Palestine and Israel must find a peaceful way to settle conflict
Letter to the editor
The Israeli/Palestinian question is one of the most divisive issues of our time. It’s extraordinarily rare to encounter anyone who doesn’t have strong, heartfelt views on the subject. Furthermore, the issue has ramifications quite close to home – many Rutgers students have family and friends that are directly involved in one of the world’s most enduring conflicts. Although I am Jewish and a strong supporter of the state of Israel, I empathize with the plight of the Palestinian people. All people have the right of self-determination – the right to live freely in countries based on their nationality. However, blaming Israel alone does not solve anything. The Israeli people have shown time and time again their willingness to make great sacrifices in the name of peace. Witness the Camp David accords of 1978, which resulted in the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and a lasting treaty between the two nations. Closer to our own time, there was the 2005 evacuation of the Gaza Strip – a move which cost thousands of Israelis their homes. On the other hand, the Palestinian people have been continuously sold out by those who were supposed to be their leaders and protectors. The original occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was that of Egypt and Jordan. After the 1948 War of Independence, land that was supposed to be established as a Palestinian state was instead annexed by its fellow Arab nations. In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the then head of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, 97% of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip, and part of Jerusalem for the Palestinian capital. Here was a golden opportunity for peace – and Arafat refused. I would submit that if the Palestinians really want peace and a state of their own, they should remove their corrupt and violent leaders, and banish the hateful rhetoric that unfortunately characterizes so much of their media today. Why are grossly anti-Semitic cartoons that would not look out of place in the pages of Der Strumer in the 1930s still appearing on official Palestinian Authority television today? Why do Palestinians tolerate terrorists launching rockets against innocent civilians when they must know it hurts their cause? If they are seeking two states living side by side in peace, then the Palestinian people must take genuine steps to stop terrorism and work toward a meaningful solution – and the way to do that is not by inciting fear and hatred.
Ben Kusnetz is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.