(Re: Turning a blind eye to Palestine perpetuates Israeli violence by Mim Fatmi, Aug 7)
The Israel-Palestine conflict invokes sharp and passionate responses from everyone — scholars, religious leaders and politicians and average citizens. But some of these opinions are more nuanced and thoughtful than others. Sadly, many in the West choose to be ever so selective in the facts they relay and the discourse they construct. But because a defense of Israel can be hard to find, allow me to try and mount one below.
To try and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without making mention of Hamas is to completely ignore a party to it. In doing so, one deliberately misrepresents reality. An opinion piece published in The Gateway suggests that “apparently if your ancestors survive a brutal Holocaust that shattered your people, you’ll likely become perpetrators of genocide on a nation you’ve been oppressing for decades.” This is perhaps the most egregious statement I have seen on the conflict. To suggest there is some deep-seated, psychological flaw in a specific population that predisposes them to “genocide” is wholly offensive. As we have seen in Europe, 70 years ago and today, seeking to single out a group of people as having some “flaw” is not something that we ought to be doing.
Let’s then move on to the oft-repeated calloused comparisons of deaths. This rhetoric is not constructive. Morality is not mathematics. This argument’s continuation implies that if only Hamas had killed more Israelis and got even, things would be better. Every death is a tragedy — to be mourned, not cold-heartedly equated. To avoid an in-depth discussion of material and tactics, it is sufficient to say one party does its damnedest to avoid killing civilians and warns them before an air strike, while the other one launches rockets in schools and hospitals.
That other side, of course, is Hamas: a widely recognzied terrorist organization that views the destruction of the state of Israel as a central goal of its existence. This is the same organization that uses aid sent to Gaza as a tool to manipulate innocent civilians and enable the construction of complex tunnels that facilitate incursions into Israel; the same organization that uses civilian facilities to launch rockets at Israeli population centers. To rail against the current blockade — which has absolutely negatively impacted the quality of life in Gaza — without addressing Israel’s impetus for it is to distort reality. Time and time again, Hamas has attempted to smuggle weapons and tools of war through border crossings and has used the aid meant for infrastructure to instead build and fortify its positions.
Critically important to this discussion is recognition that most Palestinians in Gaza do not support Hamas. In fact, before this conflict flared up again, Hamas’ popular support was at an all-time low. People realized that suicide bombing doesn’t lead to peace and were increasingly desperate for leadership that reflected this reality. In fact, you could argue that this conflict was an attempt by Hamas to shore up support, desperately hoping that needless death would bolster their backing among a fractured society.
I will admit: I’m reluctant to even address the repeated and abhorrent equivalencies that have been drawn between WWII Germany and Israel. This rhetoric cheapens the lives of those who fought against a murderous regime bent on world domination, responsible for the organized torture and slaughter of millions of people it viewed as inferior. Entertaining these comparisons only leads to cheap, uninformed discussion. So let’s dismiss ill-informed, deceptive rhetoric, and focus on facts and a way forward.
Both sides must make concessions. Israel must work with the Palestinian Authority to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution that enables both the growth of Palestinian businesses and restoration of Gaza’s infrastructure. A key step in this is continuing to improve opportunities for Palestinians to work in Israel, where there are better paying, more stable employment opportunities; a fact the majority of Palestinians recognize. But this can’t come at the expense of the Israeli citizens’ security or the existence of Israel itself.
Let’s open our eyes, all of us.
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