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Recent events in Israel leave Tigers on both sides of the debate

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Recent events in Israel leave Tigers on both sides of the debate

Ethan Leifman, Aviv Roskes, and Elie Salem

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America needs to stand up to Israel

Elie Salem

America’s love for Israel is as stubborn as it is strong. In the past decades, Israel’s stunning military successes in the Middle East have been accompanied by cheers and adoration from politicians in Washington. Whether you watch CNN, MSNBC, or FOX, every Israeli foray into enemy territory is an act of ‘defense,’ and every Israeli enemy, a terrorist. Americans see Israel as something the rest of its neighbors are not: rich, Western, and white.

This bright outlook blinds American to the legion of Israeli injustices committed against their Palestinian neighbors, especially Israel’s complete subjugation of the Gaza Strip.

Almost a hell on Earth, Israel has turned Gaza from a semi-proper Palestinian state to a veritable prison for Palestinian refugees. A ten-year Israeli blockade has caused the vast majority of Gaza citizens to be food-insecure, created an unemployment rate of 41 percent, and has left almost everyone without access to life-saving medicine. Even destroyed hospitals, apartment buildings, and schools, pockmarked with the bullets of Israeli soldiers, cannot be rebuilt because the Israeli government denies access to needed construction materials.

In the past weeks, Israeli shootings of protesters, many of them children and journalists, have only exacerbated the atmosphere of inhumanity on the Gaza Strip. But aside from Senator Bernie Sanders, no notable American politicians have condemned Israel for its heinous actions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in fact, went as far as supporting Israel’s use of force in a meeting with Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Frankly, the only bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill is that Israel can do virtually whatever it wants, with robust American support. For decades, this policy has translated into the appropriation of billions of dollars in military aid to the Israeli government despite their egregious conduct in the Middle East. During both Democratic and Republican administrations, almost any United Nations resolution that attempted to sanction Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians has been quickly vetoed by the United States.

The effects of this policy have been devastating: an emboldened Israeli government has laid waste to the two-state solution. Today, the Palestinian nation lives in a state of perpetual subservience: their own territory is occupied by Israeli soldiers and settlers; their economy is tied to the Israeli shekel; their sovereignty is based on the mood in Jerusalem.

As a country, we have to realize that the Jewish dreams of nationhood are no less valuable than the same aspirations of Palestinians. Therefore, while we must deploy our military if Israel’s existence is threatened, we cannot support Israeli territorial expansion, which compromises the existence of another equally deserving people.

In any case, if Israel truly wants a secure position in the Middle East, occupying Palestinian territory will only exacerbate instability. Every shooting of peaceful Palestinian demonstrators only bolsters popular approval of the actions of extremist groups like Hamas and cripples support for the Israeli state. The vicious cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence can only be ended by negotiation, not more bloodshed.

By virtue of our close relationship, only the U.S. can stop Israeli domineering. We must demand reform by the Israeli government in its treatment of Palestinians, and allow proper U.N. action to be taken if Israel violates international law. Even the threat of withdrawing American aid and technology would force Israel to reevaluate its role in the Middle East. Without the world’s most powerful country as its patron, Israel will no longer be in a position to subjugate Palestinians without fearing consequences.

If America finally stood up to Israel, we could once again return to the diplomatic eminence we held until the 1990s; a time when we served as authentic peacemakers in the Middle East. Today, America’s policy of unceasing benevolence toward Israel has isolated us from dozens of Arab and European governments and agitated tens of millions of people throughout the Muslim world. Every time an American leader voices support for the Israeli government following the shooting of protesters in Gaza, we lose credibility on the international stage and encourage vehement opposition in Muslim nations.

Instead of taking a refreshing look at the present, American pro-Israeli advocates tend to repeat the injustices of the past. The tragedy of the Holocaust serves as the constant rebuttal to any claim the Palestinians hold to a land they had called home for centuries, and the Palestinian advocates are quickly labeled as anti-Semitic and discarded. The strength of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, who funnel exorbitant amounts of money into a spectrum of political campaigns, ensures that most politicians will keep their lips firmly shut.

Past injustices cannot validate current ones. America’s approach to solving among the greatest causes of instability in the Middle East must recognize that the Palestinian people also harbor the right to a sovereign state. If the Zionist cause has proven anything, it is that nothing—not even genocide—is capable of effacing the twin dreams of nationhood and freedom from a people’s mind.

 

 

Don’t criticize Israeli citizens for the Israeli government’s actions

Ethan Leifman

Aviv Roskes

 

Much of America and the international community is appalled at the actions of President Trump and the American government. But most don’t hate America—in fact, the U.S. is still respected as the leader of the free world. They condemn the people in power, but not every citizen of the country. It is still possible to be a proud American and disapprove of Trump. A similar distinction must be made for those who love Israel and who hold unfavorable views of its government. As dual citizens of Israel and the United States, we feel it is necessary to clarify the difference between love of Israel and love of Israel’s government.

We are tired of being interrogated by every “woke” person on our views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Whenever we bring up our citizenship, we are immediately asked multitudes of questions by people who already have preconceived notions of Israel. We don’t understand how some people have the audacity to tell us that Israel is a despicable country when they don’t know the full story. We certainly aren’t the only kids at Wilson who have connections to foreign nations. Nobody is quizzing students with family in El Salvador or China on how their government jailed dissidents for years. Nobody is interrogating kids whose families come from Ethiopia on their government’s mistreatment of Eritrean peoples. Nor are Mexican or Russian kids quizzed on their governments’ rampant corruption, or kids with family in India or Pakistan pestered about the complex ethno-religious conflicts facing the nations they are connected to. We shouldn’t be either.

Hatred against a government is acceptable, but it can easily spill over into hatred of all Israelis or even all Jews. When Al-Qaeda attacked U.S. soil on 9/11, they were partially financed by the Saudi government. The actions of a select few Muslims caused vitriolic xenophobia against Muslims in the United States. Similar ethnic generalizations led to the persecution of Japanese-Americans following Pearl Harbor. It is perfectly acceptable and right to call the Israeli government out on its treatment of the Palestinian people, but it is necessary to establish exactly who you are condemning.

About the Writer
Elie Salem, News Editor

Second year at The Beacon, but it’s no sweat cuz he is a BOSS. This junior is also the News Editor, though is never mentioned (probably intentionally)...

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Recent events in Israel leave Tigers on both sides of the debate