There Is Really Only One Side You Should Choose In The Israel-Palestine Conflict, It's Peace

by John Haltiwanger

It's no secret that the Israel-Palestine conflict is exceptionally polarizing, and not just in the Middle East, but across the world. It has been going on for decades, which has led most people to believe that it's a war with no end.

There have been brief lulls in the violence, but they have been more like water-breaks in an athletic contest, rather than substantive efforts at peace.

At present, both sides have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire. There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic that this could reestablish civil dialogue between the two parties.

At the same time, history has shown that both Israel and Hamas are decidedly stubborn, and perhaps establishing peace in the region is simply a pipe-dream.

Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry focused much of his early efforts on fostering peace talks between the two, which was admirable.

Ultimately, however, like many of his predecessors, he was unsuccessful. Furthermore, it was recently revealed that Israel spied on Secretary Kerry during these failed talks.

They tapped his phone and listened to his calls. However, one Columbia University Professor believes that Kerry could have deliberately used an unencrypted phone in order to leak information that he wanted Israel to have.

@electrospaces @csoghoian I strongly suspect that he used the unencrypted phones deliberately, to leak information he wanted them to know. — Steven Bellovin (@SteveBellovin) August 3, 2014

This is all speculative, of course. What it does reveal, however, is that Israel has not been genuine in its approach to diplomatic resolutions to the conflict. They are a paranoid police state, but one can hardly blame them, given much of the region professes immense hatred towards Israel.

As Ezra Klein notes for Vox:

Israel itself is terrifyingly vulnerable: it is home to 6 million Jews in a tiny sliver of land surrounded on all sides by enemies. Israel is a fortress built in hostile territory... The excuse used to be that Israel did not have a partner for peace, and that was true. But it's clear today that Israel itself is not much of a partner for peace, either... In this conflict, around 100 Palestinian civilians have died for every civilian Israeli casualty. More than 200 of the Palestinians killed were children.

Hamas has hardly been admirable in this conflict either. They have continuously rejected ceasefires, and have essentially used common Palestinians as cannon-fodder in order to make Israel look bad in the public eye.

With that said, Israel has been quite disproportionate in its offensive on Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,800 Palestinians.

At present, Israeli casualties stand at 64, the majority of which have been Israeli soldiers during the ground invasion of Gaza; three civilians have also died. As a consequence of Israel's actions, the UN has called for an investigation into possible war crimes.

Regardless of which "side" they were on, the loss of any human life is tragic.

Moreover, while it's true that Hamas is driven by fanaticism and a desire to see Israel perish from the face of the earth, that does not justify the way in which Israel has essentially decided to collectively punish the entire territory.

In fact, a recent credible poll has shown that many Gazans reject Hamas, and desire a ceasefire. Thus, why should regular Palestinians pay the price for the crimes of Hamas?

Therefore, both sides are at fault, and there is nothing beneficial about supporting one over the other. The only side you should choose in the Israel-Palestine conflict is peace, even if it appears unattainable.

The survival of humans as a species depends on peace. Literally, we have the technological capacity to destroy the world within minutes, but diplomacy and common sense prevent us from during so.

There is no clear solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it is apparent that violence is certainly not the answer. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "violence begets violence." It's like a fungus, it only continues to grow.

Furthermore, the Israel-Palestine conflict occurs far beyond the geographic constraints of the state of Israel. It's also occurring in the United Nations (UN), and within the US legislature.

There is a joke in Palestine that Israel should become the 51st state of the United States because then it would have two senators instead of 100. It's no secret that AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group, has an enormous amount of clout in Congress.

On a positive note, the US State Department issued a harsh criticism of Israel following a recent Israeli airstrike that struck a UN school.

The school was apparently sheltering more than 3,000 people that have been displaced from their homes. As the New York Times notes, the State Department described this strike as "disgraceful."

Accordingly, this has been some of the harshest language ever issued against Israel on behalf of the US government. Following the airstrike, Samantha Powers, the US ambassador to the UN, released a statement that described the strike as "horrifying." She also called for a prompt investigation.

At the same time, the US government has continued to support Israel, despite the fact that the international community has largely risen against it. As the New York Times highlights:

Even as the White House harshly criticized the Israeli strike on the school, the Pentagon confirmed that last Friday it had resupplied the Israeli military with ammunition under a longstanding military aid agreement. Mr. Obama swiftly signed a bill Monday giving Israel $225 million in emergency aid for its Iron Dome antimissile system. For all its outrage over civilian casualties, the United States steadfastly backs Israel’s right to defend itself and shares Israel’s view that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

In essence, the US government's condemnation of Israel was a step in the right direction and signaled that the historic relationship has become strained, but ultimately nothing has really changed.

It's apparent that the United States favors a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but this will also never happen if the US government continues to offer Israel military and financial support.

Professing the desire to see diplomacy succeed while continuing to fuel a conflict with ammunition is simply oxymoronic, if not hypocritical.

The fact of the matter is, both individuals and countries around the world need to cease granting overwhelming support to one side or the other. That does nothing to foster palpable change.

In fact, by supporting one side, you are simply condoning the deaths of either Israelis or Palestinians, and what good does that do?

In essence, the task of establishing peace is not just up to Israel and Palestine, it's also up to the world. We are all interconnected. Just because something is not occurring in your backyard does not mean that it does not impact you.

The fact of the matter is, American tax-dollars are fueling the conflict, as the United States continues to offer Israel military aid. At the same time, simply condemning Israel and offering support to Hamas does not help the situation either. It takes two to tango.

Thus, don't choose a side, choose peace. Do not be swayed by either party's propaganda, think for yourself. In the process, you will be promoting solidarity with the civilians in both Israel and Palestine that have been detrimentally impacted by this conflict.

A nation's government and people are not synonymous, and this is particularly important to remember during times of war.

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