I knew very little about the Palestine/Israel conflict until I read a book a few years ago entitled, “Our Way to Fight” by Michael Riordan.  I’m not claiming to be any kind of expert now, but that book gave a viewpoint of activists, in their own words, who are working for peace in the region, both Israelis and Palestinians.

There is no doubt that this ongoing conflict is complex.  However, it is obvious that there is one side with a huge advantage.  While Hamas terrorists fire rockets into Israel, they are quite literally outgunned by a very powerful Israeli military.  Unfortunately, it is not the Hamas rocket shooters who are paying the ultimate price for the rocket attacks; it is hundreds of Palestinian civilians, many of them children.  Israel somehow thinks it is justified to retaliate by committing indiscriminate genocide against the people of Palestine. 

Before this recent flare-up of events, there has been a slow simmering boil up of tension in the region.  Why would Palestine attack a much larger and better armed foe, when it is obvious the outcome will not be good?  It’s not because they have a death wish; in fact, I believe they are fighting for their lives.  They may be taking a knife to a gun fight, but it’s all they have. 

Palestine has been living under crippling sanctions for decades under the iron fist of Israel, and shamefully, this oppression has been funded and supported by the United States.  Thanks to our habitual propping up of despots and dictators, Israel has become a powerhouse of military might.  Are we so naïve to think they are not abusing that power?

Many people are unaware of the conditions under which Palestinians are forced to live.  They are content to assume that since the Jews are “God’s chosen people,” then whatever they do is okay.  This kind of simplistic and lazy thinking is costing many innocent lives. 

Palestine is screaming for help, and instead of listening, or even taking the time to research the situation, it is being turned into partisan bickering.  This is shameful.

What if we had responded this way to Hitler’s siege of Europe?  Would it matter if this were happening closer to home?  How would you feel if a neighboring country decided that the farm your family had owned for generations belonged to them?  They kicked you out into the street, destroyed your buildings and farm equipment, and moved in people from their own country?  What if, in order to travel to the next county, or even town, you had to sit for hours at a checkpoint set up by that other country, even if it meant not being able to get to a needed surgery, or other critical surface?  And if you protested, it may mean being shot and killed, or your family being killed?  What if your child needed medicine, but the ship carrying those needed supplies was turned away by the neighboring country, just because they could?  This isn’t a sudden, unwarranted attack by Hamas; it’s a response to a crippling and deadly occupation.

Palestinians, and even their Israeli allies, are assassinated, or disappear.  This isn’t about the Jews having a homeland; it’s about Israel committing atrocities against their neighbors and us turning a blind eye, or worst yet, twisting Bible scripture to justify the murder of innocents.

Most Palestinians don’t back Hamas, the militant group responsible for the rockets being fired, which have done very little collateral damage in comparison to the bloody siege instituted by Israel against the Palestinian people.  That may change as the people of Palestine’s outrage grows at the atrocities being committed.   From npr.org:

" 'We faced two Israeli wars before but this one is the most bloodiest and most cruel,' said Abu Awni, 38, of Gaza City. 'Civilians are attacked in their homes. I'm against Hamas, but when Israel is killing my family, then I will join Hamas.'

" 'The world must wake up and stop consuming Israeli propaganda,' he added. 'More than half of the population in Gaza is not affiliated with Hamas. But we have been collectively punished.' "

Frankly, I’m NOT consuming Israeli propaganda.  I think what they are doing is disgusting and we must all speak out against it, and hold our elected officials accountable for aiding and abetting this murderous rampage with our tax dollars.  We have blood on our hands.

Just yesterday, Israel bombed a hospital in the Gaza Strip, killing four people.  As of yesterday, the death toll of Palestinians had risen to over 570, and at least 3,350 wounded.  The death toll in Israel as of that same date was 27, only two of them civilians.  Now they are conducting a ground campaign, raiding West Bank towns and villages and arresting hundreds of citizens, including children.

I believe that Hamas would have never gained power in a population that was not being horrifically oppressed in the first place.  The recent cease-fire that was rejected by Hamas was not rejected because more Palestinians want to die; it was rejected because Israel refuses to lift the seven-year blockade over Gaza, which has crippled society in Gaza, and resulted in immense human suffering.  

David does not usually pick a fight with Goliath.  This is a fight for survival against a death crush.  I watched a video last night of a spider quickly wrapping up a bee, which was helpless.  In a desperate attempt to save its own life, against insurmountable odds while covered in a sheath of webbing, the bee used its last bit of energy to try to sting the spider.  Did that make the bee the aggressor?  At some point, the bee knew it was hopeless, but it continued to use the last of its life force to try to survive.  Palestine doesn’t have fighter planes, or state-of-the-art war equipment, which we have generously helped fund for Israel.  Yet they are in the throes of hell and trying to survive.  All the while, Israel commences air strikes against hospitals, homes, and other places that are decidedly not terrorist targets.  Theirs is a campaign of terror against an entire people, with the intent to wipe them off the face of the earth.

In reading Michael Riordan’s aforementioned book, I heard the voices of Israelis who have seen the truth, who have witnessed the ongoing injustices committed by their own government.  They are appalled and horrified at these crimes against humanity.  I join them in their outrage, and I hope that others will take the time to research this situation, while keeping in mind that someone’s innocent children are being murdered here.

While I realize this conflict is long-term and complex, I cannot remain silent to the Israeli government’s horrific actions against the Palestinian people, or my own government’s complicity in this.  I hope others will join me in speaking out.  This is about more than sticking up for the underdog; it’s about the same spirit that led the world to combat Hitler’s outrageous treatment of the Jews and many others in the earlier part of the 20th century.  Nobody with a conscience should stand for this.

Groups such as Combatants for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, and ICAHD (the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions) are comprised of both Israelis and Palestinians working toward justice and equality in the region.   Here are some other groups doing good work, and some ways to help:

http://www.palestinefreedom.org/
http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/features/25-ways-help-palestine-refugees
http://www.gazamom.com/2009/01/what-you-can-do-10-way-to-help-gazapalestine-2/
http://www.pchrgaza.org/about/help.html
http://interfaithpeacebuilders.org/
http://www.codepink4peace.org/
Here’s a link to sign a petition to our government to help put a stop to this madness:  http://codepink.salsalabs.com/o/424/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=7216

A cursory search of the internet will find many other resources to learn about the situation and assist the victims of the Gaza massacre.  I hope you will join me.