Israel must act responsibly


Column | Minority Report


Surprise, surprise. Israel is bombing Gaza again. Palestinians are dying, survivors are crippled, children that make it out alive have to suffer the loss of parents and loved ones. The infrastructure of Gaza, the most densely populated territory in the world, is completely collapsed. Its economy cannot sustain its population, and the illegal blockade Israel imposes is effectively starving the people and leaving them to wither in ruins.

It sucks that we are often convinced these types of atrocious war crimes are justified — especially when the victims are Arabs. It is no secret that the democratically elected Hamas government of the Gaza Strip fires rockets into the border of southern Israel, often aimed at civilians. We are aware of this because of how often and how dramatically the mainstream media impresses it into our minds. We are basically being told, “It’s OK that our largest-funded ally is killing all those brown people — they asked for it. And anyway, they’re all militants.”

We are tricked into believing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is between two players on an even playing field. But, we all need to zoom out. Think about the information that the media feeds us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when a new development occurs. We are presented a picture of a clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian “militants.” We are then told about the supposed provocation of the clash, which is always — and I mean always — claimed to be Palestinian violence. We are then granted a passing mention of the statistics, which are always declared to be, again, Palestinian “militants.”

But, what we don’t realize is that that’s all one zoomed-in scene from a much larger picture that the media forbids you from seeing. It conveniently forgets to remind you that Palestinians make up the largest refugee population in the world, and were uprooted from their homes, displaced from their families and robbed of their country. Whether you believe in Israel’s legitimacy, at the end of the day, Palestinians were robbed of their country. Now, whatever Palestinians are left (which the Israeli government officially refers to as “stuck persons,” because, you know, they just can’t seem to get them out of there) are being concentrated into smaller and smaller plots of land. Those smaller plots of land are under an illegal occupation by the Israeli government. Under the occupation, Palestinians are placed under an illegal blockade that robs them of their livelihoods and forces them into living as if they are in a pre-industrial era. No wonder they’re so angry.

The people have reached a point of exasperation. They have been oppressed, abused and powerless for six decades, but no one is even concerned with their existence. That is, until Hamas shoots makeshift rockets into Israel’s southern border.

But, the media has you believe that all Palestinians are militants. It seeks to dehumanize them. The truth is that these victims are wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. They are people trying to live, but can’t because an Israeli checkpoint often stands in their way. An Israeli “security wall” imprisons them. An Israeli tear gas canister is aimed at their face. An Israeli tank is terrorizing the streets they try to walk on to get whatever food they can for their children.

And now, in situations like this, the “powers that be” force us into a corner where we feel like we constantly have to justify ourselves, in order to divert attention away from the outrageous actions they commit right under our noses. This is not an issue of Palestinian and Israeli — it is an issue of right and wrong, of moral and immoral, and of an oppressed and an oppressor.

There is absolutely no justification for Hamas’ actions, just like there should be absolutely no justification for Israel’s actions. But, this is not about Hamas — this is about the larger framework of Israel’s domination and cruelty that caused a government like Hamas to emerge in the first place. If the Israeli government is truly committed to stopping terrorism, it should take the advice of Noam Chomsky and start by not participating in it.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is a School of Arts Sciences junior majoring Middle Eastern studies and political science with minors in French and women’s and gender studies.

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