting peace ever be possible?

    While it is official Israeli policy to support a two-state, peaceful solution, reality often rears it’s ugly head. Discussions of historical questions of land ownership are interesting, but ultimately unproductive. Palestinian terrorists blame Israelis for stealing their land, but what they are really angry about is economic disparity. They are indoctrinated to blame the Jewish “settlers” of Israel for their financial woes, which allows the political totalitarians to concentrate power under the banner of religion. The irony is that Palestinians have much more to gain by cooperating with the innovative and economically powerful country than they have by fighting it.

    In only six decades, Israel went from a Zionist dream to a nation with a burgeoning high tech industry and one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. Free trade agreements with other nations have helped grow the economies not only of Israel but formerly hostile entities – Egypt and Jordan. There is nothing fundamentally different about the Israeli and Palestinian people that this type of economic growth cannot be mimicked and shared. However, the totality of the destructive mentality of Palestinian terrorists makes losers of all the Palestinian people. Hate and war is always unproductive and rarely necessary.

    This is a hard pill to swallow for some, but we have to accept the reality that Israel, and the Jewish people, aren’t going anywhere. Israel has much to improve, in terms of providing government reforms – it is still a nation without a constitution – and the United States isn’t helping the matter in the way it provides foreign aid, essentially funding both sides of the conflict, but ultimately, the Israelis are doing a much better job at the “peace game” than their Palestinian counterparts.

    Extremist attitudes have dictated the actions and mentality of the Palestinian people for too long, which is to the detriment of all. When the Palestinians are able to control their own extremists, by enforcing peaceful cooperation between themselves, build stable government institutions and forgive Israelis for living productively, than economic prosperity can ensure peace.

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